Pan Am Games officially begin today

While competition has already been underway for several days, the 2015 Pan Am Games officially kick off tonight with an opening ceremony at Rogers Centre – called the “Pan Am Ceremonies Venue” for the duration of the games.Besides the lighting of the Pan Am cauldron, the night will feature a special performance by Cirque du Soleil.There was a bit of Pan Am connected panic last night as smoke was spotted spewing from the CN Tower’s observation deck just after 8 pm.Social media lit up with people wondering what was happening, but it turns out it was fireworks being set off from the tower as part of a dress rehearsal for tonight’s opening ceremony.Over the next two and a half weeks, athletes from 41 countries are participating in 36 Pan Am sports, with events scattered around the Golden Horseshoe from Oshawa to Welland, including the Pan Am Soccer Stadium in Hamilton.Canada last hosted the Pan Am Games in Winnipeg in 1999. Photo courtesy Twitter / @Ashton_Lawrence read more

UN rights expert concerned for wellbeing of nine young defectors from DPR

“The status and whereabouts of this group, many of them children, is currently not known,” said Marzuki Darusman, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in DPRK, “but I have very real concerns about the penalties and treatment they could face if returned to DPRK, and all the concerned authorities have an urgent responsibility to ensure their protection.” The nine orphans were reportedly arrested by the Laotian police while crossing the Laos-China border and sent back to China on 27 May, according to a news release issued by the UN human rights office. “I am extremely disappointed that the Laos Government appears to have abdicated its protection responsibilities in this way, and I urge the Chinese authorities not to do the same,” said Mr. Darusman. “No one should be refouled [sent back] to DPRK where they may face persecution or severe punishment, including torture and the death penalty,” the Special Rapporteur underscored. If the group has already been returned to DPRK, Mr. Darusman appealed to authorities in Pyongyang to show transparency and give the group access to an independent actor who could determine their status and well-being. In successive resolutions on DPRK, the UN General Assembly has expressed serious concern about the situation of refugees and asylum-seekers expelled or returned to DPRK and the sanctions imposed on those repatriated from abroad. Like all special rapporteurs appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, Mr. Darusman works in an independent and unpaid capacity. Currently, he also serves on the three-member commission of inquiry set up by the Council to investigate alleged human rights violations in DPRK. read more