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Archive for September 2nd, 2013

New Norwegian funding to secure tax revenues in developing countries

Posted by African Press International on September 2, 2013

Norway will support African countries in the negotiation of fair agreements with international companies that are exploiting their natural resouces,”said Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås. Mr Holmås met the President of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka,in Oslo this week to sign an agreement on an additional NOK 30 million in support. 

Many developing countries are rich in natural resources but their populations remain very poor. One of the reasons for this is that multinational companies have negotiated unfair agreements with national authorities on the exploitation of natural resources such as minerals, oil and gas. This has led to conflicts and continued poverty.

“Norway is seeking to help turn Africa’s ‘resource curse’ into a ‘resource blessing’ by supporting the negotiation of better contract terms. The aim is for the countries to strengthen their own revenues and economies, and in the long term for them to be able to manage without aid,” said Mr Holmås.

Whereas the authorities in many African countries lack the legal expertise they need, multinational companies have their own experts in tax law and commercial law. Norway has now agreed to provide NOK 30 million over a period of two years to strengthen the negotiating capacity of African countries. This work will be carried out through the African Legal Support Facility, which is hosted by the African Development Bank, and which provides legal assistance in the negotiation of contracts and in settling disputes between multinational companies and the authorities in African countries.

“This work also enhances financial transparency surrounding contracts which is crucial to be able to uncover and stop illicit financial flows. Every year ten times as much money disappears out of developing countries through illicit financial flows as is received in the form of aid and development support,” Mr Holmås stressed.

Norway provided NOK 768 million in support to the African Development Bank in 2012. Inclusive growth and the transition to green growth are the two main objectives of the Bank’s Strategy for 2013–2022, which also identifies fragile states, agriculture and food security and gender as areas of special emphasis. The strategy is consistent with Norway’s development policy priorities, as set out in the recent white paper on fair distribution, Sharing for prosperity.

 

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Motorcycles also known as bodaboda by most Kenyans have hit the market with a bang

Posted by African Press International on September 2, 2013

  • BY GODFREY WAMALWA,API,KENYA

Motorcycles also known as bodaboda by most Kenyans have hit the market with a bang especially because they are small enough to penetrate rough and poor roads. These have opened up places  that were previously not accessible by vehicles.
Bungoma municipality , one of the most populous and congested towns in Kenya, has seen a massive increase in bodaboda business,posing  a serious threat to the survival of vehicles taxi operators. Apart from leading as a killer road accident in the town, a new concern has arisen over the influence of the cyclists in the social settings of residents of Bungoma town and its suburbs.
The entire public is now raising concern over the rampart cases of family breakups that are related to bodaboda operators.
A such case was reported at Siritanyi-Kanduyi suburb when a wife had a heated quarrel with his husband over her regular use of bodaboda at late hours of the night. An arbitrator of the case Ezekiel Wafula says the husband confided to him he had suspected a steamy love affairs between the wife and the operator.
In Bungoma town a motorist narrowly escaped lynching from angry residents at Mayanja when a hotel attendant raised an alarm after he saw him lead a standard seven girl into a lodging.
The increasingly and major clients to the operators are said to be women as men have a low profile of the cyclists.
A survey conducted by the western hotline reveals that many women will wait as operator to ferry them even in short distances that they would otherwise walk.
Esther Mukhono a regular customer and a casual at Bungoma district hospital town says that the motorcycles have had a major impact on many women nowadays. Mukhono wakes up at dawn to find a regular taxi waiting in the compound, who picks her up to the hospital everyday and pays him shs.1,600 per month .but her husband who is always uncomfortable with the choice of her wife over the transport made, says he rarely uses the means and is dissatisfied with the fact that many women use them.
In Bungoma town,Peter Simiyu an operator near the district headquarters says that he normally ferries more women than men every day.However,lingering  question is why men do not like the idea of using motorcycles, unlike women who have since developed a passion for them.
Victor Wafula ,54,says that he cannot stand his wife using motorbike.’It’s shameful  to see my wife exposing things or clinging closely to operators as they make fun.’
Wafula ’ adds that it’s totally against African culture especially for the married ones to go around exposing themselves in public. Not only that women cling to operators but their closeness when the operator makes fun is very disgusting to most of us men.
The bodaboda operators have been accused of trading pleasures in having women customers and others claim that on a good day, they carry them free of charge.
William Mulongo,another operator plying Kanduyi-chwele  route says sometimes he makes women trust him and ensures they do not use other means of transport. He further reveals that they make an effort to get contacts of women whom they  call to confirm whether they need to travel.
Vincent  Barasa another operator who plies Bukembe-Nzoia says he enjoys serving women passengers on his motorbikes as they are fearful,’ when they cling on us when we approach sharp bends or corners that makes us feel good.’ Says Barasa.
However, police sources says that bodaboda business has changed  and they cannot rule out  the possibilities of the operators having sexual relationships with the operators.
Lucas Wekesa, a religious leader says that traffic department should introduce strict rules such as in Kampala where movement of bicycles beyond odd hours of the night is restricted. He urged women not to fall into easy traps from the cyclists, especially by avoiding travelling late hours which makes them more vulnerable in darkness.
Out of ten [10]men interviewed,talk their women should not use motorbikes, but women considered the operators more reliable and closer than any other means.

 

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– Countries around the world are increasingly responding to influxes of irregular migrants and asylum seekers by simply locking them up

Posted by African Press International on September 2, 2013

– Countries around the world are increasingly responding to influxes of irregular migrants and asylum seekers by simply locking them up. States cite national security concerns and suggest that such punitive measures will make undocumented migrants and asylum seekers think twice before entering their territory.

In reality, there is no evidence that the threat of detention is a deterrent against irregular migration or that it discourages people from seeking asylum. But there is plenty of evidence that it is detrimental to the physical and mental health of nearly everyone who experiences it.

Civil society groups have been particularly vocal about the negative consequences of detention on children and other vulnerable groups, while the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has pointed out that under the 1951 Refugee Convention, it is unlawful to penalize asylum seekers for illegal entry or stay provided they present themselves to the authorities without delay.

But in the current economic climate, it is the mounting cost of detention that is giving many governments pause. Grant Mitchell, director of the International Detention Coalition (IDC), an umbrella organization with 300 member groups in 50 countries, said that while there continues to be “massive growth” in detention in a number of countries, “equally, we’re seeing a lot of states that have been using detention for 15 or 20 years finding it to be increasingly expensive and hard to manage and not working as a way to deter people.”

Changes in thinking

A recent report by the National Immigration Forum found that the US will spend over US$5 million a day on immigration detention during the fiscal year 2013/14, based on its current capacity of 31,800 detention beds. But the approximately $159 per day that it costs to detain a migrant in the US is relatively low compared to the $210 per day that the Canadian Border Services Agency pays for a bed in a provincial jail or the incredible $540 per day that Sweden spends on keeping someone in one of its detention centres.

Alternatives to detention, even those that include the provision of housing and various kinds of support, come in at a fraction of the cost.

“There’s potentially huge savings,” said Philip Amarel of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Europe, who authored a 2011 report examining alternatives to detention. “Before the recession, the economic argument wasn’t so compelling because [detention] was seen as a necessary cost to bear. Now states are becoming more interested in the cost argument,” he told IRIN.

“We’re seeing a lot of states that have been using detention for 15 or 20 years finding it increasingly expensive and hard to manage”

States are also increasingly legally bound to use detention only as a last resort, particularly in the case of asylum seekers and children. Last year, UNHCR released new guidelines relating to the detention of asylum seekers that emphasized the unlawfulness of “arbitrary” detention in which less coercive alternatives have not been considered. The European Union Return Directive also stipulates that member states should not use detention if “other sufficient but less coercive measures can be applied”. Still, Amarel noted that while many EU states have since written alternatives to detention into their laws, most are not implementing them in practice.

“They fear that migrants will abscond given the chance, despite the evidence that if you have alternatives to detention that provide comprehensive services and legal assistance and inform them of all the possible outcomes that might come of their case, then compliance rates really jump up,” he said. “Member states are also not at a place yet where they can provide good alternatives to detention, largely because they don’t know how or aren’t willing to invest resources. It’s not good enough to just release people onto the streets into destitution.”

JRS defines alternatives to migration as “any policy, practice or legislation that allows asylum seekers and migrants to live in the community with freedom of movement… while they undertake to resolve their migration status and/or while awaiting removal from the territory.”

New models

Various models are being tried in different countries, with varying levels of efficacy. “We didn’t find one country with the perfect model, but we found a lot of good practices that can be combined to make effective programmes,” said Mitchell of the IDC, which has produced a handbook on preventing unnecessary immigration detention.

He added that all of the most successful programmes shared common elements, such as the provision of adequate material support, early access to free legal advice and a case management system that keeps migrants informed at every stage. “A lot of governments think that legal advice can bog down a claim, when in fact our research found that early legal advice and intervention reduces the time to complete a case and increases chances of voluntary return.”

“Treating people humanely and fairly at the very beginning means they’ll engage properly with the process,” agreed Alice Edwards, chief of UNHCR’s protection policy and legal advice section, who wrote a 2011 paper on alternatives to detention.

Both Edwards and Mitchell cited a model used in Belgium as an example of a best practice. The programme houses irregular migrants and asylum seekers with children in government-owned apartments pending the outcome of their cases. Each family is assigned a “coach” who explains the immigration process, ensures their basic needs are met and makes appointments with doctors, lawyers and the immigration authorities.

“The primary goal is to persuade families to return voluntarily, but it’s not the only goal,” explained Geert Verbauwhede, an advisor with Belgium’s Immigration Office. “For us, it’s also a positive outcome if they obtain a staying permit.”

The programme, which started in 2008, remains fairly small, with only 25 family units, but Verbauwhede said that in the future, the coaching or case management element of the programme could also be used for migrants living in their own housing.

In Sweden, a similar alternative to detention is used for asylum seekers, around 24,000 of whom are housed in apartments managed by the Swedish Migration Board and another 13,000 of whom live with relatives or in their own accommodation. Upon arrival, they are assigned a case officer who handles their asylum application and a reception officer who helps them with everyday needs, such as finding schools for their children and making sure they receive a subsistence allowance.

“If people feel they’ve been taken care of and their case has been properly scrutinized, they’re more likely to accept the outcome,” Niclas Axelsson, a specialist in detention issues with the Swedish Migration Board, told IRIN. “It’s about good behaviour management and treating people with respect and having good communication with them.”

Sweden still maintains nine small detention units in five cities, but detention is primarily used for asylum seekers who refuse to accept a negative decision and return home voluntarily. “We don’t want to use detention unless it’s necessary,” said Axelsson.

A Toronto-based non-profit called the Toronto Bail Programme (TBP) makes uses of a slightly different model. In Canada, over 90 percent of asylum seekers are released into the community with minimal conditions that may include payment of bail. For those unable to afford the bail amount or considered to be a flight risk, a request may be sent to the TBP asking the programme to take them on as a client. As a substitute for bail, TBP provides professional supervision at a cost of just over $9 a day to about 312 clients. The clients, who include irregular migrants as well as asylum seekers, are initially required to report to the TBP office twice a week.

“If they prove to us they’re doing something constructive with their time, then we can minimize reporting,” said Dave Scott, TBP’s founder and executive director.

Most of the asylum seekers qualify for work permits, but TBP also helps them apply for welfare benefits and social services. Clients with mental health or addiction problems receive additional supervision from qualified staff. TBP’s lost client ratio for the 2012/13 fiscal year was just under 5 percent, well below the 10 percent stipulated by the Canadian Border Services Agency.

Scott’s pragmatic approach includes careful screening of potential clients. “I ask, ‘Should this person be released without conditions?’ Also, I don’t want to get involved with people who are about to be removed or serious criminality cases,” he told IRIN. “I’m not the Catholic Church or the Salvation Army.”

Humane approaches

According to Amarel of JRS, alternatives to detention programmes that have been less successful are those that are only used when detention centres reach capacity or when a refused asylum seeker faces imminent removal.

“This has been a failure of a programme in the UK, where they start at the end stage when the outcome has already been decided,” he said. “It doesn’t work when the authorities don’t give migrants the chance to explore all possible outcomes from the start.”

Successful alternatives to detention programmes share almost identical outcomes, according to the IDC’s research. These include an average cost savings of around 80 percent compared to detention and an average compliance rate of 95 percent, meaning that very few of the migrants fail to comply with reporting requirements or do not show up for court appearances.

For Axelsson of the Swedish Migration Board, replicating successful programmes in other countries depends on having not only the appropriate policies and resources, but also the political will. “If you look at [asylum seekers] as criminals, I think perhaps you’ll have a problem,” he said.

“It’s important that you try to change perspectives and ask yourself, ‘If I was in the applicant’s shoes, how would I like to be treated?’”

ks/rz source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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Kenya: KERICHO COUNTY GOVERNOR SHOWS LEADERSHIP – VISITS SURREY UNIVERSITY FOR A GOOD REASON

Posted by African Press International on September 2, 2013

While some Governors in Kenya are fighting for more money from the National Government and others campaigning to have a referendum, Kericho County Governor Professor Paul Chepkwony in his wisdom decided to use his time to visit the United Kingdom in search of cooperation on University to University quality education.

The visit to the UK did not cost the tax payers money. The trip was organised by Kenyans consisting of people from the Governor’s County who are either studying or working in the UK.

This serves as a good example to other Governors who travel abroad using tax payers money without care of the impact on the tax payer in their counties.

The Professor wants his county residents to benefit. In his county there are 2 Universities and he now wants UK Surrey University to work with together with the two universities in strengthening quality education.

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