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UK welfare policies ‘violate human rights’: UN rapporteur

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UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston

LONDON: Britain has “deliberately removed” much of its social safety net due to political ideology “in clear violation of the country’s human rights obligations”, a UN-commissioned report said Wednesday.
Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Philip Alston said “harsh and uncaring” austerity policies introduced following the financial crisis “continue largely unabated, despite the tragic social consequences”.
“The policies pursued since 2010 amount to retrogressive measures in clear violation of the country’s human rights obligations,” said the report.
The Conservative government dismissed the findings, calling them a “barely believable documentation of Britain” that painted a “completely inaccurate picture” of the country’s welfare system.
Australian lawyer Alston visited Britain in November and will present his final report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on June 27.
In its summary, he said that “the bottom line is that much of the glue that has held British society together since the Second World War has been deliberately removed and replaced with a harsh and uncaring ethos.
“A booming economy, high employment and a budget surplus have not reversed austerity, a policy pursued more as an ideological than an economic agenda.”
He accused the government of being “in a state of denial”, saying the motivations behind their policies were not “economic but rather a commitment to achieving radical social re-engineering — a dramatic restructuring of the relationship between people and the State.”
Despite being the fifth largest economy in the world, 20 percent of Britain’s people live in poverty, and 1.5 million experienced destitution in 2017, he reported.
“The social safety net has been badly damaged by drastic cuts to local authorities’ budgets, which have eliminated many social services, reduced policing services, closed libraries in record numbers, shrunk community and youth centres, and sold off public spaces and buildings,” he added.
The report called on Britain to “reverse particularly regressive” welfare measures such as the benefit cap, and reduction in housing benefit.
It also urged the government to restore local government funding.
Britain’s Department for Work and Pensions replied that “the UN’s own data shows the UK is one of the happiest places in the world to live, and other countries have come here to find out more about how we support people to improve their lives.
“Therefore this is a barely believable documentation of Britain, based on a tiny period of time spent here. It paints a completely inaccurate picture of our approach to tackling poverty,” said a spokeswoman.

 

 

 

 

 

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Europe

Pakistan-EU sign Strategic Engagement Plan

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Pakistan and EU

BRUSSELS: Strategic Engagement Plan (SEP), meant to boost bilateral terms, has been signed here today by Pakistan and EU. 

Pak FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi and EU High Rep. Federica Mogherini while addressing a Press Conference maintained that SEP was a long-term resolve to boost cooperation. It is pertinent to mention here that this framework includes understanding to promote mutual peace and prosperity, trade and investment, migrant issues, sustainable development, energy, education, and culture.

FM Qureshi told that Pakistan and EU would also benefit from each other’s experience apropos cybersecurity and money laundering. He was optimistic about new prospects in knowledge exchange, people to people contacts, development projects, and good governance. Commenting on Re-Admission Agreement Qureshi said that Pakistan and EU were committed to close cooperation under this banner. 

Foreign Minister said Pakistan and the European Union would work to further expand and solidify trade and investment relations under the umbrella of SEP. Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan’s foreign policy depended in the relation between peace and development.

A relevant piece published earlier: 

Strategic plan agreed with EU: FM Qureshi

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Next British PM to be announced July 23: Conservative Party

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Next British PM to be announced July 23

LONDON: The winner of the contest to replace Theresa May as leader of Britain’s ruling Conservatives and prime minister will be announced on July 23, the ruling party said Tuesday.

Former foreign minister Boris Johnson is the favourite in the race, battling Britain’s current top diplomat, Jeremy Hunt.

The two candidates were chosen from a field of 10 by the Conservative party’s 313 MPs, and are now seeking to woo an estimated 160,000 party members who will make the final choice.

Postal ballots will be sent out between July 6 and 8, and the deadline for returning them has been set at 5:00pm on July 22.

“The announcement of the next leader of the Conservative party will be made on Tuesday 23 July. This process has been agreed with both candidates,” the statement said.

Once a successor is confirmed, May would be expected to visit Queen Elizabeth II to formally tender her resignation as premier.

Her replacement would then make his own visit to Buckingham Palace to be confirmed in office.

The Conservatives do not have a majority in parliament’s lower House of Commons, but govern through an alliance with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

May announced her resignation last month after failing to get her Brexit deal through parliament, faced with opposition from both Conservative MPs and the DUP.

It is possible that the main opposition Labour party calls an immediate vote of confidence in the new prime minister, to force them to prove they have the support to govern.

This would have to happen by July 25 when parliament breaks for its summer holiday, or wait until MPs return on September 3.

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Turkey court lifts house arrest on US consulate staffer

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Turkey court lifts house arrest on US consulate staffer

ISTANBUL: A Turkish court on Tuesday lifted the house arrest of a US consulate staffer charged with terrorism offences, just days before President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due to meet US counterpart Donald Trump, an embassy official said.

Mete Canturk is one of three consulate staffers arrested for links to a group accused of an attempted coup in 2016.

Canturk, a Turkish citizen, still faces trial and is barred from leaving the country, with his next hearing set for October 2.

US charge d’affaires Jeffrey Hovenier welcomed the decision to release him from house arrest.

“We continue to see no evidence to support the charges brought against him and we reiterate our call for this process as well as other processes involving our unjustly detained staff to be resolve quickly, transparently and fairly,” said Hovenier.

Relations between Ankara and Washington have been strained over several issues, including Turkey’s purchase of a Russian missile defence system and US support for a Kurdish militia in Syria.

Erdogan is due to meet Trump this week on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.

A Turkish-American former NASA scientist, Serkan Golge, detained in Turkey for nearly three years on similar terrorism charges, was released in May.

Another Istanbul consulate staffer, Metin Topuz, who also faces espionage charges, is due back in court this week.

A third staffer, Hamza Ulucay, from the Adana consulate, has already been sentenced to 4.5 years for “aiding a terror organisation”.

They are suspected of links to US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for orchestrating the failed coup.

 

 

 

 

 

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