ZETA.- The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern over the human rights violations and abuses faced by persons of the “Migrant Caravan” marching from Honduras. The IACHR urges the States concerned to adopt measures to guarantee the human rights of these individuals—in particular the right of persons in need of international protection to request and receive asylum—and to strengthen mechanisms of shared responsibility to address the situation of persons that have been forced to migrate.

According to information gathered by the IACHR, on October 13, 2018, several hundred people, mostly Hondurans, met in the city of San Pedro Sula, Honduras and began their journey north. They planned to travel through Guatemala to Mexico and the United States in what has been called the "Migrant Caravan." As time has passed, more people have joined the caravan, and multiple sources indicate that it is currently made up of more than 7,000 individuals from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Over the last few years, the IACHR, civil society organizations, and international bodies have monitored the situation with great concern as various forms of violence and other hardships have led to a significant rise of Honduran asylum seekers and refugees in other countries in the region, including children, adolescents, and unaccompanied minors. Members of the Caravan have declared that they abandoned their country of origin to escape gang violence and other human rights violations, and due to poverty and lack of opportunities. The caravan is composed largely of families and includes people in situations of special vulnerability, including children, pregnant women, and elderly individuals.

The IACHR has observed that the caravan’s journey has triggered reactions and hostile measures by some authorities in transit and destination countries against the migrants and human rights defenders of the caravan. These reactions include pronouncements to stop the caravan, close borders, and to detain and deport caravan members. The IACHR expresses its particular concern over the statements made by United States officials characterizing the caravan as a threat to sovereignty and national security, and affirming that this movement of migrants includes many criminals. In this context, the IACHR rejects the use of stigmatizing and criminalizing language and unfounded accusations in reference to migrants and asylum seekers, which may encourage xenophobic attitudes against such persons.

According to information received by the IACHR, migrants and asylum seekers face several obstacles to their safe transit through Guatemala and their arrival in Mexico. During their journey, caravan members have faced precarious situations regarding a lack of access to food, water, healthcare, medical services, and shelter. Furthermore, in making the journey outdoors, they are exposed to harsh weather and route conditions, as well as altercations with state authorities. On October 21, the IACHR was informed that Guatemalan authorities had proceeded to return 1,121 Hondurans to their country. The IACHR urges transit and destination country authorities to refrain from using force to manage mixed migration movements in order to guarantee respect for the migrants’ and asylum seekers’ rights to life and personal integrity. Additionally, the IACHR urges caravan members not to resort to violent actions and to respect national laws.

The IACHR reaffirms that, although the States have the right to establish their migratory and international protection policies, these policies, laws, and practices must respect and guarantee the human rights of all migrants and asylum seekers—which are rights and freedoms that derive from human dignity.

The IACHR recommends that States concerned adopt a coordinated response that respects and guarantees the human rights of the individuals that make up the “Migrant Caravan” and that incorporates the following measures:

1. Guarantee the right to request and receive asylum for people that require international protection or satisfy their urgent humanitarian needs, such as respecting and guaranteeing the principles of family unity and children’s best interests.1. Guarantee the right to request and receive asylum for people that require international protection or satisfy their urgent humanitarian needs, such as respecting and guaranteeing the principles of family unity and children’s best interests.

2. Guarantee, through fair and effective procedures, the recognition of refugee status to people who have a well-founded fear of persecution if returned to their country of origin, or who consider that their life, integrity or personal freedom would be threatened due to the situation of violence, massive human rights violations, and serious disturbances of public order, as defined by the Cartagena Declaration on Refugees of 1984. In this sense, the States concerned should quickly build up and mobilize the personnel and resources needed for their national asylum systems to adequately and efficiently respond to requests for asylum and additional protection.

3. Respect the principle and right to non-refoulement.

4. Respect the principle of non-rejection at the border. For this purpose, carry out an analysis of the particular conditions and necessities of international protection and special protection to determine whether they should be recognized as refugees or if they require complementary or subsidiary protection.

5. Respect the right and principle of prohibiting collective deportations.

6. Implement mechanisms to identify people with specific protection needs, particularly women, children, the elderly, and LGBTI individuals.

7. Protect and provide humanitarian assistance to migrants, asylum-seekers, and refugees within the State’s jurisdiction, in coordination with international organizations—such as UNHCR—, human rights national institutions, and civil society organizations.

8. Guarantee that deportations are only carried out on the basis of the true, fully informed, valid consent of the migrants, in a dignified manner, guaranteeing the respect of their human rights and the adoption of adequate measures for the evaluation of their needs and their reintegration in their countries of origin.

The IACHR positively notes that on October 19, the Mexican authorities requested the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to respond to the asylum requests that may arise from the arrival of the caravan and to provide the corresponding support to the applicants during their stay in Mexico. The IACHR welcomes the decision of the State of Mexico to guarantee access to its territory and to establish shelters, in coordination with international organizations and civil society organizations, to meet the immediate needs of the migrants and asylum seekers who make up the caravan. The IACHR also highlights the role played by the National Human Rights Commission of Honduras (CONADEH), the National Human Rights Commission of Mexico (CNDH), the Human Rights Ombudsman of Guatemala (PDH), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) in Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico, as well as multiple civil society organizations, in providing humanitarian assistance to those that make up the caravan.

Within the framework of its mandate to promote and protect human rights, the IACHR reaffirms its willingness to provide technical assistance and contribute to strengthening the capacities of the authorities of the States of the region.

Add a comment

IACHR presents case on Bolivia before the I/A Court


ZETA.- The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) presented to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) Case 12.709, Juan Carlos Flores Bedregal, regarding Bolivia.

The case relates to the international responsibility of the State for the forced disappearance of Juan Carlos Flores Bedregal, leader of the Partido Obrero Revolucionario (Revolutionary Workers’ Party) and national representative in the Legislature, and the impunity in which these facts remain. His disappearance began in the context of the July 1980 coup d'état by military forces.

The Commission determined that although processes were carried out that ended up in convictions, to date there has not been complete clarification of what happened to the victim, including the whereabouts of his mortal remains, as a result of multiple cover-up mechanisms.

The IACHR pointed out that the existence of evidence regarding the death of Juan Carlos Flores Bedregal does not modify the legal classification of forced disappearance, since 38 years after his disappearance, his relatives do not have information or access to the mortal remains in order to be certain of his fate. In addition, the IACHR determined that neither the trial of responsibilities carried out in 1993, nor the conviction handed down in 2007, have been effective remedies for clarifying the truth about what happened to the victim. In the Merits Report, the Commission recommended that Bolivia fully, impartially, and effectively investigate the whereabouts of Juan Carlos Flores Bedregal, and adopt the necessary measures to identify and deliver the mortal remains to his family, according to their wishes. The IACHR requested that the internal procedures related to the human rights violations declared in the Merits Report be carried out impartially, effectively, and within a reasonable period of time, in order to fully clarify the facts, identify all those responsible, and impose the appropriate sanctions.

The Commission also recommended that Bolivia provide adequate reparation for the human rights violations declared in the Merits Report, both materially and morally, including fair compensation. The State should also adopt measures of satisfaction for the recovery of the historical memory of the life and role of Juan Carlos Flores Bedregal as social and political leader. Measures of satisfaction should include a public act of recognition of responsibility, as well as physical and mental health care measures necessary for the rehabilitation of family members declared victims in a concerted manner.

Finally, the IACHR recommended that Bolivia comply with its obligations regarding access to information in State archives, including military archives, related to the serious human rights violations committed during the dictatorship of Luis García Meza. In particular, it should adopt policies aimed at obtaining, producing, analyzing, reconstructing, organizing, and facilitating the information contained in these archives that is necessary to know the truth about what happened in this case, guaranteeing direct access by the family members of Flores Bedregal and society as a whole. In addition, it should adopt the necessary non-repetition measures to prevent similar events in the future, including effective mechanisms for the search for and identification of mortal remains of persons who disappeared during the military dictatorships that took place in Bolivia; enact a law and establish institutional mechanisms to guarantee the right of access to public information in Bolivia, containing clear safeguards for access to information on serious human rights violations, in accordance with international standards. The Inter-American Commission submitted the case to the jurisdiction of the Court on October 18, 2018, because it considered that Bolivia did not comply with the recommendations contained in the Merits Report.

The case offers the Court the opportunity to develop and consolidate its jurisprudence on the duty of States to adapt their legal framework to guarantee the full and effective exercise of the right of access to information on serious human rights violations. In particular, with respect to the obligation of States to obtain, produce, analyze, classify, organize and provide society as a whole with access to military archives related to serious human rights violations of the recent past.

Add a comment

ZETA.- U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin issued the following statement regarding the release of proposed regulations on Health Reimbursement Arrangements by the Departments of Labor, Health & Human Services, and the Treasury:

“Today’s proposed regulations will expand the availability of affordable health insurance for hardworking Americans. This fulfills the commitment the President made in his October 2017 Executive Order to foster competition and choice and to provide Americans—especially employees who work at small businesses—with more options for financing their healthcare. Treasury projects that this will benefit hundreds of thousands of employers and millions of workers.”

Read the full release on the proposed regulations.

Add a comment

ZETA.- Today, the seven member nations of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC) took significant actions to expose and disrupt Taliban actors and their Iranian sponsors that seek to undermine the security of the Afghan Government.  The TFTC Member States designated nine individuals associated with the Taliban, including those facilitating Iranian support to bolster the terrorist group.  The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated these key Taliban members and their Iranian regime sponsors in partnership with the other TFTC Member States: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Bahrain, the State of Kuwait, the Sultanate of Oman, the State of Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

“The TFTC has again demonstrated its tremendous value to international security by disrupting and exposing key Taliban members who are involved in suicide attacks, and other lethal activities.  We are also targeting key Iranian sponsors providing financial and material support to the Taliban,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.  “Iran’s provision of military training, financing, and weapons to the Taliban is yet another example of Tehran’s blatant regional meddling and support for terrorism.  The United States and our partners will not tolerate the Iranian regime exploiting Afghanistan to further their destabilizing behavior.  Iran’s support to the Taliban stands in stark violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions and epitomizes the regime’s utter disregard for fundamental international norms.”

Specifically, OFAC, together with TFTC Gulf partners, designated Mohammad Ebrahim Owhadi (also known as Jalal Vahedi), Esma’il Razavi, Abdullah Samad Faroqui, Mohammad Daoud Muzzamil, Abdul Rahim Manan, Abdul Aziz (also known as Aziz Shah Zamani), Sadr Ibrahim, and Hafiz Majid pursuant to Executive Order 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.  In addition, TFTC Member States also designated Naim Barich, who is managing the Taliban’s relationship with Iran.  Naim Barich was previously designated by the United States under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act) on November 15, 2012.

This is the third coordinated TFTC designation action since the Center was announced on May 21, 2017.  The TFTC is a bold and historic effort to expand and strengthen the seven member states’ cooperation to counter the financing of terrorism.  The TFTC facilitates coordinated disruptive actions, sharing of financial intelligence information, and member state capacity-building to target terrorist financing networks and related activities that pose national security threats to TFTC members.

These designations support President Trump’s South Asia Strategy by exposing and disrupting actors seeking to undermine the Afghan government, and disrupting terrorist safe havens in South Asia.  We will continue to actively target those providing financial support to the Taliban until there is a negotiated peace settlement.  The inclusion of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps – Qods Force (IRGC-QF) members supporting Taliban elements in this action highlights the scope of the Iranian regime’s malign activities and regionally destabilizing behavior, and furthers the U.S. maximum pressure campaign against Iran.

Mohammad Ebrahim Owhadi (Owhadi)

Mohammad Ebrahim Owhadi was designated for acting for or on behalf of IRGC-QF and for assisting in, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, the Taliban.

In 2017, Owhadi, an IRGC-QF officer assigned to Birjand, Iran, reached an agreement with the Taliban Deputy Shadow Governor for Herat Province, Abdullah Samad Faroqui (Samad), also designated today, that the IRGC-QF would provide Samad’s forces with military and financial assistance in return for Samad’s forces attacking the Afghan government in Herat Province, Afghanistan.  This agreement was made in Birjand, Iran, and included the IRGC-QF providing training to Samad’s militants at IRGC-QF training facilities near Birjand.  As of mid-2017, both parties appeared to be honoring their commitments, with the IRGC-QF providing a basic military training program for Samad’s forces.

In 2016, Owhadi worked with Samad to discuss Iranian support to the Taliban.  This included a compound built in Iran to house Taliban fighters and their families that had been injured or killed.  Owhadi also inquired with the Taliban about progress on sending personnel to Iran for training.

As of 2014, Owhadi was the second deputy at the IRGC-QF base in Birjand, Iran, and was in charge of providing weapons and ammunition to opponents of the Afghan Government.

As of 2008, Owhadi was an official at an IRGC base in Nehbandan, Iran, where several youth between the ages of twelve and fifteen years old were being trained in terrorist and suicide attacks.  Officials stationed at Nehbandan were subordinate to IRGC officials in Birjand.

Esma’il Razavi (Razavi)

Esma’il Razavi was designated for acting for or on behalf of IRGC-QF and for assisting in, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, the Taliban.

Razavi was in charge of the training center at the IRGC-QF base in Birjand, Iran, which as of 2014, provided training, intelligence, and weapons to Taliban forces in Farah, Ghor, Badhis, and Helmand Provinces, Afghanistan.  In 2017, Razavi traveled to Farah Province, Afghanistan, where he encouraged the Taliban to conduct attacks in the border region of Afghanistan.  In addition, he ordered a Taliban commander to disrupt the ongoing construction of a dam in western Afghanistan and appointed Mohammad Daoud Muzzamil, also designated today, to find two suicide bombers to assassinate someone working on behalf of the Afghan government in the southwestern provinces of Afghanistan.  Razavi also promised to provide Abdul Rahim Manan, the Helmand Shadow Governor also designated today, with anti-aircraft weapons.

In 2008, as the senior IRGC-QF official in Birjand, his base supported anti-coalition militants in Farah and Herat Provinces. 

Abdullah Samad Faroqui (Samad)

Abdullah Samad Faroqui was designated for acting for or on behalf of the Taliban.

As of early 2018, Samad, the Taliban’s Deputy Shadow Governor for Herat Province, Afghanistan, was one of several Taliban officials maintaining a relationship with IRGC-QF officials based in Birjand in order to accept weapons and military aid from Iran for the Taliban.  As of early 2018, Samad received thousands of kilograms of explosives from the IRGC that he planned to distribute to Taliban commanders throughout Herat Province, Afghanistan.  Samad visited a training camp in Birjand, Iran, where the IRGC was training Taliban fighters to attack a proposed pipeline that would run through Afghanistan.  Samad promised to distribute Iranian provided funds to the fighters’ families. 

In early 2006, Samad was part of a group of Taliban leaders that traveled to Zahedan, Iran, to meet with Iranian intelligence officials.  Samad was a representative of Mullah Obaidullah, a now deceased Senior Taliban leader.  The Iranian officials gave money and equipment to the group of Taliban leaders, who agreed to carry out terrorist attacks targeting reconstruction efforts in western Afghanistan.

Additionally, in mid-2017, Samad received money from the IRGC through a hawala in Herat, City, Herat Province, Afghanistan.

Mohammad Daoud Muzzamil (Daoud)

Mohammad Daoud Muzzamil was designated for acting for or on behalf of the Taliban.

As of late 2017, Daoud, the former Taliban Deputy Shadow Governor for Helmand Province Afghanistan, had been appointed the Shadow Governor for Farah Province, Afghanistan.   In early 2017, Daoud was appointed as leader of the Taliban’s Quetta Military Commission. 

Abdul Rahim Manan (Rahim)

Abdul Rahim Manan was designated for acting for or on behalf of the Taliban.

Rahim is the Taliban’s Shadow Governor for Helmand Province, Afghanistan, who provided a large number of Taliban fighters to attack Afghan government forces.  As of early 2018, Rahim was a Taliban leader responsible for coordinating and organizing Taliban operations in Afghanistan and has ties to the IRGC. 

In late 2007, Rahim oversaw the logistics of lethal aid transfers from the IRGC-QF to the Taliban.  Rahim, a senior Taliban commander, worked with Iran’s primary interlocutor with the Taliban to request supplies and coordinate lethal aid shipments.

Naim Barich (Barich)

Naim Barich was designated by TFTC Member states for action for or on behalf of the Taliban.  Barich was designated by OFAC on November 15, 2012, pursuant to the Kingpin Act, for the significant role he plays in international narcotics trafficking.  Barich also appears on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1988 Sanctions List due to his support for the Taliban.

As of late 2017, Barich was the Taliban shadow minister of foreign affairs and managed Taliban relations with Iran.

Since at least 2006, IRGC-QF officers provided weapons to Barich.

Abdul Aziz (Aziz)

Abdul Aziz was designated for assisting in, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of the Taliban.

As of early 2017, Abdul Aziz had a business relationship with two Taliban commanders whereby he arranged for these commanders’ narcotics to be transported from Afghanistan, through Pakistan and Iran, to Europe and Africa.  In exchange, these Taliban commanders provided protection for one of Abdul Aziz’s narcotics processing facilities in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.  As of late 2016, he provided financial support to Taliban senior leadership in Pakistan and paid certain travel expenses for Taliban commanders.  Aziz has narcotics trafficking partners in Europe, Africa, and East Asia.  Previously, Aziz smuggled precious gemstones from Afghanistan for international sale and donated a large portion of these profits to Taliban senior leadership in Pakistan.  Aziz provides funds to the Taliban’s Quetta Shura every year and travels to the Gulf to collect money from other international narcotics dealers to provide to the Taliban Quetta Shura.

In addition, in late February 2017, Aziz planned to travel to China to establish a company, probably related to a marble quarrying venture in Pakistan.  Aziz had traveled recently to review the marble venture.  As of late July 2017, Aziz planned to bring a collection of green, white, and pink onyx with him when he traveled to the UAE.

Aziz, a Pakistan-based narcotics trafficker, has served as a middleman for the sale of opium from Afghan farmers to Iranian and Turkish narcotics traffickers.

Sadr Ibrahim (Ibrahim)

Sadr Ibrahim was designated for acting for or on behalf of the Taliban.

For the past four years, Ibrahim served as the leader of the Taliban’s Military Commission.  He previously served on the Taliban’s Peshawar Military Commission and as a Defense Ministry official during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan.

In 2018, Iranian officials agreed to provide Ibrahim with monetary support and individualized training in order to prevent a possible tracing back to Iran.  Iranian trainers would help build Taliban tactical and combat capabilities.

Hafiz Majid (Majid)

Hafiz Majid was designated for acting for or on behalf of the Taliban.

Majid is a Taliban senior Shura and Military Commission Member, and oversees all suicide attacks in Afghanistan.

Majid was an advisor to now deceased former leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar.  During the Taliban regime era, Majid was the Taliban’s security chief (Chief of Police) for Kandahar Province.

Add a comment

Zooming in on Mexico’s landscape


ZETA.- As part of a scientific collaboration with the Mexican Space Agency and other Mexican scientific public entities, ESA has combined images from the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission to produce a detailed view of the different types of vegetation growing across the entire country.

The high-resolution land-cover map combines images captured by Copernicus Sentinel-2 between 2016 and 2018.

Sentinel-2 is a two-satellite constellation built for the EU’s Copernicus environmental monitoring programme. Each identical satellite carries a multispectral imager that can distinguish different types of vegetation and crops. It can also be used to determine numerous plant indices such as the amount of chlorophyll and water in leaves to monitor changes in plant health and growth.

The mission has a myriad of uses, one of which is to provide information to map land cover so that changes in the way land is being used can be monitored.

Thanks to this Copernicus mission and to ESA’s Climate Change Initiative Land Cover project, Mexico’s land cover has been mapped at a resolution of 10 m.

Land-cover mapping breaks down the different types of material on Earth’s surface, such as water bodies, different forms of agriculture, forests, grasslands and artificial surfaces.

This information is important for understanding changes in land use, modelling climate change, conserving biodiversity and managing natural resources.

This is a valuable source for scientific studies and practical applications alike.

Daniela Jurado from Mexico’s National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity said, “Having access to such a detailed map is not only useful for scientific research such as understanding fluxes associated with the carbon cycle, but also for managing our natural resources and for conserving biodiversity.”

“It is also important for land-use management and for monitoring urban expansion.”

Alejandra Aurelia López Caloca, from the Center for Research in Geospatial Information Sciences added, “Indeed, this new map reveals a lot about our country. It is very helpful for studying the growth of cities and how rural areas are transitioned into urban environments. In addition, it is going to be a real help to understand where bodies of water are highly dependent on precipitation and to pinpoint those areas that are at risk of flooding.

“The new map allows us to identify the status land cover, specifically the agricultural kind so this will really help us understand how our land is being farmed.”

ESA has been coordinating global land cover maps since 2002 through its GlobCover and Climate Change Initiative Land Cover projects at a resolution of 300 m. But with the Copernicus Sentinel-2 pair now in orbit, land cover can be mapped at a resolution of 10 m.

In the same vein, a land-cover map of Central America is also now available.

Copyright contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2016–18) processed by ESA–CCI Land Cover Project/UC Louvain/Brockmann Consult


Add a comment