UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide; Syria; Somalia; US execution of two persons with disabilities; DR Congo murder trial; United Arab Emirates

UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Adama Dieng of Senegal, currently serving as Registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), as his Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide.

Mr. Dieng will replace Francis Deng of Sudan, who has served in the post since 2007.

As a legal and human rights expert, Mr. Dieng has a distinguished career in contributing to the strengthening of rule of law, fighting impunity and promoting capacity building in the area of judicial and democratic institutions, including through fact-finding missions, publications and media, according to a note announcing the appointment.

Syria: Addressing the media in Moscow, the Joint Special Envoy for the United Nations and the League of Arab States for the Syrian Crisis, Kofi Annan, today voiced the hope that members of the Security Council will be able to reach agreement on a course of action to deal with the situation in the Middle Eastern country.

The Joint Special Envoy said he, along with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, had a “very good” discussion with President Putin, focusing on what measures need to be taken to end the violence and the killing in Syria and how to proceed with a political transition there.

Mr. Annan arrived in Moscow yesterday for two days of talks. He has previously noted the importance of a united Security Council on the Syrian crisis, saying that “if the Council speaks with one voice, that voice is much more powerful than when it is divided.”

Somalia: The top UN political envoy in Somalia has condemned the murder of a former trade minister in the capital, Mogadishu, and called on the authorities to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.

The former minister and current member of parliament, Mohamed Abdinur Garweyne, was killed and at least six others wounded by a car bomb attack in front of the Bin Ali Hotel in the capital’s Hamarweyne neighborhood yesterday. The attack was allegedly carried out by the Islamist insurgent group known as Al-Shabaab.

Today, UNHCR said that the number of Somali refugees has now exceeded one million, even though famine conditions are no longer present people are still in crisis, with 2.5 million people in urgent need of aid. Malnutrition and mortality rates are still among the highest in the world.

US execution of two persons with disabilities: An independent United Nations human rights expert has urged United States authorities to stop the execution of two people with psychosocial disabilities who are scheduled to be put to death tomorrow in the states of Georgia and Texas.

Warren Hill and Yokamon Laneal Hearn were convicted of murder in separate incidents, and the convictions have been the subject of a number of legal appeals based on the defendants’ mental health, according to a news release issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

DR Congo murder trial: The United Nations human rights chief today called for the appeal trial in the case of a murdered Congolese human rights defender, Floribert Chebeya Bahizire, and the disappearance of his driver, to fully respect international standards of due process.

Mr. Chebeya was found assassinated on 2 June 2010 on the outskirts of DRC’s capital, Kinshasa. More than a year later, the military court of Kinshasa/Gombe convicted five policemen, three of them in absentia, of murder, illegal arrest and detention, as well as abduction. The Inspector-General of the National Congolese Police was suspended in connection with the case in 2010, but was never formally charged. The next hearing of the ongoing appeal trial is scheduled to take place today.

United Arab Emirates: The United Nations today called on the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to provide protection to human rights defenders to ensure they can carry out their work, following reports of various cases of harassment, arbitrary arrests, and expulsion from the country.

“We are concerned about what appears to be an accelerating crackdown on human rights defenders in the United Arab Emirates through harassments, denial of travel, termination of work contracts, arrests, denaturalization and expulsion from the country,” said the spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rupert Colville, during a briefing to reporters in Geneva.