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Zimbabwe activists tortured ahead of planned protests

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Torture

According to Jestina Mukoko, chairwoman of the Coalition of Civil Society Organisations, six people had, so far, been abducted by suspected state agents on the evening of Aug. 13 and Aug. 14.

They have been severely tortured and left to die.

The abductions came after the main opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), calling for mass protests to raise concerns about the struggling economy.

Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa, said the country was witnessing a violent crackdown on activists and civil society leaders, with authorities using some of the brutal tactics of the former president, Robert Mugabe.

Meanwhile, witnesses reported heavy police and army presence in the capital as tensions rose ahead of the planned protest.

The National Police spokesman, Paul Nyathi, said intelligence and concrete evidence on ground revealed that the peaceful demonstrations would turn out to be violent one.

Nyathi reiterated that security forces would not fold their arms and allow violence, destruction of property, intimidation, threats and clandestine acts of violent agitation to take centre stage.

Meanwhile, many Zimbabweans were fed up with the government, which promised to fix the country’s economic woes when Mugabe was replaced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2017.

Zimbabwe witnessed deadly protests earlier, after the government increased more than double fuel pump prices. (dpa/NAN)

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India’s Supreme Court to examine law on Islamic instant divorce

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The legislation to ban the practice of “triple talaq” and make it a punishable offence with a maximum of three years’ jail term was passed by the Indian parliament in July.

India has been one of the few countries where a Muslim man could still divorce his wife instantly by saying the word “talaq” (meaning divorce in Arabic) three times in quick succession.

Supreme Court judges issued a notice to the federal government, seeking its response on a clutch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the law, known as the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, broadcaster NDTV reported.

Salman Khurshid, lawyer for one of the petitioners, who include Muslim scholars and clergy, argued several facets of the law including the “excessive and stringent provisions” of three years in jail, required to be examined by the court.

The petitions were filed in the court a day after President Ram Nath Kovind approved the law.

India’s Hindu nationalist government maintains that the law is a move to ensuring gender equality and justice and more than 20 Muslim countries including Pakistan and Malaysia had already banned the practice.

Critics of the practice say it leaves women destitute and robs them of their basic rights.

Opposition parties had objected to the bill, saying the proposed law could be misused to harass Muslims – a vulnerable minority in India – and that it should be reviewed by a parliamentary committee. (dpa/NAN)

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Taiwan braces for tropical storm Bailu

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Taiwan braces for tropical storm Bailu

Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau issued a land warning for Bailu at 2:30 pm (0630 GMT), nine hours after the issuing of a sea warning for both the Bashi Channel and the Taiwan Strait.

According to the bureau, the centre of Bailu, currently 600 kilometres south-east of Taitung, a south-eastern city, is moving at a pace of about 24 kilometres per hour in a north-west direction toward the

Hengchun Peninsula in southern Taiwan.

Bailu continues to grow and intensify and the centre is expected to make landfall in Taitung on Saturday, the bureau said.

On Friday, more than 2,000 tourists were evacuated from offshore Green Island and Orchid Island, which sit off Taitung.

Ferry services between Taiwan’s main island and some offshore islets will be suspended on Saturday, state-run Central News Agency reported. (dpa/NAN)

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Global watchdog to monitor Pakistan’s progress in tackling militant funding

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Global watchdog to monitor Pakistan’s progress in tackling militant funding

Islamabad, Aug. 23, 2019 The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) will monitor Pakistan’s progress in implementing a proposed plan against financing for militant organisations, ahead of a meeting in October, the international watchdog body on Friday said.

Its Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) met in Canberra this week to discuss reports on countries, including Pakistan, which was in 2018 placed on a “gray list” of countries with inadequate controls over money laundering and terrorism financing.

The reports “will now be subject to post-plenary quality and consistency review prior to publication,” it said in a statement on its website after the meeting ended.

Final publication on the APG website is expected in early October 2019, it added.

In June, the watchdog gave Pakistan until October to improve its counter-terror finance operations or face further action.

Separately, Pakistan’s finance ministry rejected as baseless Indian media reports that Islamabad was put on FATF’s black list.

India, engaged in a standoff with Pakistan over the disputed region of Kashmir, has pressed for further sanctions against its neighbor.

Pakistan has been placed on so-called “enhanced follow-up” in line with FATF’s evaluation procedures, the ministry said in a statement.

“…Pakistan would be required to submit follow-up progress reports to APG on quarterly basis,” it added. (dpa/NAN)

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Report says insecurity triples school closures in West, Central Africa

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Report says insecurity triples school closures in West, Central Africa

School

Almost 9,300 schools are closed in Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo, Mali, Niger and Nigeria as a result of insecurity, triple the number recorded at the end of 2017, the fund said in a new report.

Deliberate attacks on schools, pupils and teachers were denying children their right to learn and leaving them in fear for their lives, said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Charlotte Gornitzka, after visiting the region.

Cameroon, where clashes between the army and an English-speaking separatist movement have led to insecurity for the past couple of years, is the most affected country in the region, with more than 4,400 schools forcibly closed, the organisation found.

Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have meanwhile witnessed a six-fold increase in school closures due to attacks and threats of violence in just over two years, from 512 in April 2017 to 3,005 in June 2019, UNICEF said.

Countries in West and Central Africa suffer from ongoing insecurity caused by various rebel, militia and terrorist groups, including Boko Haram and the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP). (dpa/NAN)

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Vietnam prosecutor imprisoned for child molestation

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Vietnam prosecutor imprisoned for child molestation

Nguyen Huu Linh, a lawyer and former Deputy Prosecutor of Da Nang, was found to have forcibly kissed and touched an eight-year-old girl in an elevator of an apartment complex in April, the People’s Court of Da Nang ruled.

He was sentenced for “lewd behaviour” toward someone under the age of 16.

The case caused a scandal in Vietnam after security footage of the incident went viral on social media, leading to calls for the former prosecutor’s indictment.

While Linh admitted to attempting to kiss the girl, he pleaded not guilty on the grounds that his behaviour did not rise to the level of criminality.

Under Vietnamese law, he could have been sentenced to up to three years imprisonment. (dpa/NAN)

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