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Archive for May 27th, 2013

Yemen: Living in a camp for internally displaced people has put Qasim and his family’s life on Hold

Posted by African Press International on May 27, 2013

IRIN News is proud to announce the launch of a new film, A Life on Hold, which tells the story of Qasim and his family, who for the past three years have been living in a camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) in northwestern Yemen.

Years of conflict in the region between the Houthi tribe and government forces have led to the displacement of more than 300,000 civilians, who have to cope with a decline in health and educational services. Malnutrition is common in the IDPs camps, as well as in the apartments, mosques and schools where many have found shelter.

Authorities have tried to encourage the displaced to go back to their homes, but renewed clashes in 2012 actually increased the IDP numbers in the north. Extensive damage to houses and infrastructure, continuing insecurity, fear of reprisals and the lack of livelihood opportunities and basic services all serve as deterrents to return.



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President Kenyatta holds talks with Egyptian President in Addis Ababa , May 26, 2013

Posted by African Press International on May 27, 2013


President Uhuru Kenyatta meets Egyptian President Mohammed Mosi on the sidelines of the African Union (AU)summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.




 Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and Mohammed Morsi of Egypt have today committed to consult and work closely in matters of mutual interest both at the continental and global arena.

Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and Mohammed Morsi of Egypt have today committed to consult and work closely in matters of mutual interest both at the continental and global arena.

At a meeting on the sidelines of the African Union (AU) summit, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the two leaders stressed the need for Africa to speak in one voice and look for African solutions to challenges facing the continent.

On economic issues, the two leaders agreed to strengthen existing bilateral cooperation with a view to boost trade and investment between the two countries within the framework of COMESA and the African Union.

The two leaders in particular noted the need to enhance cooperation in tourism which is a major source of foreign exchange for the two countries.

Noting that Egypt is a key tourism destination attracting millions of visitors each year, President Kenyatta expressed confidence that Kenya would benefit from close cooperation with Egypt.

President Morsi said his Government was supportive of Kenya’s peace initiatives and hailed Kenya for the frontline role it has continued to play in search for lasting peace in the Horn of Africa region especially in Somalia.

President Kenyatta also held talks with the President of Malawi Joyce Banda and Ghanaian President John Mahama.

During the meeting with President Banda the two leaders hailed the cordial relations between Malawi and Kenya and explored ways of strengthening relations between the two countries for the mutual benefit of their people.

Noting the two countries shared common interests within the COMESA and the Great Lakes Region, the two leaders agreed to work together to promote African unity, peace and development.

President Kenyatta and President Mahama also discussed ways of strengthening the two countries’ economic, social and political cooperation noting that the two nations shared a common history and had a lot to learn from each other.



source StateHse.


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USA: JAILED FOR FACEBOOK COMMENTS, MARINE SUES – ‘Case exposes government system that is targeting military veterans’

Posted by African Press International on May 27, 2013

It happens in China routinely. It frequently happened in the old Soviet Union. Undoubtedly in North Korea, although generally there’s no one around to witness it. But in the United States? It happens here, too, apparently.

A lawsuit has been filed by officials with the Rutherford Institute on behalf of a Marine who was jailed and held for the comments he made on Facebook – comments that expressed a dissatisfaction with the present direction of the U.S. government. 

According to officials at Rutherford, the civil rights action names as defendants members of law enforcement and the government who were involved in last year’s episode where Marine veteran Brandon Raub, 27, was arrested by a swarm of FBI and Secret Service and forcibly detained in a psychiatric ward for a week.

His crime was posting controversial song lyrics and political views on Facebook, the institute reported.

In one of his postings, he cited the evil in the world.

“The United States was meant to lead the charge against injustice, but through our example not our force. People do not respond to having liberty and freedom forced on them,” he wrote.

He was released later when a judge stepped in and concluded the prosecution’s case against Raub was “so devoid of any factual allegations that it could not be reasonably expected to give rise to a case or controversy.”

The lawsuit asks for damages for Raub for the attack he endured. It was filed in U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va., and claims Raub’s seizure and detention were part of a plan executed by the Obama administration called “Operation Vigilant Eagle.”

That, the institute explains, was a federal program to do surveillance on military veterans who express views critical of the government.

Institute attorneys claim the attempt to label Raub as “mentally ill” and authorities’ efforts to involuntarily commit him into custody was intended to silence his criticism of the government. However, they explain the strategy also violated Raub’s First and Fourth Amendment rights.

“Since coming to Raub’s defense, The Rutherford Institute has been contacted by military veterans across the country recounting similar incidents. In filing a civil suit against government officials, Rutherford Institute attorneys plan to take issue with the manner in which Virginia’s civil commitment statutes are being used to silence individuals engaged in lawfully exercising their free speech rights,” the organization said.

“Brandon Raub’s case exposed the seedy underbelly of a governmental system that is targeting military veterans for expressing their discontent over America’s rapid transition to a police state,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute.

“Brandon Raub is not the first veteran to be targeted for speaking out against the government. Hopefully, by holding officials accountable, we can ensure that Brandon is the last to suffer in this way.”

It was last Aug, 16 when Chesterfield police, Secret Service and FBI agents arrived at Raub’s home and asked to talk with him about his Facebook posts.

“Like many Facebook users, Raub, a Marine who has served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, uses his Facebook page to post song lyrics and air his political opinions. Without providing any explanation, levying any charges against Raub or reading him his rights, law enforcement officials handcuffed Raub and transported him to police headquarters, then to John Randolph Medical Center, where he was held against his will,” the Institute reported.

“In a hearing on Aug. 20, government officials pointed to Raub’s Facebook posts as the reason for his incarceration. While Raub stated that the Facebook posts were being read out of context, a Special Justice ordered Raub be held up to 30 more days for psychological evaluation and treatment.”

When Circuit Court Judge Allan Sharrett, however, found out about the case, he ordered it dismissed and Raub released, because there was no evidence of a case.

In asking the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to acknowledge the harm done to Raub and to rectify the violation of his First, Fourth, Fifth and 14th Amendment rights, Institute attorneys are requesting that Raub be awarded damages.

The 14-page complaint describes Raub’s “baseless incarceration” and said it violated his free speech, due process and other rights.

The complaint claims the arrest was a “pretext” that was orchestrated to “silence Raub’s speech critical of the government by subjecting him to involuntary commitment.”






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USA: STREET PREACHER CLAIMS GOVERNMENT HARASSMENT – Lawsuit explains Houston police keep arresting him over Gospel message

Posted by African Press International on May 27, 2013

The huge story these days in America is the strategy developed and adopted by the Internal Revenue Service under Barack Obama to try to hush up conservative organizations by delaying their tax-status applications with personal, unneeded and likely illegal questions.

But a legal case being brought against authorities in Houston, Texas, suggests there’s another way to shut up a Christian: Arrest him.

The case is being brought by the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of David Allen.

The organization explained that since May of 2011, there have been three separate incidents where Allen, a Christian street preacher in Houston, was arrested, searched, jailed and denied his constitutional rights to free speech and free exercise of religion.

However, there never has been a conviction on any charge.

Erin Mersino is the Thomas More Law Center attorney handling the project, and she is being helped by Texas attorneys Joseph R. Gutheinz of Friendship, Texas, and Jerad Wayne Najvar of Houston.

Named as defendants are the city of Houston, its police chief and several officers.

The center said Allen’s three arrests happened while he was preaching the Gospel message against the sins of abortion, homosexuality and adultery on public sidewalks.

His preaching includes donning a wool prayer shawl called a “Tallit” and sounding a ram’s horn known as a “shofar.”

“This case is primarily about the right of a Christian preacher, exercising his rights to free speech on the public sidewalks of Houston, to condemn what he believes are sins of our society. The Supreme Court has held that public sidewalks are traditional public forums where speech cannot be restricted based on content. So, as long as Mr. Allen is not violating any constitutionally valid laws, the police cannot arrest him or otherwise interfere with his right to free speech just because they don’t like his message or the way he is expressing it,” said Richard Thompson, president of the TMLC.

The first arrest was in May 2011 while he was praying on a public sidewalk in front of the local Planned Parenthood facility. He was handcuffed and imprisoned in the back of a patrol car for nearly an hour in “suffocating heat.”

When he was brought out of the vehicle he collapsed and was rushed to a hospital for treatment.

The second arrested was that October, and it was dismissed for lack of evidence.

January 2012 saw the third arrest, when Allen was jailed for most of a day before his wife was able to post bond. He was charged with failing to obey an order and having a “staff” – his shofar.

Police failed to appear at court so it, too, was dismissed.

The case cites the repeated violations of Allen’s First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights.

“The city and its highest ranking officials … in conjunction, agreement and cooperation with police officers and officials, worked together, acted with reckless and callous indifference to plaintiff’s constitutional rights, and in fact did jointly engage in conduct that deprived plaintiff of his fundamental constitutional rights,” said the complaint.

“Plaintiff seeks a declaration that defendants violated his clearly established constitutional rights as set forth … a preliminary and permanent injunction enjoining the enforcement of defendants’ unconstitutional acts, policies, practices, customs and/or procedures as set forth in this complaint; and a judgment awarding nominal, compensatory, and punitive damages … for the harm caused to plaintiff by the conduct of the defendant.”





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Kenya: Perpetrators of complex crimes walk free due to lack of enough evidence.

Posted by African Press International on May 27, 2013

  • By Maurice Alal, API Kenya

Perpetrators of organized and complex crimes in the country go scot free for lack of an elaborate witness protection program.

A witness protection agency has disclosed that Culprits of crimes like terrorism, piracy, corruption, drug trafficking and money laundering have been listed as among the greatest beneficiaries of a weak witness protection system as witness cannot freely give their accounts in court.

At a workshop in Kisumu, Director of the Witness Protection Agency Mrs Alice Ondieki said that it is impossible for anyone to give evidence in a sensitive case unless their safety is guaranteed.

Mrs Ondieki stressed her agency’s mandate of mounting a strong protection program so that witnesses can testify without fear of reprisal and threats to their lives.

Deputy Director, Mr Peter Mwangi said the state has a duty to care to its citizenry to ensure the experience of testifying does not result in further harm.

Mr Mwangi said other culprits that are benefiting a lot from witness’ fear are human traffickers, election offenders and sexual and gender based violators.

He revealed that the government has acknowledged the need for security of witnesses in complex criminal cases so as to strengthen the criminal justice system.

The Witness protection Act Capt. 79 is meant to provide the framework and procedures for giving special protection, on behalf of the state, to witness and related persons in possession of important information and who are facing risk or intimidation due to their corporation with the prosecution and law enforcement agencies.

“When witnesses fail to testify due to intimidation, the accused persons are acquitted causing the public to lose trust in the criminal justice system,” said Mr Mwangi.

“By protecting the witness you make it hard for them to be threatened,” said Ms Ottilia Maunganidze, a Consultant with the Institute of Security Studies (ISS).

The two day seminar was to offer quick sensitization and dissemination of the witness protection Act (WPA) and regulations there to stakeholders and sensitize government officials from Nyanza Region of the same.

Present were government ministries, departments, agencies, institutions, independent offices and commissions who are major stakeholders in matters related to WPA in Nyanza region.

Kenya is the only country to have a witness protection programme in East and central Africa and the second in Africa after South Africa in the entire continent.

The sensitization programme will go to various towns in Kenya.




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