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The top United Nations human rights official has called on authorities in Moldova to address the demands of protesters, warning that a failure to do so "could lead to greater polarization of society."

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein's comments on September 14 at the UN Human Rights Council come after more protests in the Moldovan capital to demand a probe into the estimated $1 billion that disappeared from three Moldovan banks.

Some 20,000 demonstrators in Chisinau on September 13 demanded the resignation of the president, the prosecutor-general, the national bank governor and others.

In a bid to defuse the crisis, Prime Minister Valeriu Strelet said on September 11 that his government’s priorities are reforming the justice system and fighting corruption.

The antigovernment protest started September 6 when tens of thousands rallied in a central square. A few hundred protesters remain camped out there.

The money disappeared from the state-owned Savings Bank, the Social Bank, and Unibank before Moldova's parliamentary elections last November.

The banks are now administered by the National Bank of Moldova. State reserves have covered the bank losses.

Based on reporting by Interfax and AP

The top United Nations human rights official has voiced concern at efforts by governments, including China and Russia, to silence critics.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein criticized China's detention and interrogation of more than 100 lawyers in recent months and the "stigmatization" of foreign-funded activist groups under a new Russian law.

In a speech opening the UN Human Rights Council on September 14, Zeid welcomed Iran's deal with major powers to curb its nuclear program, adding: "I urge Iran to make commensurate progress in human rights."

Zeid told the 47-member state forum in Geneva that Europe needed to build on a surge of sympathy for refugees by setting up comprehensive policies to expand migration channels.

He called for a halt to detention and "ill-treatment" of asylum seekers, especially children, who are fleeing war and persecution in countries including Syria.

Based on reporting by Reuters

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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