France Increases Migrant Expulsions in 2017

Paris, Jan 16 (Prensa Latina) The expulsions of migrants in France have increased by 14.6 percent in 2017 to reach 14,859, according to figures released today by the Ministry of the Interior.

While the number of expulsions from the national territory in 2016 was 12,961, they almost reached 15,000 last year, the General Directorate of Immigration said in a report.

The announcement comes when the French government is boosting a new asylum law aimed at toughening immigration policy, so that humanitarian associations fear that these numbers can continue to grow.

According to data published today, the number of undocumented people rejected trying to enter the country also increased by 34 percent last year, going from 63,732 in 2016 to 85,408 in 2017.

The French Office for Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA) stated that France recently responded positively to only 36 percent of asylum claims filed in 2017, less than 38 percent reported in 2016.

According to disclosed figures, refugee applications also grew by 17 percent, reaching 100,412.

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Racist: Massive Outrage over Trump 'Shithole' Migration Remark

Prominent figures in the U.S. and abroad have condemned Trumps remarks calling countries like Haiti and El Salvador "shitholes."

Haitian and U.S. activists as well as U.S. lawmakers, including Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, joined many in the U.S. and abroad in slamming President Donald Trump's latest immigration comments calling it "morally inadequate," and "racist". Earlier on Thursday during a meeting with Senate and House members, U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly asked "Why do we want all these people from shithole countries coming here?"

RELATED: Trump Administration Revokes TPS for Salvadorans

The insulting comments generated an immediate backlash from journalists, political figures, and activists all over the globe.

in an an interview with CNN shortly after Trump's comments, Senator Sanders spoke of part of his personal story to highlight how Trump's comments affect not only immigrants but also first generation U.S. citizens. "I am a first generation American, and my dad came from what I guess Trump would call a shithole, that was a very rural and a very poor area from Poland," Sanders said and further expressed his admiration for immigrants coming to the U.S. at a young age. "I cannot believe the courage that that took."

@WajahatAli So we don't forget, in addition to calling Africa, Haiti and El Salvador "shithole countries," Trump also said all Haitians have AIDS, Nigerians live in huts, Mexicans are rapists and criminals and Muslims should be banned because, of course, "Islam hates us." Economic. Anxiety.

Prominent Haitian left-wing activist Rene Civil blasted the U.S. president for his comments calling him “a cancer on the world” and demanding that he apologizes to both Haiti and the African continent. "Haiti is not a 'shithole.' It's a great country. It's the mother of liberty,” Civil said in an interview with Reuters Thursday night as he kissed the Haitian flag. 

He also demanded Trump “apologize before the entire African continent as well as before Haiti, the country whose blood has been used by ancestors who have served with their minds and bodies to liberate the United States itself from slavery."

United States scholar Steven Salaita criticized Trump's remarks calling them "racist" and blasting Trump for likening "Blackness to shit." The countries targeted by Trump were overwhelmingly Black countries like Haiti, of which he said: they "have sent 15,000 people, they all have AIDS." 

@stevesalaita Trump calling Haiti and African countries "shitholes" is racist, period. He implies that poverty arises from innate cultural and intellectual deficiencies rather than from centuries of US/European enslavement, colonization, and genocide. He also likens blackness to shit. 

The American Civil Liberties Union also slammed Trump's comment a "racist", while National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP, lamented: "As our nation fights to move forward, our President falls deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of racism and xenophobia."

@ACLU There are no words for language like this except for one: Racist. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-attacks-protections-for-immigrants-from-shithole-countries-in-oval-office-meeting/

Meanwhile Latino journalist Julio Ricardo Varela responded to Trump by reminding him of the U.S.'s role in regional crisis and instability. "Last time I checked, the USA has an amazing ability to create shitholes," Varela claimed in relation to Washington's role in Central America. El Salvador was another country targeted by Trump's remarks.  

@julito77 Last time I checked, the USA has an amazing ability to create “shitholes.” Made in the USA. Central America is literally a region that the US started directly controlling well over a century ago. How no one is talking about this in depth right now doesn’t surprise me.

White House CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins argued that Trump's "shithole" comment "will resonate with his base." And this is probably true. President Trump ran on a racist platform, and during his campaign he didn't shy away from calling Mexican immigrants "rapists and criminals." Furthermore, after white supremacist violence in Charlottesville resulted in one dead woman, Trump refused to condemn white nationalism and described some of the neo-Nazi protesters as "very good people".

@KarenAttiah I hope every media outlet that is going to produce outraged pieces about Trump’s “shithole" comments takes a long and hard look at its coverage of black and brown countries.

Even lawmakers from Trump’s own party blasted his comments. Republican U.S. Representative Mia Love, a daughter of Haitian immigrants, said the comments were "unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation's values" and called on Trump to apologize to the American people and to the countries he denigrated.

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Assange Granted Ecuador Citizenship to Secure 'Human Rights'

Espinosa said that the government continues to work with the U.K. to “explore alternatives and options to resolve the case.”

After the surprising news was released two days ago, the Ecuadorean government confirmed in a press conference this morning that it WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was given citizenship in the Andean nation.

RELATED: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange Granted Ecuadorean Citizenship

In a press conference held today Ecuador’s foreign minister, Maria Fernanda Espinosa reaffirmed that Julian Assange was granted Ecuadorean citizenship Dec. 21, 2017. Assange, who has been sheltered in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since June 19, 2012 when he was granted political asylum, began the application in September.

She stressed several times that Ecuador is following all national and international laws and is “dedicated to protecting the human rights” of Assange in this “delicate case.”

Despite the confirmed citizenship status, Espinosa said that the government continues to work with the U.K. to “explore alternatives and options to resolve the case.”

The foreign ministers said that her government tried to obtain diplomatic status for the Wikileaks founder within the United Kingdom on Dec. 20, but that the British government immediately denied the asylum seeker such status.

Earlier this week Ecuador's foreign ministry released a statement that read: "Julian Assange received international protection from the Ecuadorean government in August 2012.

"The current government inherited this issue and it's looking for solution alternatives, with full respect of national and international law, as well as human rights... in coordination with the United Kingdom, with which we have the best friendship and cooperation relations."

Assange is committed to not "intervening in issues non-related with his asylum condition," as requested by Ecuadorian government, the statement continued.

The Foreign Office in the UK has confirmed that Assange continues to face arrest for breaching bail conditions if he leaves the embassy premises. He fears that if arrested by UK authorities they he will be extradited to the United States whose government is looking to prosecute Assange for publishing thousands of U.S. classified military and diplomatic documents via his Wikileaks page.

Rumors about Assange's condition were sparked Jan. 1 when he tweeted a 60-character code and a link to the song "Paper Planes" by British singer MIA. The Ecuadorean government has since insisted that "nothing has happened."

In a picture posted Wednesday on his personal Twitter account, Assange appears wearing a jersey from Ecuador's national football team.

The Australian activist now appears in Ecuador's Civil Registry database and holds an identity document: 'Julian Paul Assange' is registered in the Internal Revenue Service with document number 1729926483.

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China: 'US Has No Right to Act as Human-Rights Judge'

"We urge the United States to impartially and objectively look upon China's human-rights development and to stop acting as a so-called human-rights judge," said China's Foreign Ministry. 

Chinese officials have slammed the U.S. Treasury Department for sanctioning public security official Gao Yan, insisting that the United States has no right to act as a "human-rights judge."

RELATED: China Releases Human Rights Report on US: 'Terrible Problems'

In March 2014, Yan was head of the Chaoyan Detention Center, in Beijing, where rights activist Cao Shunli was detained and interrogated, according to Reuters, before dying in hospital while in police custody.

Human-rights groups have said that Shunli was both tortured and prevented from receiving medical care before she died.

U.S. President Donald Trump has now issued an executive order targeting Yan, blocking the property of foreign nationals involved in human-rights abuses.

Four Russians, including the head of the republic of Chechnya, were also placed on the sanctions list known as the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 U.S. law which inters the bank assets of those targeted.

In response, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said: "We urge the United States to impartially and objectively look upon China's human-rights development and to stop acting as a so-called human-rights judge." 

She went on to state that the Asian country's police maintain public safety according to Chinese laws and the United States should refrain from using its domestic jurisprudence to determine which foreign nationals should be sanctioned.

Beijing officials have often criticized Washington for scrutinizing China's human-rights record. Earlier this year, China's State Council released its own report, denouncing the United States for its "terrible human-rights problems."

"With the gunshots lingering in people's ears behind the Statue of Liberty, worsening racial discrimination and the election farce dominated by money politics, the self-proclaimed human-rights defender has exposed its human rights 'myth' with its own deeds," the report said.

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US sends 'dangerous message' by turning blind eye to Guantanamo tortures - UN

The US is in “clear violation” of the United Nations Convention against Torture over “gruesome” abuses committed by its agents in locations such as Guantanamo Bay, according to a UN official.

The UN's special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, noted in a Wednesday statement that "perpetrators and policymakers responsible for years of gruesome abuse have not been brought to justice, and the victims have received no compensation or rehabilitation," despite a 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report acknowledging the use of torture in US custody.

The UN rapporteur also stated that torture reportedly continues at US sites, including Guantanamo, despite former President Barack Obama ending the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" in a 2009 executive order.

 
Britain's opposition Labour Party Deputy Leader Tom Watson © Toby Melville

Melzer accused the US of being in "clear violation" of the UN's Convention against Torture and of sending a "dangerous message of complacency and impunity to officials in the US and around the world."
He stressed that his particular concern regards detainees who face "prolonged detention in almost complete isolation," according to a release on the website of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

Melzer noted the case of Guantanamo inmate Ammar al-Baluci, a Pakistani citizen and alleged 9/11 co-conspirator, who was named 153 times in the 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report. Baluci is said to have suffered torture during more than three years at CIA "black sites" before eventually being moved to Guantanamo, where he reportedly endures further abuse.

“Mr al-Baluchi has been held in isolation at a severely restricted-access facility at Guantanamo Bay for more than a decade,” Melzer said, elaborating that "noise and vibrations are reportedly still being used against him, resulting in constant sleep deprivation and related physical and mental disorders, for which he allegedly does not receive adequate medical attention."

The special rapporteur made clear that the ban on torture and ill-treatment is "absolute and allowed for no exceptions whatsoever," according to the UN release. “This is one of the most fundamental norms of international law, and its violation is listed among the most serious international crimes, including crimes against humanity and war crimes,” Melzer said.

 
Omar Khadr © Todd Korol

"...I therefore now urge the US to live up to its legacy, to end its policy of impunity and to bring its own perpetrators to justice," Melzer added. He noted that a "society bruised by torture and abuse" can only heal when the "truth about secret policies and practices is fully disclosed to the public and when full reparation and rehabilitation is granted to victims."

Melzer also requested once again to be allowed an official visit to Guantanamo and to interview inmates. "I very much regret that, despite repeated requests, my predecessors and I have consistently been refused access to Guantanamo and other high security facilities, in accordance with the standard terms of reference of my UN mandate,” he said.

Guantanamo Bay, which turned 15 years old in January, has long been the subject of scrutiny from the US and abroad, particularly for its use of torture and for holding prisoners without charge. Although President Obama campaigned with a promise to shut it down, that vow was never fulfilled. Meanwhile, his successor Donald Trump has expressed his support for the facility.

"There should be no further releases from Gitmo," Trump tweeted in January, less than three weeks before his inauguration. "These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield."

@realDonaldTrump There should be no further releases from Gitmo. These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield.

Around 800 prisoners have been detained there over the years, often subjected to "enhanced interrogation techniques" including waterboarding. Some have reportedly been stripped naked and confined to dark cells for significant periods of time. Inmates went on a major hunger strike in 2013 to protest their detention and treatment at the facility, resulting in authorities force-feeding them.

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Cuba Ratifies Commitment to Defending Human Rights in Geneva

Cuba's representatives before the United Nations in Geneva reaffirmed today the country's commitment to defending human rights for all, as a fundamental principle of the Cuban Revolution.

'Cuba will continue to fight against all forms of injustice in the world and to achieve true dignification and welfare for human beings,' the mission said in a statement on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day.

According to the text, 'more than five decades of socialist revolution have allowed achieving full and universal enjoyment of all human rights for its people, so there are many reasons to celebrate this day with joy.'

The press release recalled that Cuba is internationally recognized for the progress made in strengthening its free healthcare and education systems, which are accessible to all, the struggle for gender equality and the protection of the environment, among others issues.

'The solidarity and unconditional work of Cuban healthcare collaborators have saved lives or restored the vision to hundreds of thousands of people in the world,' the communiqué said.

'All this has been achieved despite the genocidal policy of economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba, which represents not only a violation of international law, but a flagrant, mass and systematic human rights violation of Cubans,' the text pointed out.

The statement noted that the country has a long history of cooperation with all human rights mechanisms in the international arena that are applied on universal and non-discriminatory basis.

As a member State of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Cuba plays an active role that has materialized in the presentation of resolutions to defend the fundamental basic rights, demonstrating its strong commitment to the implementation of a fairer and equitable human rights system, the text said.

  • Published in Cuba

57 Countries Express Support to Venezuela at UN Human Rights Council in Geneva

Over 50 countries around the world expressed support for the constitutional government of Venezuela against foreign threats.

During the 36th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday, 57 countries signed an expression of support of respect for the sovereignty and independence of Venezuela.

RELATED: Venezuelan Delegation Travels to Dominican Republic for Peace Dialogue

“We condemn any action that disturbs peace, tranquility, and democratic stability... and that threatens sovereignty, including the recent threats of a possible foreign military intervention,” the jointly signed document read, that was read by Cuba's ambassador to the Council, Pedro Luis Pedroso.

The nations, among whom are Cuba, China, Bolivia, Russia, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Libya, Ecuador, Vietnam, South Africa, and Iran, expressed their “support for the constitutional government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, in its commitment to preserve peace and maintain democratic institutions in the country.”

They expressed support for the calls and efforts of President Nicolas Maduro to political dialogue in Venezuela in order to “preserve peace and guarantee the stability of the democratic institutions."

RELATED: 'Latin America Must Be a Region of Peace’: Bolivia’s Morales on Venezuela Dialogue

Also read during the session was a declaration by the Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our America (ALBA) that echoed the calls for respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity in Venezuela. Presented by the Nicaraguan ambassador, Hernan Estrada, ALBA repudiated the “international media campaign” against Venezuela and condemned the recent threats of the United States President Donald Trump in his address to the United Nations General Assembly.

The Venezuelan representative to the council, Jorge Valero, also spoke, expressing solidarity to those countries who support Venezuela's sovereignty and saying that "peace reigns" in his country due to the democratic National Constituent Assembly.

“Thanks to the National Constituent Assembly, elected through the universal, direct, and secret vote of millions of Venezuelans, peace reigns in Venezuela," he said.

The 36th session of the Human Rights Council is currently taking place in Geneva, Switzerland, from September 11th to the 29th.

The support of ALBA and 57 countries around the world is an affirmation of the international support Venezuela has behind it, in a crucial moment as it has been subject to renewed attacks from the United States and its allied countries in recent weeks.

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Argentines protest Supreme Court ruling on Dirty War sentences

Tens of thousands of Argentines protested on Wednesday against a Supreme Court ruling that could decrease jail time for those convicted of human rights abuses during the country’s 1976 – 1983 military dictatorship that killed as many as 30,000 people.

The ruling was widely criticized, including by President Mauricio Macri, and Congress passed a law earlier on Wednesday to block future reductions of sentences for killings, torture, kidnappings and other human rights violations during the so-called Dirty War. “Judges: Never again. No free genocidists,” read banners in the Plaza de Mayo of Buenos Aires.

The Supreme Court’s May 3 decision ruled in favor of Luis Muiña, who was sentenced in 2011 to 13 years in jail for kidnapping and torturing five people during the dictatorship. The court said a law known locally as “two for one” that allows every day spent in jail before a final sentence to count for two days when more than two years have been served, could apply for human rights cases.

“I would like to congratulate the Congress for the speed at which it resolved the legal vacuum left by this unfortunate 2-for-1 law,” Macri said in a press conference earlier on Wednesday. “I am against any tool that is in favor of impunity, more so when this tool is applied to crimes against humanity.”

  • Published in World
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