Wednesday, March 06, 2013

But Wait! There's More!

There usually is.

UNICEF accuses Israel of mistreating Palestinian children:

Palestinian children detained by the Israeli military are subject to widespread, systematic ill-treatment that violates international law, a UNICEF report said on Wednesday.

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) estimated that 700 Palestinian children aged 12 to 17, most of them boys, are arrested, interrogated and detained by the Israeli military, police and security agents every year in the occupied West Bank.

According to the report, most of the youths are arrested for throwing stones. Israel says it takes such incidents seriously, noting that rock-throwing has caused Israeli deaths.

UNICEF said it had identified some examples of practices that "amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention against Torture". ...

According to the report, ill-treatment of Palestinian minors typically begins with the arrest itself, often carried out in the middle of the night by heavily armed soldiers, and continues all the way through prosecution and sentencing.

"The pattern of ill-treatment includes ... the practice of blindfolding children and tying their hands with plastic ties, physical and verbal abuse during transfer to an interrogation site, including the use of painful restraints," the report said.

It said minors suffered physical violence and threats during their interrogation, were coerced into confession and not given immediate access to a lawyer or family during questioning.

"Treatment inconsistent with child rights continues during court appearances, including shackling of children, denial of bail and imposition of custodial sentences and transfer of children outside occupied Palestinian territory to serve their sentences inside Israel," the report said.

Such practice "appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized", it added. ...

A spokeswoman for Israel's Prison Service said there were currently 307 Palestinian minors in Israeli custody, 108 of whom are serving a prison sentence. Most of them, 253, are between the ages of 16 to 18 and the rest are under 16.

A senior Israeli officer in the Military Advocate General's office said one of the jailed Palestinians, aged 17 at the time of his arrest, had stabbed to death two Jewish settlers and three of their children, including a three-month-old baby, in 2011.

He denied that minors, while in interrogation, were not allowed access to family members or a lawyer. "Very few of the parents take the time to come (to the police station)," he said.

UNICEF said Israel had made some "positive changes" in recent years in its treatment of Palestinian minors, including new hand-tying procedures meant to prevent pain and injury.

It also noted a 2010 military order that requires Israeli police to notify parents about the arrest of their children and to inform minors they have the right to consult a lawyer.

The Israeli officer said the army was considering videotaping interrogations and that a new military order, coming into effect in April, will limit to 48 hours the time a minor can be held prior to appearing before a judge.

First of all, this is UNICEF. Secondly, what are children and teen-agers doing throwing stones or otherwise engaging Israeli soldiers? Where are the parents? Are they encouraging their children to be suicide-bombers or jihadis? If the IDF does treat children as potential terrorists, it certainly has reason to do so. I would look to the Palestinian leadership (term used in the weakest sense). Given that the tenor of Palestinian propaganda ranges from unproven to outright absurd, this report comes across more mud-slinging from a side known for its financial compensation for suicide-bombers. Thirdly, detention of minors is no longer than forty-eight hours, long enough for their parents to come and get them (see linked article). Even B'Tselem, a human rights group focussing on Palestinian territories, shows from their compiled statistics that the majority of offenders are well over the age of fourteen. How, exactly, are children the majority of detention cases?

 Grain of salt.

China awaits the new pope:

At Hong Kong's Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, worshippers regularly pray for their fellow Catholics on the mainland who practice their faith under far different circumstances.

"We hope that the new pope can help us go into China," said Ma Yee-Man, one of the parishioners who spoke to CBC News following mass Sunday. "We hope that our brothers and sisters in China can have communion and mass freely the way we do. We pray hard and we hope that the new pope can help us."

Another parishioner, Samantha Wong, said she "absolutely" shares the hope expressed by Ma, but she doesn't think the broken ties between the Vatican and the Chinese government will be mended any time soon.

"Relations have been tense. I don't think it's something that would happen quickly no matter who it is," she said, referring to Benedict's successor. "It doesn't change overnight."

The division dates back to the 1950s when the Communist Party expelled all foreign missionaries, closed churches and took the position that the Vatican shouldn't interfere in China's internal matters. It set up bodies called the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the Bishops Conference of the Catholic Church in China to oversee state-sanctioned churches instead.

This led to a system of "underground" churches that are not registered with the government, where members are loyal to the Holy See and attend mass at risk of persecution. Sometimes local authorities are tolerant, sometimes they are not, and there are ongoing reports of crackdowns on the non-registered churches. ...

A spokesman for China's foreign ministry recently warned that the new pope shouldn't interfere in its internal affairs and that the Vatican must break ties with Taiwan if talks are ever to resume. "For me, the more I see of the new leader, Xi Jinping, the more I begin to lose hope," wrote Zen, who is currently in Rome and could not be reached for an interview.

The dictatorship in China thinks it can run the Church, as it does its own people and North Korea. Why are we trading with China?

Speaking of North Korea:

Australia has barred North Korea from reopening an embassy in Canberra because of the reclusive state's recent nuclear test, the government said on Thursday.

Australia, a close U.S. ally, is one of a few Western countries to have diplomatic ties with North Korea, which first opened a Canberra embassy in May 2002. It closed the embassy six years later and then sought this year to reopen it.

But Australia, a rotating U.N. Security Council member, has been strongly critical of the nuclear tests and has helped drive international calls for tougher sanctions against Pyongyang.

"The proposal to reopen a North Korean Embassy in Canberra is not currently progressing," an Australian foreign ministry spokeswoman said.

"It is in abeyance until further notice while we work in the United Nations Security Council on the response to North Korea's recent nuclear activity," she said.

Australia temporarily blocked North Korean officials from visiting Canberra in February to inspect possible locations for the embassy, shortly after North Korea conducted its third nuclear test in defiance of U.N. resolutions.

See. That's how you deal with North Korea.

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