At the same time a group of African and Arab governments is proposing an international ban on ransom payments by governments – perhaps involving sanctions against countries who break it. That ban is especially crucial, they say, when confronting al-Qaeda in North Africa or the al-Shabab Islamic militants in Somalia, who are heavily dependent on kidnapping to finance their operations. The idea of a ransom ban was discussed late last month in closed-door meetings in Geneva on the sidelines of the U.N.’s Council for Human Rights session. Mattei said E.U. countries want to keep the issue of hostage taking out
of the U.N. human-rights council. “These things have always been dealt
with very discreetly,” he said.
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