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  • Three of family killed as car rams into bus in Nashik
  • US Aviation Trade Unions warn of 'Unprecedented' safety threat amid govt shutdown
  • Hong Kong: Investors defrauded of US$79 million, 14 arrested
  • Death toll rises to 26 in Indonesia floods
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‘Critical test’ for NK’s govt as civilian suffering remains rife

United Nations, Jan 12 (UNI) The human rights situation in North Korea remains “extremely serious”, and along with international demands for denuclearisation, this constitutes “a critical test” for the year ahead, a senior UN-appointed expert has said.
Tomás Quintana was speaking on Friday in his capacity as UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in DPRK, commonly known as North Korea. His press conference was held in the South Korean capital, Seoul, as he continued to be denied access to its northern neighbour.
“Of those who left the North recently that I interviewed during this mission, every person gave accounts of ordinary people being subjected to exploitative labour and serious human rights violations such as forced evictions in the name of development,” he said. “Stories were told to me of people, including children, being subjected to long hours of labour where they were forced to work without remuneration…. One person concluded: “the whole country is a prison.”
Mr Quintana urged the DPRK authorities to engage with his mandate and allow him to visit the country “to hear the voice of the people and the authorities”.
He detailed personal testimonies gathered during his five-day mission about “political prison camps” which contain “thousands of people” accused of committing crimes against the State.
Their detention happens without “due process guarantees or fair trial, in a manner that amounts to enforced disappearances with the family not knowing their whereabouts”, the Special Rapporteur explained, before highlighting that people’s “fear” of being imprisoned was “very real and deeply embedded in the consciousness of the ordinary North Korean people”.
Surveillance and close monitoring of ordinary citizens is also a fact of life in DPRK, Mr. Quintana continued, as well as other restrictions on basic freedoms, not least the prohibition on leaving the country.
His comments follow a historic meeting between DPRK leader Kim Jong-Un and US President Donald Trump in Singapore last June, which focused on denuclearisation talks.
Noting that Kim had stated that “improving people’s standard of living radically” was a priority in his New Year message, Mr Quintana said that this might represent “recognition” of economic and social hardships for ordinary people.
It “represents an important first step towards taking action to address the challenges,” the UN expert said, before calling on the international community to continue to support the “vital” humanitarian assistance that was being provided by various actors to the people of the DPRK.
“In particular, it is important that humanitarian cooperation is extended without politicization and in full respect of the principles of neutrality and independence,” he said, reiterating a call to the UN Security Council to ensure its sanctions do not have a detrimental impact on the people of the DPRK.
The findings of Mr. Quintana’s latest report will be delivered to the Human Rights Council in Geneva at its next regular session which begins in late February.
UNi XC-SNU 1118
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Venezuela crisis: Maduro cuts ties with US

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US Aviation Trade Unions warn of 'Unprecedented' safety threat amid govt shutdown

24 Jan 2019 | 5:24 PM

Washington, Jan 24 (UNI) Trade unions of US air traffic controllers, pilots and flight attendants warned the Congress and the White House in a joint statement that the shutdown posed an "unprecedented" threat to air safety environment, which "is deteriorating by the day" over understaffing and overtime work without pay.

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Hong Kong: Investors defrauded of US$79 million, 14 arrested

24 Jan 2019 | 5:20 PM

Hong Kong, Jan 24 (UNI) Seven investors were swindled out of almost HK$620 million (US$79 million) in Hong Kong’s biggest ever bullion trading scam, police said on Thursday, following the arrest of two alleged ringleaders and 12 other members of a fraud syndicate.

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Death toll rises to 26 in Indonesia floods

24 Jan 2019 | 5:18 PM

Jakarta, Jan 24 (UNI) Death toll has risen to 26 after torrential rains triggered massive landslides in including provincial capital Makassar of Indonesia's South Sulawesi province.

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US frees Iranian journalist after 11 days

24 Jan 2019 | 5:10 PM

Washington, Jan 24 (UNI) Caretaker of Iran's Interest Section in the United States Mehdi Atefat confirmed on Thursday that Marzieh Hashemi, a news anchor for Iran's English-language Press TV, who was in a US jail for past 11 days have been freed.

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