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  • El Salvador gangs: State of emergency extended again

    El Salvador’s government has extended a controversial state of emergency by another month for a fourth time.

    The special measures were declared in March to combat rampant gang violence.

    Since then, 46,000 people have been arrested on suspicion of belonging to gangs in the country of 6.5m people.

    Human rights groups say the measures, which allow police to arrest suspects without warrants, have led to arbitrary detentions. But the government argues they have made the country safer.

    One local rights group says dozens of people have died while in detention.

    The extension passed by 67 votes in favour and 15 against in the legislative assembly, where allies of President Nayib Bukele are in the majority.

    The state of emergency was first declared on 27 March after a particularly violent weekend during which 87 people were killed.

    It was originally meant to last for 30 days but has since been extended four times and will now be in force for an extra month until late August.

    Under the emergency measures, certain constitutional rights such as the right to assembly have been curtailed and the security forces have been given more leeway to carry out arrests. The sentences for gang membership have also been increased.

    Human rights groups say among those arrested during the state of emergency are children who do not have any links to gangs.

    Amnesty International said that the state of emergency had “undermined the rights to defence, the presumption of innocence, effective judicial remedy and access to an independent judge”.

    Salvadorean rights group Cristosal said it had documented 63 cases of people arrested during the state of emergency who had died in detention.

    Cristosal’s Ruth Eleonora López said that among those who had died were people with diabetes and renal problems who did not receive the necessary medication while in custody.

    Lawmakers aligned with the government nevertheless praised the state of emergency on Tuesday.

    Caleb Navarro of the president’s Nuevas Ideas (New Ideas) party said that thanks to the measures, El Salvador had “ceased to be the most dangerous country in the world”.

    Defence Minister René Merino Monroy also dismissed criticism from international organisations, saying that “we don’t need advice from anyone to confront crime, neither from here nor from outside the country”.

    “What we are doing has yielded enormous results,” he said.

  • El Salvador: State of emergency after 62 gang killings in a day

    El Salvador’s parliament has approved a state of emergency after the Central American country recorded dozens of gang-related murders in a single day.

    Police said there had been 62 murders on Saturday, making it the most violent 24-hour period since the end of the civil war in 1992.

    New laws restrict the right to gather, allow arrests without a warrant and the monitoring of communications.

    Last year, the gang-plagued nation recorded 1,140 murders – a 30-year low.

    However, that still equates to 18 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. In November, another spate of violence led to more than 40 people being killed within three days.

    Hours before MPs voted on the new powers, which will remain in place for 30 days, police said four leaders of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang had been arrested over the spate of killings.

    President Nayib Bukele, elected in 2019 on promises to fight organised crime and improve security, said: “We have had a new spike in homicides, something that we had worked so hard to reduce.

    “While we fight criminals in the streets, we must try to figure out what is happening and who is financing this.”

    The country “must let the agents and soldiers do their job and must defend them from the accusations of those who protect the gang members”, he added, in the statement tweeted by Congress president Ernesto Castro.

    However, Juan Pappier, from the international campaign group Human Rights Watch, tweeted the measures were “very worrying, especially in a country where there are no independent democratic institutions”.

    Authorities say the MS-13 and Barrio-18 gangs, among others, number about 70,000 members and are responsible for homicides, extortion and drug-trafficking.

    Police said the latest bloodshed had left 12 people dead in the central department of La Libertad, as well as nine each in the capital, San Salvador, and the western department of Ahuachapan, with the other killings spread around the country.

    In April 2020, as coronavirus swept through the country, President Bukele imposed a 24/7 lockdown for imprisoned gang members after more than 50 people were killed in three days.

    He argued that many of the murders were ordered from behind bars and said prisoners belonging to rival gangs would be made to share cells in a bid to break up lines of communication.

  • Mexico violence: Third journalist killed this year

    A Mexican journalist has been shot dead in the northern border city of Tijuana, officials say, the third journalist to be killed in the country this year.

    Lourdes Maldonado López, who had decades of experience, was attacked in her car as she arrived home on Sunday.

    She had previously said she feared for her life, and was enrolled in a scheme to protect journalists, activists said.

    The country is one of the world’s most dangerous for journalists, and dozens have been killed in recent years.

    Many of those targeted covered corruption or powerful drug cartels. Campaigners say the killings are rarely fully investigated, with impunity virtually the norm.

    The motive for Maldonado’s killing was not clear and no-one has been arrested.

    During a news conference in 2019, Maldonado asked President Andrés Manuel López Obrador for his “support, help and labour justice” because, she said, “I fear for my life”.

    She was referring to a labour dispute with Jaime Bonilla, who was elected governor of Baja California state later that year as a candidate from the president’s Morena party. Mr Bonilla, who left office late last year, owns the PSN media outlet, which had employed Maldonado.

    Maldonado had sued the company for unfair dismissal and, last week, said she had won the lawsuit after a nine-year legal battle. Mr Bonilla and PSN have not commented.

    Rights group Article 19 said she had previously been attacked because of her work and was registered in the Mexican government’s programme to protect journalists.

    The campaign group Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said it was “shocked” by the murder.

    The killing came six days after photojournalist Margarito Martínez was shot dead outside his home in Tijuana. He covered crime in the city, with his work appearing in national and foreign media.

    A week earlier, José Luis Gamboa Arenas was found dead with stab wounds in the eastern city of Veracruz. An editor at the Inforegio and La Notícia news websites, he often wrote articles about organised crime and violence.

    Exact numbers of victims are hard to come by as investigations often get nowhere, and different studies apply different criteria in counting the dead.

    According to Article 19, 24 journalists were killed between December 2018, when President López Obrador took office, and the end of 2021.

  • Mexican nursery’s lottery win turns into nightmare

    Parents in southern Mexico say they are being threatened by a gang after their children’s nursery won 20m pesos ($950,000; £710,0000) in a lottery.

    The nursery has just over two dozen pupils and their parents were put in charge of administering the prize.

    Soon after their win was made public, they received threats from an armed group, which demanded that they use the money to buy weapons for the gang.

    The families say they had to flee their village and have been living rough.

    Gang violence is rife in Mexico and armed groups often try to recruit locals in their fight with rivals for control of territory.

    A number of the 500-peso tickets in Mexico’s much-publicised “plane lottery” were bought by anonymous benefactors and donated to poor schools and nurseries across the country.

    The Mexican state organised the lottery after a previous plan to raffle off the presidential plane to raise funds for hospital supplies had been shelved because it was deemed impractical.

    A list of the 100 winners was announced in September 2020 and published in Mexican newspapers.

    The tiny nursery in the indigenous village of Ocosingo was among the winners.

    While the windfall was cause for celebration at first, the problems started soon after news of it spread.

    Members of the parents’ association say that they started receiving threats from an armed group called Los Petules which demanded that the prize money be used to buy guns for the gang, which reportedly planned to attack a rival group in a neighbouring village.

    The parents refused and instead spent part of the money on a new roof for the nursery.

    The threats increased this year when the parents decided to use the remaining 14m pesos for works to improve their village.

    In March, one father was shot at by gang members who demanded he hand over the prize money.

    Last month, the situation escalated further when the gang reportedly attacked women and children in the village, causing 28 families to flee.

    One member of the parents’ association said the community had lost “cattle, our homes, refrigerators, our corn and bean harvests, our chickens”.

    A spokesman for the families said that they had alerted the local authorities to their plight but that unless the gang was disarmed and dissolved, they would not be able to return to their homes.

  • Bambini che giocano un ruolo chiave nei conflitti in Africa

    Nei conflitti armati nell’Africa occidentale e centrale vengono reclutati più bambini che in qualsiasi altra parte del mondo. A dichiararlo è l’ONU che con la sua agenzia per l’Infanzia, l’Unicef, parla di più di 20.000 bambini che si sono uniti a gruppi armati negli ultimi cinque anni.

    I bambini sono usati come combattenti ma anche come messaggeri, spie, cuochi, addetti alle pulizie, guardie e facchini in paesi dal Mali alla Repubblica Democratica del Congo.

    L’Africa occidentale e centrale ha registrato anche il maggior numero di bambini vittime di violenza sessuale nel mondo e il secondo numero di rapimenti.

    La regione ha diversi conflitti armati in corso, tra cui insurrezioni islamiste e guerre separatiste.

    L’Unicef, oltre a tenere sempre accesa l’attenzione sulla situazione, chiede un maggiore sostegno agli sforzi per prevenire e rispondere alle gravi violazioni contro i bambini.

  • In Nigeria non si arresta la violenza sulle donne

    Amnesty International sta invitando le autorità nigeriane ad attivarsi per proteggere le donne e le ragazze dalla dilagante piaga della violenza sessuale. In un nuovo rapporto emerge infatti che lo stupro continua ad essere tra le violazioni dei diritti umani più diffuse in Nigeria grazie anche all’incapacità delle stesse autorità di affrontare con durezza il problema, incoraggiando così gli stupratori che possono agire indisturbati e costringendo al silenzio, per rassegnazione, le vittime. Malgrado la dichiarazione da parte delle autorità nigeriane di uno “stato di emergenza” sulla violenza sessuale e di genere, lo stupro persiste e a chi lo subisce è negata giustizia. Secondo il rapporto di Amnesty, infatti, gli stupratori spesso evitano di essere perseguiti mentre centinaia di casi di stupro non vengono denunciati per la corruzione dilagante e la stessa associazione ha criticato duramente la polizia nigeriana, accusandola di aver accettato tangenti dagli autori delle violenze affinché si smettesse di indagare sui loro crimini.

    Il responsabile di Amnesty International in Nigeria, Ossai Ojigho, ha affermato che “non solo le donne e le ragazze vengono stuprate in Nigeria, ma quando con coraggio denunciano l’accaduto vengono tacciate dagli agenti di polizia come bugiarde e in cerca di attenzioni”. All’offesa si aggiunge anche il pregiudizio.

  • Ethiopia’s Tigray crisis: Report says war crimes may have been committed

    All sides in Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict have violated international human rights, some of which may amount to crimes against humanity, a new report states.

    Extra-judicial executions, torture, rape, and attacks against refugees and displaced people were documented.

    A joint investigation by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the UN Human Rights Office said there could also be evidence of war crimes.

    The war broke out on 4 November 2020.

    It started when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy ordered an offensive against regional forces in northern Tigray region.

    Government forces initially routed the rebels, but things changed in June with the Tigrayan fighters making significant territorial gains. They are now reportedly approaching the capital, Addis Ababa.

    On Tuesday, the Ethiopian government declared a state of emergency hours after urging residents of the capital to arm themselves.

    The war has created a humanitarian crisis. Thousands of people have been killed, millions displaced and hundreds of thousands in Tigray face famine conditions, according to aid organisations.

    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said the conflict had been marked by extreme brutality and called for a lasting ceasefire.

    “There are reasonable grounds to believe all parties to the conflict… either directly attacked civilians and civilian objects, such as houses, schools, hospitals, and places of worship, or carried out indiscriminate attacks resulting in civilian casualties and destruction or damage to civilian objects,” the report states.

    Unlawful or extrajudicial killings and executions have also been recorded.

    The report details how a Tigrayan youth group known as Samri killed more than 200 ethnic Amhara civilians in Mai Kadra in November last year. Revenge killings were then committed against ethnic Tigrayans in the same town.

    The Eritrean army has joined the conflict fighting alongside the Ethiopian government forces. Eritrean soldiers killed more than 100 civilians in Aksum in central Tigray later in November 2020, the report says.

    “War crimes may have been committed since there are reasonable grounds to believe that persons taking no direct part in hostilities were wilfully killed by parties to the conflict,” the report says.

    It also cites cases of sexual violence including gang rape committed by both sides and targeting women, men, girls and boys.

    In one incident a 19-year-old woman was detained and raped repeatedly for three months. A case of a woman with disability being sexually assaulted was also reported.

    The report says sexual violence was used “to degrade and dehumanise the victims”.

    The organisations called on the Ethiopian government to conduct “thorough and effective investigations by independent and impartial bodies into allegations of violations and to hold those responsible accountable”.

    Prime Minister Abiy said he ordered the military offensive last November in response to an attack on a military base housing government troops there.

    The escalation came after months of feuding between Mr Abiy’s government and leaders of the TPLF, which was the dominant political party in Tigray.

    The authorities later labelled the TPLF a terrorist organisation and ruled out any peace talks with them.

    The federal government’s renewed ground offensive in recent weeks, including using airstrikes, has failed to halt the rebels’ territorial gains.

    In a statement on Wednesday, Mr Abiy said the government had “serious reservations” about aspects of the joint report but added that his government was “heartened” that the investigation did not establish the claim of genocide against Tigrayans and did not give any evidence that the government had wilfully denied humanitarian assistance to people in Tigray, as some reports have suggested.

    The spokesperson for the Tigray People Liberation Front said the report was “fraught with a number of problems,” saying that the involvement of the EHRC was an “affront to the notion of impartiality”.

  • Il Parlamento europeo vuole una legge per il femminicidio

    Un elenco che si allunga giorno dopo giorno. Una lista di donne morte ammazzate che, solo in Italia, ha raggiunto 84 nomi nel 2021, l’ultimo quello della 21enne Alessandra Zorzin, uccisa con un colpo di pistola nel Vicentino. Per questo il Parlamento Europeo ha adottato una risoluzione in cui si chiede una legge e delle politiche mirate per affrontare tutte le forme di violenza e discriminazione basate sul genere, contro donne e ragazze, ma anche contro le persone Lgbtiq+, sia offline che online. “Il femminicidio è la forma più estrema di violenza di genere contro le donne e le ragazze”, si sottolinea da Strasburgo, dove gli eurodeputati evidenziano che “anche negare l’assistenza all’aborto sicuro e legale è una forma di violenza di genere”.

    Oltre ai molti effetti negativi personali, sociali ed economici della violenza di genere, gli eurodeputati fanno notare che la situazione si è esacerbata con la pandemia e che la mancata risposta sulla carenza di fiducia da parte delle vittime di violenza di genere nei confronti delle autorità di contrasto e del sistema giudiziario è un elemento che contribuisce in modo importante allo scarso numero di denunce. L’Eurocamera chiede alla Commissione di elencare la violenza di genere come una nuova sfera di criminalità ai sensi del Trattato sul funzionamento dell’Unione europea, insieme ad altri crimini che devono essere combattuti su base comune come il traffico di esseri umani, di droga e di armi, il crimine informatico e il terrorismo.

    E, dopo l’omicidio di Alessandra Zorzin a Montecchio Maggiore – l’omicida, una guardia giurata di 39 anni, si è suicidata subito dopo nella sua auto – oggi a Bari è stato fermato il presunto assassino dell’81enne uccisa a coltellate a Bari due giorni fa. Si tratta del 51enne Saverio Masecorto, addetto alle pulizie del palazzo dove viveva l’anziana. “Una persona bravissima, mi voleva bene, qui tutti mi vogliono bene, sono dieci anni che vengo qui a pulire”, aveva raccontato alle telecamere di Mediaset proprio nei momenti successivi all’omicidio. “Lunedì qui c’era un mortorio, un deserto, nessuno che entrava o usciva” aveva detto, confermando che lui c’era e spiegando che, secondo lui, il killer poteva essere entrato in casa perché “quando faceva caldo la signora lasciava sempre la porta di ingresso aperta”. Alla fine, incastrato dalle immagini delle telecamere di un negozio non distante dal palazzo, l’uomo si è arreso e ha confessato agli investigatori. Secondo quanto raccontato dall’uomo anche alle figlie, avrebbe ucciso la donna per rubarle 1.500 euro e un bancomat.

    Potrebbe essere l’ennesimo femminicidio anche quello di Antonietta Canu, la donna di 71 anni di Alghero, scomparsa da casa il 13 luglio scorso, il cui cadavere è stato ritrovato il 4 settembre in avanzato stato di decomposizione. Sul corpo della donna è stata eseguita l’autopsia dalla quale sarebbero emersi elementi che fanno pensare a un omicidio. Principale sospettato è il nipote 34enne della vittima, Antonio Cataldi, che viveva insieme con la zia. Gli inquirenti sospettano che la donna sia stata uccisa, il suo corpo tenuto nascosto per settimane e poi portato nel terreno incolto dove è stato ritrovato il 4 settembre.

  • Ethiopian troops ‘raided hospital looking for TPLF’

    Ethiopian soldiers raided a hospital on Sunday in the northern historic city of Aksum in Tigray, looking for members of the Tigray People Liberation Fighters (TPLF), the AFP news agency reports, quoting doctors at the hospital.

    The soldiers pointed guns at the doctors and nurses and questioned wounded patients, the health workers, who didn’t want to be identified, told AFP.

    They also said the troops removed bandages and intravenous fluids from the sick and pointed their guns at doctors and nurses.

    Medical charity MSF, which supports the hospital, confirmed the incident, saying in a statement that the soldiers “went ward by ward intimidating caretakers and threatening health staff”.

    “[We] are very concerned about the frequent violations of the neutrality of the medical mission by armed groups,” MSF said in a statement.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered an offensive last year in Tigray after TPLF fighters attacked military bases hosting federal troops.

    The conflict – which is in its seventh month – has killed thousands and displaced many more.

    Rights groups gave documented horrific crimes against civilians from both sides, including by troops from neighbouring Eritrea who are backing federal troops.

  • Nel 2020 boom di richieste di aiuto da parte delle donne (+72%)

    Nel 2020, l’anno della pandemia, la permanenza forzata in casa di molte donne si è tramutata in un vero e proprio inferno. Il numero delle violenze di partner e conviventi ha fatto saltare l’asticella delle richieste di aiuto al 1522, il numero antiviolenza e stalking. Tra marzo e ottobre dell’anno scorso – ha certificato e in qualche modo ribadito il 2/o Rapporto sulla filiera della sicurezza in Italia, realizzato dal Censis e da Federsicurezza – le chiamate sono state 23.071, aumentate del 72% rispetto alle 13.424 dello stesso periodo del 2019.

    Ma l’aumento della paura e dell’ansia ha interessato un po’ tutti gli italiani, condizionandone fortemente la qualità della vita: il 75,8% ha paura di camminare per strada e di prendere i mezzi pubblici di sera, l’83,8% teme di frequentare luoghi affollati, l’88,5% di incontrare persone sconosciute sui social network, il 76,3% ha paura di condividere immagini sul web e il 22,5% di stare a casa da soli di notte. Il tutto in un contesto composto da oltre 6 milioni di italiani che ha paura di tutto, i cosiddetti ‘panofobici’, persone che in casa o fuori vivono costantemente in stato d’ansia. E tra questi prevalgono le donne (18%), seguite a ruota dalle persone con meno di 35 anni (16,3% pari a 1,7 milioni).

    La presenza della paura in realtà cozza con un drastico calo (-19%) delle denunce per reati (1.866.857) rispetto al 2019. Nonostante ciò per due terzi degli italiani (il 66,6% del totale) la paura di rimanere vittima di un reato non è diminuita e per il 28,6% è addirittura aumentata. Un settore in crescita è il cybercrime, con 241.673 truffe e frodi informatiche, il 13,9% in più rispetto all’anno precedente. E il risultato è che un italiano su tre non si sente sicuro quando fa operazioni bancarie online o usa sistemi di pagamento elettronici per acquisti in rete. Secondo lo studio il 50,5% degli italiani esprime fiducia nelle guardie giurate e negli operatori della sicurezza privata, “ma – ha detto durante la presentazione del rapporto il consigliere di Federsicurezza Alberto Ziliani – il 55,7% è convinto che il settore avrebbe bisogno di un maggiore riconoscimento sociale”. “In termini di sicurezza – ha evidenziato la deputata di Forza Italia Annagrazia Calabria, vicepresidente della Commissione Affari costituzionali della Camera – le parole chiave devono essere prevenzione e sussidiarietà, affinché si crei una sistema integrato di tutela che poggi anche sui privati, adeguatamente formati”.

    “E’ necessario investire sulla fiducia dei cittadini”, ha avvertito il sottosegretario all’Interno Nicola Molteni (Lega). “E’ un tema importante quello della sicurezza integrata, sia quando si parla della propria abitazione che dell’intero Paese. E tutto deve andare di pari passo con il concetto di libertà. Anche per questo va difeso il settore della sicurezza privata, con le sue 1.700 aziende e i 70mila lavoratori che diventano 200mila se si tiene conto dell’indotto”. Nella sicurezza “serve integrazione tra pubblico e privato e le competenze debbono aumentare, visto anche l’aumento delle tecnologie”, ha rimarcato Alberto Pagani (Pd) della Commissione Difesa della Camera.

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