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KINSHASA (DR Congo), June 22, 2018 (News Wires) - The US State Department says it has imposed sanctions and visa bans on top DR Congo officials for corruption linked to long-delayed elections due in December and for rights abuses.

It asked DRC President Joseph Kabila to ensure a peaceful transition of power in the December 23 election.

Several unidentified “senior DRC officials” were targeted for “involvement in significant corruption related to the DRC’s electoral process,” a State Department communique said late Thursday.

“Further, the Department is taking steps to prevent entry into the United States of certain DRC officials involved in human rights violations,” it said.

“Today’s actions send a strong signal that the US government is committed to fighting corruption, to supporting credible elections that lead to DRC’s first peaceful and democratic transfer of power, and to holding accountable those who are responsible for significant corruption or serious violations of human rights.”

The State Department late Thursday also said it would send career diplomat Michael Hammer as ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, a post that has been vacant for several months.

Hammer had served as ambassador to Chile between 2014 and 2016 and was also Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. He has worked in five foreign missions.

GENEVA, June 22, 2018 (News Wires) - The UN human rights office called on the Trump administration on Friday to overhaul its migration polices and find alternatives to detention, saying children should never be held in custody, even with their parents.

The United States has faced fierce criticism for separating more than 2,300 children from their families in order to prosecute their parents for crossing the border illegally.

US President Donald Trump backed down Wednesday, signing an executive order to keep families together in detention during immigration proceedings.

"While we acknowledge the US government's decision not to continue separating children from their parents, we understand that the practice now will be to detain the children with their parents," UN human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a Geneva briefing Friday.

"We have said time and again the children should never be detained in relation to their or their parents' migration status. It is never in the best interests of the child for them to be detained," she added.

Video footage of children sitting in cages and an audiotape of wailing children sparked worldwide anger.

The United States must revamp its migration policies and provide community-based solutions and other alternatives to detention, which uphold migrants' rights, Shamdasani said.

 

 

 

BERLIN, June 22, 2018 (News Wires) - A human rights expert is criticizing the US for failing to tackle poverty, days after Washington quit the United Nations body that appointed him.

New York-based law professor Philip Alston said Friday that high US income inequality "can only be made worse" by the Trump administration's policy of cutting taxes and restricting welfare.

A day before Alston presented his report to the Human Rights Council, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley branded it "misleading and politically motivated" in a letter to Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Announcing the US pullout from the Geneva-based body Tuesday, Haley described the council as a "cesspool of bias."

No U.S. diplomats were present to respond Friday when Alston told the council of witnessing "raw sewage" pouring into poor residents' gardens in Alabama.

 

 

 

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2018 (News Wires) - US President Donald Trump said on Friday Republicans in Congress should drop their efforts to pass comprehensive immigration legislation until after the November elections.

"Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November. Dems are just playing games, have no intention of doing anything to solves this decades old problem. We can pass great legislation after the Red Wave!" Trump wrote on Twitter.

MOSCOW, June 22, 2018 (News Wires) - Russia said Friday that the US and its allies have relied on fabricated evidence to accuse the Syrian government of launching chemical attacks against civilians.

Russia's foreign and defense ministries also charged the international chemical weapons watchdog with failing to objectively investigate the alleged chemical attacks and with being subject to political control.

Maj. Gen. Igor Kirillov, the chief of the Russian military's radiation, chemical and biological protection unit, said investigators from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had failed to visit the sites of alleged use of sarin and chlorine, and trusted evidence produced by activists, which he described as rigged. Syria has rejected the accusations of chemical attacks.

"The US, Britain, France and their allies have misled international community ... relying on fabrications to accuse Syria of violating the chemical weapons ban with Russian assistance," Kirillov said at a briefing.

Kirillov alleged that the White Helmets first responders working in rebel-controlled areas had doctored samples and used explosive devices to make craters that looked like those left by bombs. In the images presented by activists, they worked at the site of the alleged use of sarin without protective gear, which would have been impossible if the nerve agent had indeed been used there, he added.

 

 

BRUSSELS, June 22, 2018 (News Wires) - The European Union is enforcing tariffs on $3.4 billion in US products as of Friday in retaliation to duties the Trump administration has put on European steel and aluminum.

The goods targeted include typical American products like bourbon, peanut butter, and orange juice, in a way that seems designed to create political pressure on US President Donald Trump and senior US politicians.

"This response by the European Union is adequate, it is proportionate and it is reasonable. Needless to say, it is in full respect of EU and (World Trade Organization) rules," said European Commission spokesperson Alexander Winterstein.

Trump imposed tariffs of 25 per cent on EU steel and 10 per cent on aluminum on June 1. Europeans claim that breaks global trade rules.

The spat is part of a wider tussle over global trade. In two weeks, the United States will start taxing $34 billion in Chinese goods. Beijing has vowed to immediately retaliate with its own tariffs on US soybeans and other farm products.

 

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