PAMBAZUKA NEWS 142: RWANDA TEN YEARS AFTER THE GENOCIDE: SOME REMINDERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE TO THE CRISIS
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CONTENTS: 1. Features, 2. Comment & analysis, 3. Advocacy & campaigns, 4. Books & arts, 5. Letters & Opinions, 6. Women & gender, 7. Human rights, 8. Refugees & forced migration, 9. Elections & governance, 10. Corruption, 11. Development, 12. Health & HIV/AIDS, 13. Education, 14. Racism & xenophobia, 15. Environment, 16. Land & land rights, 17. Media & freedom of expression, 18. Social welfare, 19. News from the diaspora, 20. Conflict & emergencies, 21. Internet & technology, 22. eNewsletters & mailing lists, 23. Fundraising & useful resources, 24. Courses, seminars, & workshops, 25. Remembering Rwanda
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Rwanda ten years after the genocide: Some reminders of the international response to the crisis
Around the world, commemorations of the 10th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide are about to be launched. The central actors responsible for allowing Hutu extremists to perpetrate the genocide are well known: the government of France, the United Nations Security Council led by the USA with British backing, the UN Secretariat, the government of Belgium, and, by no means least, the Roman Catholic Church. The Organization of African Unity also refused to condemn the genocidaires and proved to be largely irrelevant throughout the crisis. As a consequence of these acts of commission and omission, 800,000 Tutsi and thousands of moderate Hutu were murdered in a period of 100 days. Reviewing the events of those days, I find myself thinking not once but repeatedly: It's almost impossible to believe that any of this actually happened. The following is a selection of some of those events. They, and the lessons they suggest, are worth bearing in mind as we who refuse to let the memory of the genocide dissipate begin our commemorations of the 10th anniversary.
Monsanto pushes GM wheat to secure future access to lucrative African markets
On the 19th January 2004, Monsanto SA (Pty) Ltd stunned South Africans when it announced that it was seeking a food and feed safety clearance for its genetically modified (GM) Roundup Ready wheat to expedite future imports. This application must be seen against the backdrop to the fact that GM wheat is not grown commercially in any part of the world and is years away from regulatory approval in Canada and the United States of America (US) where research and experiments are still continuing and no approval has yet been granted.
WSF: In search of a deeper dialogue beyond Addis and Bamako
The African Social Forum has grown in stature and can now meet IC criteria required for an entity to be seriously considered to play a leading role in the convening of the annual global meeting that parallels the Davos World Economic Forum. In my opinion, the main one was the ASF role in strengthening and mobilising social movements in Africa to participate in WSF as part of the process leading to consolidation of the world social movement. Its processes saw the building of an African space for the formulation of concerted alternatives to neo-liberal globalisation, based on a diagnosis of the latter's social, economic and political effects. The Forum helped define social, economic and political reconstruction strategies, including a redefinition of the role of the State, the market and citizens' organisations.
WSF: Putting the ASF in order
The World Social Forum is one of the most significant civil and political initiatives of the past several decades. Since the first World Social Forum (WSF) was held in Porto Alegre in January 2001 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, as a counterpoint to the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, its call for ‘Another World is Possible!’ has been echoing as an alternative to challenge the neoliberal order. This year’s gathering in Mumbai, India, between 16-21 January was the fourth edition.
March 20 is global day of action against Iraq occupation
The General Assembly of the Global Anti-War Movement has called on the world to fill the streets on March 20 to demand an end to the occupation of Iraq. The General Assembly of the Anti-War Movement convened on January 19 at the World Social Forum (WSF) in Mumbai, India. Meeting for the whole day, the Assembly began with an assessment of the current political situation, followed by reports from various activists involved in various anti-war movements around the world. The Assembly ended with the call for an International Day of Action on March 20, the anniversary of the attack on Iraq. It calls for all movements in all continents to organize mass protests on that day to demand the end of the occupation of Iraq.
RR10 list of local endorsements, initiatives and committees
Visit the link provided for a listing of events related to the Remembering Rwanda campaign.
RR10 update of activities
In Rwanda, a National Steering Committee has been formed to plan the commemoration for the 10th anniversary of the genocide in April. The Committee includes the government, Ibuka (the survivors’ association), Avega (the association of genocide widows), Africa Rights, Never Again (a students’ group), and Remembering Rwanda. The theme chosen for this year’s commemoration is “Preventing and abolishing Genocide through effective universal solidarity”. Remembering Rwanda is recommending that all its supporters adopt this theme as well, to signal our solidarity with the Rwandan Steering Committee. In Rwanda, April 7 is the date on which the 10th anniversary officially begins, and the subsequent week will be spent in a series of events of commemoration.
'Fatal Indifference: The G8, Africa and Global Health' by Ronald Labonte and Ted Schrecker; David Sanders and Wilma Meeus
The G8 (the United States, England, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Russia, the European Union, and Canada) represents the major political driver of contemporary globalization. It is also the most powerful political force behind the multilateral institutions that are shaping global economic practice and governance. The aid, trade, and investment policies and practices of G8 member nations largely shape the development possibilities of poorer countries around the world. This book provides a “report card” of commitments over the past three G8 summits (1999, 2000, and 2001) with a preliminary assessment of the most recent 2002 summit in Kananaskis, Canada. It presents findings from the G8 Research Centre at the University of Toronto (Canada), which has been tracking compliance on G8 commitments for a number of years. Based on research funded by IDRC, the book extends these assessments of compliance to an examination of how adequate G8 commitments are to global development needs.
'Poets’ diaries', Julius Chingono
"A small blasting job is required in Bluff Hill, fix and supply: $4 million. I try to get hold of the client, Mrs Shambare, over the phone for a quotation. I spend two hours in the office. Waiting can be trying. I chat with the receptionist. Mr Mukamba, the engineer for CPG, comes to inform me that he can only manage to buy explosives next week. I walk out resignedly." Zimbabwean poet Julius Chingono works as a rock-blasting contractor in daily life to support his family. He is also a Mufundisi – pastor – in the Tsitsi dzaMwari Apostolic Church. This posting on the website of Kubatana.net reproduces the poet's diaries, which give a fascinating insight into life in Zimbabwe.
Kwani? appeal for book donations
We at Kwani? kindly request you to donate children's books, particularly by African writers, to the libraries in Mathare North and Eastleigh, run by MYSA (Mathare North Youth Association). Mrs. Anne Moore ([email protected]) is a librarian and has worked very hard to get these libraries organised. The official opening of the Mathare North MYSA Library will be on Sat 27th Feb and will be presided over by Ms Beverly Naidoo, ([email protected]), a children's author from the UK, and Yvonne Adhiambo, Winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing, 2003 (www.kwani.org).
New book highlights the plight of more than a million Ugandans
Michael, aged 25, was abducted by Lord's Resistance Army rebels in northern Uganda. His captors beat him on the head with rifle-butts when he was no longer able to carry their loot and left him for dead. Government soldiers found him a week later. "Termites had started eating me alive," he recalls. "They had begun building an anthill on my body." Michael's is one of many personal testimonies published in "When the sun sets, we start to worry...", a book launched by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in conjunction with its Integrated Regional Information Networks.
Review of African political economy
Volume 30 Number 98/December 2003
This issue contains:
* Zimbabwe out in the cold? by Ray Bush;
* Military corruption & Ugandan politics since the late 1990s by Roger Tangri, Andrew M Mwenda;
* The Bush administration & African oil: the security implications of US energy policy by Daniel Volman;
* Briefings Liberia: an analysis of post-Taylor politics by Thomas Jaye.
Institute for Advocacy on Children and Youth Affairs (IACYA), Malawi
This generation has seen a mushrooming of the so called ‘Good Will Ambassadors and Advocates’ on issues of both national and international concern. These people have been people of high standing as regards their offices like Presidents, Ministers, Members of Parliament and indeed are a sort of celebrity.
Helpful contribution for writers
Sierra Leone PEN Centre
Africa/Global: Anti-Aids measures 'fail women'
Efforts to fight the HIV/Aids epidemic are failing because they are not reaching women and girls, who are most affected in the poorest countries, according to Peter Piot, Executive Director of the United Nations Aids Programme. Dr Piot was speaking at the launch of a new body called the Global Coalition on Women and Aids, which aims to take up the cause of women in Africa and Asia who do not have status or economic power, and are so subordinate to their man that they cannot negotiate even the use of a condom within marriage.
Africa: More African women being abducted
The abduction of women and children in African military conflicts is on the rise, according to a United Nations report released last week. "Young girls are being taken hostage and abducted for marriage to military commanders and long-haul truck drivers," said the Economic Commission for Africa , a UN body based in Ethiopia .
Africa: New Report Documents Vast Benefits of Investing in Sexual and Reproductive Health Care
Gaps in sexual and reproductive health care account for nearly one-fifth of the worldwide burden of illness and premature death, and one-third of the illness and death among women of reproductive age. These gaps could be closed and millions of lives saved with highly cost-effective investments, according to Adding It Up: The Benefits of Investing in Sexual and Reproductive Health Care, a new report released by The Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) and UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. Policy makers, governments and donor agencies have vastly undervalued the diverse returns - economic and social as well as in health - such investments would bring, the report stresses. It calls for improvements in reproductive and sexual health essential to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals set by world leaders in 2000.
Ethiopia: Fistula makes Social Outcasts of Child Brides
Meseret, from the Lalibela district in northern Ethiopia, was only 13 when she became pregnant. Married at 12, her underdeveloped body was not ready for the stress of giving birth. After six days of gruelling labour her child was finally born, but it was dead. As a result of the long labour, Meseret suffered crippling injuries.
Ghana: Women Call For Stiffer Female Circumcision Laws
Ghanaian women's rights groups have called for stronger laws against female genital mutilation (FGM) following two landmark rulings in northern Ghana against the traditional practice.
Horn of Africa: Stop violence campaign to be launched
Representatives of women’s organisations from Djibouti, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, met in Djibouti from 22 to 26 January to develop plans for a “Stop Violence against Women” campaign. The workshop, funded by Novib and attended by representatives from Oxfam GB and Amnesty International, provided training to the participants on campaigning. Regional and national plans focusing on different issues related to the main campaign, such as female genital mutilation (FGM), discriminatory laws, conflict-related violence against women and abduction of women and girls, were developed during the workshop and activities will start in February. Amnesty International is launching a global campaign on the same subject on 5 March in New York. The Somali campaign, coordinated by three women networks (COGWO, NAGAD and WAWA), will focus on FGM and be launched on 8 March this year. The activities will include research, a launching event, public awareness and media activities and education, among others. This information comes from the Novib weekly situation report on the Somalia National Reconciliation Conference in Kenya.
Kenya: Rights group, parents clash over missing girls
Parents of 40 girls who fled from their homes in Marakwet District to escape female genital mutilation (FGM) are locked in a dispute with a human rights organisation. And now the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (CHRD) is strongly protesting against the alleged harassment of its staff by the girls’ parents, who are demanding their daughters back. The centre’s executive director, Mr Ken Wafula, has told a news conference that his staff had been threatened with unspecified consequences if they do not return the girls to their homes.
Africa/Global: Fireworks Erupt Over US Role at Genocide Conference
The first intergovernmental conference on genocide to be held since 1948 ended this week in Stockholm with political fireworks when the United States was sharply criticized by an Australian diplomat. Before representatives from 55 nations, former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans said U.S. officials had been using the conference to lobby against the International Criminal Court (ICC), the very body created to try crimes against humanity - like genocide. The United States has withdrawn from the Rome Treaty of 1998 that created the ICC. "I'm distressed to hear that the same old squeeze has been put on the national delegations all over again at this conference," Evans said. "And in the otherwise admirable declaration we have emerging from it there is no mention of the International Criminal Court...this is just indefensible."
Africa: OMCT calls for priority on impunity
In spite of many recent advances such as the creation of the International Criminal Court, impunity is still one of the most crucial issues facing the international community and national governments in the pursuit of the respect for international human rights and humanitarian law, says the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) in a position paper prepared for the 2004 United Nations Commission on Human Rights 60th session to be held March 15 - April 23 in Geneva. With regards the situation in the DRC, OMCT said that though much progress had been made, grave violations of human rights and humanitarian law had continued, notably in the east of the country. "OMCT remains gravely concerned about support (arms, logistics and human resources) that is being provided to the belligerent groups perpetrating the afore-mentioned violations. This support comes from nearby regional powers, notably from Uganda and Rwanda." Sections of the paper deal with Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, Torture and Ill-Treatment, The Right to Reparation, Human Rights Defenders and Violence against Women. The situation in the DRC, Sudan and Togo are also highlighted.
Angola: Cabinda activists complain of harassment
Civil rights activists in Angola's Cabinda province on Tuesday complained of ongoing harassment by the authorities in the troubled oil-rich northern enclave. Over the weekend some 1,500 activists were prevented from launching an organisation that would call for a peaceful solution to ongoing hostilities in the region and monitor alleged human rights abuses.
Ethiopia: Human Rights Watch accuses government of continuing abuses
An international advocacy group has criticised Ethiopia for its continuing human rights abuses and condemned foreign donors for failing to help prevent them. Human Rights Watch (HRW) says the government "continues to deny" its citizens their basic human rights while the international community takes no action. In its 2004 World Report, the New York-based group said foreign donors who were pouring about US $1 billion into Ethiopia each year were focused on other issues.
Gambia: Core labour rights violated
A new report by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions on core labour standards in Gambia, produced to coincide with the trade policy review of Gambia at the WTO, criticises Gambia's lack of compliance with the eight ILO conventions known as "Core Labour Standards". The report notes legal restrictions on the right to organise and, furthermore, that civil servants cannot exercise this right. The Labour Act imposes general restrictions on the right to strike, and civil service employees are completely denied the right to strike. More than half the workforce is employed in the informal economy, depriving workers of necessary protections and making existing legislation hard to enforce.
Liberia: Human rights must be priority at International Reconstruction Conference, Amnesty says
As the international community meets in New York on 5 and 6 February to discuss post-conflict reconstruction in Liberia, Amnesty International has urged that good governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights are given the highest priority. "Protracted conflict has not only destroyed the social and economic fabric of Liberia, it has also eroded the most fundamental human rights," Amnesty International said. "Unwavering political commitment and prompt, generous and sustained funding are needed to meet the ambitious plans for the next two years - not least for the protection and promotion of human rights," Amnesty International added.
Sudan: Massive abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law in Darfur
As fighting and displacement of civilians intensifies in Darfur, western Sudan, Amnesty International has requested all parties to the conflict to respect international human rights and humanitarian law at all times. Massive abuses of human rights in the region are documented in a new 43-page report entitled: Sudan: Darfur: "Too many people killed for no reason". In an attempt to end the escalating armed conflict in Darfur, Sudanese government forces and government-aligned militia (the "Janjawid") are threatening the lives, liberty and property of hundreds of thousands of civilians through indiscriminate bombings, killings, torture, including rape of women and girls, arrests, abductions and forced displacement.
Uganda: ICC Accepts Ugandan Referral
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has taken an important step toward opening its first investigation, the Coalition for an International Criminal Court (Coalition) has said. Following the referral by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni of the situation concerning the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo announced that there is sufficient basis to "start planning for the first investigation." Several steps are required for a formal investigation to be launched. "Today's announcement by Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo is extremely important; it is now the duty of the Prosecutor to search for the truth about atrocities committed in northern Uganda," said David Donat Cattin, Legal Advisor for the International Law and Human Rights program at Parliamentarians for Global Action. "Other states facing similar situations should follow Uganda's precedent in welcoming ICC proceedings," he said.
Uganda: Peace groups and government officials worried about ICC probe into LRA
Peace groups and officials from the government’s Amnesty Commission have warned that the impending probe by the International Criminal Court (ICC) into war crimes committed by Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels could make a peaceful settlement of the 18-year conflict impossible. "Certainly, this is going to make it very difficult for the LRA to stop doing what they are doing. They have already been branded ‘terrorists’, which isn’t going [to help] to easily persuade them to come," the Amnesty Commission spokesman, Moses Saku, told IRIN.
Africa/Global: Local Integration: The Forgotten Solution
Most refugees spend years living in border zones, in unsatisfactory and unsafe circumstances, with few means to support or educate themselves and their children, and few prospects. Their legal status in the host country is uncertain. They are not granted full asylum, nor are they likely to be resettled in a third country. These protracted refugee situations are characterized by a "care and maintenance" or "warehousing" model of assistance in countries of first asylum, meaning that the basic needs of refugees residing in camps are met. Local integration is a currently neglected, long-term solution that presents an alternative to refugee camps.
Africa/Global: Refugees International focus on Peacekeeping
There is a direct relationship between armed conflicts and the world’s 35 million displaced people. The overwhelming majority of displaced people have been forced from their homes and countries due to the direct and indirect impacts of war and conflict. Many times, it is the actual gunfire and imminent threat of death that drives them away. All too often, it is the indirect consequences of conflict, such as fear of atrocities, kidnappings, rapes, looting and other human rights violations that force them to seek refuge. And if these are not enough, conflict can result in a lack of food, health care, sanitation, education and the ability to work and provide for families, driving people to leave and seek opportunities that no longer exist in their villages and countries.
Africa/Global: UNHCR and NGOs: Competitors or Companions in Refugee Protection?
The international protection of the majority of the world’s refugees has traditionally been the domain of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). For some time, however, several operational humanitarian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have claimed territory in this area as well. They have developed protection policies and/or designated protection capacities within their offices and field teams. The question is, as a result, are these NGOs and UNHCR working as competitors or companions?
Angola/DRC: Thousands of illegal diamond miners expelled
At least 10,000 Congolese, mostly illegal miners, have been expelled from Angola since December 2003 under inhumane conditions, a Congolese human rights organisation said on Thursday. "They were forced back by the military and hundreds of others have been arrested and detained in subhuman conditions," Dolly Ibefo, vice-president of the rights body, Voice of the Voiceless (Voix des Sans Voix), said.
Chad: Relocation to begin as UN refugee agency ends registrations in Chad border town
United Nations refugee agency staff and their counterparts from Chad have finished registering almost 5,000 Sudanese refugees in and around the border town of Tine ahead of their urgent relocation to safer positions further inside Chad. A spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the agency wants to move the refugees as quickly as possible after several bombs exploded near Tine last Thursday.
DRC/Rwanda: Rebel group denies preventing returnees from leaving Congo
A Rwandan rebel movement based in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Forces democratiques de liberation du Rwanda (FDLR), has dismissed as unfounded reports that it had prevented some 3,000 former combatants and civilians from returning to Rwanda. "The FDLR has always supported the right of any Rwandan refugee to return freely to his homeland," Augustin Dukuze, the FDLR spokesman, said on Saturday.
DRC: Stabilisation of political situation raises hope for millions of displaced people
Since the mid-1990s, millions of Congolese have fled their homes to escape fighting between rebel groups and the national government in a complex conflict which has, at times, involved as many as nine neighbouring states. The UN estimates that 3.4 million people currently remain displaced, although the figure could be much higher since many of the displaced are not registered. Violence flared in May and June 2003, with hundreds of thousands fleeing fighting in the north-eastern district of Ituri. The situation stabilised in the second part of the year, following the establishment of a transitional government which incorporated several rebel groups; and the strengthening of international peacekeeping operations. As a result, IDPs got better access to assistance and many thousands started to return home.
Uganda: Army Implicated in IDP Rape Cases
UPDF soldiers have been named among the people who are raping girls in internally displaced people's (IDPs) camps in Kitgum district, Northern Uganda. The claims were made by a group of MPs following a fact-finding visit to the district last week.They said reports showed that girls were raped by their peers, men from the camps, rebels and UPDF soldiers. However, Army spokesman Maj. Shaban Bantariza said that the report needed to be looked at critically.
Uganda: Row over fire and arrests at IDP camp
A row has broken out between the army and residents of Uganda's biggest Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) settlement, Pabbo camp, in the northern Gulu District, with the army claiming that the camp harbours rebel collaborators and the IDPs accusing the army of starting a fire which destroyed much of the camp during an operation to arrest suspects. Pabbo houses over 62,000 people fleeing Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) operations in northern Uganda. They are part of at least 1.2 million Ugandans who have been forced to take refuge in camps.
Africa: Africa set for a spate of crucial elections in 2004
Africa will witness several key elections this year, with some constituting a litmus test for nations emerging from war and unrest and others marking a milestone, as in South Africa which fetes the 10th anniversary of the end of apartheid. In nations such as Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia, the polls will see veteran rulers stepping down - a sign that things are changing in a continent where democracy often carries less clout than in other parts of the world. The most important polls in terms of the number of voters will be those in Algeria and South Africa, two economic powerhouses located on the northern and southern extremities of the continent.
Cameroon/Nigeria: Meeting over border dispute
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan was due to meet the leaders of Nigeria and Cameroon in Geneva on Saturday to review progress on their deal to end a long-standing border dispute and to dampen tensions between the two countries. The meeting will be the third between Annan, President Paul Biya of Cameroon and his Nigerian counterpart Olusegun Obasanjo since the UN chief stepped in to encourage the west African neighbours to follow an International Court of Justice ruling in 2002.
South Africa: Mbeki warns against election violence
President Thabo Mbeki wrapped up a tour of the opposition stronghold of KwaZulu-Natal on Saturday by warning that any violence around South Africa's coming elections would be stamped out. Fighting between activists from Mbeki's African National Congress (ANC) and the province's dominant Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) killed 20,000 people in the 1980s, and after a decade of relative calm, tensions have risen since election campaigning began this month.
Uganda: I'll Hand Over in Good Faith, Says Museveni
President Museveni has said he is ready to hand over power in an orderly manner. "Let the opposition relax; I will hand over power when there is a good arrangement," Museveni said on Friday during the 10th graduation ceremony at Mbarara University of Science and Technology. Museveni's last term of office ends in 2006. Although he has not publicly stated any intention to seek another term, critics have accused him of not clarifying his stand on the matter in light of calls from some of his supporters to lift the two-term constitutional limit.
Zimbabwe: Election violence continues
It is deplorable that Zimbabweans should continue to be displaced from their homes on the basis of their political opinions and beliefs in violation of the Constitution which guarantees every individual's “right to assemble freely and associate with other persons and in particular to form or belong to political parties”, says the latest report from the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum on political violence for December 2003. The report said violence continued in Kadoma Central into December 2003 following the holding of a by-election over the weekend of 29-30 November 2003. "Members of the opposition party, MDC, reported being abducted, threatened and assaulted while votes were being counted. A number of incidents reflected a lack of political tolerance between supporters of the two contesting political parties with MDC supporters claiming that they were abducted to a Zanu PF base at a school in the area where they were beaten."
Zimbabwe: MDC says voting rigged in Zanu-PF stronghold
State radio said voter turnout was heavy in a parliamentary by-election in southern Zimbabwe where the opposition said balloting was marred by intimidation and vote rigging. The two-day poll ends on Tuesday in the ruling party stronghold of Gutu 240km south of Harare to fill the seat left vacant by the death of vice-president Simon Muzenda last September.
Africa: Former prime minister Juppé convicted on corruption charges
France’s entire political establishment was rocked with a “seismic shock” on January 30 when Alain Juppé, chairman of France’s ruling party, the UMP (Union pour un mouvement populaire - Union for a Popular Movement) mayor of the city of Bordeaux and former French prime minister, was convicted in the Nanterre law court in Paris for “the use of public office for personal ends.” He received an 18-month suspended jail sentence and loss of civic rights for five years, which automatically bars him from holding or running for public office for 10 years. The Juppé verdict reveals a deep-going culture of corruption in political life at the highest levels dating back to the Mitterrand years and beyond and spreading over into foreign policy, particularly in Africa.
Benin: Government Tries Its Judges for Corruption
The government of Benin has put on trial 27 of its own judges on charges of embezzling millions of dollars of state funds. They form part of a group of 99 court and finance ministry officials charged with illegally pocketing more than US$15 million of state funds over a period of four years.
Liberia: Johnson Sirleaf rejoins the political fray
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a veteran Liberian politician and former UN official, has taken on a task which many regard as impossible - ridding her country of its deeply ingrained and all pervasive corruption. Johnson Sirleaf, who came a poor second to Charles Taylor in the 1997 presidential election, has just been appointed chairman of a Commission on Good Governance by Liberia's transitional government.
Rwanda: Crack down on corruption
Politicians and civil servants in Rwanda have been asked to declare their wealth in a campaign against corruption in government. Rwanda's newly appointed Ombudsman Tito Rutaremara has told the BBC those who do not comply will be prosecuted. Starting this week, leaders, who include President Paul Kagame, will fill in forms stating what they own.
South Africa: Zuma's advisor to face court
Schabir Shaik, closely associated with Deputy President Jacob Zuma, is to face fraud and corruption charges in the Durban High Court in October, SABC radio news reported. The trial is set to start on October 11. Shaik faces charges of corruption, fraud, theft of company assets, tax evasion and money laundering related to the government's arms deal.
Zambia: Chiluba misused public funds to pay private legal bills, says judge
The Lusaka High Court has ruled that it was wrong for former president Frederick Chiluba to award houses bought with public funds to lawyers Vincent Malambo and Eric Silwamba after they represented him in the 1996 presidential election petition. Judge Christopher Mushabati said this in the case in which Malambo and Silwamba were contesting the seizure of their houses by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
Zimbabwe: Minister embroiled in loan scandal
Zimbabwe's Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister July Moyo has been accused of using cash from his own department as collateral for a Z1-billion loan for a company owned by two close associates. Moyo's ministry is said to have deposited the money into a First Bank account to secure a loan for Smoothnest Investments. Smoothnest is partly owned by National Social Security Authority (NSSA) chairman Edwin Manikai, who was appointed by Moyo to head up the NSSA public and private sector pension fund.
Africa: Extractives report tables harsh criticism, many suggestions
Three years ago World Bank President Wolfensohn agreed to commission an Extractive Industries Review (EIR) to examine its controversial support for the oil, gas and mining industries. In mid-January the report of the review was tabled, containing many strong criticisms of the Bank's record in this sector and a series of detailed recommendations, reports the latest edition of the Bretton Woods Update. Nur Hidayati of WALHI, an Indonesian environmental NGO, commented: "The review acknowledges that the benefits of oil, mining and gas projects are often questionable and that there is much evidence that the extractive industries violate indigenous peoples' rights and are associated with loss of livelihoods and climate change."
Africa: Nepad not unrealistic, says Nkuhlu
The vision that drives the New Economic Programme for Africa's Development is not unrealistic, chairman of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) steering committee Wiseman Nkuhlu said on. Opening the first-ever African ministerial conference on open learning and distance education, he said Nepad was driven by a "people's vision" of African recovery, renewal and renaissance. "In my official duties I have travelled enough to see that this vision is catching fire and catching hold all over the African continent and throughout the African Diaspora.”
Africa: Slim world trade share for Africa
Africa's share of world trade fell further in 2002, according to a new trade report, prompting renewed calls for the revival of global trade negotiations that, it is hoped, will increase developing countries' participation in world trade. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) International Trade Statistics 2003 report shows that African merchandise imports and exports grew 2%. This is half the sluggish rate of world trade growth at 4% that year. This pointed to "a further loss in Africa's share of world trade", said the report, which was released at the weekend. Foreign direct investment on the continent also dropped sharply in 2002.
Africa: The time to act is now
The World Social Forum (WSF) must continue to expose the fraud in the present international economic system, says this article in the latest edition of the SEATINI Bulletin. "The current economic system where development is made hostage to free trade is untenable. The way forward for Africa is a gradual and systematic disengagement from the current model of economic order that is driven by purely commercial interests. This disengagement is with a view to re-linking with the rest of the world when Africa is united and stronger. This is long term. In the short term we need to delay the process of further integration so that we have time to reflect. This means that delaying and even refusing to continue with Cotonou and WTO negotiations."
Tanzania: Africa should have more say in the IMF
Sub-Saharan Africa should have more say in the decisions of the International Monetary Fund, Tanzania's finance minister told a seminar on Tuesday. The minister, Basil Mramba, said African nations, including some of the poorest countries in the world, had less and less influence over the workings of the world finance body. "It is still of major concern that we from sub-Saharan Africa are represented by only two chairs on the Fund's Executive Boards while also our quota share and voting rights continue to decline," he said in the commercial capital of Dar es Salaam.
WSF 2004: Call of the Social Movements and Mass Organisations
"We the social movements united in Assembly in the city of Mumbai, India, share the struggles of the people of India and all Asians. We reiterate our opposition to the neoliberal system which generates economic, social and environmental crises and produces war. Our mobilisation against war and deep social and economic injustices has served to reveal the true face of neoliberalism. We are united here to organise the resistance against capitalism and to find alternatives. Our resistance began in Chiapas, Seattle and Genoa, and led to a massive world-wide mobilisation against the war in Iraq on 15th February 2003 which condemned the strategy of global, on-going war implemented by the United States government and its Allies. It is this resistance that led to the victory over the WTO in Cancun. The occupation of Iraq showed the whole world the existing links between militarism and the economic domination of the multinational corporations. Moreover, it also justified the reasons for our mobilisation. As social movements and mass organisations, we reaffirm our commitment to fight neoliberal globalisation, imperialism, war, racism, the caste system, cultural imperialism, poverty, patriarchy, and all forms of discrimination - economic social, political, ethnic, gender, sexual including that of sexual orientation and gender identity. We are also against all kinds of discrimination to persons with different capacities and fatal illnesses such as AIDS."
Africa: Aids quick-fix won't save Africa
Short-term relief followed by long-term disaster is not sound policy. Nonetheless, that could be a result of the Aids strategy being contemplated by the World Health Organisation, which on December 1 - World Aids Day - announced a plan to treat 3-million people with HIV/Aids by 2005. The WHO is proposing that billions of dollars be spent on increasing access to anti-retroviral drugs. That is a noble intention. However, it may not be the most cost-effective way to stem the tide of HIV/Aids: it may even be counterproductive. Let's be clear. Reducing the cost and increasing the supply of medicines to the poor is a good thing. But on its own it is not enough. Nor should it be today's priority. The roots of Africa's health care crisis run far deeper and broader than a mere shortage of drugs.
Africa: Low funding levels for health, human development
The 2005 budget submitted to Congress this week includes far lower levels of funding for HIV/AIDS programs in Africa and globally than what is needed, and what was earlier promised by the President, lobby group Africa Action has noted. The White House's request for next year includes only $2.8 billion for programs to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria globally, with only a portion of this money going to Africa. In his 2003 State of the Union address, President Bush had promised $3 billion per year on an emergency basis to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean. Salih Booker, Executive Director of Africa Action, said: "Bush's budget request reveals the misplaced priorities of the current Administration. AIDS represents the greatest threat to human security in the world today, but while the President requested more than $400 billion for military defense, he asked for less than 1% of this amount to fight the deadly global threat of HIV/AIDS."
Africa: WHO, AMREF, Africare, Medilinks plan for Africa Health Day
In observance of Africa Health Day, the World Health Organisation (WHO), in partnership with the African Medical Research Foundation (AMREF), Africare and Medilinks, is organising an exhibition and a panel discussion on 19 February 2004 in New York highlighting health and development issues in Africa. Although Africa is the richest continent in the world, it has historically been perceived as a continent of relentless humanitarian emergencies caused by political instability, disease, famine and war. This perception fails to recognize the many positive development initiatives in Africa that have succeeded and flourished and resulted in improved health conditions for the children, women and men of Africa. Africa Health Day will aim to raise public awareness of these positive health programs in the Region and offer opportunities to further explore how to build a bridge to sustainable development.
Africa: Why Africa's AIDS therapy must be handled with care
Cheap and widely available antiretroviral therapy for treating HIV and AIDS may seem like the solution to Africa's AIDS epidemic. But if not carefully planned and carried out, any programmes to administer the drugs could be disastrous. In this article, Warren Stevens, Steve Kaye and Tumani Corrah of the Medical Research Council Laboratories in Banjul, Gambia, argue that consistent prescription and close monitoring of the drugs are essential to prevent widespread drug resistance.
Angola: Churches urged to join fight against HIV/AIDS
The development agency, Christian Aid, is stepping up a campaign to get church and faith leaders to join the fight against the rising incidence of HIV/AIDS in Angola. The UK-based group plans to integrate HIV/AIDS awareness into its current post-conflict food security activities, and believes the church should play a much bigger role in helping people learn about and live with the virus, rather than fuelling the stigma and prejudice that envelops it.
CAR: Anti-polio drive planned for southwestern province
Following confirmation on 23 January of a polio case in the southwestern province of Ombella Mpoko, Central African Republic (CAR) health officials have scheduled an anti-polio immunisation drive in the province for 23-28 February. "To avoid other cases, all the children in the region must be immunised," Nestor Nali, the health minister, was quoted as saying on Monday by state-owned Radio Centrafrique.
Ethiopia: First free treatment programme for AIDS patients launched
The international medical relief organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the Tigray Regional Health Bureau this week launched the first programme of free anti-retrovirals (ARVs) for the treatment of HIV/AIDS patients in Ethiopia, according to a press statement issued by MSF on Tuesday. The first 13 patients at the Kahsay Abera hospital in the northwestern town of Humera had started receiving their ARVs, it said.
Guinea-Bissau: Hospital strike forces hundreds of patients to go home
A strike by doctors, nurses and hospital technicians demanding the payment of salary arrears paralysed government hospitals in Guinea-Bissau for three days this week, forcing hundreds of patients to go home or seek treatment in private clinics if they could afford it. The strike was called by the two main trade unions in the health sector to protest at the government's failure to pay five months of salary arrears and special bonuses and to demand better food for patients.
Kenya: Activists Press for More Debate on Abortion Law
The contentious topic of abortion in Kenya was revisited Wednesday, during events to mark African Women's Health and Rights Day. At present, the procedure is banned in the East African country. However, women's groups are urging government to open a debate on this policy.
Kenya: AIDS drugs being sold illegally on market stalls
Drugs distributed as part of Kenya's AIDS medicine programme are being sold on the black market, according to a report. Unscrupulous business people are selling the drugs on the back streets of the capital, Nairobi, at less than US$65 for a monthly cocktail, nearly quarter the normal price. Health minister Charity Ngilu announced last year that selected hospitals would dispense the drugs on strictly prescription-only terms and at subsidised prices. The scheme currently provides antiretroviral drugs to 6000 people infected with HIV.
Mali: 11 more cholera deaths reported in January
The cholera epidemic in Mali has been brought under control in most of the country, but continues unabated in the Mopti region, where a further 11 people died of the water-borne disease in January, Health Ministry sources said. The sources told IRIN last Thursday that 156 new cases of cholera were reported in the Niger river valley in and around the city of Mopti, 450 km northeast of the capital Bamako, between 1 and 26 January.
Nigeria: Hopes on polio campaign
The Nigerian Government has said it hopes that a suspended polio vaccination campaign in the north of the country will resume soon. Immunisation was halted in three states last year following fears that the vaccine was contaminated. The World Health Organisation, WHO, has warned that unless the spread of the disease is checked, it would undermine eradication efforts.
Nigeria: Over 14,000 on subsidised AIDS drugs run out of medication
More than 14,000 living with AIDS in Nigeria who had been receiving antiretroviral (ARV) drugs subsidised by the government are running out of supplies, an HIV/AIDS activist group said on Tuesday. Nsikak Ekpe, president of AIDS Alliance Nigeria (AAN), an organisation which represents people living with AIDS in Africa's most populous country, said the government had stopped supplying drugs at almost all the 25 treatment centres selected for the programme across the country.
South Africa: Frustration As Government Slashes AIDS Budget by Two Thirds
AIDS activists from the advocacy group, AIDS Therapeutic Treatment Now, South Africa (ATTN SA) expressed outrage and frustration over the move by the South African government to cut by two-thirds of its AIDS budget. According to the Financial Times (UK) newspaper (2/2/04), "The initial budget of R296m (pounds Sterling 22m, $42m, euro 34m) for the first phase of the roll-out of treatment, up to the end of next month, has been cut to R90m by the Treasury, without explanation."
South Africa: Proposed HIV Law Slammed As 'Rubbish'
The proposed criminalisation of people who have sex without telling their partners of their HIV status has been slammed as "rubbish" and a "very dangerous approach". That's the view of Mark Heywood, law and human rights sector representative on the SA National Aids Council, who said the stance had already been opposed by the SA Law Commission after a "lengthy investigation". This follows a proposal on Monday by Johnny de Lange, chairman of the parliamentary portfolio committee on justice, that the transmission of HIV become a separate crime. Heywood responded that the proposal "goes against the recommendations of the World Health Organisation", and that criminalising people with HIV would further stigmatise them.
South Africa: The long road to treatment
A man is HIV positive. His doctor prescribes Bactrim, a common anti-biotic used as a prophylaxis (prevention) and for the treatment for pneumocystis carinii pneumonia – a generally treatable condition if the person is HIV negative, but potentially fatal if he or she is HIV positive. At present, the pharmacist, private hospital or doctor who dispenses this patient’s prescription will charge up to R126,94 for 20 adult-strength Bactrim capsules. After May this year, when government enacts the recently-published draft regulations relating to a transparent pricing system for medicines and scheduled substances, the same prescription could cost as little as R46,56. The old pricing structure in South Africa is notoriously complicated, secretive and confusing with incentives, discounts and mark ups hidden along the drug chain. Until now, South African consumers, who pay amongst the highest prices for prescription drugs in the world, have suffered the brunt of these huge markups and profits.
Zambia: Government acts to contain cholera
Zambian authorities are considering tough measures to contain a cholera outbreak which has claimed 110 lives, 80 of them in a treatment centre in the capital, Lusaka. Among the measures being considered is the restriction of movement from areas affected by cholera, and the prevention of large gatherings such as weddings and funerals, Central Board of Health spokesman, Dr Victor Mukonka, told IRIN on Friday.
Côte d’Ivoire: Reopening of schools delayed in rebel territory
Schools in the rebel-held north of Cote d'Ivoire were supposed to have reopened this week for a belated start to the academic year, but officials said on Wednesday that few classes had started. They predicted that it would be at least another two weeks before lessons began in those schools in the main towns which were able to muster enough teachers to start the new term.
Kenya: Can Government Afford Pay for Dons, Teachers?
Uncertainty shrouds the generous pay proposed for university lecturers and the next phase of teachers' salary increment. In an interview with the East African Standard last Thursday, Finance Minister, Mr David Mwiraria, said the Government may find it difficult to convince the IMF to approve further salary hikes following the recent pay increment for police and prison staff.
Swaziland: Government to pay school fees for 60,000 orphans
The Swazi government is to pay the primary school fees of 60,000 orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). The Ministry of Economic Planning and Development revealed last Thursday that in the national population of 960,000 people, there were 200,000 OVC.
Uganda: Universal Primary Schooling Succeeds to a Fault
Martin Oketch, 13, sat his Primary Leaving Examinations in Uganda late last year. His first choice for secondary education was St Mary's College Kisubi, one of the country's best boys' schools. "I want to become a doctor like Uncle Nathan,” he says, pointing to his relative. However, Martin's exam results - though good - were just shy of the grades needed to gain admission to Kisubi. He was just one casualty of an increasingly fierce competition to get a place in secondary school - this as Uganda's system of universal primary education (UPE) yields record numbers of primary school graduates.
Zambia: Government finances leave 9,000 teachers stranded
Zambia's already understaffed schools were dealt another blow this week after the government announced that some 9,000 teachers would not be deployed because of a lack of resources. The education ministry's press officer, Michael Katowa, on Tuesday countered media reports that the failure to employ teachers trained in 2002 and 2003 was due to World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) budget conditionalities.
Zimbabwe: Varsity Staff Give 14-Day Strike Notice
University of Zimbabwe's (UZ) lecturers and non-academic staff on Friday gave the Public Service Commission (PSC), through their employer the University Council, a 14-day notice to go on strike following delays in awarding the workers a salary increment as ordered by the court last year. In September last year, the government was ordered by the Labour Court to award the UZ employees salary adjustments of more than 800 percent backdated to July of that year but nothing has been done by the government.
Angola: Discrimination and dependence - the plight of the San
Since colonial times and throughout Angola's 27-year civil war, the Angolan San have been invisible, forgotten and abused suffering social exclusion, discrimination and social exploitation. The hunter-gatherer San are the original inhabitants of Southern Africa. Some 4,000 years ago they began losing land to Bantu people migrating from the north. The arrival of white settlers in the 17th century was accompanied by their dispossession, enslavement and slaughter. Today the San number roughly 100,000 across Southern Africa.
South Africa: Government Dismisses Tutu's Apartheid Appeal
The South African Council of Churches (SACC) and apartheid victims' groups have come out in support of Archbishop Desmond Tutu's last-minute appeal to an American court to allow apartheid victims' litigation for compensation against foreign companies to go ahead. But government chief spokesperson Joel Netshitenzhe was dismissive of Tutu's appeal who said that not settling the matter (of apartheid victims) inside South Africa would have "profound implications for the future of the country, for instance for the assessment of the country risk profile, and for investment and job creation."
Southern Africa: Migrants' Rights Grossly Violated
The treatment of Zimbabwean citizens and other people from the region who migrate legally and illegally to neighbouring countries mainly Botswana and South Africa is often catastrophic, raising underlying questions about xenophobia. In most cases their human rights are systematically and grossly violated. The question of ill treatment and violent malpractices on illegal migrants has taken on a new urgency in the wake of recent reports on the flogging of some 100 Zimbabweans who illegally entered Botswana.
Zimbabwe: Captain Denies Claims of Racism in Zimbabwe's Cricket Structure
Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak, while urging Australia to tour his country in May to guarantee the continued success of cricket there, denied the claims of yet another former teammate who said virulent racism was entrenched in Zimbabwe's cricket structure. Writing in Wisden Cricketer magazine this month, former fast bowler Bryan Strang said Zimbabwean children were "learning first hand from coaches and policy-makers that skin colour matters" and that many in the cricket community disagreed with the "politicisation and racialisation of cricket in Zimbabwe".
Africa: Environmental movements - A political ecology of power and conflict
This paper produced by the United Nations (UN) Research Institute for Social Development critically examines environmental movements in Sub-Saharan Africa by drawing on two prominent cases: the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People of Nigeria's Niger Delta and the Green Belt Movement of Kenya. Its thesis is that environmental movements in Africa operate within a transformative logic in which struggles for power over environmental resources connect broader popular social struggles for popular empowerment and democracy. It concludes that a conflict between extractive forces and those of popular resistance lies at the heart of on-going struggles for the control of the African environment. Furthermore, it says that African states repress environmental movements that interrogate the exclusion of the majority from effective participation in the management and control of environmental resources.
Kenya: Renewed Fears Over Possible Risks From Modified Foodstuffs
Kenyans have been consuming imported foods that were long banned without their knowledge. Many supermarkets in Kenya have stocks of these banned foods, also known as genetically modified (GM) crops, and the Government is helpless because it does not have the capacity to test and detect if the food is unnatural. The most consumed GM food comes into Kenya from import food markets like South Africa and the US. The South African brokers sell maize bought by some local millers because of the low price compared to locally grown maize.
Malawi: Fishing Industry Gets Shot In the Arm
Malawi has launched a fishing project that will benefit more than 300,000 people who depend on fishing for their livelihood. The project, known as Lake Malawi Artisanal Fisheries Development Project, aims to improve household income in the lakeshore districts of Likoma, Nkhatabay, Nkhotakota, Salima and Mangochi. It was launched on January 24 and is expected to improve fish stocks as well as catches from Lake Malawi. The first component of the project will include construction of working tables, portable water, drying racks and fish storage facilities.
Mali: GM cotton to invade West Africa
The world's biggest agrochemical companies and the US government are rushing to introduce genetically modified (GM) crops into West Africa, starting with cotton. A new report from GRAIN shows that Monsanto, Syngenta and Dow AgroSciences, supported by USAID, are finalising plans with the Malian government to convert the West African country’s cotton crop to transgenic varieties over the next five years. Cotton is Mali’s number one export. Yet local farmers and the general public are in the dark about this.
South Africa: NGO's slam GM labelling regulations
After six years of growing Genetically Modified (GM) crops for animal and human consumption in South Africa without proper public knowledge and consent, the Department of Health (DOH) recently published its belated labelling regulations for GM foodstuffs. "These regulations do not require that GM foodstuff be labelled and effectively defeat the very purpose for labelling of any sort, namely to give the consumer the right to choose. They are totally unacceptable in that they don't require mandatory labelling of any of the major GM crops currently grown in South Africa. The Department of Health has cunningly provided industry with a way out of mandatory labelling by invoking the discredited and scientifically flawed concept of 'substantial equivalence'," said Andrew Taynton of the Safe Food Coalition.
South Africa: St Lucia Strives to Unite Conservation, Development
Game parks often have an aura of elitism. Those who frequent them generally need money to buy the equipment that allows the wilderness to be enjoyed in comfort - and a stable job so that they can take the time off to do so. This is particularly true of St Lucia in South Africa, long a playground for those with four-wheel-drive vehicles, fishing boats and diving gear. But ever since the area was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999 - and 260,000 hectares of forest, military land and scattered game farms joined to create the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park - playtime in the area has been severely curtailed.
Tanzania: New venture - appeal for notification on interest
Investors and likely partner organisations are asked to please contact Terry Harnwell through the email address provided to describe their interest in becoming involved in a brand new conservation project in northern Tanzania. 1200 Acres of virgin bush on the borders of Tarangire National Park (in the Manyara-Tarangire migration corridor) have been acquired to set up the project. Project will comprise a Carnivore Rescue & Rehab Centre, Educational Facility, Research Facility and adjoining Lodge.
Uganda: MPs want Nile pact revoked
A Parliamentary committee has asked the government to revoke the Nile Treaty with Egypt. The committee on natural resources says the pre-independence treaties give Egypt monopoly over the Nile waters. It also wants Egypt to pay sh2b for damages by the rising lake levels as per a 1950 agreement. The agreement, signed by the British on behalf of Uganda, allows Egypt to pay for rising water levels caused by its heavy industrialisation along the river.
Kenya: Regional agricultural information network set up in Nairobi
A new initiative to strengthen food security and enhance economic growth in East Africa through a sustainable, long term partnership between governments, traders, producer associations, development and aid agencies has been set up in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Supported by the United States Agency for International Development and the Famine Early Warning System, the Regional Agricultural Trade Enhancement Support and FOODNET projects, the information network aims to gather, analyse and increase access to information about key food commodities such as maize and beans in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Namibia: Fears That Land Act Will Spark Strife
Some rural communities whose traditional authorities are not recognised fear that the new Land Reform Act may give rise to disputes. The new Communal Land Reform Act requires that people with existing land in communal areas apply for their land to be registered to acquire a land registration certificate from the communal land boards within three years, or risk the land being allocated to others.
Southern Africa: Land tenure systems and sustainable development
Land is considered the most fundamental resource to the poor and is essential to enabling them to lift themselves out of poverty. More than 60 percent of the active population in Southern Africa is dependent on land for livelihood. The last three decades have witnessed some land reforms in Southern Africa, some of which were aimed at land redistribution and introducing land titling for customary tenure. While the issue of land tenure reform has not been given sufficient attention, land distribution has tended to be the core issue in many of the Southern African countries’ land policy reforms. However today there is a growing recognition of the centrality of land tenure in sustainable development process in the region as witnessed by a number of regional and national initiatives and meetings.
Africa: South and Eastern Africa Tolerance Prize
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Journalism for Tolerance Prize is about promoting tolerance, combating racism and discrimination and contributing to an understanding of cultural, religious and ethnic differences. The Prize is an annual competition among journalists from all sectors of media with a simple objective: to promote better understanding among journalists from all communities of the importance of tolerance and defence of human rights, particularly when it comes to reporting on minorities.
Africa: Web site launched to train, support exiled African journalists
A specialist Internet training and advocacy portal has been launched to help African journalists work even after they have been forced into exile, or have otherwise been muzzled by oppressive regimes. The African Journalists in Exile (JAFE) Web site seeks to provide persecuted African journalists with a global networking forum by linking to online resources, media freedom advocacy organisations, sympathetic media and self-help groups.
Ivory Coast: Three journalists assaulted by presidential guardsmen
A photographer with "Le Patriote", a daily that is close to the opposition, and two other journalists were recently assaulted by members of Ivoirian President Laurent Gbagbo's presidential guard.
Nigeria: Nine state radio journalists suspended over coverage of opposition demo
Reporters Without Borders has called on a public service radio corporation in the state of Ondo, in southwestern Nigeria, to reinstate nine journalists who were suspended indefinitely on 21 January at the governor's behest because of their coverage of an opposition protest about an increase in the prices of petroleum products. The Ondo State Radiovision Corporation (OSRC) claimed that the decision to suspend the journalists was taken internally, by the corporation's management, because they dedicated too much air-time to the protest by the opposition Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
Rwanda ends state radio monopoly
Rwanda has allowed the first private radio stations to start broadcasting since the 1994 genocide. Five new stations have already been given permission to set up and two more religious stations will be authorised soon, said the information minister.
South Africa: Information Law Not Accessible to Public, says Human Rights Commission
The Human Rights Commission had recommended that Parliament consider amending the Promotion of Access to Information Act to make dispute resolution in terms of the act accessible and affordable, commissioner Leon Wessels has said. He said at an international conference that the amendment should also allow the commission to take actions to court and mediate where necessary, giving it the same powers it has in terms of the Promotion of Equality and the Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act.
West Africa: Media Foundation For West Africa aims to expand free speech
The Media Foundation for West Africa is a regional independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation based in Accra, Ghana. It was established in 1997 to defend and promote the rights and freedoms of the media, and generally, to help expand the boundaries of freedom of speech and expression in West Africa through:
- Advocacy and promotion of Media Rights and Freedom of Expression;
- Monitoring, alerting and publicising violations of and attacks on freedom of thought and expression;
- Defence and support of Journalists, Writers, Artists and other Communicators against intimidation and other controls that could undermine free expression;
- Research into issues affecting Media Rights and Freedom of Expression;
- Training and support for professional practice and media capacity building;
- Promoting and facilitating programmes of informed political debate, civic empowerment and popular participation.
Zimbabwe: ANZ Supreme Court hearing postponed
Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court postponed to 18 February a hearing on appeals by the Media and Information Commission (MIC) and the Minister of Information Jonathan Moyo to have The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday shut down again. On 26 January the Supreme Court declined to grant an interdict sought by the MIC barring the newspaper company from publishing. Chief Justice Chidyausiku sitting in chambers, said that he could not issue the interdict sought by the MIC but had no problems with the appeal for the consolidation of these cases pending before the court. Two appeals were pending before the Supreme Court, both seeking an interdict stopping the ANZ from publishing.
Zimbabwe: Private media exposes abuses
ZANU-PF is reportedly continuing with its violent campaign against supporters of the opposition, particularly in Gutu North where a parliamentary by-election was scheduled for February 1-2. Not only that, the ruling party is also being accused of using traditional leaders to frustrate the campaign activities of the MDC. "Only the private media revealed these barbaric tactics, which the ruling party has unashamedly employed in every election since the entrance into the political arena of the opposition MDC in late 1999," said the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe in their latest update.
Africa/Global: Women and Children Most Affected by Conflict
War, and peace, aren't what they used to be. In civil wars, the targets are mainly civilians. And when strife erupts in one of the world's dozens of trouble spots, Rosalind Boyd says, all too often it's women and children first - in the worst possible ways. "Men and women experience wars differently," said Boyd, director of the Centre for Developing-Area Studies at McGill University. "Men are primarily the ones who are holding the guns, and women and children are primarily the victims."
Africa: Ending child labour will save money, says ILO
A new study by the International Labour Office (ILO) says the benefits of eliminating child labour will be nearly seven times greater than the costs, or an estimated US$ 5.1 trillion in the developing and transitional economies, where most child labourers are found. What is more, the study, conducted by the ILO International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), says child labour - which involves one in every six children in the world - can be eliminated and replaced by universal education by the year 2020 at an estimated total cost of US$ 760 billion.
Liberia: Security at Risk Without Aid for Child Soldiers, According to Human Rights Watch
International donors gathering at the United Nations this week can best help Liberia by pledging funds to rehabilitate its tens of thousands of child soldiers, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released on Monday. The 43-page report, “How to Fight, How to Kill: Child Soldiers in Liberia,” documents how more than 15,000 child soldiers fought on all sides of the Liberian civil war, and that many units were composed primarily of children. The report argues that establishing a firm peace in the West African nation will depend on the successful reintegration of child soldiers into civil society.
Nigeria: Pensioners Become Beggars
While African culture may venerate the aged, the continent's pensioners don't always find themselves living out a peaceful retirement. This is nowhere more true than in Nigeria, where the collapse of pension schemes has pushed many former civil servants into poverty. A number of retired government workers have been awaiting pension payouts for periods of between 10 months and two years. Perhaps the worst part of their plight is that many are people who resisted benefiting from the rampant corruption that has characterised Nigeria's government for most of its recent history.
Rwanda struggles with street children
Rwandan authorities have come under fire for forcibly rounding up hundreds of street children in the capital, Kigali, ahead of an African leaders summit. When heads of state arrive later this month for a summit of the New Partnership for African Development (Nepad), they are unlikely to see many of the street children who used to loiter in the city centre, begging and sometimes stealing. Police have launched a wave of round-ups since December aimed at getting the children off the streets. Hundreds have been detained in a transit centre outside the capital.
Somalia: Orphans hit by terror link
The closure of a Saudi-funded charity linked to the al-Qaeda network could have a devastating impact on thousands of orphans in Somalia. The al-Haramain Islamic relief agency has run a number of orphanages in Somalia for years. The centres also provide food and medicines for other children. In Mogadishu crying children were seen in front of some of the closed centres.
South Africa: Children's Bill Has 'Holes'
The controversial Children's Bill has been resubmitted to Parliament, but children's rights groups say the Bill still has holes that leave children vulnerable. The Bill involves only national stipulations concerning parental rights and duties, the rights of children, surrogate motherhood, adoption and child courts. Another Bill on implementation within the provinces will be tabled before the new Parliament after elections. "Some steps need to be taken now rather than later," explained Ministry of Social Development spokesperson Mbulelo Musi, adding that the debate on complex implementation issues and cost should not be allowed to delay assistance to children now.
*News from the Diaspora notice*
AFFORD, the African Foundation for Development (http://www.afford-uk.org), will be partnering Pambazuka News in producing News from the Diaspora. If you would like to contribute information to this section, email your news to [email protected]
Africa and its Diaspora: Partnership Issues
Chinua Akukwe and Sidi Jammeh
“Africa and its people living outside the continent are united through blood ties, cultural affinity and shared history, and to some extent, a common destiny. Since the forced migration of millions of young and able bodied men, women and children of Africa to work in plantations and other early economic activities of the emerging Western frontier in the Western Hemisphere, the quest to establish strong partnerships and linkages between the same people separated by hundreds of years, oceans or environmental circumstances, have remained unabated, although with minimal degrees of success.”
All in the Family: Latin America's Most Important International Financial Flow
Report of the Inter-American Dialogue Task Force on Remittances
Taking a close look at remittances flowing into Latin America from US-based migrants, this report’s main recommendation to all governments in the region is to “do no harm”: “To begin with, governments (and nongovernmental organizations as well) need to recognize that these resources are private. They belong to the individuals who earned them, and who have every right to transfer them freely to other family members. No one else has a claim on them. And these resources are certainly being put to good use. Remittances are providing enormous benefits to recipients, their families, and their communities.”
E-quality fund to boost women's work
Through its digital diaspora initiative, Unifem is setting up the E-quality Fund for African Women and Innovation. Unifem Director Noeleen Heyzer launched an appeal for an E-quality fund during the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) Gender Caucus high level panel.
How African is North Africa?
The African Cup of Nations kicks off in Tunisia, with 16 nations taking part - and all eyes on the continent are looking north. Seen from space, Africa is one huge and undivided landmass. But for some on the continent, however, the widely-held perception is of two very different regions; Africa south of the Sahara desert, or sub-Saharan Africa, and north Africa. This article on the website of the BBC questions the nature of African identity and is followed by comments on the subject from around the world.
Migration for Development in Africa (MIDA)
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) runs MIDA, a capacity-building programme, which helps to mobilize competencies acquired by African nationals abroad for the benefit of Africa's development. See also “Partnership for Brain Gain and Capacity Building in Africa” http://www.iom.int/africandiaspora/default.htm
New Book: Development, Gender and Diaspora : Context of Globalisation
"The process of globalisation has been affecting the Indian society in various ways. Though it is primarily an economic phenomenon, its impact in other walks of life is being strongly felt and there seems no possibility of its disappearance. Taking the northwest region of India as the focus of analysis, this volume brings together sixteen contributions made by the scholars working in this area to focus on four issues, namely, identity formation, development, gender and the diaspora.
"Within the large perspective of each aspect that has been examined, various issues and controversies have been provided scholarly treatment. In the backdrop of the fact that globalisation is here to stay, the issue of how to handle it so as to benefit from its positive aspects is a normative one that requires certain policy measures. In the process, the political economy of development and the role of the state have remained the major focus of investigation. The transnationalisation of the Indians has gained recognition in the light of the recent announcement by the Prime Minister that the government was taking into consideration the issue of granting dual citizenship to diasporic Indians. The growth in the studies on the Indian diaspora has also lent credence to the view that diaspora communities are important components of the globalisation process." (jacket)
* Edited by Paramjit S. Judge, S.L. Sharma, Satish K. Sharma and Gurpreet Bal
New Delhi, Rawat, 2003, x, 302 p., tables, $30. ISBN 81-7033-811-5
Remittance Senders and Receivers: Tracking the Transnational Channels
According to IADB, total remittances are due to surpass foreign direct investment as a source of capital for Latin America and the Caribbean in 2003. The total aggregate of remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean during this decade is conservatively projected to reach more than $450 billion. In order to better understand these developments at the micro level, this paper presents findings of research into remittance sending and receiving from some 12,000 individuals in the United States and Latin America.
Africa: Helping peace or creating the conditions for war? The IMF, World Bank and armed conflicts
Which interests are being served by World Bank and IMF operations is just one of many questions raised by observers. Others include: Are WB and IMF interventions, creating or recreating the conditions for war? What are the implications of various policy choices, as well as the pace and sequencing of reform in transition from conflict? Are Bank and IMF frameworks and instruments conflict-sensitive? Should they integrate explicitly geostrategic factors in their analysis when allocating assistance and designing their interventions? What are the limits to the Bank's role? Is the Bank the best-placed actor to facilitate and administer donor assistance in reconstruction? The jury is still out on these questions, which could have serious implications for the Bank's and the Fund's mandates and work methods. An article in the latest edition of the Bretton Woods Update explores these questions in depth, with reference to Iraq, Afghanistan and several conflicts in Africa.
Africa: More not less support needed for peacekeeping
African regional institutions are taking increasing responsibility for peacekeeping as well as for diplomatic initiatives. But both African and UN officials note that implementing fragile peace agreements will require more not less support from rich countries and from the UN system. Last week's issue of the AfricaFocus Bulletin examines this issue with a variety of background material and references to UN and African Union (AU) documents, including excerpts from recent statements and data on the current status of peacekeeping operations and plans.
Burundi: Rebels killed in Burundi fighting
At least 30 fighters have been killed in fighting between the last active Hutu rebel group and government forces in Burundi, an army official has said. Burundian army chief Germain Niyoyankana said dozens of weapons were recovered from Forces for National Liberation (FNL) rebels in the clashes.
Chad/Sudan: Sudanese Forces Bomb Chadian Border Town
Sudanese government forces bombed the Chadian side of the border town of Tine last week, killing two people as they fought rebels for control of the Sudanese half of the city, News24.com reported. According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, seven explosions rocked an area close to where Sudanese refugees had been gathering. The blasts killed a man and his daughter and left 15 others injured.
Eritrea/Ethiopia: Military coordination committee meets in Nairobi
Eritrean military leaders have rejected assertions by the United Nations that the border with Ethiopia is "militarily stable", claiming instead that Eritrean territory is being occupied. Eritrean Brig-Gen Abrahaley Kifle said on Monday that he disagreed with the UN’s assessment that the situation on the 1,000-km long border remained stable. He made the statement at the UN-hosted Military Coordination Committee (MCC) talks held between Ethiopia and Eritrea in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
Eritrea/Ethiopia: UN special envoy officially appointed
Former Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy has been officially appointed UN special envoy to help defuse the standoff between Ethiopia and Eritrea. A statement released by Secretary-General Kofi Annan's spokesman on Friday said Axworthy would help to overcome the current deadlock in their peace process.
Focus on UN tribunal
In the past two weeks, the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), hidden away in the dusty northern Tanzanian town of Arusha, has received far more attention than it is accustomed. The first week brought Gen Romeo Dallaire, who commanded the UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, to testify in the tribunal's most important case, known as "Military I". With Dallaire came international attention. That very same week also saw a judgement delivered against Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, a former minister of education. The tribunal was basking in the spotlight. "We have never had the press coverage that we have now," Roland Amoussouga, the tribunal's spokesman, told IRIN.
Lessons 'still not learnt'
Rwandan President Paul Kagame has accused the international community of failing to learn from the genocide. He said calls for the UN-backed court in Arusha to investigate his own troops were a deliberate confusion of issues by people employing double standards.
Liberia: Country a UN protectorate, says ICG
Liberia is a collapsed state that has effectively become a UN protectorate, says a report released last week by the International Crisis Group (ICG) ahead of a donors conference. “The 5-6 February donors conference is an opportunity to focus on the long-term strategies, real money and hard thinking required to pull Liberia out of crisis and develop a government that can handle reconstruction. The immediate concern is the security situation, which demands concentrated efforts on disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of fighters (DR)," said the ICG.
Nigeria: Fighting rages between rival militias in Niger Delta turf war
Gunfights raged Tuesday in the third day of fighting between rival armed gangs in Nigeria's volatile oil delta, leaving at least 10 people dead, residents and police said. The violence flared up Sunday in the town of Bukuma in southeastern Rivers State among rival bands within the Ijaw ethnic group and was said to be over control of revenues and jobs granted by the multinational Royal/Dutch Shell Group.
Somalia: Agreement Reached on Transitional Parliament
Somalia took an important step towards peace this week when warring leaders agreed to set up a transitional parliament to help rule the tattered nation. The Horn of Africa country has been without central government since 1991, when President Mohammed Siad Barre was deposed. Last Thursday's agreement came after leaders of over 23 factions and Somalia's Transitional National Government (TNG) resolved differences over the number of legislators who should sit in the parliament.
Sudan/Uganda: LRA Victims Hope for a Sudanese Peace Dividend
The signing of a wealth-sharing agreement earlier this month between Sudanese officials and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army was hailed an important step towards peace in that country. Now, hopes are growing that the accord might also spell the end of another conflict: that in northern Uganda. Since 1986, this region has been plagued by fighting between government forces and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Headed by Joseph Kony, the group says it wants to establish a new government in Uganda based on the Biblical ten commandments.
The guardians of Rwanda's dead
The government is trying to drive forward reconciliation but doesn't the memory of the genocide, the bodies in the churches and classrooms hinder the process? "Memory is very important because it is the foundation of the prevention of genocide in the future generation," says Francois Gurambe, the chairman of the national survivor group Ibuka or Remember. " We think that remembrance is important in the construction of a united society because you can't have a united society without justice. Justice means first of all truth and truth is not possible without remembrance."
Zambia: ‘hideous cycle’ of hunger and AIDS
A “hideous cycle” of food shortages, poverty and HIV/AIDS in Zambia has left about one million children orphaned and a growing class of people destitute, aid agencies say. “The HIV/AIDS pandemic in Zambia deserves to be treated as an emergency which has and will continue to have impact on poverty and food security levels,” Lena Savelli, information officer for the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) in Zambia, told AlertNet.
Africa/Global: Week of gloom and MyDoom
It's been a week of gloom and MyDoom for computer boffins struggling to battle the world's fastest-spreading email worm.
Global: Are video games breeding killers?
Can extreme, violent video games influence people's actions? Can playing a killer make you a killer?
Kenya: Information technology remains a hurdle to developing countries
Too many of the developing world’s populace remain untouched by Information and Communication Technology (ICTs). This “digital divide” threatens to exacerbate the already-wide gaps between the rich and the poor, within and among countries.
Kenya: Kenyan Farmers Discover the Internet
Karatina Town seems a long way from Nairobi, Kenya's capital city of three million people. Yet, 100 km away, about a two-hour drive on the country's tattered roads, the town is the food basket of the city. At dawn, while Kenya turns in its sleep, Peter Kimani is awake and on his way to Karatina Central Farmers Market, the largest produce market in Eastern Africa, to dispose of his produce.
Election talk now available
Election Talk from the Electoral Institute for Southern Africa is available in both electronic format and hard copy. It will now appear fortnightly to give the latest briefing on the forthcoming elections in the SADC region. These policy briefs are written by regional experts to give you a succinct overview on the latest developments in those countries holding elections in 2004.
Third World Network-Africa Publication: African Trade Agenda
African Trade Agenda is produced by the Political Economy Unit, Third World Network-Africa. TWN-Africa is co-ordinator of the Africa Trade Network. For more info contact: TWN-Africa, Box 19452, Accra-North, GHANA. Tel, 233 21 511189/503669
Women's Learning Partnership for Rights, Development, and Peace (WLP) e-news
Women's Learning Partnership for Rights, Development, and Peace (WLP) is an international, non-governmental organisation (NGO) that empowers women and girls in the Global South to re-imagine and re-structure their roles in their families, communities, and societies. WLP's quarterly eNewsletter features interviews with prominent women leaders and updates on WLP's programs implemented in cooperation with our partner organisations.
2003-2004 RoKS Annual Research Competition
The Research on Knowledge Systems (RoKS) initiative of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation (www.rockfound.org) is launching a competition to support research on the social equity and public policy challenges of transformative technologies faced by developing countries.
Africa: CODESRIA Comparative Research Networks
Within the framework of the new programme initiatives that are being implemented by the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), proposals are invited for the constitution of Comparative Research Networks (CRNs) to undertake comparative studies on or around a variety of themes. The primary purpose of the CRNs is to encourage the development and consolidation of a comparative analytic perspective in the work of African social researchers. In so doing, it is hoped to establish a strong corpus of comparative studies produced by African scholars and which could help to advance theoretical knowledge and discussion. For the period 2004 – 2005, the Council will be open to receive proposals up to 31 July, 2004. Notification of the result of the selection exercise will be made by 31 August, 2004.
Donors Are Giving Large Gifts Online, says study
Who says that donors won't give large gifts online? For many nonprofit organisations, donations of $1,000 and up are considered large, or major gifts. So, are these big gifts coming online? A recent study shows that a surprisingly significant number of major donations are coming in online. The study looked at 3,151 fundraising campaigns that collected donations during 2003. There were a variety of campaigns involved in the study, including small to very large, across over 500 cities in the United States.
Building Effective Organisations
Looking to build an effective, efficient and sustainable organisation? Limited resources for attending courses? Need effective training that you can do while working?
Fahamu, in association with the University of Oxford, is offering distance learning courses specifically designed to meet the needs of human rights and civil society organisations. You can be anywhere to do these courses. Using cutting-edge interactive CDROMs, with support from a course tutor via email and an optional workshop, the course methodology is designed for learning at work without the need to take study leave. Those successfully completing the course will be awarded with a certificate from the University of Oxford.
Fahamu – Learning for change – uses information and communication technologies to serve the needs of organisations and social movements that aspire to progressive social change and that promote and protect human rights.
The following courses are available in 2004:
· An introduction to human rights (3 weeks)
· Investigating, reporting and monitoring human rights violations (18 weeks)
· Using the internet for advocacy and research (16 weeks)
· Leadership and management for change (18 weeks)
· Fundraising and resource mobilisation (18 weeks)
· Finance for the non-financial manager (18 weeks)
· JustWrite: an on-line course on effective writing (5 weeks)
The first course begins on 1 March 2004. For course dates, information, fees and registration forms kindly contact Camille Downes in Durban, South Africa on TEL: +27-(0)31-2071144/8360 FAX: +27-31-2078403 EMAIL: [email protected] or Hilary Isaacs in Oxford, UK on TEL: +44-(0)845 456 2442 FAX: +44-(0)845-456-2443 EMAIL: [email protected] http://www.fahamu.org/
III World Congress on Conservation Agriculture
Kenya, Nairobi, 3-7 October 2005
Worldwide, partners and stakeholders value the sharing of information and experiences on Conservation Agriculture (CA). This has been demonstrated and achieved in the First and Second World Congresses on Conservation Agriculture (Spain, 2001 and Brazil, 2003). The World Congress on Conservation Agriculture is acknowledged as an effective forum. Hence, the second World Congress gave the mandate to Africa to organize and host the Third World Congress on Conservation Agriculture (III WCCA).
Social Movements Conference
Final call for papers
For the last nine years, Manchester Metropolitan University has hosted a series of very successful annual international conferences on 'ALTERNATIVE FUTURES and POPULAR PROTEST'. A Tenth conference will be held from 6th-8th April 2004. The Conference aim is to explore the dynamics of popular movements, along with the ideas which animate their leaders and supporters and which contribute to shaping their fate.
Draft UN Resolution to designate April 7, 2004 as the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda
"Recognizing that April 2004 is the tenth anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, the General Assembly:
1. Decides to designate 7 April 2004 as the International Day of Reflection on the genocide in Rwanda,
2. Encourages all Member States, organisations of the United Nations system and other relevant international organisations, as well as civil society organisations, to observe the International Day, including special observances and activities in memory of the victims of the genocide in Rwanda."
Gacaca: Living together in Rwanda
This is a film which deals with the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide. The film ventures into the rural heart of the African nation of Rwanda to follow the first steps in one of the world's boldest experiments in political reconciliation: the Gacaca (Ga-CHA-cha) Tribunals. A full synopsis of the film is available at the web site provided.
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