The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday voted to pass a resolution to suspend Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council, in response to Russian forces’ alleged killings of civilians in Ukraine.
The vote passed with 93 countries voting in favor, 24 voting against and 58 abstaining from voting. Belarus, China, Iran, Russia and Syria were among the countries who voted against the resolution.
The vote came amid global outrage over the alleged killings of civilians in Bucha, Ukraine, after Russian forces withdrew from Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.
The UNGA needed a two-thirds majority to suspend Russia, now the second country ever suspended after the UNGA voted to remove Libya from the Human Rights Council in 2011 in response to Moammar Gadhafi’s violent crackdown on anti-government protesters.
In a speech before the vote, a Ukrainian representative urged the assembly to remove Russia from the council.
“Suspension of Russia from the human rights council is not an option, but a duty,” Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s permanent representative to the United Nations, said.
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Speaking after the vote, Russia’s deputy permanent member Gennady Kuzmin called the UNGA’s decision “an illegitimate and politically motivated step with the aim of demonstratively punishing a sovereign member state of the U.N.,” even going as far as calling it “open blackmail of sovereign states.”
He also claimed the council is “monopolized by one group of states who use it for their short-term aims,” and that “such actions violate the mandate entrusted by the international community on the Human Rights Council and overall undermine trust in this body.”
After the vote was completed, Kuzmin said Russia made the decision to end its membership with the Human Rights Council on Thursday.
James Roscoe, a UK diplomat, then asked Russia to clarify, and said, “That sounds like someone who has just been fired, then tendering their resignation.” Kuzmin responded, “I think we made a very clear statement.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reacted to the vote as he took the stage for a NATO press conference in Brussels.
“A country that’s perpetuating gross and systematic violations of human rights should not sit on a body whose job it is to protect those rights. Today a wrong was righted,” Blinken said during his opening statement.
U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told CNN on Wednesday that they “absolutely” have the votes to suspend Russia.
“We have been working very, very hard since this war started to build a coalition of countries who are prepared to condemn Russia. We got 141 votes, the first time we went into the General Assembly. The second time we got 140. And I have no doubt that we can defeat Russia here on the Human Rights Council,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
She added: “They don’t deserve to be on the Human Rights Council.”
Over 100 injured in Spanish train collision
At least 150 people have been injured after two trains collided in the Catalonia region of north-eastern Spain, emergency services have said.
The crash, which occurred around 07:50 (06:50 GMT), took place at a station on the outskirts of Barcelona.
Local media reported that the trains had been travelling in the same direction and collided while one was parked at the station.
It is unclear how the accident happened and officials have yet to comment.
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Emergency officials wrote on Twitter that the crash happened at the Montcada i Reixac – Manresa station, about 12km (7 miles) from the city centre.
Writing on Twitter, emergency services said that 150 people were “in a mild condition” and five others had been left with “in a less serious condition”.
They added that three people had been transferred to hospital.
Train traffic was briefly disrupted on several lines due to the accident, the national rail service Renfe said.
One passenger told RAC1, a local radio station, that “train was full and my carriage, which was the last one, was completely full” at the time of the collision.
23 years old Nigerian accused of raping Australian tourist in Indonesia
A 23-year-old Nigerian tourist risks 12 years in prison after an alleged sexual crime against a 31-year-old tourist in Kuta, Indonesia.
A report by Daily Mail revealed that the woman, who is an Australian, was raped after she met up with the Nigerian man on Friday, December 2.
The report also noted that the duo met on a dating app on December 1 and agreed to meet at a bar in Kuta the following day.
Although the Indonesian police are still searching for the Nigerian man, they alleged that he hurriedly took the woman to his hotel after drinking at the bar.
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The woman was sexually abused at the hotel and had cuts and bruises to her arms, hands and waist.
Witnesses said they saw the Australian staggering after drinking at the bar in Kuta.
FIJ gathered online that the Indonesian law provides a maximum of 12-year sentence for anyone convicted of physical sexual abuse.
Comoros ex-president Sambi jailed for life for ‘high treason’
A court in the Comoros on Monday handed down a life sentence for high treason to ex-president Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, who was convicted of selling passports to stateless people living in the Gulf.
Sambi, 64, an arch-rival of President Azali Assoumani, was sentenced by the State Security Court, a special judicial body whose rulings cannot be appealed.
“He betrayed the mission entrusted to him by the Comorians,” public prosecutor Ali Mohamed Djounaid told the court last week as he requested a life sentence.
Sambi, who led the small Indian Ocean archipelago between 2006 and 2011, pushed through a law in 2008 allowing the sale of passports for high fees.
The scheme aimed at the so-called bidoon — an Arab minority numbering in the tens of thousands who cannot obtain citizenship.
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The former president was accused of embezzling millions of dollars under the scheme.
The prosecution said the cost was more than $1.8 billion — more than the impoverished nation’s GDP.
“They gave thugs the right to sell Comorian nationality as if they were selling peanuts,” said Eric Emmanuel Sossa, a lawyer for civilian plaintiffs.
But Sambi’s French lawyer Jean-Gilles Halimi said “no evidence” of missing money or bank accounts had been put forward to suggest a crime.
Sambi refused to attend the trial after a brief appearance at the first hearing, as his lawyers said there were no guarantees he would be judged fairly.
He was originally prosecuted for corruption, but the charges were reclassified as high treason, a crime that “does not exist in Comorian law,” Halimi said.
Sambi had already spent four years behind bars before he faced trial, far exceeding the maximum eight months. He was originally placed under house arrest for disturbing public order.
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