Coal divestment, US torture, Chinese human rights lawyers detained and ISIS beats climate change threat

Banks urged to end coal financing

An international coalition of NGOs is calling on banks to pledge to end their multi-billion-pound funding of the coal industry.

“The exploration and burning of coal is the biggest source of carbon emissions, leading to ongoing and increasingly catastrophic climate change,” says Johan Frijns, director at BankTrack, the international bank accountability organisation behind the campaign.

The motion, supported by more than 40 organisations including Avaaz, Greenpeace International and Global Witness, is asking all private sector banks to make a public commitment to phase out their financing of both coal power and coal mining ahead of the UN climate summit scheduled in Paris later this year.

“To stay within the 2 degrees temperature threshold, the use of coal must come to an end. However, bank finance is continuing to provide the coal industry with last-gasp life support,” says Frijns.

According to BankTrack's latest research, between 2005 and 2014 the coal sector received more than £325bn in financing from more than 90 international banks.

Call for CIA accountability on torture

Following the US Senate’s release of the findings of a four-year investigation into the Detention and Interrogation Program operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the international human rights community is demanding full transparency and accountability around what it dubs an unlawful program.

A joint letter addressed to the United Nations Human Rights Council and the US attorney general, Loretta Lynch, is calling for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques, including use of torture as well as other ill-treatment and interrogation methods which violate American and international law.

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, says: “The Justice Department has a clear responsibility to carry out a credible and comprehensive criminal investigation into the overwhelming evidence that US officials used torture in violation of US law.”

Torture violates US law 

Chinese authorities hunt human rights lawyers

More than 180 legal professionals and human rights activists have been questioned, detained – and in some cases have gone missing – following one of the largest nationwide crackdowns on human rights workers by Chinese police.

State media in China have denounced the lawyers and activists as a “criminal gang”, claiming they illegally organise paid protests and sensationalise issues to sway public opinion.

Amnesty International’s William Nee believes the government fears it may lose public support, and protests outside courts by activists have unnerved the government. “We’ve seen cases where public opinion seems to have been mobilised and I think [the government] are worried because they don’t want to lose their grip on public opinion,” says Nee.

Human rights groups are calling on the Chinese authorities to disclose the whereabouts and legal status of those detained, ensure their wellbeing, and guarantee unrestricted access to their families and lawyers.

China fears activists

ISIS ‘bigger threat than climate change’ for Europeans and Americans

A study published by the Pew Research Center has found ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) to top climate change as the most widely perceived threat by Europeans and Americans, while anxiety about climate change was highest among respondents from Africa and Latin America.

The survey, which measured perceptions of international challenges across 40 countries and among more than 45,000 respondents, revealed that the people of Burkina Faso are most concerned about global climate change than any other country surveyed, with 79% of respondents being very concerned.

In the US, only 42% said they were very concerned about global climate change, compared with 68% of respondents who said they were very concerned about ISIS.

ISIS was also the international issue of greatest concern to respondents in Canada, France, Spain, Italy, Japan, Germany, the UK and Australia.

Africa perceives climate threat
coal  divestment  banks  NGOwatch  CIA  torture  China  Human rights  Activists  ISIS 

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