Four journalists have been assassinated in Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s Ninewa Province, since early October 2013. A local journalist told Human Rights Watch that security forces have a list of 44 journalists that armed groups in the area have targeted for assassinations. At the same time, Iraqi prosecutors have stepped up criminal prosecutions of journalists for defamation and have increased other harassment of journalists.

After 20 years dominating the Italian politics the ex Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been expelled from the senate in a humiliating way over his conviction for tax fraud related to his Mediaset media empire. He has lost his immunity and could face charges in other cases and scandals that have reached the Italian courts.

Pope Francis published his first Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The joy of the Gospel). He Pope offers this document to the Church as a map and guide to her pastoral mission in the near future. It is an invitation to recover a prophetic and positive vision of reality without ignoring the current challenges, said the Vatican.

A working group led by the Afghan Justice Ministry that is assisting in drafting a new penal code has proposed provisions on “moral crimes” that call for stoning to death as punishment for adultery, Human Rights Watch said. The organisation is calling for the rejection of the proposal.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said that he would convene in Geneva on 22 January the long-sought international conference on Syria bringing together the Government and the opposition to a negotiating table for the first time since the conflict started in March 2011.

On Sunday 24th, solemnity of Christ King of the Universe, the Holy Father Francis presided the Mass in St. Peter’s Square on the occasion of the closing of the Year of Faith, inaugurated by Pope Benedict XVI on 11 October 2012, the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II. The relics of the apostle Peter were displayed alongside the altar contained in a bronze casket.