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Archive for November 16th, 2013

The release of Halawa sisters in Egypt

Posted by African Press International on November 16, 2013

DUBLIN, Ireland, November 14, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore T.D., today welcomed the release of three of the Halawa siblings who have been detained in Egypt since August 17:

“I am very pleased to hear that Somaia, Fatima and Omaima Halawa have been released from detention in Egypt today.

I telephoned Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy on Monday last to express my concern that the Halawa siblings had been kept in prison for almost three months without being charged with an offence.

I also expressed the Government’s hope and expectation that the situation would be brought to a satisfactory conclusion in the near future.

Throughout their time in detention, our Embassy in Cairo has been in regular contact with them, visiting them in prison and providing consular assistance.

I have been informed that Ibrahim Halawa will attend a further hearing in Egypt on Saturday. My Department will continue to provide consular assistance to him and liaise with the Egyptian authorities on his ongoing detention without charge.”

 

SOURCE

Ireland – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 

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Swiss government appoints new Ambassadors

Posted by African Press International on November 16, 2013

BERN, Switzerland, November 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/– The Swiss government (Federal Council) has approved the list of diplomatic staff transfers scheduled for 2014 submitted by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. The changes will be made in accordance with the normal rate of transfers, to be communicated at the time of the decision by the Federal Council. The appointments of Heads of Mission take effect as soon as the authorities in the host country communicate their approval. The Federal Council takes this opportunity to express its gratitude to the Ambassadors due to retire for the services rendered.

Martin Strub, currently First Secretary to the Head of Mission in New Delhi, has been appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Sudan, and the State of Eritrea, with residence in Khartoum.

Andrea Semadeni, Head of Mission in Accra, has been appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Republic of Djibouti, the Republic of South Sudan, and Permanent Observer to the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, effective as of the end of November 2013, with residence in Addis Ababa.

Georg Steiner, currently First Secretary to the Head of Mission in Teheran, has been appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the State of Libya, replacing Ambassador Erwin Hofer who is retiring.

Dagmar Schmidt Tartagli, currently First Secretary to the Head of Mission in Rabat, has been appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Senegal, the Republic of Cabo Verde, the Republic of the Gambia, the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, the Republic of Mali and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, with residence in Dakar.

Thomas Litscher, currently Head of Mission in Colombo, has been appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, the Republic of Guinea, the Republic of Liberia and the Republic of Sierra Leone, with residence in Abidjan.

Mirko Manzoni, currently Head of the SDC Cooperation Office in Bamako, has been appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Mozambique.

Rita Adam, currently Deputy Director of the Directorate for International Law, has been appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Tunisia, replacing Ambassador Pierre Combernous who is retiring.

Muriel Berset Cohen, currently Head of Mission in Dakar, has been appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, replacing Ambassador Thomas Feller who is retiring.

Ambassador Gerhard Brügger, currently Head of the Consular Directorate in Bern, has been appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Ghana, the Republic of Benin and the Republic of Togo, with residence in Accra.

Benedict Gubler, currently Deputy to the Head of the Permanent Representation of Switzerland to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, has been appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Angola and the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, with residence in Luanda.

Thomas Litscher, currently Head of Mission in Colombo, has been appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, the Republic of Guinea, the Republic of Liberia and the Republic of Sierra Leone, with residence in Abidjan.

 

SOURCE

Switzerland – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 

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Exercise Cutlass Express 2013

Posted by African Press International on November 16, 2013

PORT VICTORIA, Seychelles, November 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – Maritime forces from the United States, 10 East African and two European nations, along with several international organizations, commenced the multinational maritime exercise Cutlass Express 2013, Nov. 11.

Exercise Cutlass Express 2013, held in several operational areas in waters off East Africa, is an at-sea maritime exercise designed to improve cooperation, tactical expertise and information sharing practices among participating nations in order to increase maritime safety and security in the region.

The week-long exercise will take place in the vicinity of four different naval hubs: Mombasa, Kenya; Djibouti, Djibouti; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and Port Victoria, Seychelles. The exercise will feature in-port phase activities before practicing naval concepts at sea.

“We want to continue to make the waters off East Africa a safer place, and that’s what you’re here to do,” said Capt. Guy Jackson, Cutlass Express 2013 Exercise Director, in remarks during an opening ceremony in Seychelles. “Cutlass Express is designed to enhance maritime security capabilities, improve information sharing and strengthen the bonds of each and every participating nation, so that we can all work together for the long term.”

Dr. Ibrahim Mohamed Abdelrahim, Head of Liaison from the East Africa Standby Force, echoed Jackson’s sentiments at the ceremony and expressed the importance of cooperation and collaboration in ensuring maritime security.

“We East African nations have benefited greatly from the exercises and activities that our forces have completed; we look forward to this week’s exercise,” said Dr. Abdelrahim.

Cutlass Express aims to test a wide variety of skills such as maritime boarding, medical response, radio communication, and information sharing across regional maritime operations centers (MOCs). Participants will execute tactics and techniques within scenarios that mirror real-world counter-piracy and counter-illicit trafficking operations as well as actions taken to deter illegal fishing.

Exercise Cutlass Express, in its third year, is one of four Africa-focused regional “Express” series exercises facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet. The exercise is part of a comprehensive strategy of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet and U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to enable African partners to address maritime security concerns.

The exercise serves to demonstrate and test skills that are developed as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) and ongoing efforts to increase maritime domain awareness.

Started in 2007, Africa Partnership Station is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.

“This year we have 13 nations participating. Such a high number represents the outstanding cooperation we are seeing in this region, a cooperation that we hope to see continue to increase as a result of this exercise,” said Jackson.

Participants in Cutlass Express 2013 include Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Seychelles, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania, Comoros, Yemen, the Netherlands, Denmark and the U.S. Representatives from the Eastern Africa Standby Force, NATO, and EU Naval Force will also participate.

 

SOURCE

U.S Africa Command

 

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KYUNG-WHA KANG TO VISIT SOUTH SUDAN, ETHIOPIA AND KENYA

Posted by African Press International on November 16, 2013

UN DEPUTY HUMANITARIAN CHIEF KYUNG-WHA KANG TO VISIT SOUTH SUDAN, ETHIOPIA AND KENYA

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – UN DEPUTY HUMANITARIAN CHIEF KYUNG-WHA KANG TO VISIT SOUTH SUDAN, ETHIOPIA AND KENYA

WHO: Kyung-Wha Kang, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator

WHAT: Mission to South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya

WHEN: 17 – 25 November 2013

WHERE: Juba, Jonglei, Addis Ababa and Nairobi

UN Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-Wha Kang will visit South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya from 17 to 25 November.

In South Sudan, from 17 to 20 November, ASG Kang plans to travel to Bor and Pibor counties in Jonglei state to visit communities who have been affected by conflict and floods. She is scheduled to meet Government officials, including the Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, local authorities and humanitarian partners to discuss ways to strengthen disaster response and find sustainable solutions for affected communities. A press conference is planned in Juba on 20 November.

On 21 November, in Ethiopia, Ms. Kang is expected to attend the 14th Session of the UN-African Union Regional Coordination Mechanism and engage with decision-makers to discuss partnership opportunities and humanitarian action in the continent.

In Kenya, from 22 to 25 November, Ms. Kang is scheduled to co-chair the Great Lakes consultations with UN agencies and humanitarian partners aimed at continued improvement of humanitarian work and coordination in the region. She is also expected to visit the Mathare informal settlement in Nairobi, where an estimated half million people live with limited access to clean water, sanitation, health care and education.

 

SOURCE

UNITED NATIONS

 

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Ghana’s criminal justice need critical attention to be more humane

Posted by African Press International on November 16, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, today expressed deep concern about the situation of overcrowding in prisons in Ghana. “The overcrowding rate in some places that I visited is easily between 200 to 500%,” he warned at the end of his first official visit* to Ghana.

“Overcrowding gives rise to other human rights violations such as poor quality and quantity of food, poor hygiene, lack of adequate sleeping accommodation, insufficient air ventilation, a high risk of contamination of diseases, as well as very limited access to medical treatment, recreational activities or work opportunities,” Mr. Méndez said.

“These conditions constitute in themselves a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” stressed the independent expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor a report on the use torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in the world.

The UN expert came across and documented a clear case of caning used as a disciplinary measure against several youth at the Senior Correctional Centre in Accra, the only facility dedicated to juveniles. “I have urged the authorities to conduct an immediate independent and impartial inquiry to establish accountability for this serious act of torture against children,” he said.

“The Government must ratify and implement the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture as a matter of national urgency. Among other things, this will allow a national system of regular prison monitoring by independent experts,” the rights expert stressed.

Mr. Méndez learned that family visits from children under 18 years old are not allowed in the Ghanaian prisons. “Denial of visits by children constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment not only of the inmates but of the children as well,” he cautioned.

“The Government should reconsider this issue, which is not resource dependent and could go a long way to help the mental state of inmates, in particular of female prisoners with small children,” the independent expert noted.

“In all places visited,” the Special Rapporteur said, “an extremely poor standard of equipment, absence of qualified doctors, an apparent lack of medicine and limited medical screening.” He also received numerous complaints regarding the quantity and quality of the food provided by the prison authorities.

The human rights expert pointed out that family visits are an issue of survival in detention facilities throughout Ghana. “Inmates told me they are dependent on their families to bring them medicines,” he said. “If transferred to a prison far from the family inmates may not receive additional food or medicine.”

Visiting the Psychiatric Hospitals in Accra and Ankaful, Mr. Méndez noted the lack of resources, the insufficient training and limited medication. “I am particularly worried about the application of electro-shock therapy as practiced at the Psychiatric Hospital in Accra,” said the independent expert. “It is administered without adequate anesthetics, not as a last resort, nor with free and informed consent.”

 

During his eight-day mission, the Special Rapporteur also visited two prayer camps north of Cape Coast. “I saw patients chained to the floor or walls of their cells or chained or tied to trees for prolonged periods of time,” said the expert. The practice of shackling is alleged to be due to the risk of escape or the aggressive behavior of some patients. “Many of the patients say they have been shackled for extensive periods of time, from a number of months to several years.”

The rights expert, who visited Ghana at the invitation of the Government, met with relevant authorities, the judiciary, national human rights institutions, civil society, international and regional organisations, victims and their families.

The Special Rapporteur will present a country report with his observations and recommendations to be presented at the next session of the Human Rights Council in March 2014.

(*) Check the long end-of-mission statement:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13990&LangID=E

 

SOURCE

United NationsOffice of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

 

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