Following a referendum, British-run Southern Cameroons joined the French-speaking Republic of Cameroon in 1961, while Northern Cameroons voted to join English-speaking Nigeria.
African Countries Meet To Nip Piracy In The Bud
June 15, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
Member countries of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) have met in Harare, Zimbabwe at a two day symposium on copyright and related rights on 12 to 14 June, 2018 to find common ground on combating piracy and shaping copyright and related rights systems on the continent.
The symposium was held under the theme: “Shaping the Copyright and Related Rights System in Africa.”
The Symposium discussed critical copyright issues affecting Africa and explored ways to address copyright in the digital environment for the benefit of the right holders, users, and other stakeholders.
It was attended by at least 65 delegates from 30 countries including experts on Intellectual Property from international organizations like the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) .
Also an Exhibition by the 19 ARIPO member states showcased what is happening in their countries on copyright and related rights.
Officially opening the symposium, Zimbabwe’s Deputy Attorney General, Mr Kumbirai Hodzi a similar symposium was held in 2017 under the same theme and the 2018 symposium sought to take stock on progress that had been made on copyright and related rights systems in Africa.
Mr Hodzi said that intellectual property played a very critical role in the protection and dissemination of knowledge and creative industries have assumed major economic significance that contribute significantly to economies.
He also added that the music industry had potential to contribute meaningfully to African economies buts its protection was lax and piracy was very rampant in most of the countries.
“Although some countries have laws prohibiting infringement, copyright infringement is the order of the day,” Hodzi said.
He cited the example of Zimbabwe, where recently one of the country’s musicians, Alick Macheso released a new album that was launched on 8 June, 2018.
Hodzi said that what was concerning was that before the launch of the album, copies of the musician’s music were already awash in the streets of Harare.
“People do not seem to think twice about sharing the music, yet to Alick Macheso, these are bread and butter issues and he needs to survive, pay his bills and his band together with its management,” Hodzi said.
Hodzi lamented how the same scenario has become the order of the day especially in Africa.
He urged African member states to measure progress on copyright and related rights issues and any change of attitudes following their meetings. He added that the issues of copyright and related rights in Africa need a concerted effort from everyone to include copyright offices, collective management organisations, academics, entrepreneurs and the victims themselves who include artists, among other players.
Hodzi urged member states of the ARIPO to study how developed countries had done it to be successful in protecting copyright and related rights.
“Computer software, multi-media products, music, books and other literary works have made the players rich, created employment and contributed meaningfully to the economies of those countries,” Hodzi said.
According to Hodzi, in 2011, a research was undertaken by Dick Kawooya and others and they published a book on Access to knowledge in Africa: The role of copyright. He said that the research revealed that in all the eight countries were the study was undertaken, all countries had copyright laws that meet and in many cases exceed the minimum international standards reflected in applicable international instruments and agreements.
He also added that findings also revealed that no country studied takes advantage of all, or even most of, the flexibilities that exist in relevant international agreements.
The study is also reported to have highlighted a disconnect between national copyright laws and on the ground practices in all the countries studied. It found that laws and policies governing copyright in most African countries are typically not grounded in the realities of African societies and are largely crafted without sufficient empirical evidence.
“Unfortunately, these findings might be true to this day. It is well known that the copyright environments in our countries is not conducive and currently it doesn’t maximise access and protection of knowledge. But l believe we are capable of changing our situations in order to improve both access and protection of our copyrights,” Hodzi said.
Refugees Faces Harassment, Bribes From World Vision Officials At Food Distribution Points
June 15, 2018 | 0 Comments
BY PAUL NIGHT
MOYO-The leaders of South Sudanese refugee at Morobi zone II in Palorinya Refugee settlement in Moyo district have implicated the officials of World Vision one of the implementing partners over bribes and harassments at food distribution Points.
The complaint was presented to His Excellency Joel Boukome, the UNHCR Country Representative in Uganda during his visit on Monday where he met with different stakeholders of Development partners, hosting communities and refugee leaders respectively.
In the same visit he also reached out the Verification Centre where he was received with warmly welcome from the refugees and proceed to meet the people of Obongi County
Mr Moses Mogga, the Secretary General Refugees Welfare Committee (RWC II) Morobi while presenting Memo to the UNHCR Country Representative said World vision Uganda has failed its mandates for handling refugees especially in the areas of food distribution much as they are good Non-governmental organization providing services in the settlements. We have also found some challenges that the officials are harassing and extorting our People at the distribution centres which is worrying and we fill badly for that. Some of them (World Vision Officials) we real got them with ration cards and sometimes they steal food items meant for refugees through coupons which we feel is not a good practice and we don’t encouraged to happen anymore”, Mr Mogga said
He said much as world vision is been contracted to conduct food distribution for the refugees it does not take actions to address some of the issues as expected by the refugee. “World food programme (WFP) is good at lobbying for food and we appreciate their efforts regarding that. But they are not doing enough in supervising the implementing agency (World Vision) so we filled they should be supervised and we should not promote selling of relief items in the market”, he said
Ms Ester Gune, one of the South Sudanese refugee and mother of four Children found said that they (Mothers) are worried because some officials of World Vision are found of selling them food coupons at the distribution points. “As you can imagine life in a Refugee settlement is not easy coupled with challenges faced from some of the Implementing partners more especially officials of World Vision. There was a time my ration card got lost and I was forced to pay some money which she didn’t revealed how much was it for replacement”, she said
She added: “Life for those who can’t afford to pay is bleak. Because I don’t have my ration card I stay at home so that I can be safe from harassment and disappointments over food and authorities like some of the staff of World Vision haven’t helped without the ability to be bribed”. Ms Gune said
Ms Tinah Mukunda, the Interim national director ,World Vision Uganda said the organization has been distributing Food to South Sudan Refugees since 2013 and right now they do food distribution in five settlements. “The allegations that have been put forward by refugee leaders have really not reached to World Vision. I would like to assure you that World Vision has controls in place and a zero tolerance policy to harassment and frauds including all other forms of staff misconduct”, Ms Mukunda said
She added: “That said now that these allegations have come through we shall swing into action and carry out thorough investigations and guided by zero tolerance policy. We will hold people accountable should the allegations be substantiated”, She said
Uganda is hosting the largest population of refugees ever recorded in its history but the product of continual influxes over past two years. During that period the West Nile region has experienced a mass influx of refugees as conflict that broke out in Juba, South Sudan’s Capital in mid-2016 spread across the greater Equatoria region.
Mr Hassan Kaps Fungaroo, the Obongi County legislator said that the visit of UNHCR Country representative to meet with Refugees and host communities is one of the good imitative. “This has given an opportunity as citizens (Hosting Communities) and the refugees to air out issues facing them. The refugees were being complaining and I also received many complaints from them and today they have spoken in front of Country representative (UNHCR) and OPM officials including some of the leaders of implementing partners”, Mr Fungaroo said.
He noted that the issues of some implementing partners (IPs) not handling things well need to be addressed. The issue of harassing people especially issues of food coupons at distribution points in the settlement. We also had cases of complains from refuges regarding materials given to refugees sometimes get lost and also issues of sexual harassment resulting to increase cases of pregnancy among the young girls under aged and some staff f implementing partners are implicated for that so this is a turning moment for the refugees and the communities. We need to address the issues affecting service delivery to the refugees and the host communities to address the issue of how we work. The framework for coordination to should ensure to be clearly because such thing were lacking in the past.
His Excellency Joel Boukome, the UNHCR Country Representative in Uganda addressing Refugee leaders during his visit on Monday encouraged the Refugee to use the complaint mechanisms put in place in the settlements like toll free line calls or the suggestion boxes initiated any NGOs for effective communication follow. “If such thing you have seen happening and whoever from implementing partners put it up for actions and we need to follow that one out but it should not be seen as ways of many accusations and there should be no tolerance about such matters of concerns”, Mr Boukome said
Kenya:Close To A Million Jobs Projected With Increase in National Budget
June 15, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
Kenya Government aims at creating 800, 000 jobs through creation of conducive environment to manufacturers, enhancing food security and provision of affordable houses according to 2018/2019 financial year budget.
While presenting the budget on Thursday, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said 2018/2019 budget is an opportunity to alleviate the challenges the country faces in creating job opportunities for the youth.
The total budget amounts to Ksh.3.07 trillion ($307 billion), 10.83% increase compared to last year’s budget which stood at Ksh. 2.77 trillion ($277billion).
According to Rotich the economy is expected to blossom by 0. 2% from 5.6% due conducive political environment, good climate and improved demands for exports.
High income earners are among the beneficiaries of the much anticipated budget by being spared from paying more taxes.
“I had proposed to introduce a higher tax band of 35% on income above ksh.750000 ($7500) per month, and an increase of the capital gains tax from 5-20%. However, during the public consultation on the bill, members of the public raised concern on the bill, and were of the view that the higher rates were not appropriate at the time,” said Rotich.
In a bid to make the local products more competitive in Eastern Africa and globally, import duty has increased from 25-35% on iron ore and steel, paper and paper products.
Mobile phone service providers have been slapped with an increase in excise duty from 10-12% on fees charged on money transfer.
”For the government to get a fair share of revenue from these financial activity and to finance critical government programmes I propose to introduce a Robin Hood tax of 0.05% of any amount of half a million or more transferred through banks or other financial institutions,” reiterated Rotich.
Ksh.115.9 billion ($1159 million) has been allocated for infrastructure, ksh.19 billion ($1900 million) less compared to 2017/2018 budget. Sh.74.7 billion ($7470 million) will be used towards construction of phase 2A of the Standard Gauge Railway, Sh.2.7 billion ($ 270 million has been allocated to the Mombasa Port development project while the remaining amount will be used for the expansion of Airports and Airstrips, roads, support the exploration of geothermal, wind and solar resources, exploration and distribution of oil and gas and electricity projects.
The National Police service has reaped Ksh.29.8 billion ($2980 million) to facilitate its services. Ksh.6.5billion ($650 million) is meant to cater for medical insurance for the police and prison’s officers, Ksh.1.5 billion($150 million) construction of police houses, Ksh. 8.9 billion ($890 million) to enhance security operation, Ksh.6.4 billion ($640 million) allocated to the Criminal Investigation Services and Ksh.5.1 billion ($510 million) to the office of Attorney General.
The government has set aside Ksh.59.4 billion ($5940 million) and Ksh.13.4 billion ($1340 million) to cater for both free primary and secondary education. University Education has received Ksh. 91.1 billion ($9110 million), Higher Education Loan Board got Ksh.9.6 billion ($960 million). Ksh.16 billion ($1600 million) will go to technical Institution and Ksh.5 billion ($500 million) will be used to hire teachers to curb the shortages in the public schools.
Tourism which is the backbone of the Kenyan economy has been allocated Ksh.1 billion ($100 million) for marketing and promotion of tourism activities, less ksh.1.7 billion ($170 million) in the previous budget.
Mining and geographical mapping are among the few sectors which got small allocation of funds at Ksh.509 million ($50900) and Ksh.500 ($50000) respectively.
Africa urged to repeal prohibitive age limit laws
June 13, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Andreas Thomas
Windhoek – The focus of African youth, with regard to their participation in the political arena is gaining momentum, with recent calls to abolish restrictive laws that are marginalizing young people from fully participating in democratic process.
Young people are vastly under-represented in political decision-making. Although 51% of the world’s population is under 30, young people fewer than 30 accounts for a mere 1.9 per cent of lawmakers worldwide. This is largely due to laws that do not allow young people – although they have the right to vote – to have the right to run for office, according to Inter-Parliamentary Union.
The situation is worse in Africa, where formal political institutions are dominated by elders. Most countries in the continent use archaic legislations that prohibit people under 30 to run for political offices including parliaments.
But the tide is turning in favour of young people. Delegates at the Africa Regional Conference on Financing of Electoral Processes held in Windhoek last week from 6-8 June, have called on countries to re-consider these prohibitive laws.
They said by lowering the minimum age of people to take up political office, will encourage the youth to fully engage in politics and decision making processes.
The conference that was held under the “Inclusive Democracy for Sustainable Development” was attended by representatives from electoral management bodies from 16 African countries.
“We heard from some countries where they have actually reduced the ages for allowing the youth to become members of parliament. And I think one of the question, which was raised here is how electoral management bodies make sure that youth are now more included in the electoral process. Because we see that the youth participation is not always at optimum level, although you find that on the lection registers, on voters roll, probably 40 percent and in some countries you find that 50 percent or even above are youth,” said the ECN Chairperson, Advocate Notemba Tjipueja said on the sideline of the conference.
Former Liberian president Ellen Jonson-Sirleaf also wants to see African countries adopting non-age discriminatory laws. Jonson-Sirleaf noted that some countries in Africa are heading the call, and considering age reduction legislation as most young people taking up leadership roles.
Nigeria has taken a big leap with regard to inclusive political participation, after President Muhammad Buhari signed the ‘Not Too Young To Run Bill into law on May 29, that was hailed in the West African country as a welcoming development.
The law that was passed by the Senate last year, reduces age requirement to run for presidency from 40 to 35, State Governor from 35 to 30, Senator from 35 to 30; House of representatives from 30 to 25 and State House of Assembly from 30 to 25.
While addressing the Namibian Parliamentary Women Caucus and the Standing Committee for Gender Equality, Social Development and Family Affairs in Windhoek on June 5, Johnson-Sirleaf has cautioned African leadership against neglecting its young.
More than 60% of Africa’s population is under 35, and this segment, Johnson-Sirleaf warned that is running out of patience. She said young people are demanding to be part of decision-making process and to benefit from the continent’s immeasurable mineral resources.
“Our continent is young. On average, 60 per cent of our population is 35 years and under, with school leaving increasing the numbers of those that are ready for jobs and job opportunities that are not expanding fast enough to be able to absorb them. That is an issue that is facing different degrees in most of our countries,” the Nobel Peace laureate has cautioned.
“How are they going to be patient enough as we prepare them for leadership and how will some of them respond because they don’t have that patience and want to see themselves progress as they believe the nation should provide them the opportunity?”
Johnson-Sirleaf challenged parliaments to devise strategies that provide solutions issues affecting the youth in Africa.
Johnson-Sirleaf has also encouraged African youth to pull up their sleeves and try improve their conditions.
“The youth must also have responsibility to be on par of the positive changes in societies. To pursue the best education they can, to become excellence in what they do, whether in school, the work they do, to be able to aspire toward what they want to be and to work hard for it,” she advised.
USA Gears Towards Free HIV Generation By 2030 As Pepfar Rolls Out Free Hiv And Aids Programs.
June 13, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Nevson Mpofu
PEPFAR-President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief an American HIV and AIDS humanitarian Organization is currently reaching out in all provinces of the country carrying out free HIV Testing. The Community HIV Testing program is reaching out even those deep marginalized communities to address the issue of HIV and AIDS with the inclusive spirit of rolling out free Health services, knowledge and capacity building to the communities. Apart from its Zimbabwe commitment, this support is being extended to other countries in which PEPFAR is working in .
In an exclusive interview with the Co-coordinator of the on running nation-wide program Adesanyu Fanmi recently in the city Centre in Harare at a testing and counseling site along First street , said the program is unique in the sense that those diagnosed HIV positive are put on Anti-Retroviral treatment with a kick-start of free ARV supply at the site where information is supplied as well .
‘’This program is meant for all communities without favor, discrimination and marginalization at all. It is unique in that HIV services are supplied at the site of HIV testing and counseling by experts in the field .Those diagnosed positive to HIV are immediately put on FREE ART without delay.
‘’We are as an organization getting to 95-95-95 targets, that is ensuring that at least 95% of people living with HIV know their HIV status , 95% of those who know their status are adherent to ant-retroviral treatment [ART] and 95% on ART are virally suppressed and no-longer spread HIV .
‘’ In other words our initiatives include building and improving on laboratories across the country , HIV and AIDS counseling services of which we have reached 2,3 million with HIV testing and counseling services . Also we offer circumcisions and by 2018, we are targeting 306 000 males .
The community HIV testing is currently around the country with in mind the need to encourage people to get tested; put on ART and to suppress the virus so as to move towards total elimination of HIV which if left not well managed progresses to AIDS. PEPFAR supports procurement of ARVs to ensure treatment for ALL. The other initiative is the DREAMS PROJECT –DETERMINED, RESILIENT, be EMPOWERED and, AIDS FREE, MENTORIED AND SAFE which is in 6 districts in the country and intends to reduce new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women.
In its endeavor to eradicate the spread of the epidemic which is global , PEPFAR is working with some organizations in Zimbabwe like OPHID , ZACH , NEW START CENTRE , UN AGENCIES like UNITAID , WHO and the Ministry of Health and Child Care ‘s AIDS and TB Department . Some of its partner organizations in Zimbabwe are its sister organization USAI, Centre for Disease Control, AFRICAID and Population Services Zimbabwe.
Adesanyu further stated that these organizations are all in all complimenting the work done by PEPFAR by show casing their good works through multi-co-ordinated systems and by getting into the communities around the country.
‘We are working with a number of organizations some of which like PSI are co-coordinating HIV and AIDS programs around the country.
‘’We have the goal in mind to end HIV by 2030. Like now people no longer talk much about AIDS because of the effort being put on ground by several Non –Governmental Organizations working to end HIV by 2030.
‘’There is much effort needed to end the epidemic by 2030. We are saying , a free HIV generation by 2030 through the implementation of vital programs , policies and working on impact sensitive programs like the one we have launched in the country ‘’, she said .
The globe at a glance is tight clipped to work towards total elimination of a deadly pandemic which has claimed more than 30 million lives , more than 40 million are HIV positive in the world and Africa is more affected since it is the continent highly impacted by HIV especially HIV 1 in Southern Africa . For more than 30 years, American people have provided over 3 billion in assistance to Zimbabwe.
HIV 1 which belongs to a group of viruses called retroviruses is more virulent and it affects worse in many developing countries of the world like in Sub-Saharan -Africa , parts of Asia , the Caribbean , parts of Europe and America .
Commenting on the same issue DR Mushavi from the Ministry of Health and Child Care said the world is moving towards the 95 – 95 -95 targets in order to see a free HIV generation .
‘’We need to move further to reach these targets still with the message of getting tested , be on ARVS and suppress the HIV epidemic around the world . But let’s fight the battle in our own country, moving ahead with the times in Technology and Medical Research so that we can devour the 5% remaining and be 100% . By doing so , we are to grapple with the challenge’’, she said
The battle is long and tiresome. We are talking of Global Crisis, this is a result of this epidemic which is pulling us down, but it is a battle which we can end if we take a strong focus on 95-95-95 targets in Pediatric HIV. EGPAF has gone long in the protracted battle in the country but DR Mahobva states that the battle is still long before we reach it.
‘’We need not to boast above our heads like champions in this battle. We are still going on in the great fight against HIV and AIDS but let us focus more on ending pediatric HIV , ending it in our children , they need our support , they look towards us because we are the ones responsible for their plight .We there need to promulgate prevention of Mother to Child transmission [PMTCT] programs in Zimbabwe .
‘’Let us talk of co-infections in our children by creating their space for a free HIV generation even before 2030. Let us integrate HIV and AIDS programs at grassroots, fight those opportunistic infections co-infecting our children. Let us suppress the virus as targeted by all organizations in this fight’’ ,she posed .
This Research Journalist has in mind the opinion that if all older generations are deceased and only the current young generations are left free of the virus and they have the notion to abstain from unsafe sex, be faithful and resort to condom use , then we have a free HIV generation in the future .
Judith Mukaro who works for an HIV and AIDS organization ,Women and AIDS Network based in Harare sees HIV and AIDS centered more on women and children who fail to resource themselves as they are more poverty stricken and impinged by African values pinned by male domination .Apart from , she dwells on Law issues .
‘’Women and children empowerment stands vital if we are to succeed, but as a country we are pushed backwards by economic hardships. Apart from all we know, we need to address Gender equality and equity supporting Laws like the Domestic Violence Act , Willful HIV transmission , crafting sundry policies at national level to address culture , tradition , ethnicity , stigma and its malice related to HIV .
‘’Let us fight economic hardships if we are to succeed in the battle. We do not have resources as a country to empower women especially those HIV positive, it means then, it’s a long struggle but there is relief with PEPFAR and more of these organizations giving the country support’’, she gave a closing remark ..
The Community HIV testing program is a success so far in all communities since a number of people now resists opportunistic infections like Tuberculosis which exacerbates the spread. Communities are now opening up in HIV tests, giving testimonies on their HIV status , getting re-tested , putting themselves on ART , suppressing virus and fighting stigma and discrimination .
Human Rights In English Speaking Regions:Amnesty Drops The Hammer on Cameroon
June 13, 2018 | 0 Comments
– Report And Recommendations Were Discussed With Senior Officials At The Presidency – Ilaria Allegrozzi Lake Chad Researcher
By Ajong Mbapndah L
While there may be no official reaction yet from the government of Cameroon on the recent Amnesty International report, Ilaria Allegrozzi, Lake Chad Researcher says the human rights group had very open and productive discussions on the findings with Senior Officials at the Presidency last week.
“We hope that our message and recommendations will be taken on board,” says Allegrozzi whose research shows that people have been caught between two fires, victims of gross abuses by the army and acts of violence committed by armed separatists.
In an exclusive interview with Pan African Visions, Ilaria Allegrozzi says the report was based on interviews with over 150 victims and eye witnesses of the flagrant human right violations such as unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests, torture and destruction of private property.
Rather than resolving the crisis, the heavy handed response by the authorities have only empowered radical violent movements and created a climate of fear, according to the report from Amnesty International. While the report has ample documentation of gross excesses from the military with the burning of whole villages, killings, arbitrary arrest and torture of people in the course of military operations in the Anglophone regions, there are instances where armed separatists are faulted for attacks on security forces, state emblems schools and ordinary people.
“We did not ask the question about conditions for peace but noted that the majority of them said that they won’t return unless there’s an independent state of Ambazonia ,” Allegrozzi said in response to what it will take for normalcy to return. Amnesty will continue to closely monitor developments and do follow up with Cameroon and international partners on its recommendations, Allegrozzi said.
Thanks for accepting to discuss the recent Amnesty Report on Cameroon (A Turn for the worse), can you start with the numbers, those killed, number of refugees and other vital statistics that you found in your research?
We did not compile any statistics registering the no of people (general population) killed; we have compiled stats registering the no of security forces (policemen, gendarmes, soldiers) killed by armed separatists since Sept 2017 to day and it is 44. 44 might well be an underestimation and we believe the number is higher. We also came up with stats registering the number of schools attacked by armed separatists. It’s 42 of which 36 burnt, the remaining either partially or totally destroyed. For this figure too, we think we might have underestimated the number of attacks. However, we only wanted to go public with the figures we were sure about 100 per 100. In terms of refugees (Anglophone Cameroonian requesting asylum in Nigeria): the official figures put out by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) at May 2018 are of 20.400 (note this figure includes only those officially registered by UNHCR; in addition we believe there are at least some other 10.000 scattered around Nigeria in various isolated areas). Most of the refugees settled in cross river state, Nigeria; but some also are found in Benue state, the capital Abuja, Lagos and elsewhere. Note that those who fled (mostly last year and especially after Sept-Oct 2017 and after Dec. 2017) and are settled in cross river state are mostly from the SW region, from villages and cities very near to the border. There are also other people in the North and South West Regions who fled, but internally, within Cameroon. The no of IDPs (internally displaced people) in the North and South West regions is estimated at 160.000 (possibly underestimation). 160.000 is a figure put out by UN humanitarian agencies in Cameroon.
Often times , the government and its supports cast doubts on the work and reports of Amnesty International, how was this research done and what measures did you take to ensure the findings were indisputable on facts and accuracy?
We always stand by our findings. Our methodology is thorough and evidence solid. We have interviewed over 150 victims and eye-witnesses to Human Right violations by the security forces and acts of violence by the armed separatists, as well as families of victims, and a wide range of key informants from different sectors (lawyers, journalists, religious and traditional leaders, academics, human rights defenders, members of civil society, political leaders and activists within the separatist movement and groups, national and international human rights and security experts, and staff of the United Nations, INGOs). In addition we have collected, analyzed and verified material evidence, including videos, photographs, med records, court docs and sat imagery.
What are some of the reactions you have received since the report was published, while it heavily indicts the government and its military for its excesses, it equally says armed separatist groups carried out violent attacks on the security forces, your take on reactions.
We are still waiting for the official reaction of the government. We were able to visit Cameroon last week and met with the Director of the Civil Cabinet at the presidency. We shared the findings of the report. The discussion was open and productive. We hope that our messages and recommendations will be taken on board.
When doing your research and producing the report, does Amnesty International take into account the notion of self defence? When you have villages razed down as described by you, people arrested and tortured, how do you expect them to react?
Our research looks at the human rights impact of the crisis. We focused on the violence and human rights violations against the general population. Our research shows that the people have been caught between two fires, victims of the abuses by the army and the acts of violence committed by the armed separatists.
We see instances where you mentioned schools been burnt down by separatist groups, did you not find it curious that even some of the schools heavily guarded by the army were still destroyed? In this case how do you attribute the destruction to separatist groups as you describe them?
The cases we documented have been carefully verified. We have no doubt that all the cases we documented of attacks on schools were carried out by armed separatists. Sometimes it was difficult to attribute responsibility of attacks to specific separatists groups, some individuals acting in support of the general cause (armed struggle + secession) but failing to specifically mention which group they belong to. In our new briefing, we used the phrase “self-proclaimed armed separatists” to describe a spectrum of groups embracing an armed struggle for secession from Cameroon in order to create an independent state of “Ambazonia”. One of the most prominent groups, as you know, is the Ambazonia Defense Forces (ADF), which emerged in early 2017. But there are numerous other groups which also claim to be in active armed struggle in different locations across the North and South West regions, which appear heterogeneous and splintered in nature, often acting at local levels, in the absence of a coordinated, unified structure and political leadership. We have documented violence perpetrated by individuals or groups of individuals, who acted on their own initiative, but having expressed support to or known by their communities as acting in sympathy with a self-proclaimed armed group or the armed struggle for secession.
Under what conditions are refugees both in Nigeria and those spread across the country living?
The humanitarian situation of refugees is of concern but not catastrophic (compared to other humanitarian emergencies). Lots of solidarity from Nigerian families offering shelter, food, water. The question is how long is this sustainable for? Durable solutions need to be found to ensure refugees’ needs are addressed and conditions for their return are met.
For the refugees in Nigeria, what international protections or protocols cover them, was the Nigerian government right in arresting and deporting Ayuk Tabe and others from Southern Cameroons who sought refuge there?
We have called on the government of Nigeria to respect its international obligations with respect to the rights of refugees, as per the 1951 UN refugee convention which Nigeria has duly ratified. We have condemned the extradition of Ayuk Tabe and the other 46 Anglophones. We are calling on the government of Cameroon to reveal their whereabouts, provide them access to lawyers/families/doctors, and stop their illegal-arbitrary-incommunicado detention. As you know the risk of torture is very high when people are detained in secret. We have widely documented the systematic use of torture by Cameroonian security forces and intelligent services in illegal detention facilities, including military bases.(see report Secret torture chamber released last year in July).
A number of people from the North West and South West Regions have been handed lengthy jail sentences, what do you make of the way the judicial process in Cameroon is working in this time of crisis?
We have condemned the arbitrary arrest and detention of hundreds of people arrested since the beginning of last year in the context of peaceful demonstrations, security operations, etc. We have called on authorities to make sure arrests and detentions are conducted in compliance with international human rights and domestic law, and ensure all security forces are trained on and understand these norms. We also asked them to ensure that there are sufficient, recognizable and precise grounds for arrest and that evidence is appropriately gathered. A suspect must only be arrested if there is a reasonable suspicion that he or she may have committed a crime. If there are insufficient grounds for arrest, the person must be immediately released. Also we have recommended authorities to ensure that detainees are promptly brought before an independent civilian court that upholds international fair-trial standards, are informed of the charges against them, and have knowledge of and access to legal procedures allowing them to challenge the legality of their detention. As we have largely documented in the context of the fight against Boko Haram (we have observed dozens of trial proceedings at the military courts, including the trial of Mr Felix Agbor Balla, Mr Fontem and other Anglophones), we believe that there are several challenges for the Cameroonian justice system.
LACK OF INDEPENDENCE OF MILITARY COURTS – Military trials in Cameroon are heard by three people: the tribunal president, who is a military or civilian judge, and two military officers. While the tribunal president is trained in the law, the two military officers lack legal training. The lack of independence and impartiality of military courts raises serious due process concerns. Because such courts belong to the executive rather than the judicial branch of government, and are generally staffed by military officers subservient to the executive, they typically have an institutional tendency to defer to the executive’s dictates. Recognizing military courts’ inherent bias, the Principles on Fair Trial in Africa state that they “should not in any circumstances whatsoever have jurisdiction over civilians.” In addition, human rights mechanisms such as the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention have stated categorically that military courts should not be authorized to impose the death penalty.183 Amnesty International considers that the jurisdiction of military courts should be limited to trials of military personnel for breaches of military discipline.
THIN AND UNRELIABLE EVIDENCE Perhaps the most serious failing in many of the proceedings we observed is the lack of solid evidence implicating the defendants. For the cases involving Boko Haram suspects, for ex, the evidence presented by the prosecution is in the form of written affidavits included in the case file, frequently from unnamed—and thus, to the defence, unknown—sources. The prosecution often relies heavily on circumstantial evidence that might plausibly raise a suspicion of criminal activity, but which should not be sufficient to support a conviction.
How do you sum up the mindsets of the 150 victims and eye witnesses that you spoke to when it comes to lasting solutions to the crisis? At least to the majority of people you spoke to what are the prerequisites for peace?
We did not ask the question about conditions for peace. We noted that the majority of them said that they won’t return unless there’s an independent state of Ambazonia (!)
Drawing from lessons from other parts of Africa and the world, why do you think the international has remained largely indifferent to the crisis in Cameroon, how bad does it have to get before more is done on their part to help in finding solutions?
We do not believe the international community has remained indifferent. On the contrary, it did mobilized and was at times vocal. This is definitely thanks also to the powerful diaspora, how it played out its messages and sometimes its propaganda. We think that there was definitely less attention about the Boko haram conflict, despite the scale, amount, gravity of HR violations committed by the security forces in the fight against Boko haram was way bigger than what we have seen in the N and S west.
What were some of the challenges involved in the production of the reports, how risky was it for those providing you information or associates of yours in the country who participated in compiling the report?
Access to the South and North West was limited / restricted and we had to find alternative/creative ways to collect and verify info, using for example satellite imagery to assess the scale of destruction of certain villages, as we were not able to go physically there
What next for Amnesty International in Cameroon after this report?
We’ll continue to monitor the situation on the ground, collect info about human rights violations and violence. We will follow up on the recommendations outlined in the report with both the Cameroonian authorities and the international partners of Cameroon, through advocacy, campaigning and lobbying.
DRC President Joseph Kabila will not seek third term: PM
June 13, 2018 | 0 Comments
Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala rules out new election bid by long-time president in December’s postponed poll.
Kabila, whose second term officially ended in 2016, is constitutionally ineligible for December’s poll, although his rivals accuse him of wanting to stay in power.
So far, he has not clearly stated whether he will step aside, despite appeals from the international community to publicly say he will not run for re-election.
But DRC Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala said on Tuesday that Kabila will respect the constitution.
“The elections are going to take place without the participation of President Kabila, who will abide by the spirit and the letter of the constitution,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of the International Economic Forum of the Americas conference in Montreal, Canada.
The country has seen widespread anger over what some see as Kabila’s refusal to relinquish power after the end of his second full term in December 2016.
Kabila came to power in 2001 after the assassination of his father, Laurent-Desire Kabila, the country’s third president.
He was elected in 2006 in the DRC’s first democratic election since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.
Kabila secured a second term in 2011, though that election was plagued by allegations of widespread voter fraud.
Currently, a DRC president can only serve two consecutive five-year terms.
According to the DRC’s Independent National Electoral Commission, the elections – which have been postponed twice – will take place on December 23, 2018.
Last week, exiled opposition leader Moise Katumbi addressed thousands of supporters in the capital, Kinshasa, via video link and called for a united front against Kabila.
Cameroon military and separatists fuel ‘cycle of violence’, says Amnesty
June 13, 2018 | 0 Comments
Escalating violence in Cameroon has led to armed separatists and security forces attacking and torturing people in the country’s Anglophone regions, according to a new report by Amnesty International.
“They tied our hands behind our backs, gagged us and tied our faces with our towels and shorts, which they tore. They, then made us lie in the water, face down for about 45 minutes,” a man, one of 23 people detained in the South-West region’s town of Dadi, told Amnesty of the alleged torture he experienced at the hands of military.
“During three days, they beat us with shovels, hammers, planks, and cables, kicked us with their boots and poured hot water on us… when I tried to move and shouted, one of them used the cigarette he was smoking to burn me.”
A teacher from a government school in the North-West region – one of the two mainly English-speaking areas where activists are demanding independence – told Amnesty how armed separatists raided the school and shot him in the leg.
“The assailant […] told me that I was still coming to school in defiance of calls for a schools boycott. He then asked me to raise my hands, but before I could do so, he shot me. I fell to the ground,” the teacher said.
These are some of the 150 accounts, from victims and eye-witnesses, documented by Amnesty about conflict in the Central African nation.
The mainly English-speaking the North-West and South West have been gripped by unrest since activists stepped up their campaign for independence in 2016.
They claim the country’s French-speaking majority is marginalising the English-speaking minority.
Amnesty alleges the ensuing government crackdown and unrest has gradually turned into an armed conflict, leaving the general population at the whim of two opposing forces.
“People in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions are in the grip of a deadly cycle of violence,” Samira Daoud, Amnesty’s deputy director for the region, said in a statement.
“Their [government] heavy-handed response will do nothing to calm the violence – in fact it is likely to further alienate Anglophone communities and fuel further unrest,” she said.
“Security forces have indiscriminately killed, arrested and tortured people during military operations which have also displaced thousands of civilians,” Ms Daoud added.
The report alleges the military destroyed villages. It also claims detainees were blindfolded and severely beaten with wires, sticks, guns and wires, “as well as being electrocuted and burnt with hot water”, the report says.
Didier Badjeck, an army spokesman, dismissed Amnesty’s claims of torture and violence as “rumours”.
Armed separatists are also accused by Amnesty of killing 44 security force members and attacking dozens of schools between February 2017 and May 2018 in a bid to “strike fear amongst the population”.
Teachers and students are being targeted for not participating in the boycott of schools seen by many as a symbol of how the English language has been marginalised by the authorities, Amnesty says.
Separatists have gone “as far as burning down schools and targeting teachers who did not enforce the boycott,” Ms Daoud said.
Amnesty also documented five attacks on traditional chiefs, accused of sympathising with the government.
The rights’ group says authorities have to protect the general population by ensuring “accountability for crimes committed by the security forces as well as by the armed separatists”.
“They must immediately end the use of unlawful, unnecessary and excessive force and ensure that people are protected,” the report said.
Cameroon’s President Paul Biya has condemned “all acts of violence, regardless of their sources and their perpetrators,” in a 2017 Facebook post.
Cameroon was colonised by Germany and then split into British and French areas after World War One.
International court orders release of ex-Congo VP Bemba
June 13, 2018 | 0 Comments
International Criminal Court judges on Tuesday ordered the interim release of former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba, days after he was acquitted on appeal of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Bemba was acquitted Friday and his 18-year sentence was overturned, but he remained in custody because he is awaiting a final sentencing in another case in which he was convicted of interfering with witnesses.
Noting that Bemba already has served more than 80 percent of the maximum five-year sentence he faces in the witness tampering case, judges ruled that it was “disproportionate to further detain Mr. Bemba merely to ensure his appearance for sentencing,” the court said in a statement.
It was not clear exactly when he would be freed from the court’s detention unit.
The decision came after Bemba’s lawyer urged judges to release him while he awaits a final ruling on the sentence.
Bemba was originally sentenced to one year for the witness tampering conviction. That conviction was upheld on appeal and judges were ordered to impose a new sentence. As the original indictment was in November 2013, Bemba could still face a few months’ prison time with the maximum sentence.
“We respectfully submit that there is no legal or objective justification to separate Mr. Bemba from his family for one day further,” lawyer Melinda Taylor told judges. “We therefore request that he be immediately released to Belgium.”
Prosecutors, however, warned that there was still a risk that Bemba could abscond if released and urged judges to keep him detained until a hearing on his final sentence, which has been set for July 4. Prosecutors want Bemba sentenced to the maximum five years.
Bemba was found guilty in 2016 as a military commander of two counts of crimes against humanity and three counts of war crimes for a campaign of murder, rape and pillaging by his troops, known as the Movement for the Liberation of Congo, in the Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003.
But in a 3-2 majority ruling, appeals judges said Friday that the trial chamber “erred in its evaluation of Mr. Bemba’s motivation and the measures that he could have taken in light of the limitations he faced in investigating and prosecuting crimes as a remote commander sending troops to a foreign country.”
His defense lawyer in that case, Peter Haynes, said earlier he would consider it “very unusual” if judges did not free Bemba.
“I think the message has to be this case is over now; it’s time for everybody to let it go,” Haynes said.
Alarming Levels Of Child Labour Exposes Zimbabwe’s Abuse Of Human Rights.
June 12, 2018 | 0 Comments
-as the country’s laws on child labor are not adhered to, still more abuses are imminent
By Nevson Mpofu
On the eve of the International Day of Child Labor around the World, that is June 12, Human Rights organizations are relentlessly light glittered to address the plight of children down-trodden by this child slavery act now at higher prevalence rates.
Human Rights Watch recently launched a report on the escalating act of cruelty currently undermining children on tobacco farms in the country. Apart from this taking place on the farms in Zimbabwe, some forms of abuses are sprouting out of it.
CHILD LABOUR that is the ‘’slavery, ‘’ employment of children with or without any little they get after, continues to bedevil the country as the economy continues to get deeper into oblivion. The act of inhuman practice is increasing at alarming levels on the farms especially in region I and 2 where there is much tobacco farming activity.
These parts of the country are Mashonaland east, west and central where farms rely on tobacco growing. Although this tobacco is making the country earn more income-per capita, retaining foreign currents for economic growth, this is causing some vulnerable children especially from child-headed families and female headed underpowered families to drop out of school and try to fend for themselves to cushion hard times.
Human Rights based organization; HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH is seriously focusing on the rights and welfare of children on farms which have deteriorated heavily such that Human Rights are no longer tolerated as enshrined by the United Nations Universal Declaration for Human Rights of 1948.
Also the Convention on the Rights of the child is heavily down trodden, this leading to depreciation of human rights in the country. Still to call a spade a spade, politics is eroding rights of these children. Most of them are taken advantage of during this time of the year. This is against the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966 of the United Nations .
A Human Rights Researcher par-excellence, Margaret Wuth said the position of the country as far as human rights on tobacco farms are concerned is heavily compromised because massive human rights abuses are so rife on farms and even at house hold levels.
‘’Human Rights Watch is severely concerned with these kind of abuses whereby children below 15 are working on tobacco farms tirelessly and relentlessly to fend for their own lives at a time the crumbling of the economy is continuing to deepen at the expense of these children .
‘’They have no choice but to succumb to hard work which has left them more vulnerable to some other forms of abuse. Still , they are from vulnerability moving towards tough vulnerable life on the farms where they are exposed to tobacco nicotine , chemicals and pungent smell as they plant , weed , cultivate , harvest , grade and pack it for marketing .
‘’They do the donkey work but the day is sad for them because they get little out of the total work , earning farmers big cash by the end of the day .
Asked whether there were other forms of abuses on the farms, she stressed that, for certain, some forms were recorded by other organizations, but still they came across other forms, physical and economic in nature of which they recorded though their visit was to focus on child labor.
‘’Other forms of abuse , yes , we heard of sexual abuse of young girls below the age of 15 years , and this is so painful because some are getting married before they finish school .
‘’It is so terrible, what is happening is inhuman. The age of consent law is not working and secondly, the Child Marriage Law is still to be dealt with. Once children are left open vulnerable to other forms of abuse, child labor follows .There is need of reviewing policies and even repeal some laws which are not conducive to children’s tranquility.
In-fact, the Laws of the country must be adhered to , but however because of these hardships we are aware of , the country is in challenges , hence why children are exposed to hard labor .
I am calling civil society to engage some stakeholders to intervene in these issues , work out on policies and push the Government of Zimbabwe to end this practice quickly ,’’ she said .
Giving his sentiments, Dewa Mavhinga Human Rights Watch Director urged the Government to look seriously into these issues without delay so that such problems could be solved quickly. However he cited that this was taking long because the Government is getting direct foreign currents from tobacco growing activities making the income per-capita growth increase annually.
‘’Sometimes our efforts are strained as we push further on such cases. The Government is getting foreign currency from tobacco growing. Secondly they seem to take time responding to our call for ending child labor on the farms,
‘’We have a long way to go because we are not heard by anyone in the Government. They pretend to listen and take action, but still there is no action on the ground.
‘ ’This is not only taking place on the large to small scale farms, at house hold levels , this is also rife . Community leaders are those involved as well. Some of them complain of having no labor force because many young people are now based in most urban areas’’, said Dhewa.
A Human Rights Activist who works for a civil society in children’s rights Ruth Mamombe refused to be make open her organization. She however shaded light on the issue and commented that the Government , even if put pressure to solve this would take more time lying its back on top of papers and voices calling for the end of these human rights abuses .
‘’We can talk and talk and see nothing taking place. The challenge is big and we see it, look at it and do nothing to solve it through amicable solutions.
‘’The Government does not listen and take heed. They are just slow because they have no solutions.
We draft papers , take them forward , comes back to them after some time , they tell us , the responsible person has not taken decision and at most the Minister has been changed , thus when time is taken more at most taking some months to see the new minister .
‘’If lucky enough to see him, you are told they are still to work out on new strategies to contain this. The following response then takes more months without any success. There is much Bureaucracy in the whole set-up’’, she concluded.
However HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH is yet taking more qualitative research on ground to look more into issues pertaining sexual abuse, physical, economic, neglect and other forms which are still rife on the farms.
Nigeria World Cup 2018 Team Guide
June 12, 2018 | 0 Comments
It’s the sixth time Nigeria is competing in the tournament, which makes the Super Eagles a regular World Cup player, only missing out on one tournament since 1994.
While drawing a tough qualifying group, the Super Eagles captain John Obi Mikel (30) and midfielder Victor Moses (26) helped the team with wins over Zambia, Cameroon and Algeria but due to poor display in previous years, Nigeria – which is ranked number 50 on the list of international teams – was placed in a weaker pot at the draw held in Russia, and ended up in a group with Croatia, Island and Argentina.
Since Gernot Rohr took charge of the Super Eagles in 2016, the team have progressively grown in team spirit and discipline. The unity fostered in the squad has seen Nigeria adopt a strong mentality that allows them to flourish against the odds. This young team bear the imprint of their manager, who has designed a resilient counterattacking side capable of surprises at the World Cup.
Let’s take a look at Nigeria’s World Cup squad and the other things it will be handy to know.
Nigeria’s World Cup squad – the 23 names
Goalkeepers: Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba), Francis Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna), Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United).
Defenders: Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor), Tyronne Ebuehi (Den Haag), Elderson Echiejile (Brugge), Bryan Idowu (Amkar Perm), Chidozie Awaziem (Nantes), William Ekong (Bursaspor), Leon Balogun (Brighton), Kenneth Omeruo (Kasimpasa).
Midfielders: John Obi Mikel (Tianjin TEDA), Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester), Oghenekaro Etebo (Las Palmas), John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva), Joel Obi (Torino).
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Leicester), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester), Victor Moses (Chelsea), Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Simeon Nwankwo (Crotone)
If you’re still looking to witness the action live in Russia, you can buy cheap flights from Travelstart your one-stop online travel shop. Although Rohr has tried different formations – including a 3-5-2 used in November’s 4-2 triumph over Argentina – it is clear that he will opt for his trusted 4-2-3-1, based on defensive flexibility and effective counter-attacking football. The strength of the Super Eagles is pinned on the individual brilliance of a few.
The strong and dynamic midfield of the Super Eagles led by captain John Obi Mikel and Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi, paired with the attacking power of Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi, Chelsea’s Victor Moses and Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho, are talented enough to ensure that Nigeria advances from the group stage of the competition.
Djibouti’s many international investment projects set a new pace for economic emergence
June 12, 2018 | 0 Comments
|Djibouti hopes to reach a rapid and equitable solution that is in accordance with the law|
DJIBOUTI CITY, Djibouti, June 12, 2018/ — On 22 February, the Republic of Djibouti (www.Presidence.dj) terminated the DCT (Doraleh Container Terminal) concession, in which DP World is a shareholder and operator. This decision was taken after numerous unsuccessful attempts to get DP World to renegotiate a contract that was clearly contrary to the fundamental interests of the nation.
This termination is a sovereign decision, part of a legal procedure, and executed at the end of a transparent process. It was instigated by an unfair and unbalanced contract, the clauses of which imposed unacceptable limits on Djibouti’s development policy. The decision is linked to an exceptional and aberrant situation that by no means calls into question the strength or credibility of the signature of the Republic of Djibouti.
The decree terminating the concession, as well as the law governing it, provide for a compensation procedure in accordance with commonly accepted international rules and practices. This compensation procedure will continue, despite the obvious unwillingness of the former partner. Djibouti hopes to reach a rapid and equitable solution that is in accordance with the law.
The termination of the contract has in no way stopped port operators from expressing their confidence and interest in the new public structure that has taken over its management – SGTD (Doraleh Container Terminal Management Company). Singaporean ship-owner PIL signed an agreement in March to triple transshipment traffic handled by the terminal. Numerous discussions are underway with other major players in the sector. The port’s productivity has undergone a marked increased since its operation was placed in the hands of its Djiboutian managers.
Djibouti’s scope and ambition goes way beyond the success of Doraleh port. Major investments are ongoing and the amounts committed attest to the confidence of international partners: the Djibouti-Addis-Ababa railway line, Tadjourah mineral port, Goubet port, Doraleh multipurpose port, the start of construction work on the new Djibouti mega free zone in Khor Ambado and the launch of the Damerjog industrial development free zone, etc. One of the more recent agreements is for an ambitious energy sector project. The first phase provides for the commissioning of a gas pipeline between Ethiopia’s Ogaden Basin natural gas fields and the coast of Djibouti. The second phase concerns the construction and operation of a natural gas liquefaction plant and a gas terminal in the Damerjog area, all privately financed by the mega project’s developer, China’s POLY-GCL Petroleum Group Holdings Limited, to the tune of US$4 billion.
These major projects are being undertaken within a particularly attractive macroeconomic and regulatory framework. Economic growth is expected to remain at high levels – around 7% for 2018 and 2019 – making Djibouti one of Africa’s top ten economies in terms of growth. The Djiboutian Franc is a stable currency, pegged to the US dollar, freely convertible (without restriction) and its exchange rate has remained unchanged since 1973.
The sustainability of these investments is buoyed by the Republic of Djibouti’s ambition and by excellent medium- and long-term prospects, since Djibouti is strategically located at the crossroads of one of the busiest shipping routes in the world, linking Europe, the Far East, the Horn of Africa and the Persian Gulf. Quite naturally, Djibouti positions itself as the main gateway to East Africa, and particularly Ethiopia, an emerging nation of 100 million people and the Republic of Djibouti’s leading strategic partner. While maintaining very close relations with its other traditional partners, Djibouti is linked to China’s big New Silk Road development strategy. In reality, Djibouti is the entry point to a formidable logistics corridor designed to serve an emerging African continent.
Djibouti’s investment ambitions are being rolled out in a context of optimal security. Its solid institutions guarantee stability and visibility in an often difficult regional context. It is a welcoming land where dialogue is key. The country’s respect for its international commitments since its independence has made it a reliable and respected player in the concert of nations. Djibouti is an essential partner for peace, and a stalwart in the fight against terrorism and piracy, hosting on its territory American, Chinese, French, Japanese, European (Operation Atalanta) and Saudi military bases. Thus Djibouti ensures the de facto safety of the world’s main shipping route through which 70% of international traffic passes.