News in Brief 21 February 2017 (AM) – Geneva

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A former inmate of the Abu Salim prison in Tripoli, Libya, returned to visit his cell in October 2011. Photo: UNSMIL/Iason Athanasiadis

Gaddafi regime trial "fell short of international standards"

The trial of members of the former Libyan government under Muammar Gaddafi was flawed and "a "missed opportunity for justice", the UN's human rights chief has said.

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein made his comments in a statement following a UN report into legal proceedings against 37 high-profile government representatives which ended in 2015.

They were arrested after the 2011 uprising against President Gaddafi.

Nine were given the death penalty, including the deposed President's son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who was sentenced in his absence.

Claudio Cordone represents the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Libya:

"One critical issue is the fact that the prosecution did not present the evidence in the court except in a summary fashion during one session. Although there is a lot of evidence of written material it was submitted to the court and the lawyers but was not presented in court."

In its report, the UN Human Rights Office OHCHR, along with UNSMIL, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, welcomed the effort to bring former regime officials to account.

But they also identified "serious violations of due process", which included prolonged periods of incommunicado detention for the defendants and torture allegations which were not properly investigated.

Appeal to help Ethiopia’s drought-stricken communities

Millions of people in Ethiopia are in desperate need of food and water amid one of the worst droughts in decades, the UN has warned.

In a bid to help some of them, UN humanitarian relief chief Stephen O'Brien announced that US $ 18.5 million in emergency funding has been found.

But he said that this is only "a small portion" of what is required to address rising hunger and malnutrition levels.

Jens Laerke is a spokesperson for the Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

"The money will go to help more than 785,000 people suffering from hunger, malnutrition and severe water shortages in Ethiopia's Somali region, which is one of the worst regions affected by the drought. In total, there are some 5.6 million people in Ethiopia that are victims of this very severe drought that has hit the entire Horn of Africa."

The current crisis follows a devastating drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon in 2015 and 2016 which left 10 million people in urgent need of help last year.

Tributes continue for Russia's "giant amongst diplomats" Vitaly Churkin

Tributes to veteran Russian diplomat to the UN Vitaly Churkin have continued after his death on Monday, a day before his 65th birthday.

In a statement, UN Secretary-General António Guterres described Ambassador Churkin as "an outstanding diplomat" and a "forceful presence" for more than a decade on the Security Council.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the head of the UN in Geneva, Michael Moller, also marked the passing of a man who had served the Russian Federation for more than 40 years.

Addressing the Conference on Disarmament, Mr Moller expressed a personal message of condolence, before calling the ambassador a “giant amongst diplomats" who would be missed.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3'11

 

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