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World News in Brief: Afghan rights, Armenia-Azerbaijan ceasefire, road safety campaign

A new report by UNAMA’s Human Rights Service has documented over 1,600 cases of human rights violations including torture, committed by the de facto authorities across the country during the arrest and detention of individuals from 1 January 2022 to 31 July this year.

Commenting on the findings, UN rights chief Volker Türk described as “harrowing” the personal accounts of beatings, electric shocks, water torture and numerous other forms of cruel and degrading treatment, along with threats made against individuals and their families.

“Torture is forbidden in all circumstances,” he insisted.

According to the report, violations of due process guarantees, including denial of access to lawyers, have become the “norm” in the country. 

Mr. Türk urged the Taliban to halt the abuses and hold perpetrators accountable.

Afghanistan remains bound as a State Party by numerous international human rights treaties. UNAMA is mandated by the UN Security Council to support their implementation.

Armenia-Azerbaijan: UN reiterates calls for humanitarian access

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has said that he remained concerned about the humanitarian situation in the South Caucasus where there’s been a flare-up in fighting.

Through his Spokesperson, Mr. Guterres reiterated his call for full-fledged access for aid workers to people in need.

In a statement referring to the situation between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Mr. Guterres said that he was “extremely concerned” over the use of military force in the region and reports of casualties, including among the civilian population. 

According to the latest media reports, a cessation of hostilities in the region was announced on Wednesday.

Conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the region has persisted for more than three decades, but a ceasefire was agreed almost three years ago following six weeks of fighting, by the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia, leading to the deployment of several thousand Russian peacekeepers.

The UN chief urged “in the strongest terms” for de-escalation and “stricter” observance of the 2020 ceasefire and principles of international humanitarian law.

Just last month, UN humanitarians and partners briefed the Security Council on the need for unimpeded passage of aid in the region through the Lachin Corridor. The key route reportedly reopened last week.

Mr. Guterres said that he regretted that the latest “worrying developments” followed the delivery of “much-needed humanitarian assistance” to the local population on 18 September.

The UN rights chief Volker Türk also said on Tuesday that he was worried about “the impact of renewed use of armed force on civilians”. He insisted that it was “absolutely critical” that Azerbaijan and Armenia return to the peace process and work on an agreement “grounded in human rights”. 

UN launches star-studded road safety campaign

Coming soon to a billboard near you: a new global UN road safety campaign launched on Wednesday to help prevent road traffic crashes, which kill 1.35 million people each year.

Crashes are the leading cause of death for people aged five to 29 around the world and developing countries account for a staggering 93 per cent of the victims. 

According to the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the most vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, and the poor are disproportionately affected.

The UN chief’s Special Envoy for Road Safety, Jean Todt, said that road safety was “not high enough” on the political agenda in most countries.

To raise awareness of the issue, the new UN campaign mobilizes celebrities ranging from pop star Kylie Minogue to football icon Ousmane Dembélé who are encouraging road users to adopt safe practices. The billboards will go on display in some 1,000 cities worldwide.

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