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UN pushes back against Duque’s challenge to Colombia peace deal

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UN pushes back

BOGOTA: The UN warned the Colombian government Thursday that “there can be no going back” on the landmark peace agreement with FARC guerrillas, despite President Ivan Duque’s plans to modify the deal he sees as too lenient.

“The current government will have the historic responsibility to continue with the full implementation of the peace agreement,” Alberto Brunori, the UN’s human rights chief in Colombia, said in a speech in Bogota.

Duque was elected last year on a pledge to roll back some aspects of the deal that ended five decades of conflict in the South American country.

He announced plans last week to reform the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), set up under the agreement to try former combatants accused of atrocities.

The right-wing president has announced that he will object before Congress to six of the 159 articles of the law that regulates the JEP, considered the backbone of the peace pact negotiated in Havana.

Under the JEP, ex-rebels or soldiers would receive alternative sentences to prison time if they confess their crimes, compensate victims and pledge never to resort to violence again.

Negotiators of the 2016 peace pact have warned the United Nations that the move would “seriously damage” the accord.

“The construction of a stable and lasting peace depends on the urgent approval and promulgation without denunciations of the draft statute law of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace,” said Brunori, who was presenting the annual human rights report for Colombia.

Transformed into a political party since the peace deal, FARC has hit out repeatedly at the lack of security guarantees for its members.

While some 7,000 ex-fighters laid down their weapons, Colombia’s peace and reconciliation commission estimates 1,600 dissident rebels remain active.

The UN office has also described as “worrying” the human rights situation in Colombia, including the killings of activists and community leaders.

Some cases are linked to “substantial delays in the implementation” of the peace agreement, according to the UN. Brunori reported 113 killings in 2018 alone.

 

 

 

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Asia

Can Japan end its obsession with plastic?

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TOKYO: Amid global concern apropos single-use waste, new legislation can help end Japan’s obsession with plastic.
The push comes ahead of the G20 summit, which Japan will host in Osaka in June. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government wants to use the meeting to push for an agreement on reducing marine plastic waste. But the country’s own record on single-use plastic is hardly exemplary: Japan generates more plastic packaging waste per capita than any other country except the United States, according to the UN.
“We believe there is room to reduce that volume and we are now considering ways to do that,” said Kentaro Doi, director of plastic waste strategy at Japan’s environment ministry. In 2018, Japan’s government unveiled a proposal to start tackling the issue, with the goal of reducing the country’s 9.4 million tonnes of plastic waste a year by 25 percent by 2030.
A key part of the proposal is to require businesses to charge for plastic bags – a measure that has been already been widely adopted around the world. “What we are going to do is to put a value on it… we would like people to think about whether it is really necessary to use them,” Doi told the Media. 
But government officials acknowledge Japan is coming to the issue late – dozens of countries already require businesses to charge for plastic bags, and many have banned their use outright. “Other countries were ahead of us,” concedes Doi, adding that the policy in Japan “will be introduced in 2020, at the earliest.”

 

 

 

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Crime

Israel kills 3 Palestinians in separate attacks

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NABLUS: Palestinian Health Ministry stated today that  Israeli forces had killed three Palestinians: “The unit that communicated with the Israeli side reported that a Palestinian was killed in Abveyn village”. 
According to a statement from the Israel army, Omar Abu Leyla, the alleged perpetrator of a Sunday attack on Israeli soldiers, stabbed an Israeli soldier at the entrance of the Ariel settlement before stealing his weapon.  He then drove his car to the Gitai Avishar junction and opened fire on Israelis at a bus station. He was killed in an operation in Ramallah.
In another attack, Israel forces killed two Palestinians in Nablus, the ministry said.  Israel has not given the bodies to Palestine, Civil Liaison Manager Mazin ed-Denbek told Anadolu Agency.

 

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Economy

Australian govt changes system for job-seekers

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Australian govt changes

CANBERRA: The Australian government announced today the biggest overhaul of the nation’s unemployment services in two decades.
Kelly O’Dwyer, the minister for jobs and industrial relations, said in a media release on Wednesday that the government would make sweeping changes to the 1.3-billion-Australian dollar (920 million U.S. dollars) per year employment system, Jobactive, in the lead-up to May’s general election. Under the changes, the majority of Jobactive services will be delivered via a digital platform for both employers and job-seekers. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the new system would be more targeted to individual needs. “It’s a more flexible plan which is giving people more tools, both those helping people find jobs and help people looking for jobs,” he said in an appearance on Network Seven television. The government will also abolish the requirement that job-seekers receiving unemployment benefits apply for 20 jobs every month in order to continue receiving welfare.
While the number of applications being lodged by users will continue to be monitored, the system will also take into account whether job-seekers are engaging in volunteering, work experience opportunities or training. “Our changes are the most extensive shake-up of employment services in 20 years, empowering job seekers who are job-ready and prioritizing support for those who face the greatest barriers,” O’Dwyer said on Wednesday. “Whilst the government’s employment services system, Jobactive, has performed better than its predecessor programs and achieved strong results in getting people off welfare and into work, with almost 1.3 million job placements since July 2015, we want to see even more Australians enter meaningful, long-term work.”

 

 

 

 

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