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Facebook blocks group critical of Thai king as more arrests made | News

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Facebook blocked access within Thailand to a group of one million members that has criticised the country’s king but said it was planning a legal challenge to the government’s demand.

The move comes amid near-daily youth-led protests against the government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former military chief, and unprecedented calls for reforms of the monarchy.

On Tuesday, police arrested for the third time this month prominent lawyer and activist Arnon Nampha, the first-ever person to openly call for reforms of the monarchy. He was also arrested last week and in early August.

The “Royalist Marketplace” group on Facebook was created in April by Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a self-exiled academic and critic of the monarchy.

On Monday night, the page brought up a message: “Access to this group has been restricted within Thailand pursuant to a legal request from the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society.”

Pavin, who lives in Japan, said Facebook had bowed to the military-dominated government’s pressure.

“Our group is part of a democratisation process, it is a space for freedom of expression,” he told the Reuters news agency.

“By doing this, Facebook is cooperating with the authoritarian regime to obstruct democracy and cultivating authoritarianism in Thailand.”

Pavin’s new group of the same name already had more than 455,000 members on Tuesday.

More arrests

Facebook said on Tuesday it was planning to legally challenge the Thai government after being “compelled” to block access to the group.

“Requests like this are severe, contravene international human rights law, and have a chilling effect on people’s ability to express themselves,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

“We work to protect and defend the rights of all internet users and are preparing to legally challenge this request.”

Thailand’s lese majeste laws, which forbid defaming the king with penalties of up to 15 years in prison, is often the basis for such requests to block or remove content on social media platforms.

Earlier this month, Thailand’s digital minister accused Facebook of not complying with requests to restrict content, including insults to the monarchy.

On August 10, he gave Facebook 15 days to comply with court takedown orders or face charges under the local Computer Crime Act, which carries a fine of up to 200,000 baht ($6,370) and an additional 5,000 baht ($159) a day until each order is observed.

Digital ministry spokesman Putchapong Nodthaisong said on Monday Facebook cooperated before the deadline because it understood the context of Thai society.

Putchapong did not comment on Facebook’s plan for legal action when asked on Tuesday.

The ministry last week filed a separate cybercrime complaint against Pavin for creating the group.

Meanwhile, Arnon was arrested outside a police station in Bangkok as he and other activists heard charges related to a separate rally at the army headquarters on July 20.

According to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, Arnon is accused of committing seditious acts. He is already facing several other charges.

Also arrested on Monday was Panupong “Mike” Jadnok, a youth activist who led a protest against land reclamation in Rayong province while Prime Minister Prayut was visiting.

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Uganda Commends Japan for Support to Refugees

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Government has applauded Japan for its generous support towards the refugee communities in Uganda.

This year, Japan contributed to Uganda, $9.8 million (approximately 36 billion shillings) which according to the Japanese Ambassador to Uganda, Hidemoto Fakuzawa, is aimed at mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic to the vulnerable population, including; refugees, host community members among others.

Over the years, Japan has made various contributions to Uganda to address the emerging issues ranging from refugees, infrastructure, health among others.

From 2016 to 2020, Japan contributed approximately 35 million dollars (127 billion shillings) to the Government of Uganda by utilizing the supplementary budget to provide humanitarian support and emergency response.

Speaking to reporters at the Uganda Media Centre on Tuesday, Amb Fukuzawa said, “This year, the Government of Japan decided to make a new contribution of about of approximately 9.8 million dollars (approximately 36 billion shillings) to Uganda.”

The contribution was through 8 agencies, namely; United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), UNFPA, UN Women, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, IOM and IFPRI.

“Japan recognizes that the humanitarian situation in refugee hosting areas is devastating, especially under the spread Of COVID-19,” said Amb Fukuzawa.

The 2021 contribution, Amb Fukuzawa said, has been made with specific focus on mitigating the impacts of the Covid-19 to the vulnerable population, including; refugees, host community members, women and children in Uganda.

Uganda is one of the biggest refugee hosting countries in the world, and has an open door policy for refugees.

Regarding the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, Amb Fukuzawa pledged Japan’s support to Uganda to fight the deadly disease that has claimed millions of lives globally.

“Japan will always be by your side and support the Government of Uganda as a member of the international community,” he said.

In 2020, Japan contributed 1.4 million dollars through UNICEF and 3.8 million dollars through the Ministry of Health to provide emergency assistance for prevention of further spread of the covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Japan has continued to support Uganda in the field of social – economic development especially in northern Uganda.

 

On February 11, 2021, Amb Fukuzawa signed a bilateral agreement on behalf of Government of Japan in form of exchange of notes with Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija for the project to improve National Roads in refugee hosting areas of West Nile sub region.

By providing a grant of approximately 36.8 million dollars to the Uganda Government, Amb Fukuzawa said that Japan “is hoping to contribute to stabilization of the society and promotion of sustainable economic growth in northern Uganda.

The Minister of Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Hilary Onek applauded Japanese Government for the “generosity exhibited towards the refugee community.”

“The Government of Uganda commends the Government of Japan for their tireless efforts and support to Uganda, indeed Japan will always remain a true partner to Uganda,” he said.

As of March 2020, Uganda refugee population is at 1,470,858 individuals, and is on the rise.

“Our numbers continue to grow even with the restrictions on registration of new arrivals because of new birth registration and registration of persons who arrived before the lockdown in March 2020, that had since resumed in most settlements especially in West Nile,” said Onek.

The post Uganda Commends Japan for Support to Refugees first appeared on ChimpReports.



Source – chimpreports.com

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Chad President Idriss Deby has died: Army spokesman | Chad News

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President Idriss Deby, who won a 6th term on Monday, has died of injuries suffered on the frontline, an army spokesman said.

Chad’s President Idriss Deby has died of injuries suffered on the frontline where he had gone to visit soldiers battling rebels, an army spokesman said on Tuesday.

The news came a day after Deby won a sixth term, as per provisional election results released on Monday.

The 68-year-old Deby, who came to power in a rebellion in 1990, took 79.3 percent of the vote in the April 11 presidential election, the results showed.

More soon.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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RSF raises alarm over ‘deteriorating’ press freedom in Greece | Freedom of the Press News

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Athens, Greece – Concerns around press freedom in Greece have been raised by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), as the media watchdog publishes its World Press Freedom Index.

In the list, which is released annually and ranks 180 countries in the world from “good” to “very bad”, Greece has dropped five places.

The European Union member state is now at 70, down from 65 in 2020, a rating considered as “problematic”.

The fresh index comes as concerns mount over the case of Giorgos Karaivaz, a Greek crime reporter working for private broadcaster Star TV, who was shot outside his home as he returned from work in south Athens two weeks ago.

It remains unclear if the murder was related to his work but the president of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, called it a “despicable, cowardly act” in a tweet, adding, “Europe stands for freedom. And freedom of the press may be the most sacred of all.”

In the past year, there have been several reports of journalists being harassed by police while covering protests in lockdown.

In February, the Paris-based RSF called for an investigation after seven journalists were tear-gassed and beaten with batons and shields during a demonstration.

RSF described that incident as an “unprovoked attack by the police”.

‘Strangling pressure’

Journalists interacting with government officials have also reported significant challenges.

Greek journalist Dimitra Kroustalli said in January she had been forced to resign from her job at the To Vima newspaper after “strangling pressure” from the Greek prime minister’s cabinet.

Kroustalli had been covering the flaws in the systems used to track and monitor COVID-19 cases.

Grants totalling 20m euros given to blogs and media outlets to fund COVID awareness campaigns also came under scrutiny last year when it was revealed in June that some of the media outlets had no webpages.

Stavros Malichudis, a freelance journalist based in the capital, Athens, said that the recent murder of a media worker had put the spotlight back on press freedom in Greece.

“Until Karaivaz’s murder, Greece wasn’t considered as a country where journalists might be killed for doing their job. Press freedom, though, definitely has been an issue,” Malichudis told Al Jazeera.

“The coverage of public TV has always been in favour of the government, instead of the public it ought to serve. Journalists working for major media know there are specific topics they can’t even pitch a story about and large corporations seldom get covered in the press where only their adverts appear.

“Another issue is the restriction of coverage on refugees by the Greek government, which has already been criticised by media watchdogs.”

‘Tight control of information’

Meanwhile, journalists working on refugee issues have faced hostility from local authorities on the Aegean islands.

Multiple media freedom groups wrote to Greek authorities after local police detained a group of journalists working for the German Climate Foundation on the Greek island of Samos last October.

The group, which was making a documentary about climate-induced migration, were denied access to a lawyer and strip-searched before being released without charge.

Pavol Szalai, head of RSF’s EU/Balkans desk, told Al Jazeera the NGO was concerned by the current situation in Greece.

“Press freedom in Greece has been rapidly deteriorating.

“Right now, Greek journalists are having a hard time in scrutinising the government policies and reporting on the handling of the pandemic or the refugee crisis.

“The recent brutal killing of crime reporter Giorgos Karaivaz has brought an additional layer of serious concern for investigative journalists. Quite frankly, the current situation is a dangerous cocktail for press freedom.”



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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