News in Brief 23 December 2016 (AM)

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Children and their parents gather around a fire to keep warm in the yard of a large warehouse in Jibreen, now used as a shelter for thousands of families who fled violence in eastern Aleppo. Photo: UNICEF/UN043357/Al-Issa

Aleppo evacuations nearing end stage

The evacuation of civilians from the Syrian city of Aleppo is believed to be in its final stages, according to the UN humanitarian affairs office (OCHA).

More than 34,000 people have been evacuated from besieged neighbourhoods in eastern Aleppo since 15 December, according to estimates from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The organization and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) are escorting residents from the city.

OCHA has reported that UN monitors at a Government checkpoint observed thousands of people departing from eastern Aleppo on Wednesday, mainly in private vehicles which struggled due to a snowstorm and sub-zero temperatures.

The UN agency stressed that protection of civilians leaving these areas remains "the biggest concern." 


Call for release of human rights activist in Bahrain

Authorities in Bahrain are being urged by the UN Human Rights High Commissioner to "immediately and unconditionally" release an activist who has been detained since mid-June.

Nabeel Rajab, co-founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, is facing charges related to comments made on social media regarding torture at a local prison and for critiquing airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

He has also been charged with "intentionally broadcasting false news and malicious rumours abroad impairing the prestige of the State" in connection with an article published in The New York Times in September.

The UN human rights office said criticising the Government should not be grounds for detention or prosecution.

In addition to calling for Mr Rajab's release, the UN body also urged the Bahraini Government to take steps to secure the right to freedom of opinion and expression.


Mexico urged to put more focus on fight against impunity

Anti-torture experts are calling on Mexico to focus more on the fight against impunity which they say is "one of the most efficient preventive measures" against torture and ill-treatment.

Members of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) made the call on Friday in a statement marking the end of their second visit to the country.

Mexico has recorded more than 4,700 open investigations for acts related to torture, according to official statistics.

However, the UN experts said the number of sentences for perpetrators is "disproportionately low."

The delegation will submit its observations and recommendations in a confidential report to the Mexican authorities, who are encouraged to make it public.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 2’40″

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