News in Brief 08 September 2015 (AM)

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Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

Civil society crackdown in Azerbaijan condemned

The sentencing of a journalist and human rights activist in Azerbaijan is the latest example of the country’s crackdown on “independent voices,” the UN human rights chief said on Tuesday.

Khadija Ismayilova was sentenced last week to nearly eight years in prison on charges of embezzlement, tax evasion, illegal entrepreneurship and abuse of office.

Her trial allegedly failed to meet international standards, with limited public access to the hearings, according to UN Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

He called for the immediate release of all people who have been imprisoned for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association, or for defending the rights of others.

Global deforestation declines by half since 1990

Although nearly 130 million hectares of forest –an area nearly as large as South Africa—have been lost since 1990, more countries have stepped up legislation related to forest protection and management.

That’s according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which says the rate of global deforestation has slowed by more than half over the past 25 years.

The findings come in a report launched in connection with the World Forestry Congress currently underway in Durban, South Africa.

The meeting is looking at what FAO calls the “critical importance” of forests to people, the environment, and the global economy.

Making housing in Moldova more energy-efficient

Improving the housing stock in Moldova, including making it more disaster-resilient and energy efficient, was the focus of a workshop held on Tuesday in the country’s capital, Chisinau.

While Moldova has improved its housing legislation since independence in 1991, the UN regional commission for Europe (UNECE) says challenges still remain in housing and urban development policy.

UNECE has released a country profile containing recommendations for the government.

They include strengthening energy-efficiency standards for renovation and construction of residential buildings.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 2’08”

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Human Rights