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    World News in Brief: More Ukraine attacks, rights appeal for jailed Nigerian singer, International Day against Homophobia

    “The safety of civilians, homes, schools and hospitals must be ensured. They are not a target,” Denise Brown said in a statement, underscoring that international humanitarian law must be respected. 

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

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

    “Many are older people who fear they will never be able to go back.” 

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

    Nigeria urged to free musician facing execution for blasphemy 

    Independent UN human rights experts on Thursday called on Nigeria to immediately release a singer who was 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 a court of appeal, we remain deeply concerned that Mr. Sharif-Aminu’s case will be re-prosecuted based on the same legal framework, the Kano State Sharia Penal Code Law, with serious risks that the death sentence will be confirmed,” the experts said

    Abolish the death penalty 

    Although the Nigerian Supreme Court has taken up the matter, the experts said 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, and to religion or belief, they said, as well as to take part in cultural life and the development of their society 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 establish a moratorium on the death penalty, with a view to completely abolishing it. 

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

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

    Respect human rights on 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, observed on Friday.  

    António Guterres applauded the brave work of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) activists fighting to outlaw discrimination and secure equality before the law. 

    “Yet there is a worrying surge in the opposite direction,” he warned.  “New laws are codifying old bigotries, exploiting fears and stoking hate.” 

    He said the theme of this year’s observation of the International Day – “No one left behind: equality, freedom and justice for all” – is a reminder of the obligation to respect the human rights and dignity of every person. 

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

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