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World reacts as UN court upholds Mladic genocide conviction | Courts News

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United Nations war crimes judges on Tuesday upheld a genocide conviction and life sentence against former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic in a move welcomed by the global body’s rights chief, world leaders and others.

The verdict by five judges at the UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals at The Hague saw Mladic’s appeal against the decision of a lower tribunal rejected on all grounds.

Mladic, 78, led Bosnian Serb forces during Bosnia’s 1992-95 war.

He was convicted in 2017 on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes including terrorising the civilian population of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo during a 43-month siege, and the killing of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica in 1995.

He had been convicted by trial and ordered to serve life in prison, but appealed against both the verdict and sentence.

But the UN judges on Tuesday dismissed his appeal “in its entirety”. Their decision was final and cannot be appealed any further.

The ruling was meanwhile quickly welcomed by a range of world leaders, including the UN’s rights chief Michelle Bachelet and United States President Joe Biden, among others.

Here is a roundup of the reaction:

Michelle Bachelet

Bachelet, the UN’s human rights chief, praised Tuesday’s decision.

She said in a statement it “highlights the determination of the international justice system to ensure accountability no matter how long it may take – in Mladic’s case, nearly three decades after he committed his appalling crimes”.

Bachelet also urged officials and the press to “refrain from revisionist narratives, divisive rhetoric and incitement to hatred” in the wake of the ruling.

“Mladic’s crimes were the abhorrent culmination of hatred stoked for political gain. Today’s decision is about his individual responsibility for his dreadful acts, not about collective punishment or apportioning guilt to any particular community,” she said.

Joe Biden

Biden hailed the “historic” confirmation of Mladic’s life sentence.

“This historic judgment shows that those who commit horrific crimes will be held accountable,” Biden said in a statement.

“It also reinforces our shared resolve to prevent future atrocities from occurring anywhere in the world,” he added.

“My thoughts today are with all the surviving families of the many victims of Mladic’s atrocities. We can never erase the tragedy of their deaths, but I hope today’s judgment provides some solace to all those who are grieving.”

Alice Wairimu Nderitu

Nderitu, special adviser to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the prevention of genocide, said Tuesday’s decision “provides historical certainty and finality for victims and survivors”.

“It also sends a hugely important message throughout the Western Balkans where we see genocide denial and the glorification of convicted criminals such as Mladic not only persisting but increasing,” Nderitu said in a joint statement with Bachelet.

Heiko Maas

Germany’s foreign minister backed the judge’s decision to confirm the life sentence for Mladic as a “triumph”.

Heiko Maas tweeted that he was “relieved” by The Hague tribunal’s verdict and hoped the rejection of Mladic’s appeal would be “a certain consolation for the victims and the bereaved”.

Charles Michel

The President of the European Council described the ruling as an important step to provide justice to the victims of the genocide.

“It will help us all put the painful past behind us and put the future first,” Michel said on Twitter.

Jasmin Mujanovic

Mujanovic, a political scientist who specialises in southeastern European affairs, welcomed the court’s decision to uphold Mladic’s convictions and the latter’s continued imprisonment.

But he criticised the ruling to reject an appeal by prosecutors of Mladic’s acquittal on one other count of genocide linked to ethnic purges early in the Bosnian war.

“The court has again failed to recognise that the genocide in Bosnia was not localised to Srebrenica,” Mujanovic tweeted.

“But he’ll [Mladic] leave the world alone, caged. A kinder death than he gave his victims.”

Arnesa Buljusmic-Kustura

Buljusmic-Kustura, a writer and lecturer on genocide, fascism and ethnonationalism, said she had “mixed feelings” on Tuesday’s developments, which saw Presiding Judge Prisca Matimba Nyambe of Zambia dissent on several of the court’s rulings concerning Mladic.

“Life sentence. Life in prison. But he gets to have a life while thousands of our people never will,” she tweeted.

“I have mixed feelings. Particularly given that the presiding judge dissented. This isn’t the end, really. As it will just further fuel the Serb ethno-nationalists.”





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Deadly blast in Pakistan near residence of armed group founder | Pakistan News

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Three killed and 13 others wounded after explosion near house of Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed in Lahore.

At least three people have been killed and 13 others wounded after an explosion near the residence of the founder of armed group, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, hospital and police officials said.

The blast took place in the Johar Town area of the city, Pakistan’s second largest, on Wednesday, provincial police chief Inam Ghani said.

“The [Counter Terrorism Department] has taken over the site of the attack completely,” Ghani told reporters at the site of the blast shortly after it took place.

“The CTD will ascertain what it was, what material it was, what was used … and secondly, was it an [improvised explosive device] lodged in a vehicle, and whether it is a suicide attack or not.”

Ghani said a police picket that was set up near the home of a “high-value target” was the apparent target of the attack.

Television footage from the scene showed significant damage to a number of homes near the blast site [Arif Ali / AFP]

A residence belonging to Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the founder of LeT that is designated as a “terrorist” group under Pakistani law and by the United Nations, is located near the site of the blast.

“The biggest target that we see right now is that they are targeting law enforcement agencies,” Ghani said.

Television footage from the scene showed massive damage to a number of homes near the blast site, with windows smashed in, doors blown open and extensive damage to buildings close to the blast epicentre.

At least 16 wounded people were shifted to the nearby government-run Jinnah Hospital, with three of them succumbing to their wounds, a hospital official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Al Jazeera.

Six of the wounded were in a critical condition, the official said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Security officials inspect the site of the blast near Saeed’s residence [Rahat Dar/EPA]

LeT founder Saeed is blamed by the United States and India for being the “mastermind” behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed more than 160 people in a series of coordinated bombings and shootings across the Indian financial capital.

Saeed has denied any wrongdoing and currently runs the charitable wing of the LeT, called Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), which has been designated by both Pakistan and the UN as a front for the armed group.

He was convicted and jailed last year in a series of terrorism financing cases lodged by the Pakistani government as it tightened financial laws and restrictions as part of its review by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) inter-governmental body.

A JuD spokesperson told the Reuters news agency that Saeed was in prison and therefore not in the residence that may have been targeted in Wednesday’s bombing.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Explainer: What is the Delta Plus variant of COVID-19? | Coronavirus pandemic News

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Scientists worry the mutation, coupled with other existing features of the Delta variant, could make it more transmissible.

India on Wednesday said it has found about 40 cases of the Delta coronavirus variant carrying a mutation that appears to make it more transmissible, and advised states to increase testing.

Here is what we know about the variant.

What is Delta Plus?

The variant, called Delta Plus in India, was first reported (PDF) in a Public Health England bulletin on June 11.

It is a sublineage of the Delta variant first detected in India and has acquired the spike protein mutation, called K417N, which is also found in the Beta variant first identified in South Africa.

Some scientists worry that the mutation, coupled with other existing features of the Delta variant, could make it more transmissible.

“The mutation K417N has been of interest as it is present in the Beta variant (B.1.351 lineage), which was reported to have immune evasion property,” India’s health ministry said in a statement.

Shahid Jameel, a top Indian virologist, said the K417N was known to reduce the effectiveness of a cocktail of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies.

Where all it has been found?

As of June 16 (PDF), at least 197 cases have been found in 11 countries – Britain (36), Canada (1), India (8), Japan (15), Nepal (3), Poland (9), Portugal (22), Russia (1), Switzerland (18), Turkey (1), the United States (83).

India said on Wednesday about 40 cases of the variant have been observed in the states of Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh, with “no significant increase in prevalence”. The earliest case in India is from a sample taken on April 5.

Britain said its first five cases were sequenced on April 26 and they were contacts of individuals who had travelled from, or transited through, Nepal and Turkey.

No deaths were reported among the United Kingdom and Indian cases.

What are the worries?

Studies are continuing in India and globally to test the effectiveness of vaccines against this mutation.

“WHO is tracking this variant as part of the Delta variant, as we are doing for other Variants of Concern with additional mutations,” the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement sent to Reuters news agency.

“For the moment, this variant does not seem to be common, currently accounting for only a small fraction of the Delta sequences … Delta and other circulating Variants of Concern remain a higher public health risk as they have demonstrated increases in transmission,” it said.

But India’s health ministry warned that regions where it has been found “may need to enhance their public health response by focusing on surveillance, enhanced testing, quick contact-tracing and priority vaccination”.

There are worries Delta Plus would inflict another wave of infections on India after it emerged from the world’s worst surge in cases only recently.

“The mutation itself may not lead to a third wave in India – that also depends on COVID-appropriate behaviour, but it could be one of the reasons,” said Tarun Bhatnagar, a scientist with the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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EU citizens in UK to be given 28 days to apply for settled status | Brexit News

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People who miss the June 30 settlement scheme deadline will be issued warnings to apply or risk losing their rights.

European Union citizens living in the United Kingdom will be given a 28-day warning to apply for post-Brexit settled status or face losing some of their rights from next month, the government said on Tuesday.

The UK’s so-called settlement scheme for EU and European Economic Area (EEA) citizens, which opened in early 2019, closes on June 30.

It allows Europeans in the UK to retain the same residence, travel, employment and healthcare rights they had before Brexit.

The rules around the UK’s departure from the bloc, which came into force at the beginning of this year, ended the reciprocal freedom of movement.

About 5.6 million people and their dependents have applied for settled status under the scheme since it was introduced.

But about 400,000 cases still require processing, while many are rushing to submit their applications before next week’s deadline.

At the same time, messaging and outreach campaigns are targeting those who may not be aware of the need to apply by next week’s deadline.

Immigration minister Kevin Foster said anyone whose application was not filed by the deadline would not see their rights immediately withdrawn, as they were protected by law.

But he also ruled out extending the June 30 cutoff point.

“Put simply, extending the deadline is not the solution to reaching those people who have not yet applied, and we would just be in a position further down the line where we would be asked to extend again, creating more uncertainties,” Foster told members of a parliamentary committee.

He added that immigration enforcement officials would instead begin issuing 28-day notices to those yet to apply.

The UK’s Home Office, which oversees immigration, said that applications may also be submitted past the 28-day notice period in some cases.

“We’ll set up the support available and we’ll signpost people to make an application, but we do recognise that there may be some people who, after that 28 days, still haven’t been able to make an application,” a Home Office spokesman said, according to The Guardian newspaper.

“I think we would want to work with them to understand why that is the case, and then support them again to make the application.”

Foster said those who had missed the deadline on reasonable grounds will still be able to apply, citing exceptions such as children whose parents had failed to apply on their behalf, or individuals with a serious illness that had prevented them from filing their paperwork.

The government will also issue a “certificate of application” for those awaiting a decision, he added, which will act as proof of their right to work, rent property, obtain benefits and use the National Health Service.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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