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Archive for June 6th, 2013

Norway condemns attack on Red Cross in Afghanistan

Posted by African Press International on June 6, 2013

The local office of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Jalalabad was attacked on 29 May by unidentified armed men. An Afghan guard was killed and one expatriate staff member was slightly injured in the attack.

“We condemn the attack in the strongest possible terms. The ICRC has had a presence in Afghanistan since 1987 and has worked to assist and protect the civilian population. Attacks on humanitarian aid workers have widespread repercussions for the conflict-affected population and they are completely unacceptable,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

“It is essential to grasp every opportunity to promote respect for humanitarian principles and international humanitarian law vis-à-vis all parties to the conflict,” Mr Eide said.

Norway has just hosted an international conference aimed at strengthening the protection of civilians and respect for international humanitarian law. This attack shows how crucial it is to continue these efforts.

 

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President of Ireland Speaks of Need to Protect Media Diversity at IFJ World Congress Launch

Posted by African Press International on June 6, 2013

  • By  Dickens Wasonga.

The President of Ireland, Mr Michael D Higgins, has stressed the need to protect media diversity and pluralism at the opening ceremony of the International Federation of Journalists’ World Congress in Dublin last evening.

Opening the World Congress, President Higgins warned of the dangers of “identifiable news organizations chasing the same narrow commercial ground” and emphasized the importance of a free press to democratic society.

“Pluralism, real diversity and choice are critical and should never be reduced to a false choice between partisan media arrayed on ideological grounds, and identified news organizations chasing the same narrow commercial ground,” President Higgins told over 300 delegates gathered at the opening ceremony in Dublin’s historic Royal Hospital Kilmainham.

The President said that real pluralism “occurs at a granular level, within countries as much as within regions, reflecting religious and ethnic diversity, and the views and needs of rich and poor alike. Governments and civil society need to keep this issue at the forefront of media policy – democracy, freedom, even economic growth depend on it.”

The President of Ireland was welcomed at the opening by IFJ President, Jim Boumelha, who endorsed his call for free and democratic media across the world. The theme of the IFJ Congress, which is hosted by the National Union of Journalists of Great Britain and Ireland is Leading the Global Fightback.

President Higgins said the recent reiteration of the principles of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May by the member countries of UNESCO was an important act of solidarity.

President Higgins stated that if the commitment was to be of real value there must also be a commitment “to turn human rights aspirations in this area from aspirations into guarantees”.

He outlined the challenges facing journalists including  the concentration of ownership, the convergence of technologies, the fragmentation of audiences, the com-modification of experience, are all elements of the changed circumstances in which journalism is, and will, be practiced.

“Journalists attempting to investigate and provide information on political and corporate corruption can often be hindered and intimidated by those with vested interests, including by use of violent means; which, if acceded to, would lead to a dangerous misrepresentation or even falsification of information which would not be in the interests of individual citizens and would obviously be detrimental to society at large,” said President Higgins.

“The principle of diversity and pluralism which lies at the heart of the media must be protected if we are to promote a free flow of ideas and information and strengthen the exercise of freedom of expression around the world.”

END.

 

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Kenya: Piracy is a threat – inmates in prison raise alarm

Posted by African Press International on June 6, 2013

 

Inmates at the Naivasha Maximum Prison have expressed their fear that they are loosing thousands of shillings due to piracy.

According to them, they are not enjoying the benefits of their music after production as they are normally pirated in the backstreet market and sold.

They are now urging The Music Society of Kenya to protect their songs from piracy, saying they had rights to be protected and enjoy the benefits of their music.

The over two thousands inmates are now urging the relevant bodies to curb the vice so as to protect the local music industry.

Speaking to press separately Naivasha MP John Kihagi, urged the society to accept the inmates once they were through with their jail term as they had reformed.

He urged the employers to stop discriminating former prison inmates when conducting their recruitment exercises.

The MP said discrimination was one of the many reason that the ex-prisoners were committing back their crimes as were unable to cope with the current life.

Kihagi said most of the inmates had shown a lot of changes and other had learnt skills while at Prison and had been warded with certificates in various fields.

He said due to fear most employers do not recognize their certificates in fear of them attacking and robbing after employment.

He revealed that everyone was already aware that the Prison Department had started rehabilitation programmes for the inmates who were serving their jail terms.

 

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Kenya: Lugulu mission Hospital in Bungoma County is now surviving on borrowed time

Posted by African Press International on June 6, 2013

  • By GODFREY WAMALWA, API KENYA
Lugulu mission Hospital  in Bungoma County is now surviving on borrowed time if details of a well-guarded corruption networks unmasked by weekly citizen is anything to go by.
Even before the dust settle in the air after a shocking exposure of corruption at controversial Lugulu Mission Hospital in Bungoma County, fresh details are now emerging over the bleak future of the facility. For the third week in a row, the hospital which   a week ago was reported by your  favorite   Weekly Citizen to  have  lost  hundreds of millions if not  billions of  shillings through fraudulent  deals by it Managers, CEO and some of  its Board of Directors is now in the  thick of another  scandal involving another million scandal.
And following recent happenings at the once vibrant medical facility that have seen several directors and officials exit and others are now hauled to court  to answer unprocedurally terminations, details have emerged exposing even more sleaze.
 The facility is widely known within the region to conduct this malpractices and it is no longer news to hear that yet another multi million financial scam  has resurfaced.
Ironically , these cases even when reported are never dealt with accordingly by the relevant authorities.
After several ill-financial reports erupted one week after an exposure by your popular weekly citizen,this scribe pitched investigative tent to unmask what was detailed in the hidden but shocking auditing reporting.
The report in white paper but written with black ink cites numerous glaring cases of unvoiced expenditures, conflict of interest and accounting lapses at the hospital.The report details that a total of Sh14.7million was stolen through unvoiced expenditure and further recommends that the Financial director Evelyne  Efumbi should be investigated and arraign in court to pay for the loot.
Situated along Webuye-Kitale,the facility which receives huge funding from Friends United Mission,Aphias Plus and government support, has allegedly cut itself a special place on matters of corruption.Another Sh729,520  was lost whereby the hospital was required to carry out a monthly Bank reconciliations to detect any direct debits by Bank which was not captured in the hospital financial records.
The examination held by the hospital reveals that the expenditure totaling to the above amount during 2010/2011 financial year was incurred on clearing hospitals debts,no records were produced to show how transaction was done.
Documents in possession with weekly citizen reveals that sh 3million was not accounted for and the items purchased were not procured professionally.
An amount of sh6million was withdrawn from the hospital bank by former Dr.Simon Kisaka while another sh 1.6million withdrawn by Evelyne Efumbi who allegedly handed over the withdrawals,there is no documents to support such transaction.The report further indicates that the hospital might have lost sh 27million through fraudulent withdrawals.
The estimated average monthly collection(revenue)ksh 4million,but from available schedules,a total of sh 2.1m was banked and the sh1.9 was directly spent but there was no tangible evidence of banking sh2.1m.
The hospital however,lost sh900,000 through unaccounted for travelling and subsistence allowances but no supportive documents attacked to the payment vouchers,no receipt acknowledgement of the cash pai or payment vouchers and that the said payments were treated as expenditure instead of temporary imprests.
However officers implicated in the above scam are as follows.Wilson Maungo (former internal auditor)two junior staffs,and the acting administrator Jackson Fuko. Our expansive investigation has however, unmasked that mismanagement and inefficiency  is the cause of financial troubles at the Bungoma based hospital.
This revelations comes as the fate of about a section of employees hangs in balance,after being sacked under shady circumstances
The tradition by top management to single source suppliers is behind the fleecing of the company of profits, with no tendering process.
“There is too much inefficiency at the hospital”, a highly placed source said.
The source who has been working at the firm as a senior manager for over the years, but declined to be named blamed top managers for not having fixed rates for buying of items at the hospital.
The recent appointment of Jackson Fuko to head administration office has threatened to impair the smooth running of the hospital bearing in mind the he is incompetent and holds a mere certificate in storekeeping. In a recent meeting where he was to address staffs,saw him prefer using Kiswahili a situation which provided a perfect insight of his disastrous academic background. His anarchic act,selfish and outright office abuse has put his competence as an administrator in question something that is now evident at the hospital struck with mass exodus of managerial experts.
According to impeccable sources,his anarchic acts and selfishness has led to a number of senior officers moving out.However,the recent mass exit was that the immediate administrator William Wambugu who recently resigned at the hospital citing frustrations and forcefully embezzlement of donors funds,lack of commitment by a section of management,and issuing of payment vouchers to non-existing projects.
But what followed after the taking over the office of administrator very perturbing as a new turn of events emerging where a section of the locals who are well versed with the million scandal is now embroiled in got agitated and threatened to hold demonstrations.
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Kenya case at the ICC: Ruto and Sang case – Trial to open on 10 September 2013

Posted by African Press International on June 6, 2013

Situation: Kenya 

Case: The Prosecutor v. William Samoei Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang

Today, 3 June 2013, the Trial Chamber V(A) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided to set the opening of the trial in the case against William= Samoei Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang on 10 September 2013 in order to allow the Defence sufficient time to carry out its preparation.

On 6 May 2013, Trial Chamber V had decided to vacate the date of the trial’s= start, scheduled on 28 May 2013, indicating that a new trial date would be set in due course. The Chamber held a hearing on 14 May 2013, in the presence of the two accused, to discuss procedural matters and other issues including the Prosecutor’s request to add six witnesses to the list of witnesses and the Defence’s request to vacate the trial date to adequately prepare its case. After reviewing the parties and participants’ observations, the Chamber, composed of Judges Chile Eboe-Osuji (Presiding), Olga Herrera Carbuccia and Robert Fremr, authorised the Prosecutor to add two persons to her list of witnesses for this case and set the new date of the trial’s opening accordingly.

The ICC is a permanent international court whose primary purpose is to help to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, thus contributing to the prevention of such crimes.

 

 

Source icc

 

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Palestinians seek safety in Israeli citizenship

Posted by African Press International on June 6, 2013

East Jerusalem

JERUSALEM,  – Braving social stigma, many Palestinians in East Jerusalem have in recent years applied for Israeli citizenship to escape insecurity and the endangered status of their residency under Israeli occupation. But citizenship alone does not always save them from inequality and uncertainty.

“Look around you, this city will remain under Israeli control as long as I live,” said 40-year-old Anwar*, a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem who acquired Israeli citizenship. “As Palestinians in Jerusalem, we are facing discrimination in all fields. Israeli citizenship is the only chance available.”

According to data the International Crisis Group (ICG) obtained from the Israeli Ministry of Interior, some 7,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem applied for Israeli citizenship between 2001 and 2010, two-thirds of them between 2008 and 2010 alone.

According to a December 2012 ICG report, a total of 13,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem have Israeli citizenship, although this number likely includes residents who came into town from other parts of Israel.

The major reasons behind the citizenship applications are fears of losing residency or access to Jerusalem, the wish to travel more easily and the desire to grant a better future for one’s children, according to Palestinians interviewed, a community activist and the ICG report.

“Most Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, regardless of whether they approve or disapprove of the trend, believe that the numbers applying for citizenship are likely to grow,” ICG writes, noting that other researchers have reported much higher numbers from the Ministry of the Interior. (For instance, journalist Danny Rubinstein was told that 12,000 Jerusalemites had applied for citizenship in 2008-2009 alone, ICG said.)

An Israeli foreign ministry spokeswoman, Ilana Stein, said that everyone who meets the criteria – being a documented permanent resident of Jerusalem with no criminal record – can apply for citizenship, but that “security concerns can arise on individual cases”. According to the ICG report, about one-third of applicants were rejected.

Insecure status

Palestinians’ permanent residency status in Israel is conditional on proving their “center of life” lies within the Israeli-defined municipal boundary of Jerusalem, a precarious status that can be revoked under many circumstances, including living outside the municipal boundary for extended periods of time. Between 1995 and 2000, Israel revoked the residency status of some 3,000 East Jerusalem Palestinians in what the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs called “quiet deportation”. It revoked another 7,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites’ IDs between 2006 and 2011, which contributed to the subsequent upsurge in applications for citizenship.

In addition, some 50,000 Palestinians live inside the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem but are cut off from the city by the separation barrier. Becoming an Israeli citizen often calms their fears that they may lose access to the city altogether should Israel decide to redraw the municipal boundaries along the route of the barrier.

Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat expressed sympathy for such a plan in 2011, suggesting that parts of municipal Jerusalem that lie on the Palestinian side of the security barrier should fall under the Palestinian Authority’s jurisdiction rather than that of the municipality.

A young man carrying a new born child and his wife climb around the barrier in East Jerusalem (file photo)

A 2011 survey by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion found that nearly half of East Jerusalemites would prefer to become citizens of Israel rather than a new Palestinian state, “casting fresh doubts on the official Palestinian claim to the city”. “Even more remarkably”, the survey found, 42 percent said they would actually move to a different neighborhood if necessary to remain under Israeli rather than Palestinian authority. However, observers say such data should be treated with caution, given that Palestinian applicants may fear losing their residency if they do not show support for Israel, and given the overall low, if increasing, number of applicants.

Anwar’s choice remains a taboo for most Palestinians.

“When I applied some 10 years ago, some of my relatives cut all relations with me,” he said, lowering his voice whenever speaking directly about his application during an interview in a restaurant in East Jerusalem. “My uncle got angry and asked, ‘Did you forget to love your city and your country?’”

“Some people believe that in order to stay in their city, it is safer to get Israeli citizenship,” said Xavier Abo Eid, a spokesman for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in the West Bank’s capital Ramallah, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). “But Israel aims at turning occupation into effective annexation, and that includes the people living in it,” he protested. “And Israel is doing everything possible to push Palestinians outside Jerusalem. They have suffered from Israeli policies of ID revocations, home demolitions, evictions and settlement construction.”

“If things don’t change soon, going abroad will be the only option left”

Israel officially considers Jerusalem its “united capital” and regularly denies the discriminatory impact of its policies concerning the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem. Jerusalem mayor Barkat said in 2010, a year after the wave of ID revocations: “Never was Jerusalem as open for people to practice their religion freely as it is today.”

The PLO has produced an internal policy paper on the citizenship applications, but has not released it publically.

No silver bullet

Anwar said he used to face time-consuming visa procedures every time he wanted to visit family abroad using his Israeli travel permit. Before he was granted citizenship, he had to submit employment records and official invitations before every trip. “Now, I just get on the plane.”

But becoming an Israeli citizen has not protected him from discrimination. The Israeli passport may make it easier to travel, Anwar said, but “I am still treated as a potential terrorist, while Jewish citizens just pass.”

Despite the citizenship, he still has not succeeded in getting a permit to build new rooms in his home. Rights groups say those Palestinians living in in East Jerusalem struggle to get building permits, while Jewish settlements on the perimeter of the city are growing, cutting Palestinian East Jerusalem off from the rest of the West Bank. One such settlement is Giv’at HaMatos; its build-up would cut off Arab neighbourhoods in southern Jerusalem, like Beit Safafa and Sharafat, rendering them “Palestinian enclaves”, the ICG said, surrounded by settlements that, according to an international fact-finding mission commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council, adversely affect Palestinians’ freedom of movement, natural resources and safety.

Inequalities between Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel span many fields of public life, and are enshrined in parts of the legal system and government practices. Some 30 Israeli laws specifically privilege Jewish over Arab Israeli citizens in immigration rights, naturalization, and access to land and employment, among other things.

The inequality has even driven some Palestinians in Israel – including some with Israeli citizenship – to leave for Ramallah, often in search of an Arab-speaking, culturally Palestinian environment.

“If things don’t change soon, going abroad will be the only option left,” Anwar said.

*not a real name

ah/ha/rz source http://www.irinnews.org

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