PAMBAZUKA NEWS 177: HOW DO WE NAME THE DARFUR CRISIS?
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* Editorial: Mamdani asks "How can we name the Darfur crisis?
* Comment and Analysis: Gerald Caplan on the genocide problem:
* Pambazuka News: New RSS feed to bring news to your desktop/website
* Pan-African Postcard: Bwana Blair's spin in Africa
* Conflicts and Emergencies: Sierra Leone Truth Commission Final Report Released
* Refugees and Forced Migration: Refugees facing a less friendly environment
* Women and Gender: Equality Now Beijing +10 Review process
* Corruption: Bribery begins in the UK
* Environment: FAO eclipses regional locust control body, but comes in for criticism
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How can we name the Darfur crisis: Preliminary thoughts on Darfur
How can we name the Darfur crisis? The US Congress, and now Secretary of State Colin Powell, claim that genocide has occurred in Darfur. The European Union says it is not genocide. And so does the African Union.
Nigerian President Obasanjo, also the current Chair of the African Union, told a press conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on September 23: "Before you can say that this is genocide or ethnic cleansing, we will have to have a definite decision and plan and program of a government to wipe out a particular group of people, then we will be talking about genocide, ethnic cleansing. What we know is not that. What we know is that there was an uprising, rebellion, and the government armed another group of people to stop that rebellion. That's what we know. That does not amount to genocide from our own reckoning. It amounts to of course conflict. It amounts to violence."
Is Darfur genocide that has happened and must be punished? Or, is it genocide that could happen and must be prevented? I will argue the latter.
Sudan is today the site of two contradictory processes. The first is the Naivasha peace process between the SPLA and the Government of Sudan, whose promise is an end to Africa's longest festering civil war. The second is the armed confrontation between an insurgency and anti-government militias in Darfur. There is need to think of the south and the west as different aspects of a connected process. I will argue that this reflection should be guided by a central objective: to reinforce the peace process and to demilitarize the conflict in Darfur.
Understanding Darfur Conflict Politically
The peace process in the South has split both sides to the conflict. Tensions within the ruling circles in Khartoum and within the opposition SPLA have given rise to two anti-government militias. The Justice and Equality Movement has historical links to the Islamist regime, and the SLA to the southern guerrilla movement.
The Justice and Equality Movement organized as part of the Hassan Turabi faction of the Islamists. Darfur, historically the mainstay of the Mahdist movement, was Turabi's major claim to political success in the last decade. When the Khartoum coalition - between the army officers led by Bashir and the Islamist political movement under Turabi - split, the Darfur Islamists fell out with both sides. JEM was organized in Khartoum as part of an agenda for regaining power. It has a more localized and multi-ethnic presence in Darfur and has been home to many who have advocated an 'African Islam'.
The SLA is linked to SPLA, which first tried to expand the southern-based armed movement to Darfur in 1990, but failed. The radical leadership of that thrust was decapitated in a government assault. Not surprisingly, the new leadership of SLA has little political experience.
The present conflict began when the SLA mounted an ambitious and successful assault on El Fashar airport on April 25, 2003, on a scale larger than most encounters in the southern civil war.
The government in Khartoum is also divided, between those who pushed the peace process, and those who believe too much was conceded in the Naivasha talks. This opposition, the security cabal in Khartoum, responded by arming and unleashing several militia, known as the Janjawid. The result is a spiral of state-sponsored violence and indiscriminate spread of weaponry.
In sum, all those opposed to the peace process in the south have moved to fight in Darfur, even if on opposing sides. The Darfur conflict has many layers; the most recent but the most explosive is that it is the continuation of the southern conflict in the west.
For anyone reading the press today, the atrocities in Sudan are synonymous with a demonic presence, the Janjawid, the spearhead of an 'Arab' assault on 'Africans.' The problem with the public discussion of Darfur and Sudan is not simply that we know little; it is also the representation of what we do know. To understand the problem with how known facts are being represented, I suggest we face three facts.
First, as a proxy of those in power in Khartoum, the Janjawid are not exceptional. They reflect a broad African trend. Proxy war spread within the continent with the formation of Renamo by the Rhodesian and the South African security cabal in the early 1980s. Other examples in the East African region include the Lord's Redemption Army in northern Uganda, the Hema and Lendu militias in Itori in eastern Congo and, of course, the Hutu militia in post-genocide Rwanda. Like the Janjawid, all these combine different degrees of autonomy on the ground with proxy connections above ground.
Second, all parties involved in the Darfur conflict - whether they are referred to as 'Arab' or as 'African' - are equally indigenous and equally black. All are Muslims and all are local. To see how the corporate media and some of the charity-dependent international NGOs consistently racialize representations, we need to distinguish between different kinds of identities.
Let us begin by distinguishing between three different meanings of Arab: ethnic, cultural and political. In the ethnic sense, there are few Arabs worth speaking of in Darfur, and a very tiny percent in Sudan. In the cultural sense, Arab refers to those who have come to speak Arabic as a home language and, sometimes, to those who are nomadic in lifestyle. In this sense, many have become Arabs. From the cultural point of view, one can be both African and Arab, in other words, an African who speaks Arabic, which is what the 'Arabs' of Darfur are. For those given to thinking of identity in racial terms, it may be better to think of this population as 'Arabized' rather than 'Arab.'
Then there is Arab in the political sense. This refers to a political identity called 'Arab' that the ruling group in Khartoum has promoted at different points as the identity of power and of the Sudanese nation. As a political identity, Arab is relatively new to Darfur. Darfur was home to the Mahdist movement whose troops defeated the British and slayed General Gordon a century ago. Darfur then became the base of the party organized around the Sufi order, the Ansar. This party, called the Umma Party, is currently led by the grandson of the Mahdi, Sadiq al-Mahdi. The major change in the political map of Darfur over the past decade was the growth of the Islamist movement, led by Hassan Turabi. Politically, Darfur became 'Islamist' rather than 'Arab.'
Like Arab, Islam too needs to be understood not just as a cultural (and religious) identity but also as a political one, thus distinguishing the broad category of believers called Muslims from political activists called Islamists. Historically, Islam as a political identity in the Sudan has been associated with political parties based on Sufi orders, mainly the Umma Party based on the Ansar and the DUP based on the Khatamiyya. In sharp contrast to the strongly Sudanese identity of these 'sectarian' and 'traditional' parties is the militant, modernist and internationalist orientation of the type of political Islam championed by Hassan Turabi and organized as the National Islamic Front. Not only in its predominantly urban social base but also in its methods of organization, the NIF was poles apart from 'traditional' political Islam, and in fact consciously emulated the Communist Party. Unlike the 'traditional' parties which were mass-based and hoped to come to power through elections, the NIF - like the CP - was a cadre-based vanguard party which hoped to take power in alliance with a faction in the army. The fulfillment of this agenda was the 1989 coup which brought Turabi's NIF into power in alliance with the Bashir faction in the army.
As a political identity, 'African' is even more recent than 'Arab' in Darfur. I have referred to an attempt by SPLA in 1990 to confront the power in Khartoum as 'Arab' and to rally the opposition under the banner of 'African.' Both the insurgency that began 18 months ago and the government's response to it are evidence of the crisis of the Islamist regime and the government's retreat to a narrower political identity, 'Arab.'
Third, both the anti- and the pro-government militia have outside sponsors, but they cannot just be dismissed as external creations. The Sudan government organized local militias in Darfur in 1990, using them both to fight the SPLA in the south and to contain the expansion of the southern rebellion to the west. The militias are not monolithic and they are not centrally controlled. When the Islamists split in 1999 between the Turabi and the Bashir groups, many of the Darfur militia were purged. Those who were not, like the Berti, retained a measure of local support. This is why it is wrong to think of the Janjawid as a single organization under a unified command.
Does that mean that we cannot hold the Sudan government responsible for the atrocities committed by Janjawid militias that it continues to supply? No, it does not. We must hold the patron responsible for the actions of the proxy. At the same time, we need to realize that it may be easier to supply than to disband local militias. Those who start and feed fires should be held responsible for doing so; but let us not forget that it may be easier to start a fire than to put it out.
The fight between the militias on both sides and the violence unleashed against the unarmed population has been waged with exceptional cruelty. One reason may be that the initiative has passed from the communities on the ground to those contending for power. Another may be the low value on life placed by the security cabal in Khartoum and by those in the opposition who want power at any cost.
What is the solution?
I suggest a three-pronged process in the Sudan. The priority must be to complete the Naivasha peace process and change the character of the government in Khartoum. Second, whatever the level of civilian support enjoyed by militias, it would be a mistake to tarnish the communities with the sins of the particular militia they support. On the contrary, every effort should be made to neutralize or re-organize the militia and stabilize communities in Darfur through local initiatives. This means both a civic conference of all communities - both those identified as Arab and those as African - and reorganized civil defense forces of all communities. This may need to be done under the protective and supervisory umbrella of an African Union policing force. Finally, to build on the Naivasha process by bringing into it all those previously excluded. To do so will require creating the conditions for a reorganized civil administration in Darfur.
To build confidence among all parties, but particularly among those demonized as 'Arab', we need to use the same standard for all. To make the point, let us first look at the African region. The U.N. estimates that some 30 to 50,000 people have been killed in Darfur and another 1.4 million or so have been made homeless. The figure for the dead in Congo over the last few years is over 4 million. Many have died at the hands of ethnic Hema or Lendu militias. These are Janjawid-type militias known to have functioned as proxies for neighboring states. In the northern Ugandan districts of Acholiland, over 80% of the population has been interned by the government, given substandard rations and nominal security, thus left open to gradual premeditated starvation and periodic kidnapping by another militia, the Lord's Redemption Army (LRA). When the U.N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan, flew to Khartoum recently, I was in Kampala. The comment I heard all around was: Why didn't he stop here? And why not in Kigali? And Kinshasa? Should we not apply the same standards to the governments in Kampala and Kigali and elsewhere as we do to the government in Khartoum, even if Kampala and Kigali are America's allies in its global 'war on terror'?
Internationally, there is the daunting example of Iraq. Before the American invasion, Iraq went through an era of U.N. sanctions, which were kept in place for a decade by the US and Britain. The effect of the sanctions came to light when UNICEF carried out a child mortality survey in 1999 at the initiative of Canada and Brazil. Richard Garfield, professor of Clinical International Nursing at Columbia University and chair of the Human Rights Committee of the American Public Health Association calculated 'on a conservative estimate' that there had been 300,000 'excess deaths' of children under 5 in Iraq during the sanctions. But the sanctions continued. Today, the US does not even count the number of Iraqi dead, and the U.N. has made no attempt to estimate them. Iraq is not history. It continues to bleed.
This backdrop, regional and international, should prompt us to ask at least one question: Does the label 'worst humanitarian crisis' tell us more about Darfur or about those labeling and the politics of labeling? Are we to return to a Cold War-type era in which America's allies can commit atrocities with impunity while its adversaries are demagogically held accountable to an international standard of human rights?
Some argue that international alignment on the Darfur crisis is dictated by the political economy of oil. To the extent this is true, let us not forget that oil influences both those (such as China) who would like continued access to Sudan's oil and those (such as USA) who covet that access. But for those who do strategic thinking, the more important reason may be political. For official America, Darfur is a strategic opportunity to draw Africa into the global 'war on terror' by sharply drawing lines that demarcate 'Arab' against 'African,' just as for the crumbling regime in Khartoum this very fact presents a last opportunity to downplay its own responsibilities and call for assistance from those who oppose official America's 'war on terror.'
What Should We Do?
First of all, we the civilians - and I address Africans and Americans in particular - should work against a military solution. We should work against a US intervention, whether direct or by proxy, and however disguised - as humanitarian or whatever. We should work against punitive sanctions. The lesson of Iraq sanctions is that you target individuals, not governments. Sanctions feed into a culture of terror, of collective punishment. Its victims are seldom its target. Both military intervention and sanctions are undesirable and ineffective.
Second, we should organize in support of a culture of peace, of a rule of law and of a system of political accountability. Of particular importance is to recognize that the international community has created an institution called the International Criminal Court to try individuals for the most heinous crimes, such as genocide, war crimes and systematic rights abuses. The US has not only refused to ratify the treaty setting up the ICC, it has gone to all lengths to sabotage it. For Americans, it is important to get their government to join the ICC. The simple fact is that you can only claim the moral right to hold others accountable to a set of standards if you are willing to be held accountable to the same standards.
Finally, there is need to beware of groups who want a simple and comprehensive explanation, even if it is misleading; who demand dramatic action, even if it backfires; who have so come to depend on crisis that they risk unwittingly aggravating existing crisis. Often, they use the call for urgent action to silence any debate as a luxury. And yet, responsible action needs to be informed.
For the African Union, Darfur is both an opportunity and a test. The opportunity is to build on the global concern over a humanitarian disaster in Darfur to set a humanitarian standard that must be observed by all, including America's allies in Africa. And the test is to defend African sovereignty in the face of official America's global 'war on terror.' On both counts, the first priority must be to stop the war and push the peace process.
Copright: Mahmood Mamdani. Reproduced with the permission of the author.
* Mahmood Mamdani is Herbert Lehman Professor of Government and Director, Institute of African Studies, at University of Columbia, New York
* Please send comments to [email protected]
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The genocide problem: "Never again" all over again
Ten years ago, the international community stood by as the horror of the Rwandan genocide unfolded. This summer, Western political will could have stopped the mass killings in Sudan. Why do we not act?
On a quiet Sunday in the early summer of 1999, I was recruited into the tiny but growing army of enigmatic characters who devote their lives to studying genocide. It was a phone call that did it. Stephen Lewis, my lifelong comrade-in-arms and now UN Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, was offering a chance for us to work together again, but on a subject of unprecedented gravity: unraveling the truth about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Rwanda became my obsession from that moment to this. Stephen was a member of a special seven-member International Panel of Eminent Personalities (IPEP), which had been appointed by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to investigate the genocide. Despite their genuine eminence - two were former African presidents, one a potential future president, another the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India - the panel members just didn't know what to do with the information they had been accumulating. After traveling to half a dozen nations interviewing people with links to the genocide, they didn't know what they wanted to say. They decided they needed a writer post-haste. Appropriately enough, they sought an African writer, but for various reasons none of their choices was available. Stephen mentioned me. Though I knew little of Rwanda, I had a doctorate in African history; I'd lived in several African countries; I'd co-chaired two public policy commissions in Canada; I was a writer; and I'd been involved in the struggle against white rule in Southern Africa. I suppose a combination of sheer desperation plus these credentials led to a near total stranger being brought on to take over the panel's task.
As it happens, Stephen and I had already discussed the panel at length. He was thrilled and honoured to have been appointed to it and I was wildly envious. I had gone to live in Africa for the first time as a doctoral student way back in 1964 and had kept renewing my connections over the years. So when the call came, I was willing and able, yet seriously anxious. Carol, my wife, very wise about many things (not least the secrets of my soul), proved so once again. We could cope as a family, she was confident, even if it meant I'd be absent a fair bit. But she wasn't as sanguine about me. Could I deal with the subject emotionally? Could my already dark, lugubrious, pessimistic, Hobbesian view of the world handle such intimacy with one of the most hellish events of our time? After a lifetime dedicated to various crusades for social justice, I'd become the stereotypical glass-is-half-empty guy, always able to find an ominous cloud in a deep blue sky. My gag: being a pessimist may not be fun but at least I'm rarely disappointed. Now, this new assignment raised real fears of me being traumatized into utter depression and immobilizing hopelessness. These were serious questions, but both Carol and I knew immediately they could only be answered after the event. There was no way I could resist this offer. This was history in the making. This was Africa, my life's preoccupation. This was another Holocaust, a subject that had tormented me forever. This was about the very nature of our species. I began getting my shots the next day and reported to the Panel's headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the home of the OAU, nine days later.
I signed up on the assumption that the panel members would tell me what they wanted to say, and that I'd be their pen. This was hardly my usual or favorite role but, under the circumstances, I was prepared to play it. I needed their guidance about how forthright they were prepared to be. Although no expert on Rwanda, I did know how controversial and sensitive the issues were. Since this was an OAU mission, presumably dedicated to offering an African perspective on the genocide, was the panel ready to say that there would have been no genocide at all if some Africans hadn't chosen to exterminate other Africans? How far were they prepared to go in describing the OAU's own failure to intervene effectively? Beyond Africa, were they willing to tell the truth and accuse the French government of virtual complicity in the genocide? Would they agree to condemn Rwanda's churches, above all the Roman Catholic Church, for their shameful betrayal of their flock before, during, and since the genocide? Were they prepared to say that American politicians (both Democrats and Republicans), fearful of losing votes if U.S. soldiers were killed for such a remote cause, had knowingly allowed hundreds of thousands of Rwandans to die terrible deaths? Were they going to tell the truth about the serious human rights abuses that had been committed by the largely Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front - the "good guys" in the genocide and now the government of the country?
To my astonishment, when the panel flew in to meet me in Addis Ababa, they offered no guidance at all. To this day I'm still not sure I understand it. Maybe they were paralyzed by the enormity of the topic and their responsibility. All I know is that after my very first meeting with the members, I was left to produce the report on my own, sending them drafts for approval. I was distraught. How was I to deal with all the vexing issues I had fruitlessly raised?
Waiting for the flight back to Toronto, where I would do all my reading and writing, I went for a long and dusty walk with Dr. Berharnou Abebe, the panel's research officer, a remarkable Ethiopian intellectual with whom I had immediately bonded. Berharnou grasped the situation completely. Like other non-Rwandan Africans I was to meet, he felt personally ashamed of the genocide and approached his role on the tiny panel professional staff with the utmost gravity. We walked and walked, going over the problem again and again, getting grimier and more hoarse with each polluted block. Finally, he stopped, looked at me, and said: "It is simple, Gerry. You must write not for the seven, but for the 700,000. It is their story that you must tell."
Ignoring the murky politics of both the OAU and some of the seven panelists, I accepted Berharnou's advice with a vengeance. I would give them a draft based on wherever the evidence led me.
For almost a year, I immersed myself in the topic totally. I thought of nothing else. Weekends and evenings disappeared. Somehow, I absorbed a wealth of knowledge as if by osmosis. In the end, however, the work was done and approved - even though some panel members were rather less enthusiastic than others in accepting some of my harsh, unforgiving, and thoroughly documented assessments of the French and U.S. governments, the Catholic Church, the UN Secretariat, the OAU itself, the post-genocide government in Rwanda, and just about everyone else involved in this terrible tragedy except Canadian General Romeo Dallaire. Dallaire, almost alone, emerged with his honour intact. Howard Adelman, a Rwandan expert at York University in Toronto, once wrote that Rwanda's was "the most easily prevent-able genocide imaginable," and the panel unhesitatingly accepted my suggestion that we call the three- hundred-page report "Rwanda: The Preventable Genocide." What can never be forgiven is that none of those with the capacity to pre-vent it cared enough to try. The report was released in mid-2000. I don't mind saying the OAU had never seen anything like it - independent, outspoken, undiplomatic, and easily read, it was the very antithesis of the turgid bureaucratic documents the OAU normally spewed out. It was also largely ignored. Not because it pulled no punches, I'm afraid, but out of plain lack of interest. Africa's heads of state, who had authorized the report two years earlier, never bothered to discuss it at all. I was deeply disappointed by the unceremonious burial of the report, suffering from the inevitable anticlimax after such an intense experience, and finding it hard to come to grips with what I had learned. Not only was the assignment over, so, it appeared, was my time with Rwanda. Wrong again.
About a year later, it dawned on me that outside Rwanda itself, the genocide was already being forgotten. I became extremely agitated. The survivors were living as traumatized, maimed paupers. Most of the perpetrators were getting away with murder, often mass murder. The sins of commission of the French government and the Catholic Church, and the sins of omission of the American and British governments, were being completely ignored: the "globalization of impunity" I had called it in the report. Carol, once again seeing things far more clearly than I could, suggested that the tenth anniversary of the genocide in 2004, two-and-a-half years away, could be a natural occasion to renew interest in the tragedy. The result was "Remembering Rwanda," an international voluntary movement organized with no funding, largely on my Mac, with the assistance of Louise Mushikiwabo in Washington and Carole Ann Reed in Toronto, with adherents around the globe, all dedicated to ensuring that the memory of the genocide and its victims would not be buried, and that those responsible for it would not escape accountability. I had already befriended some Diaspora Rwandans who signed up immediately. They included a group of remark-able widows, particularly Esther Mujawayo in Germany and Chantal Kayetisi in New Hampshire, who had lost their husbands, among dozens of other relatives, to the genocide while they and their children miraculously survived, and who are dedicated to making sure the genocide would not be swept under history's table. Leo Kabalisa, one of life's natural gentlemen, was another; Leo, who now teaches French in a Toronto high school, counts by name fifteen members of his immediate family and eighty-two of his extended family who were murdered during the one hundred days.
Other Rwandans, though, were inevitably suspicious. In Johannesburg one night, I met with a group of Rwandan expatriates attached to the Rwandan Diaspora Global Network. I knew them through e-mail correspondence and, finding I had to be in Johannesburg on other UN business, I had asked to meet them. We had a good couple of hours, got along well, and agreed to work together. But it was obvious they couldn't quite figure out why I was doing this. What did I want? What could I get out of this? Rwandans, who have been betrayed by the outside world as much as any people on earth, are entitled to their suspicions of all outsiders.
In trying to explain my interest, I found myself, to my own surprise, telling them that I was Jewish. My family had fled Poland before the Hitler era, I said, and, probably as a result, I had great empathy with their own genocide. It was all true. Although I'm a convinced atheist, deeply at odds with those who represent themselves as the voice of Canadian Jewry, and a passionate foe of Israel's occupation of Palestine, I've always felt my Jewishness deeply. I've been fascinated with the Nazis and the Holocaust since my teen years. For decades now I've read, almost as a matter of principle, at least one book related to the Holocaust every year. Although many Jews disagree, for me the self-evident lesson of the Holocaust is a universal, not a particular, one; it is not merely that anti-Semitism must be opposed with all of our might, but that all injustice, racism, and discrimination is unacceptable and has to be com-bated. The Rwandans loved this answer. Many Tutsi regard themselves, with considerable pride, as the Jews of Africa. Most know about, and identify with, the Holocaust. Some have been to Auschwitz, others to Yad Vashem. Many are far more supportive of Israeli policies than I am. Yet my core Jewishness and our shared genocides is a bond between us.
Sometimes I learn from experience. During a visit to Kigali in 2002, I had the opportunity to address nearly one thousand Rwandans at a major assembly dedicated to reconciliation. I described the Remembering Rwanda movement and asked, before they could: Why was a white outsider, a muzungu, in the widely used Swahili term, leading this initiative? The moment I said that as a Jew I instinctively felt a close bond with Rwanda, the mood in the huge parliamentary chamber palpably changed. Suddenly, trust emerged; we understood each other. The solidarity of victims prevailed. Certainly some suspicion still existed; I could hardly blame them. But after the speech I was confronted by a hand-some, dynamic woman I didn't recognize, who abruptly embraced me. Yolande Mukagasana, a genocide survivor, had made it clear in a brief e-mail that she didn't know why I was involved in this issue, didn't trust me, and could continue the fight for the memory of the genocide's victims without me, thanks anyway. Now, she said, she knew we would be in the struggle together. Yolande, a poet and storyteller and a passionate keeper of the survivors' flame, invited me to dinner later at her small house in Kigali, now home to thirteen adopted children who were kibitzing in a room nearby. As I tried politely to continue eating, she pointed to the photos on the wall of her husband and three young children and explained in graphic detail how, ten years earlier, they had all been hunted down and murdered not far from where we sat.
Gerry Caplan is a Canadian-based public policy analyst and international coordinator of the "Remembering Rwanda" Project. He is also a public affairs commentator and author of "Rwanda: The Preventable Genocide," the report of the International Panel of Eminent Personalities To Investigate the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, appointed by the Organization of African Unity (OAU). He is presently co-editing a book on the Rwandan genocide ten years later.
This is the first of a two-part series entitled "The Genocide Problem: 'Never Again' All Over Again". The second part will appear in Pambazuka News 178 next week. This article was first published in the October issue of The Walrus, a new Canadian general interest magazine. It is reproduced here with the permission. The Walrus magazine is available on newsstands and book stores in Canada. For more information about The Walrus: www.walrusmagazine.com
* Please send comments to [email protected]
Africa/Global: Gender and media in Africa and globally
From September 12-14, 2004, over 160 people from the Southern Africa region and several observers from around the world, participated in the first Southern African Gender and Media Awards and Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa. For the Summit Report, up-to-date stories on Women and Gender in Africa and for Country Reports, please refer to the Gender Links website.
Bwana Blair's spin in Africa
The self-chosen prophet of the World's self-anointed 'Political God' (paraphrasing President Mugabe's recent blunt remarks at the UN General Assembly) otherwise known as Tony Blair, British Prime Minister, is on a mercy mission to Africa. Yesterday he was in Sudan to add whatever is left of British diplomatic and political pressures and his hugely depleted arsenal of personal influence on the Al Bashir regime to stop killing its own citizens. It is very difficult to know who the Khartoum government really responds to, therefore all kinds of pressure needs to be brought to bear from all corners. Why they would listen to Blair I don't know but it gives good footage for Blair's public at home who have become too suspicious of their Prime Minister.
From Sudan Tony moved on to Addis-Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia and head quarters of the African Union. He is attending a meeting of the Commission that he had set up to advise him on his missionary interest in Africa: Blair Commission for Africa.
It is very unAfrican not to show empathy to a man who had recently been hospitalized (Tony has just undergone a 'minor' heart operation) who cares so much about Africa that he did not put off this meeting even though people would have understood if he did. So I must say Pole, Bwana Blair! Karibu Afrika!
I hope the lights in the various rooms where he would be meeting his African hosts will be brightly lit and he would be putting on the best magnifying lenses that Her Majesty's Health service can provide so that he can distinguish between these Black people in suits! We would not want him to make the same 'mistake' as his hapless Foreign Minister, Jack Straw, who had shaken the hands of President Mugabe at the UN General Assembly apparently without realizing it was him! One would have thought that given the priority the British government had disproportionately given to encouraging 'regime change' in Zimbabwe and demonizing President Mugabe the British Foreign Minister will recognize him, lit room or unlit! Perhaps David Blunket, the British Home Office Secretary and enforcer of tough immigration rules and other authoritarian law and order regulations, is not the only member of the cabinet visually challenged. I am hoping that Mr. Blair, a great believer in spin that he is would have committed to memory the image of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, President Benjamin Mkapa, the ECA Executive Secretary, Dr KY Amoako and other eminent dark people on the Commission that he will be meeting. Maybe they could make it easier for him by wearing nametags!
The Addis meeting is the first the Commission is holding in Africa since Blair set it up. But holding this session in Africa does not detract from the cynicism that has continued to dodge this commission which many believe to be yet another liberal-do-gooder interventionism manufactured in Europe (London, or more precisely NO 10 Downing Street, in this case). Africans did not decide the agenda and terms of reference of the commission. Blair did not bother to ask many Africans if they wanted yet another Commission on the challenges of our development. If analysis, good intentions and promises alone can deliver, every African will be living in paradise. Why did Blair have to set up another Commission when he was one of the G8 leaders who had encouraged Mbeki and Obasanjo and the other so called Group of 5 African states to be running around with NEPAD (KNEEPAD to critics like me) from one G8 meeting to the other. The African leaders are still on their knees while Blair has removed his pad and has now moved on to his own Commission.
The initial cynicism by many was countered by supporters of Blair's missionary activities as too pessimistic and too hypercritical. They also point at the prospect of Britain and Blair (if he is still British Prime Minster) heading both the EU and the G8 next year as providing opportunity to put Africa at the center stage internationally.
I have no doubt that in his own way Blair does care about Africa (after all did he not declare us 'a scar on the conscience of the world' in a famous triumphalist Labour party conference speech a few years ago). It is what that care translates into that worries me. Does he care more for African children and women than he does for those Iraqis that he and his American gangster boss, Bush, are killing everyday in the name of liberation? It should worry us that his tunnel vision of the world is being transplanted on to Africa. This is a man who believes that he is always right and even when he is proven to have lied or be mistaken he (allegedly the most openly religious Prime Minister in modern British politics) is unwilling to say sorry, let alone show remorse and ask for forgiveness. To be fair, many Africans will recognise that 'know all' mentality in many of our own dealers who like to call themselves leaders across this continent.
Therefore even if one is to suspend disbelief for the time being and give the Blair Commission a hearing because it is coming from Blair, the credibility deficit will not go away. Why should Africans and the rest of the world believe in the innate goodness and honest motives of a Prime Minister distrusted by his own party and country? The messenger has become the message.
* Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem is General-Secretary of the Pan African Movement, Kampala (Uganda) and Co-Director of Justice Africa
Africa/Global: Two African TV programmes nominated for Iemmy Awards 2004
Two African television programmes have been nominated for the prestigious International Emmy Awards Gala to be held November 22 2004, in New York. "Stokvel" by Penguin Films (South Africa) was nominated in the comedy category and the other African nomination is for the special Iemmy/UNICEF International Children's day of broadcasting (ICDB) award. In this special category, Kenyan Nation TV's Channel 42 has been nominated for its "International Children's Day of Broadcasting Special".
Blood and Soil: Land, politics and conflict prevention in Zimbabwe and South Africa
For all their differences, one thing Zimbabwe and South Africa have in common is that land issues, dating back to colonial times and white settler government, are highly emotive, evoking difficult questions of history, race, politics, economic opportunity and international diplomacy. Blood and Soil offers a detailed analysis of the different challenges of land reform in both Zimbabwe and South Africa.
For Sale: a Small Africana library, mostly on Nigeria
I have recently purchased some books and journals that may be of interest to Africanists, or anybody interested in Nigerian literature and academia. If you know anybody who may be interested in purchasing these, please have them contact me at this address. Thanks. Most of the materials range in period from 1937-the early 1970s.
I have recently purchased some books and journals that may be of interest to Africanists, or anybody interested in Nigerian literature and acedemia. If you know anybody who may be interested in purchasing these, please have them contact me at this address. Thanks. Most of the materials range in period from 1937-the early 1970s. They are:
Nigeria A Quarterly Magazine of General Interest 1947 no. 26 ( missing 29, 30, 32, 35, 38, 40, 46, 47). All other issues. 1947- 1955 all in good or reasonable condition. Published by the University of Nigeria.
Nigeria. A Quarterly. Issues: 71- 75. December 1961 - December 1962. Also issue 80, and several copies of Nigeria. A Special Independence Issue October 1960.
1 copy of Caribbean Quarterly. Volume 4, no.38 Trinidad Carnival Issue. 1958. Featuring poetry by EL Braithwaite.
Booklets on the Art of Ife, produced by the Nigerian Museum 1955.
Archaeology and Nigeria. Inaugural lecture by Thurston Shaw. Ibadan University Press. Signed by author.
Joyce Careyâs Africa. Hardback. By MM Mahood.
Methuen. 1st Edition. 1964.
African Universities and Western Tradition. By Eric Ashby. Godkin lectures at Harvard. 1964.
Varied issues of The Nigerian Teacher. 1950s.
Origins of the University of Nigeria. Address by Dr.Nnamdi Azikiwe. June 1963. 1copy.
Photoessay book by William Tugs and the British Museum on Divine Kingship in Africa. 1 copy.
Western Education and the Nigerian cultural Background. Otonti Nduka. 1 copy. University of Nigeria in Ntsukka. 1964. Oxford University Press.
100 years of British Rule in Nigeria. 1851-1951. by Onkwuka Dike. Lugard Lectures in 1960. Published by the federal Ministry of Information.One copy.
The Sundowner Issue. 1958-1959. Magazine of the Student Body of the Imperial college of Tropical Agriculture. 1 copy.
Regional Mobility and resource development in West Africa. Akin.L. Mabogunje. McGill University. Keith Calland lectures.
Issues of The Nigerian Field Society. Flor, fauna and culture of Nigeria. 1957-1971.
Issues of Nigeria Journal of Science. 1960-1973.
Statistical and Economic review. Published by the United Africa Company. 1951-1954.
Global: Sickness and wealth: The corporate assault on global health
In this book, international activists and scholars reveal how policies implemented by the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, and other first world interests limit access to health care and sentence millions to disease and premature death. Essayists provide a historical context for understanding the complex relationship between health, inequality, politics, and globalization.
Redefining Mother Africa
As many African societies undergo political and economic transformations in order to meet the challenges of the 21st century, a new book entitled "Africa And The Need For Attitude Change" by Okoro I. Chima, takes an in-depth look at the continent and its people. Name any issue of regional concern - leadership, economy, corruption, education, the press, democracy and HIV/AIDS - it touches it all. It is bold, provocative and entertaining.
Redefining Mother Africa
As many African societies undergo political and economic transformations in order to meet the challenges of the 21st century, a new book entitled Africa And The Need For Attitude Change by Okoro I. Chima, takes an in-depth look at the continent and its people. Name any issue of regional concern -leadership, economy, corruption, education, the press, democracy and HIV/AIDS - it touches it all. It is bold, provocative and entertaining. Find out what the author says about the following:
· Nelson Mandela, South Africa, and the African Union.
· Kwame Nkrumah, Sedar Senghor, Jomoh Kenyatta, Julius Nyerere, Felix Houphouet-Boigny, Muammar Qhadafi, Ibrahim Babangida, Gnassingbe Eyadema, Omar Bongo, Robert Mugabe, Sese Sekou, Idi-Amin, Sanni Abacha, Charles Taylor, Mengistu Mariam, Moussa Traore, Laurent Kabila, Samuel Doe etc.
· HIV/AIDS and continental renaissance · Regional economy · Women education · Corruption in high places · The African public · The African press · External debts · Democracy in Africa · Tribal politics · Obasanjo, Nigeria, and the Swiss banks · Mauritius, Seychelles, Ghana, Botswana, Sudan, Ethiopia · Eritrea, Angola, the Democratic Rep of Congo, Senegal · Gabon, Liberia, Sierra-Leone, Togo, Ivory Coast, Djibouti.
· And a lot more! For more information about this book, call 1-888-519-5121 or log on to www.authorHouse.com · First, click on the Book Store, type-in the author's name and search · Second, click on the title for backgrounds, and a free preview.
* Oh, don't forget to check out what the UN Secretary General Koffi Annan told Transparency International (PI) as well!
* Available at: Amazon.com and 25,000 other Bookstores worldwide including Barnes & Nobles, and Borders.
Guinea: Informations sur le forum social ouest africain
Bonjour! Nous vous faisons parvenir le guide pratique d'informations sur le 1er forum social ouest africain qui se tiendra à Conakry du 28 au 30 novembre 2004. Ce forum s'inscrit dans la dynamique de proposition d'alternatives de développement en Afrique. Il se veut comme un cadre d' excellence de concertation et d'analyse des politiques de développement du continent africain. Pour d'amples informations, veuillez nous envoyer un courriel pour avoir le texte intitulé "Tout sur le Forum Social Ouest Africain - FSOA". La participation est ouverte à tous les acteurs de la société civile du monde notament ceux de l'espace de la CEDEAO. Une Autre Afrique de l'Ouest est possible! Cordialement.
Moussa KOUROUMA Chargé de Programme Droits économiques et culturels (DREC) au Centre du Commerce International pour le Développement (CECIDE). BP: 3768 Conakry. GUINEE FAX: 0015097530807 TEL: (0224)467035/013 404599
Outstanding analysis of Africa
Sierra Leone: GALZ Remembers Fanny Ann Eddy
Africa/Global: Equality Now review of words and deeds
In March 2004, Equality Now launched its report, Words and Deeds: Holding Governments Accountable in the Beijing + 10 Review Process. Since then, countries have made some developments regarding the laws given in the report and more recommended actions have been made. Please find a copy of the full report in the Women and Gender section of this newsletter or go to www.equalitynow.org
In March 2004, Equality Now launched its Beijing + 10 campaign at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, urging governments to revoke all laws that discriminate against women. Equality Now’s report, Words and Deeds: Holding Governments Accountable in the Beijing + 10 Review Process, contains a representative sampling of laws that explicitly discriminate against women and in doing so fundamentally contradict the commitments made by governments at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. (A copy of the full report can be obtained from www.equalitynow.org or from any Equality Now office.) Over twenty governments were represented at the launch of the campaign in March 2004 at the United Nations. Many pledged to repeal the laws highlighted; others detailed steps they had taken to eradicate sex discrimination from their legal codes. There have been some developments regarding the laws given in the report, including the following:
Ethiopia: The Ethiopian Parliament has adopted a new Penal Code that removes the marital exemption from penalty for crimes of abduction and rape. The new Code will come into force once the final text has been signed into law by the President and publicized in the official gazette.
Monaco: The government has revised Article 1 of Law No. 1155, so that it now provides equivalent rights to Monegasque mothers and fathers to pass their nationality to their children. The amendments were effected, however, by a structure that enumerates specific categories of mothers who could pass on nationality, while preserving to fathers a blanket right to do so. Consequently, while the change is welcome, the law remains facially discriminatory. According to government officials, this differentiation derives from the law regarding acquisition of Monegasque nationality by marriage, including Article 3 of Law No. 1155 which was also highlighted in Equality Now’s full report as discriminatory. Article 3 permits non-Monegasque women to acquire Monegasque nationality in certain circumstances through marriage to Monegasque men, but Monegasque women do not have the equivalent right to pass on their nationality to their non-Monegasque husbands. Please write to the government to welcome the changes that have been made to Article 1. Urge it to complete its reform by amending Article 3 to provide for equal nationality rights for non-Monegasque men and women who marry Monegasque nationals and also to remove the discriminatory structuring of Article 1.
Morocco: Morocco has effected broad legal reform that includes the following amendment to the cited provision:
Section 418—A mitigating circumstance obtains in cases of murder, injury or beating committed by one spouse against the other spouse, when either party is caught in flagrante delicto committing an act of infidelity. While Equality Now welcomes the revision of law to eliminate explicit discrimination against women, Morocco, together with other governments, committed in the Beijing Platform to “ensure equality and non-discrimination under the law and in practice” (emphasis added). The new law, while neutral on its face, may continue to be applied in a way that discriminates against women by mitigating punishment for offenders who are all, or almost all, men who have killed women in so-called “honor” killings. Please write to the government, congratulating it on the several reforms made that provide for gender equality. Urge the government to continue this reform, including full repeal of Section 418, which maintains an exemption from punishment for murder that will in practice largely if not exclusively be applied to men who murder women.
United Kingdom: The wording of Section 85(4) of the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 has been amended, although the discrimination remains. Section 85(4) now reads:
Nothing in this Act shall render unlawful an act done for the purpose of ensuring the combat effectiveness of the armed forces.
Please continue to write also to the other heads of states of the countries mentioned in the report (note several updates in contact information on the reverse side of this page) and call on them to ensure that the laws mentioned, and any other discriminatory laws in force, are repealed or amended before the agreed target date of 2005. Call on your own government to undertake a comprehensive review to identify and address any laws with sex discriminatory language or impact. Share this report and your concerns with the media and the general public to enlist their support in the campaign to hold governments accountable to the promises made in Beijing.
Corrections and Contact Updates, Women’s Action 16.5
Page 2 Colombia The provision should read Article 140 instead of Article 40 To email President Uribe, go to www.presidencia.gov.co
Page 4 Poland The Prime Minister of Poland is now Mr. Marek Belka
Page 16 Nepal The Prime Minister of Nepal is now Mr. Sher Bahadur Deuba
Page 17 Bolivia The email for President Mesa is [email protected]
Page 18 Latvia The Prime Minister of Latvia is now Mr. Indulis Emsis
Page 21 Guatemala The full name of the President is Oscar Berger Perdomo. An email for the President is not available
Page 22 India The Prime Minister of India is now Dr. Manmohan Singh
Page 25 Haiti The interim President of Haiti is H.E. Boniface Alexandre
Updated contact numbers are as follows:
Page 2 Colombia Fax: +57-1-337 5890
Page 10 Kenya Fax: +254-20-25 02 64
Page 19 Madagascar Fax: +261-2022-344 84
Page 21 Guatemala Phone: +502-239 0000 Fax: +502-239 0076
Page 22 India Phone: +91-11-2301 2312 Fax: +91-11-2301 9545/2301 6857
Page 24 Nigeria Fax: +234-9-314 6347
Page 27 Iran Fax: +98-21-646 2774
Africa/Global: Words and Deeds: Beijing +10 Review Process
The fundamental right to equality has been affirmed and reaffirmed repeatedly by governments in international treaties, declarations, and conferences, as well as in domestic constitutions. Nevertheless, discrimination against women in its most blatant forms continues in countries around the world. In September 1995, 6,000 delegates from 189 countries at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing adopted a Declaration reaffirming their fundamental commitment to "the equal rights and inherent dignity of women and men." They also adopted the Beijing Platform for Action in which they pledged to "ensure equality and non-discrimination under the law and in practice," and more specifically in Paragraph 232(d) to "revoke any remaining laws that discriminate on the basis of sex and remove gender bias in the administration of justice." In June 2000, a Special Session of the General Assembly reviewed implementation of the Platform for Action, and governments pledged in the Outcome Document they adopted to review domestic legislation "with a view to striving to remove discriminatory provisions as soon as possible, preferably by 2005…" The 2005 deadline is fast approaching, yet laws that explicitly discriminate against women remain in force in many countries.
In 1999, Equality Now published Words and Deeds: Holding Governments Accountable in the Beijing +5 Review Process, a report highlighting a representative sampling of discriminatory laws in forty-five countries around the world and calling on their governments to rescind these laws in accordance with the commitment made in the Beijing Platform for Action. There have been a number of significant legal reforms in some countries. Equality Now welcomes the reforms that have been made by the Governments of The Bahamas, Costa Rica, France, Jordan, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Switzerland, Turkey, Venezuela and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia - Republic of Serbia, to eliminate the discriminatory laws highlighted by Equality Now in its initial report. These reforms demonstrate a commitment to equality and respect for the undertakings made in Beijing and other international legal obligations. They set an example that should be followed by all governments. The Government of Nepal amended several property laws to remove discriminatory provisions, including a law that gave daughters the right to a share of family property only if they were 35 years old and unmarried. It failed, however, to repeal a provision that requires women to return any such property upon marriage.
A large majority of the discriminatory laws cited by Equality Now in its report five years ago are still in force. The updated report attached to this Women's Action Update includes these laws and other laws that explicitly perpetuate de jure discrimination with regard to personal status, economic status, marital status and violence against women. These are a few of the many existing laws that fundamentally contradict the words and spirit of the Platform for Action (as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Civil and Political, and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women). In anticipation of the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action and the target date of 2005 for elimination of discriminatory laws, Equality Now calls on all governments to rescind these laws within the next year, to demonstrate their commitment to implement the Beijing Platform for Action.
Explicitly discriminatory laws that mention women by name are only a small part of the discrimination women face daily in every country in the world. In many and varied ways, women's right to equality is pervasively and invisibly denied and precluded, their social inequality officially ratified. Some constitutions specifically exempt from equality guarantees certain laws that particularly and profoundly affect women's lives, such as family law and property inheritance, in deference to discriminatory religious or customary laws. Laws adopted to promote equality in employment rarely guarantee equal pay for work of comparable value, and domestic work is almost never covered by labor laws, with the result that women in the most sex-segregated jobs continue to be underpaid and unprotected.
Authorities in most countries are typically reluctant to respond vigorously to domestic violence with the result that women, the primary victims of intimate assault, have less personal security. Some countries make selling sex a crime while buying sex is not, thereby criminalizing those who are exploited, mainly women, while at the same time not holding those who exploit them, almost always men, accountable for this abuse. In countries where abortion is a crime, women are forced to carry pregnancy to term or are exclusively burdened with the danger of illegal abortions, which can be fatal. Whenever laws promote or perpetuate women's inequality, even when their language appears gender-neutral, they constitute discrimination in violation of international norms. To implement the Beijing Platform for Action, which calls for "non-discrimination under the law and in practice," governments must review all laws that have a discriminatory impact and remedy this discrimination.
Law is the most formal expression of government policy. A government that allows discriminatory laws to remain in force endorses and promotes inequality. Without equality under law, women have no recourse when they face discrimination that affects all aspects of their lives including security, bodily integrity, family life, community status, and political, economic and social prospects. The fact that there are any laws - in fact so many laws - that explicitly discriminate against women nearly 10 years after the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action, 25 years after the adoption of CEDAW and 55 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirming that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights," is unacceptable.
Recommended Actions Please write to the heads of state of the countries mentioned in this report and call on them to ensure that the laws mentioned, and any other discriminatory laws in force, are repealed or amended before the agreed target date of 2005. Urge them to undertake and complete these reforms as a demonstration of their genuine commitment to the words and spirit of the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action and the Outcome Document adopted in 2000. To address the harmful and disproportionate impact on women of laws that are gender neutral in language, call on your own government to undertake a comprehensive review, in conjunction with women's groups in the country, of existing laws to identify and address any sex discriminatory impact these laws might have, through legal reform or other measures needed to ensure non-discriminatory implementation of the law. This appeal should be addressed to your Minister of Justice, as well as your President or Prime Minister. Share this report and your concerns with the media and the general public, to enlist their support in this campaign to hold governments accountable to the promises they made in the Beijing Platform for Action. Please keep us updated on your campaign efforts and let us know about discriminatory laws in your country and efforts underway to change them.
Please keep Equality Now updated on your efforts and send information or copies of replies you receive to: Equality Now, P.O. Box 20646, Columbus Circle Station, New York, NY 10023 USA or Equality Now Africa Regional Office, P.O. Box 2018 KNH, Nairobi, KENYA
Africa: Can women save the planet?
Many of Africa's women are trapped in a vicious circle of poverty and environmental destruction. Where will we be in 2015? This week, BBC Africa Live head to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, from where it asked: Why do women damage the environment? And what are women doing to help save the planet? Do women hold the answer to Africa's environmental problems? The debate took place on Wednesday 6 October at 1630 GMT and 1830 GMT, responses and comments can be read online.
Africa: Gender and peace-building in Africa report
This report features the following articles: "Gender Mainstreaming The Peace-Building Process" by Kari Karamé; "Gender, International Legal Framework And Peace-Building" by Christine Chinkin; "Involving Women In Peace Processes: Lessons From Four African Countries (Burundi, DRC, Liberia And Sierra Leone)" by Nadine Puechguirbal; and "Men, Masculinities And Peacekeeping In Sub-Saharan Africa" by Paul R. Higate. To view the Training for Peace Programme website, visit: http://www.trainingforpeace.org/
Kenya: Body exhumed in Kenya rape probe
British Royal Military Police Special Investigations Branch and Kenyan police have been looking into 650 allegations by hundreds of Samburu and Masai women that they were raped, dating from the 1980s and 90s . The body of Mantoi Kaunda, who was 16 when she was allegedly raped and killed by British soldiers, has been exhumed by forensic experts for further investigation.
Preparations for the fourth anniversary of Resolution 1325: 4 weeks to go
Women, Peace and Security month has arrived! Here is a sampling of the events being organized for the 4th anniversary of Resolution 1325. PeaceWomen has developed an October events calendar on the website. As events are finalized, and new events organized, PeaceWomen will update the online calendar. There are currently three major events scheduled including one in Stockholm, Sweden and two at the United Nations.
Rwanda: Rape survivors find no justice
Tens of thousands of Rwandan women were raped during the genocide and in the decade since, but only a few perpetrators of sexual violence have been prosecuted. In a new report, "Struggling to Survive: Barriers to Justice for Rape Victims in Rwanda," Human Rights Watch investigates the persistent weaknesses in the Rwandan legal system that hamper the investigation and prosecution of sexual violence. The report also documents the desperate health and economic situation of rape survivors. The full report is available at: http://hrw.org/reports/2004/rwanda0904/
Africa/Global: EU divided over list of "safe" countries
Statewatch is calling for the draft EU common list of "safe countries of origin" to be scrapped. An analysis by Statewatch shows that EU member states are divided over the proposed list of ten "safe countries of origin" (seven in Africa, three in Latin America).The list was proposed in March as part of the draft EU asylum procedures Directive, which was politically agreed by the member states in April 2004. A broad coalition of refugee and human rights organisations has already called for this Directive to be withdrawn.
Italy/Africa: Human rights of refugees violated
Amnesty International has condemned the policy adopted by the Italian government to manage the arrival of large numbers of migrants on the Italian island of Lampedusa in recent days. The immediate forced return to Libya, by aeroplane, of over 300 foreign nationals newly arrived in Italy constitutes a very serious violation of national and international laws and conventions relating to the right to seek asylum, said the organisation.
Kenya: Kenyan court intervenes in HIV stigma-related employment dismissal
A Kenyan woman with HIV has won the first round of a landmark court case claiming discrimination by her former employer. The waitress was sacked by her bosses at Home Park Caterers in Nairobi because, they discovered she had the virus that leads to AIDS from a hospital doctor who told them the results of the HIV test, which had been conducted without her consent, thus violating her right to privacy. In an 18-page ruling announced yesterday, High Court judge Lady Justice Murugi Mugo said the case was sufficiently reasonable to be heard and should go ahead.
A Kenyan woman with HIV has won the first round of a landmark court case claiming discrimination by her former employer.
The waitress was sacked by her bosses at Home Park Caterers in Nairobi because, she says, they discovered she had the virus that leads to AIDS. They found out because a hospital doctor told them the results of the HIV test, which had been conducted without her consent, she claimed.
This, said the woman - identified only as JAO - violated her constitutional right to privacy. Now she is demanding compensation from the catering firm, the doctor and the hospital. All three claimed the case should be struck out, arguing it was vexatious; that is, designed just to annoy them and not founded on a genuine cause. They also said it was also a waste of the court's time since it had no chance of success.
But in an 18-page ruling announced yesterday, High Court judge Lady Justice Murugi Mugo said the case was sufficiently reasonable to be heard and should go ahead. Ms JAO, through lawyer Otiende Amolo, is demanding that Home Park should either reinstate her or pay her damages for unfair dismissal. She also says her constitutional right to gainful employment was infringed upon when she was dismissed, which was a violation of her human rights. She is demanding compensation from Dr Primus Ochieng and his employers at Metropolitan Hospital and Metropolitan Health Services as well.
Ms JAO accuses Dr Ochieng and Metropolitan Health Services of disclosing her HIV status to Home Park without her knowledge or consent, thus violating her constitutional right to confidentiality. Dr Ochieng is also alleged to have breached his professional and statutory duty to counsel her and to disclose her HIV status to her. Ms JAO was sacked on April 30, 2002 after working at Home Park Caterers for eight years. Applying for the case to be struck out, Home Park's lawyer denied Ms JAO was dismissed because she had HIV and instead cited the reason as prolonged absenteeism due to her HIV status.
"She was more often absent for medical reasons than at work," they said. Home Park also claimed they were not party to the medical examination nor issuing her medical report. On his part, Dr Ochieng told the court in an affidavit that the former waitress went to his office in May 2002, and asked for a full medical report so she could seek medical attention at her rural home in Nyanza, to where she was moving after being sacked. She already knew she had HIV, having been tested the previous March. Dr Ochieng said he had then tested her, informed her of the result and prepared the report and handed it to her.
In her ruling, Lady Justice Mugo said the former waitress had not only shown reasonable cause of action since her dismissal could be regarded as inhuman treatment if the suit was successful, but it would also prove that her employer had acted contrary to the law and the constitution. "Given the nature of this case and the universality of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the development of human rights jurisprudence together with the ongoing attempts at the harmonisation of the relevant conventions with domestic law, I would be hesitant to overlook the positive features of the application before me," she said. Lady Justice Mugo continued: "I choose to be guided by an English decision which held that it is not appropriate to strike out the claim in an area of developing jurisprudence, since in such areas decisions as to novel points of law should be based on actual findings of fact." She went on: "I find the decision useful as it relates to circumstances where the treatment of HIV/Aids patients by doctors, hospitals, employers and others has been put to legal scrutiny with a view to moulding attitudes and public policy, such the same should be free of discriminatory tendencies. And giving judgment. I find the case discloses a reasonable cause of action."
Namibia: Human Rights Day renaming reflects GRN’S anti-rights agenda
The National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) condemns the Government of Namibia (GRN) Bill virtually banning the marking of December 10 as International Human Right's Day in Namibia. "Bearing in mind GRN’s general anti-human rights agenda over the years, NSHR is not surprised at this virtual banning of marking December 10 as International Human Rights Day. This state of affairs appears to be perfectly in line with the ruling SWAPO Party’s deplorable pre-independence human rights record", observed NSHR executive director Phil ya Nangoloh.
Sierra Leone: Lesbian rights activist brutally murdered
The government of Sierra Leone should bring to justice those responsible for the brutal murder of FannyAnn Eddy, founder of the Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association and a lesbian rights activist known across Africa, Human Rights Watch said October 4th. Eddy, 30, was found dead on the morning of September 29 after being raped repeatedly, stabbed and had her neck broken. FannyAnn Eddy's statement to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights on April 18, 2004 is available at: http://hrw.org/english/docs/2004/10/04/sierra9439.htm
Sudan: Arbitrary arrest of two students in Khartoum
On 23 September 2004, the National Security Agency (NSA) arrested two University of Khartoum students and took them to the NSA political section offices at Khartoum North. It was alleged that they were beaten and punched all over their bodies for an hour, as they were questioned about the activities of the Darfur Student Association. Abd Alrahman Mohamed Abd Alrahman (27 yrs) was released the next day, Friday 24 September 2004, at 4pm. Faisal Dawood Abd Alrahman's (26 yrs) current whereabouts are not known.
Africa/Italy: Many drown as migrant ship sinks
At least 17 people drowned off the coast of Tunisia when their boat sank while trying to reach Italy illegally, the Tunisian authorities say. The news came as a row erupted over Italy's decision to send migrants back to their point of departure. Three planeloads of migrants were flown to Libya on Saturday, and a further 800 people are due to be expelled.
Angola: New government plans could compromise voluntary nature of IDP return process
Close to four million internally displaced people have returned to Angola following the ceasefire agreement of April 2002 between the governing MPLA and the UNITA, which marked the end of 27 years of civil war. According to the UN, only between 40,000 and 60,000 people can still be considered internally displaced, whereas the government's estimates goes as high as 340,000. Most of the internally displaced people (IDPs) have returned spontaneously without any assistance from the government or humanitarian organisations.
Botswana/Angola: Registration of Angolan refugees to start immediately
The UNHCR representative in Botswana, Benny Otim, told Angolan refugees yesterday that his office would immediately start registering those willing to return home. Otim was briefing refugees at the Dukwi refugee settlement outside the city of Francistown. His registration call comes at a time when only about 50 of an estimated 882 Angolan refugees living at the Dukwi refugee camp has registered for voluntary repatriation.
Burundi/DRC/Rwanda: Hundreds flee for fear of violence
Hundreds of Burundians in the northern province of Kirundo have fled to Rwanda in the last two weeks following rumours of imminent violence should elections be delayed beyond October, ending three-year transitional period, a local official told IRIN."They were told that if elections are not held before 1 November, killings similar to those of 1993 would take place," Ildephonse Ndagijimana, the administrator of Bugabira, a commune in Kirundo, said.
Chad: Chad steps up security at UN camps after three refugees are killed
Chadian authorities are tightening security in and around 10 United Nations refugee camps in the east of the country - where more than 200,000 Sudanese people have gathered after fleeing violence in the Darfur region - after three refugees were killed there in the past week amid rising tensions with locals. Some 180 Chadian gendarmes have started patrols around the camps and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has handed over nine vehicles for the gendarmes to use.
Global/Africa: Refugees facing a less friendly environment, UN High Commissioner warns
Driven by prevailing fear, confusion and the politicization of humanitarian concerns, the world has become less friendly towards refugees - even though the number of people seeking asylum has fallen steeply - the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said. Ruud Lubbers opened the annual meeting of UNHCR's 66-member governing body in Geneva with a call for nations to share, rather than shift, the burden of accepting asylum seekers.
Norway/Ethiopia: Ethiopian refugees
New legislation that cuts all social aid for rejected asylum seekers has left refugees starving and freezing on the streets of Oslo (Norway). As five rejected refugees from Ethiopia have had to escape hunger in Norway by turning to Sweden, the UN's refugee agency and the Norwegian Church are now protesting against the "inhumane" legislation in one of the world's richest countries.
Rwanda: Government implements low-cost housing for returnees
With up to four million of its citizens living as refugees in neighbouring countries soon after the 1994 genocide, the government of Rwanda has introduced a low-cost housing scheme, known locally as "Imidugudu", to resettle thousands of people who returned after the killings. So far, the government has constructed at least 300,000 of these mud-bricked homes under the Imidigudu initiative, although it is still grappling with the impact of the genocide on human settlement.
Botswana: EISA Observer Mission to the 2004 Botswana Parliamentary and Local Elections
EISA launches its regional Election observer Mission for the upcoming General Elections due to be held in Botswana on 30 October 2004. The 2004 Botswana Elections will be the third electoral process where the assessment of the election will be based on the Principles for Election Management, Monitoring and Observation in the SADC Region (PEMMO) recently adopted by the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC countries (SADC ECF) and EISA.
Burundi: Committee to propose extension of political transition, UN envoy says
The Implementation and Monitoring Committee (IMC) of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Accord - under which Burundi's transitional government was established - will make proposals to the government on a possible extension of the three-year transitional period that ends on 31 October, a UN official said on 30 October. The IMC considers the adoption of the post-transition constitution an important step forward in the country's peace process but admits that some issues remain unsettled.
West Africa: Civil society electoral alliance for West Africa
An important meeting was held at the Goree Institute on August 3-5, 2004, where 12 regional institutions participated in discussions regarding the setting up of a Civil Society Organisations Alliance to support and engage constructively in elections within the region. The three day meeting resolved that the initiative had come at the right time as many elections are planned for the next couple of years, and civil society advocacy for free, fair, transparent and credible electoral proces ses have also been intensified.
An important meeting was held at the Goree Institute on August 3-5, 2004, where 12 regional institutions participated in discussions regarding the setting up of a Civil Society Organisations Alliance to support and engage constructively in elections within the region. The three day meeting resolved that the initiative had come at the right time as many elections are planned for the next couple of years, and civil society advocacy for free, fair, transparent and credible electoral proces ses have also been intensified. The participants agreed to support the objectives and programmes outlined below.
Contribute to Consolidating Democracy through free, fair, transparent and credible electoral processes in West Africa.
To create an Alliance of civil society organisations; whose core business is elections; to strengthen and support democratic electoral processes in West Africa, through the promotion of electoral Norms and Standards that reflect the conditions in the sub region, and to develop a strategic relationship with the Electoral Management Bodies (EMB).
* To establish a Secretariat at the Goree Institute to oversee the process of establishing the Alliance.
* To establish an Alliance Of Civil Society Organisations involved in electoral issues in all countries in West Africa by establishing National Focal Points in each country.
* To establish a Joint Forum of the Alliance and EMBs in the sub-region Activities The Secretariat will carry out the following activities:
(a) Undertake research to identify CSOs working in the electoral arena in West Africa (b) Draft Criteria for Membership of the Alliance together with Terms of Reference, Rules and Regulations, and Code of Conduct (c) Commission research and draft Electoral Norms and Standards for further consultation (d) Deploy election observer missions to countries holding elections to build capacity/test draft Norms and Standards (e) Build capacity of CSOs to undertake observer missions (f) Support the establishment of an EMB Forum in collaboration with ECOWAS, UNOWA, and other partners (g) Formally launch the Alliance
Zambia: Vice President fired for insurbordination
Zambia's President Levy Mwanawasa announced on Monday that he has sacked his vice president, Nevers Mumba, for insubordination. According to Mwanawasa, Mumba had breached an oath of allegiance when he failed to retract his recent allegations that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was harbouring individuals who were working against the Zambian government. Mumba will be replaced by Northern Province Minister Lupando Mwape.
Zimbabwe: Clerics call for defiance
Zimbabwe's seven Catholic bishops sent a pastoral letter to churches demanding a "credible electoral process" and peaceful campaigning ahead of March elections. And they warned against propaganda, favouritism and discrimination against dissenters, including the main opposition party. In a separate move also seen as a crackdown on dissent, the government proposed criminalising charity work done without a government permit, and banning charities and private groups focusing on "issues of human rights and good governance" from receiving foreign funding.
Zimbabwe: Ray of hope for Zim elections
A two-day conference on 'Minimum Standards for Elections in Zimbabwe was held in Pretoria on 4-5 October 2004 to determine how the South African community can assist Zimbabwe in building a solid consensus on minimum election standards. Unfortunately, the Zimbabwean government and Zanu-PF decided not to participate in this conference and Mugabe declared that Zimbabwe is not bound by the recently agreed Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) standards and norms on free and fair elections.
Africa/UK: Bribery begins at home
If Africa is to overcome corruption the west will have to clean up its own act. Next year, Britain is planning to make Africa the centre-piece of its presidencies of the European Union and the G8 industrialised nations. However, the UK government is potentially facing a serious credibility problem on Africa that could undermine its efforts to heal what Blair calls "the scar on the conscience of the world".
Africa: Why Africa keeps fighting over oil
The dispute over natural resources is at the heart of some of the most intractable conflicts in Africa today, from Sudan to Congo to Nigeria. Even amid international efforts to bring greater transparency to the continent's resource exploration, the recent strife here is a microcosm of widespread theft and mismanagement, which observers attribute to a combination of colonial-era intervention, corrupt governments, and cynical behavior by Western policymakers and multinationals.
Kenya: Kenya Former permanent secretary quizzed over Anglo Leasing deal
Anti-corruption police yesterday questioned former permanent secretary and Public Service chief Sally Kosgey over the Sh7 billion Anglo Leasing and Finance scandal. Anti-corruption police have flown to Switzerland to hunt down three men linked to the scandal. Two KACC detectives will travel also to Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the US for further investigations.
South Africa: Zuma "unfazed" by Shaik trial
Deputy-President Jacob Zuma is "unfazed" by media reports on Sunday that a KPMG report would show an "extensive financial relationship" between him and his financial adviser, Schabir Shaik. "He reiterates that those who believe they have a case against him should charge him and prove it in a court of law, and stop running a mischievous smear campaign in the media," said Zuma's spokesperson, Lakela Kaunda.
Zambia: Moves against corruption
Zambia’s President Levy Mwanawasa, who was viewed as a puppet of his predecessor Frederick Chiluba after he retired in 2002, has launched the country's biggest crackdown on corruption and declared a rule of law. In trying to defy the ‘puppet’ perception that was created in the minds of many Zambians, Mwanawasa seven months after assuming office addressed a special session of Parliament in July 2002 highlighting a catalogue of corrupt allegations against Chiluba. He alleged that Chiluba had plundered national resources, a scenario that had retard national development during his 10 years of presidency. Among the allegations raised was that the Chiluba’s government failed to account for US about $41 million raised from the privatisation of Roan Antelope Mining Corporation. Mwanawasa also alleged that US $20.5 million earmarked for arms purchases, was diverted from the public coffers for the personal benefit of the former president, his family and associates. He further stated that several million dollars were paid to Chiluba's family and supporters from a special bank account maintained by the ZSIS in London. Afterwards, Mwanawasa constituted what he called the Task Force on corruption. The Task Force was appointed with a specific mandate of prosecuting the suspected plunderers and recovering the stolen national resources.
1. By Noel Sichalwe in Lusaka, Zambia
Zambia’s President Levy Mwanawasa, who was viewed as a puppet of his predecessor Frederick Chiluba after he retired in 2002, has launched the country's biggest crackdown on corruption and declared a rule of law. In trying to defy the ‘puppet’ perception that was created in the minds of many Zambians, Mwanawasa seven months after assuming office addressed a special session of Parliament in July 2002 highlighting a catalogue of corrupt allegations against Chiluba. He alleged that Chiluba had plundered national resources, a scenario that had retard national development during his 10 years of presidency. Among the allegations raised was that the Chiluba’s government failed to account for US about $41 million raised from the privatisation of Roan Antelope Mining Corporation. Mwanawasa also alleged that US $20.5 million earmarked for arms purchases, was diverted from the public coffers for the personal benefit of the former president, his family and associates. He further stated that several million dollars were paid to Chiluba's family and supporters from a special bank account maintained by the ZSIS in London. Afterwards, Mwanawasa constituted what he called the Task Force on corruption. The Task Force was appointed with a specific mandate of prosecuting the suspected plunderers and recovering the stolen national resources.
Shortly, in the same July 2002, there were demonstrations from students, the labour movement, church and other civil society organisations that called for the stripping of Chiluba’s immunity so he could be prosecuted for corruption. Parliament bowed down to the mounted pressure and voted to strip the immunity from Chiluba in order to be prosecuted for corrupt practices and theft of public funds. This formed a basis upon which several leaders in the previous government were arrested and charged for various offences especially the most preferred theft of motor vehicle charges. However, while most observers applaud the lifting of Chiluba's immunity as evidence of Mwanawasa's commitment to fighting corruption, some observers believe he is using the state machinery to settle old scores with his opponents. Consequently, several of Chiluba's close associates, including the former head of the Zambia Intelligence Security Services, Xavier Chungu, and Zambian ambassador to the United States, Atan Shansonga, were arrested in connection with Chiluba's plunder of national resources. The duo was arrested on a series of theft of motor vehicle charges. The charge was preferred because under the Zambian Constitution, a theft of motor vehicle charge is not bailable. Unfortunately, the state has failed to secure any conviction in all their cases that have taken to court since July 2002. Chungu had been arrested on more than four occasions but he had always been acquitted in court. After the unsuccessful prosecution, Chungu who was perceived to have been at the helm of the plunder was then jointly charged with Chiluba regarding theft of millions of dollars. Chiluba and Chungu were first charged with theft of about US $3 million but these charges were dropped in April this year due to insufficient evidence. However, the duo was later charged with 168 counts of theft of US $29 million. The case dragged from last year until last month when it was dropped after Chungu disappeared. Immediately these charges were dropped last month, Chiluba has been charged on a fresh indictment where he is appearing with two others. The disappearance of Chungu in March this year, who was regarded as the pillar of the corrupt practices has been a serious set back that affected the Task Force in its pursuit of the suspected plunderers. The situation was however, aggravated by the state’s earlier decision to facilitate the exit of another key suspect, in March this year, from Zambia to the United Kingdom before Chungu disappeared. The state had secretly facilitated the exit of former Zambia’s former ambassador to the United States Atan Shansonga to the UK but they reported to the media that Shansonga had run away. But it was later learnt that they had sent Shansonga to help them retrieve more information regarding the plunder cases to pin down Chungu and Chiluba. It is because of this predicament on the part of the state that has affected the pace at which the corruption cases are going. They are now trying to locate where Chungu had run to while Shansonga who has duo citizenship of Zambia and Britain has refused to return home. This move has therefore, eroded the confidence of people in the fight against corruption because this decision was regarded as the state interference in the operations of the Task Force, which is supposed to work independently. The fleeing of Shansonga attracted scathing attack on the state and the Task Force from the civil society and the opposition political parties. What came to be disappointing to people was that the Vice-President Nevers Mumba recently announced in Parliament that the Task Force has only recovered about K6 billion (US $294,000) since they started operating and spent about K4 billion (US $196,000), which many Zambians consider to be unsuccessful. However, to amend this daint, Mwanawasa recently announced that he will strengthen the operations of the Task Force and people are now waiting to see what strategic actions he is considering taking.
* Noel Sichalwe, Lusaka, Zambia.
Africa/Global: Africa fails in IMF vote demand
Developing countries have failed in their bid to win more voting power for Africa at the IMF and World Bank. African leaders visiting Washington for the two organisation's meetings argued they have too little say in the running of the institutions. Europe has 10 seats on the IMF and World Bank boards - but Africa, which receives almost half of all loans from the two bodies, has only two. "If the fund and bank are going to be effective, they need to hear an African point of view," said Malawi finance minister Goodall Gondwe.
Africa/Global: World Bank and IMF must change labour policies to achieve poverty reduction
Unless the IFIs (World Bank and International Monetary Fund) reposition themselves to work more in concert with other international organisations - particularly the International Labour Organisation and other UN bodies - and drop their unswerving support for market liberalisation and labour market flexibility, current attempts to fulfil the Millennium Development Goals will fail, said the international trade union movement.
Global: HPG Report: Beyond the Continuum, the changing role of aid policy in protracted crises
A new research report from the Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG) examines how the international development aid system is becoming increasingly engaged in situations which, for many years, have been seen as largely the preserve of the humanitarian community. It reviews the changing relationship between the ideas, instruments and financing of the humanitarian system and of mainstream development cooperation in situations of protracted crisis. Two briefing papers synthesize the key findings and conclusions: http://www.odi.org.uk/hpg/hpgbrief16.pdf AND http://www.odi.org.uk/hpg/hpgbrief17.pdf
Global: World Development Report 2005: A better investment climate for everyone
A Better Investment Climate for Everyone, the World Bank’s annual World Development Report for 2005, was launched on September 28, 2004. The Report focuses on what governments can do to improve the investment climates of their societies to increase growth and reduce poverty.
Zimbabwe: Zim $200 bn facility to rescue business sector
Zimbabwe has set up an ambitious Zim $200 billion (about US $35.6 million) loan facility to breathe life into the country's struggling businesses. The Zimbabwe Development Bank (ZDB) and the Small Enterprises Development Corporation (SEDCO) have been appointed to handle and disburse the funds, which are expected to target companies facing economic hardship, particularly those close to bankruptcy or operating below capacity.
Africa/Global: Countries urged to allocate more resources to reproductive health programmes
The third meeting of the African Reproductive Health Task Force in Harare, Zimbabwe, called on African countries and the international community at large to allocate more resources to reproductive health programmes with a view to stemming the tide of maternal and child deaths. Zimbabwe's Minister of Health and Child Welfare said that African and global health policies have overlooked the need to allocate adequate resources to reproductive health programmes, which has contributed to the massive numbers of maternal and newborn deaths.
Africa/Global: Studies on interface between hormonal contraception and HIV infection
Two major studies on the interface between the use of hormonal contraception and HIV infection are currently being finalized and will be released in early 2005. Depending on the results (of the studies), there may be a need to have an urgent consultation in Geneva to develop an evidence-based response to the findings, followed by a consultation of scientists, senior clinicians, policy makers and programme managers in the WHO African Region.
Africa/Global: Tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections
Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection is a necessary, but not sufficient, cause of tuberculosis (TB), as only approximately 10% of those infected ever develop tuberculosis. This process of progressing to disease after infection is poorly understood. A well known risk factors for this progression is HIV/AIDS. In a letter that will appear in Emerging Infectious Diseases several scientists hypothesize on epidemiological grounds that, in addition to HIV, there likely exists another sexually transmitted virus that causes tuberculosis after tuberculous infection.
Botswana: Access to affordable drugs: Victims of HIV/AIDS should not suffer from trade rules
Botswana was warned last week by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, in a document made public on October 4th, to ensure that trade agreements do not undermine Botswana's ability to ensure access to affordable treatment for children or other people with HIV/AIDS.
Access to Affordable Drugs: Victims of HIV/AIDS Should Not Suffer From Trade Rules
4 October 2004
Botswana was warned last week by a UN Committee that trade agreements should not undermine Botswana's ability to ensure access to affordable treatment for children or other people with HIV/AIDS.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, in a document made public today, strongly recommended that Botswana ensure that "regional and other free trade agreements do not have a negative impact on the implementation of children's rights."
Most importantly, it warned Botswana that trade agreements should not "affect the possibility of providing children and other victims of HIV/AIDS with effective medicines for free or at the lowest price possible."
These recommendations follow the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child's consideration of the situation of children's rights in Botswana. In their discussion, Committee members expressed concern that strict intellectual property (IP) rules in proposed trade agreements could undermine Botswana's ability to fulfill its human rights obligations and meet the needs of the national HIV/AIDS treatment programme. Botswana, as member of the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU - Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland), is currently negotiating a trade agreement (FTA) with the United States. Although US-SACU FTA negotiations were scheduled to conclude by the end of 2004, they are currently stalled due to strong disagreement over the strict IP rules and health-related services liberalization commitments requested by the US. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is an independent organ which supervises the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child - the most widely applicable international human rights treaty, which all countries in the world except two have ratified.
As a party to this treaty, Botswana is obliged to take steps to ensure that the best interests of the child are taken into account at all levels of decision-making, and that it fulfills its human rights obligations, of which the obligation to ensure the child's right to an adequate standard of health.
It is therefore necessary to encourage Botswana, and other SACU countries, to further delay the US-SACU FTA negotiations until they have undertaken an impact assessment of the effect of proposed IP rules and services commitments on access to affordable drugs and health services.
Other countries around the world are also negotiating trade agreements with the US that could have similar impacts as the US-SACU FTA, and undermine access to medicines. Countries negotiating trade agreements with the US include Andean countries, Thailand and Panama.
3D therefore encourages Botswana, SACU countries and civil society groups in countries negotiating trade agreements with the US to use the CRC recommendation as a tool to ensure that trade agreements do not undermine access to affordable drugs and health services, particularly for the treatment of HIV/AIDS. The CRC recommendation is attached to this email, as is the briefing note entitled Trade-related intellectual property rights, trade in services and the fulfillment of children's rights - Botswana.
For more information, contact: Davinia Ovett, Programme Officer, 3D -> Trade - Human Rights - Equitable Economy. Tel: + 41 22 320 21 21
We are a non-governmental organization who promote collaboration amongst trade, development and human rights professionals, to ensure that trade rules are developed and applied in ways that promote an equitable economy.
DRC: Cholera in the Congo, washed down with a few Cokes
Jean-Marie Muzaz, a chief nurse, has attended to the victims of cholera for as long as Mandela was in jail: 27 years. In the absence of government help, he has designed his own equipment to deal with this "poor man's disease" - one of the clearest indicators of poverty and despair. According to Musafiri, six years of conflict in Kalemie have killed 55% of the children under five, 31% of the pregnant women, 17% of the men. Now people die from Aids, many of them women who were raped during the war. December will see the departure of the Italians who provide drugs to the cholera victims.
Ethiopia: Famine-prone areas worse off
Famine-prone areas of Ethiopia are worse off now than 20 years ago at the time of the 1984 tragedy that claimed up to a million lives, Mike Aaronson, head of Save the Children UK (SC UK) said on Monday. On the eve of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's three-day visit to Ethiopia to push Africa's plight to the top of the world agenda, Aaronson said that it was "shocking" that millions of children still went hungry in Ethiopia, blaming apathy by world leaders.
Global: Participate in the first Global Health Watch Report
Global Health Watch is calling activists, health workers and academics from around the world to submit case studies and testimonies to supplement the first edition of the Global Health Watch Report. These case studies and testimonies will form part of the electronic accompaniment to the alternative world health report which will be launched in July 2005 at the People's Health Assembly in Ecuador.
Kenya: Brick-making blamed for malaria epidemics in western highlands
Brick-making, an important economic activity in the highlands of western Kenya, may be the cause of recent malaria epidemics in the area, where the disease was not naturally endemic, a recent study has shown. The study showed that brick-making generated dry season habitats for malaria vectors in western Kenya. The research findings were published by the BMC Public Health, an online journal that carries research articles. It is available at: www.biomedcentral.com/bmcpublichealth/
Nigeria/Africa: Leaders Launch Drive to Curb Polio in Africa
Political leaders and health workers launched a drive Saturday to immunise more than 80 million children against polio in 23 African nations and fight back against a resurgence of the crippling disease. Campaigners had been hoping to eradicate polio this year or next but the virus has spread in the past 18 months to 12 countries where it had been wiped out, in part because the northern Nigerian state of Kano banned the vaccination.
Sudan: WFP surpasses target, feeding more than 1.3 m in Darfur
The United Nations World Food Programme fed more than 1.3 million people in the Darfur region of western Sudan in September, exceeding its own target of 1.2 million and recording its largest food distribution since the humanitarian crisis began. Using a combination of trucks, aircraft and trains, WFP moved a total of 21,535 metric tons of food aid to 1,336,992 people in crisis-affected areas of North, South and West Darfur.
Swaziland: Clergy, media clash on use of condoms
Some Christian clergymen and journalists locked horns early this week at a seminar in Swaziland over the use of condoms and masturbation as some of the safe practices in the fight against HIV and Aids. A South African Anglican reverend, Jape Heath, introduced the duo practices to the workshop participants, while the Arch-Deacon of Anglican, Diocese of Swaziland, Shongwe Londoloza, immediately disagreed, saying the two practices were anathema to African values and Christianity as a whole.
Africa/Global: Lessons For Providing Adequate Schooling in Africa
A conference was held Sep. 29 in Bergen City, southern Norway, which brought together 70 education specialists from Africa, Europe and Asia. Governments, civil society and donor agencies were represented at the meeting, entitled 'Quality in Education for All'. Various African governments received a stinging rebuke this week for failing to live up to promises to improve children’s education in their countries.
Somalia: School-feeding programme to be expanded
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) plans to expand its school-feeding project in Somalia once a government has been re-established and security restored in all areas to facilitate the revival of the Horn of Africa country's poor education system, a senior WFP official said. Robert Hauser, WFP's country director for Somalia told IRIN, "The education sector at the moment is the highest priority of the UN system and of most of the donor community also."
Zambia: Quality education cannot be attained without qualified teachers
In a speech read on his behalf by education deputy minister Gunston Chola during the commemoration of Teachers Day under the theme "Quality Teachers for Quality Education Recruitment and Retention of Qualified Teachers" yesterday, Mulenga said recruitment and retention of qualified teachers was cardinal for the country to achieve quality education. Mulenga said government's failure to recruit more teachers was not intentional, but in order to attain a positive economic environment so that more teachers would be employed.
Africa/Global: Global racism conference urges blacks to increase economic power
Delegates at a racism conference urged blacks worldwide to work toward greater economic power, while the gathering faced criticism of a decision to exclude non-blacks from some deliberations. The six-day conference in Suriname is bringing together more than 100 delegates from Africa, Canada, the United States, Latin America, Europe and the Caribbean. The Global African Conference was created during a 2002 meeting in Barbados, billed as a follow-up to the 2001 United Nations anti-racism conference in South Africa.
South Africa: Judge president slams 'racist' colleagues
Judge President John Hlophe of the Cape High Court has lashed out at the white legal fraternity for what he described as calculated attempts to undermine black judges and stall transformation. Racial tensions have often been expressed within the court, but this is the first time they have bubbled into the public domain. It is widely acknowledged that further transformation of the Cape High Court bench is urgently needed. Norman Arendse SC, chairperson of the General Council of the Bar of SA(GCB), the body that regulates the conduct of all practising advocates, has ordered an investigation into the matter.
Zimbabwe: Ex-Zimbabwe cricket boss to drop race bomb
Vincent Hogg, former chief executive of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union will inform the ICC's investigators this week about several incidents involving black ZCU directors. These were the main reasons he left the job two months ago after two and a half years, he said. "For instance one director told me that whites have no right to be in the country at all, and that was during a formal meeting. Some of the directors were totally out of order in this regard and it was extremely upsetting to have to listen to that sort of racist language."
FAO intensifies locust campaign in West Africa
Desert locust control operations have been expanded in West Africa, but countries are still facing serious shortages of pesticides and aircraft, FAO said today. Donor funding has significantly increased since Director-General Dr Jacques Diouf called on donors two weeks ago to respond urgently to FAO's appeal. FAO has now $14.7 million in cash, with a further $40 million of pledged contributions. Around $12 million have been promised by donors but are awaiting confirmation. The UN agency is providing around $6 million from its own resources.
Malawi: Cash crop estates versus smallholder food producers
Malawi is losing 2.8 percent of its forest cover every year and has the highest deforestation rate in the Southern African Development Community. "Forest resources are under enormous pressure from expansion of agricultural activities, because of an increase in the population. Many people cultivate in government-protected forests because they say they do not have land," John Ngalande, deputy Director of the forestry department, told IRIN.
Uganda: Experts focus on economic impact of organic farming
Over 200 global coffee-industry experts started a three-day international conference on organic coffee production, saying it was the way to go in order to improve incomes of farmers who had been affected by a slump in international coffee prices. The conference's theme was 'Fair trade in quality coffee' and stressed the notion that the ultimate individuals to benefit from organic coffee production will be the smallholder farmer.
West Africa: FAO eclipses regional locust control body, but comes in for criticism
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has led international efforts to fight locusts across Africa and the Middle East for over 50 years, acting as a link between donors and the affected countries. But this time around, as the insects demolish crops across a wide swathe of West Africa, there have been problems. Donors ranging from the United States to the European Union have privately criticised the FAO for doing too little too late to tackle the current crisis and have accused the organisation of not being properly geared up to deal with it.
Zimbabwe: Police confirm eviction of Zimbabwe settlers
For the last three weeks, Zimbabwean authorities have raided scores of farms in once-productive white commercial farming areas, evicting settlers and burning down their homes. The settlers are said to have invaded the land under President Robert Mugabe's land grab scheme in 2000. The mass evictions are seen as a dramatic reversal of the government's land reform policy, denounced internationally as violent, illegal and chaotic.
Central African Republic: RSF hails publishers' "day without newspapers"
Reporters without Borders (RSF) has hailed a 30 September 2004 announcement by the Central African Republic Association of Private and Independent Newspaper Publishers (Groupement des éditeurs de la presse privée indépendante de Centrafrique, GEPPIC) saying it will no longer publish newspapers on Fridays, beginning 1 October, until President François Bozizé's government keeps a promise to decriminalise press offences.
Ethiopia: IFEX members raise concerns over press law
At a meeting called by the Ministry of Information on 28 September 2004 in Addis Ababa, the International Press Institute, the World Press Freedom Committee, Article 19 and the Media Institute of Southern Africa voiced concerns that provisions in the draft press law posed a threat to press freedom. The Ethiopian government has said that it would be willing to consider the idea of a voluntary, self-regulating press council instead of a state-run body, and to ensure that provisions on the protection of journalists' sources would meet international standards.
Guinea: Security minister seizes weekly's entire print run
Guinean Security Minister Moussa Sampil has confiscated all 950 copies of the weekly "Le Petit matin" on 23 September 2004 because of an article ridiculing his "mistakes", and then trying to justify the seizure by falsely claiming the newspaper was illegal. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) added, "We call for 'Le Petit matin' to be allowed to resume publishing normally and for it to be compensated for the financial losses resulting from the seizure of the 23 September issue."
Ivory Coast: Journalist missing in rebel zone for more than a month
The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned by reports that a correspondent for the private daily L'Inter has gone missing from the rebel-held town of Bouake after receiving threats from rebels. Before disappearing on August 28th, Amadou Dagnogo told his editor he received threats from rebels loyal to Guillaume Soro, leader of the Forces Nouvelles (FN) that control Bouake. Dagnogo wrote articles about a split in the rebel movement and alleged atrocities by Soro's men.
Nigeria: Condom Advert Banned
Determined to ensure compliance with the Sharia practice in Bauchi, the stat Sharia Consultative Council has placed an embargo on condom advertisements on the state-owned electronic media, saying such adverts promote and encourage immorality, and expose youth to unwholesome acts. The Council also urged the government to ban "immoral films" aired on the government-owned television station, arguing that such films apart from promoting promiscuity were against the tenets of the Sharia Legal System being operated in the state.
Uganda: Fine for Ugandan radio gay show
A radio station in Uganda has been forced to pay a fine for hosting homosexuals in a live talk show. The Ugandan Broadcasting Council fined Radio Simba over $1,000 and ordered it to make a public apology. The programme is "contrary to public morality and is not in compliance with the existing law," the council's chairman, Godfrey Mutabazi, said. Information Minister Nsaba Buturo defended the measure saying Ugandans wanted to uphold "God's moral values". Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda.
Burundi: Housing efforts "a drop in the ocean"
As Burundians struggle to rebuild their war-torn nation, many have been invoking a local proverb: It is easy to light a fire and difficult to extinguish it. Currently, about 1.2 million people lack basic shelter. They are refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and single mothers whose husbands were killed during the war and who have been left to care for their children. Almost 250,000 new homes are urgently needed. So far, almost none of those homes have been built.
Malawi: Norway releases balance of payments aid
Donors have started rewarding President Bingu wa Mutharika's efforts to tackle corruption and restore fiscal discipline in Malawi. he World Bank recently announced it had disbursed US $25 million to Malawi in support of the country's Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), and this week Norway said it was releasing Norwegian Kroner 20 million (about US $3 million) in balance of payments support to Malawi.
Mozambique: Few Mozambican households have enough food report
More than half the number of Mozambicans interviewed in a recent poverty survey said they had been unable to meet household food needs in the last 12 months, and many did not have access to sufficient water. About 8,000 Mozambicans in 102 of the 146 rural and urban districts of Mozambique participated in the research conducted by a group of civil society organisations called G20, as part of its contribution to the "poverty observatory".
South Africa: Over 300, 000 jobs created since summit
According to Herbert Mkhize, Nedlac's executive director, a total of 332, 000 jobs were created in the six months between September 2003 and March 2004, after the growth and development summit (GDS). A further analysis will provide information about the status of GDS themes of "more jobs, better jobs, investment promotion, skills development, promotion of equity and boosting local action".
Africa battles to keep doctors, nurses
Dr. Varela, 28, graduated from medical school two years ago. Of the 25 members of his class, he is one of only three working in Malawi's desperate public-health system as the rest have either already left for foreign posts, or on their way abroad. African governments have been complaining for years about the "poaching" of their doctors and nurses, who are lured abroad to better-paying jobs in less crowded hospitals, and the issue has become a topic of serious debate in the health-care field.
Development-EU: Migration Not a Separate Matter
Former UN official Prof Bimar Ghosh, director of the New International Regime for Orderly Movements of People (Niromp), an international consultant on trade, migration and development says better policy coherence between migration and trade, aid and foreign investment would solve a paradox. Ghosh called for "regulated openness" of EU borders and for shared responsibility in sending and receiving migrants. Assistance to countries of origin of (labour) migrants would help decrease disorderly migration, and lead to a win-win situation for both South and North, he said.
Ghana to host Pan Africa committee conference
The "Pan-African in the 21st century" Conference aims at bringing African Americans from the Diaspora to push the objectives of Pan-Africanism forward, and will be held in Accra from September 30 to October 3. It will develop workable programme of action that addresses the need of Africans through out the world in nation-building and international reparation issues and Business economic development for the Africa continent.
Turks and Caicos Islands: Looking for lost ancestors
In 1841, the slave ship Trouvadore was lost on a coral reef in the Turks and Caicos Islands, 500 miles south-east of Miami. The slaves, who were bound for Cuba, survived and settled in the British colony, founding Bambarra, a village with an African name. Tim Ecott joined in an expedition which may allow modern-day islanders to trace their heritage back to West Africa. Like most people descended from slaves, the "Belongers" know little of their true history.
*Sierra Leone Truth Commission Final Report Released
The Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission has just published its report. The report concludes that "it was years of bad governance, endemic corruption and the denial of basic human rights that created the deplorable conditions that made conflict inevitable." Sierra Leone saw some of the most horrific and cruel atrocities committed by people against each other. "The overwhelming majority of atrocities were committed by Sierra Leoneans against Sierra Leoneans. All the fighting factions targeted civilians. Women and girls became targets for abuse in the brutal conflict in Sierra Leone. They suffered abductions and exploitation at the hands of their abductions. Their ulnerability was exploited in order to dehumanize them. Women and girls were raped, forced into sexual slavery and endured acts of sexual violence. Many suffered mutilations, torture and a host of other cruel and inhumane acts. The Commission found the leadership of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), the Sierra Leone Army (SLA) and the Civil Defense Forces (CDF) to be responsible for either authorising or instigating human rights violations against civilians; alternatively for failing to stop such practices or to speak out against them. Sierra Leone was systematically plundered and looted by all factions in the conflict. The Commission found the RUF to have been responsible for the largest number of human rights violations in the conflict." The report claims that the war was only partly to do with diamonds, which fuelled rather than caused the crisis. The report highlights the role of external parties in intensifying the conflict and "laments the fact that the international community, apart from the ECOWAS states, declined to intervene in the unfolding human catastrophe in Sierra Leone until at a very late stage." It recommendations include calling upon leaders to to respect human rights, the abolition of the death penalty, upholding freedom of expression, etc. On reparations, the commission proposes "a programme to address and respond to the specific needs of victims, rather than recommending cash handouts." The overview of the Commission's report can be found at the link below. The full report is due to be made available, we understand at http://www.ictj.org/
OVERVIEW OF THE SIERRA LEONE TRUTH & RECONCILIATION REPORT
1. After years of brutal conflict in Sierra Leone a need existed to confront the past. The nation wanted to know what precipitated the wave of vengeance and mayhem that swept across the country. How was it that the people of Sierra Leone came to turn on each other with such ferocity? Why did so many abandon traditions of community and peaceful co-existence? Why were long held and cherished customs and taboos so wantonly discarded? It is only through generating such understanding that the horrors of the past can effectively be prevented from occurring again. Knowledge and understanding are the most powerful deterrents against conflict and war.
2. The Commission accordingly recommends the widest possible dissemination of its Report and its different versions, including the Children's and Video versions. The Commission encourages the production of popular versions and summaries in different local languages. Dissemination committees should be organized to distribute the Report at the national and local levels. In particular, the Commission encourages the use of the Report and its different versions to promote dialogue and debate in workshops and other events around the country. The contents of the Report should be incorporated into education programmes from primary to tertiary level. The full Report and its appendixes should be made available on the internet.
3. Those who negotiated the Lome Peace Agreement recognized that Sierra Leoneans had a need to express and acknowledge suffering, a need to relate their stories and experiences, a need to know who was behind the atrocities, a need to explain and contextualize decisions and conduct, a need to reconcile with former enemies, a need to begin personal and national healing and a need to build accountability in order to address impunity. The Lome Peace Agreement required Sierra Leone to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to meet these different needs. The Sierra Leone Parliament made provision for such a commission in early 2000 by virtue of the Truth and Reconciliation Act, 2000 (the Act).
4. Establishing the truth and achieving reconciliation is an ambitious project for any country struggling to overcome the bitterness of strife and war. This was particularly the case for Sierra Leone. The country was devastated by nearly a decade of civil war. Sierra Leone had become one of the poorest countries in the world. It took several years to establish the Commission. During this period, further disturbances broke out in parts of the country, which prompted the Government of Sierra Leone and the international community to establish the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The Special Court was tasked with prosecuting those who bore the greatest responsibility for serious violations of human rights. All these factors impacted on the work of the Commission.
5. The Commission was supported in its efforts to raise funds through the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). However, it became evident that with the limited timeframe that the Commission had to undertake its mandate and activities, donors were skeptical about its capacity to realize its funding potential at the initial proposed level of $9.9 million. The Commission's requirements were later realigned to meet funding prospects while maintaining a credible institution. It became clear from the outset that the establishment of the Commission was beset with problems. The Commission was unable to raise sufficient funding. Less than half the funds pledged eventually found their way to the Commission.
6. Internal difficulties saw the Commission effectively losing the first 6 months of its existence. These early difficulties led to a crisis of credibility that in turn exacerbated the Commissions' funding crisis. The Commission acknowledges the fact that a measure of internal mismanagement contributed to the many problems experienced by the Commission, not only during the start-up phase but also throughout the life of the Commission.
7. The Commission had to tailor its approach and processes to the constraints it faced. The Commission established two units, namely the Information Management Unit, which included the functions of investigation and research, and the Legal and Reconciliation Unit, which was largely responsible for spearheading the Commission's reconciliation activities. The Commissions activities were divided into three main phases: statement taking, hearings and report writing.
Themes and Historical Record
8. Early in its life, the Commission identified certain key themes upon which it would focus its energies during its research and investigation. These themes were:
A. Historical Antecedents to the Conflict
2 Military and Political History of the Conflict
3 Nature of the Conflict
4 Mineral Resources in the Conflict
5 External Actors in the Conflict
6 Women and the Armed Conflict
7 Children and the Armed Conflict
8 Youths and the Armed Conflict
9 The TRC and the Special Court for Sierra Leone
10 National Vision for Sierra Leone
Each theme is reflected as a chapter in this report.
9. The first objective of the Commission, as established by the Act, was to create an impartial historical record of violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law related to the armed conflict in Sierra Leone. The Parliament of Sierra Leone recognized that such a record would form the basis for the task of preventing the recurrence of violence. Several of the themes focused on by the Commission comprise the historical record of the conflict. The Commission endeavored to produce an authentic and truthful account of the conflict. The Commission does not claim to have produced the complete or exhaustive historical record of the conflict. The Commission is however satisfied that it has provided an essential story of the armed conflict, which includes an account of its main events and how it started. At times, this story accords with popular views of the conflict. At other times, the Commissions record of the conflict departs from popular history and debunks certain myths and untruths about the conflict.
Causes of the Conflict
10. While there were many factors, both internal and external, that explain the cause of the civil war, the Commission came to the conclusion that it was years of bad governance, endemic corruption and the denial of basic human rights that created the deplorable conditions that made conflict inevitable. Successive regimes became increasingly impervious to the wishes and needs of the majority. Instead of implementing positive and progressive policies, each regime perpetuated the ills and self-serving machinations left behind by its predecessor. By the start of the conflict, the nation had been stripped of its dignity. Institutional collapse reduced the vast majority of people into a state of deprivation. Government accountability was non-existent. Political expression and dissent had been crushed. Democracy and the rule of law were dead. By 1991, Sierra Leone was a deeply divided society and full of the potential for violence. It required only the slightest spark for this violence to be ignited.
11. The Commission highlights its finding that many of the causes of conflict that prompted thousands of young people to join the war have still not been adequately addressed. The Commission makes recommendations to strengthen the judiciary and the rule of law, as well as Parliament and the electoral system. The Commission proposes the introduction of a new transparent regime in which citizens will have reasonable access to government information, where senior public officials disclose their financial interests and where government informs people down to the community level what amounts are being spent on services and amenities.
The Story of the Conflict
12. The core of the historical record is to be found in the chapter titled Military and Political History of the Conflict?. This chapter endeavours to tell the story of the conflict by charting its key events and dynamics in the military and political spheres. It begins by tracing the immediate causes of the conflict and the convergence of factors that led to the outbreak of hostilities. Thereafter, for the purposes of analysis, the chapter is divided into three distinct components, which are referred to by the Commission as Phases I, II and III. Each phase assumed a slightly different character, although the common underpinning was the ongoing commission of violations by all warring factions. Phase one is entitled Conventional Target Warfare? and covers the period from the outbreak of the conflict until 13th November 1993. Phase two is entitled Guerrilla Warfare? and covers the period from 13 November 1993 until 2 March 1997. Phase three is entitled Power Struggles and Peace Efforts? and covers the period from 2 March 1997 until the end of the conflict on 18 January 2002.
13. The story of the war reveals how Sierra Leoneans were denied their humanity. The story underscores the need for the creation of a human rights culture in Sierra Leone. A rights culture is one in which there is knowledge and recognition of the basic rights to which all human beings are entitled. A rights culture demands that we respect each others human rights, without exception. Such a culture will only be realized once all Sierra Leoneans accept the responsibility of building it. Among its recommendations to protect human rights the Commission recommends the immediate release of all those held in safe custody detention and that such detention never be resorted to again. The Commission also recommends significant changes to the legal regime governing public emergencies.
Nature of the Conflict
14. The Sierra Leonean poet, Mahomed Sekoya, wrote:
I saw abomination between man and woman, man and man, woman and woman, adults and children. Yes I saw.?
Sierra Leone saw some of the most horrific and cruel atrocities committed by people against each other. In the chapter, Nature of the Conflict?, the Commission endeavoured to provide the context in which abuses such as amputations, sexual abuse and slavery and forced cannibalism took place. This chapter explores the nature of the violations committed and the essentially self-destructive character of the conflict.
15. The overwhelming majority of atrocities were committed by Sierra Leoneans against Sierra Leoneans. All the fighting factions targeted civilians. The Commission found the leadership of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), the Sierra Leone Army (SLA) and the Civil Defense Forces (CDF) to be responsible for either authorising or instigating human rights violations against civilians; alternatively for failing to stop such practices or to speak out against them. Sierra Leone was systematically plundered and looted by all factions in the conflict. The Commission found the RUF to have been responsible for the largest number of human rights violations in the conflict.
Mineral Resources and the Armed Conflict
16. There is a view commonly held, both within and outside Sierra Leone, that the Sierra Leone conflict was a war fought over diamonds. This is only partly true. The Commission found that the civil war in Sierra Leone was not simply a struggle for mineral resources. There were other factors that laid the grounds for the war which would have taken place even without the existence of diamonds in the country. The Commission concluded that the exploitation of diamonds was not the cause of the conflict in Sierra Leone, rather it was an element that fuelled the conflict. The Commission explains in its chapter,Mineral Resources in the Conflic?, how diamonds were used by most of the armed factions to finance and support their war efforts.
External Actors and the Armed Conflict
17. Although the Sierra Leone war was one primarily fought by Sierra Leoneans, external parties played influential roles in intensifying the conflict. In the chapter, External Actors in the Armed Conflict the Commission explores the roles of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), Charles Taylor and Libya in bringing bloody conflict to Sierra Leone. The Commission calls on Liberia to make symbolic reparation to Sierra Leone and calls on Libya to make financial contributions to the War Victims Fund.
18. The Commission also considers the different roles of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the ECOWAS Ceasefire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), the United Liberation Movement for Democracy (ULIMO), mercenary groups such as Executive Outcomes and Sandline, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and the rest of the international community. The Commission laments the fact that the international community, apart from the ECOWAS states, declined to intervene in the unfolding human catastrophe in Sierra Leone until at a very late stage. The Commission calls on the international community to stay the course in helping to rebuild Sierra Leone.
Women and the Armed Conflict
19. Women and girls became targets for abuse in the brutal conflict in Sierra Leone. They suffered abductions and exploitation at the hands of their abductions. Their vulnerability was exploited in order to dehumanize them. Women and girls were raped, forced into sexual slavery and endured acts of sexual violence. Many suffered mutilations, torture and a host of other cruel and inhumane acts.
20. The chapter titled, Women and the Armed Conflict?, sets out the violations suffered by women and considers the current position of women in Sierra Leone. The Commission makes specific recommendations to redress the marginalization of women in the political and social life of Sierra Leone, including a minimum percentage of women to be represented in public office and as candidates in national and local government elections.
Children and the Armed Conflict
21. The Commission's enabling Act required it to give special attention to the experiences of children in the armed conflict. Children were singled out for some of the most brutal violations of human rights recorded in any conflict. The Sierra Leonean conflict was characterised by the pernicious strategy employed by most of the factions in forcing children into combat. The Commission found it most disturbing that children were the main victims in the following violations: drugging, forced recruitment, rape, and sexual assault. The Commission found that children between the ages of 10 to 14 were specifically targeted for forced recruitment, rape, and sexual slavery. Children were also forced, often under the threat of death, to commit a range of atrocities.
22. The Commission paid particular attention to identifying and exposing individuals and factions responsible for the violation and abuse of the rights of children. Never again should the children of Sierra Leone be subjected to brutality.
Youths and the Armed Conflict
23. The last twenty years of Sierra Leone's history is, in large part, the story of Sierra Leone's youths. Youths were the driving force behind the resistance to one party state rule in the 1980s. As students, journalists, workers and activists, they exposed injustices and the bankruptcy of the ruling elite's ideology. They also bore the brunt of the state's repressive backlash. During the conflict, youths formed the bulk of the fighting forces in all the factions.
24. Many of the dire conditions that gave rise to the conflict in 1991 remain in 2004. As in the late 1980s, many young adults continue to occupy urban ghettoes where they languish in a twilight zone of unemployment and despair. The Commission found that the youth in Sierra Leone were and continue to be excluded from meaningful participation in the political process. The Commission recommends the creation of a Youth Commission and a minimum percentage of youth to be represented as candidates in national and local government elections.
Transitional Justice in Sierra Leone
25. The Commission worked alongside an international criminal tribunal, the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Most truth commissions have operated as an alternative to criminal prosecutions. Given the pardon and amnesty provisions of the Lome Peace Agreement, the Commission was proposed as an alternative to criminal justice in order to establish accountability for the atrocities that had been committed during the conflict. The Special Court was created after the abandonment of the amnesty provisions (or certain of them) following breaches of the LomA(c) Peace Agreement by elements within the RUF.
26. The Sierra Leonean case has brought into focus the different roles of truth and reconciliation commissions and international tribunals and the potential pitfalls that may arise when they operate simultaneously. While the relationship between the Commission and the Special Court was mostly cordial, it did falter following the refusal of the Special Court to permit the Commission to hold public hearings with the detainees held in its custody. In the view of the Commission, this decision of the Special Court did not sufficiently take into account the respective roles of the two bodies. The Commission makes specific recommendations aimed at addressing some of the difficulties that it encountered in this context. These may be of value to future transitional justice initiatives.
27. The Commission holds that the right to the truth is inalienable. This right should be upheld both in national and international law. It is the exploration of the wider truth through broad-based participation that permits a nation to examine itself honestly and to take effective measures to prevent a repetition of the past.
28. The Commission recognizes that reconciliation is a long-term process that must occur at national, community, and individual levels. Being a process, it will take time and will need to continue even beyond the present generation. The Commission places no preconditions on the realisation of reconciliation. Reconciliation is an ongoing process that must be nurtured and promoted.
29. Reconciliation is about relationships and how to change them. Relationships of hatred, anger, frustration, alienation or indifference need to be changed into relationships of respect, co-operation and trust. Reconciliation aims at restoring the social fabric within families, communities and the nation.
30. The reconciliation process is not finished when people peacefully co-exist. Reconciliation needs to go further: people need to understand that the only future they have is a common one and that the only way forward towards development is by working together. Working together requires more than tolerance and respect. It requires consultation, debate and agreement, an understanding of the fact that common interests can be in conflict with personal interests and that co-operation requires compromise.
31. Among the recommendations the Commission proposes to advance reconciliation is the establishment of a national reconciliation day to be held every year on 18th January, which is the day that the war was officially declared to be over in 2002 with the symbolic burning of 3000 weapons at Lungi. The Commission offers guidelines that will facilitate reconciliation. However, it is ultimately up to all Sierra Leoneans to engage in imaginative acts that will serve the cause of reconciliation and healing at all levels.
32. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act enjoined the Commission to make findings in relation to the causes, nature and extent of violations and abuses in respect of the armed conflict in Sierra Leone. In particular, the Commission was mandated to deliberate on the question of whether such violations and abuses were the result of deliberate planning, policy or authorisation by any government, group or individual.
33. The Findings chapter summarises the main findings of the Commission. The detailed conclusions are to be found in the different chapters of the report. The main findings are preceded by primary findings. The primary findings are the central or most important findings made by the Commission. At the end of each section addressing the role played by a particular government, faction or group, the names and positions of persons found to have been its key officeholders are listed. In circumstances where a finding pertained to the actions of the government, faction or group in question, those office-holders were by implication held responsible.
34. The Commission by necessity devoted its energies to building the totality of the story of the conflict. Although specific cases were investigated, these were events that either served to illustrate the greater story or incidents that in themselves defined the nature and course of the conflict.
35. The Findingschapter sets out the conclusions and findings of the Commission in relation to the following topics and themes:
A. Causes of the Conflict 1 Nature and Characteristics of the Conflict 2 Perpetrator Responsibility 3 Military and Political History (includes individual and faction specific-findings) 4 External Actors 5 The Judiciary, the Rule of Law and the Promotion of Human Rights 6 Youth 7 Children 8 Women 9 Mineral Resources 10 TRC and the Special Court for Sierra Leone
36. The Commission commenced its primary findings with the conclusion that the conflict and the independence period preceding it represented the most shameful years of Sierra Leones history. These periods reflected an extraordinary failure of leadership on the part of many of those involved in government, public life and civil society. No enlightened and visionary leaders emerged to steer the country away from the slide into chaos and bloody civil war.
37. The Commission was required to make recommendations concerning reforms and measures, whether legal, political, administrative or otherwise, needed to achieve the object of the Commission; namely preventing the repetition of violations or abuses suffered, addressing impunity, responding to the needs of victims and promoting healing and reconciliation.
38. These proposed measures contained in the Recommendations chapter are designed to facilitate the building of a new Sierra Leone based on the values of human dignity, tolerance and respect for the rights of all persons. In particular, the recommendations are intended to help create an open and vibrant democracy in which all are treated as equal before the law.
39. The legacies of dehumanization, hatred and fear must be confronted on the basis that there is a need for tolerance, not prejudice; a need for acknowledgment, not recrimination; a need for reparation, not retribution; a need for community, not victimisation; a need for understanding, not suspicion; and a need for reconstruction, not greed.
40. The Act requires that the Government shall faithfully and timeously implement the recommendations of the report that are directed to state bodies and encourage or facilitate the implementation of any recommendations that may be directed to others. The Government of Sierra Leone is accordingly required to take all reasonable steps within its means to implement the recommendations. Such steps should be taken promptly and without unreasonable delay.
41. The Act further requires that the Government shall, upon the publication of the report of the Commission, establish a Follow-up Committee to monitor the implementation of the recommendations of the Commission and to facilitate their implementation. The effect of the law is to invite the closest scrutiny of the Governments response to the recommendations made by the Commission, not only by the Follow-up Committee, but also by civil society.
42. In the light of the mandatory obligation imposed on the Government, the Commission has been mindful of its heavy responsibility to make recommendations that are indeed capable of being implemented. In making its recommendations the Commission has been slow to enter the arena of governmental discretion with regard to what government programmes should be initiated and how they should be implemented. The Commission opted to focus on recommendations that serve to establish and safeguard rights, principles and values consistent with its mandate.
43. In order to give practical effect to its approach, the Commission divided its recommendations into three categories, namely Imperative, Work Towards and Seriously Consider. Imperative recommendations are those which fall strictly within the faithful and timeous obligations as required by the Act. Such recommendations tend to be those that establish and uphold rights and values and ought to be implemented immediately or as soon as possible. The Work Towards recommendations tend to be those that require in-depth planning and the marshalling of resources in order to ensure their fulfillment. Government is expected to put in place the building blocks to make the ultimate fulfillment of the recommendation possible and to do so within a reasonable time period. In the Seriously Consider category, while the Government is expected to thoroughly evaluate the recommendation, it is under no obligation to implement the recommendation.
44. The Commission provides specific guidelines to the Follow-up Committee with respect to the monitoring required in the three categories of recommendations. The Commission, at times, calls on institutions that do not form part of the Executive or Legislative arm of government, non-governmental bodies, and members of the international community to implement certain recommendations. In these circumstances, the Commission calls on the body in question to implement the recommendation. For ease of reference, the Recommendations chapter ends with tables in which every recommendation made by the Commission is reflected under columns representing the different categories of recommendations.
45. The recommendations cover the following areas and themes: the Protection of Human Rights, Establishing the Rule of Law, the Security Services, Promoting Good Governance, Fighting Corruption, Youth, Women, Children, External Actors, Mineral Resources, The Commission and the Special Court, Reparations, Reconciliation, National Vision for Sierra Leone, Archiving, Dissemination of The Commissions Report, and the Follow-Up Committee.
46. The Commissions recommendations are based on the findings it reached. The introduction to the Recommendations chapter highlights the Commissions central or core recommendations. These include:
* The call upon leaders at all levels to commit themselves to new principles of committed leadership; * A call on all those in the public sector to usher in a new culture of ethics and service to fight the scourge of corruption which saps the life-force of Sierra Leone; * The enshrining of the right to human dignity and the abolition of the death penalty; * The upholding of the freedom of expression which is the lifeblood of a vibrant democracy; * The introduction of a common and equitable citizenship which will promote a new patriotism and devotion to Sierra Leone; * Recommendations to strengthen democracy, the rule of law and institutions of accountability; * New principles of National Security, which reflect the will of Sierra Leoneans to live in peace and harmony; * Recommendations to bring government and service delivery to people throughout Sierra Leone.
47. The Commissions enabling Act required it to make recommendations concerning the measures needed to respond to the needs of victims. The Commission proposes that the Reparations programme be co-ordinated by the National Commission for Social Action (NCSA). It is envisaged that NaCSA as the Implementing Body entrusted with governing the Special Fund for War Victims, will ensure the decentralisation of programmes in conjunction with different Ministries. It is proposed further that NaCSA be assisted by an Advisory Committee. The Commission recommends that the proposed National Human Rights Commission perform the role of the Advisory Committee.
48. The Commissions recommended measures deal with the needs of victims in the following areas: health, pensions, education, skills training and micro credit, community reparations and symbolic reparations. The Commission also makes recommendations to redress the wrongs suffered by those who were politically persecuted while they held public office.
49. The Commission decided to propose a programme to address and respond to the specific needs of victims, rather than recommending cash handouts. With regard to certain categories of victims, such as amputees, war wounded and victims of sexual violence, the Commission recommends that they be given free physical (and where necessary, mental) healthcare for the rest of their lives or to the extent that their injury or disability demands. The Commission recommends that a monthly pension be paid to all adult amputees, other war wounded who experienced a 50% or more reduction in earning capacity as a result of their injury, and victims of sexual violence. The amounts of such pensions should be determined by NCSA.
50. The Commission recommends that there should be free education until senior secondary level for specific groups affected by the conflict. Those eligible should include children who are amputees, other war wounded, and victims of sexual violence; children who were abducted or conscripted; orphans of the war; and children of amputees, other war wounded who experienced a 50% reduction in earning capacity as a result of their injuries, and victims of sexual violence.
National Vision for Sierra Leone
We will drag ourselves out of this poverty zone And we'll care for our own, our Sierra Leone We will raise up our hearts and our voices as one
51. The Commission looked to the past in order to tell the story of the civil war and to make recommendations to prevent a repetition of conflict. The Commission also looked to the future for the purpose of describing the kind of future post-conflict society that the recommendations were designed to achieve. The Commission called on Sierra Leoneans to tell the Commission what future society they envisaged for their country.
52. The Commission and its Commissioners were overwhelmed by the effort, time and resources that so many Sierra Leoneans devoted to preparing their contributions. Among the contributors were adults and children of different backgrounds, religions and regions, artists and laymen, amputees, ex-combatants and prisoners. The contributions include written and recorded essays, slogans, plays and poems; paintings, etchings and drawings; sculptures, wood carvings, installations and even a sea-worthy boat. The contributions form part of the national heritage of Sierra Leone.
53. While most contributors worked separately, a number of common themes and forms emerged. Although the Commission asked Sierra Leoneans to speak about the future; the majority of contributions received addressed the future by making reference to the past. The contributions speak of struggle and hope. They point to the need for basic respect and tolerance among all human beings. Some of the contributions set out prerequisites for a future peaceful and prosperous Sierra Leone, while others point to the severe problems facing Sierra Leone. They serve as signposts for the future; signposts that we ignore at our peril.
54. The National Vision has provided an exciting opportunity for individual Sierra Leoneans to contribute their ideas and talent to the process of peace and reconciliation. Through the National Vision, Sierra Leoneans of all ages and backgrounds may claim their own citizenship space in the new Sierra Leone and make their contributions to the country's cultural and national heritage. Most of all, the contributions show what Sierra Leone can be. They show the enormous potential that exists a potential that must be harnessed positively and productively. In the words of one contributor, Wurie Mamadu Tamba Barrie:
The inspiration is let's sprint, if we can't sprint, let's run, if we can't run, let's walk, if we also can't walk, then let's crawl, but in any way possible, let's keep on moving.
Africa: Officials discuss strategy to control small arms
Some 100 officials from 39 African countries started a five-day meeting in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, on Monday to discuss the threat that small arms pose to human security and development across the continent. "Africa has been ravaged by many conflicts. Most of these conflicts were fought primarily using small arms and light weapons that pose one of the greatest challenge of our time," Ugandan Interior Minister Ruhakana Rugunda said in a speech he read on behalf of President Yoweri Museveni.
DRC: Security in east improves as UN mission cleared for more troops
Armed with an expanded mandate and an increase in troop strength, the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) may now be better placed to capitalise on the slight improvement in the security situation in the east of the country. Although UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan only received UN Security Council authorisation to raise the troop strength by 5,900 from 10,800, he said the newly approved troop ceiling of 16,700 would "contribute to improving the mission's operational capabilities, which are severely under resourced".
Sudan: Darfur: A tale of death...and destruction
Just over two weeks ago, The Daily Nation's reporter Peter Kimani and photographer Stephen Mudiari were among the first team of African journalists to travel to Darfur. In these five part series, reported jointly for all Nation Media Group newspapers in Kenya (Daily Nation), Tanzania (The Citizen) and Uganda (The Monitor), they get close to the survivors of Darfur and tell the human story of the tragedy. They begin with the story about getting to, and then out of, Darfur.
Sudan: Sudan conflict could widen into regional, even global, confrontation
The Secretary-General's Special Representative has warned that the conflict in the Sudan, if not properly addressed, could create the conditions for a widening regional, if not global, confrontation. He also stressed the need to prevent the conflicts from turning into a general antagonism between people with different religions or different ethnic backgrounds. Once the struggles in the Sudan were perceived as a clash between cultures - Arabs against Africans, Sudan versus the West, Islam versus the rest - they became unmanageable and spread to other places.
Uganda: Children, war and peace
Optimism about prospects for peace in northern Uganda is growing. Recent news reports cite increased desertions from the rebel Lord's Resistance Army and some reduction in the number of displaced people. A new report from World Vision Uganda highlights the continuing obstacles to peace and the enormous damage done to children and to society at large from this 18-year war that has received very little attention from the international community. For the full text of the report, entitled "Pawns of Politics: Children, Conflict and Peace in Northern Uganda", visit: http://www.worldvision.ca/home/media/PawnsOfPolitics.pdf
Africa: ICT Update October 2004: GenARDIS award-winning projects
The technical centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) has published its ICT Update October Issue which includes GenARDIS award-winning projects. Some of these include: an NGO in Ghana which is using video equipment to enable women to devise community plans for natural resource management; computer training to women civil servants in rural areas of Benin and how a database system, an online input calculator, and email are helping women farmers in Malawi to improve agricultural production.
Global: Action needed on gender empowerment in the ICT arena
Dramatic changes brought about by ICTs have created new economic and social opportunities the world over. Their use, however, continues to be governed by existing power relations. Amidst this inequality are individuals and organisations that are working tirelessly to use these technologies to further gender equality and social justice. The report argues that far-reaching changes towards gender equality and women’s empowerment in the ICT arena are needed at every level ( international, national and programme). Engendering ICTs is not merely about greater use of ICTs by women. It is about transforming the ICT system.
Nigeria: Local Satellite TV/Internet Service Coy Debuts With a Promise
With the brand name TITV, African Trumpet Telecommunications Limited (ATTL), will through the use of satellite technology bring to Nigerians world-class television programming that resonates with its African target as well as Internet services through the same channel. At the media presentation of the company last week, Managing Director, Nathan Garner, said the company was established to help West Africans in large numbers unto the Information Technology age, stressing that the company would live up to the promise by offering its services at affordable prices.
Africa/Global: African Colours, online resource for contemporary art
African Colours, online since July 2000, is a portal for Contemporary Art, as well as a dynamic force to link artists from different parts of the world so that they can share their ideas and culture and achieve a common goal. To make a contribution, you can send your news and editorials to [email protected] To subscribe to their mailing list and receive African Colours Updates, please send an email to [email protected]
Africa/Global: Global Development Network funding opportunities
Current funding opportunities relevant to researchers and research institutes working on development issues in low and middle income countries are available through the Global Development Network at:
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Africa: PANOS-GKP Journalism awards 2004: ICTs and accountability
Deadline: 15 October 2004
"Transparency, good governance and democracy: Do ICTs increase accountability?" is the theme of this year’s prize. Four awards of $1,000 each will be made for the best journalism on this topic produced by journalists in developing and transition countries. Print, radio, TV and web journalism are all eligible.
Africa:Radio Netherland Training Centre (RNTC): Call for proposals
Deadline:1 November 2004
Radio Nederland Training Centre (RNTC) supports and encourages the effective use of media for development and education by promoting professionalisation through training and consultancy for people working in, for or with media in developing countries. RNTC is calling for proposals from radio and television programme-makers and internet producers in developing countries.
Comic Relief condemned over Burma link
One of Britain's best-known charities was today condemned for entering into a partnership with a firm linked to the military dictatorship in Burma. Human rights organisation the Burma Campaign UK slammed Comic Relief, the charity behind Red Nose Day, after it emerged the charity would be working on the event with delivery company DHL, which is in a joint venture with the Burmese government.
Global: OneWorld/Staying Alive World AIDS Day 2004 Competition
If you're aged between 15 and 34 - and feel that you have any thing to say about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls using a microphone or a camera - this is the perfect opportunity to show your potential. The global competition is for young people to submit audio or video public service announcements (PSAs) that convey the messages of MTV's award winning HIV/AIDS awareness campaign, Staying Alive (www.staying-alive.org). Deadline: 11 November, 2004. VIDEO entries go to: http://tv.oneworld.net/tapestry?article=33 AUDIO entries go to: http://aidsradio.oneworld.net/section/aidsradio/wad2004
Africa/Global: International Conference on Deaf Women and HIV/AIDS in Africa
Gallaudet University and Howard University will sponsor an international conference on Deaf Women and HIV/AIDS in Africa on June 10-12, 2005 at the Gallaudet University Kellogg Center to increase awareness of the importance of reaching all segments of the African population in the fight against HIV/AIDS. A Call for Proposals has been issued with a deadline of December 10, 2005. Individuals will be notified of their acceptance by February 11, 2005.
Ethiopia: Last call for IFPRI Writing and Presentation of Scientific Research
This is the last call for applications for the coming workshop on Writing and Presentation of Scientific Research for IFPRI partners and colleagues. The workshop will be held at the ILRI campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 13-17 December 2004. We have very few seats available and the deadline for applications is 30 October. If you are interested in participating but did not manage to raise the necessary funds to cover the workshop fee, please send us a message. If we identified a sponsor we can indicate your name for the scholarship. If you want to receive additional information on this workshop or others, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Global: Women Defending Peace
The international conference Women Defending Peace will be held on 22-24 November 2004 in Geneva, Switzerland. As a follow-up to the Sharm El Sheikh conference Women for Peace, Dialogue for Action’ held on 21-22 September 2002, the 2004 conference will bring together a prominent group of women and men who have dedicated much of their work to enhancing peace.
South Africa: Seminar: Globalisation and democracy
Date: 16 October 2004
A seminar, "Helsinki Process on Globalisation and Democracy Millennium Development Goals and the Financing Gap," will take place at the Sheraton Hotel, Pretoria in South Africa on Saturday, 16 October 2004 from 9h30-16h30. The Helsinki Process on Globalisation and Democracy, launched by the Finnish Government in cooperation with the Tanzanian Government, aims to launch proactive efforts to develop new strategic solutions to the dilemmas of global governance by bringing together individuals from all major stakeholder groups. One of the main goals for the Helsinki Process and the work of the Track on the Global Economic Agenda is to ensure that the Millennium Development Goals will stay at the core of multilateral processes and decision-making.
South Africa: South Africans celebrate World Development Information Day with special event
To celebrate World Development Information Day this year, the Southern African NGO Network (SANGONeT), is hosting a special one-day event on Thursday, 21 October 2004 to highlight the role and significance of information and communication in the South African NGO sector and to profile the work of the sector and specific initiatives aimed at improving its information and communication capacity. For more information please contact Martha Thibedi or Refilwe Rakhibane at SANGONeT by 18 October 2004.
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