News in Brief 28 December 2017

Terrorist attack in Kabul another 'despicable crime' in a year already marked by unspeakable atrocities: UN Mission

A deadly terrorist attack on Thursday in the Afghan capital, Kabul, has killed scores of civilians and many children are feared to be among the casualties, the United Nations Assistance Mission in the country, UNAMA, has said.

So far, at least 100 casualties have been reported and the number could rise, it added.

The attack occurred in the city's Qalai Nazir neighbourhood, a predominantly Shi'a Muslim area, hitting the Tabayan Cultural Centre where civilians had gathered to commemorate a national day.

Toby Lanzer, the acting head of the UN Mission, condemned the attack and said it is "another truly despicable crime in a year already marked by unspeakable atrocities".

"Crimes like these strengthen our resolve to work with all Afghans who want peace to return to their country in 2018," he added.

According to UNAMA, the Islamic State (or Da'esh) claimed responsibility for the attack.

Brutality against children 'cannot be the new normal' stresses UNICEF

Children in conflict zones around the world have come under attack at a "shocking scale" throughout 2017, the UN Children's Fund, UNICEF, has said.

According to the UN agency, children have become frontline targets, used as human shields, killed, maimed and recruited to fight.

Rape, forced marriage, abduction and enslavement have become "standard tactics" in conflicts from Iraq, Syria and Yemen, to Nigeria, South Sudan and Myanmar, it added.

In addition to the direct impact, millions more children are paying an indirect price for the conflicts, suffering from malnutrition, disease and trauma as basic services � including access to food, water, health and sanitation � are denied, damaged or destroyed in the fighting.

UNICEF's Director of Emergency Programmes Manuel Fontaine stressed that the world cannot become numb as such attacks continue year after year.

"Such brutality cannot be the new normal," he underscored.

The UN agency also called on all parties to conflict to respect their obligations under international law and immediately end violations against children and civilians.

It also urged all States with influence over warring parties "to use that influence to protect children".

Pardoning of former Peruvian President Fujimori a 'slap in the face' for victims

A group of UN independent human rights experts have condemned the pardoning of former President of Peru Alberto Fujimori and said that the move undermines the efforts of the judiciary to achieve justice.

According to the experts, the Presidential pardon granted to Mr. Fujimori on politically motivated grounds "is a slap in the face [to] the victims and witnesses whose tireless commitment brought him to justice".

Mr. Fujimori was serving a 25-year jail term for serious human rights violations including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and kidnapping.

His pardon by current President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was announced on December 24.

Mr. Fujimori's conviction after a judicial process had been hailed as a major achievement in the fight against impunity.

The human rights experts called on the Peruvian Government to not give in to political pressure and uphold its domestic and international obligations.

The Government should respect the victims and witnesses who fought for justice and adopt a comprehensive transitional justice strategy as a matter of priority, the experts added.

Since the pardon, protests have been reported in the capital Lima and elsewhere in in the country.

Source: United Nations Radio