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Abolish the death penalty, UK urges Nigeria

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…As Gas leak sends 200 Indian children into hospital*** 

The UK Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Harriet Thompson, on Monday urged the Nigerian government to join the growing list of countries that have discarded capital punishment from their justice system.

The Press and Public Affairs Officer, British High Commission in Nigeria,  Joe Abuku indicated this in Abuja, on the occasion of commemorating the World Day Against Death Penalty, which is globally celebrated on Oct. 10 annually.

Thompson insisted that the use of the death penalty undermined human dignity in any case; pleading that the death penalty should be stopped to prevent the death of innocent individuals caught in the miscarriage of justice.

“It has been a long standing policy of the UK to completely oppose the death penalty in all circumstances for all crimes and that is because of the sanctity of human life.

“There is also no conclusive evidence of its deterrent value and we know that right across the world in all justice systems, miscarriages of justice do happen.

“When the death penalty has been acted, any miscarriage of justice becomes irreversible and irreparable and the impact on human life of that is truly devastating.

“Though some western democracies like the US still use the death penalty, I am pleased to say that there is a downward trend right across the world.

“We have about 141 countries that have either removed the death penalty from their statutes book or at least have in place a moratorium and are not actually implementing the death sentences.

“There are 57 countries that still retain the death penalty and Nigeria is one of them, but like me, my counterparts in countries across the world would be making similar calls for all of those countries that do retain the death penalty to move towards abolition.’’

Thompson said that as much as people saw the need to hand terrorist and mass murderers a death penalty, there was evidence that the penalty helped promote the cause of terrorist groups.

“Terrorism and mass murder are horrific crimes that have a huge impact on a large number of people’s lives; the people who lose their lives, all of their families and people who are injured as well.

“I don’t want to detract from the severity of those crimes but I suppose I would ask what the death penalty aims to achieve in those scenarios.

“The people who are carrying out those acts know that when if they are caught, they might be sentenced to death and indeed killed but it doesn’t stop them from carrying out those crimes.

“There is evidence to suggest that the imposition of the death penalty can actually help promote the cause of terrorist groups and generate many more to take their place as it fuels hatred, extremism and further escalates tensions.

She therefore urged the Nigerian government to take a lead in the movement against death penalties as a leading country in Africa.

“I would urge the Federal Government of Nigeria to join the trend and take a lead on this issue as a leader in Africa.

“We have moved from 21 countries in 1997 to 37 countries today across Africa that are already abolishing the death penalty in law or in practice.

“Nigeria should look at the evidence about the impact of the death penalty and recognise that it doesn’t constitute a deterrent effect in society,’’ she said.

In the meantime, around 200 children fell ill on Tuesday after inhaling a toxic gas emitted from a sugar mill located close to school premises in northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, police said.

The students were immediately hospitalised after they complained of stomach ache, nausea and burning eyes.

The gas leak took place in Shamli district.

“Due to gas leakage today, 200 children of Shamli school fell sick but 175 have been discharged from the hospital,” a police official at state police control room said.

“At present, 23 children are in hospital and two have been referred to Panipat for specialised treatment.”

According to officials, sugar mill employees were putting chemicals in the waste to destroy it when the gas started emitting and spreading in the locality.

Local media reports put the number of children falling ill at around 300.

The government has ordered a probe into the incident and ordered Shamli district magistrate to ensure there remains no lapse in the treatment of the children affected by gas leak.

In May this year, around 200 students from a government-run school in Indian capital city were hospitalised following a gas leak from a container in the vicinity.

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U.S. strikes 2 targets in Syria in response to ‘continued attacks’

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The U.S. military struck two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran-affiliated groups in response to “continued attacks” against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon said on Sunday.

The strikes were conducted against a training facility in Abu Kamal and a safe house in Mayadin in the eastern governorate of Deir Ezzor, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a brief statement.

The U.S. struck similar targets in eastern Syria in October and earlier in November.

Pro-Iranian militias have intensified their attacks on U.S. military bases in Syria and Iraq in recent weeks as a response to the Israeli military campaign in Gaza.

The security situation in the entire region has been particularly tense since Oct. 7, when Hamas militants staged deadly attacks in southern Israel.

Israel is responding with an overwhelming air and ground offensive in Gaza.

As a deterrent, the U.S. has moved more weapons systems, warships and air squadrons to the Eastern Mediterranean, and is deploying several hundred troops to the Middle East to support US units there.

U.S. President Joe Biden had ordered Sunday’s action to make it clear that the U.S. was defending itself, its personnel, and its interests, Austin stressed.

The U.S. is prepared to take further necessary measures to protect its own people and interests.

  • dpa
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Russia writes off $23bn debt for Africa – Putin

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Russia sends almost 12m tons of grain to Africa says Putin

…Pledges additional $90 million***

Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, says the Russian Government has written off $23 billion debt burden of African countries.

Putin spoke at the plenary session of the ongoing second Russia–Africa Summit 2023 held from July 27 to July 28.

He said Moscow would allocate an additional $90 million for these purposes.

Putin said Russia was advocating the expansion of representation of African countries in the UN Security Council and other UN structures.

“Russia and Africa strive to develop cooperation in all areas and strengthen ‘honest, open, constructive’ partnership.

“Russia will also assist in opening new African embassies and consulates in Russia,” he said.

According to him, the reopening of embassies in Burkina Faso and Equatorial Guinea is going as planned.

He said sovereignty was “not a one-time achieved state,” and it must be constantly protected.

Putin also offered assistance to Africa in countering threats such as terrorism, piracy, and transnational crimes adding that it would continue to train personnel from African countries.

He assured that Russian businesses have a lot to offer partners from Africa.

Putin said transition to national currencies and the establishment of transport and logistics chains would contribute to the increase in mutual trade turnover.

“Russia is ready to provide trade preferences to Africa, support the creation of modern production sectors, agricultural sector, and provide assistance through relevant international structures and agencies.

“Russia will always be a responsible international supplier of agricultural products,” he said.

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U.S. Coastguard Finds ‘debris field’ Near Missing Vessel

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A “debris field” has been discovered within the search area for the missing Titan submersible, the U.S. Coastguard (USCG) said on Thursday.

The agency said a remotely-operated vehicle made the discovery near the wreckage of the Titanic on Thursday.

The hunt for the missing deep-sea vessel is still an “active search and rescue” mission after it lost communication on Sunday.

The vessel was about 700 kilometres south of St John’s, Newfoundland, during a voyage to the Titanic shipwreck off the coast of Canada.

Coastguard officials said they were “evaluating the information” following Thursday’s debris discovery.

A press conference will be held at the Coastguard base in Boston to “discuss the findings” at 8pm (1900 GMT).

Rear Admiral John Mauger, the first Coastguard district commander, and Captain Jamie Frederick, first Coastguard district response coordinator, will lead the press conference.

Founding member of the Board of Trustees of The Explorers Club, Hamish Harding, was on board the undersea craft, alongside UK-based businessman Shahzada Dawood, his son Suleman Dawood, and OceanGate’s chief executive and founder Stockton Rush, as well as French submersible pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

The USCG said the ROV that made the discovery was from the Canadian Horizon Arctic ship – with the debris being found on the sea floor near the Titanic wreckage.

Assistance from the Royal Air Force (RAF) is due to arrive in St John’s on Thursday after it confirmed a request was received overnight for help with the movement of additional commercial equipment.

Two RAF planes, a C-17 Globemaster and A400 Atlas, departed RAF Lossiemouth in north-east Scotland on Thursday.

A British submariner and equipment from a UK firm have been sent to help the search at the request of the U.S. Coastguard, Downing Street said.

Royal Navy submariner Lieutenant Commander Richard Kantharia, who was on exchange with the U.S. Navy, has been seconded to the search and rescue team.

OceanGate Expeditions estimated the oxygen supply on the 6.7 metre-long vessel would last 96 hours, giving rescuers a deadline of around midday on Thursday.

Experts said the chances of finding the sub and rescuing those inside were diminishing.

Former Royal Navy submarine captain Ryan Ramsey told the PA news agency: “The outlook is bleak, that’s the only word for it as this tragic event unfolds and almost the closing stages of where this changes from rescue to a salvage mission.”

The Titan is believed to be about 900 miles east and 400 miles south of Newfoundland.

It is not known how deep the vessel is, with the seabed being around 3,800 metres from the surface. 

– dpa

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