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‘Pervasive racism’ blamed for unequal treatment of black and Asian war casualties | UK News

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Up to 350,000 predominantly black and Asian service personnel have not been formally remembered in the same way as their white comrades.

An investigation has blamed “pervasive racism” for the failure to properly commemorate at least 116,000 but up to 350,000 people who died fighting for the British Empire.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has apologised and vowed to act immediately to correct the situation.

The report, obtained by the PA news agency and due to be published in full later today, found that the casualties – mainly from the First World War – were “not commemorated by name or possibly not commemorated at all”.

Most of them were commemorated by memorials that did not carry their names.

An estimated 45,000 to 54,000 Asian and African casualties were also “commemorated unequally”.

This meant some were commemorated collectively on memorials – unlike those in Europe – and others who were missing were only recorded in registers, rather than on stone.

The job of commemorating the war dead belongs to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, originally named the Imperial War Graves Commission.

The report was compiled by a special committee, established by the CWGC in 2019 after a critical documentary about the issue.

According to the report, the failure to properly commemorate the individuals was “influenced by a scarcity of information, errors inherited from other organisations and the opinions of colonial administrators”.

“Underpinning all these decisions, however, were the entrenched prejudices, preconceptions and pervasive racism of contemporary imperial attitudes,” it added.

The report gave the example of a 1923 communication between FG Guggisberg, the governor of what is now Ghana, and the commission’s Arthur Browne.

The governor had said “the average native of the Gold Coast would not understand or appreciate a headstone,” as he argued for collective memorials.

Mr Browne’s response showed “what he may have considered foresight, but one that was explicitly framed by contemporary racial prejudice”, according to the report.

He had said: “In perhaps two or three hundred years’ time, when the native population had reached a higher stage of civilisation, they might then be glad to see that headstones had been erected on the native graves and that the native soldiers had received precisely the same treatment as their white comrades.”

In its response to the report, the CWGC said it “acknowledges that the commission failed to fully carry out its responsibilities at the time and accepts the findings and failings identified in this report and we apologise unreservedly for them”.

CWGC director general Claire Horton said: “The events of a century ago were wrong then and are wrong now.

“We recognise the wrongs of the past and are deeply sorry and will be acting immediately to correct them.”

David Lammy, the shadow justice secretary, said: “No apology can ever make up for the indignity suffered by the unremembered.

“However, this apology does offer the opportunity for us as a nation to work through this ugly part of our history – and properly pay our respects to every soldier who has sacrificed their life for us.”

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Kathleen Folbigg: Australian mother convicted of killing her four children petitions for a pardon | World News

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An Australian woman who was convicted of killing her four children 18 years ago has petitioned the New South Wales governor for a pardon.

Kathleen Folbigg, 53, was convicted on three charges of murder and one of manslaughter in 2003 and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

But dozens of scientists have backed her claims that her children died from natural causes and claim she could be the victim of a tragic miscarriage of justice.

Kathleen Folbigg appears via video link during a convictions inquiry at the New South Wales Coroners Court, in Sydney, in 2019. Pic: AP
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Kathleen Folbigg appears via video link during a convictions inquiry at the New South Wales Coroners Court, in Sydney, in 2019. Pic: AP

Folbigg has petitioned for a pardon “based on significant positive evidence of natural causes of death” for all four of her children.

The petition, lodged in March, has been signed by 90 scientists, medical professionals and two Nobel laureates.

Shortly after the petition, three judges threw out her challenge to a 2019 decision by Justice Reginald Blanch to uphold her convictions.

Her appeal had been based on new scientific evidence including the children’s genome sequencing.

After her latest court defeat, Folbigg said in a statement written from prison through her friend Tracy Chapman that the verdict and the petition raised “valuable questions about how we got here”.

Folbigg wipes tears away during a question about the deaths of her four children during her 2019 appeal. Pic AP
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Folbigg wipes tears away during a question about the deaths of her four children at her 2019 appeal hearing in Sydney. Pic AP

“Many international eyes are now on this case and there’re many more Australians rightly asking why Kath’s still in prison after 18 years when there’s mounting scientific evidence relating to her innocence,” Ms Chapman wrote.

The signatories of the petition disagree with the latest court ruling.

Australian Academy of Science president John Shine accused the three appeals court judges of adopting the same “incorrect conclusions about the genetic evidence” as Mr Blanch.

“It is deeply concerning that there is not a mechanism to appropriately weigh up all medical and scientific evidence in a case of this nature,” Mr Shine said.

“There is now an alternative explanation for the death of the Folbigg children that does not rely on circumstantial evidence.”

Prosecutors relied on diary entries made by Folbigg during 2003 trial. Pic AP
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Prosecutors relied on diary entries made by Folbigg during the 2003 trial. Pic AP

Folbigg’s first child Caleb was born in 1989 and died 19 days later in what a court determined to be the lesser crime of manslaughter.

Her second child Patrick was eight months old when he died in 1991.

Two years later, Sarah died aged 10 months.

And in 1999, Folbigg’s fourth child Laura died at 19 months.

Folbigg was the first on the scene of each tragedy and an autopsy found Laura had myocarditis – an inflammation of heart muscle that can be fatal.

Patrick suffered from epilepsy and his death had been attributed to an airway obstruction due to a seizure and an infection.

The other two deaths were recorded as sudden infant death syndrome.

Paediatric geneticist Jozef Gecz, who signed the pardon petition, acknowledged the evidence of natural causes was stronger in the girls’ deaths than the boys.

But he said investigations were continuing into potential leads to genetic causes of the boys’ deaths.

The criminal case against Folbigg relied on interpretations of entries she had made in diaries, one of which her estranged husband Craig Folbigg read and reported to the police.

Sally Clarke, pictured here in 2003, was found dead in her home in 2007
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Sally Clarke, pictured here in 2003, was found dead in her home in 2007

Folbigg’s case has parallels to Sally Clarke, the solicitor who was wrongly convicted of murdering her two baby sons in 1999.

Mrs Clarke, who served three years of a life sentence, was found guilty of smothering her 11-week-old child to death in 1996 and shaking her eight-week-old son to death in 1998.

The convictions against Mrs Clark were upheld on appeal in October 2000 but overturned in a second appeal in 2003.

It emerged during the second trial that Alan Williams, the prosecution forensic pathologist who examined both babies, had failed to disclose microbiological reports that suggested the second of her sons had died of natural causes.

The outcome led to Lord Goldsmith ordering a review of hundreds of other cases and two other women had their convictions overturned.

Mrs Clarke died in her home in 2007 from alcohol poisoning.

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Why is there a row over fishing in Jersey – and how might it escalate? | Politics News

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Two Royal Navy vessels have been sent to Jersey amid concerns of a possible blockade of the island by French boats – but why have they been deployed?

Sky News looks at what’s sparked the tensions and how the row might escalate.

What’s happening?

The UK has deployed HMS Severn and HMS Tamar to Jersey to conduct “maritime security patrols” as a “strictly precautionary measure” following talks with the Jersey government, the Ministry of Defence has said.

HMS Severn entered back into service in June last year – after being saved from the scrapyard – to boost the UK’s ability to patrol its waters after Brexit.

HMS Tamar came into service in December last year as one of five new offshore patrol vessels.

HMS Tamar is a new Royal Navy patrol ship. Pic: MoD
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HMS Tamar came into service in December last year. Pic: MoD

Meanwhile, France has sent its own patrol vessel to Jersey to “guarantee the safety” of people at sea and “accompany” French fishing vessels.

Jersey, the biggest of the Channel Islands, is a British Crown Dependency and is defended and internationally represented by the UK government.

It lies just 14 miles from the French coast and 85 miles south of the English coast.

Jersey fishing row: Pic: Michael Bewley
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French fishing crews demonstrate off Jersey’s coast. Pic: Michael Bewley

Why has the Royal Navy been sent?

The vessels were deployed amid concerns of a possible blockade of Jersey by French boats.

As of Thursday morning, up to 60 vessels were reported off Jersey’s south coast, near the island’s capital St Helier, as part of a demonstration by French fishermen.

Some let off flares but the protest has so far remained peaceful, according to the Jersey Evening Post.

There had been worries about more direct action by the demonstrators.

Paul Luxon, the chief executive of Condor Ferries, posted on Twitter that the Commodore Goodwill freight ferry had been “trapped” in St Helier harbour.

However, it was later reported the vessel would be allowed to leave.

Downing Street has said that any blockade would be “completely unjustified”.

HMS Servern (far left, light blue) and HMS Tamar (bottom left, light blue) can be seen on the outskirts of Jersey on Thursday morning. Pic: marinetraffic.com
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HMS Severn (far left, light blue) and HMS Tamar (bottom left, light blue) seen on the outskirts of Jersey on Thursday morning. Pic: marinetraffic.com

Why are French fishermen protesting?

French fishing crews are demonstrating as part of a row over post-Brexit fishing rights.

Under the Brexit trade deal, which came into force on 1 January, EU fishermen continue to have some rights to fish in UK waters as part of a transition period until 2026.

However, under the new rules, EU boats wanting to fish within 12 miles of the UK coast need to be licensed and prove they have a history of fishing in those waters in order to carry on operating.

This includes submitting evidence of their past fishing activities.

Jersey fishing row: Pic: Michael Bewley
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Jersey is involved in a row with France over post-Brexit fishing rights. Pic: Michael Bewley

Jersey has not granted licences to some of the boats that have applied to fish in its waters.

Ian Gorst, the island’s external relations minister, said of the 41 boats which sought licences under the new rules last Friday, all but 17 had provided the evidence required.

“The trade deal is clear but I think there has been some confusion about how it needs to be implemented, because we absolutely respect the historic rights of French fishermen to fish in Jersey waters as they have been doing for centuries,” he said.

“I do think a solution can be found. I am optimistic that we can provide extra time to allow this evidence to be provided.”

The French government has also expressed its anger at what it said were unilaterally-imposed conditions on the fishing licences, including the time French fishing vessels could spend in Jersey’s waters.

Jersey said it had issued permits in line with the terms of the post-Brexit trade deal.

Jersey boats
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Jersey has not granted licences to some of the boats that have applied to fish in its waters

Could the row escalate further? Could the lights go out on Jersey?

France’s maritime minister Annick Girardin warned this week her country was ready to take “retaliatory measures” over the fishing dispute.

This included a threat that France could cut off electricity to Jersey, which – with a population of 100,000 people – receives 95% of its electricity from France through three undersea cables.

And Ms Girardin told the French parliament this week: “In the (Brexit) deal there are retaliatory measures. Well, we’re ready to use them.

“Regarding Jersey, I remind you of the delivery of electricity along underwater cables. Even if it would be regrettable if we had to do it, we’ll do it if we have to.”

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‘Disproportionate threats’ from Paris

However, Jersey’s government has assured residents the island’s “essential infrastructure will not be disrupted as local facilities are able to meet our power requirements in the event of any external interruption”.

When the current EU-UK fishing transition period ends in 2026, there is also the possibility for further tensions to arise when both sides move to annual negotiations to decide how fish stocks are shared between them.

French fishermen have threatened to blockade the port of St Helier
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There had been fears of a blockade of St Helier

Have there been fishing disputes before?

During the UK’s 47-year membership of the EU, fishing rights were decided as part of the bloc’s Common Fisheries Policy.

However, prior to that, there had been what were known as the “Cod Wars” between Icelandic and British fishing vessels from 1958 to 1976.

A view of the collision between the Royal Navy frigate and the Icelandic gunboat "Thor"
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The ‘Cod Wars’ saw violent clashes between British and Icelandic vessels

These violent clashes were sparked by Iceland asserting control over the seas surrounding the island.

The Royal Navy became involved by escorting British trawlers.

In what was dubbed the “Scallop Wars” in the summer of 2018, tensions erupted between French and British boats around the Baie de Seine waters.

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Two American friends jailed for life after killing of Italian police officer while teenagers | World News

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A jury in Italy has sentenced two Americans to life in prison for the killing of a police officer.

The jury of two judges and six civilians deliberated for more than 12 hours before convicting Finnegan Lee Elder, 21, and Gabriel Natale Hjorth, 20.

There was a gasp in the Rome courtroom as the presiding judge read the verdict: guilty on charges of homicide, attempted extortion, assault, resisting a public official and carrying an attack-style knife without just cause.

US citizen Finnegan Lee Elder was found guilty of murder charges after Italian Carabinieri paramilitary police officer Mario Cerciello Rega was killed in July 2019. Pic: AP
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Finnegan Lee Elder was found guilty of murder. Pic: AP

Elder stabbed Vice Brigadier Mario Cerciello Rega 11 times on 26 July, 2019, with a knife he had brought with him from California.

Natale-Hjorth helped him hide the weapon in their hotel room and, under Italian law, an accomplice in a murder can also be charged with murder even if they did not actually kill the victim.

Gabriel Natale-Hjorth, from the US, arrives for a hearing in the trial where he and co-defendant Finnegan Lee Elder are facing murder charges after Italian Carabinieri paramilitary police officer Mario Cerciello Rega. Pic: AP
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Gabriel Natale-Hjorth hid the knife used to stab the police officer. Pic: AP

The death of 35-year-old Carabinieri paramilitary police officer Mr Cerciello Rega shocked Italy and he was mourned as a national hero.

His widow Rosa Maria Esilio had held a photo of him throughout the trial and cried when she heard the verdict, saying afterwards: “His integrity was defended.

“He was everyone’s son, everyone’s Carabinieri.

“He was a marvellous husband, he was a marvellous man, a servant of the state who merited respect and honour.”

Rosa Maria Esilio, right, widow of Italian Carabinieri paramilitary police officer Mario Cerciello Rega, reacts during the trial in Rome, Wednesday, May 5, 2021. Pic: AP
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Rosa Maria Esilio said her husband’s integrity had been defended by the verdict. Pic: AP

Elder’s parents appeared stunned and, as he was being walked out of the court, his father called out: “Finnegan, I love you.”

His lawyer Renato Borzone said the verdict was a “disgrace for Italy”, having earlier told the court that his client had psychiatric problems, including a constant fear of being attacked.

Something had “short-circuited” when Elder was confronted by the officer, he added.

Natale-Hjorth’s lawyer, Fabio Alonzi, said he was speechless by the verdict.

Mr Cerciello Rega was a newlywed when he was sent with colleague Andrea Varriale to investigate a reported extortion attempt.

Cerciello Rega was fatally stabbed after a cuffle broke when he met a drug dealer and two American tourists. Pic: Carabinieri
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Mr Cerciello Rega was fatally stabbed in 2019. Pic: Carabinieri

Prosecutors in Rome said Elder and Natale-Hjorth had concocted a plan involving a stolen bag and mobile phone with the aim of exchanging them for money they had lost in a failed bid to buy a small amount of cocaine.

The two young men told the court they thought the officers, both in plainclothes and without service pistols, were thugs or mobsters set on assaulting them on a dark and deserted street.

They said the officers had not showed police badges, although this was disputed by Mr Varriale during the trial.

Mr Varriale suffered a back injury while fighting with Natale-Hjorth, and Elder thrust an 18cm knife into Mr Cerciello Rega, who had bled profusely before dying later in hospital.

Both defendants said they had acted in self defence, with Elder saying Mr Cerciello Rega had been on top of him on the ground and he feared being strangled.

After the stabbing, the offenders had run to their hotel room where Natale-Hjorth said Elder had cleaned the knife and asked him to hide it.

Police found the knife hours later behind a ceiling panel in the room.

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