News in Brief 13 June 2017 (AM) – Geneva

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The situation in eastern Ukraine is deteriorating and continues to have a severe impact on human rights. Photo: UNHCR

Ukraine's warring parties repeatedly fail to respect ceasefire agreements

"Daily ceasefire violations" in Ukraine have led to a significant rise in the number of people killed in the four-year conflict, the UN said on Tuesday.

Between February and May this year, the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU) recorded 36 conflict-related civilian deaths and 157 injuries.

This represents a near 50 per cent increase on the previous three-month period reported in the east of the country.

Since the conflict between the Ukraine military and separatists started there in April 2014, at least 10,000 people have been killed, latest UN data shows.

More than 1.6 million people have also fled their homes and three million remain in territory controlled by armed groups.

The highest number of casualties along the conflict zone was in Donetsk and Luhansk, according to the authors of the latest report, who warn of the "routine use of small arms and light and heavy weapons".

They also warn that as summer approaches, there is a risk of a further escalation in hostilities, exacerbated by the inflow of foreign fighters and the supply of ammunition and heavy weaponry.

Mass food poisoning in Mosul under investigation

An investigation is under way into a mass food poisoning incident in a camp for displaced people from war-torn Mosul in Iraq, in which two people have died.

Hundreds of people have been affected at Hasansham U2 camp, according to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The camp is home to more than 6,000 people displaced by fighting in Mosul, where ISIL extremists are under siege.

IOM spokesperson Joel Millman said that latest information from the nearby town of Erbil was that more than 300 people had been hospitalised and a child and a woman had died after eating a meal of yoghurt and chicken:

"We understand that this was a contractor that had brought food to the camp at about 4pm to break the daily Ramadan fast to be served at 7.30pm, and we understand that authorities are examining where the contamination came from, and whether or not it happened as a result of those hours between the arrival and the serving or something else."

UNHCR said that aid teams had worked through the night to help those affected and that it was waiting for a police investigation to indicate the chain of events so that a repeat of the incident could be avoided.

Thailand's rise in treason cases prompts concern

A sharp rise in the number of people prosecuted for treason in Thailand along with the high number of "disproportionate sentences" has "deeply troubled" the UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, his office said on Tuesday.

Since 2014, 285 people have been investigated for insulting the monarchy under so-called lèse-majesté laws.

This is more than double the number in the previous three-year period.

Rupert Colville is a spokesperson for the High Commissioner:

"While we appreciate the complexity and sensitivity of the issue surrounding lèse majesté in Thailand, we are deeply troubled by the high rate of prosecutions and the courts' persistence in handing down disproportionate sentences for the offence. All people have the right to freedom of expression, including when it comes to criticising public figures."

According to the UN rights office, "most of the accused" are denied bail and some are held for long periods before going to trial.

The imprisonment of individuals solely for exercising the right to freedom of expression contravenes the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Thailand acceded to in 1996.

In March 2017, a UN Human Rights Committee concluded that Thailand should review its criminal code to bring it into line with the international accord.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3’47″

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