An Indian man on death row in Pakistan after a military court sentenced him on charges of espionage, sabotage and terrorism has appealed to the country’s army chief for clemency.
India had earlier appealed to the International Court of Justice, the highest legal body under the United Nations, in the case of Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav. India said Pakistan had sentenced an innocent Indian citizen without granting him diplomatic access, which is in violation of an international treaty.
The court ordered Pakistan last month to delay Jadhav’s execution until the final verdict.
Pakistan says Jadhav confessed to being an Indian spy working to disrupt the development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a network of railways and roads that is part of the larger One Belt One Road Initiative launched by China.
In a 10-minute video released by the military, the second of its kind, Jadhav said his activities were designed to support separatist groups in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province to “raise the level of insurgency.”
A news release by the Pakistan military’s public relations wing said Jadhav had “expressed remorse” over lives lost and damage caused by his actions and asked for mercy on “compassionate grounds.”
According to authorities, Jadhav claimed to have had a hand in sectarian violence, targeting Shi’ite Muslims, that had plagued Pakistan for a while.
Center of conflict
Balochistan has long been the center of a conflict between separatist insurgents and Pakistan’s military. It is also along the route of China’s planned economic corridor, which involves an investment of upward of $50 billion. The success of the project depends upon securing the routes.
Tensions between India and neighboring Pakistan, both nuclear-armed countries, have been high since a heavily armed group attacked an Indian air force base in Pathankot early last year. India blamed Pakistan-based militants for the attack.
The two sides have also been exchanging intermittent fire along the Line of Control, the de facto border in the disputed Kashmir region.
Text Courtesy: VOA NEWS
Protesters in Venezuela paid their final respects to a teenager who was killed this week during a demonstration against President Nicolas Maduro.
Hundreds of protesters stopped Friday and knelt at a makeshift shrine, the site in Caracas where 17-year-old student Neomar Lander was killed Wednesday in clashes with police.
Venezuela’s opposition says the teen was killed by a tear gas canister fired directly at him, while the government says the youth died when a homemade mortar exploded in his hands.
In a news conference, Vice President Tareck El Aissami blamed the opposition for fomenting violence at the protests.
Demonstrators marched Friday to the headquarters of the Venezuelan Commission of National Telecommunications (CONATEL) to demand that it allow independent media outlets to operate.
The near-daily protests against the government of President Maduro have gone on for more than two months, leading to at least 65 deaths among pro- and opposition demonstrators, bystanders and security forces.
The socialist president has grown increasingly unpopular, as the country suffers crippling shortages of basic goods, however he retains control of the military.
News Courtesy: VOA NEWS
An Indian charity is using big data to pinpoint human trafficking hot spots in a bid to prevent vulnerable women and girls vanishing from high-risk villages into the sex trade.
My Choices Foundation uses specially designed technology to identify those villages that are most at risk of modern slavery, then launches local campaigns to sound the alarm.
“The general Indian public is still largely unaware that trafficking exists, and most parents have no idea that their children are actually being sold into slavery,” said Elca Grobler, the founder of My Choices Foundation.
“That’s why grass-roots awareness and education at the village level is so important to ending the human traffic trade,” Grobler said in a statement released late Tuesday.
The analytics tool — developed by Australian firm Quantium — uses a range of factors to identify the most dangerous villages.
It draws on India’s census, education and health data and factors such as drought risk, poverty levels, education and job opportunities to identify vulnerable areas.
There are an estimated 46 million people enslaved worldwide, with more than 18 million living in India, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index. The Index was compiled by the Walk Free Foundation, a global organization seeking to end modern slavery.
Many are villagers lured by traffickers with the promise of a good job and an advance payment, only to find themselves or their children forced to work in fields or brick kilns, enslaved in brothels and sold into sexual slavery.
Almost 20,000 women and children were victims of human trafficking in India in 2016, a rise of nearly 25 percent from the previous year, according to government data.
While India has strengthened its anti-trafficking policy in recent years, activists say a lack of public awareness remains one of the biggest impediments.
In 2014, My Choices Foundation launched “Operation Red Alert,” offering educational programs to inform parents, teachers, village leaders and children about traffickers.
But with more than 600,000 villages across India and limited resources, the charity teamed up with Quantium to build the new data tool and use methods old and new to fight the criminals.
“We are helping to banish human trafficking, one village at a time, through a combination of highly sophisticated technology and grass-roots … education,” said Grobler.
Text Courtesy: VOA NEWS