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Archive for May 31st, 2012

Kenyan cases: Appeals Chamber rejects appeals regarding challenges to the ICC’s jurisdiction – Trials to go ahead

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2012

On 24 May 2012, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided unanimously to reject the appeals regarding the challenges to the ICC’s jurisdiction, raised by the Defence teams in the two Kenyan cases: The Prosecutor v. William Samoei Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang and The Prosecutor v. Francis Kirimi Muthaura and Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta.

The Defence teams of the accused had challenged the Court’s jurisdiction before the Pre-Trial Chamber, submitting that the Court should decline to exercise jurisdiction over their cases and contesting the interpretation of the term ‘organizational policy’ as a component of crimes against humanity under article 7 (2) (a) of the Rome Statute, which the Pre-Trial Chamber had adopted, by majority, in its decision authorising the opening of an investigation into the situation in Kenya, dated 31 March 2010. In its decisions on 23 January 2012, the Pre-Trial Chamber decided, by majority, to endorse its previous definition of the term ‘organisational policy’ and confirmed that the ICC has jurisdiction over the two Kenyan cases.

The Defence teams appealed the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decisions on 30 January 2012, essentially alleging legal, factual or procedural errors stemming from the Pre-Trial Chamber’s interpretation of the term ‘organizational policy’ and its subsequent findings that such policy existed in the two cases. They requested the Appeals Chamber to declare that the Court does not have subject-matter jurisdiction in this instance and to reverse the Pre-Trial Chamber’s confirmation of charges against the accused.

In its decisions, today, the Appeals Chamber indicated that the interpretation and existence of an ‘organizational policy’ relate to the substantive merits of this case as opposed to the issue of whether the Court has subject-matter jurisdiction to consider such questions. These issues relate to whether the Pre-Trial Chamber erred when it confirmed the charges in respect of the accused. As the Prosecutor has expressly alleged crimes against humanity, including the existence of an ‘organizational policy’, the Appeals Chamber found that the ICC has subject-matter jurisdiction over the alleged crimes.

The Appeals Chamber noted that whether the Prosecutor can establish, in law and on the evidence, the existence of such a policy is not a question of jurisdiction, but rather a question to be determined on the merits. The Appeals Chamber concluded that the issues raised on appeal are therefore not properly before the Appeals Chamber. The Appeals Chamber decisions relate only to the issues raised by the accused and are with no prejudice to the merits of the cases.

The cases The Prosecutor v. William Samoei Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang and The Prosecutor v. Francis Kirimi Muthaura and Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta are currently before Trial Chamber V. Status Conferences are scheduled, respectively, on 11 and 12 June 2012.



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A recognition for lighting up the rural Kenya

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2012

  • Thomas Ochieng reporting from Kenya                                 

The Kenya rural Electrification Authority awarded ISO Certification for its effort in connecting t the rural areas in Kenya to the national electricity grid.

In 1973 the Kenyan government a young nation having attained its self-rule from the British, embarked on a massive infrastructural undertakings, one being the development of energy infrastructure particularly in the rural areas to match the growing demand buoyed by a growing population. The project was known as the Rural Electrification programme. Although a noble project the rural electrification recorded very little gain for decades until the year 2006 when the Rural Electrification Authority was established by an Act of parliament with the express mandate of acceleration of both the access and penetration of electricity in the rural areas.

The Authority has lightened a big part of rural Kenya which has superseded expectations This achievement by this body led to its attainment of the ISO 90001:2008 certification from the country’s official testing body the Kenya Bureau of Standards KEBS.

Speaking during the official launch of the certification in Nairobi the Assistant minister for energy Amb.Mahmud Mohamed commended the REA board, management and staff for the energy passion and drive they have pushed the agenda of lighting up rural areas in Kenya “The attainment of the certification is the culmination of a long and rigorous process that has taken many years of hard work and commitment to the laid down goal and objectives of your institution” Said Amb. Mahmud. Adding that the government was looking forward to the institution to carry out its full mandate of lighting up the rural areas  in the shortest time possible.

From the year 2003 to date Rural Electrification Authority has connected 15,000 public facilities down from 1729,this accounting for 72% of the 25,427 public facilities targeted in the rural areas in Kenya, with the remaining 7,173 to be connected to the national grid  in the next two years.

 Prior to the establishment of the Rural Electrification Authority the Kenyan new government had put funds in the monopolistic parastatal the Kenya Power and Lighting company but the realized that the said institution could not adequately cater for the huge demand of electricity in the rural areas hence the formation of  the utility company.

The chief executive of the Rural Electrification Authority Mr.Zachary Ayieko laid down a road map of achieving 100% connectivity in the rural eras in three faces by the year 2030 “firstly we intend to achieve a 100% access of electricity by connecting all public institution by the year 2013, thereby providing connection to house holds by the year 2030”Said Mr. Ayieko, adding that access to electricity is the overall short-term goal that will be achieved in a year time.

Since 1973 the rural electrification programme has spent Ksh.48 billion of which a whooping Ksh.41 billion being spent from 2003 to date. This huge spending underscores the priority the current administration resolve to light up the rural areas to spur economic activities in the rural settings in Kenya. 



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Mbarushimana case: ICC Appeals Chamber rejects the Prosecution’s appeal

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2012

Situation: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Case: The Prosecutor v. Callixte Mbarushimana

Today, 30 May 2012, the Appeals Chamber decided unanimously to dismiss the Prosecution’s appeal against the decision issued by Pre-Trial Chamber I <> , declining to confirm the charges against Mr Callixte Mbarushimana.

Judge Erkki Kourula, presiding judge in this appeal, delivered a summary of the judgment in open session. He explained that the Appeals Chamber rejected the first two grounds of appeal, related to the Pre-Trial Chamber’s power to evaluate the evidence at the confirmation of the charges stage. The Appeals Chamber found that in determining whether to confirm charges under article 61 of the Rome Statute, the Pre-Trial Chamber may evaluate ambiguities, inconsistencies, contradictions or credibility doubts in the evidence.

Judge Kourula stressed that “the confirmation of charges hearing exists to ensure that cases and charges go to trial only when justified by sufficient evidence” and that article 61(7) of the Rome Statute requires the Pre-Trial Chamber to evaluate whether the evidence is sufficient to establish substantial grounds to believe the person committed each of the crimes charged.

The Appeals Chamber also rejected the third and last ground of appeal, related to whether, under article 25(3)(d) of the Rome Statute, the contribution of the person must be “significant”, because the alleged error did not materially affect the decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber.

Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi appended a separate opinion under this ground of appeal, as she would have found it necessary to hold that the Pre-Trial Chamber erred in finding that the contribution to the crimes must be significant under article 25(3)(d) of the Rome Statute.

Judge Kourula highlighted that the Appeals Chamber’s judgment relates only to the issues submitted in appeal and should therefore not be seen as endorsing the Pre-Trial Chamber’s factual findings.

Background information

On 16 December 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber I decided by Majority to decline to confirm the charges in the case The Prosecutor v. Callixte Mbarushimana and ordered that the warrant of arrest issued against him cease to have effect. Mr Mbarushimana was released from the ICC’s custody on 23 December 2011, upon the completion of the necessary arrangements, as ordered by Pre-Trial Chamber I.

Callixte Mbarushimana was surrendered to the custody of the ICC by the French authorities on 25 January 2011, in accordance with the warrant of arrest delivered against him on 28 September 2010 by Pre-Trial Chamber I. In the document containing the charges, the Prosecutor charged Mr Mbarushimana with five counts of crimes against humanity (murder, inhumane acts, rape, torture and persecution) and eight counts of war crimes (attacking civilians, murder, mutilation, cruel treatment, rape, torture, destruction of property and pillaging). The Confirmation of Charges hearing was held from 16 to 21 September 2011. The Majority of the Chamber, comprising Judge Sylvia Steiner and Judge Cuno Tarfusser, found that there was not sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe that Callixte Mbarushimana could be held criminally responsible, under article 25(3)(d) of the Rome Statute, for these counts. Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng, presiding judge, filed a dissenting opinion. The Prosecutor is not precluded from subsequently requesting the confirmation of charges on the basis of additional evidence.




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To the Editor API – On President Barack Obama’s eligibilty to the Presidency

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2012

It would help the people of America if you would send a real copy of his real birth certificate.
In this country our constitution demands all who hold the office of President, and Vice President must be natural-born citizens. In other words, his mother, and his father, Obama sr.  would both have to be American citizens, born in America.

This issue creates a huge problem for our troops serving in various foreign countries. A president not qualified to hold the office of President thereby
makes our troops criminal’s of war.

Sir, I beg you to put an end to this now. We have already buried enough of our children. My beautiful daughter served 4 years in the Marine core.

May God bless you, and keep you well.

Carol Hicks, USA

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Former Liberian President Charles Taylor Sentenced to 50 years by International Court

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2012

He will serve his sentence in Britain. This will be so, after a deal was struck between the UK and the International Court. There is fear that if he serves his sentence in Africa that may create new problems in his country by his supporters.

It is also due to the fact that many countries in Africa do not trust the International court and may help Taylor escape from an African jail.

He was accused of crimes against humanity.


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The British courts has now given a go ahead to Assanges extradition to Sweden

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2012

He is accused of rape in Sweden. He fought a fierce battle against extradition to Sweden where he is expected to face rape charges

While in Britain, he was placed in house arrest where he has been for over 540 days.

His fate is now sealed. He may end up being extradited from Sweden to the USA due to his Wikileaks activities that revealed a lot of top-secret information on what the US does round the world.


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Damage-strewn landscape years after fighting ended in Sri Lanka’s north

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2012

Damage-strewn landscape years after fighting ended in Sri Lanka’s north

COLOMBO,  – Life is slowly returning to normal in northern Sri Lanka, but three years after a decades-long conflict was officially declared over, jobs and housing are the prevailing concerns of returnees.

Most of the estimated 448,000 people displaced before or during 2008 by fighting between government forces and rebels wanting an independent Tamil state have returned to the Northern Province, according to the latest figures from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Some 13,000 are still living in temporary camps – mostly from areas infested with land mines, which may take a decade or more to clear due to lack of funding. 

Nevertheless, the worst seems to be over. “It is hard to believe it has been three years, life has changed so much. During the war, our sole focus was how we were going to survive the next day or the next hour,” said Nishanthan, an orphan in the town of Kilinochchi, which was once an LTTE base.

Nishanthan, who goes by one name – a common practice in parts of the island – grew up in a foster-care home and was forced to postpone his university entrance exam in August 2009 by heavy fighting. At the age of 19 he fled to his home village, returning to Kilinochchi in 2010 where he has since resumed his studies.

“Things have improved, but there is still a lot more to do,” said Saroja Sivachandran, director of the Centre for Women’s Development (CWD), an NGO  in the northern district of Jaffna.


There are no official unemployment figures for the region but experts say joblessness, especially among returnees, is likely to be widespread because work is scarce. 

Anushka Wijesingha, an economist at the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka, a national think-tank, [ ] told IRIN there were two factors hampering job creation in the north: lack of capital investment and residents’ inadequate skills. As a result, whatever jobs have been created are often filled by more qualified southerners.

An estimated 40,000 war widows are particularly hard hit and need more targeted programmes, Sivachandran said.

Despite pockets of positive news in the north, like the booming district of Vavuniya and the fledgling cottage industries launched by returnees with government grants, the overall needs are still “overwhelming”, Sivachandran noted.

While Vavuniya District has an average household income comparable to more developed districts untouched by war, such as Colombo, where the capital is located, Vavuniya’s boom may be fuelled by post-conflict reconstruction, said Muttukrishna Sarvananthan at the Point Pedro Institute of Development in Jaffna.

But such affluence escapes the tens of thousands waiting for permanent shelter. As of early March, less than 17,000 of the more than 100,000 homes required were under construction, OCHA said.

The Indian government has pledged to build over 40,000 houses, with construction expected to begin by mid-2012, according to diplomats. 


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Protestors have different ideas as to how the country should be set up

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2012

Protestors have different ideas as to how the country should be set up

KATHMANDU,  – Just days before Nepal’s Constituent Assembly (CA) reaches its fifth deadline to agree on a new constitution on 27 May, the country remains divided over the issue of federalism.

“Debates over federalism and identity threaten to polarize Nepali society,” Anagha Neelakantan, South Asia senior analyst for the conflict resolution NGO, International Crisis Group, told IRIN in the capital, Kathmandu. “At the same time, politics and the constitution-writing process are at an impasse, and a constitutional crisis is possible.”

The 600-member CA, which also acts as the country’s interim legislature, was tasked in 2008 with drafting the next constitution after a decade-long civil war between Maoist forces and the government ended in 2006. Over 13,000 people lost their lives in the conflict and the nation of 30 million has been without an effective government since then.

On 15 May, the CA leaders made a hurried decision to restructure the former Hindu monarchy into 11 federal states, based on “multi-ethnic federalism”, meaning all ethnic groups, not just one ethnic group, would live in a single undivided state.

This rather than “identity and capacity based federalism”, in which a single ethnic group and its ability to be self-sustaining, along with geographical and economic considerations, would be the model used.

Unable to reach an agreement, the CA requested another three-month extension, but this was rejected by the Supreme Court on 24 May, which directed the government to promulgate a new constitution by the 27 May deadline.

“The proposal for 11 federal provinces was done haphazardly, with no names and without any principles,” said Prof Krishna Hachhethu, a prominent expert on federalism at Tribhuvan University, the country’s largest tertiary institution.

The issue has fuelled anger amongst Nepal’s indigenous ethnic groups, known as ‘Janjatis’, who have been staging protests and strikes throughout the country since mid-May in a bid to pressure the CA and the main political parties to restructure the state along the lines of identity-based federalism.

There are more than 100 ethnic and caste groups in Nepal, and according to the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN), the Janjatis represent 37.2 percent of the population.

“Most Janjatis have been exploited and still remain underprivileged and neglected by the government,” said Laxman Tharu, the leader of the Joint Tharu Struggle Committee.

There are an estimated 1.5 million Tharus spread across Nepal’s southern Terai Region and the Far West. They are considered one of the most impoverished and exploited indigenous ethnic groups, most of whom who have suffered bonded slavery, indentured servitude and landlessness, according to NEFIN, a non-profit organization formed by the Janjatis.

Photo: Naresh Newar/IRIN
Tight security security ahead of this weekend’s constitutional deadline

Since 2007, the Tharus have been demanding self-government in a Tharuwat federal province in the Far West region of the country, over 700km southwest of the capital. But high-caste groups like the Brahmins and Chettris, who live in the same region, have protested against their demands, fearing ethnic division and a loss of influence.

On 24 May, thousands of high-cast groups took to the streets in the Far West, demanding an “undivided nation” – ethnic-based federalism – which Janjati activists say is misinterpreted by protestors.

“For the first time, the Brahmins and Chettris are protesting against ethnic federalism with the slogan of an “undivided Nepal”, which is now a “major national issue”, said federalism expert Mohan Manandhar, director of the Niti Foundation, a policy research NGO.

“We all know that there can be no constitution without federalism based on ethnicity,” said Hachhethu. “The debate has started, and this is a good start, but we should not be too speculative, which has spread lot of fear among people about the country being divided.”

The issue has become deeply entrenched in Nepal’s mainstream society and politics. Much of one of Asia’s poorest nations has been at a standstill, with strikes in cities and towns harming an already fragile economy.

“Federalism is key to unite our multi-ethnic populations and provide hope for the marginalized to finally get a better political space and confidence,” said Raj Kumar Lekhi, chairman of NEFIN, which organized an “indefinite strike” last week before calling it off when the government agreed to meet with Janjati leaders.

“Now, politicians and other leaders need to urgently convene discussions with a wide range of groups to resolve their competing claims and enshrine commitments on federalism in the new constitution,” said ICG’s Neelakantan.

On 24 May, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Nepal’s political parties and other groups to ensure that its constitution-making process was concluded successfully.

“The Secretary-General is concerned about the prospect of the term of the Constituent Assembly expiring without the adoption of a constitution that meets the expectations and aspirations of the people of Nepal,” Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement that also called for calm and restraint. 


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Many health care workers have moved to cities and better paying jobs

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2012

Many health care workers have moved to cities and better paying jobs

ANTSOHIHY,  – The Basic Health Centre or Centre de Santé de Base (CSB) II in Anjalajala, near Antsohihy, the capital of Madagascar’s northern Sofia Region, is housed in a recently renovated building and its status as a CSB II promises the availability of a trained doctor. But the doctor left for Antananarivo, the capital, in 2002 and has not been replaced, and whenever the remaining nurse is absent, services stop.

A guard sweeping the courtyard explains that currently the health worker is away visiting his mother and will only return in a week.

The situation at this clinic is not unique in Madagascar, where an already weak healthcare system has been in a state of decline since 2009 when the international community branded Andry Rajoelina’s ousting of President Marc Ravalomanana a coup, and donors halted all but emergency aid.

In the absence of donor support, the Malagasy government made dramatic cuts to its budget for social services. In 2010, expenditure on health care fell by 30 percent compared to the year before, while the health budget for 2012 is half what it was in 2011.

One of the consequences of these cuts has been the closing down of many community health centres. According to figures from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 214 health centres had closed by January 2011, in most cases due to a lack of health workers.

In the provinces, health workers often do not receive their salaries, and many have migrated to the cities where they get better paying jobs in the private sector.

The community health centres were part of a national health programme started in the 1980s which dispatched health workers to remote areas of the country with the goal of achieving universal health care by the year 2000. By 2004, the Health Ministry listed almost 3,000 such centres, known as CSBs, on its web site.

These centres were supposed to be staffed by a qualified nurse and, in some cases, a midwife and all staff were to receive a higher level of training via the Health Ministry than in the past.

The goal of health for all was never met, but in the years before the crisis, there was progress. Following findings in 2006 that many of the CSBs were understaffed and insufficiently equipped, 197 of them were renovated and re-equipped.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), average life expectancy went up, polio was on the verge of being eradicated, and infant mortality decreased from 98 deaths per 1,000 in 1993, to 58 in 2006.

Pre-2009 gains lost

However, even before the crisis, the health system only reached an estimated 60 to 70 percent of the population – those living in regions served by roads – while many people still had to travel 10km or more to get treatment. As health centres close down, people have to travel even further and many of the gains made before 2009 have been lost.

''We often hear that patients tried to see a doctor at a public health post first, but there was no one there''

“We often hear that patients tried to see a doctor at a public health post first, but there was no one there,” said hospital director and surgeon Adrien Ralimiarison of the Baptist Good Hope Hospital in Mandritsara, also in Sofia Region. “On the other hand, because of the crisis, people wait until they’re really sick before they go to see a doctor.”

According to Achu Lordfred, a technical adviser on reproductive health with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), many health centres function poorly due to a combination of systemic issues, including lack of training. “Health workers do not have adequate training in community health, so they will just sit there and wait for patients to come to the health facilities,” he said. “If the health centre has no supplies or medicine, and the only thing the health worker can do is refer patients to the hospital in town, people will stop visiting the CSB.”

Footing the bill

Although treatment is free for the poor, reaching a distant hospital costs money and once a patient arrives, there are other costs. As hospitals struggle to function with insufficient funding, patients and their families must foot the bill for basics like bed sheets, bandages and food, and there is also a social expectation that the treating doctor be rewarded with a gift.

Despite its status as the main referral facility for a region of one million inhabitants, the hospital in Antsohihy lacks the most basic supplies, like food and mattresses for patients, and its maternity ward relies on supplies donated by UNFPA.

Director of the hospital Briand Zafinandriamanalina said the government had also recently stopped sending money for a social equity fund used to provide free health care to the poor. “We now have US$3,000 left [in the fund] for this year,” he told IRIN. “Normally, this could last us for a few months when we count the usual amount of emergencies and the accidents on the road here, but in case of a big accident, the fund could be used up in days.”

Zafinandriamanalina added that hospitals also lacked specialists, with many regional hospitals having only one surgeon to handle all operations. “Specialist doctors are in the capital, and they don’t want to come to the provinces and regions to work,” he said.

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Lordfred of UNFPA noted that Madagascar’s general practitioners were not trained to perform lifesaving procedures like Caesarean sections. “This makes them much less effective in the provinces,” he said.

Health Ministry lacks funds

With no end to the political crisis and the lifting of sanctions in sight, international NGOs have taken on the task of keeping Madagascar’s health system going, with mixed results. UNICEF, WHO and UNFPA are all involved in training health workers and supplying health centres with essential drugs so that they can stay open. According to the World Bank, external financing of the health sector went up from US$92 million to US$160 million between 2008 and 2010.

However, without a national policy to set priorities, coordinate efforts and drive initiatives, aid efforts have been fragmented and the health system has continued its decline. As a result of the sanctions, aid has had to go directly to individual health centres and hospitals or to local NGOs rather than to the Health Ministry.

UNFPA set out to recruit 50 midwives last year to send into the provinces, but ended up finding only 28, as trained midwives also prefer to work in the cities and the government agencies that used to regulate their training and postings no longer function. “There are many ways to encourage and retain doctors to work in remote areas,” said Lordfred, “but it needs appropriate training and improved working conditions.”

ar/ks/cb source

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