Friday, March 31, 2017

US : NO REMOVAL OF SYRIAN PRESIDENT BASHAR AL-ASSAD.

US representative to the United Nations Nikki Haley says that the US is no longer prioritizing the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Ambassador Haley said yesterday US cannot necessarily focus on Assad the way that the previous administration did.
Washington’s priorities in Syria have changed with the new administration, and the US will no longer focus on the removal of President Bashar Assad as a condition for ending the six-year civil war, a top official said.
“Our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out,” Ambassador Nikki Haley told a small group of reporters on Thursday.
“Our priority is to really look at how do we get things done, who do we need to work with to really make a difference for the people in Syria.”
Earlier in the day, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the future of President Assad “will be decided by the Syrian people.” 
Under President Barack Obama, the US said Assad must go and backed the rebels fighting against him. But US resources shifted after the rise of the so-called Islamic state. Speaking during a visit to Turkey yesterday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Mr Assad’s long-term future will be decided by the Syrian people.
A representative for the Syrian opposition called Mrs Haley’s announcement unfortunate, adding that American representatives are sending contradicting messages. They clearly said Assad has no role in the transitional period.
President Donald Trump has vowed to work more closely with Russia, which has been supporting Mr Assad with its military might during the Syrian civil war.

GERMAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR STRONGER FRENCH-GERMAN LEADERSHIP

New German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has called for stronger French-German leadership to ensure the EU’s future one day after Britain triggered its exit from the bloc. Steinmeier said in a joint statement with French president Francois Hollande during a visit to Paris that “whether we want it or not, Germany and France will have to assume a greater responsibility… to build Europeans’ hopes.” He said the EU can be changed but remain “vital, indispensable.” French president Francois Hollande warned against “the trap of nationalism” in Europe and called on member states to show greater solidarity

NATO, RUSSIA SHARE TROOP INFORMATION

NATO’s chief says the allies and Russia remain at loggerheads over the conflict in Ukraine but have exchanged briefings on their troop movements elsewhere in Europe to help ease tensions. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s remarks came after ambassadors from the military alliance’s 29 nations met Thursday for the first time this year. Russia briefed the ambassadors about new troop deployments near its western border, while NATO gave an update on forces being deployed to the Baltic states and Poland.

TOSHIBA TO SPINNING OFF CHIP ARM

Toshiba shareholders have approved a proposal to spin off the company’s mainstay memory chip business.
The plan was given the go-ahead by a two-thirds majority at an extraordinary shareholder meeting on Thursday.
Toshiba’s US nuclear subsidiary Westinghouse filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday. The company says total losses for the current business year could reach 9 billion dollars.
Toshiba wants to spin off its chip unit to cover the deficit and rehabilitate operations.
At the shareholder’s meeting, management faced numerous questions about why the massive losses at Westinghouse weren’t noticed earlier.
Toshiba plans to decide on the successful bidder or bidders by June.
The president of Toshiba says the bankruptcy filing by its US subsidiary Westinghouse is the first step toward turning around the ailing Japanese conglomerate.
Satoshi Tsunakawa spoke to reporters on Wednesday after the US nuclear unit filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
He said the filing is indispensable for reviving Westinghouse and is in line with Toshiba’s policy to shut down its risky nuclear operation abroad.
He noted that Toshiba might incur further losses from the bankruptcy. Toshiba’s total losses for the current business year are reported to exceed 1 trillion yen, or about 9 billion dollars.
Tsunakawa said he feels great responsibility and pledged all-out efforts to put Toshiba back on its feet.
He said the company will continue its efforts to raise funds by spinning off its mainstay flash memory chip operation and selling other assets.
He noted Toshiba plans to secure a steady profit flow from its social infrastructure business in order to beef up its financial base.
He said now Toshiba has almost completely withdrawn from the overseas nuclear business.
He pledged Toshiba will continue to decommission reactors in Japan, taking seriously its sense of social responsibility.
Toshiba’s US nuclear subsidiary Westinghouse has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The Japanese manufacturing giant is cutting its losses on its US nuclear business as it tries to rebuild its finances.
It faces ballooning costs to meet safety standards at 4 reactors in the US.
The subsidiary received orders for the reactors in 2008.
Toshiba says it could post a net loss of over 9 billion dollars for the current fiscal year.
Just over 2 weeks ago, Toshiba executives announced they would remove Westinghouse from their consolidated financial statements.
They intend to withdraw from the US nuclear business entirely.
NHK

CHINA ACKNOWLDGES DETAINING FORMER TAIWAN PARTY MEMBER

China has acknowledged it detained a former Taiwanese ruling party worker for alleged involvement in activities that threaten national security.
A former member of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party in his 40s remains missing since he travelled from Macau to Guangdong, southern China, on March 19th.
A human rights group in Taiwan says the man follows human rights issues in mainland China, and has been posting remarks on democratization in Taiwan.NHK
Taiwanese officials have been asking Beijing to reveal the man’s whereabouts.
A spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said at a news conference on Wednesday that the man is suspected of endangering national security and remains under investigation.
Beijing didn’t specify the activities he has been allegedly involved with or where he is detained.
China has halted dialogue with Taiwan since the president of the Democratic Progressive Party, Tsai Ing-wen, expressed disagreement with the “one-China” principle.

PARK GEUN-HYE IS ARRESTED

Park  arrested on Friday morning. The charges against her include an allegation that she received or agreed to receive about 38 million dollars in bribes from the Samsung Group.
She was transferred to a detention center on the outskirts of Seoul.
Prosecutors can keep Park in custody until April 19th. But they are expected to indict her before April 17th, when the presidential election campaign kicks off. This is to minimize the impact of the case on the May 9th election.
Opinion polls show that Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party, the country’s largest party, has a comfortable lead among the presidential contenders.
South Korean court  has approved the arrest of ex-President Park Geun-hye on corruption allegations. Friday’s ruling by the Seoul Central District Court means prosecutors can immediately put Park in a detention facility. Prosecutors can detain her for up to 20 days before formally charging her. Prosecuting attorneys have been pushing for her arrest over allegations that she colluded with a confidante to extort money from businesses in exchange for political favors as well as committing other offenses. The Constitutional Court ruled to dismiss Park over the allegations earlier in March, three months after Parliament voted to impeach her.
Two former South Korean presidents have been arrested in the past after losing immunity from criminal prosecution.
Chun Doo-hwan was president for 8 years from 1980.
He was arrested and indicted in December 1995 for taking bribes while in office, and his armed suppression of pro-democracy citizens and students in the 1980 Gwangju uprising.
A district court issued the death sentence.
The Supreme Court sentenced Chun to life in prison.
Roh Tae-woo served as president for 5 years from 1988.
He was arrested in November 1995 for bribery and his role in the Gwangju uprising. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison.
Both Chun and Roh were pardoned in December 1997 by then-President Kim Young-sam.
If arrested, Park Geun-hye will be the third ex-president arrested and the first in 22 years.

IRRI AND FAO STEP UP JOINT EFFORTS TO GLOBALLY BOLSTER SUSTAINABLE RICE PRODUCTION

Focus is on food security and helping poor farmers by enhancing crop resilience and adapting to climate change
ROME, ITALY — The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) have agreed to cooperate more closely to support sustainable rice production in developing countries to improve food security and livelihoods while safeguarding natural resources.
An agreement signed today seeks to better pool the scientific knowledge and technical know-how of the two organizations so that they can expand and intensify their work globally.
The partnership primarily aims to enhance sustainable rice-based farming systems through capacity building activities – including assisting governments draw up and implement national and regional policies and strategies – to the benefit of small-scale farmers, especially women.
“The world faces very significant changes over the next few decades to produce the volume and quality of nutritious food to feed a global population heading for 10 billion people,” said IRRI Director-General Matthew K. Morell. “Addressing these issues relies on global partnerships, and today, IRRI is delighted to be reaffirming through this Memorandum of Agreement our commitment to work with FAO to enhance sustainable rice-based production and food systems through awareness raising, capacity development, knowledge exchange, and evidence-based analyses for policy support.”
“With over three billion people across the globe eating rice every day, rice is critical to global food security,” said Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General, Climate and Natural Resources. “Ensuring sustainable rice production is a key contribution to the global goal of ending hunger. By teaming up with IRRI, already a long-standing partner, we will be able to scale up, complement and amplify our work towards reaching this goal.”
Making the rice value chain more sustainable
In many countries around the world rice is a staple crop for food security and consumption trends are growing. At the same time rice production is vulnerable to the increasing impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events such as droughts and floods.
Both FAO and IRRI are actively promoting more sustainable rice practices throughout the value chain – production, marketing and consumption – to optimize its nutritional properties and as a means of improving livelihoods and tackling poverty, particularly in rural areas.
FAO has developed the Regional Rice Initiative for Asia and Pacific which promotes enhanced crop resilience while increasing efficiency and farmers’ income. In Africa and in Latin America the UN agency is engaged in scientific and technical cooperation including the sharing of technologies and best practices to increase production and productivity, including reduction of post-harvest losses and improved grain quality.
IRRI is engaged in strengthening capacities of all rice sector actors through its capacity development activities, including IRRI Education and the Sustainable Rice Platform.
The Sustainable Rice Platform is a global alliance to promote resource efficiency and sustainability in trade flows, production and consumption operations, and supply chains in the global rice sector. The Sustainable Rice Platform recently established the world’s first standard for sustainable rice. Through the Sustainable Rice Platform, IRRI aims to use environmental and socio-economic benchmarks to maintain yields for rice smallholders, reduce the environmental footprint of rice cultivation and meet consumer needs for food safety and quality.
At the same time, IRRI Education works to build capacity through-out IRRI’s extensive partnership network.
Improving varieties, transferring knowledge
FAO and the IRRI will together assist rice producing countries to adopt improved and adapted rice varieties, enhance availability of certified seeds and also the transfer of knowledge — including on pest management — through participatory approaches such as farmer fields schools.
The two organizations also will seek to strengthen partnerships for post-harvest handling, and help farmers and other rice producers add value by developing and marketing rice by-products rich in proteins and micronutrients, and explore the appropriate use of rice by-products to generate energy, animal feed and other agricultural products.
In addition, FAO and the IRRI intend to work together to ensure that women farmers can participate in viable, safe and dignified entrepreneurial opportunities in the rice value chain, and that there is an improvement in work conditions in the rice sector.

NDB PROMOTING ‘SUSTAINABLE INFRASTRUCTURE’ WITHOUT EVEN DEFINING IT

                                                                                                                                                                            
New Delhi, March 30, 2017. Before the start of the Second Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the New Development Bank in New Delhi, the Peoples’ Forum on BRICS conducted a day-long convention in New Delhi to look at the various trends in development finance, mechanisms to monitor trade and finance in BRICS countries, and various stakes involved with the emergence of New Development Bank.
The convention titled New Development Bank – Peoples Perspectives was addressed by academicians, economists, environmentalists, journalists and indigenous communities from the BRICS countries. They in unison raised the issues related to the lack of: transparency, accountability, benchmarks about the environmental and social, grievance redressal mechanisms, and spaces of engagement for the civil society organizations and peoples’ movements in New Development Bank.
Ciao Borges, a lawyer representing Conectas, a not-for-profit organization with the consultative status from UN-ECOSOC from Brazil, said “the NDB given its wide implications ought to have an accountability and transparency structure.”
He further said that so far the Shanghai based Bank, which claims to focus on ‘sustainable infrastructure’, has approved seven investment projects in all member countries for a total of over USD 1.5 billion, with 75% investments on renewable energy. Despite this, the Bank has not felt the need to define the concept of Sustainable infrastructure. This leaves the door open for investments which are profit oriented and not completely sustainable in nature. Moreover with lack of transparency and redressal mechanism, the affected communities would have no recourse to file their complaints and concerns.
Soumya Dutta, convener, Climate & Energy Group of Beyond Copenhagen Collective, and one of the founders of India Climate Justice Platform, points out that none of the investment made was related to health, education etc and all has gone to construction of roads, solar and hydropower plants. This leaves one wondering if all money has gone to the needs of the industry where corporates can come into play. Another concern raised by Dutta is that of ‘Climate proofing of infrastructure’ which protects investments from the climate change not the people who are at the receiving ends.  All this achieves considerable significance in the wake of recent statement of Bank’s president KV Kamath, who announced that the Bank would double its lending every year over the next 2-3 years to leverage its USD 10 billion capital in first 6-7 years.
“We are not against renewable energy but it has to be decentralized. The current funding is for the large scale projects, which leads to the large scale displacements. For any project to be sustainable and inclusive the benefits have to be equally distributed,” said Madhuresh Kumar, convener of  the National Alliance of Peoples Movement, who has worked on displacement issues in the Narmada Valley. Susana Barria. Project Coordinator, Public Service International, gives example of the promotion of the rooftop solar panels as a strategy to reduce displacement. She further says that since AIIB and NDB will only facilitate the norms of the dominant global financial systems, we can not expect much from them to work in peoples favor.
The convention was addressed by the subject experts like Nagesh Prabhu, Prof. Biswajit Dhar, Leo Saldhana, Susana Barria, Atul Bhardwaj, Caio Borges, Soumya Dutta, Ram Wangkheirakpam, Himanshu Damle, Benny Kuruvilla, Joe Athialy, Madhuresh Kumar among others. This will be followed by a press conference by Madhuresh Kumar, Soumya Dutta, Caio Borges and Susana Barria. The convention was attended by the civil society organizations from all the BRICS countries and states as far as Manipur, Kerala, MP in India.
The upcoming Second Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the New Development Bank will discuss the strategy plans over three days in Delhi during March 31-April 2, 2017. It was decided during the convention that the Peoples Forum on BRICS will bring out a declaration as a response to the outcomes of Second Annual Meeting.

CHILD RIGHTS AWARD 2017: A CALL TO BROADCASTERS


1 April 2017, Kuala Lumpur/ Hong Kong/Bangkok/ – ABU, CASBAA and UNICEF are calling for entries for the 17th Asia-Pacific Child Rights Award from broadcasters and producers in the region.
Programmes both for children and about children are eligible and can cover any children’s rights issue. Entries can include documentaries that detail the plight of children, dramas that help break down stereotypes and discrimination, or animation that teaches and entertains.
Entries must have been broadcast between June 2016 and June 2017 and must be received by 30 June 2017.  The Award will be presented during the CASBAA Convention in Macau in early November 2017.

Eligible countries/territories: Afghanistan, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Republic of Korea, DPR Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Lao PDR, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, New Zealand, Niue, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand , Timor-Leste,  Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu and Viet Nam.
This competition is open to all ABU and CASBAA members in the Asia-Pacific region. A full list of countries can be found on the website.
To join the competition, please submit your entries) online at https://goo.gl/vKWqd5
Brochure of this year’s Award: https://goo.gl/VXaCjK
For more information, please visit www.childrightsaward.org or contact kjirathun@unicef.org.  Details on the Convention on the Rights of the Child can be found at www.unicef.org/crc.

Note to editors:

Asia–Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

France’s Hollande says no trade deal with UK before Brexit

French President Francois Hollande said Thursday that Britain must agree on the conditions of its exit from the EU before the bloc’s members discuss other issues such as a trade deal. “First we must begin discussions on the modalities of the withdrawal, especially on the rights of citizens and the obligations arising from the commitments that the UK has made,” Hollande said. “On the basis of what progress is made, we could open discussions on the framework of the future relations between the UK and the EU,” he added. Hollande’s approach echoes that of German Chancellor Angela Merkel who Wednesday snubbed Prime Minister Theresa May’s call for negotiations on the UK’s exit from the EU to run alongside talks on defining the conditions of their future relationship. (AFP

Yogi Adityanath orders free treatment to those injured derailment of Mahakaushal Express

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has directed to provide medical relief to injured passengers of the derailed train Mahakaushal express free of cost who have been admitted to district hospital Mahoba or referred to Jhansi medical college. He said, no negligence should be allowed in treatment and medical aid to the victims. 

District police chief Mahoba Gaurav Singh told AIR that 52 passengers were injured when Nizamuddin bound Mahakaushal express derailed near Kulpahar railway station in Mahoba district late last night. He said, two of the injured have been referred to Jhansi. Mr Singh said, all injured are out of danger. He said, central agencies are reaching Mahoba to probe the accident. Railways have already announced an inquiry conducted by a senior grade officer. District authorities have also initiated probe into it. 

State Health Minister Sidharth Nath Singh has said that he himself is monitoring the relief operation and medical help to victims. No causality is reported so far. Quoting sources, AIR correspondent reports that 8 bogies of the train including four AC coaches, one sleeper, two general and a SLR coach of the train were affected in the accident. Cause of the accident is yet not known. 

Officials said, Railway traffic is disrupted on Mahoba- Jhansi rail section. Mahakaushal express has started its onward journey with 10 coaches leaving derailed bogies. Eight additional coaches were attached to the train at Jhansi railway station. Local passengers have been sent to their destinations by buses. Above one dozen trains have been either diverted or cancelled due to this accident. 

Railways have opened helpline numbers at different stations following the derailment. Help line numbers working at Mathura are 0565 2402008 and 2402009, Allahabad- 0532 1072 and 2408149, Kanpur- 0512 1072 and 2323015 ,16, 18. Helpline number at Jhansi is 0510-1072, Gwalior 0751-1072 and Banda 05192-1072.

AAP in controversy and MLA tweets sycophants Kejriwal

Aam Admi Party unofficial  reports ticket distribution in the MCD polls is the reason behind Rishi's outburst.AAP's Janakpuri MLA Rajesh Rishi quoted couplets saying a regime nears its end if one relies on sycophants and tagged Kejriwal. Rishi later deleted the tweets. as per media reports.The party tried to control the damage, claiming that everything is fine between the leadership and the MLA. Despite repeated attempts, the Jankapuri MLA could not be contacted. His office said, Rishi has been away since morning. 
AAP's Bawana MLA had quit the party early this week, launching on attack on the Delhi government. He was also learnt to have been upset with the party over ticket distribution. AAP has 65 MLAs in the 70-member Assembly. Rishi was in news after his brother was arrested for assaulting a women last month. Interestingly, the party had fielded Rishi, along with other Poorvanchali MLAs, to take on Delhi BJP President Manoj Tiwari when note ban was announced.
 Few days after Bawana MLA Ved Parkash quit the AAP, another party legislator aired his dissatisfaction today, cautioning Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal against "sycophants".

Delhi ruling outfit AAP is embarrassed with its  preparations to contest its first civic polls in Delhi on April 23 after the disappointing performance in Punjab and Goa. 

Another controversy around AAP ,Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal has directed chief secretary M M Kutty to recover 97 crore rupees from Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The money was allegedly used by the AAP government on advertisements which is in violations of the Supreme Court guidelines. 

Mr. Baijal also ordered an inquiry into the spendings on advertisements projecting Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his party and asked the chief secretary to fix responsibility. The AAP will have to reimburse the money within a month.

In a report earlier this month, the Comptroller and Auditor General had also found that the AAP government spent 29 crore rupees in releasing advertisements outside Delhi which was beyond its responsibility.

In 2015, the Supreme Court said that government ads cannot feature Chief Ministers or other political leaders. It exempted photos the Prime Minister, President and Chief Justice of India from its ban. Last year, the court relaxed its rules to permit photos of union ministers and Chief Ministers.

ABBAS SPELL CONDITIONS FOR PEACE TREATY WITH ISRAEL

Palestinians are ready to conclude a peace treaty with Israel, if the occupation of Palestinian territories ends and two states, including the independent Palestinian one, are established, the Jordanian daily newspaper Al Ghad quoted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as saying. The Palestinians are ready to sign a peace treaty and finally solve all problems, “if the Israeli occupation ends and the principle of creating two independent states is implemented,” the Palestinian leader said. There is “no new plan or new initiative to establish peace” between Palestine and Israel, Abbas said, adding that Palestine is committed to the Arab peace plan without any changes, TASS reported.
Jordan’s King Abdullah said peace would not be attained in the Middle East without the creation of a Palestinian state under a two-state solution that would be the basis of a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace deal. In a speech at the start of an Arab summit held beside the Dead Sea, King Abdullah said the kingdom’s western neighbor Israel was wrecking the chances of peace by accelerating settlement building in occupied Palestinian territory, Reuters reports. The summit on Wednesday is expected to endorse key Palestinian positions, signaling to US President Donald Trump ahead of White House meetings with the leaders of Egypt and Jordan that a deal on Palestinian statehood must precede any Israeli-Arab normalization, AP said.

POLAND CLOSE CONSULATES IN UKRAINE

Poland temporarily closed its consulates in Ukraine after a grenade attack overnight at one of its buildings near the Polish border. No one was hurt but the roof of the Polish consulate there and some windows were damaged. Ukraine’s Security Service said the weapon used appeared to be a rocket from an RPG-26, a disposable anti-tank launcher. Relations between Poland and Ukraine have deteriorated in the past year in a row over World War Two atrocities, although Warsaw still strongly supports Western sanctions imposed on Russia.

MAHAKAUSHAL EXPRESS DERAILS NEAR MAHOBA

Eight coaches of the Jabalpur-Nizamuddin Mahakaushal Express derailed in the wee hours today near Mahoba in Uttar Pradesh. The Chief Public Relations Officer, North Central Railway said according to initial reports, around nine passengers have been injured in the incident. Rescue operations are on. The cause of derailment is yet to be ascertained.
The official said, an accident relief train has been rushed to the site and the injured have been given first-aid. Talking to AIR, Railways spokesman Anil Saxena said a probe has been ordered into the accident.
Railway officials have operationalised helplines at Jhansi, Gwalior and Banda to disseminate information to relatives of the passengers. The Helpline number for Jhansi is 0510-1072, Gwalior 0751-1072, Banda 05192-1072, Allahabad 0532-1072 and 2408149 and Kanpur 0512-1072.
One dozen trains have been either diverted or cancelled due to the accident on Jhansi-Mahoba rail section. MC Chauhan General manager of North Central Railway has ordered a probe into the accident and it will be conducted by a senior grade railway officer.

FTA: BREXIT ALSO A CONSIDERABLE CHALLENGE FOR INDIA

PRESS RELEASE – FTA: Brexit Also a Considerable Challenge for India
Brussels, 29 March 2017. Today, the British government will activate Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to formally launch the negotiations which will determine the conditions of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union (EU). The Foreign Trade Association (FTA) is pushing for a sound strategy to mitigate negative impacts, promote possible opportunities and effectively represent the interest of its members. “The upcoming talks should be conducted in a spirit of fairness, trust and partnership to make sure the negotiations advance quickly, create legal clarity soon and prevent major business disruption in Europe and in longtime partner countries, such as India”, says Christian Ewert, FTA Director General.
Brexit has plunged the EU into a time of significant uncertainty given that it is the first time that a member state has opted to leave the Union, and therefore, many questions remain to be answered. Despite this high level of uncertainty, Brexit clearly has the potential of having a considerable – negative – effect on the business sector and India:
  • Tariffs and border checks are very likely to be imposed in the future EU-UK trade relations;
  • Brexit might negatively impact economic growth – and consequently consumption – in the UK, the EU, India and the world;
  • The EU will lose a liberal voice and we might see a shift towards a more ‘defensive’ EU trade policy with all consequences for India;
  • Brexit is a setback for the concept and reality of global value chains; erecting new borders is turning the clock back and substantially diminishing the output of Indian investment in the UK.
To limit the impact of this process, Mr. Ewert underlines the priorities of the international trade sector in these divorce talks: “We need to invent a magic formula which will guarantee the highest possible level of market integration while avoiding a domino effect triggering similar leave requests from other EU member states. At the same time, we need to leave the door open for the British government to exit Brexit as the political mood in the UK might change again.”
When it comes to the impact on India, it is important to stress that the relations with the EU should remain the priority, as the UK only represents 17% of the EU’s combined GDP. This does obviously not prevent India from pursuing active interests with the UK in the future, for instance by exploring the possibility of an investment or a free trade agreement. “However, one needs to make clear that the UK will not be able to start negotiating before they leave the EU. In addition, British interest is mostly on services, which tends to be the most difficult chapter in trade agreements”, Mr. Ewert concludes.
FTA will remain an active advocate for a smart Brexit process that safeguards open markets and business interests, against the current protectionist trends gaining ground in Europe and abroad.


– ENDS –
Contact:
Ana María Martín
FTA Media and Editorial Planning Coordinator
ana.maria.martin@fta-intl.orgTel: +32 2 739 48 22
Twitter: @fta_intl

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Women rights proponents demand effective police response to rape survivors



29.03.2017 16:47:04 - Women rights proponents demand effective police response to rape survivors 

(live-PR.com) - New Delhi/March 29, 2017: Seeking to bridge gaps in police response to victims of rape and sexual assault, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) convened a National Conference on 'First Response, Good Policing and Rape Survivors' in collaboration with the British High Commission earlier today.
The conference focused on ways to improve the police response to women, particularly to
rape survivors, with a focus on New Delhi and Mumbai. It brought together senior police officers, civil society, lawyers, journalists, academics, and independent commissions to share knowledge, take stock of good practices, and chart out a way forward to address challenges.
Discussions revolved around the initiatives being taken by the police in Delhi and Mumbai to improve women’s safety and the key interventions required to support rape survivors.
“The biggest challenges within the police system at present are limited training, low women representation in the ranks and patriarchic values within the system. I also feel that the police have been used very badly in our country, politically. The good officers who are in the position to lead are sidelined. There is no political will in this country to keep women safe. It is never an election issue,” said Kanwaljit Deol, Director General of Police (Retd.)
Stressing on ‘an institutional bias’ in the police against different communities, Vrinda Grover, prominent lawyer and human rights activist asserted, “We need more women in police and rigorous training in evidence collection and investigation. Without competent investigation, it is impossible to get a conviction.” She further underscored that though there was a definite increase in reporting of crimes relating to sexual violence, cases of sexual assaults within domestic lives and in offices were underreported even now.
“A victim becomes a survivor only when justice is done, conviction takes place and he/she is rehabilitated. The legal community and civil society should join hands to protect the dignity of the complainants, and guide victims through the legal processes and help with their rehabilitation,” said Flavia Agnes, lawyer and co-founder of the Mumbai-based NGO, Majlis.
Discussants agreed that no meaningful change was possible on the ground without addressing women’s vulnerability in availing justice. The need for an overhaul in the attitude of police towards the general public and the inclusion of women in policing were highlighted as central issues.
Sanjay Beniwal, Special Commissioner for Women’s Safety in the Delhi Police, recommended bringing in changes in the school curricula to teach boys in their formative years to respect and protect women. “Men must realise that being manly is not tolerating, not perpetrating, not supporting any attacks on women. From the police perspective, the biggest change that has come after the Nirbhaya incident is that no questions are asked when a victim files a complaint and the registration of FIR is not restricted by jurisdiction. There is a growing realization that if handled correctly, victims of sexual assault can bounce back,” he said.
Fareen Malik, Member, Delhi Commission for Women, highlighted the key interventions undertaken by the agency. “The Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi had announced funds for the creation of One-Stop Centres in each district of Delhi. I am happy to reveal that we will have these operational very soon. Delhi will also have six more forensic labs.”
Calling for greater sensitisation of personnel at police training academies, Bharti Sharma, Honourary Secretary of the New Delhi-based Shakti Shalini, said, “Police and civil society response to sexual violence is currently focused on rape, due to which other sexual offences like fondling and touching are often overlooked. It is vital to acknowledge that young boys can also be victims of sexual abuse, and their complaints must be treated sensitively.”
Nayreen Daruwalla, Programme Director of Mumbai-based SNEHA, emphasized that public systems and communities should take on the onus of addressing gender-based violence. “Partnerships between the police, academic institutions and NGOs can also help in monitoring and recording cases of violence against women and girls. Police also need to integrate prevention strategies into their work,” she said.
In a new initiative, CHRI also released a short film, “24 Hours” on the work and challenges before the police and other responders in the crucial first 24 hours after a rape survivor comes to the police with her complaint. Inaugurating the film, Andrew Mackenzie, Deputy Head (Political and Bilateral Affairs) at the British High Commission said, “Globally, one in three women are beaten or sexually abused once in their lifetimes. It is our hope that institutions will be able to use this film to shape their trainings and procedures and design the best possible response while engaging with rape survivors. We really feel by working together and putting women and girls at the heart of our work will we be able to tackle issues of violence against women.”
Among the other concerns raised in the conference were the need for police accountability and sensitisation, systemic impediments to women’s access to justice, dominant patriarchy in the society and legal processes and remedies.

About the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
Established in 1987, The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) is an independent, international organisation committed to protecting and promoting human rights in Commonwealth nations. CHRI works towards strengthening access to justice (through prison and police reforms) and building a culture of transparent governance (through the Right to Information). CHRI also monitors human rights-related trends and developments across the Commonwealth and makes formal submissions to treaty bodies and inter-governmental agencies, including the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative's (CHRI) National Conference on 'First Response, Good Policing and Rape Survivors' concluded today in New Delhi on an optimistic note, following discussions among civil society, lawyers and police officials on the protection of sexual assault victims.
For more information, contact:
Samarth Pathak
samarth@humanrightsinitiative.org

Telephone: 011-43180228
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