UNITED NATIONS: International crime gangs generate around $31.5 billion in illicit profits from conflict zones alone, thus becoming a threat to international peace and security, T. Reitano, Deputy Director of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, told the UN Security Council.
Ms. Reitano’s address today was delivered as part of the annual briefing by UN Peacekeeping operations, led by Alexander Zuev, Assistant Secretary-General for the Rule of Law, at the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and included presentations from UN Police Commissioners, on the work being carried out by Missions in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Haiti. Zuev said that the growing risks associated with organized crime – which he described as striking “at the heart of the United Nations’ core business”, have been recognized at the highest levels of the UN, including by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The link between conflict areas and organized crime was described by Ms. Reitano as undeniable: she added that the scale of money being illicitly generated by organized crime in these areas is “staggering.”
This phenomenon, said Ms. Reitano, is actually sustaining conflicts worldwide, with illegal exploitation and taxation of gold, oil and other natural resources overtaking traditional “threat finance” sectors, such as kidnapping for ransom and drug trafficking. The actual combatants in conflict zones only receive a small fraction of illicit funds: “By far the larger share of the 31.5 billion dollars goes to political actors at all levels, and associated transnational criminal networks. These, therefore, are the main beneficiaries from instability, violence and lack of state capacity for enforcement, and who thus retain an interested in the perpetuation of conflict… Where crime thrives, there can be no sustainable peace.”
Awale Abdounasir, UN Police Commissioner for the UN stabilization mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) known by its French acronym, MONUSCO, – also addressed the Security Council during the annual briefing session. He explained that the police component of the Mission is assisting the DRC Government in combating organized crime by armed groups, with a mandate to work closely with the national Congolese police force to develop strategies for prevention, as well as the frontline fight. Abdounasir went on to say that governments of countries weakened by crises too often look to a military solution fighting crime syndicates, whereas strengthening of the judicial system by making it more transparent and rigorous would be a more appropriate strategy.
Ms. Reitano noted that UN police units are not sufficiently integrated with other areas of UN Missions, including political functions and other peacekeeping activities, and are significantly under-resourced. Even if peace operations do not actively fight crime, she said, they need to be crime-sensitive: “the way in which criminal actors have become embedded in conflict zones suggests that policing must be a strategic consideration at all stages of a mission’s planning and deployment.”
She warned the Security Council that recent analysis carried out by partner organizations, including the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and INTERPOL, shows links between illicit trafficking routes in conflict zones – in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Americas – and international terrorism, and concluded by stating the UN System needs a coherent, streamlined and strategic approach to addressing organized crime. The Security Council briefing took place during the 2018 UN Police Week, from November 5 to 9, when UN Peacekeeping Operations and Special Political Missions come to New York to discuss strategic police priorities.
15 killed in ongoing militants attack on Kenya hotel complex
NAIROBI: Fifteen people have died in a terrorists attack on an upmarket hotel complex in Nairobi, Kenyan police sources said Wednesday, as fresh explosions and gunfire rang out in the siege which stretched into its second day.
Security forces worked throughout the night to secure the DusitD2 compound, which includes a 101-room hotel, spa, restaurant and office buildings, after an attack claimed by Al-Shabaab militants on Tuesday afternoon.
At least one suicide bomber blew himself up at the hotel while gunmen sprayed fire before engaging security forces and holing themselves up at the premises as civilians fled or barricaded themselves in their offices awaiting rescue.
“We have 15 people dead as of now and that includes foreigners,” a police said.
Among the dead was an American citizen, a State Department official said.
A second police source confirmed the toll but warned “there are areas not yet accessed but that’s what we know so far.”
After 12 hours trapped inside the complex, a group of dozens of people was freed at 3:30am (1230GMT).
“We still believe there are two or three attackers in specific locations,” the first police officer said. “The situation is far from over.”
The second police officer said that at one point they had been sure the attackers had been neutralised after a long period without shooting, however gunfire resumed again after 2am.
Further explosions and gunfire were heard shortly before dawn, with no official word on how many people were still trapped inside.
“There is a floor where they are shooting from, we still believe there are people there,” he said, after reports that a large number of people had fled upstairs.
PMDC takes action against doctors with invalid registration
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) Tuesday taken strict action against the doctors having invalid council registration.
According to PMDC, the council has decided to ensure the countrywide renewal and registration process of doctors within a month.
It added, the council took this action on the direction of Senate health committee and directed all the doctors with invalid registrations to renew their registrations immediately in order to practice medicine.
It said as per Pakistan Registration of Medical and Dental Practitioners Regulations, 2008 “Practitioner means a medical practitioner or a dentist possessing any recognized medical or dental qualification whose name is maintained on the register of the council”.
Talking to media, Acting Registrar PMDC Dr Sitara Hassan said that as per part II of regulation (9) “only those names shall be retained on the register who have paid the dues of the council and only these names shall be considered to have valid registration”.
She said that the medical and dental practitioners, specialists, faculty with expired and invalid registration and medical officers have been directed in their own interest to get their PMDC registration renewed as per PMDC Ordinance 1962 amended through an Act 2012 within a month, failing which PMDC will initiate strict action in exercise of its powers conferred under PMDC ordinance 1962.
She added that the details of doctors with invalid registrations status is also available on PMDC website.
SC dismisses Bahria Town’s Rs 250b offer to avoid legal proceedings
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Tuesday dismissed an offer of Bahria Town to deposit Rs 250 billion in the apex court’s dams fund to avoid legal proceedings for illegally acquiring land.
A three-judge special bench of the apex court was hearing a case pertaining to the implementation of its 4th May, 2018 verdict against the Bahria Town.
During the course of proceedings, Bahria Town’s counsel Barrister Ali Zafar offered Rs 200 billion for the dams fund to waive charges against the real estate developer for its projects in Karachi, Islamabad and Murree.
Justice Azmat Saeed observed that three separate verdicts had been passed against Bahria Town, which should offer reasonable amount of fine separately for each case.
He said a fine of Rs 285 billion had been imposed on Bahria Town in 2004. “If the fine money is increased by 40 percent, it will come to Rs 300 billion.”
To this, Ali Zafar increased the offer to Rs 250 billion.
The court observed, “This is not a suitable way to deal with the Supreme Court. We may ask the National Accountability Bureau to file a reference.”
Subsequently, the council sought a one week’s time to file a reply.
Accepting his request, the court directed Bahria Town to submit separate offers in writing in all the three cases.
In its 4th May judgment, the court had declared the grant of land to the Malir Development Authority (MDA) and its exchange with the land of Bahria Town illegal and void. It had also directed NAB to continue its probe into the matters of the developer.