Ukraine, dead inmates in Ecuador, climate change… Tuesday’s news

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UN investigators fear thousands of civilians may have been killed in Mariupol

UN human rights investigators fear thousands of Ukrainian civilians may have been killed in Mariupol, though they will not be able to verify the figure until they gain access to the city.

To date, the Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine has confirmed 7,061 civilian casualties, with 3,381 dead and 3,680 injured across the country since the beginning of the Russian invasion. The actual figures are higher, and the Mission is working to verify each of the incidents.

“The great black hole is Mariúpol, where we have not had access and we have not been able to collate the information. We estimate that thousands of civilians have died there from the hostilities, but we have not yet been able to confirm it. Throughout the country, we have worked on estimates, but for now what we can say is that there are thousands more deaths than the figures we have given,” said Matilda Bogner, who heads the Mission.

Last week, Bogner and his colleagues visited 14 cities in the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions.

“In Bucha and other settlements in northern Kyiv that were occupied by the Russian armed forces we have reports of the illegal murder of more than 300 men, women and children. Unfortunately, these numbers will continue to rise as we visit more areas,” he noted.

Since February 24, the Monitoring Mission has documented 204 cases of enforced disappearances (169 men, 34 women, one child), the vast majority of them by the Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups.

“We have also received credible information of torture, ill-treatment and incommunicado detention by the Ukrainian Armed Forces against prisoners of war from the Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups,” Bogner said.

Guterres meets with Ukrainian refugees in Moldova

The Secretary General is in Vienna, after concluding his visit to Moldova where he met with the country’s President Maia Sandu.

António Guterres highlighted the solidarity of Moldova, the country that has received the most refugees compared to its population and where 95% are living with families.

The Secretary-General visited a refugee reception center and said that it is impossible not to be deeply moved by their stories. “People who fled the bombing of their cities. A couple told me about a bomb that fell in their yard. People who have abandoned everything, even part of the family, because, as you know, men are not allowed to leave the country. So this tragedy shows that war is meaningless, and that this war must end,” Guterres said.

“It is absolutely necessary to stop this war and it is absolutely necessary that international law prevails,” he insisted.

The Human Rights Office calls for an urgent reform of Ecuador’s criminal justice system after the death of dozens of inmates in a prison in the country.

According to the authorities, at least 44 people died and more than a dozen were injured after riots broke out at a prison in the northern city of Santo Domingo.

It is the latest episode of violence in the country’s prisons, which since December 2020 has left at least 390 people murdered

“These troubling incidents underscore once again the urgent need for comprehensive reform of the criminal justice system, including the prison system, to address what has been a protracted crisis in the country,” said spokeswoman Liz Throsell.

The UN emphasizes that the State is presumably responsible for these deaths as it is obliged to guarantee the safety of those in its custody, and calls for a full investigation of the incidents.

There is a 50% chance that at least one of the next five years will temporarily reach the 1.5°C threshold of the Paris Agreement on climate change, according to the latest report from the UN weather agency.

The odds of global warming passing that mark were slim to none in 2015, but they’ve been rising ever since.

“This threshold of 1.5 °C is not a random figure, but indicates the point at which the effects of climate will become increasingly detrimental not just for people, but for the entire planet,” said World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

Also, there is a 93% chance that at least one of the years in the period between 2022 and 2026 becomes the warmest ever recorded and unseat 2016 from first place.

Conference on terrorism and human rights in Spain

This Tuesday, a high-level international conference on human rights, civil society and the fight against terrorism, organized jointly by the UN and Spain, was inaugurated in Malaga.

The conference brings together member states, international organizations, civil society and human rights defenders.

Addressing the opening ceremony via video message, the Secretary-General stressed that anchoring responses to terrorism in the rule of law, human rights and gender equality is essential to ensure their effectiveness. “As a moral duty, legal obligation and strategic imperative, let us put human rights where they belong: front and center in the fight against terror,” said António Guterres.

“This meeting reflects a central truth. Terrorism is not just an attack on innocent people. It represents an all-out attack on human rights. The threat is growing and global,” the Secretary-General added.

Civil society and human rights defenders are silenced, especially women.

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