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Archive for June 6th, 2012

Zimbabwe is facing a coup if things do not get better soon

Posted by African Press International on June 6, 2012

The military in Zimbabwe is not ready to have the opposition led by Morgan Tsvangirai to take over after President Mugabe. This is dangerous for the people of Zimbabwe.

Already there are those preparing for the worst after Mugabe regime goes. They know the opposition, as popular as it has been will most probably take over. If that happens, Tsvangirai, the man who has suffered in the hands of Zany PF will sack the top military men and police bosses as well.

This is why the military will not wait for that to happen because they see no chance of continued survival and protection under Tsvangirai leadership.

Any military take over will be good for Mugabe and his close associates. He will be protected and his wealth continue to enjoy security and family members will not suffer as we now see happening to the former President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and his family, following the changes in that country. 



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Checking on past deeds by former president; says new President

Posted by African Press International on June 6, 2012

The new Senegalese president has vowed to continue fighting corruption in his country. This move will, undoubtedly, be painful for the former president and his family.

Wade ruled the country for many years with authority and iron fist giving his opponents no chance into the political scene.

Now that he is out-of-the-way, he may soon feel the pinch from the new rulers who were elected popularly in the recent elections.



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ICC Prosecutor’s statement to the United Nations Security Council on the situation in Darfur UNSCR 1593 (2005)

Posted by African Press International on June 6, 2012


New York, 5 June 2012 

Mr. President,


1.                  As the Costa Rica Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Bruno Stagno Ugarte, stated to this Council, the “never again” promise is being tested in the Sudan.


2.                  With Resolution 1593 (2005), the Council took the initiative to refer a situation of ongoing atrocities to a permanent, existing Court. This was a conscious decision that a judicial investigation of the facts and the identification of those responsible should not wait for the end of the conflict. The ability of the Court to implement immediately its mandate was a crucial factor mentioned by members of the Council in adopting this decision.


3.                  It was an enormous challenge for the Court. There were serious allegations of thousands of crimes committed in a vast territory by different parties. The Office conducted an impartial investigation, receiving documents collected by the UN Commission of Inquiry and reports from the Government of the Sudan itself. To respect its duty to protect witnesses, the Office had to investigate the crimes without visiting the crime scene. The Office travelled around the world to collect hundreds of testimonies of victims and eyewitnesses who escaped from the Sudan. Most of the evidence is confidential to protect the lives of the witnesses and their relatives.


4.                  During the previous briefing the Sudan challenged the value of the evidence. The Office is prepared to discuss the matter in the courtroom before the Judges.


5.                  Ten Judges, members of the Pre-Trial and Appeal Chamber, discussed the value of the evidence collected by the Office of the Prosecutor.  They concluded that Government of the Sudan forces committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur following a strategy adopted at the higher echelons of the State apparatus. The Pre-Trial Chamber identified the individuals that have to face justice and issued arrests warrants against a Militia/Janjaweed leader, Ali Kushayb, who reported to the then Minister of State for the Interior, Ahmed Harun, who in turn reported to the then Minister of the Interior Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein, who reported to President Al Bashir. Their responsibility is not a mere consequence of their official roles.  In all the cases there are witnesses that describe in detail their active participation in the strategy to commit crimes.


6.                   The charges for President Al Bashir include the crime of genocide. The Pre-Trial Chamber concluded that Omar Al Bashir acted with specific intent to destroy in part the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups.


7.                  In all the cases the Pre-Trial Chamber considered that arrest is necessary in order to stop the commission of crimes. 


Mr. President,


8.                  The Court fulfilled its judicial mandate. The evidence collected uncovered the functioning of the State apparatus used to commit genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Those who bear the greatest responsibility have been indicted.  The current challenge is their arrest.


9.                  In accordance with Resolution 1593 (2005) the Government of the Sudan has the legal obligation to implement the arrest warrants. But, President Al Bashir is taking advantage of his position of power to continue with his strategy and to ensure his own impunity and the impunity of those who follow his instructions. There is no information to believe that such crimes against humanity and genocide have stopped.


10.              President Al Bashir’s strategy includes:


a.        threats to the international community to commit new crimes in other areas of the Sudan;

b.      denial of his own crimes, denial of the rapes in the villages and in the camps; attributing the killings to banditry, sporadic clashes between rebel groups, or reducing its relevance through statistic comparisons; and attributing conditions in the camps to other factors like drought, lack of proper seeds or inability to access farming land;

c.       forcing the international community into a never-ending negotiation in order to gain access to those displaced; 

d.      a permanent promise of a peace negotiation. The international community chases promises of peace agreements that are systematically ignored while President Bashir’s forces commits more attack and creates the conditions for new promises of peace agreements;

e.       announcements of justice initiatives followed only by new announcements, not by action. After more than seven years of instituting judicial mechanisms, the GoS has conducted no proceedings relevant to the crimes committed in Darfur; and

f.        the open defiance of the Security Council’s authority including public announcement that its resolutions will not be implemented.


Mr. President,


11.              The Council is well aware of the situation. Resolution 2035, adopted on 17 February 2012, demanded an end to military action, including aerial bombardments, demanded an end to sexual violence and indiscriminate attacks on civilians, expressed concerns about obstacles deliberately placed in front of the work of the Panel of Experts and of that of UNAMID, called for the GoS to undertake effective efforts to ensure accountability for serious violations of international law and to ensure unrestricted humanitarian access. The Council also expressed “[Regret] that some individuals affiliated with the Government of Sudan and armed groups in Darfur have continued to commit violence against civilians, impede the peace process, and disregard the demands of the Council.”


12.              Implementing the arrest warrant will produce a dramatic change in Darfur. In a normal criminal case, it is difficult to locate the fugitives. The whereabouts of the four fugitives in Darfur cases are known. Ali Kushayb remains in Darfur, Ahmad Harun can be found in his Governor’s residence in South Kordofan, Abdel Raheem Hussein sits in his office at the Ministry of Defence in Khartoum, and Al Bashir can be found in the Presidential Palace in Khartoum. The next phase in these Darfur cases is to arrest the indictees.


Mr. President,


13.              The failure to arrest and surrender Mr. Harun, Mr. Kushayb, Mr. Hussein and President Al Bashir is a direct challenge to the Council’s authority. It is for the Council to determine the measures to be adopted to ensure the compliance of the Government of the Sudan. Reality is that Council members have to reconcile their national interests with their responsibilities for peace and security. I witnessed the impact of the Security Council acting with consensus. The Office would like to contribute by presenting an option that in due time could be explored by the Council.


14.              The execution of the arrest warrants on the Sudanese territory is the primary responsibility of the Government of the Sudan and UNAMID should not be authorized to carry out or assist to secure arrests. Instead, the Council can in due course evaluate other possibilities including asking UN Member States or regional organizations to execute arrest operations in furtherance of the arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court.


15.              Such discussion will be problematic, but the victims will receive a clear message: they are not ignored.  And the perpetrators will receive a clear message: there will be no impunity. Time is running out.



source ICC

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ODM hierarchy censures Kisia

Posted by African Press International on June 6, 2012

  • Jeff Otieno, reporting from Kenya

Top Orange Democratic Movement (O.D.M) luminaries and a clique of their supporters are sharply divided over the latest brand of political hobbling being exhibited by former Nairobi City Town Clerk who is also angling for the city Governor Philiph Kisia.

According to a senior Cabinet Minister who is also a close protégé of the Prime Minister Raila Odinga, confided to the press early this week that senior party Mandarins are “not happy” and are questioning the campaign style of Kisia which he argued is shrouded with “insincerity and doubt”.

“Today you’re seen attending Uhuru Kenyatta’s launching, tomorrow you are marooned  in Musalia Mudavadi’s , the nest day you’re embedded with Internal Security Minister  George Saitoti who is also a Presidential Contender and lastly you are seen glued and cheering to the Prime Minister looking for votes, where is the honesty and ethics”  the Minister quipped.

“You may describe it as the political freedom of association we’ve yawned for but to me it’s abit confusing and borders on political  prostitution and gambling of the century”, he said.

Sources privy to the modus operandi of Kisia further confided to the press that almost all the Presidential contenders have been frequenting his lavish and leafy Lavington home during wee hours of the night where goat eating sessions and top of the range hot drinks flavours the sittings.

The dignitaries according to inside sources religiously lines up their pockets thanks to the former Town Clerk generosity all in desperate bid to seal political compromises.

It’s because of this closeness that has made Kisia not to distinguish between a private function and a political one which goes with perception and carries some ramifications either in short or long-term.  Some of his critics also opine that his latest trademark of attending rivals functions is more to do with political gambling and lack of confidence than being politically strategic the way some of his confidants  are  putting it.

Kisia  is by all standards and fairness a good manager though some of his critics argue that his tenure at the Council was littered with a litany of questionable financial dealings which may be a harbinger to his quest.  He will also have to shed off the perception that he’s abit of an ivory tower kind of politician.

He’s slated to battle it out with industrious, pragmatic and wealthy Mumias Sugar Managing Director, Dr. Evans Odhiambo Kidero, combative Embakasi MP Ferdinand Waititu and Nairobi Business magnet Jimna Mbaru in what is being viewed as a battle of the titans.

Mbaru has been playing his cards close to his chest and according to his handlers  he has finalized his campaign logistics and before end of July he will abrasively hit the road.

Kidero has opted for a door to door approach meeting the down trodden in the slums and also engaging with opinion shapers and key stakeholders a move which has really catapulted his bid ahead of the polls.



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The detention and imprisonment of Palestinians

Posted by African Press International on June 6, 2012

Nazmeh Mustafa in her home in Jenin. In the background is a photograph of her husband (right) Wasfe Kabaha, a former Hamas minister for prisoner affairs

TEL AVIV,  – A hunger strike by about 1,550 Palestinians in Israeli prisons ended with an agreement on 14 May, in which Israel committed to meeting some of the prisoners’ demands in exchange for security guarantees.

“If this agreement is implemented, it means a great victory for us and for human rights,” Aber Issa Zakarni, the wife of Abadallah Zakarni, an imprisoned member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in Jenin, northern West Bank, told IRIN. “But I am also scared. In the end everything might just stay the same.”

As of May, about 4,500 Palestinian prisoners were being held in Israeli prisons, with 308 under so-called “administrative detention”, without being charged or put on trial. Another 453 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip are detained without charge or trial, similar to “administrative” detainees, but based on another law. Such detentions without charge lay at the heart of the hunger strike, which also demanded an end to solitary confinement and better conditions for family visits.

The agreement

The agreement effectively ended weeks of mass hunger strike at a time when two of the prisoners had already been refusing food for 77 days and were facing imminent death. As part of the deal, Israel committed to ease conditions as long as prisoners refrained from “security activity” inside Israeli prisons, such as “recruiting people for terrorist mission”, said the Israeli Prison Service (IPS).

On its part, Israel would return prisoners held in solitary confinement to the general wings, allow family visits from the Gaza Strip for the first time since 2007, ease restrictions on visits from the West Bank, and improve the conditions under which “security prisoners” are being held. Israel reportedly also agreed not to extend the detention periods of Palestinians currently in “administrative detention”, “if there is no new information that requires their detention”.

However, Palestinian prisoners reportedly have already threatened to restart the hunger strike, demanding a quicker and more transparent implementation of the agreement.

The prisons

About 4,500 Palestinian prisoners from the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) are currently held in some 17 of the 32 Israeli prisons. In addition, a small number of detainees are held in four military detention centres and four interrogation centres. Some of the 17 prisons used for Palestinians have a mixed population, but others are explicitly used for Palestinians, such as the Megiddo, Ofer, Ramon, Nafha and Kitziot prisons, the IPS said.

Only one prison, Ofer, is located inside oPt. NGOs have repeatedly noted in this regard that the transfer of civilians out of the occupied territory to the territory of the occupying power is viewed as violating international humanitarian law, or Article 49 and 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

“The Israeli prisons were established many years ago. Such places of detention, in accordance with the Fourth Geneva Convention, must be placed within oPt,” Noora Kero, media delegate at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Jerusalem, told IRIN. However, Israeli government officials pointed out that the building of new prisons inside oPt would equally spark international and Palestinian criticism.

Political prisoners versus security detainees

“In Israel, the legal term for Palestinian prisoners is security prisoner. Political prisoners don’t exist. But we say that all those who fought against the Israeli occupation and were arrested because of their role in resistance are political prisoners,” Amany Dayif, intervention coordinator at the Prisoners and Detainees Project of NGO Physicians for Human Rights-Israel Section, told IRIN.

Israeli prison authorities often isolate prisoners with a political leadership role, NGOs said. “So-called prisoner chiefs and political leaders are often put into difficult detention conditions like physical isolation and solitary confinement,” Dani Shenhar, a lawyer at the Israeli human rights NGO Hamoked, said.

Solitary confinement

Ending solitary confinement was one of the hunger strikers’ demands Israel met in the agreement. Most prisoners previously held in isolation had already been released from solitary confinement and moved into the general prison population. “We assess the release of prisoners from solitary confinement on an individual basis,” said Sivan Weizman, spokesperson of the IPS, adding that these releases do not necessarily imply any changes for future practice.

According to analysts, only those prisoners whose solitary confinement was ordered directly by Israel’s intelligence agency were moved into the general prison population , while others remained in isolation. One of them, Dirar Abu Sisi, a Palestinian engineer accused of Hamas membership and kidnapped from Ukraine in February 2011 who is still in solitary confinement, began an individual hunger strike on 30 May to protest his isolation.

“The IPS used solitary confinement to punish prisoners. Sometimes they are denied money for the canteen. Some are denied books and higher education. Isolation is always a tool of pressure,” Amany Dayif said.

''Much of what is done in Israel’s prisons runs under the pretext of security. IPS [Israeli Prison Service] views good conditions of detention more as a favour to prisoners than as a human rights obligation''

Nazmeh Mustafa, the wife of an imprisoned Hamas leader from Jenin, is familiar with such isolation. “My husband was denied media and books. A dictionary I brought him was once not allowed in because it had a hard cover. When I took the cover off, they still denied it, without explaining why,” she said.

“Much of what is done in Israel’s prisons runs under the pretext of security. IPS views good conditions of detention more as a favour to prisoners than as a human rights obligation,” said Dani Shenhar, a lawyer for prisoners at Hamoked.

Israeli law allows for three kinds of solitary confinement: during interrogation up to 30 days; complete isolation as a disciplinary measure; and long-term and prolonged solitary confinement, referred to as “separation”.

Prisoners in “separation” are held alone in a cell or together with another prisoner, either when the security services believe that a prisoner poses a threat to the safety of others, to “state security”, or when he or she is threatened by others; or when a prisoner suffers from mental health problems and is thus believed to pose a threat to the remaining prisoner population.

Health impact of prolonged solitary confinement 

Past research provides much evidence of the negative health impacts of solitary confinement, particularly for those with pre-existing mental health disorders.

“Prisoners put in solitary confinement because of mental health issues see their condition worsening. Those put in isolation when still healthy become mentally ill,” Amany Dayif said. Possible effects of solitary confinement are sleep disorders, depressions, psychotic disorders, such as visual and auditory hallucinations, paranoia, disorientation, confusion and cognitive disorders.

According to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, IPS has also kept prisoners with “adjustment problems” in separation, who have difficulties integrating into the social environment of the prison. After prolonged isolation, they often develop serious mental health problems.

“Administrative detention”

“Administrative detention” is a form of detention without charge or trial that is authorized by administrative order instead of judicial decree. According to the Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem, international law allows “administrative detention” as a last resort to prevent danger, but Israeli practice violates these restrictions.

List of prisons used for Palestinians and holding capacity
Northern Israel
Kishon: 741
Damon: 500
Gilboa: 800
Shatta: 800
Megiddo-Salem: 1,000
Central Israel:
Hadarim: 840
HaSharon: 800
Ayalon: 900
Nitzan: 740
Neve Tirza: 226
Southern Israel:
Shikma: 650
Ohalei Keidar: 300
Eshel: 900
Ketziot: 2,200
Nafha: 848
Ramon: 940
oPt, West Bank:
Ofer: 1,100

“If there was a clear charge, if I would only know why. Why don’t they send my husband to court? But this never happens. Instead, his detention is based on a secret file and no one knows what that file is,” Nazmeh Mustafa said. Her husband, Wasfe Kabaha, was meant to become minister of prisoner affairs after Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections. But he was soon arrested during a wider Israeli crackdown on Hamas. Released after three years in 2009, he was put under “administrative detention” several times since then.

Over the years, Israel has put thousands of Palestinians under “administrative detention”, based on secret intelligence information and without charge or trial, thereby denying detainees proper legal defence, B’Tselem said. The legal basis for “administrative detention” lies in Israeli military legislation applied on all Palestinians in the West Bank. The so-called Administrative Detention Order allows military commanders to order the detention of a Palestinian if he has “reasonable cause to believe that reasons of security… require that a particular person be detained”. The maximum period of six months can be extended if the “cause” persists.

The Israeli army has justified the use of “administrative detention” under the pretext of security in the past.

“The army must have evidence that people in administrative detention pose some kind of security threat,” Yoram Schweitzer, an expert at the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), told IRIN.

The information underlying administrative detention is usually collected by Israel’s intelligence network. Presenting such information during a fair trial could also reveal much about the network itself, said an Israeli army official who preferred anonymity.

However, the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) concluded that Israel’s policy of “administrative detention” is not justifiable as a security imperative, and expressed concern over “the existence of two sets of laws”, for Palestinians and Jewish settlers, who reside in the same territory, but are not subject to the same justice system.

“Administrative detention” has also provoked international criticism. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Israel to either release or charge the administrative detainees and put them on trial. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton expressed similar criticism.

A major concern about “administrative detention” has been its use for detaining Palestinian minors, often because they threw stones at Israeli soldiers. Ill-treatment during their detention has been documented and often results in traumatic repercussions after their release.

Prisoners from Gaza: “Unlawful combatants”

Similar to the conditions under “administrative detention”, some Palestinians from the Gaza Strip can be detained without being charged or put on trial for an unlimited period of time under the so-called Unlawful Combatants Law.

“As Israel doesn’t legally consider Gaza as being occupied, they cannot detain people under administrative detention, so they use another law originally created for Lebanese,” said Amany Dayif of Physicians for Human Rights, adding that such detention can be renewed for an unlimited period of time.

Currently, only one of the 453 prisoners and detainees from Gaza is detained as an “unlawful combatant”: Mahmud Sarsak, a Palestinian soccer player from the Gaza Strip who is still on hunger strike and has been detained since July 2008 without charge. On 1 June, he entered his 74th day and reportedly faced immediate danger to his life.

NGOs have called on Israel to allow independent doctors to examine him, as the physical impact of a prolonged hunger strike is severe and needs proper monitoring.

Managing hunger during the strike

The physical impacts of a long-term hunger strike are intense, while particular danger lies in possible heart failure. According to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, hunger strikers pass the life-endangering threshold after about 42 days without food, when malfunctioning of internal organs can occur. Most Palestinian hunger strikers took vitamins, minerals and salt, in addition to water. The long-term strikers Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh lost the ability to drink properly after 55 days and had difficulties swallowing. As a means to escalate their strike, they sometimes refused taking the supplements.

The long-term health repercussions after the hunger strike need to be monitored too. “After 77 days of starvation, going back to eat is also life endangering. You need specialists, neurologists, internal medicine,” Amany Dayif said, adding that IPS medical care was insufficient.

The IPS denied the accusation. “We have doctors in the prisons checking hunger strikers’ health every day. Since the strike is over, we are taking care that prisoners are eating slowly and that nothing hurts them,” Sivan Weizman, IPS spokesperson, told IRIN.

The right to visit

When Palestinian prisoners went on hunger strike, their relatives pitched solidarity tents in their home towns and were also fighting their own battle for improved conditions of family visits.

Photo: IRIN
About 4,500 Palestinian prisoners were being held in Israeli prisons similar to this one

For Nazmeh Mustafa from Jenin, visiting her husband in an Israeli prison has become a routine ordeal. She regularly takes a 12-hour-journey, crossing from oPt via military checkpoints into Israel, for a short meeting of 45 minutes.

“Once I left Jenin at 7am and came back at 11pm. The checkpoint was full of people,” Nazmeh Mustafa said ahead of a recent visit to the prison. “Only my two youngest daughters and I can visit. My 21-year-old son saw his father once in six years,” she added.

Only immediate family members of Palestinians, such as spouses, parents, siblings, and children, are allowed to visit relatives in Israeli prisons. Any over 15 need to apply for a visiting permit through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which forwards the applications to the issuing authority, the Israeli Civil Administration.

There are two kinds of visiting permits: A one-year permit that allows visits about every two weeks, and a so-called security permit, which allows only for a single visit within 45 days, sometimes a few times a year. But for young men aged 16-35, security permits are rare, usually issued only once a year, Dima Mahajneh, field officer at the Jenin office of the ICRC, told IRIN. “No matter if they pose a real security threat, or not.”

The ICRC mediates between the relatives and the Israeli authorities in issuing permits and organizes the transportation, but the process is nevertheless difficult for prisoners’ relatives.

“The whole mechanism of applying for permits is highly bureaucratic. It takes months and months to get a permit. And most don’t get any permit in the end,” Hamoked’s Dani Shenhar said. 

The Fourth Geneva Convention (Article 116) regulates the right to visit, saying that “every internee shall be allowed to receive visitors, especially near relatives, at regular intervals and as frequently as possible”.

“I really hope that Israel will improve the conditions for family visits after this agreement,” said Aber Issa Zakarni. Since her husband was arrested in December 2011, she has not seen him. Her 22-year-old daughter Zeina was denied a permit, too, “because of security reasons”, she said. Only Zeina’s seven-year-old sister Yaffa has seen her father regularly.

“Once she cried so much that an officer let her through the door to hug her father,” Aber said, adding: “I believe that the hunger strike was the only weapon left to the prisoners. Israel can detain us in a cell, but under occupation it feels like in prison anyway.”


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