Zimbabwean generals deny troops shot and killed 6 protesters


Zimbabweans have reacted with stunned disbelief to the testimony by two generals who denied troops killed six people in August when the military was called in to crush protests following the country’s disputed elections.

The generals suggested that Zimbabwe’s opposition was responsible for the killings.

Zimbabweans and opposition leaders on Tuesday expressed outrage at the denials and the lack of a serious investigation by police into the killings.

On August 1, armed soldiers were deployed in the capital, Harare, to suppress a protest against delays in announcing results of the country’s first elections without former ruler Robert Mugabe. Gunfire erupted and six people died. Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa set up a commission of inquiry, headed by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe, to probe the killings.

Despite widely published photos and video showing the Zimbabwean army soldiers firing on people in Harare’s streets, the generals said under oath that they do not believe the troops shot at people.

“I do not believe that any of the soldiers fired. Yes, they fired in the air, but I do not believe any could have aimed shots at the civilians. I have no reason to believe that one of the soldiers could have shot and killed those people,” said Zimbabwe Defense Forces Commander Gen. Philip Valerio Sibanda, during the nationally televised hearing.

The tactical commander of the military unit, Gen. Anselem Sanyatwe, told the commission he suspected “militant” opposition activists who deserted from the army could have shot at protesters, a claim repeated by Sibanda.

When presented with a photo of a kneeling soldier who appeared to be aiming at protesters, Sanyatwe said the man “took that position because he was avoiding missiles that were being thrown at him.”

Some inquiry commissioners and people in the public gallery were visibly stunned by the generals’ denials.

“Is that your evidence?” asked Lovemore Madhuku, one of the commissioners, adding that evidence by other witnesses showed that the shootings coincided with the military’s deployment.

Sibanda countered that he had “heard gunfire well before the troops deployed.”

Motlanthe said the generals’ denials contradicted evidence so far received by the commission from other witnesses who include victims.

Police testified that they have not turned up information that would determine who killed the civilians. The police have not retrieved any cartridges from the city center where the shooting took place, do not have any suspects and have not made any arrests, said Police Detective Chief Inspector Edmore Runganga, who is leading investigations into the Aug. 1 killings.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a local non-governmental organization on Tuesday said it is “perturbed by the misleading evidence presented by top army and police officers. … We note an apparent attempt to blame the opposition, business and ordinary citizens for the shootings and this will likely lead to a witch-hunt that will see continued persecution of hundreds of activists that were arrested in the aftermath of the killings,” said the organization in a statement.

“The army did not shoot at anyone, like seriously? This is all turning into a circus,” Ethel Sambiri, a Harare resident told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

David Coltart, an opposition member of parliament, tweeted Tuesday: “The commission of inquiry into the 1st August shootings in Harare took a farcical turn yesterday. People were killed with bullets fired by soldiers and witnessed by tens of foreign journalists. Now the military deny they killed the people but the truth is plain to see.”

Main opposition MDC party spokesman Jacob Mafume expressed doubt that the inquiry would lead to the truth.

“This just confirms our previously stated position that this commission of inquiry is a farce, a process meant to cleanse the army and put blame on the opposition,” said Mafume. “We are not taking it seriously.”



Source link

US To Deny Asylum To Immigrants Crossing Border Illegally


There is a backlog of more than 700,000 cases of migrants seeking legal asylum in the US

Washington: 

The United States will no longer allow people who enter the country illegally to claim asylum, officials said Thursday, unveiling a controversial new crackdown on immigration.

The restriction on asylum claims will seek to address what a senior administration official called the “historically unparalleled abuse of our immigration system” along the border with Mexico.

The new rule was published by the Department of Homeland Security and is expected to get President Donald Trump’s signature shortly — as well as face court challenges.

The American Civil Liberties Union said that the right to request asylum must be granted to anyone entering the country, regardless of where they were.

“US law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry. It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree,” the ACLU said.

But according to the new rule, Trump has authority to restrict illegal immigration “if he determines it to be in the national interest.”

Trump’s administration argues that he has the executive power to curb immigration in the name of national security, a power he invoked right after taking office with a controversial ban on travelers from several mostly-Muslim countries — whose final version was upheld by the US Supreme Court on June 26 after a protracted legal battle.

“Today’s rule applies this important principle to aliens who violate such a suspension or restriction regarding the southern border,” Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker said.

Those seeking political or other kinds of asylum — nearly all of them coming from impoverished and violent crime-plagued countries of Central America — will be heard exclusively at the border crossings, administration officials told journalists.

This is expected to put a dent in those streaming into an already overburdened system, officials said, noting that there is a backlog of more than 700,000 cases in the immigration courts.

Campaign controversy

Many politicians on both sides of the aisle agree that the US immigration system is hugely inefficient and unable to cope with demand. However, Trump’s focus on the issue during campaigning for Tuesday’s hotly contested midterm congressional elections was criticized as veering into immigrant-bashing and even racism.

In speeches and on Twitter, Trump hammered away nearly daily at “caravans” of a few thousand impoverished Central Americans that periodically attempt to walk up through Mexico and then gain entry to the United States.

He called a current caravan, which is still hundreds of miles from the US border and dwindling in numbers, an “invasion” and said it would bring hardened criminals to US streets.

Administration officials say that aside from the rhetoric the border really does have a problem, given that anyone who manages to get across can request asylum and subsequently often vanish while their case sits in the court system.

“The vast majority of these applications eventually turn out to be non-meritorious,” a senior administration official said, asking not to be identified.

Less than 10 percent of cases result in asylum being granted, the government says.

Human rights campaigners and other critics of the Trump crackdown say that by restricting asylum seekers to the narrow border crossing points — which are already under enormous pressure — the government is effectively shutting the door on people who may truly be fleeing for their lives.

But the administration official argued that “what we’re attempting to do is trying to funnel credible fear claims, or asylum claims, through the ports of entry where we are better resourced.”

That way, he said, courts will “handle those claims in an expeditious and efficient manner, so that those who do actually require an asylum protection get those protections.”

In 2018, border patrols have registered more than 400,000 illegal border crossers, homeland security said. And in the last five years, the number of those requesting asylum has increased by 2,000 percent, it said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





Source link

Families blast duck boat companies that deny liability in deadly accident: report


The two companies facing multiple lawsuits after the sinking of a duck boat in July that resulted in 17 deaths cited an 1851 maritime law that would limit or eliminate their liability in the tragedy, a report said.

Branson Duck Vehicles and Ripley Entertainment — both defendants — denied negligence in the sinking of the boat in a Missouri lake near Branson, according to a court filing on Monday.

Should the court find them responsible, their liability is zero because the “vessel was a total loss and has no current value. No freight was pending on the Vessel,” the Indianapolis Star reported.

The law, known as the Shipowner’s Limitation of Liability Act, limits damages to the salvaged value of sunken vessels.

Tia Coleman, an Indianapolis woman who lost nine family members in the July 19 accident, slammed the court filing.

“Ripley’s legal claim that my husband and children are worthless is incredibly hurtful and insensitive,” Coleman said in a statement. “Anyone who cares about people or has any human decency should boycott Ripley and their attractions.”

Coleman has filed a lawsuit against Ripley Entertainment, the tour operator, and Branson Duck Vehicles, which owned the boat.

The tour boat was traveling on Table Rock Lake amid strong winds and intense waves when it capsized, killing 17, including a crew member. Fourteen people survived.

A mechanical inspector tried warning Branson Duck Vehicles about massive design flaws and dangerous safety issues with the duck boat almost a year before the accident.

“Ripley’s inhuman legal ploy will sink as fast as their death trap duck boat did,” said Robert J. Mongeluzzi, an attorney representing some of the victims. “We will legally and factually demolish this frivolous claim.”

Mongeluzzi is seeking $100 million in a wrongful death lawsuit for two deceased passengers, including one member of the Coleman family. No settlement offers have been made, he said.

The lawsuit alleges Ripley’s put profit over people’s lives.

A spokeswoman for Ripley’s told the paper that the filing is common in maritime incidents. The filing will give the parties time for mediation, she said.

“While this filing may limit the company’s liability, we are filing this request at the same time we are actively pursuing mediation and settlement with those most affected, and have already scheduled, or are in the process of scheduling mediations,” the statement read, according to the report.

At least 10 other lawsuits have been filed on behalf of other victims.



Source link

Families blast duck boat companies that deny liability in deadly accident: report


The two companies facing multiple lawsuits after the sinking of a duck boat in July that resulted in 17 deaths cited an 1851 maritime law that would limit or eliminate their liability in the tragedy, a report said.

Branson Duck Vehicles and Ripley Entertainment — both defendants — denied negligence in the sinking of the boat in a Missouri lake near Branson, according to a court filing on Monday.

Should the court find them responsible, their liability is zero because the “vessel was a total loss and has no current value. No freight was pending on the Vessel,” the Indianapolis Star reported.

The law, known as the Shipowner’s Limitation of Liability Act, limits damages to the salvaged value of sunken vessels.

Tia Coleman, an Indianapolis woman who lost nine family members in the July 19 accident, slammed the court filing.

“Ripley’s legal claim that my husband and children are worthless is incredibly hurtful and insensitive,” Coleman said in a statement. “Anyone who cares about people or has any human decency should boycott Ripley and their attractions.”

Coleman has filed a lawsuit against Ripley Entertainment, the tour operator, and Branson Duck Vehicles, which owned the boat.

The tour boat was traveling on Table Rock Lake amid strong winds and intense waves when it capsized, killing 17, including a crew member. Fourteen people survived.

A mechanical inspector tried warning Branson Duck Vehicles about massive design flaws and dangerous safety issues with the duck boat almost a year before the accident.

“Ripley’s inhuman legal ploy will sink as fast as their death trap duck boat did,” said Robert J. Mongeluzzi, an attorney representing some of the victims. “We will legally and factually demolish this frivolous claim.”

Mongeluzzi is seeking $100 million in a wrongful death lawsuit for two deceased passengers, including one member of the Coleman family. No settlement offers have been made, he said.

The lawsuit alleges Ripley’s put profit over people’s lives.

A spokeswoman for Ripley’s told the paper that the filing is common in maritime incidents. The filing will give the parties time for mediation, she said.

“While this filing may limit the company’s liability, we are filing this request at the same time we are actively pursuing mediation and settlement with those most affected, and have already scheduled, or are in the process of scheduling mediations,” the statement read, according to the report.

At least 10 other lawsuits have been filed on behalf of other victims.



Source link

US can’t deny passport over refusing to pick gender, judge says


U.S. officials cannot deny a passport application from an intersex Colorado resident based solely on a refusal to select male or female for gender, a federal judge said Wednesday.

The U.S. State Department’s varied explanations for rejecting the application weren’t reasonable, U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson said in his ruling, forcing him to set aside the decision as “arbitrary and capricious.”

The ruling is limited, but advocates said they hope it leads to expanded gender choices on federal identification.

Dana Zzyym, who was born with ambiguous physical sexual characteristics and identifies as nonbinary in gender, not as male or female, sued in 2015. Zzyym had requested “X” as a gender marker on a passport application, and it was denied.

The judge in 2016 ordered the State Department to reconsider. Zzyym applied again and refused to select either option provided on the passport application, feeling that it would be untruthful.

The department again denied the application in 2017.

Jackson dismissed the department’s explanations for rejecting the passport, including concerns that it would complicate the process of verifying an applicant’s identity and determining eligibility based on federal, state and local databases.

The agency can legally reject passport applications for a good reason, but “adherence to a series of internal policies that do not contemplate the existence of intersex people is not good reason,” the judge wrote.

The State Department said in a written statement that it was reviewing the decision and coordinating with the Department of Justice on next steps.

The ruling only applies to Zzyym, but Lambda Legal senior attorney Paul Castillo called it a “groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind” challenge to limited gender options on federal identification.

Castillo said advocates hope it will prompt the State Department to edit the passport application and allow people to choose a gender marker other than male or female.

“I’m not going to lie on my passport application, I shouldn’t have to, and the judge here, twice, has agreed with me,” Zzyym said in a statement released by the LGBT civil rights organization.

Jackson did not specifically order the department to issue a passport to Zzyym in his ruling. But the State Department’s attorneys provided no reason for the past denials except Zzyym’s refusal to select a gender marker.

Castillo said Zzyym’s attorneys “call on the department to promptly issue a passport.”

“Dana has been waiting since 2014 to be able to have the ability to travel but wasn’t willing to risk lying about who they are in order to secure a passport,” he said.

The International Civil Aviation organization, the U.N. agency that sets standards for international travel documents, says gender should be marked on passports as male, female or “X for unspecified.” Several countries issue passports with gender designations other than female or male, including “X” or “O.”

A number of U.S. states similarly issue driver’s licenses or ID cards with “X” as a choice for gender markers, including California, Oregon and Washington.



Source link