Tag Archives: Britain

UN warns Britain over child voodoo rituals, pedophile sex tourists

Hundreds of children are being kidnapped in Africa and bought to the UK for voodoo rituals, a UN watchdog said, also voicing alarm about the number of British pedophiles who prey on children abroad.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) urged Britain to do more to stop this brutal form of people trafficking.

“We’re concerned about reports that hundreds of children have been abducted from their families in Africa and trafficked to the UK, especially London, for religious rituals,” Kirsten Sandberg, head of the CRC and a former Norwegian Supreme Court judge, said Thursday.

She said that trafficking for rituals was part of a wider problem where thousands of minors are brought to the UK, who end up being child prostitutes or being sexually exploited.

The CRC advised that Britain should “strengthen the capacity of law-enforcement authorities and judiciary to detect and prosecute trafficking of children for labor, sexual and other forms of exploitation, including for religious rituals.”

There have been numerous cases of children who have been brought to the UK from Africa and suffered torture and abuse, often as part of witchcraft rituals, AFP reports.

Victoria Climbie from the Ivory Coast was killed by her own relatives in 2000, who thought she was a witch.

More recently, in March 2012, Eric Bikubi and Magalie Bamu, both from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who moved to London, were found guilty of murdering Magalie’s teenage brother, Kirsty.

The prosecution argued that Bikubi had a “profound and disturbing” belief in witchcraft and although the defense said that Bikubi was suffering from schizophrenia, the judge sentenced both defendants to life in prison.

A year later the Metropolitan Police found the dismembered corpse of a Nigerian boy in the River Thames, who they believed was a victim of a ritual.

The CRC also warned about the number of British pedophiles who travel abroad – most notably to Southeast Asia, particularly Cambodia and Thailand, for sex with children. Orphanages were a favored destination where sex predators could pick on vulnerable kids.

“There are continued reports that United Kingdom citizens, including some convicted sex offenders, set up charities or travel abroad, where they sexually abuse children,” Sandberg said.

She called on the British government to get its act together to toughen identification, investigation and prosecution of British citizens involved in such crimes, as well making sure convicted and known pedophiles do not travel abroad.

The UK government has said that new orders can now be applied to individuals who are deemed to pose a risk of sexual harm, even if they have never been convicted.

A national group led by the Home Office will look at ways the police and other agencies can better detect and combat sex offenders.

“Our two new civil prevention orders will make it easier to restrict the movement and activities of anyone who poses a risk of causing sexual harm to children and adults – not just those who have been convicted of sexual offences,” Norman Baker, the crime prevention minister, said in a statement.

A BBC journalist posing as a children’s trafficker trawled the bars and cafés of the Kampala underworld in Uganda in 2011. He found a kidnapper who boasted he could “offer as many children as required” without the police knowing for $15,600 a child.

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Tony Blair urges British intervention against Islamic extremists around the globe

Tony Blair will call on Britain today to back “revolution” against anti-Western interests in the Middle East and beyond to combat the growing threat of radical Islam.

In a significant and controversial intervention, the former Prime Minister will suggest that, as a result of failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, governments in Europe and America have become “curiously reluctant to acknowledge” Islamic extremism.

This unwillingness to confront Islamism risks the 21st century being characterised by “conflict between people of different cultures”, he will warn.

Mr Blair will also call for Europe and America to put aside their differences with Russia and China and “co-operate” to fight what he describes as the “radicalised and politicised view of Islam” that is threatening their collective interests. Mr Blair is due to make his remarks in a speech in London. But despite carrying significance because of his role as Middle East peace envoy they are unlikely to be well received in Downing Street or Washington.

Just last week the Foreign Secretary William Hague said that Britain should “learn the lessons from history” and “cultivate influence” rather than always relying on hard power “that jars”.

But Mr Blair, whose political legacy has been tainted by his role in the US-led invasion of Iraq, is understood to be increasingly concerned by the failure of Britain and other Western countries effectively to tackle what he believes to be the growing threat of radical Islam – that combines politics with religion and opposes pluralistic societies.

While he does not specifically mention military intervention he makes clear that he believes Western “engagement” needs to go beyond the political.

“When we look at the Middle East and beyond it to Pakistan or Iran and elsewhere, it isn’t just a vast unfathomable mess with no end in sight and no one worthy of our support,” he will say.

“It is in fact a struggle in which our own strategic interests are intimately involved; where there are indeed people we should support if only that majority were mobilised, organised and helped.

“Engagement and commitment are words easy to use. But they only count when they come at a cost. There is no engagement that doesn’t involve putting yourself out there. There is no commitment that doesn’t mean taking a risk.”

He goes on to add that the West should also be prepared to back “revolution” in countries, such as Iran, which are run by radical Islamic regimes. “Where there has been revolution, we should be on the side of those who support those principles and opposed to those who would thwart them,” he will say.

“Where there has not been revolution, we should support the steady evolution towards them [those principles].”

In a swipe at those who opposed greater military intervention in Syria Mr Blair will say the West has to “take sides” to protect its own interests. “We have to stop treating each country on the basis of whatever seems to make for the easiest life for us at any one time,” he will say.

“We have to have an approach to the region that is coherent. And above all, we have to commit. We have to engage.”

Mr Blair also implicitly criticises regimes such as those in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan – which are nominally pro-Western but often tolerate the preaching and teachings of radical Islam.

“We spend billions of dollars on security arrangements and on defence to protect ourselves against the consequences of an ideology that is being advocated in the formal and informal school systems of the very countries with whom we have security and defence relationships,” he will say.

Mr Blair will warn that unless these problems are tackled worse will come.

“The threat of this radical Islam is not abating,” he will say. “This struggle between what we may call the open-minded and the closed-minded is at the heart of whether the 21st century turns in the direction of peaceful co-existence or conflict between people of different cultures.”

A Downing Street spokesman declined to comment on Mr Blair’s speech

The Independent.

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Cameron Orders Investigation into Brotherhood

Britain Politics

British Prime Minister David Cameron has ordered an investigation into the Muslim Brotherhood over concerns the group is planning radical activities from a base in London, his Downing Street office said Tuesday, according to the AFP news agency.

The intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6 have been tasked to gather information on the “philosophy and activities” of the group after several leaders fled to London following the toppling of Egyptian  Mohammed Morsi last year, according to the report.

The probe would include an assessment of claims that the group was behind a suicide bus bombing that killed three South Korean tourists in Egypt’s south Sinai in February and several other attacks.

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The probe could reportedly lead to a ban on the Muslim Brotherhood in Britain.

“The Muslim Brotherhood has risen in prominence in recent years but our understanding of the organization — its philosophy and values — has not kept pace with this,” a Downing Street spokesman said in a statement to AFP.

“Given the concerns now being expressed about the group and its alleged links to violent extremism, it’s absolutely right and prudent that we get a better handle of what the Brotherhood stands for, how they intend to achieve their aims and what that means for Britain,” according to the statement.

Morsi, the group’s former leader, was ousted last July after a single year in power. He now faces trial for treason.

Egypt’s government in December declared the Brotherhood a terrorist organization. Saudi Arabia followed suit last month.

The British government acted following reports that Brotherhood leaders had met in London last year to decide their response to the Egypt crisis, The Times said.

They gathered in a flat above an Islamic charity office in the drab northwest London suburb of Cricklewood, the report said.

The Times quoted officials as saying it was “possible but unlikely” that the investigation would lead to a ban, with some in the Foreign Office reportedly believing it would only serve to radicalize and drive members underground.

Islamic radicalism has been a cause for concern in Britain. Just last week it was reported that England’s Department of Education is beginning to take “special measures,” in the wake of a systemic campaign of an organized takeover of public school by Islamists in the city of Birmingham.

One major issue causing concern is the number of British citizens who have travelled to Syria to fight alongside the rebels trying to oust Bashar Al-Assad’s regime.

Britain’s Information Minister recently said that the “security concern” for the UK posed by individuals who have trained and fought in Syria is “a big problem” for MI5 and the police.

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Britain targets Guardian newspaper over intelligence leaks related to Edward Snowden.

LONDON — Living in self-imposed exile in Russia, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden may be safely out of reach from Western powers. But dismayed by the continued airing of trans­atlantic intelligence, British authorities are taking full aim at a messenger shedding light on his secret files here — the small but mighty Guardian newspaper.

The pressures coming to bear against the Guardian, observers say, are testing the limits of press freedoms in one of the world’s most open societies. Although Britain is famously home to a fierce pack of news media outlets — including the tabloid hounds of old Fleet Street — it also has no enshrined constitutional right to free speech.

The Guardian, in fact, has slipped into the single largest crack in the free speech laws that are on the books here — the dissemination of state secrets protecting queen and country in the British homeland.

A feisty, London-based news outlet with a print circulation just shy of 200,000 — albeit with a far bigger footprint online with readers in the many millions — the Guardian, along with The Washington Post, was the first to publish reports based on classified data spirited out of the United States by Snowden. In the months since, the Guardian has continued to make officials here exceedingly nervous by exposing the joint operations of U.S. and British intelligence — particularly their cooperation in data collection and snooping programs involving British citizens and close allies on the European continent. In response, the Guardian is being called to account by British authorities for jeopardizing national security. The Guardian’s top editor, Alan Rusbridger, is being forced to appear before a parliamentary committee Tuesday to explain the news outlet’s actions. The move comes after British officials ordered the destruction of hard drives at the Guardian’s London headquarters, even as top ministers have taken to the airwaves to denounce the newspaper. Scotland Yard has also suggested it may be investigating the paper for possible breaches of British law.

The government treatment of the Guardian is highlighting the very different way Britons tend to view free speech, a liberty that here is seen through the prism of the public good and privacy laws as much as the right to open expression.

Nevertheless, the actions against the paper have led to growing concern in Britain and beyond. Frank La Rue, the U.N. special rapporteur on free expression, has denounced the Guardian’s treatment as “unacceptable in a democratic society.” The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, a Paris-based trade association, will send a delegation of “concerned” publishers and editors from five continents to London in January on a “U.K. press freedom mission.”

“The kind of threats and intimidation being experienced by the Guardian, especially compared to the different responses in the United States and Germany, is something that we should all be very worried about,” said Jo Glanville, director of English PEN, a London-based freedom of expression group.

Threat to national security?

The Guardian is among the global news outlets thoroughly studying the Snowden files and publishing key parts, a club that in addition to The Post has expanded to include the New York Times and Germany’s Der Spiegel, among others.

U.S. intelligence officials have said publicly that the disclosures endanger national security, and the head of the National Security Agency, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, has said the federal government needs to a find a way to stop them.“We ought to come up with a way of stopping it. I don’t know how to do that. That’s more of the courts and the policymakers, but, from my perspective, it’s wrong to allow this to go on,” Alexander told the Defense Department’s Armed With Science blog in October.

The Post does not show stories to U.S. officials in advance of publication, nor does it routinely agree to official requests. But language in some articles has occasionally been modified when officials cited very specific risks to certain intelligence operations and individuals, according to the paper’s executive editor, Martin Baron. A spokeswoman for the New York Times pointed to statements by executive editor Jill Abramson in which she said the paper had turned down at least one request by U.S. officials to withhold a story.

Although legal experts say the First Amendment offers stronger protection for the news media in the United States than their counterparts enjoy in Britain, U.S. authorities still have tools at their disposal to limit the disclosure of classified data. Those tools include the 1917 Espionage Act, which federal prosecutors have used to charge Snowden. Nevertheless, U.S. officials have thus far stopped short of the more aggressive tactics being deployed against the Guardian in Britain.

The German government has also taken a relatively hands-off approach. “At Der Spiegel we have not encountered anything similar,” managing editor Klaus Brinkbäumer said in an e-mail. “There is no serious pressure.”

In contrast, Rusbridger must explain to the parliamentary committee the paper’s dissemination and handling of the Snowden data. The move came after Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking on the floor of Parliament in October, offered comments that seemed to open the door for the editor’s public grilling.

Scotland Yard, meanwhile, has suggested that it might be investigating the Guardian in connection with the authorities’ continuing probe of David Miranda, the partner of Brazil-based freelance journalist Glenn Greenwald, who formerly worked with the Guardian on its Snowden stories.

In August, British authorities arrested Miranda at Heathrow Airport while he was on an information-gathering trip funded by the Guardian. British officials interrogated Miranda for nine hours before confiscating his laptop, cellphone, USB memory sticks and video-game consoles.

Miranda was released after being questioned, but the confiscated items remain in official custody.

Read More :Britain targets Guardian newspaper over intelligence leaks related to Edward Snowden – The Washington Post.

UN envoy ‘shocked’ by UK’s ‘unacceptable’ persecution of The Guardian over Snowden leaks .

A senior United Nations official responsible for freedom of expression has warned that the UK government’s response to revelations of mass surveillance by Edward Snowden is damaging Britain’s reputation for press freedom and investigative journalism.

The UN special rapporteur, Frank La Rue, has said he is alarmed at the reaction from some British politicians following the Guardian’s revelations about the extent of the secret surveillance programs run by the UK’s eavesdropping center GCHQ and its US counterpart the NSA (National Security Agency), it was reported in the Guardian.

“I have been absolutely shocked about the way the Guardian has been treated, from the idea of prosecution to the fact that some members of parliament even called it treason. I think that is unacceptable in a democratic society,” said La Rue.

Speaking to the Guardian La Rue said that national security cannot be used as an argument against newspapers for publishing information that is in the public interest even if doing so is embarrassing for those who are in office.

The Guardian as well as other major world media organizations including the New York Times, the Washington Post and Der Spiegel began disclosing details about the US and UK’s mass surveillance programs in June, after receiving leaked documents from former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden.

The publications have sparked a huge global debate on whether such surveillance powers are justified, but in Britain there have been calls for the Guardian to be prosecuted and the editor, Alan Rusbridger, has been called to give evidence to the home affairs select committee.

The Prime Minister David Cameron has even warned that unless the newspaper begins to demonstrate some social responsibility, then he would take “tougher measures” including the issuing of D notices, which ban a newspaper or broadcaster from touching certain material.

While on Friday the New York Times wrote an editorial entitled “British press freedom under threat”. It said, “Britain has a long tradition of a free inquisitive press. That freedom, so essential to democratic accountability, is being challenged by the Conservative-Liberal coalition government of Prime Minster David Cameron.”

The op-ed added that Britain, unlike the US has no constitutional guarantee of press freedom.

“Parliamentary committees and the police are now exploiting that lack of protection to harass, intimidate and possibly prosecute the Guardian newspaper,” the leader read.

Frank La Rue’s intervention comes just days after a delegation of some of the world’s leading editors and publishers announced they were coming to Britain on a “press freedom mission”.

The trip is being organized by the Paris based, World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), and will arrive on UK soil in January. WAN-IFRA says it will include key newspaper figures from up to five continents and that this is the first mission of this kind to the UK ever.

The delegation is expected to meet government leaders and the opposition, as well as press industry figures and civil society and freedom of speech organizations. Their discussions are expected to focus on the political pressure brought to bear on the Guardian.

“We are concerned that these actions not only seriously damage the United Kingdom’s historic international reputation as a staunch defender of press freedom, but provide encouragement to non-democratic regimes to justify their own repressive actions,” Vincent Peyregne, the Chief of the WAN-IFRA, told the Guardian.

UN envoy ‘shocked’ by UK’s ‘unacceptable’ persecution of The Guardian over Snowden leaks — RT News.