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Brief world news: more attacks in Ukraine, appeal for rights for jailed Nigerian singer, International Day against Homophobia

“The safety of citizens, homes, schools and hospitals must be guaranteed. They are not a target,” Denise Brown said a statementunderlining the need to respect international humanitarian law.

Ms Brown said these latest attacks came a day after she returned from the Kharkov region of northeastern Ukraine, which has come under brutal shelling in recent days.

“I saw the terrible consequences of the intensified attacks by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation on thousands of people who had to flee for their lives, leaving behind everything they own,” she said.

“There are many older people who are afraid they will never be able to return.”

She also praised the humanitarians who are “working tirelessly to support people amid this human tragedy.”

Nigeria has pushed for the release of musicians executed for blasphemy

Independent UN human rights experts on Thursday called on Nigeria to immediately release a singer convicted of blasphemy in 2020.

Sufi Muslim musician Yahaya Sharif-Aminu was sentenced to death by hanging for writing a song and sharing it on the social messaging service WhatsApp.

“Although his death sentence was quashed by an appeal court, we remain deeply concerned that Mr. Sharif-Aminu’s case will be prosecuted again under the same legal framework, the Sharia law of the Criminal Code of Kano State, with serious risks that the death penalty will be prosecuted. The verdict will be confirmed,” the experts said said.

Abolish the death penalty

Although the Nigerian Supreme Court has heard the case, experts say they remain deeply concerned that Mr Sharif-Aminu has been in prison for too long for exercising his human rights.

All people have the right to freedom of expression, religion or belief, they said, and to participate in the cultural life and development of their societies through artistic expression, without fear of imprisonment, reprisals or execution.

They urged the Supreme Court to consider Mr Sharif-Aminu’s case as a priority, and recommended that Nigeria impose a moratorium on the death penalty, with a view to abolishing it completely.

The three special rapporteurs who issued the statement were appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, the organization’s highest human rights body. They operate in their individual capacity, are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work.

The rainbow flag waves in the wind in San Francisco’s Castro District. Credit: Benson Kua

Respect human rights on the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

The UN Secretary General called for commitment to building a world of respect, dignity and human rights for all in his message to mark the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, which was celebrated on Friday.

António Guterres applauded the courageous work of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) activists who are fighting to end discrimination and ensure equality before the law.

“Yet there is a worrying wave in the opposite direction,” he warned. “New laws codify old bigotry, exploit fears and stoke hatred.”

He said the theme of this year’s International Day observation – “No One Left Behind: Equality, Freedom and Justice for All” – is a reminder of the obligation to respect human rights and the dignity of every human being.

“We need action around the world to make these rights a reality,” the UN chief said, calling for an end to the criminalization of same-sex relationships and discrimination and harmful practices against LGBTIQ+ communities.

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