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Pope Cautions Against Child Labour

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Child labour is on the surge worldwide and should be prevented and equally denounced with the strongest measures possible UN has said.

On June 12, Saurday, the world marked a day against child labour.

The number of children forced into child labour has risen to 160 million, an increase of 8.4 million children in the last 4 years.

Millions more are at risk of being drawn into it due to the impacts of Covid-19.

The UN denounces an increase in child labour worldwide and warns the world is losing ground in the fight against the phenomenon.

Pope Francis marked the World Day Against Child Labour tweeting “Children are the future of the human family: all of us are expected to promote their growth, health and tranquility.

A joint report by the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) and the UN’s children’s fund, UNICEF, released in view of World Day Against Child Labour, June 12, Saturday captured a significant surge in child labour.

This new report; “Child Labour: Global estimates 2020, trends and the road forward”, the two agencies warn that progress to end child labour has stalled for the first time in 20 years, reversing the previous downward trend that saw child labour fall by 94 million between 2000 and 2016.

The report warns that globally, 9 million additional children are at risk of being pushed into child labour by the end of 2022 as a result of the pandemic.

A simulation model shows that this number could rise to 46 million if they don’t have access to critical social protection coverage.

The ILO-UNICEF report notes that even in regions where there has been some headway since 2016, such as in Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean, Covid-19 is endangering that progress.

However, a similar progress has eluded sub-Saharan Africa, where population growth, recurrent crises, extreme poverty, and inadequate social protection measures have led to an additional 16.6 million children in child labour over the past four years.

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Asia

Chinese Ambassador Shares Seven Buzzwords To Showcase Fast-changing China

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Chinese Ambassador to the United States Qin Gang on Wednesday shared with Americans seven buzzwords that are currently popular in China to illustrate what is going on in his country.

“The buzzwords I shared with you today reflect the changing and unchanging elements in our values when China experiences rapid economic growth and profound social transformation,” said Qin in his keynote speech at the online Forum on Tourism, Hospitality and Cultural Exchange co-hosted by the U.S.-Asia Institute and Las Vegas Sands Corp.

The first buzzword Qin mentioned was “People First, Life First,” which was widespread during China’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and reflects a deep concern for humanity.

Likewise, “Heroes in Harm’s Way” has also gone viral in China, which refers to the everyday heroes who put their mission before their lives and made fearless sacrifices to fight the pandemic, Qin said.

To “Lie Flat” is a term to describe the youngsters who give up ambitions and do the bare minimum to get by, Qin said, adding “lie-flatters” are either people from well-off families or those who believe in whatever comes their way.

“Versailles,” originally from the “Palace of Versailles” in French, was borrowed to describe the self-claimed aristocratic spirit. On social media, it is used to label humble-braggers, he said.

“Involution,” one of the latest buzzwords in China, indicates irrational or involuntary competitions, while “Double Reduction” is a recent policy formulated by the government to address involution in education, which aims to restore the original purpose of education by restricting capital in the sector, Qin said.

The last buzzword, “Celebrity Fan Clubs,” refers to the phenomenon that some celebrities use internet to hype up themselves and cause their fans to admire them in an irrational manner, while such abnormalities stem from a chain of interests dominated by online platforms and the capital that supports them, he said.

In his speech, Qin said that socialism with Chinese characteristics requires material progress and cultural-ethical advancement, adding, “We need to keep fine traditional values, uphold fairness and justice, and not get lost in a market economy.”

“(Being) rooted in traditional Chinese values is a concern for the common good of humanity,” he added.

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Asia

Singapore Parliament Approves Law To Tackle Foreign Interference

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Singapore’s parliament has approved a law that gives broad powers to the government to deal with foreign interference that has sparked concern from the opposition and experts about its wide scope and limits on judicial review.

The small and open city-state, which says it is vulnerable to foreign meddling, targeted fake news with a far-reaching law in 2019, and joins nations such as Australia and Russia that have passed laws in recent years to deter foreign interference.

The bill, formally known as the Foreign Interference Countermeasures Act (FICA), was passed late on Monday with 75 members voting in favour, 11 opposition members objecting and two abstaining, local media reported.

Among the measures, FICA allows authorities to compel internet, social media service providers and website operators to provide user information, block content and remove applications.

Those deemed or designated as “politically significant persons” under the law will have to comply with strict rules relating to donations and declare their links to foreign entities.

Instead of court, an independent tribunal, chaired by a judge, will hear appeals against the minister’s decisions, a move the government says is necessary to protect national security.

The tribunal’s decisions will be final.

The government said FICA does not cover the building of overseas partnerships, soliciting overseas businesses, networking with foreigners, sourcing for donations or those discussing policies or political matters that affect their businesses with foreign colleagues or business partners, or supporting charities.

“As long as they are done in an open and transparent manner, and not part of an attempt to manipulate our political discourse or undermine public interest such as security,” K Shanmugam, minister for home affairs, said in parliament.

It will also not affect Singaporeans expressing their own views or engaging in advocacy.

The home affairs ministry has also previously said it would not apply to foreign individuals or publications “reporting or commenting on Singapore politics, in an open, transparent and attributable way.”

But some critics say its broad language risks capturing even legitimate activities, while rights group Reporters Without Borders said the law could ensnare independent media outlets.

Experts and Singapore’s opposition parties have called for narrowing the scope of executive powers and more oversight through the judiciary.

The bill was passed without strengthening “the circumscribed checks and balances, particularly judicial review,” said Eugene Tan, a law professor at Singapore Management University.

“While assurances were given, they could have been given unequivocal expression through legislative codification.”

However, Shanmugam said the bill represented the “best balance…between dealing with the risks and providing checks against abuse.”

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New Zealand’s Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill Passes Into Law

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New Zealand’s new counter-terror law passed its third reading at the parliament Thursday, giving enforcement agencies greater power to protect the country from terrorist activities.

It is expected that the bill, following royal assent, will come into effect from October 4.

The bill amends the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002, and the Search and Surveillance Act 2012 to criminalize planning or preparation for a terrorist act and apply warrantless powers of entry, search, and surveillance to that offence.

The new law extends the terrorism finance offences to also criminalize providing wider forms of support to terrorist individuals or groups, such as goods and services.

Minister of Justice Kris Faafoi welcomed the bill, saying “the bill strengthens our laws to fight the ever evolving nature of terrorism and closes longstanding gaps in our counter terrorism legislation to better protect New Zealanders.”

“The new counter terrorism law’s major change is to add the criminal offence of planning or preparation for a terrorist act. “The Justice Select Committee also fully endorsed a recommended change to the definition of a terrorist act to include the intention to intimidate, rather than to induce terror, as is defined in the current law.

“These changes bring our definition of a terrorist act into line with counter terrorism laws in other countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom, and mean we have the tools we need so we can act early to prevent, respond to, and disrupt terrorist activity.

“The nature of terrorism has changed. Across the world there are more lone actors, rather than larger organized groups; as we saw with the March 15 attack on mosques in Christchurch two years ago, and the attack on shoppers in a West Auckland supermarket earlier this month,” Faafoi said.

The Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill was introduced in April this year and received its first reading and referral to the Justice Committee on May 5.

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