Myanmar UN chief welcomes milestone signing of ceasefire agreement

“The United Nations recognizes that the consolidation of a nationwide cease-fire and the commencement of a comprehensive political dialogue will open the way to a new path of sustainable peace after decades of civil war that have cost numerous lives, uprooted hundreds of thousands from their homes and robbed successive generations of their dignity, tranquility and normalcy,” Mr. Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesperson after the signing in Nay Pyi Taw by the Government, the Myanmar defense forces and several ethnic armed groups.He went on to say that the “public commitment made by the Government to work for a federal union based on democracy and equality is a milestone” and that the negotiation process that resulted in this agreement has built greater confidence among all stakeholders. “It needs to be followed up and made more inclusive during the coming months,” he said.The signing today, said Mr. Ban, “marks an important step in advancing national reconciliation and consolidating the reform process in the country.”He congratulated President Thein Sein for his leadership and noted that “although some important groups have not yet decided to take this step, today’s signing reflects a recognition by leaders from the Government, as well as from the Ethnic Armed Organizations, of the people of Myanmar’s genuine aspiration to end long years of conflict and live together in peace.”The UN chief expressed his hope that the new government formed after the 8 November elections will continue to move forward along the present path of negotiations, building on these understandings. “The United Nations remains prepared to contribute to the next stage of the peace process in accordance with the unified expectations of all stakeholders,” he said.And he went on to urge all stakeholders, signatories and non-signatories, to work together for a peaceful future in a constructive and forward-looking spirit, saying “this will require cooperation, determination and a commitment to reinforce trust and overcome the grievances of the past.”He underscored that “only an inclusive and structured political dialogue as well as non-recourse to military action in all areas will help build the basis for sustainable peace on the ground.”And finally, the UN Secretary-General expressed his hope that next month’s elections will be conducted in “a credible and transparent manner and strengthen the foundations of a genuine multi-ethnic democracy in the country.” read more

Bailiffs to be legally required to wear bodyworn cameras amid fears they

Bailiffs will be required by law to wear body worn cameras amid fears they are intimidating and threatening householders.The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is also considering a new regulator to clean up the industry amid evidence that a third of people in debt visited by bailiffs have subjected to “harmful” behaviour including illegal threats to break into their homes.Justice Minister Paul Maynard said: “The use of intimidation and aggression by some bailiffs is utterly unacceptable, and it is right we do all we can to tackle such behaviour.“Whilst most bailiffs act above board, body-worn cameras will provide greater security for all involved – not least consumers who are often vulnerable.“We are looking carefully at other measures to improve the system and will not hesitate to take action where necessary.”More than 2.3m debts were referred to bailiffs in 2016/17, according to data obtained through Freedom of Information requests by the Money Advice Trust charity. Enforcement agents are allowed to charge £75 for sending a letter and £235 for a home visit, further inflating people’s debtsCitizens Advice estimated that 39 per cent, or 850,000, of the 2.2 million people contacted by bailiffs in the last two years had seen bailiffs break the rules.These included telling people they can break entry into their house when they did not have the right to do that, or threatening to take control of “exempt” goods. These are goods that belong to someone else or which people need for their trade.One of the most graphic cases cited by the MoJ is motorcycle courier Jerome Rogers, 19, who took his life after a £65 debt spiralled into a £1000 debt. A bailiff had been outside his house for two and a half hours on the day he committed suicide by hanging himself.Ministers say compulsory body worn video will provide victims of bullying tactics with evidence to support complaints and to demand action.It will also provide reputable bailiffs with evidence to contest false complaints by householders seeking to avoid repaying their debts.They are now widely used by the police, providing evidence to secure convictions or longer sentences when juries or judges are shown the scale of abuse or violence that officers have faced.Further measures including a 30-day “cooling off” period where vulnerable debtors interest is frozen and the debt will not be pursued. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more