President Rodrigo Duterte expressed condolences to the family of Indonesian Ambassador to the Philippines Sinyo Harry Sarundajang, who passed away Saturday.

Duterte offers condolences to family of Indonesian envoy Sinyo Sarundajang

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By Prince Golez

President Rodrigo Duterte expressed condolences to the family of Indonesian Ambassador to the Philippines Sinyo Harry Sarundajang, who passed away Saturday.

In a statement released by Malacañang Thursday, Duterte described Sinyo, a former governor of North Sulawesi province for two terms, as a “true friend” and “champion of Philippines-Indonesia bilateral relations.

“The President conveys deepest sympathies to Ibu Deetje Adeline Laoh Tambuwun, the entire family and the Government of the Republic of Indonesia in this time of great sadness and grief,” it said.

The late ambassador’s tenure further strengthened the country’s diplomatic ties with Indonesia through improved connectivity, sustained people-to-people exchanges as well as greater cooperation for peace, security and stability and prosperity in the BIMP-EAGA and the larger region, according to the statement.

“He will be remembered and rightly honored for his deep commitment and dedication to further deepen and broaden the special ties between the Philippines and Indonesia,” said the Palace.

Sinyo has been serving as the Indonesian envoy to the Philippines since 2018.

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POLITIKO / Latest News

Press watchdog files suit against Saudi prince over Khashoggi

by Joseph Schmid

Reporters Without Borders said Tuesday that it has asked a German court to investigate “crimes against humanity” by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the grisly killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The criminal suit, which seeks an inquiry by prosecutors under Germany’s international jurisdiction laws, alleges systematic persecution of Khashoggi — who was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018– as well as dozens of other journalists.

It comes after Washington released a declassified intelligence report last week which concluded that Prince Mohammed personally approved the killing of Khashoggi, a US-based contributor to The Washington Post.

Saudi officials denounced the report, insisting that Khashoggi was killed in a “rogue operation” by a Saudi hit squad that did not involve the crown prince.

But Reporters Without Borders said it had gathered evidence of a “state policy to attack and silence journalists,” which it submitted to the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe, Germany, on Monday.

Its report details the cases of 34 other journalists who have been jailed in Saudi Arabia, including the blogger Raif Badawi, who has been imprisoned in his home country since 2012 on charges of “insulting Islam.”

“We call on the German prosecutor to take a stand,” Christophe Deloire, secretary-general of the media watchdog known by its French abbreviation RSF, said in a statement.

“No one should be above international law, especially when crimes of humanity are at stake,” he said.

Contacted by AFP, the court in Karlsruhe confirmed it had received the complaint but declined to comment further.

Last week, a court in Koblenz applied the principle of universal jurisdiction to convict a former Syrian intelligence agent for complicity in crimes against humanity, the first court case worldwide over state-sponsored torture by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

– ‘Mockery of justice’ –
Besides Prince Mohammed, the complaint targets his top aide Saud al-Qahtani, who is suspected of taking a direct role in the planning and killing of Khashoggi, and three other Saudi officials.

While a Saudi court eventually sentenced 11 unidentified defendants in December 2019 for the killing after international pressure, the main suspects remain “fully immune to justice,” RSF said.

And the death sentences for five of the suspects were overturned last September, in what Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz called “a mockery of justice.”

On Tuesday, Cengiz reiterated her call on the international community to “punish” the prince over the extra-territorial murder of a citizen.

The 59-year-old Khashoggi was strangled and had his body cut into pieces by a 15-man Saudi squad inside the Istanbul consulate, according to Turkish officials. His remains have not been found.

Both the CIA and a UN special envoy have directly linked Prince Mohammed to the killing, a charge the kingdom denies.

The US report released last week found that seven members of the hit squad that flew to Istanbul came from the Rapid Intervention Force, which it said “exists to defend the crown prince” and “answers only to him”.

President Joe Biden’s administration imposed sanctions on the Rapid Intervention Force — meaning any US transactions with it will be a crime — and said it was banning entry into the United States of 76 Saudis under a new policy against foreign officials who harass dissidents.

But it stopped short of personally targeting the 35-year-old crown prince, who is the de facto Saudi leader as well as the defence minister of one of the world’s largest oil suppliers.

Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, on Tuesday called the RSF filing “an important step in the right direction” for holding the crown prince accountable.

Agence France-Presse

Charity calls for urgent action over virus school closures

Children worldwide have lost more than a third of the standard global 190-day school year because of the coronavirus pandemic, Save the Children said Tuesday following a wide-ranging research review.

The London-based charity urged governments and donors to take swift action to prevent “an irreversible impact” on the lives of millions of children who now may never return to school.

It analysed data compiled primarily by UNESCO, the UN educational and cultural organisation, and UNICEF, the UN body dedicated to children.

The figures showed that children have missed 74 days of education on average due to school closures caused by the global health crisis, and a lack of access to remote learning.

Using the UN agencies’ statistics and data from the US-based Center for Global Development, the charity calculated that 112 billion school days had been lost in total — and the poorest were disproportionately affected.

Children in Latin America, the Caribbean and South Asia missed out on almost triple the education of those in Western Europe, it added.

“Almost a year after the global pandemic was officially declared, hundreds of millions of children remain out of school,” said chief executive Inger Ashing.

“2021 must be the year to ensure that children do not pay the price for this pandemic.

“We will lose the war against the pandemic if we do not ensure children get back to school safely, have access to health services, have enough to eat and are protected.”

– ‘I cry’ –
Supporting children’s safe return to school should be made a priority at this year’s meeting of G7 wealthy nations, hosted by Britain in June, said the charity.

That call was echoed by a spokeswoman for UNESCO.

“We need a substantial stimulus package to reopen schools safely, targeting the poorest and getting education back on track for the Covid-19 generation,” she told AFP.

Save the Children’s review of UNESCO’s research found at the peak of the pandemic last year, 91 percent of the world’s learners were locked out of schools.

The restrictions have widened the wealth and opportunity gap both between and within countries, it concluded.

“The divide grew between wealthier and poorer families; urban and rural households; refugees or displaced children and host populations; children with disabilities and children without disabilities,” Save the Children added.

It interviewed Santiago, a 13-year-old Venezuelan who attends a school for children with a profound hearing loss supported by the charity. He reported being “sad, worried, and scared” by the situation.

“I like school. People understand me there. When I can’t go to school, I cry and just want to sleep,” he was quoted as saying.

– Online access varies –
Save the Children also paired UNICEF research with data from the European Union and US Census Bureau to discover “huge discrepancies” in access to remote learning in wealthier nations.

Students in the United States are more disconnected from the internet than those in other high-income countries, likely hindering their online learning, it said.

Meanwhile in Norway, 30 percent of youths aged nine to 18 did not have access to a computer at home, and in the Netherlands this was one of five children.

Agence France-Presse

Former Trump press secretary joins Fox News

Donald Trump’s former White House press secretary has been hired by Fox News as an on-air commentator, the network said Tuesday.

Kayleigh McEnany, 32, made her television debut in 2016 on CNN before officially joining Trump’s team the following year.

McEnany was appointed as White House spokeswoman in April 2020, a position she kept until Trump left office in January.

Since the presidential election in November, McEnany has come under fire for backing Trump’s baseless claims that the election was fraudulent.

The Fox network has been a landing pad for many Trump administration alumni: Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who served as White House press secretary from May 2017 to June 2019, was recruited by Fox News as a commentator.

She left her Fox position after announcing in late January that she was running for governor of the state of Arkansas.

Former Trump economic advisor Larry Kudlow has also joined Fox. Since February, he has hosted a weekly show on Fox Business, Fox News’ sister channel with an equally conservative editorial stance.

Agence France-Presse

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