(NEW YORK) Amnesty International Report: Will close its two offices in Hong Kong by the end of the year, the organisation announced on Monday #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Oct.26: This decision, made with a heavy heart, has been driven by Hong Kong’s national security law, which has made it effectively impossible for human rights organizations in Hong Kong to work freely and without fear of serious reprisals from the government,” said Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, chair of Amnesty’s International Board.

#AceDailyNews says according to Amnesty International Report: On closure Hong Kong offices: The local ‘section’ office will cease operations on 31 October while the regional office – which is part of Amnesty’s global International Secretariat – is due to close by the end of 2021. Regional operations will be moved to the organization’s other offices in the Asia-Pacific.

© Amnesty International
© Amnesty International

“Hong Kong has long been an ideal regional base for international civil society organizations, but the recent targeting of local human rights and trade union groups signals an intensification of the authorities’ campaign to rid the city of all dissenting voices. It is increasingly difficult for us to keep operating in such an unstable environment.”

There are two Amnesty International offices based in Hong Kong: a local membership section focused on human rights education in the city; and a regional office which carries out research, advocacy and campaigning work on East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific. All of the regional office’s work will continue from new locations.

“We are deeply indebted to Amnesty members and staff who over the last 40 years have worked tirelessly to protect human rights in and from Hong Kong. From successfully pushing for the full abolition of the death penalty in Hong Kong in 1993, to exposing evidence of excessive use of force by police during the 2019 mass protests, Amnesty in Hong Kong has shone a light on human rights violations in the darkest of days,” said Agnes Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

“In the wider region, our research and campaigning has tackled subjects including freedom of expression in North Korea, conscientious objection to military service in South Korea, the right to housing in Mongolia, Japan’s wartime atrocities against “comfort women”, and the crackdown on human rights lawyers in China.

“Moreover, Amnesty International Hong Kong’s education programmes – from classroom talks to a documentary film festival – have enhanced awareness of human rights not only in the city’s schools but among the general public as well. No one and no power can demolish that legacy.”

The national security law, imposed by the Chinese central government, was enacted on 30 June 2020. It targets alleged acts of “secession”, “subversion of state power”, “terrorist activities” and “collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security”. 

Its sweeping and vaguely worded definition of “national security”, which follows that of the Beijing authorities, has been used arbitrarily as a pretext to restrict the human rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, as well as to repress dissent and political opposition.

Amnesty documented the rapid deterioration of human rights in Hong Kong one year after the enactment of the national security law in a June 2021 briefing.

“The environment of repression and perpetual uncertainty created by the national security law makes it impossible to know what activities might lead to criminal sanctions. The law has repeatedly been used to target people who have upset the authorities for any number of reasons – from singing political songs to discussing human rights issues in the classroom,” said Anjhula Mya Singh Bais.

“The pattern of raids, arrests and prosecutions against perceived opponents has highlighted how the vagueness of the law can be manipulated to build a case against whomsoever the authorities choose.”

A government crackdown targeting activists, opposition politicians and independent media has recently expanded to include civil society organizations. At least 35 groups have disbanded since the law was enacted, including some of the city’s largest unions and activist groups.

“There are difficult days ahead for human rights in Hong Kong, but Amnesty International will continue to stand with the people of Hong Kong.  We will fight for their rights to be respected and we will be vigilant in our scrutiny of those who abuse them,” said Agnes Callamard.

“While leaving the city that we have called home for decades is devastating, we do so proud of our achievements over that time, and confident that the strength of Amnesty’s 10 million-plus supporters worldwide will enable us to continue our work together to end human rights abuses everywhere.”

Background

Amnesty International is a global human rights movement of 10 million people, with operations in more than 70 countries. The organization holds governments around the world accountable to equal standards under international law.

Amnesty’s local Hong Kong section works principally on building awareness of human rights issues in the city and is funded primarily by individual donations from the Hong Kong public.

The Hong Kong regional office – which has a sister location in Bangkok – conducts research, campaigning and advocacy work across the region including on mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Mongolia, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei, Singapore, Timor-Leste, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific islands.

The overwhelming majority of Amnesty’s income comes from individuals the world over. These personal and unaffiliated donations allow the organization to maintain full independence from any and all governments, political ideologies, economic interests or religions. Amnesty neither seeks nor accepts any funds for human rights research from governments or political parties.

#AceNewsDesk report …………Published: Oct.26: 2021:

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The State of Alabama Just Officially Sent This Document to Barack Obama in Historic Move

#AceNewsReport – Featured Post: June.14: This is a copyrighted post and  all l have added it as an excert and you can read more on the link provided below:     

BREAKING:The State of Alabama Just Officially Sent This Document to Barack Obama in Historic Move

The momentum is building for a historic Convention of the States to stop President Barack Obama from causing more fiscal and political harm to the United States.

Approximately three months ago, Conservative Tribune reported that the state of Arkansas had passed a resolution calling for such a convention. Since then the number of states showing interest in such a convention has grown.

More than half the states have filed a Convention of States application as of this year. Now Alabama is the fourth state, along with Alaska, Florida and Georgia, to complete the application.

State legislatures have had enough of Obama and a federal government that has become too big, too intrusive and too corrupt.

Therefore, following the steps outlined in Article V of the Constitution, Alabama lawmakers have called for a convention that ultimately could produce a constitutional amendment to reign in the federal government. The amendment, once ratified by three-quarters of the states, would become a permanent part of the Constitution.

Friday, June 12th, 2015

Read More:>>>

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` China lodges a protest with the United States over a visit by Gina McCarthy ‘

#AceWorldNews – BEIJING – April 15 – China lodged a protest with the United States on Tuesday over a visit by Gina McCarthy, Washington’s environmental protection chief, to self-ruled Taiwan this week.

Her visit is the first by a cabinet level official since 2000, according to Taiwan’s presidential office, Reuters reports.

McCarthy was visiting to support environmental cooperation between the United States and countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

#ANS2014

#asia-pacific, #china, #taiwan, #united-states, #washington

` European Central Bank leaves `Key Interest Rates ‘ steady with ` Refinancing ‘ rate at 0.25 Percent’

#AceFinanceNews says that the European Central Bank held its key interest rates steady as largely expected on Thursday.

The ECB left its central “refi” or refinancing rate unchanged at 0.25 percent at its monthly policy meeting, it said in a statement.

The central bank also held its other two key rates — the marginal lending rate and the deposit rate — unchanged at 0.75 percent and zero percent respectively.

There had been speculation that the central bank might ease monetary conditions in the 18 countries that share the euro given the worryingly low level of inflation.

ECB President Mario Draghi was scheduled to explain the reasoning behind the latest decision at a news conference.

This decision is key to the strategy adopted by the European Central Bankers and will largely prevent inflation rises, but it will eventually lead to a slow down in the economy of the Western Nations. this is due mainly to the huge indebtedness and risk factor in the Asia-Pacific Investment markets.

More soon ………………………………………………………………………………….

#AFN2014

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” Teaching Students How to Properly Launder Money”

#AceChinaNews says this post was courtesy of  wuyiyao and his report, on how someone on his course asked ” Is there a way of laundering money `properly’ and this is his post.   

During a financial orientation course at Shanghai Finance University, 19-year-old Li Jing raised his hand and asked if there is a way of laundering money “properly”.

A little later, another student said she had heard that even small coffee houses can launder cash. She asked for an explanation of how the practice works and how to spot financial crimes committed under the guise of daily business activity.

Dang Hue, Asia head of the Association of Certified Anti-Money-Laundering Specialists, said in response to the students’ questions, “There is no legal way to launder money, because the activity is intrinsically illegal, and anyone involved will be caught and punished.”Money laundering fight becomes matter of course for students

Li and his peers are the first undergraduates in China to major in Compliance and Anti-Money-Laundering, a course created to meet increasing demand from financial markets amid the country’s ongoing economic development.

Dang said the students’ questions are a sign that compliance and anti-money-laundering are still relatively new concepts.

“There’s a long way to go. When the students graduate from this undergraduate program, they will still need more hands-on experience and training to become qualified anti-money-laundering specialists,” Dang said.

Compliance, the adherence to business laws and policy, has become a buzzword after recent probes into alleged bribery, corruption and fraud at State-owned enterprises and multinational corporations, especially large pharmaceutical companies.

The students realize that what they learn will be crucial for the healthy development of China’s financial and economic system and that the demand for professionals in the field will surge in the next few years.

Supply shortages

According to the International Monetary Fund, laundered money accounts for approximately 5 percent of the combined annual GDP of all the countries in the world, approximately $1.8 trillion. The figure is rising at a rapid rate, with annual growth of $100 billion.

Amid faster-than-ever global capital flows, dirty money, which finances crimes including drug dealing, human trafficking and terrorism, will be “washed clean” by laundering if effective action isn’t taken, said Dang.

“As the world’s second-largest economy plays an increasingly important role in global economic development and the internationalization of the yuan continues, China’s efforts to combat money laundering will have a growing impact on the global economic picture,” said Dang.

However, the gap between the supply of and demand for talent in compliance and AML work is wide.

“In Shanghai alone, about 2,000 professionals are needed for compliance and AML work,” said Chu Zhen, head of the Department of Finance at Shanghai Finance University. It’s likely that it will take a long time to fill all those positions, however, given that the school only can enroll around 50 students a year. The first majors in compliance and AML will graduate in 2017.

Ma Qing, a Shanghai-based head hunter who specializes in the financial sector, said some of the most difficult requests to fulfil come from companies looking for compliance officers.

In the past, many employers put compliance under the direction of other, unrelated departments, and the responsibilities often included a number of miscellaneous functions that had little to do with legal affairs.

“The job prospects were not attractive; the pay was low, the outline of the responsibilities was too vague and compliance units were given very few resources,” said Ma.

That may be about to change, though; salaries in the field may rise by 40 percent or even more, and compliance units are being given a say in a wider range of decisions.

“One client on our books told me that as a compliance officer, he feels more respected, involved, and indispensable in his workplace than before. He is not alone in thinking that,” said Ma.

The difficulty in finding talent lies in the current dearth of experienced professionals, he added.

“I’ve been working on filling a vacancy at a bank, but the employer is demanding at least five years’ experience in compliance. But that’s a very rare commodity because few people were willing to work in the sector given the poor conditions in the past, and very few remained in the field for five years to gain the necessary experience,” he said.

Some educational establishments realized the problem existed and began to take action. In 2009, Shanghai Fudan University established postgraduate-level programs in compliance and AML, and cultivated talent to meet the future market demand.

Shanghai Finance University and AML association have cooperated on the undergraduate program since autumn. Together, they are providing wide-ranging training, including basic AML courses that focus on regulatory requirements in China, the study of global standards and leading practices in the fight against money laundering.

Experts in compliance and AML from across the world will be invited to lecture and provide practical experience, and all the Shanghai Finance University lecturers have been trained by experts from the AML association, according to Dang.

Money laundering fight becomes matter of course for students

Student will gain hands-on experience through internships at insurers, stockbrokers, financial institutions, auction houses and property developers, according to Chu.

In addition to courses in economics, finance and other compulsory studies for Chinese college students, the first undergraduate compliance and AML majors at Shanghai Finance University will learn by studying cases of illegal financial behaviour.

“Wherever there is significant cash flow, there is soil for compliance and AML work. Students will use case studies to understand how money laundering works, but personal integrity will also be key to their future success – we hope students equipped with that sort of knowledge won’t get involved in improper deeds,” said Chu.

Circumstances can also play a role, however. A report published by Ernst & Young’s Fraud Investigation & Dispute Service in August 2013, said: “We are beginning to see a slowdown in growth. Companies are faced with budget cuts and are struggling to meet their targets. Business risks are often heightened in economically hard times.”

Weak controls, a tough business environment – which may prompt enterprises to take “shortcuts” to achieve sales or business-growth targets – the use of technology to detect bribery and fraud, and an established, but as yet, immature whistle-blowing program all contribute to compliance risks.

In the Asia-Pacific region and other emerging markets, poor regulatory frameworks and a lack of effective channels for reporting illegal behaviour have provided an environment in which illegal financial activities, such as fraud and corruption, are able to flourish.

“The key question for companies in the (Asia-Pacific) region is how to effectively minimize the risk of fraud and corruption in high-risk markets with weak control environments, given the restricted resources,” said the E&Y report.

The authorities and businesses have strengthened measures to combat illegal behaviour in economic activity, and funding has been increased to help achieve that goal.

Chinese banks already rate their clients’ risk of criminal conduct on a scale of one to five as part of efforts by the People’s Bank of China to curb laundering and fraudulent transactions, according to a post on the central bank’s official website.

Money laundering fight becomes matter of course for students

Financial institutions must identify their riskiest clients and use their own discretion to report suspect deals. The accounts of clients assessed as high-risk must be checked frequently and not once every six months, as is the normal practice, the PBOC website said.

In December 2012, the PBOC issued new anti-money laundering rules to all domestic financial institutions, requiring lenders to rate clients based on their location and the nature of their business, including their levels of transparency. A number of insurers and stockbrokers have also implemented the system.

So far the PBOC has yet to set a deadline for companies to comply with the guidelines.

“In the past, clients were rated against a checklist of money laundering traits, but the list failed to differentiate risk levels. That led financial institutions to unwittingly inundate the authorities with information and false leads that impeded the checks,” said a source with a Shanghai-based commercial bank who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The source said that as the PBOC’s anti-money laundering rules are implemented, a greater number of professionals are becoming involved in training programs to learn more about AML and the prevalent practices.

Businesses are becoming more attuned to, and knowledgeable about, AML and bribery, according to market insiders.

Foreign businesses were once regulated by the laws of their home countries, but an increasing number are now better prepared and aware of the fact that they need to ensure they have good “know-your-customer” policies to tackle AML issues and effective anti-corruption and bribery policies in place, said Dang.

A large number of financial professionals have undertaken intensive training in the relevant programs.

Approximately 190,000 professionals work in the AML field in China’s banking, insurance and securities sectors, but most of them are new to the field, according to a report published by the PBOC, which acts as the banking regulator in China.

Crucially, however, self-regulation is a growing trend as companies acknowledge the benefits that can accrue from being seen as squeaky clean.

Research undertaken in 2013 by the consultancy services provider A.T. Kearney, which conducted in-depth interviews with compliance executives at 40 top companies worldwide, showed that most of the interviewees said they expect to expand their compliance systems. Furthermore, 57 percent of those interviewed said they will most likely seek external help, especially in staffing departments with experts in issues such as anti-corruption, data protection and product safety.

“Today’s regulatory pressure doesn’t stop with the external authorities. Many firms understand that compliance can lead to a competitive advantage and are making their suppliers commit to compliance standards that go far beyond those required by law,” said the report.

Thanks to the Author wuyiyao for supplying this post. 

 

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