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Phuket Gazette World News: Britain’s National Secular Society highlights clerical sex abuse cases

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Phuket Gazette World News: Britain’s National Secular Society highlights clerical sex abuse cases | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

U.N. body says U.S. lax on clerical sex abuse cases
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A U.N. committee has accused U.S. legal authorities of failing to fully pursue cases of child sex abuse in religious groups, an issue especially troubling the Roman Catholic Church.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child wrote this month that it was “deeply concerned” to find widespread sexual abuse by clerics and staff of religious institutions and “a lack of measures … to properly investigate cases and prosecute them”.

Britain’s National Secular Society, which drew attention to the little-noticed report yesterday, said it hoped the Catholic pope to be elected next month would open Church files to help prosecute as yet undiscovered cases of clerical sexual abuse.

The scandal of predator priests has haunted the pontificate of Pope Benedict, who will resign on Feb 28. The pope has apologised for the abuse and met victims in several countries, but cases and damning internal files are still coming to light.

After years of legal battles, the Los Angeles archdiocese bowed to a court order last month and released 12,000 pages of files showing its former head, Cardinal Roger Mahony, had sent accused abusers out of state to avoid justice in the 1980s.

“The committee is deeply concerned at information of sexual abuse committed by clerics and leading members of certain faith-based organisations and religious institutions on a massive and long-term scale,” said the report, which gave no details.

It said it also found a “lack of measures taken by [U.S. legal authorities] to properly investigate cases and prosecute those accused” and urged them to order law enforcement officials to step up efforts to uncover and bring charges against abusers.

New pope
The National Secular Society, which campaigns at the United Nations against privileges for religious groups, accused Benedict of hushing up abuse cases and obstructing justice.

“We can only hope that his successor opens the secret files and treats victims with the respect they deserve,” its executive director Keith Porteous Ward said in a statement.

The abuse crisis is expected to be among issues cardinals discuss before they enter the Sistine Chapel in mid-March to elect a new pope, but the secrecy of their consultations means it is not clear how much of a role it will play in their choice.

The committee, which drew its conclusions after a routine review of U.S. compliance with the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted its report in Geneva on Feb 1.

The Church and its insurance companies in the United States have already paid more than $2 billion (1.2 billion pounds) in damages to victims. Clerics from other faiths have also been accused or convicted of sexual abuse of children, but on a lesser scale than Catholics.

Catholic dioceses with known abuser priests have staff files on them and correspondence with the Vatican about some of them. These are confidential but courts and government inquiries in several countries have forced some of them to be opened.

Sexual abuse cases in the Catholic Church began coming to light in the 1980s and became a major crisis in 2002, when U.S. media began reporting systematic cover-ups for abusive priests.

Ireland, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have grappled with similar scandals after official or Church-led reports exposed abuse in schools and church organisations.

Awkward questions
The Church, in many countries, has set up new guidelines to deal with past abuse, prevent new cases, report abuse to police and stop potential abusers from entering the priesthood.

But campaigners say there is much still to be discovered about how the Church behaved in the past and want more bishops who were aware of abuse to be held responsible.

“Hundreds if not thousands of clerics have wrongly escaped incarceration due to the continuing secrecy of the Church and the issue being almost ignored by law enforcers,” Porteous Wood said. “Prosecuting authorities have some very awkward questions to answer, and not just in the U.S.”

Boston’s Cardinal Bernard Law resigned after scandals were exposed there but was named to a prestigious Church post in Rome. Mahony, who had already retired as Los Angeles archbishop, was stripped of his public ministry when files were opened there.

Victims’ groups have tried to establish a legal link between abuse cases in countries such as the United States and Germany and the Vatican, which in some cases appeared more concerned about protecting the Church’s image than helping the victims.

Before his election in 2005, Benedict headed the Vatican’s doctrinal office and took over handling of sexual abuse cases in 2001. Supporters say Vatican infighting kept him from responding decisively but he took a tougher stand once he was pope.

Critics say he failed to take effective action. “He publicly spoke about the crisis more than his predecessor but that alone is no achievement,” SNAP, an abuse victims’ advocacy group, said after he announced his resignation on Feb 11.

In 2010, Benedict was named as a defendant in a U.S. law suit alleging that he failed to take action as a cardinal in 1995 when he was allegedly told about a priest who had abused boys at a school for the deaf decades earlier.

The lawyers withdrew the case last year and the Vatican said it was a major victory that proved the pope could not be held liable for the actions of abusive priests in their dioceses.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus spreads north and south in China – 139 new cases reported

The Thaiger

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Coronavirus spreads north and south in China – 139 new cases reported | The Thaiger
PHOTO: New cases reported over the weekend are concerning health offficials - BBC.com

Another 139 new cases of a flu-like disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus in China has shocked health officials. There’s also been a third confirmed death reported today. Worse, the outbreak has now spread beyond Wuhan in central China where the virus was first identified. There have been cases reported in Beijing, a province next door to Shanghai and Shenzhen in southern China.

Health authorities in Beijing have now confirmed two cases of the new coronavirus today, while Guangdong authorities in southern China reported one new case in Shenzhen as well. The Shenzhen case is the first confirmation that the virus has spread domestically beyond Wuhan.

The Wuhan Health Commission announced today that 136 new patients had been diagnosed over the weekend – 1 person died from the virus, 2 remain in critical condition, 33 are in serious condition. All three patients that have died are believed to have visited Wuhan in the last month or so.

The new cases have brought the total number of people diagnosed with the virus in China to 201. That’s a big jump over numbers reported over the weekend.

Meanwhile, health authorities in Shenzhen, bordering Hong Kong, say they are monitoring eight patient. All eight have been quarantined for treatment. In coastal Zhejiang province, bordering Shanghai, authorities have now reported five new suspected cases who have been confirmed to have visited Wuhan. Last week, three cases were detected outside China — two in Thailand and one in Japan. All cases have been linked to Wuhan. On Monday, South Korea also confirmed its first case of the virus.

The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market at the centre of the pneumonia outbreak in he city of tWuhan has been closed for disinfection since January 1.

Meanwhile, Thai officials are stepping up screening efforts with many flights flying in from Wuhan over the next few weeks for the Chinese New Year holidays. Health officials say they’re confident that their screening efforts will detect any infected passengers getting off flights at Thai airports.

SOURCE: CNN

Coronavirus spreads north and south in China - 139 new cases reported | News by The Thaiger

GRAPHIC: Bangkok Post

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More coronavirus cases detected in China, global alert for Chinese New Year

The Thaiger

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More coronavirus cases detected in China, global alert for Chinese New Year | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The Conversation

Chinese medical officials have now reported four more cases of the viral pneumonia strain caused by a new coronavirus. The discoveries are causing rising concern that the disease is not fully understand and could spread during the upcoming Chinese New Year holidays.

The new virus, originating in the Chinese city of Wuhan – the apparent epicentre of the outbreak – is believed to belong in the same class of coronaviruses that includes the deadly SARS virus (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 800 people around the world in 2002/03. That outbreak also started in China.

At this stage all signs are that the virus isn’t as lethal as SARS, but there is still little known about the coronavirus’ origins and how it is transmitted. But it has been established at this stage that it is not spread human to human.

Both Thailand and Japan have confirmed new cases of the virus. In Thailand the patient was detected when arriving on a flight from Wuhan. And Japan’s health ministry reported that a man who had visited the central Chinese city of Wuhan was hospitalised on January 10, four days after his return to Japan.

Both patients have fully recovered.

The new cases detected in China, and the cases detected overseas, are stoking global concerns as many of the 1.4 billion Chinese will head overseas during the Chinese New Year holidays that begin next week and run through to early February.

The Wuhan Health Commission reports that the the four new cases are now in stable condition. 45 cases have been reported in the city as of last Thursday. A second patient died on Wednesday this week. Nearly 50 people are now known to have been infected globally, but all of them either lived in Wuhan or have travelled to the city.

The London Imperial College’s MRC Center for Global Infectious Disease Analysis speculates that there are probably “substantially more cases” of the new coronavirus than currently declared by Wuhan authorities. Their modelling estimates that there would be 1,723 cases showing onset of related symptoms by the second week in January.

Meanwhile US authorities say they are now screening at three airports to detect passengers arriving via direct or connecting flights from Wuhan. And in Asia, authorities in Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand are stepping up monitoring of travellers from Wuhan at airports.

SOURCE: Reuters | Science Alert

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Dutchman jailed for 100 years in Thailand for money laundering is released

Greeley Pulitzer

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Dutchman jailed for 100 years in Thailand for money laundering is released | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Johan van Laarhoven walks free after serving six years of a 100 year sentence in Thai prison - The Chiang Rai Times

A Dutch citizen who was jailed for 100 years in Thailand, is now on his way home after years of campaigning for his release. His sentence was reduced to 75 years on appeal and later to 50 years by the Supreme court. Johan van Laarhoven, who ran several cannabis “coffee shops” in Holland, was jailed in Thailand for money laundering, along with his Thai wife, though the offences took place in The Netherlands.

Thai authorities began investigating Van Laarhoven in 2014 after a letter from a Dutch public prosecutor’s office, informing them that he had earned his money selling marijuana and requesting their help. Last year, MPs called on the government to to extradite Van Laarhoven and his wife back to Netherlands. The Dutch justice minister even met with PM Prayut Chan-o-cha and the Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin to discuss the case.

Even though cannabis is legal in the Netherlands, Dutch officials bungled a tax query to Thai authorities regarding the sale of the Dutchman’s cannabis cafe chain. This led to a criminal investigation and his televised arrest in Thailand.

Thai authorities seized the Dutchman’s assets and he was sentenced to 100 years in prison. His young Thai wife, Mingkwan, was jailed for 13 years as an accomplice. The Netherlands has an extradition treaty with Thailand, but it can only be implemented after a case has been ruled “definitive.” Van Laarhoven’s sentence was upheld late last year, clearing the way for a diplomatic solution. It’s unclear whether his wife will be allowed to join him in the Netherlands.

Once back, Van Laarhoven will spend two years in a Dutch jail to complete his sentence, and also face criminal investigation for money laundering. The investigation will focus on tax fraud, membership in a criminal organisation and laundering €20m (675 million baht) according to a Dutch public prosecutor.

SOURCE: The Chiang Rai Times | Dutchnews.nl

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