Fourth Pillar of Human Rights

Countries should be banned from bidding for the World Cup, Olympics and other major sporting events unless they prove they are stamping out human rights abuses, Amnesty International has proposed.

The proposals would require any country’s bid to host the Olympic Games and other sporting events to include a guarantee demonstrating their commitment to upholding human rights. Countries could be stripped of their right to host if they fail to keep to their promise.

Niall Couper, spokesman for Amnesty International UK, said yesterday that a letter was sent two weeks ago to Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympics Committee (IOC) asking implementation of the new charter through the creation of an IOC commission on human rights. He said Amnesty was “hopeful for a response”.

This comes in the light of various human rights breaches in countries holding the Games. In Brazil it is predicted that by the Rio 2016 Olympics about 100,000 residents will have been forcibly evicted from their homes without consultation, almost all without compensation, and moved to cramped flats controlled by gangs.

Mr Couper spoke of the potential to make a positive step for human rights. “It is an opportunity to create a legacy because of sport.” He pointed out an advantageous trend in countries with poor human rights records using high prestige sport events to “whitewash their images”.

He also mentioned that the proposed charter would detail policy on workers’ rights, racism, homophobia, and would make sure that stadiums are built with adequate consultation and compensation for those being evicted from their homes.

Amnesty and other NGOs, including Transparency International and Human Rights Watch, co-operated to write the letter to create pressure to effect the creation of a charter. The groups are also pushing for the EU to endorse the charter by participating in its drafting.

The IOC already calls for all host countries to uphold its three pillars of sports, culture and environment. Previously, in 1995, Greenpeace were successful in lobbying for the IOC to add the environment as a third pillar of Olympism.

Advertisements

The Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

They were fused at the skull, their brains a hair’s breadth apart, connected by a small collection of blood vessels. Will Rodgers was part of a team separating the six-month-old conjoined twins, Rital and Ritag Gaboura, at Great Ormond Street Hospital in 2011. His role was to make the shared area of scalp grow new skin, by inserting an inflatable expander, which is like a balloon, and periodically, over several weeks, injecting a saline solution into it. This gradually stretched the covering skin so it could be drawn across the wounds.

The twins were separated, creating two separate little girls. The chances of survival for twins joined at the skull are one in 10 million. It was amazing: one day they were lying head to head and the next they were lying side by side,said Rodgers.

Rodgers had been on the point of giving up medicine. Having completed his degree and two foundation years in regional hospitals, he was still unsure of his place in the medical picture. As a last-ditch attempt to resolve his dilemma, he responded to a call from a charity named Facing Africa. They were looking for doctors to go to Ethiopia to treat Noma, a gangrenous infection that ravages the face and mainly afflicts children.

There he discovered he had the qualities required for the high precision surgery involved in facial reconstruction. Was Rodgers scared, performing surgery for the first time? “No, I was excited. It felt great to be able to make a practical difference with my hands.”

The hands are a constant preoccupation. He avoids coffee because of the infinitesimal tremors it gives him.

It takes about 18 years of training to acquire the necessary skills to be an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, which treats mouth, face and jaws. This specialty is unique in requiring medical and dental degrees as well as an alphabet soup of other qualifications. For all this investment, Rodgers still rides a motorcycle to work every day. If I smashed up my hands Id be really pissed off.

He has a sleepy, laid back smile that belies the huge responsibility he holds at his fingertips. He is an expert at zoning in on the small details – each slice of the scalpel or stitch of needle. This is his secret to remaining undaunted by the vast complexity of the operations he performs. If you stopped and thought about exactly what youre doing, you would have a hard time carrying on.

For Rodgers, one distorted face is no more shocking to confront than another. He is in the privileged position to have learnt to see his cases objectively as physical facts; for many of his patients their alarming appearance can effectively remove their ability to participate in society. We are masters of reading faces. The human brain is unbelievable at understanding or at least thinking it can understand a huge amount about a person by the way that they look. We can tell the most subtle of changes. People can’t help but notice someone walking across the street who looks a bit weird and you can see how that would have a massive impact on you if you were that person.

Gaining the trust of patients and their families is important. “There is an art to it. You often can’t tell them exactly how they’re going to look, and if you could it still wouldn’t be quite how they imagined it. You try to encourage people to come to terms with the validity of their expectations.” He realised the importance of communication when he faced nearly insurmountable difficulties in Ethiopia, where there are over 77 spoken languages.

Rodgers points out that in those cases where too little of the facial structure remains, current techniques can do little to help. Oral and maxillofacial surgery is evolving. Each case is different and surgeons are constantly expanding the frontier of what is possible. Rodgers is working on improving procedures for a disease called hemifacial microsomia, in which the lower half of one side of the face is underdeveloped and grows abnormally, mostly affecting the jaw. He says: “At the moment there are treatments to make the jaw longer. We’re trying to design a procedure that will give a more normal shape. Instead of moving it in one plane, we will be able to move the jaw around in several planes. That’s the plan anyway.

It is when Rodgers contemplates the precision and drama of being in the operating theatre that his excitement is most palpable. “There’s a calmness that you never find elsewhere, because you cant let anything else in the world bother you. You have to be completely in the moment. Its relaxing somehow, because you know that all you need to do after that is the next step.

Qualifications: It takes about 18 years to fully qualify as an Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon at consultant level. The journey starts with a first degree in either medicine or dentistry, which takes five years. This is followed by two years in foundation training, and then a further degree in medicine or dentistry – whichever has not yet been done – which takes three to five years. Trainees must complete the MFDS (Member of the Faculty of Dental Surgery) and MRCS (Member of the Royal College of Surgeons) diplomas, one of which can be gained during the second undergraduate degree, and the other shortly following. Following this is specialty training, which takes three to four years. This can be followed by one to two years in practice to sub-specialise.

Hours: Up to 84 hours in a week if Im on night shifts, but then I might be off for a week.

Salary: £30,000 – £50,000 as a trainee. £75,000 – 101,000 as a consultant.

Best thing:The privilege of never being bored.

Worst thing:Jumping through hoops and box ticking to get the required training.

The British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons: http://www.baoms.org.uk/

“Veritable treasure chest” of stolen English electronics found on German autobahn

Two Romanians were caught with a “veritable treasure chest” of stolen laptops, iPads and other electronics traceable to Kent, England in the boot of their car in a routine patrol in Germany, a court heard today.

Marian Gheorge and his companion initially refused to open their boot when they were stopped on autobahn A3 in Bamberg, Bavaria on 16th December in 2012, after their vehicle piqued the interest of German police because of its Polish licence plates.

At Inner London Crown Court, Gheorge, 42, denied three charges of handling goods stolen in domestic burglaries in Kent during the latter part of 2012.

Gordon Carse, the prosecuting counsel, told the court that an earlier statement of Gheorge’s indicated that he “knew or at least believed they were stolen”.

In January of this year, three witnesses were able to identify several of the goods seized from Gheorge as the same ones taken from their homes in a spate of burglaries in Kent. Ahmed Okam returned from a family ice skating trip with his wife and son on 8th December 2012 to find a window in their house smashed, a brick lying on the floor and many valuables gone.

Gheorge initially said that he bought laptops for £30 and gold at £6 per gram on several occasions from two Romanians who he met in a park in London and identified only by first name, Mr Carse told the court.

In a later statement Gheorge said he bought from the pair only once, and the rest he bought on sites such as Ebay, though he did not have an account.

The trial continues.