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Flawed legal system encouraging Mexico’s criminals, says former foreign minister

October 30th, 2014
05:05 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN 

Mexico’s brutal cycle of violence and crime is fuelled by a legal system that continuously fails to investigate, arrest and penalize its criminals, former Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda told CNN’s Michael Holmes, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Thursday.

“In general, in Mexico, the rule of law does not really lead to punishment for those who commit crimes.  There are no investigations.  There are very few trials and very few sentences, let alone prison,” he said.

Protests have broken out across the country following the disappearance of 43 students more than a month ago. They were allegedly taken by the police before staging a demonstration in the south western town of Iguala, never to be seen again.

The incident has brought into light the underlying issues of rampant narco-crime and endemic corruption. Castañeda explained why offenders in Mexico have a “very high level of confidence” they will not be brought to justice.

“So when the army kills 22 people in Tlatlaya, or 43 students from Ayotzinapa disappear, the people who did that, whoever they may be, have very little to fear because they know that the ones who did similar things before have not been punished,” he said.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Mexico

A change of guard in Zambia

October 30th, 2014
09:42 AM ET

Imagine a world where the heritage of a colonial past becomes an example of a progressive future. Zambia made history on Wednesday when its Vice President Guy Scott became the first white man to lead a sub-Saharan African state in 20 years.

CNN’s Michael Holmes has the story. Click above to watch.

Filed under:  Imagine a World • Latest Episode

Letting Ukrainian people freeze 'is out of the question', says Russian ambassador

October 29th, 2014
05:15 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

Russia will not let the Ukrainian people freeze, Russia's Permanent Representative to the OSCE, Andrey Kelin, told CNN’s Michael Holmes, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Wednesday.

Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine in June citing unpaid bills and exacerbating already existing tensions between the two countries, triggered by Russia’s annexation of Crimea in February. The time to resolve the gas dispute is now running out with temperatures in Kiev already falling below zero.

“What I can absolutely guarantee is that Russia will never stop supplying gas to Ukraine because we have a lot of people from Ukraine in Russia, and it is impossible that we let Ukrainian people freeze. This is out of the question,” Kelin said.

“On the other hand,” the Ambassador warned, “we cannot always supply gas for credit to Ukraine, which happened in the past. Ukraine still did not pay, for instance, last three months or the year and we expect this payment.”

Ukraine’s parliamentary elections took place on Sunday and, for the first time since the country’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the Communist Party will be left out from parliament.

Despite the “omissions and violations” committed during the election, Kelin remarked, “I think that we are going to recognize the outcome when all calculations will be finalized.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Russia • Ukraine

Iran Human Rights Chief defends detention of Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian

October 29th, 2014
04:18 PM ET

Watch the full interview here.

By Mick Krever, CNN

On the heels of a damning new report from the United Nations, Iranian Human Rights Chief Mohammad Javad Larijani defended his country’s detention of Washington Post Reporter Jason Rezaian.

“Unfortunately, they have been involved in activities which our security people consider those activities definitely beyond journalism,” he told CNN’s Michael Holmes, in for Christiane Amanpour. “Their detention is according to the law with the order of the judges.”

Those close to Rezaian, who has been in detention since the end of July, say that there have been no public, specific charges filed against the journalist.

“The charges [have] been raised to them by the security officials as involving activities beyond the sphere of journalism,” Larijani said.

“Accusations – when it is considered as substantial and capable of being prosecuted by law, it becomes charges. So it was not pure accusations.”

The prosecutor considers them charges “that could be – could be – well-founded.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iran • Latest Episode

3,000 languages in danger of extinction

October 29th, 2014
02:12 PM ET

Imagine a world in which there were just a hand full of languages in the world. Michael Holmes has the story. Click above to watch.

Filed under:  Imagine a World • Latest Episode

New documentary explores perfect storm that allowed ISIS to grow

October 29th, 2014
01:18 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

A new documentary from producer and journalist Martin Smith gives insight into the series of failures and unheeded warning signs that allowed ISIS to grow into one of most brutal terrorist groups in the world.

The Rise of ISIS, by PBS’s FRONTLINE, draws on numerous interviews with both Iraqi politicians and U.S. decision makers. It points to Syria’s bloody civil war as the organization’s main breeding ground.

“Maliki's crackdown [on Sunnis] was a factor. But without Syria, I don't think ISIS would have become ISIS,” Smith told CNN’s Michael Holmes, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Tuesday.

Smith added that it was around 2011 that “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of then Al Qaeda in Iraq, the precursor to ISIS, sent a few men over into Syria and guerrilla movements need sanctuary and they need open spaces where they can exploit, grow.”

Some former Obama administration officials have criticized the President for not supporting moderate rebels earlier, so that extreme jihadi militants would not gain strength.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Latest Episode • Syria

Tunisian lawmaker calls for unity as Islamists admit defeat in key election

October 28th, 2014
05:51 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

The Vice Chair of Tunisia’s Constituent Assembly called for unity on Tuesday, a day after her leading Islamist party conceded defeat in the country’s parliamentary election.

“We are convinced that we shall work together. Tunisians, whether we belong to such-or-such party, whether we are from civil society or political parties. We are still calling for this, calling to work together to push Tunisia forward on the path of democracy,” Mehrezia Labidi told CNN's Michael Holmes, in for Christiane Amanpour.

Although she won her seat in the election, Labidi’s Ennahda party lost out to its mainly secular rival Niida Tounes after Tunisians cast their ballots on Sunday. She said the outcome was expected.

“After the election of 2011 – Ennahda, and not only Ennahda but many other political parties and especially al-Takattul and Congress, they led the government in this very sensitive period of transition with all problems of unemployment, of development, of also the challenge of terrorism. And in such periods, the power indeed… erodes the trust of people and the government,” she said.

Tunisia, whose revolution marked the beginning of the Arab Spring, is often hailed as the movement's only success story. The country has remained relatively stable since the uprising, which overthrew President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011. This was also the country’s first election under its new constitution.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Tunisia

Afghanistan's future must include the Taliban, says top former UK General

October 28th, 2014
12:08 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

Afghanistan’s political future needs to include the Taliban, a top former British General told CNN's Michael Holmes, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Monday.

“It's not for a soldier or even a retired soldier, I think, to get into what needs to be done politically. But if I can offer an opinion as Citizen Jackson rather than General Jackson, it would seem to me, in the long term, the politics of Afghanistan need to include those who call themselves the Taliban,” General Sir Mike Jackson, Former Chief of General Staff of the British Army, said.

Jackson’s comments come a day after Britain closed its last military base in Afghanistan, bringing an end to the 13-year-campaign that has claimed the lives of 445 British soldiers.

Assessing the possible future role of the Taliban is “beyond my experience,” the General added, but “it seems to me, only in that way will you encompass the big tent of Afghanistan as a whole and move on to that stable and secure Afghanistan, which we would all want for the Afghanis themselves and then in the wider world, in that very turbulent region. A stable Afghanistan, to me, is a must.”


Filed under:  Afghanistan • Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode

Nigerian government has failed to protect women from Boko Haram, says new report

October 27th, 2014
06:11 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

The Nigerian government has failed to protect its women from a disturbing range of abuses by Boko Haram, the author of a new Human Rights Watch report told CNN's Michael Holmes, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Monday.

From being forced into marriage and even to commit murder to rape in captivity, dozens of former hostages have described the extent of the abuse suffered at the hands of the Islamic militant group.

“What has happened now is that those girls, those students have failed to return to school because they are afraid of being re-abducted and so the failure to protect also fuels the violations of other rights, including the right to education and the rights to live in a secure environment,” Mausi Segun, Nigeria Researcher for Human Rights Watch, said.

The group’s largest single attack took place in April, when 270 schoolgirls were taken from Chibok in the northeastern state of Borno.

To illustrate the authorities’ seeming inaction, Mausi recounted one episode where the police did not request a potentially valuable testimony from a girl who managed to escape her kidnappers.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Nigeria

Ebola containment within reach, says Sierra Leone President

October 24th, 2014
11:54 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Despite a slow international response and a country struggling to emerge from war, Sierra Leone may soon be able to control the outbreak of Ebola, President Ernest Bai Koroma told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

“The response we had expected was not in on time, and that created a situation [in] which we had the virus way ahead of us. We are now trying to cope.”

“There has been an increase in international response. And I believe the structures we are now putting in place – very soon we will get to the point wherein we will be able to contain the virus.”

The World Health Organization estimates that there have been 3,706 Ebola cases in Sierra Leone and 1,259 deaths since the outbreak began.

Ebola “transmission remains intense in Sierra Leone,” WHO says, and has now documented cases in every district of the country.

The government has come under criticism for not treating patients in their homes, and only at large facilities.

“We don’t treat people at home as a matter of government policy. In fact, we do appeal to families to bring out sick people. And what we have a challenge on is limited bed capacities in our treatment centers.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Ebola • Latest Episode
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