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Archive for June 8th, 2013

Kenya: Sodomizing two boys and defiling a minor – man gets life imprisonment

Posted by African Press International on June 8, 2013

 

A Naivasha court has sentenced a sixty year old man to life imprisonment and 40 years in jail after he was found guilty of sodomizing two boys and defiling a minor.

Jacob Kahiga Ndung’u was found guilty of sodomizing two boys aged twelve years at Fara-inya village in Nyandarua County

According to the charge sheets, on diverse dates between May 2011 and June 2011 in the village forcefully sodomized the minors.

The court was told that the accused who was a teacher in the Ragia Forest Primary school ordered the boys to go and cook for him in his house later to sodomize them forcefully.

The children narrated in the court how the accused threatened them with dire consequences if they dared disclosed to anyone.

On the next incident the accused a teacher, order a nine-year old girl to go and fetch the water in a nearby river and cook for him.

It was at this point, when the minor came back got the teachers undressed and forcefully defiled her in promise that she could pay her Sh 10.

In her ruling, Naivasha resident magistrate Esther Bhoke pointed out that the prosecution had provided enough evidence that the accused committed the acts.

She said that it was unfortunate that instead of the accused protecting the minors had gone to an extent of losing trust with the children.

In mitigation the man pleaded for forgiveness, a plea that the magistrate threw it away and reminded that he had 14 days to appeal.

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Ends  

 

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Who is undermining Guinea-Bissau’s stability?

Posted by African Press International on June 8, 2013

Photo: Wikimedia
Guinea-Bissau is struggling to rise from yet another coup

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Attractive conditions for drug traffickers
  • Pressure on government finances
  • Political patronage rife

BISSAU, – The small West African country of Guinea-Bissau is slated to hold fresh polls later this year after yet another coup, but opposition to security sector reform (SSR) by some in the army, the manipulation of the armed forces by politicians, as well as the military’s interference in politics could jeopardize a return to stability, analysts say.

“There is an old guard within the military that does not wish to lose control of the armed forces. From their point of view, SSR is a serious threat to their power and therefore their sources of income. So whenever we are moving forward in the SSR process, sooner or later a military coup takes place,” said Paulo Gorjao, director of the Portuguese Institute of International Relations and Security (IPRIS).

Just days before the 29 April 2012 presidential run-off, the army arrested and detained Prime Minister and poll front-runner Carlos Gomes Junior and the interim president. Coup leaders accused Gomes of undermining the military. Analysts say veteran army generals are loath to reform and come under civilian control.

The army is dominated by the Balanta, the largest ethnic group. Balanta officers occupy most of the top military ranks. Gomes, of Portuguese-African descent, had defeated Kumba Yala, a Balanta, in the first round of the 2012 polls.

“The army does not [meddle in politics] on its own. It [meddles] because some sections of the political elite manipulate it as they cannot get to power through peaceful democratic elections,” UN Special Representative José Ramos-Horta, the former Timor-Leste president, told IRIN.

“But it works both ways, particularly in a society with ethnic loyalties. If you have a politician who belongs to a particular ethnic group and that ethnic group has a strong influence in the army, it’s not so difficult to anticipate where that army’s allegiance lies…

“SSR will take time. It is a sine qua non for peace and stability in the country,” said Ramos-Horta.

Drugs trade

Guinea-Bissau’s political instability has also created attractive conditions for drug traffickers over the past decade. The country is one of the key transhipment points in West Africa for drugs heading to Europe from South America.

Politicians and the military are involved in the cocaine trade and those who have dared challenge the traffickers have been killed or kidnapped, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said in a February report.

While the country’s instability predates the drug trade, analysts say trafficking has had an influence on the political crisis.

Cost of instability
69.3 percent of Guinea-Bissau’s 1.6 million people live in poverty.
Just over half of the population has access to clean water.
Life expectancy is 48 years.
Although child mortality has declined to 161 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011 from 210 in 1990, the death rate is among the highest in the world.
Primary and secondary school net attendance rate increased from 54 to 67 percent between 2006 and 2010, but education quality remains low.
IMF predicts a 3.5 percent GDP growth in 2013 assuming increased cashew harvests and prices and a resumption of public investment, but recovery dependents on political stability, it says.
Sources: World Bank, UNICEF

“I believe that military instability and the coups are mainly explained by drug-trafficking since the control of the armed forces is crucial to control of the sources of income related to drug-trafficking. Moreover, drug-trafficking also explains why SSR is so difficult to implement,” Gorjao explained.

“So as long as we don’t act to curb drug-trafficking, Guinea-Bissau will be condemned to regular power plays within the armed forces, with the spillover effects that result from it.”

Donors stay away

Guinea-Bissau donors withdrew budgetary aid following the 2012 coup. The European Union (EU), Bissau’s main donor, has held back 60 million euros since 2010 due to the recurrent instability and has bypassed the government in supporting water, health, human rights and other projects.

“We cannot continue to give institutional assistance, more so budgetary aid, to people who are not [legitimately elected], who cannot manage the state budget and who are infiltrated by drug traffickers,” EU delegation chief in Guinea-Bissau Joaquin Gonzalez-Ducay told IRIN.

“The country continues to be governed by an army involved in drug-trafficking and a puppet government incapable of advancing a political agenda,” he said.

Pressure on government finances has been added to by pay rise demands from the civil service and the military, the World Bank said in an April report. Budget support provided by the Economic Community for West African States and Nigeria is key to preventing possible unrest due to salary delays, it said.

“The regional support has been enough to support the functioning of the government apparatus but not for investment. If there is no investment there is no employment, no growth, just current expenditure,” said Alfredo Torrez, the International Monetary Fund representative in Guinea-Bissau.

He called for the development of the private sector once the political crisis is resolved. “Everybody is waiting for a very clear message, a [political] road map. Once everything is in place, the opportunity for recovery is very high.”

Political impasse

The Party of Social Renewal (PRS) of former president Kumba Yala, the Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC) of ousted candidate Gomes, and other smaller parties, have held difficult negotiations on an inclusive government ahead of elections planned for November.

In May they agreed on the government’s composition, but it has not yet been formed and the parties have not yet agreed on the electoral commission chief or the election date. Some smaller parties have rejected the unity government framework.

“It marks progress definitely, but months of work should have been invested to conclude an agreement. There’s neither a new government nor an electoral commission. This is not a good sign,” said Vincent Foucher of the International Crisis Group.

“Nothing is being done to tackle the root causes of the [2012] coup…”

He argued that Guinea-Bissau’s political and economic system of patronage – amid meagre resources – is one of the fundamental problems that have caused the country’s protracted crisis.

He also bemoaned regional inequalities: “There is a serious problem of economic development that is worsened by wide inequalities between the capital city and the rural areas over access to resources and public services,” he said.

“The other problem is that political life is defined by the Balanta-backed PRS on one side and PAIGC – a machine to win elections despite deep internal divisions – on the other. This is an explosive combination.”

These fault lines are not currently being addressed, said IPRIS’s Gorjao. “Nothing is being done to tackle the root causes of the [2012] coup because nothing is being done at this stage regarding SSR and little is being done concerning drug-trafficking.”

The international community is looking to assist deeper reforms when a legitimate government is in power. But Guinea-Bissau analyst Seco Cassama warned: “We have never had problems during elections. It is after the elections that we have problems.”

ob/cb source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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“The world won’t end AIDS without PEPFAR”

Posted by African Press International on June 8, 2013

“The world won’t end AIDS without PEPFAR”

ADDIS ABABA,  – Ten years ago, a shipping container was converted into Ethiopia’s first HIV treatment centre, in Addis Ababa, the capital. Created in response to a dramatic rise in new HIV infections and AIDS -related deaths, the centre offered the only hope for HIV-positive Ethiopians, who had to pay to access the life-prolonging antiretroviral therapy (ART).

When US Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby joined other US and Ethiopian officials at the centre on a recent trip, they found a state-of-the-art facility, where thousands of clients receive free, comprehensive HIV treatment. The centre, a wing at the Empress Zewditu Memorial Hospital, has just added an outpatient annex.

“At least 350 clients will be seen daily in this new facility, some of whom have not been able to receive the services they need and deserve elsewhere. I particularly applaud Zewditu for its tremendous effort to build the first site in Ethiopia that offers counselling and testing services for the deaf and blind,” Goosby said at the inauguration ceremony.

The centre is now one of 900 sites across the country where over 290,000 people are receiving ART. The new centre, like thousands across Africa, was funded by the US government-run President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

Established in 2003, PEPFAR was the product of a rare bipartisan deal between former US president George W. Bush and lawmakers spearheaded by the Congressional Black Caucus. It was first a commitment of US$15 billion in funding to fight the global HIV/AIDS pandemic; at the launch of the plan, only 50,000 Africans were accessing ART, according to Eric Goosby who heads PEPFAR.

In 2012, an estimated 8 million people were receiving treatment in low- and middle-income countries – of which PEPFAR directly supported 5.1 million. This was a 20-fold increase in treatment coverage since PEPFAR was created in 2003. In 2012 alone, the emergency plan helped carry out 46 million HIV tests, preventing 230,000 babies from being born HIV-positive, Goosby said in an interview with IRIN.

Funding cuts versus AIDS-free generation

But experts are concerned that consistent budget cuts in PEPFAR funding could make reaching the goal of an HIV-free generation difficult, if not impossible.

Chris Collins, a vice president and director of public policy at the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), argues that despite impressive gains made in the AIDS response now is not the time for funding cuts.

“Funding for PEPFAR has fallen 12 percent since 2010 in the State Department HIV bilateral budget line. Last week, the White House proposed an additional $50 million cut for 2014. When the mandated sequestration cut is taken into account, the programme is now at its lowest funding level since 2007,” Collins noted in an April editorial.

“The honest truth is that the world won’t end AIDS without PEPFAR. Some will say: judge PEPFAR on its outcomes, not its funding. But when PEPFAR’s own Blueprint calls for rapid scale-up of effective services in order to show tangible gains, it’s hard to understand why now is the time to cut back,” Collins argued.

But Goosby explained the cuts are being made for three reasons. The first is because they are “getting better and smarter” in service delivery, such as procuring and shipping commodities like condoms and test kits at cheaper costs and favouring less expensive generic drugs over pricey brands.

“We also started a dialogue (this… was an attempt to try to make these services sustainable, not just dependent on one funder) with governments around what their contribution was now to these services and what they could be. And governments all heard this and [began] to pour… their own money into the service pot,” he told IRIN. “So, again, it would be additives, so we can build on what we have already started… with a donor-start but it is a government finish.”

The US is also looking to more cooperation with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to raise funds to pay for the HIV prevention and treatment programmes, according to Goosby, who says the US donates a third of the money that goes to the Global Fund.

“So we think of it as a shared responsibility… We see our ethical obligation to the patients that are using these services… We will not renege on that. But we also feel that in order to make sure these services continue, we need to diversify the fund portfolio so others are contributing.”

Chipping in

But whether poorer countries in the region will be able to take over the ongoing programmes is a concern for many.

According to the African Union commission, a number of countries have begun to implement innovative AIDS financing measures intended to reduce dependence on external funders such as PEPFAR.

“Zimbabwe and Kenya now earmark a portion of domestic tax revenues for an AIDS Trust Fund, while countries such as Benin, Congo, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Niger, Rwanda and Uganda have established special HIV levies on mobile phone usage or airfares,” said the commission in a statement issued on May 26. “Taking a different approach, South Africa reduced its spending on antiretroviral medications by 53 percent by reforming its tender process to increase competition among suppliers.”

“Our continent is demonstrating strong political commitment and action by embracing transformative reforms to address AIDS, TB [tuberculosis] and malaria,” said the commission’s chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

PEPFAR’s Goosby agrees it is not yet time to scale back the fight against HIV/AIDS. “If we pull back on what we are doing for HIV, it will come right back, without any doubt. We see that in just about every infectious disease, but HIV is notorious for this. So keeping this going becomes the challenge. That’s why we want to emphasize the shared responsibility.”

kta/kn/rz  source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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