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EU’s border agency denies wrongdoing as evidence of immigrants’ human rights abuse surfaces



The European Union’s border agency, Frontex denied any wrongdoing with regard to alleged violations of the human rights of immigrants at external EU borders and on deportation flights.

The agency said on Monday,

According to internal Frontex documents seen by German broadcaster ARD, British newspaper The Guardian and human-rights research centre Correctiv, the agency has been turning a blind eye to human-rights abuse of immigrants at external EU borders, in Bulgaria, Hungary and Greece, among others.

Some immigrants reportedly suffered excessive use of force, attack by pepper spray and mauling by dogs.

Violations reportedly happened also on deportation flights, with unaccompanied minors being deported and handcuffs overused.

“Frontex categorically denies any involvement of its officers in violations of fundamental rights,” the agency informed in an email to dpa.

“Frontex  condemns any form of inhumane treatment, unprocessed returns and any other form of violence which are illegal under the European Charter for Fundamental Rights.’’

No complaint against any Frontex officer has been received to date, the agency said.

All Frontex officers are bound by the code of conduct, which obliges them to report any incident in which they believe violations of human right occurred.

Such reports have been filed in the past and immediate action from the agency has followed, Frontex said.

At the same time, the agency does not have the authority over the behaviour of the national border police forces

Nor does it have the power to conduct investigations on the territory of the EU Member States,” it said.

A spokeswoman for the European Commission confirmed that the body had seen the reports and said it took such allegations very seriously.

“Any form of violence or abuse against migrants and refugees is unacceptable.

“ We will now follow up with the European Border and Coastguard Agency, which will look into these allegations to seek to determine

“ if these reports are true and follow up appropriately,” Mina Andreeva said in Brussels on Monday.

“Frontex’s rights-regulation mechanisms had been beefed up  in recent years, Andreeva said.

“The role of the European Border and Coastguard (Agency) is to support national border guards in managing the EU’s external borders.

Edited by Halima Sheji




South Korean boyband BTS donates $1 million to Black Lives Matter



Popular South Korean band BTS donated $1 million to Black Lives Matter (BLM) in support of United States protests against police brutality, its music label, Big Hit Entertainment, told Reuters on Sunday.

On Thursday, the seven-member BTS wrote on its Twitter account that they are against racism and violence, with the hashtag BlackLivesMatter:

“We stand against racial discrimination. We condemn violence. You, I and we all have the right to be respected. We will stand together.”

The hashtag went viral among the K-pop group’s fans and started another wave of donations with a new hashtag, MatchAMillion.

The movement encouraged BTS’ fan base, known as ARMY, an acronym for Adorable Representative MC for Youth, to match the $1 million donation the group made.

One Twitter account said, “ARMYs, let’s #MatchAMillion with BTS’s donation to #BlackLivesMatter!”

The boyband suspended their world tour over coronavirus concerns in April.

The rolling, global protests reflect rising anger over police treatment of ethnic minorities, sparked by the May 25 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis,after a white officer detaining him knelt on his neck.

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara (NAN)

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Surfers fought off three-metre shark that killed Australian man



Surfers bravely fought off a three-metre shark attacking a fellow surfer and pulled him to the beach.

However, he later died from savage bites to his leg, police reported on Sunday.

The attack, believed to be from a large great white shark, occurred at popular surfing spot Salt Beach near Kingscliff, 800 kilometres north of Sydney on Sunday morning.

The man, believed to be 60 years old and from neighbouring state of Queensland, was treated on the beach for serious injuries to his left leg but police said he died at the scene.

Nearby beaches were cleared of swimmers and surfers while helicopters tried to find the shark.

A large great white was spotted and followed for some distance as it cruised the beaches.

The beaches are closed for 24 hours while police and fisheries officials investigate the circumstances surrounding the death.

Ambulance spokesman Terry Savage told the national broadcaster ABC the man’s injuries were “significant” and the scene was “very confronting”.

“Unfortunately there was nothing else we could do,” Savage said.

He described the two men who fought off the shark and helped the man to shore as “amazing”.

“(It was) nothing short of heroic to get him in to the beach,” he said.

Local surf club member James Owen said the death was a “terrible tragic event”.

“It’s a bit of a shock for everyone at the moment.

“There’s a very sombre mood here. I don’t know of a previous fatal shark incident in this area.

“For whatever reason, this shark’s decided to have a bite,” Owen told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

Kingscliff local Stuart Gonsal told ABC he had just arrived at the beach to surf when police were calling people out of the water.

“A lot of people were still stuck out the back there. It took a while to get all the people out of the water,” Gonsal said.

He said there had been plenty of fish in local waters recently and a lot of fishing boats were out on the water.

It is the third fatal shark attack this year in Australian waters, with seven other non-fatal attacks recorded by Sydney’s Taronga Zoo Shark Attack File.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Russia adds 8,984 new COVID-19 cases with total at 467,673




Russia has confirmed 8,984 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking its total to 467,673, the country’s coronavirus response center said in a statement Sunday.

The death toll grew by 134 to 5,859, while 226,731 people have recovered, including 5,343 over the last 24 hours, according to the statement.

Moscow, the country’s worst-hit region, reported 1,956 newly confirmed cases, taking its tally of infections to 195,017.

As of Saturday, 318,846 people were under medical observation, while over 12.7 million COVID-19 tests have been conducted nationwide, Russia’s consumer rights and human well-being watchdog said in a statement Sunday.


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Kyrgyz COVID-19 cases reach 2,007




Kyrgyzstan’s COVID-19 cases reached 2,007 on Sunday, after 33 new cases were registered in the past day.

Among the newly confirmed cases, one was imported, 26 are contacts of confirmed cases who were already under medical observation and six are of unknown origin, the country’s Deputy Health Minister Nurbolot Usenbaev said at a news briefing on Sunday.

He added that among the newly infected, six are medical workers, bringing the tally of contracted medical workers to 395, including 275 recoveries.

COVID-19 was detected among kindergarten employees as well, Usenbaev said, adding that three workers had tested positive for the virus.

As of Sunday morning, 65 patients have recovered from the disease, raising the total number of recoveries to 1,425.

Currently, 560 people remain hospitalized, and two patients are being treated in intensive care.

In total, 1,461 people who have had contact with infected patients are under medical observation and another 8,415 people are in home quarantine under the supervision of doctors.


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3 people killed after car crashes into New Zealand pond



Three people have died after a car crashed into a  pond in New Zealand on Sunday morning.

Emergency services were called to a report of a vehicle underwater at a central North Island farm near the town of Raetihi, police said in a statement.

“Tragically the three people were deceased when recovered from the pond by emergency services,” the police said.

Police were working to support the family of those killed.

Worksafe, the government agency that oversees workplace health and safety, has been notified.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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China publishes white paper on COVID-19 fight



China on Sunday issued a white paper on the country’s battle against COVID-19.

The white paper, titled “Fighting COVID-19: China in Action,” was issued by the State Council Information Office.

The Chinese government released the white paper to keep a record of the country’s efforts in its own fight against the virus, to share its experience with the rest of the world.

China also wants to clarify its ideas on the global battle, according to the white paper.

The COVID-19 global pandemic is the most extensive to afflict humanity in a century, it said.

Facing the “unknown, unexpected, and devastating disease,” China launched a resolute battle to prevent and control its spread, the white paper said.

Making people’s lives and health its first priority, China adopted extensive, stringent, and thorough containment measures, and has for now succeeded in cutting all channels for the transmission of the virus, it added.

The white paper consists of four parts: “China’s Fight against the Epidemic: A Test of Fire,” “Well-Coordinated Prevention, Control and Treatment,” “Assembling a Powerful Force to Beat the Virus,” and “Building a Global Community of Health for All.”

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Malaysia easing more restrictions as COVID-19 under control: PM




Malaysia is further easing restrictive measures to allow nearly all social, education, commercial activities to resume since the latest figure suggests that the COVID-19 outbreak in the country is under control, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Sunday.

In a televised speech, Muhyiddin announced that the restrictions under the movement control order would be further relaxed from June 10 to give the public greater freedom while keeping the outbreak in the country under control.

Malaysia has been under restrictions since March 18 to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, with a relaxed version being implemented since May 4, which is scheduled to end on June 9.

Since the implementation of the restrictions, the infection rate of COVID-19 in the country has been showing a trend of decline, with data suggesting that the local transmission among Malaysians is going down and under control, said Muhyiddin, adding that most new cases recently were imported ones or from the illegal migrants held at the immigration detention facilities.

“This shows that Malaysia has successfully controlled the spread of COVID-19 and now is entering the recovery phase,” he said.

Under the recovery phase of the movement control order, interstate travel and domestic tourism will be allowed, and nearly all social, educational, religious activities, and commercial and economic businesses will be allowed to operate with the requirement of strict standard operating procedure (SOP) set by the government.

Schools will reopen on stages, with the Health Ministry and Education Ministry working out details on the implementation.

However, pubs, night clubs, entertainment centers, theme parks, massage parlors as well as sporting events and other large-scale activities resulting in crowds will remain prohibited. Sporting activities involving physical contacts like football are still not allowed.

Border controls remain in place. Malaysia has banned citizens from leaving the country and foreign visitors to enter since the implementation of the movement control order.

The new measures will be in place till Aug. 31, said Muhyiddin.

The prime minister said during this time the government will focus on seven key thrusts, including strengthening public health, border security, law enforcement, implementing the “new normal” culture, community responsibility, protecting vulnerable groups and fully opening the economy.

Muhyiddin emphasized the importance of complying with rules and SOPs implemented for the public’s safety, warning that the government would not hesitate to reimpose strict measures should the number of new cases spike.

He also appealed for the public to accept the new normal as a culture and to be patient as the government was working as hard as possible to normalize the situation in the country.


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China’s foreign trade fell 9.3% in May



Chinese foreign trade fell 9.3 per cent in May compared to the same period last year, Chinese customs officials said in Beijing on Sunday.

Exports fell 3.3 per cent calculated in United States dollars, while imports fell by as much as 16.7 per cent.

Exports had fared better than experts had predicted in light of the coronavirus pandemic, while imports had fallen below estimates.

The outlook for exports remains poor.

Other economic barometers already indicated last week that export orders are down for May.

In April, exports had performed well, rising a surprise 3.5 per cent, yet imports had already fallen by 14.2 per cent.

Trade with the United States fell by a total of 12.7 per cent compared with the same period last year.

The world’s two largest economies have been in a trade-war with mutually imposed special tariffs for two years.

Chinese exports to the United States slumped by 14.3 per cent in May, while imports from the US fell by 7.6 per cent.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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COVID-19: Lufthansa offers ‘return-flight-guarantee’



German airline Lufthansa will offer passengers a “return-flight guarantee” during the coronavirus pandemic, CEO Carsten Spohr told German media.

“Anyone who wants to go back to Germany, we’ll bring them back,” Spohr told the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper’s Sunday edition.

“Be it because they are not allowed to enter the destination country due to recording a high temperature, they have to be quarantined there or because the virus has broken out.

“In all these cases there will be a guaranteed return flight,” Spohr said.

He did not go into details, but additionally expressed confidence that demand for private travel would return very quickly.

Lufthansa had come under severe pressure during the coronavirus pandemic, as nearly all flights were grounded for months.

Now that some countries are lifting travel bans, Lufthansa wants to entice passengers back on board.

Thousands of jobs are now at stake in the group, which employs about 138,000 people.

The company is in the later stages of agreement with the German government over a bail-out agreement worth around 9 billion euros (10.1 billion dollars).

Spohr also called for consideration of “government incentives for new aircraft” and also spoke of an “innovation premium”.

“A new aircraft needs up to 25 per cent less fuel and to generate 50 per cent less noise than its predecessor. The jump is enormous.”

If more new aircraft were purchased, it would help “the environment, the aircraft manufacturers and the airlines,” Spohr said.

Lufthansa is negotiating with Boeing and Airbus on taking delivery of planes later than agreed.

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