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Joe Biden moves to rejoin UN Human Rights Council

(Asian News Hub) – The Biden administration is set to announce this week that it will reengage with the much-maligned UN Human Rights Council that former President Donald Trump withdrew from almost three years ago, US officials have said.

The decision on Sunday reverses another Trump-era move away from multilateral organisations and agreements.

US officials say Secretary of State Antony Blinken and a senior US diplomat in Geneva will announce on Monday that Washington will return to the Geneva-based body as an observer with an eye toward seeking election as a full member.

The decision is likely to draw criticism from conservative lawmakers and many in the pro-Israel community.

Trump pulled out of the world body’s main human rights agency in 2018 due to its disproportionate focus on Israel, which has received by far the largest number of critical council resolutions against any country, as well as the number of authoritarian countries among its members and because it failed to meet an extensive list of reforms demanded by then-US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

In addition to the council’s persistent focus on Israel, the Trump administration took issue with the body’s membership, which currently includes China, Cuba, Eritrea, Russia and Venezuela, all of which have been accused of human rights abuses.

One senior US official said the Biden administration believed the council must still reform but that the best way to promote change is to engage with it in a principled fashion.

The official said it can be an important forum for those fighting tyranny and injustice around the world and the US presence intends to ‘ensure it can live up to that potential.

That official and three others familiar with the decision were not authorised to discuss the matter publicly ahead of the announcement, and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Although the US will have only nonvoting observer status on the council through the end of 2021, the officials said the administration intends to seek one of three full member seats currently held by Austria, Denmark and Italy from the Western Europe and other states group that come up for election later this year.

The UN General Assembly makes the final choice in a vote that generally takes place in October every year to fill vacancies in three-year terms at the 47-member-state council.

US engagement with the council and its predecessor, the UN Human Rights Commission, has been something of a political football between Republican and Democratic administrations for decades.

While recognising its shortcomings, Democratic presidents have tended to want a seat at the table while Republicans have recoiled at its criticism of Israel.

Trump’s withdrawal from the UNHRC, however, was one of a number of US retrenchments from the international community during his four years in office. He also walked away from the Paris Climate Accord, the Iran nuclear deal, the World Health Organisation, UN education and cultural organisation, UNESCO, and several arms-control treaties.

Trump also threatened to withdraw from the International Postal Union and frequently hinted at pulling out of the World Trade Organisation.

Since taking office last month, President Joe Biden has rejoined both the Paris accord and the WHO and has signalled interest in returning to the Iran deal as well as UNESCO. (AGENCY)

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South Africa confirms third wave as COVID-19 cases continue to Soar

(Asian News Hub) – South Africa logged morethan 10,000 COVID-19 cases, which represents a 15.7% positivity testing rate.

According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), figures from the past seven days show that South Africa is now experiencing the third wave.

“South Africa technically entered the third wave today as the national seven-day moving average incidence of 5,959 cases, which now exceeds the new wave threshold, as defined by the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC),” the NICD said.

The majority of the new infections are from Gauteng 61%.

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Internet services restored in six districts of Balochistan after five years

(Asian News Hub) – The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has issued instructions to telecom operators to restore internet service in KP’s Khyber district and six districts of Balochistan after five years.

People will now be able to use the internet in the following areas.

Turbat city

Kech

Panjgur

Awaran

Washuk

Kalat

Awaran-Bela Road

The decision has been taken “in pursuance of the government’s vision of providing internet services across the country.”

The instructions were issued after the security situation in the areas was reviewed.

Cellular mobile operators have been told to upgrade their existing infrastructure from 2G to 3G/4G.

“The restoration of data services will help residents to fulfill their educational, health, commerce, and communication needs,” the PTA said in a press release.

Internet services will be restored in other areas in a “phased manner”, according to the authority.

People and students in Balochistan staged protests against the lack of internet coverage in the province. They claimed that they faced difficulties as their educational institutions shifted to online classes because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Bangladeshi woman cuts off attacker’s penis in Spain

The woman was arrested after admitting to the assault, alleging that her boss was attempting to rape her

(Asian News Hub) – Police in Spain arrested a Bangladeshi woman in her thirties for allegedly cutting off her boss’s genitals with a knife, which she said she had done as he was attempting to rape her, reported Daily Mail.

She told officers she was trying to defend herself against sexual assault at a bar in Sant Andreu de la Barca around midnight on Tuesday.

The sliced man was rushed to the hospital for an emergency operation to reattach his penis.
The woman is currently being held at a police station following her arrest.

Officers have initiated an investigation into her statements that she was acting in self-defense but have not eliminated the prospect of arresting the bar owner once he is conscious enough to be questioned.

According to police sources, the woman had told them she had been being harassed for months and was forced to have sex with her boss several times before she assaulted him with the knife during his latest alleged rape attempt.

A representative for the regional Mossos d’Esquadra police force confirmed on Tuesday that the woman was arrested for the crime of wounding in the early hours of the morning after she contacted police to explain what happened.

The man’s nationality has not been revealed yet, but he is believed to be from Bangladesh or Pakistan.

AGENCY

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