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Posts Tagged ‘Democratic Republic of Congo’

Kenya celebrates 50 years of independence today

Posted by African Press International on December 12, 2013

The Standard Kenya writes;

“The heads of states who have already arrived include Democratic Republic of Congo Head of State Joseph Kabila, Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his first lady, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and Gabon’s president  Ali Bongo. Also in attendance are President Ian Khama (Botswana), President Salva Kiir (South Sudan), Goodluck Jonathan (Nigeria), Joyce Banda (Malawi) and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Others include former President Mwai Kibaki, Former first lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta, Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga. The visiting dignitaries joined an estimated 60, 000 people at the stadium. Millions of Kenyans are also following the proceedings at the stadium from home through live radio and television broadcasts. On Thursday night, President Uhuru graced the hoisting of the Kenyan flag at Uhuru gardens, an occasion akin to another one on December 12, 1963, which was presided over by his father, founding President Jomo Kenyatta. Uhuru planted a tree close to another one that was planted by the founding President at independence 50 years ago.”

 

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See ALL International Criminal Court cases: They are all Africans, How fair is it?

Posted by African Press International on December 3, 2013

ICC » Situations and Cases » Cases

All Cases


Situation in Democratic Republic of the Congo

Thomas Lubanga Dyilo ICC-01/04-01/06
The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo
ICC-01/04-01/07
The Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga 
Decision on the Joinder of the Cases against Germain KATANGA and Mathieu NGUDJOLO CHUIDecision on the implementation of regulation 55 of the Regulations of the Court and severing the charges against the accused persons​​
Bosco Ntaganda ICC-01/04-02/06
The Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda
ICC-01/04-01/10
The Prosecutor v. Callixte Mbarushimana
ICC-01/04-01/12
The Prosecutor v. Sylvestre Mudacumura
ICC-01/04-02/12
The Prosecutor v. Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui 

Decision on the implementation of regulation 55 of the Regulations of the Court and severing the charges against the accused persons​​


Situation in the Central African Republic

Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo ICC-01/05 -01/08
The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo


Situation in Uganda

Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen ICC-02/04-01/05
The Prosecutor v. Joseph Kony,
Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo
and Dominic Ongwen

Situation in Darfur, Sudan

ICC-02/05-01/07
The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Muhammad
Harun (“Ahmad Harun”) and
Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman
(“Ali Kushayb”)

©UN Photo / Stuart Price
ICC-02/05-01/09
The Prosecutor v. Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir
ICC-02/05-02/09
The Prosecutor v. Bahar Idriss Abu Garda 
ICC-02/05-03/09
The Prosecutor v. Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain
Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein ICC-02/05-01/12
The Prosecutor v. Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein


Situation in the Republic of Kenya

ICC-01/09-01/11
The Prosecutor v. William Samoei Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang
Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta ICC-01/09-02/11
The Prosecutor v. Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta
ICC-01/09-01/13
The Prosecutor v. Walter Osapiri Barasa
 

Situation in Libya

ICC-01/11-01/11
The Prosecutor v. Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi

Situation in the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire

Laurent Gbagbo ICC-02/11-01/11
The Prosecutor v. Laurent Gbagbo
ICC-02/11-02/11
The Prosecutor v. Charles Blé Goudé
 
Laurent Gbagbo ICC-02/11-01/12
The Prosecutor v. Simone Gbagbo

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Humanitarian aid still needed in east of country: DRC

Posted by African Press International on December 3, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 2, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ With the end of fighting between the armed forces and M23 in Rutshuru, displaced people are returning home. The ICRC and the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are carrying on with their humanitarian work in the east of the country.

“Recent events in Rutshuru should not cause us to overlook the fact that the humanitarian and security situation remains difficult in other territories in the east of the country,” said Alessandra Ménegon, head of the ICRC delegation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “The people there are still facing serious problems arising from violence and the lack of health care, clean water and food.”

In Rutshuru, groups of displaced people have been returning to their home villages since fighting ended. Several hundred members of M23 have turned themselves in or been captured. “We are visiting former fighters and civilians arrested in connection with the recent fighting, and the places where they are gathered or detained,” said Rachel Bernhard, head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Goma.

The aim of the ICRC’s visits is to assess the conditions in which people are being held and to ensure that they are being treated humanely and with dignity, in accordance with applicable rules and standards.

Unexploded munitions a danger for the population

“People are trying to get back to living normal lives, so they’re going to be working in the fields, but it’s very risky because of the explosive hazards that remain,” said Ms Bernhard.

To help prevent accidents involving explosive devices, radio messages warning of the danger are being broadcast by the Congolese Red Cross and the ICRC.

The recent improvement in security conditions made it possible to reunite almost 40 children who had been living in shelters in Goma with their families in mid-November. “My granddaughter is coming home today,” said Augustine. “I was afraid I would never see her again.” Since the beginning of October, 125 children have been returned to their families through the joint efforts of the ICRC and the Congolese Red Cross.

Improved health-care facilities in South Kivu

In territories other than Rutshuru in the east of the country, fighting involving many armed groups is causing great suffering for civilians. In South Kivu, an ICRC surgical team has performed 44 operations on war-wounded patients in the provincial referral hospital of Bukavu since the beginning of October.

“We’re upgrading the infrastructure in this hospital, and building a new health-care centre in Ramba, in Kalehe territory,” said Catherine de Patoul, in charge of ICRC medical programmes in North and South Kivu. A gynaecology unit is being fitted out in Walungu hospital. Medicines are being distributed and training provided in four rural hospitals and three health-care centres. In addition, support is being maintained for 40 counselling centres (“maisons d’écoute”) in the Kivus that accommodate victims of sexual assault and other violence-related trauma.

Following violent clashes between armed groups over the past few weeks, kitchen utensils, tarpaulins, blankets, sleeping mats and baskets have been distributed to some 35,000 people displaced from the south of Masisi who are now in the highlands of Kalehe and Ziralo in South Kivu.

In north-central Katanga province, a distribution of basic necessities has been slowed because of the security situation. Nevertheless, 1,900 people currently displaced in the villages of Paza and Kalwala, in Manono territory, received tarpaulins, sleeping mats, blankets, kitchen utensils, buckets, soap, hoes, plastic drums and hygiene products.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, since the beginning of October the ICRC has also:

•    continued to visit people held in civilian and military places of detention in connection with armed conflict, distributing food in five prisons and medicines in 19 prison clinics;

•    continued working to improve the water distribution network of the city of Goma, in particular by opening two new pumping stations that will ultimately provide the city’s 500,000 inhabitants with clean drinking water;

•    continued water catchment and supply programmes for more than 85,000 people living in rural areas in the territories of Walikale, Masisi and Rushuru, in North Kivu province;

•    continued fish farm projects in North and South Kivu for almost 4,000 people, and agricultural projects involving the distribution of healthy cassava cuttings, soybean, maize and beans with the aim of promoting the economic recovery of people displaced by conflict or returning home;

•    reunited 125 children with their families by working together with the Congolese Red Cross in Equator, Western and Eastern Kasai, Katanga, North and South Kivu and Eastern provinces.

 

SOURCE

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

 

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Bemba case: Four suspects arrested for corruptly influencing witnesses; same charges served on Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo

Posted by African Press International on November 25, 2013

On 23 and 24 November 2013, the authorities of the Netherlands, France, Belgium and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) acting pursuant to a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Cuno Tarfusser, the Single Judge of the Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC), arrested four persons suspected of offences against the administration of justice allegedly committed in connection with the case of The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo. This warrant of arrest in respect of the same charges was also served on Jean-Pierre Bemba at the ICC’s detention centre, where he has been detained since 3 July 2008.

On 20 November 2013, Judge Tarfusser issued a warrant of arrest for Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, his Lead Counsel Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo (a member of Mr Bemba’s defence team and case manager), Fidèle Babala Wandu (a member of the DRC Parliament and Deputy Secretary General of the Mouvement pour la Libération du Congo), and Narcisse Arido (a Defence witness).

Judge Cuno Tarfusser found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that these persons are criminally responsible for the commission of offences against the administration of justice (article 70 of the Rome Statute) by corruptly influencing witnesses before the ICC and presenting evidence that they knew to be false or forged. The suspects, it is alleged, were part of a network for the purposes of presenting false or forged documents and bribing certain persons to give false testimony in the case against Mr Bemba.

The Belgian authorities arrested Aimé Kilolo Musamba, the Dutch authorities arrested Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, and Narcisse Arido was arrested by the French authorities, in response to requests for arrest and surrender from the ICC. They will be subsequently surrendered to the ICC in accordance with the judicial procedures applicable in the three countries. Fidèle Babala Wandu was arrested by the authorities of the DRC and is being transferred to The Hague. The date of his first appearance at the ICC will be announced shortly. The authorities also cooperated with the ICC for the purposes of searching locations connected to the suspects. The Single Judge of the Pre-Trial Chamber II further requested the States concerned to locate and freeze the suspects’ assets.

On behalf of the Court, the Registrar of the ICC, Herman von Hebel, expressed his gratitude to the States’ authorities for their cooperation, stating that these are the first arrests made in relation to such charges before the ICC.

The trial of  Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, the alleged President and Commander-in-Chief of the Mouvement de libération du Congo, started on 22 November 2010, for two counts of crimes against humanity (rape and murder) and three counts of war crimes (rape, murder and pillaging) allegedly committed in the Central African Republic.

 

End

 

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International Criminal Court: Katanga case – Judgment to be delivered on 7 February 2014

Posted by African Press International on November 25, 2013

Katanga case: Judgment to be delivered on 7 February 2014

 ICC-CPI-20131119-MA146

Situation: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Case: The Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga

On the , 19 November 2013, Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) scheduled a hearing to deliver the judgment in the case The Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga on Friday, 7 February 2014, at 09:30 (The Hague local time).

Background: Germain Katanga, alleged commander of the Force de résistance patriotique en Ituri [Patriotic Resistance Force in Ituri] (FRPI) is accused of three counts of crimes against humanity (murder, rape and sexual slavery) and seven counts of war crimes (using children under the age of 15 to take active part in the hostilities; directing an attack against a civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities; wilful killing; destruction of property; pillaging; sexual slavery and rape). His trial started on 24 November 2009 and final conclusions from parties and participants were heard from 15 to 23 May 2012. Mr Katanga is in the Court’s custody.

 

End

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The Chief of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda speaks

Posted by African Press International on November 25, 2013

Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, following the issuance of a second warrant of arrest against Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, and the arrest of four other individuals

​On 20 November 2013, the Single Judge of Pre-Trial Chamber II issued under seal a warrant of arrest against five individuals for the commission of offences against the administration of justice in connection with the case of The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo (ICC-01/05-01/08).

Pursuant to this warrant, on 23 and 24 November 2013, police forces in Belgium, France, The Netherlands and the Democratic Republic of the Congo arrested four individuals whom my Office alleges are responsible for offences against the administration of justice under Article 70 of the Rome Statute.  The warrant of arrest was also notified on a  fifth person, Mr. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, who my Office alleges has ordered, solicited and induced these attempts to pervert the course of justice in relation to his on-going trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC).  Since his arrest in 2008, Mr. Bemba has been in detention at the ICC where he is facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.  He completed the presentation of his case before Trial Chamber III on 22 November 2013.

Persons arrested pursuant to the current warrant of arrest are Messrs. Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Narcisse Arido and Fidèle Babala Wandu.  National procedures are on-going for their surrender to the Court.

The individuals arrested include, amongst others, members of the defence team of Mr. Bemba.  It is particularly disturbing that a member of the legal profession is alleged to have intentionally and systematically participated in criminal activities aimed at undermining the administration of justice.

Article 70 of the Rome Statute stipulates that it is a criminal offence for anyone to, inter alia, attempt to corruptly influence witnesses or tamper with evidence, or present evidence known to be false or forged.  If convicted, those found responsible for these crimes may face up to five years imprisonment, or a fine, or both.

I am extremely grateful for the excellent cooperation received from all States involved in facilitating the smooth execution of the arrests and related investigative operations.

Justice must be allowed to take its course.  This warrant of arrest must serve as a warning to would-be perpetrators that my office will not hesitate to bring the full force of the law to bear against cynical – criminal – attempts to deny victims of massive crimes the justice they deserve.

 

Source:  Office of the Prosecutor

 

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Wounded soldiers treated at Gisenyi hospital

Posted by African Press International on November 10, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 8, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – Following the latest clashes between government forces and armed group M23 in North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 76 wounded soldiers have crossed the border into Rwanda and been admitted to Gisenyi hospital.

A surgical team from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was immediately sent to provide urgent support to the facility’s medical staff as of 8 November. “Our medical teams are now assessing the urgency of each case,” said Georges Paclisanu, head of the ICRC delegation in Rwanda.

The ICRC worked with Rwandan Red Cross volunteers to transfer the war-wounded from Kinigi to Gisenyi hospital on 5 and 6 November. Nineteen people with battle injuries had already been admitted to the hospital the previous week. “We’re also making sure the patients are getting enough food,” added Mr Paclisanu. The hospital has been supplied with medicines and medical equipment.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, the ICRC continues to bring aid to those affected by the recent fighting. In Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, an ICRC surgical team is treating people wounded in combat at Ndosho hospital. Meanwhile, in Uganda, delegates have registered over 100 children who became separated from their families as they fled the hostilities. With the support of Uganda Red Cross volunteers active in the refugee camps, the ICRC is offering families the chance to get in touch with their loved ones.

 

SOURCE

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

 

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Plant diseases are major threats to food security

Posted by African Press International on October 26, 2013

Photo: CABI
A plant health clinic in Machakos, Kenya

MUKONO,  – Using a sharp kitchen knife, “plant doctor” Daniel Lyazi sets to work dissecting a slime-covered cabbage at a farmers’ market in Mukono, central Uganda, where the devastating cassava brown streak disease was first identified in 2004.

“There’s a small caterpillar which is eating the cabbage and according to me it’s a diamond-back moth,” he tells the group of farmers who crowd around his table.

He advises the cabbage grower to switch to a different pesticide and in the next season inter-plant with onions (as an additional repellent to moths), and fills out a form with this prescription before turning to the next “patient”, an under-sized cassava tuber.

“Plant clinics” like this one, free of charge and open to all, were piloted in Mukono from 2006 and in the past year have been scaled out to 45 (out of 112) of Uganda’s local government districts, according to the UK-based Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience (CABI).

Plant doctor is not an official title; the term has been adopted by CABI for the 1,000 agricultural extension workers it has helped to train as part of its Plantwise programme. Since 2010 Plantwise has set up plant clinics in 24 countries, (three in West Africa and nine in East Africa). In August it opened 13 in Zambia.

Plant pests and diseases are major threats to food security and livelihoods in most developing countries. CABI cites research suggesting that worldwide, 40 percent of the value of plants for food is lost to pests and diseases – (15 percent to insects and 13 percent each to weeds and pathogens) – before they can be harvested by farmers.

That research dates from 1994 and did not cover some staple crops, such as cassava, for which the losses to brown streak disease alone have been 30-70 percent in the Great Lakes region, according to the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

Crop scientist Eric Boa, who pioneered plant clinics for CABI, says: “The variety of pests and diseases [in eastern and central Africa] is daunting. Clinic data reveal the farmers present problems on over 30 crops, and plant doctors have to consider over 60 different pests and diseases.”

Farmers’ need for advice was evident at Lyazi’s clinic in Mukono. During a three-hour session, consultations were non-stop and 17 farmers were given detailed recommendations, both verbally and on “prescription” sheets.

Asked if they had been benefiting from the clinics, Erifazi Mayanja, the head of a local farmers’ group, said: “Of course. That’s why we have come in great number today, because of the good advice we are getting.’

Plant clinics versus extension workers

The coordinator of the Plantwise programme in Uganda and Zambia, Joseph Mulema, says plant clinics are a far more effective model for getting advice to farmers than the traditional one where extension workers, in theory, visit farms.

“Plant clinics can help so many farmers in a short time,” he says. “In fact, more farmers are seen in a session, if good mobilization is done, than an extension officer can look at in an entire month. Even if the clinic only runs twice a month, with good mobilization you can see hundreds of farmers.”

Data collected by researchers in Uganda suggest that normally a plant clinic session provides written recommendations to about a dozen enquiries on average.

However, enquiries may not result in a written prescription, and evidence from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where extension services are hard to find, suggests plant clinics can attract up to 1,000 people per session.

There is also an “exponential” effect of farmers receiving advice at a clinic, passing on the information to neighbours with the same problem, says Misaki Okotel, Uganda coordinator for the international NGO Self Help Africa, a partner with CABI in the Plantwise programme.

There is wide agreement that extension services in countries like Uganda, which has only a few thousand extension officers – (4,300 in 1997, according to research by Nygard et al) needed a new approach to small farmers.

Plant diseases are major threats to food security

The government has a programme to empower farmers “to demand, pay for and benefit from extension”, but smallholders do not have this capacity, Okotel says.

Government crop protection officer Robert Karyeija suggests an additional reason why the extension services needed help from the Plantwise programme.

“We have thousands of extension workers, but previously farmers would not know where a “plant doctor” was, or whom they could ask for plant health advice,” he explained.

“The extension workers were there, we have agricultural officers in each of Uganda’s 1,100 sub-counties, but the problem [was] they would be general agriculturalists who knew agronomy but didn’t know much about pests and diseases.”

Impact

Little research has been done on the effects of plant clinics. Perhaps the most detailed was a study in Bolivia, summarized in a paper which found clinics “can make large contributions to farmers’ earnings”.

The authors looked at changes in farmers’ incomes in the year after visiting a clinic, minus additional crop protection costs in that year. On the assumption that the difference was down to plant doctors’ advice plus any training, they found the average income gain in one year for those farmers who merely visited plant clinics was US$392, while for those who also had additional training the average gain was $991.

Those figures may overstate the potential income gains for the average farmer (given that visitors to plant clinics may have experienced above average losses to diseases) but they also leave out of account collective benefits from the disease surveillance and wider diffusion of knowledge encouraged by the system.

The authors acknowledge the “survey may lack the statistical certainty of a rigorous impact assessment” since there was no control group, and other factors could have accounted for some of the income gains.

Nevertheless, they conclude that “the clinics have a high positive impact,” one reason being that “the clients come to them, looking for a specific answer; thus they are especially receptive to the advice given.”

The most detailed study of plant clinics in Africa does not attempt to calculate income gains. Instead it looks at the quality of diagnoses and recommendations given by clinics at Mukono and two other locations.

The researchers had only the data on plant doctors’ prescriptions to go by, and were trying to judge its consistency. They assessed 82 percent of the recommendations as “partially effective” but only 10 percent as best practice and 8 percent as ineffective.

The researchers note that soil fertility problems seemed to be neglected by plant doctors and that they seldom mentioned biological remedies.

As for the diagnoses, they could “completely or partially validate” only 44 percent of these. This did not mean that 56 percent of plant doctors’ diagnoses were wrong, but most were ambiguous.

The authors say the results should caution against unrealistic expectations of plant doctors. They point out that very few samples were sent to laboratories, suggesting perhaps that plant doctors prefer not to admit to ignorance.

But given that the extension workers concerned had received only a three-day course from CABI before being labelled “plant doctors” the results can hardly be taken as invalidating the plant clinic initiative, they suggest.

Plantwise reports that so far its doctors have advised 200,000 farmers, and they aim to reach 800,000 in 31 countries by 2014.

In Uganda, Joseph Mulema told IRIN, donors spent about $290,000 on the programme last year, setting up clinics and links with universities. In the process coverage has expanded from 45 clinics in 18 local districts to 115 in 45 districts.

Local government in Uganda is keen to go ahead with plant clinic expansion, says Boa.

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

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“Islamist” attacks in eastern DRC

Posted by African Press International on October 17, 2013

BENI,  – “Eight months ago no one had heard of Al-Shabab,” said Henri Ladyi, a Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) expert and director of the Conf lict Resolution Centre (CRC) in Beni, a town and territory in North Kivu Province in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Ladyi is concerned that rumours about the influence of Somalia-based Islamists in Beni, whether true or not, are unravelling gains made by the CRC in recent years. The UN, Congolese and Ugandan authorities have drawn links between the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan rebel group operating in the Ruwenzori Mountains just across the DRC border, and Al-Shabab. Civil society leaders in Beni say it was because of such links that ADF activity has seen a resurgence.

In late September, the group killed five people in Beni Territory and kidnapped 36, according to the UN-run Radio Okapi. Witnesses said the rebels went into a health centre where they terrorized patients before tying up and abducting two nurses.

On 25 September, Martin Kobler, head of the UN stabilization mission in DRC (MONUSCO), condemned attacks on health facilities and schools committed by armed groups, including ADF.
He said such acts, a spate of which occurred in July, had “deprived more than 7,000 children of their education and affected the provision of health services for thousands more”.

Also in July, ADF fighters were reported to have ambushed a MONUSCO convoy and held the town of Kamango for two days, leading to the displacement of tens of thousands of people.

ADF links with Islamic militants

“It seems [the ADF] are preparing for an attack,” said Kristof Titeca, armed groups expert and senior research fellow at the University of Ghent and Antwerp. He said he believed the ADF was expecting an attack by MONUSCU’s new Intervention Brigade.

The head of MONUSCO in Goma, Ray Torres, recently told Voice of America that the ADF was “establishing and strengthening its position in the north of the country. And it seems lately… they may be planning operations against FARDC [the Congolese army],” he said, describing the ADF as “very strongly ideologically based. It is an extremist Islamist group that is developing a network of businesses that indicates to us that they are planning to stay.”

Ugandan authorities have repeatedly said ADF has links with Al-Shabab and Al-Qaeda.
“Uganda and others, for geostrategic reasons, often emphasize and exaggerate [Al Shabab’s] threat. This does not mean that ADF has no links with Al Shabab – these are there, but minimal, and sporadic,” said Titeca.

Other analysts have cautioned against portraying the ADF solely in terms of its Ugandan Islamist component, noting that this ignores the fact that much of the group’s members are Congolese, and motivated by local grievances.

Christian-Muslim tensions

Nevertheless, the suggested influence of foreign militant Islamists in these remote border regions is creating tensions. “The Muslim community are angry because they are the victims of this,” said Ladyi.

He reports that Muslims have come under intense scrutiny and police have carried out a number of indiscriminate arrests. “The civil society accused the Muslim community in Beni of recruiting Muslims and sending them to Somalia to be trained.” Ladyi said Muslim leaders were also criticized for allowing ADF-Nalu leaders into the mosque to pray.

Public perception in Beni has become polarized. Opinion about Al-Shabab’s engagement is regularly swung by the pronouncements of government officials from both sides of the border as well as the UN. Meanwhile, conjecture and circumstantial evidence informs the bulk of the local debate. Leaders agree on one thing: there is currently no hard proof, and speculation is damaging.

“There were never any ethnic tensions between Christians and Muslims before,” said Jean-Paul Paluku, a leading civil society activist in Beni and coordinator of a human rights group.
This year, he said, there has been massive population displacement and widespread insecurity including kidnap, sexual violation and armed robberies.

Paluku said some of these crimes may have been committed by Mai-Mai militia who had pretended to be Muslim in a bid to place the blame on the ADF

Mussa Anguandia, the leader of the Muslim Community in Beni, estimates that there are roughly 35,000 Muslims in the territory, whose population was estimated at around 900,000 in 2004.

He is adamant that the armed groups operating in Beni are not true Muslims. When Kamanga was attacked during Ramadan, armed men wearing ankle-length tunics and prayer caps stole sachets of alcohol from the shops. “This isn’t a problem of Islam, it’s a problem of political manoeuvring,” he said. Anguandia has attempted to counter negative perceptions by discussing the tenets of Islam on local radio and taking a pro-active approach to engaging local security services. He meets regularly with military and police chiefs to discuss measures to address negative attitudes.

Anguandia fears the racial discrimination that has arisen as a result of the recent spate of kidnappings and attacks could lead to a revolt. “We’re not that many, but we can respond,” he said.

Ladyi agrees that if the problem is not dealt with, it could either give rise to a new Islamic self-defence group, or drive the community to seek protection from existing groups, such as ADF-Nalu. “The Muslim community are not getting support from the government for their security,” he said. “If the government can’t solve this situation, the Muslims will seek their own protection.”

Kidnappings

The population, both Islamic and Christian, continues to be beset by a spate of kidnappings. In the first six months of this year – the same time-frame that the community ascribes to Al-Shabab’s involvement – civil society leaders recorded the kidnap of more than 500 people from all demographics. Most are believed to be cases of forced-recruitment but ransom payments have been demanded. A demobilization expert negotiating release fees said ADF has asked for ransom payments of up to US$2,000 and kidnapped a number of high profile citizens including three local priests.

The situation is extremely worrying and solutions not forthcoming, said Ladyi, who narrowly escaped forced recruitment himself 10 years ago and has facilitated the successful demobilization of over 4,000 combatants in the last two years.

Arguments over amnesty

There are currently a number of ADF militants who wish to demobilize and return to Uganda, but they are locked in a political argument over the terms of the amnesty, Ladyi said. Amnesty has proven difficult with ADF to date. The Crisis Group documents failed talks in 2001 and again in 2007, although the 2007 talks did lead to the demobilization of some 200 combatants. Uganda’s amnesty commission opened an office in Beni in 2005, in collaboration with MONUSCO (then MONUC).

But by 2006, no ADF had reported to the amnesty office and MONUSCO was considering closing it.  In 2008, ADF tried to recommence negotiations, but, delayed by the CNDP (pro-Tutsi) rebellion, they finally started in 2009 only to stall because the Ugandan government believed ADF members were merely seeking to profit. Three hundred people were dismissed for fraudulently claiming the Amnesty package that included 263,000 Ugandan shillings, a mattress and basic household items, according to local media reports.

“Politically, the process was not very well organized. Those who benefited from the amnesty did not give convincing testimonies when they got back to Uganda. MONUSCO and the Ugandan amnesty commission organized a sensitization campaign to ask ADF fighters to join the amnesty process. Many challenges affected the impact of the process. The time limitation, politics and security situation in Uganda did not allow the success of the process”, says Ladyi, who is currently waiting on the Ugandan government’s next move.

jh/am/cb

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“Blood ivory” generates significant revenue for terrorist groups

Posted by African Press International on October 3, 2013

“Blood ivory” generates significant revenue for terrorist groups

NEW YORK, 3 October 2013 (IRIN) – Organized environmental crime is known to pose a multi-layered threat to human security, yet it has long been treated as a low priority by law enforcers, seen as a fluffy “green” issue that belongs in the domain of environmentalists.

But due to a variety of factors – including its escalation over the past decade, its links to terrorist activities, the rising value of environmental contraband and the clear lack of success among those trying to stem the tide – these crimes are inching their way up the to-do lists of law enforcers, politicians and policymakers.

The recent terror attack on the popular Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, has placed environmental crimes like the ivory and rhino horn trade under increased scrutiny. Al-Shabab, the Islamist militant group that has taken credit for the attack, is widely believed to fund as much as 40 percent of its activities from elephant poaching, or the “blood ivory” trade. The Lord’s Resistance Army, a brutal rebel group active in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic, is also known to be funded through elephant poaching.

Rising incomes in Asia have stimulated demand for ivory and rhino horn, leading to skyrocketing levels of poaching. Over the past five years, the rate of rhino horn poaching in South Africa has increased sevenfold as demand in Vietnam and other Asian countries for the horn – used as cancer treatments, aphrodisiacs and status symbols – grows.

“Drop in the ocean”

On the international stage, politicians – alarmed by increasing evidence of links between terrorist organizations and organized environmental crime – are taking a more visible stand against wildlife trafficking. In July, US President Barack Obama set up a taskforce on wildlife trafficking and pledged US$10 million to fight it.

But this is a mere “drop in the ocean”, says Justin Gosling, a senior adviser on environmental organized crime for the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, which was recently launched in New York.

“If developing countries really want to assist, they need to put up quite a bit of cash,” he added.

Funded by the governments of Norway and Switzerland, the Global Initiative is a network of leading experts in the field of organized crime, which aims to bring together a wide range of players in government and civil society to find ways to combat illicit trafficking and trade.

At the Global Initiative conference, Gosling presented a draft of The Global Response to Transnational Organized Environmental Crime, a report documenting environmental crimes around the world. Such crimes are on the rise in terms of “variety, volume and value”, the report says, and their impact is far greater than the simple destruction of natural resources and habitats. “They affect human security in the form of conflict, rule of law and access to essentials such as safe drinking water, food sources and shelter,” the report says.

The crimes documented range from illicit trade in plants and animals and illegal logging, fishing and mineral extraction to production and trade of ozone-depleting substances, toxic dumping, and “grey areas” such as large-scale natural resource extraction.

Most vulnerable

The most fragile countries – those lacking infrastructure and effective policing but often rich in untapped natural resources – are the most vulnerable to exploitation, and the poorest communities suffer the most. “For millions of people around the world, local reliance on wildlife, plants, trees, rivers and oceans is as strong as it has ever been,” says the report.

Communities are losing food supplies and tourism jobs through unsustainable hunting, fishing and – often illegal – deforestation. In vulnerable countries like the Maldives, for example, populations are at risk from rising sea levels and climate change brought on, in part, by deforestation.

It is impossible to quantify what proportion of organized crime is environmental crime, although 25 percent is a commonly repeated figure. This number comes from a UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimate of the scope of the problem in the Asia-Pacific region, and it is often extrapolated as a global estimate. Even less is known about how much organized environmental crime drains from the legitimate economy. To complicate matters, the line between environmental and other organized crime is often blurred, since the same trafficking networks are frequently used for both.

“We’re not really trying to look at environmental organized crime in terms of value,” said Gosling. “We’re looking at the global response to the problem. Who are the actors, and what are they doing? Is it sufficient, and if not, what can we do?”

Boosting enforcement 

Current efforts are failing. Part of the problem is that legislation and penalties vary enormously between countries. “The range between what may be considered acceptable and highly illegal is vast,” says the report, which argues for better synchronization of goals. There are plenty of international and country-specific strategies but few linkages between them.

Illegal logging is a common environmental crime

A perennial problem is that the environmental agencies tasked with handling environmental crime lack the capacity or jurisdiction to stop it, while law enforcement agencies fail to prioritize it. But as the financial incentives of these crimes soar – a rhino horn can fetch $250,000, for example, and a single fishing trawler expedition can bring in $1 million worth of fish – so do the stakes.

There is evidence that heavy weaponry, such as rocket mortars and semi-automatic weapons, as well as helicopters, are being used by poachers, says investigative journalist Julian Rademeyer, whose book, Killing for Profit, exposes the illicit rhino horn trade in South Africa.

Frequently, top players like alleged kingpin Vixay Keosavang, who is dubbed “the Pablo Escobar of wildlife trafficking” and is said to operate with impunity in his home country of Laos, have links to government officials and other powerful elites.

And no amount of policing can eliminate the fact that environmental crimes are widely seen as a passport out of poverty. Rademeyer, who presented his findings at the conference, found that young men from destitute villages in Mozambique who entered the Kruger National Park to poach rhinos were regarded as heroes in their communities because of the money they brought home.

“Many communities on the Mozambican side of the Kruger Park don’t benefit from its conservation efforts. They face a stark choice: go to Johannesburg illegally and try to find work or poach rhino horn, for which they can get anywhere from $200 to $2,000 per horn,” he said. Without alternative choices, “there will be a constant line of ready recruits to occupy middle positions in these trafficking networks”.

Cooperation needed

Rademeyer said the Global Initiative could facilitate faster action through information sharing: “These syndicates move and adapt very quickly. The only way to stop them is to move quickly, too.”

Signing endless memoranda of understanding does not speed up the bureaucratic and diplomatic delays in dealing with transnational environmental crime. Unlike the murky and rapidly evolving world of cybercrime, environmental crime is “a more conventional commodity trade. There are no excuses for why we can’t deal with it,” says Rademeyer.

Steven Trent, director of Environmental Justice Foundation (EFJ), agrees. His organization monitors the effects of illegal fishing on people’s livelihoods in some of the poorest countries in West Africa, including Liberia and Sierra Leone. EJF has also exposed how people are being trafficked on these illegal fishing vessels, either to fish as unpaid labourers or for the sex trade in Asia. Very often, the culprits are companies that “knowingly or sometimes unwittingly” fish illegally and send their products to wealthy countries.

Some solutions to combatting environmental crimes need not be high-tech or complex, he argues. A start would be for every fishing vessel to have a mandatory license number. “When it comes to organized crime, people tend to complicate things, but sometimes there are basic solutions which could bring quick dividends,” he says. “Transparency and traceability are some of the best and simplest tools to combat corruption.”

“Grey” areas such as industrial-scale logging, where the law is often unclear or unevenly applied, are also robbing people of their livelihoods and habitats. Research conducted by Global Witness in Liberia and Cambodia reveals that huge logging concessions are being given out in these countries with “no recourse to the people living there”, says the organization’s director, Gavin Hayman, who argues that countries need to share more information about their enforcement strategies.

As much as one quarter of Liberia’s land area has been given over to logging, Global Witness research reveals. In some cases, communities have been chased off their lands and stripped of their livelihoods. In Cambodia, activists resisting loggers have been killed.

It is imperative for players to get out in the field and find out what local communities actually want, Hayman says. Otherwise, these vulnerable populations can and will fall victim to environmental crime.

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

 

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International Criminal Court: Situations and cases

Posted by African Press International on August 28, 2013

18 cases in 8 situations have been brought before the International Criminal Court.

Pursuant to the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor can initiate an investigation on the basis of a referral from any State Party or from the United Nations Security Council. In addition, the Prosecutor can initiate investigations proprio motu on the basis of information on crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court received from individuals or organisations (“communications”).

To date, four States Parties to the Rome Statute – Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and Mali – have referred situations occurring on their territories to the Court. In addition, the Security Council has referred the situation in Darfur, Sudan, and the situation in Libya – both non-States Parties. After a thorough analysis of available information, the Prosecutor has opened and is conducting investigations in all of the above-mentioned situations.

On 31 March 2010, Pre-Trial Chamber II granted the Prosecution authorisation to open an investigation proprio motu in the situation of Kenya. In addition, on 3 October 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber III granted the Prosecutor’s request for authorisation to open investigations proprio motu into the situation in Côte d’Ivoire.

Situation in Uganda 

The case The Prosecutor v. Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen is currently being heard before Pre-Trial Chamber II. In this case, five warrants of arrest have been issued against [the] five top members of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA).

Following the confirmation of the death of Mr Lukwiya, the proceedings against him have been terminated. The four remaining suspects are still at large.

Situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo 

In this situation, five cases have been brought before the relevant Chambers: The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga DyiloThe Prosecutor v. Bosco NtagandaThe Prosecutor v. Germain KatangaThe Prosecutor v. Mathieu Ngudjolo ChuiThe Prosecutor v. Callixte Mbarushimana; and The Prosecutor v. Sylvestre Mudacumura. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, Germain Katanga and Bosco Ntaganda are currently in the custody of the ICC. Sylvestre Mudacumura remains at large.

Trial Chamber I convicted Mr Lubanga Dyilo on 14 March 2012. The trial in this case,The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, had started on 26 January 2009. On 10 July 2012, he was sentenced to a total period of 14 years of imprisonment. The time he spent in the ICC’s custody will be deducted from this total sentence.  On 7 August 2012, Trial Chamber I issued a decision on the principles and the process to be implemented for reparations to victims in the case. All three decisions are currently subject to appeal.

The trial in the case of The Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui started on 24 November 2009. Closing statements in the case were heard from 15 to 23 May 2012. On 21 November 2012, Trial Chamber II decided to sever the charges against Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui and Germain Katanga. On 18 December 2012, Trial Chamber II acquitted Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui of the charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity and ordered his immediate release. On 21 December 2012, Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui was released from custody. The Office of the Prosecutor has appealed the verdict.

The verdict regarding German Katanga will be delivered at a later stage.

The confirmation of charges hearing in the case The Prosecutor v. Callixte Mbarushimana took place from 16 to 21 September 2011. On 16 December 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber I decided by Majority to decline to confirm the charges against Mr Mbarushimana.  Mr Mbarushimana was released from the ICC’s custody on 23 December 2011, upon the completion of the necessary arrangements, as ordered by Pre-Trial Chamber I.

On 22 March 2013, Bosco Ntaganda surrendered himself voluntarily and is now in the ICC’s custody. His initial appearance hearing took place before  Pre-Trial Chamber II on 26 March 2013. The confirmation of charges hearing in the case is scheduled to start on 10 February 2014.

Situation in Darfur, Sudan 

There are five cases in the situation in Darfur, Sudan: The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Muhammad Harun (”Ahmad Harun”) and Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman (“Ali Kushayb”)The Prosecutor v. Omar Hassan Ahmad Al BashirThe Prosecutor v. Bahar Idriss Abu GardaThe Prosecutor v. Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus; and The Prosecutor v. Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein.

Warrants of arrest have been issued by Pre-Trial Chamber I for Messrs Harun, Kushayb, Al Bashir and Hussein. The four suspects remain at large.

A summons to appear was issued for Mr Abu Garda, who appeared voluntarily before the Chamber on 18 May 2009. After the hearing of confirmation of charges, on February 2010, Pre-Trial Chamber I declined to confirm the charges. Mr Abu Garda is not in the custody of the ICC.

Two other summonses to appear were issued for Mr Banda and Mr Jerbo who appeared voluntarily on 17 June 2010; the confirmation of charges hearing took place on 8 December 2010. On 7 March 2011, Pre- Trial Chamber I unanimously decided to confirm the charges of war crimes brought by the ICC’s Prosecutor against Mr Banda and Mr Jerbo, and committed them to trial. The trial in the case The Prosecutor v. Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus is scheduled to start on 5 May 2014.

Situation in the Central African Republic 

The situation was referred to the Court by the Government of the Central African Republic in December 2004. The Prosecutor opened an investigation in May 2007. In the only case in this situation, The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Pre-Trial Chamber II confirmed, on 15 June 2009, two charges of crimes against humanity and three charges of war crimes, and committed the accused to trial before Trial Chamber III. The trial started on 22 November 2010.

Situation in the Republic of Kenya 

On 31 March 2010, Pre-Trial Chamber II granted the Prosecutor’s request to open an investigation proprio motu in the situation in Kenya, State Party since 2005. Following summonses to appear issued on 8 March 2011, six Kenyan citizens voluntarily appeared before Pre-Trial Chamber II on 7 and 8 April 2011. The confirmation of charges hearing in the case The Prosecutor v. William Samoei Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang were held from 1 to 8 September 2011. The confirmation of charges hearing in the case The Prosecutor v. Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta took place from 21 September to 5 October 2011. On 23 January 2012, the judges declined to confirm the charges against Henry Kiprono Kosgey and Mohammed Hussein Ali. Pre-Trial Chamber II confirmed the charges against William Samoei Ruto, Joshua Arap Sang, Francis Kirimi Muthaura and Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta and committed them to trial. On 18 March 2013, the charges against Francis Kirimi Muthaura were withdrawn. The trial of William Samoei Ruto and Joshua Arap is scheduled to start on 10 September 2013 and the trial of Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta is scheduled to start on 12 November 2013.

Situation in Libya 

On 26 February 2011, the United Nations Security Council decided unanimously to refer the situation in Libya since 15 February 2011 to the ICC Prosecutor. On 3 March 2011, the ICC Prosecutor announced his decision to open an investigation in the situation in Libya, which was assigned by the Presidency to Pre-Trial Chamber I. On 27 June 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber I issued three warrants of arrest respectively for Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi for crimes against humanity (murder and persecution) allegedly committed across Libya from 15 until at least 28 February 2011, through the State apparatus and Security Forces. On 22 November 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber I formally terminated the case against Muammar Gaddafi due to his death. The two other suspects are not in the custody of the Court. On 31 May 2013, Pre-Trial Chamber I rejected Libya’s challenge to the admissibility of the case against Saif Al Islam Gaddafi and reminded Libya of its obligation to surrender the suspect to the Court.

Situation in Côte d’Ivoire 

Côte d’Ivoire, which is not party to the Rome Statute, had accepted the jurisdictionof the ICC on 18 April 2003; more recently, and on both 14 December 2010 and 3 May 2011, the Presidency of Côte d’Ivoire reconfirmed the country’s acceptance of this jurisdiction. On 3 October 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber III granted the Prosecutor’s request for authorisation to open investigations proprio motu into the situation in Côte d’Ivoire with respect to alleged crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court, committed since 28 November 2010, as well as with regard to crimes that may be committed in the future in the context of this situation. On 22 February 2012, Pre-Trial Chamber III decided to expand its authorisation for the investigation in Côte d’Ivoire to include crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court allegedly committed between 19 September 2002 and 28 November 2010.

On 23 November 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber III issued a warrant of arrest under seal in the case The Prosecutor v. Laurent Gbagbo for four counts of crimes against humanity. The arrest warrant against Mr Gbagbo was unsealed on 30 November 2011, when the suspect was transferred to the ICC detention centre at The Hague, by the Ivorian authorities. On 5 December 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber III held an initial appearance hearing. The confirmation of charges hearing took place between 19 and 28 February 2013. On 3 June 2013, Pre-Trial Chamber I adjourned the hearing on the confirmation of charges and requested the Prosecutor to consider providing further evidence or conducting further investigation with respect to the charges presented against Laurent Gbagbo.

On 22 November 2012, Pre-Trial Chamber I decided to unseal a warrant of arrest issued initially on 29 February 2012 against Simone Gbagbo​ for four counts of crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the territory of Côte d’Ivoire between 16 December 2010 and 12 April 2011. Mrs. Gbagbo is not in the custody of the Court.

Situation in Mali

 

On 16 January 2013, the Office of the Prosecutor opened an investigation into alleged crimes committed on the territory of Mali since January 2012.

The situation in Mali was referred to the Court by the Government of Mali on 13 July 2012. After conducting a preliminary examination of the situation, including an assessment of admissibility of potential cases, the OTP determined that there was a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation.

The situation in Mali is assigned to Pre-Trial Chamber II.

The OTP is currently conducting preliminary examinations in a number of situations including AfghanistanGeorgiaGuineaColombiaHondurasKorea and Nigeria.

Submitting Information

To submit information about alleged crimes, please write to:

International Criminal Court
Office of the Prosecutor
Communications
Post Office Box 19519
2500 CM The Hague
The Netherlands.

Or email: otp.informationdesk@icc-cpi.int,

Or send information by facsimile to: +31 70 515 8555.

 

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Criminal groups have benefited from globalization – Embedding crime experts into UN field operations?

Posted by African Press International on August 14, 2013

Nigerian police in the UN mission to Haiti assist in quelling a student protest in Port au Prince in 2009

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Criminal groups have benefited from globalization
  • Overlap of UN peace operations and crime-affected regions
  • Organized crime can corrupt governments
  • Difficult for UNPOL to recruit effective crime-fighters

NEW YORK,  – The globalization of organized crime poses a growing threat to fragile states that lack the ability to resist it, putting pressure on the UN to find solutions.

A recently-released report entitled The Elephant in the Room, part of the New York-based International Peace Institute’s Peace Without Crime series, argues that “crime has become a serious threat in almost every theater where the UN has peace operations.” The authors of the report (Walter Kemp, Mark Shaw and Arthur Boutellis) argue that organized crime is eroding the UN’s attempts to bring about peace and stability in the many countries in which it has missions and yet these missions contain very few references to crime.

Criminal groups are one of the biggest beneficiaries of globalization, says Kemp, director for Europe and Central Asia at the IPI. “Over the last 20 years organized crime has gone global. It has reached macro-economic proportions.” Globalization has seen the growth in traffic around the world of just about everything – including contraband, says Kemp. Whereas organized crime was once regarded as a problem pertaining to the developed world, and confined mostly to cities, it has in the last few years rapidly spread its tentacles across the globe, finding new routes and penetrating vulnerable West African states like Guinea Bissau and Mali. “Much of the instability in West Africa is due to the impact of drug-trafficking from Latin America to Europe,” argue the authors.

As contraband is trafficked from one corner of the globe to the other, often moving through several transit countries, national – and even regional – crackdowns may simply shift the problem onto adjacent, potentially more vulnerable countries. Yet should the UN’s peacekeeping forces be tasked with fighting organized crime?

The authors concede that other parts of the UN may be better suited to dealing with the challenge but argue that given that “organized crime is threatening the stability, development and justice that peacekeepers are trying to establish,” peacekeeping forces cannot turn a blind eye.

While organized crime and peace operations “had almost nothing to do with each other” 50 years ago, “at the beginning of the 21st century the trajectories have converged,” they say. As peacekeeping has seen a greater integration between civilian and military aspects, and is as much about building up institutions and states as restoring the rule of law, organized crime has evolved too, “from a localized problem into a pervasive, strategic threat to governments, societies and economies”.

The authors show an overlap of UN peace operations and major crime-affected regions – Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Iraq, Kosovo and Timor-Leste to name a few – and conclude this is because “conflict affected and fragile regions – precisely the places where the UN is most needed – are especially vulnerable to transnational organized crime and provide favorable conditions for its development.”

In the first report in the series, Identifying the Spoilers, they spell out how peacekeepers and other players can identify signs of organized crime in the countries in which they operate. Elephant in the Room, the second report, shows how organized crime has had a destabilizing impact on the political economy of three nations – Guinea-Bissau, Haiti and Kosovo – and finds a “mismatch between the seriousness of the threat posed by organized crime and the UN’s ability to tackle it”.

They argue the limitations of a purely militarist approach – as when the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) countered the gang violence in Haiti. Despite their successes, they have not been able to halt the organized crime networks that still operate in and beyond Haiti’s borders. The third report, due out soon, looks at what the UN and international players can do at a systemic level to address the problem. Up to now, say the authors, “there is not much enthusiasm for the UN to tackle organized crime.”

Crime-and-instability nexus

Crucial to their argument is the notion that there is a “nexus between crime and instability” and that when transnational organized crime funds the activities and thus furthers the political aims of insurgents or rebels or corrupts governments at the highest level, the fall-out can be huge. This occurred in Guinea Bissau, for example, when the president, João Bernardo Vieira, was assassinated in 2009 in alleged drug-related rivalry between political and military officials.

“Good police work is of little use when the courts do not convict or where prisoners are released, and building capacity among corrupt officials can have unintended consequences.”

While the quantities of cocaine being trafficked through Guinea-Bissau are relatively small (an estimated 25 tons per year), at around 25 percent of the country’s GNP this is still high enough to corrupt high-level officials and undermine the tiny economy. Other contraband passing through other West African countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, DRC, and Cote d’Ivoire – and possibility posing a bigger problem in future – include fuel, timber, people, minerals, diamonds and ivory.

Terrorism versus crime

Shaw, director of Communities, Crime and Conflicts at STATT Consulting, says the focus on the threat posed by terrorism over the past decade has overshadowed the growth of crime networks. “The attention has been on the war in Iran and Afghanistan,” he says. Even the problem of opium-trafficking in the latter country has been viewed through the prism of the war. But the alarming nexus of organized crime, insurgency and terrorism in Mali has alerted the world to the fact that organized crime can step into the political vacuum in societies in upheaval.

Libya, warns Shaw, may become a haven for organized crime. “There are lots of unemployed young men, established militia and weapons, and the country is at the crossroads of a number of trafficking routes,” he says.

Crime-instability link overstated?

Ted Leggett, a research officer with the UN Office for Drugs and Crime, acknowledges a frequent overlap between organized crime and political instability but believes the connection can be overstated at times. It is important, he says, to make the distinction between the problem of local strongmen and the problem of transnational trafficking. Insurgents or rebels may profit from transnational trafficking – for example the Taliban’s taxing of opium production and trafficking in Afghanistan (earning them US$125 million annually), or militias’ involvement in trafficking minerals in DRC, to advance their wars – but they rarely take charge of the trafficking themselves. “Rather, they provide protection to transnational traffickers, specialists who pay them to operate in the areas that they control. It’s like the relationship between a state and the corporations headquartered within it. The US government does not export Ford autos, but it does tax Ford,” he says.

On the Elephant in the Room’s broader argument, Leggett says: “The idea that peacekeeping missions should help the host states build their capacity to deal with transnational organized crime is a good one but any such intervention would face serious challenges.” It is difficult, he says, for UN Police to recruit the kind of specialized staff required. “Most police peacekeepers are patrol officers from other developing countries” with limited skills and resources. Often, they can’t speak the local language. Given that “dealing with transnational organized crime requires a sophisticated understanding of the local context”, this is highly problematic. Another problem, says Leggett, and as the authors of the report note, is that the security forces are themselves often implicated in trafficking.

He adds: “Good police work is of little use when the courts do not convict or where prisoners are released, and building capacity among corrupt officials can have unintended consequences.”

Embedding crime experts into UN field operations?

The IPI report authors conclude with recommendations on how peace operations can tackle organized crime more effectively. As Shaw notes, “the complexities of illicit trafficking require much more than a law enforcement response.” Pooling information and utilizing regional offices, for example the UN Office for West Africa in Dakar, is key, as is embedding crime experts into UN field operations. Peacekeepers are well-placed to collect information, which must be managed and analysed at a higher level. They may baulk at the notion of intelligence gathering, “(but) as the UN increasingly becomes a target for terrorist attacks, and as UN operations become more exposed to complex situations involving armed groups and criminal networks, there is a growing realization and acceptance that peace operations need to have access to intelligence,” they say.

The development approach

Meanwhile, some argue that the best way vulnerable states – particularly those in conflict and post-conflict situations – can be protected from transnational organized crime is by taking a development approach: in other words, strengthening their economic, civic and government structures.

Graeme Simpson, director of Interpeace USA, which seeks to build social and political cohesion in post-conflict societies, argues that neither law enforcement approaches, nor the peacekeepers, can effectively combat transnational organized crime. “These approaches are addressing the symptoms but not the underlying deficiencies that make countries vulnerable to organized crime,” he says. “Drug cartels and drug-based economies are vibrant and they hold and employ huge numbers of people. Unless we create alternative sustainable economies and legitimate polities in these communities we won’t be able to offer alternative and viable ways for people to survive,” he adds.

pg/cb  source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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Polio campaigns – Learning to walk

Posted by African Press International on August 13, 2013

Polio survivor Claudine Muhombe, 7, is learning how to walk again

GOMA, 1 – When Linda Lukambo, 21, asked his parents why they had neglected to get him the polio vaccine, “they told me, ‘we did’. So why have I got polio?” he told IRIN in North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). “Maybe they took me for vaccinations, but maybe not for polio.”

Lukambo first started having difficulty walking while at a pre-school in Tchambucha Village, near the North Kivu town of Walikale. After six months he was, he says, “still walking a little bit. And then I started to move on my bottom, and then on my knees, and it got worse and worse.” By the time he was in primary school he was “crawling on all fours”.

Polio, or poliomyelitis, a highly infectious, viral disease causing paralysis and in some cases death, has been eradicated in most countries through large-scale vaccination programmes. According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) only Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan still have endemic polio transmission. UNICEF, the largest buyer of children’s vaccines in the world, recommends children receive at least three doses of the oral polio vaccine to ensure full immunity against the disease.

DRC is considered an “importation country”, meaning it experiences outbreaks of the disease because of low levels of immunity among the population. Polio eradication campaigns face myriad obstacles, including large-scale population displacements caused by DRC’s persistent conflicts, poor access to isolated communities, religious objections to the vaccine and weak infrastructure.

In 2007, Lukambo had a series of year-long leg-straightening operations at Goma’s public hospital, paid for by local NGO L´Association Congolaise Debout et Fier. (ACDF). ACDF then provided free leg braces, which enabled him to walk upright. He remembers being “very happy – I did not like the ground,” he said.

He has since become the caretaker at the ACDF centre, where polio survivors come for leg brace fittings or to just hang out or sleep over in a non-judgmental environment, as society often treats the disabled with suspicion and prejudice.

Learning to walk

Claudine Muhombe, 7, from Rugare near Masisi, arrived at the centre in April. She now scampers around the centre’s yard, uses the window frames as a climbing frame, and is quickly discovering how to walk with the aid of crutches and braces, also called callipers.

“It’s not difficult to walk,” she told IRIN. “I like walking. My Dad came [in June] to visit. He was very happy when he saw me, and I was happy to see my Dad happy.”

Joseph Kay of StandProud, the international and fundraising arm of ACDF, told IRIN that Claudine’s rapid progress meant she would probably not stay at the centre for long.

Learning to walk with the callipers and crutches can take weeks or months, requiring intensive physiotherapy to regain strength and balance. But even then, not all are able to.

“It was difficult to learn to walk with leg braces. It took a lot of time to learn. I had no strength in my lower back”

Lukambo’s transition from crawling on the floor to standing on his feet was not as swift as Claudine’s. After his leg-straightening operations, the wounds from the surgery continued to weep and would not heal. He had to undergo a skin graft, with skin taken from his thighs for his knees.

The years of crawling also damaged his hip, and an operation was performed to correct it. When he was finally ready to don callipers, it took nearly four months of daily practice to walk upright.

“It was difficult to learn to walk with leg braces. It took a lot of time to learn. I had no strength in my lower back, so I had to wear a corset,” he said.

After a few months of walking, the muscles in his lower back recovered and the corset was discarded, but Goma’s broken streets were an “obstacle course.”

“It’s something you have to get used to… But I am at the same level now as other people,” Lukambo said.

Polio campaigns

The first polio vaccination campaigns in the country began in the mid-1980s. At one stage, after no cases were recorded between 2001 and 2005, polio was considered eradicated in DRC.

In 2008, after an “epidemiological situation evolved in the central African region,” resulting in dozens of new infections in the country, the government and donors announced a polio vaccination programme targeting seven million children.

A polio survivor at l´Association Congolaise Debout et Fier centre in Goma doing chores

Emmanuel Nomo, UNICEF’s DRC polio team leader, recently told IRIN there had been no registered cases of polio in the country since December 2011.

“Authorities, vaccination teams and parents are doing the best they can to reach all children everywhere, including in the Kivus, despite the challenge of insecurity and lacking access,” he said.

This August, during the country’s National Immunization Day (NID), officials will hold a second round of vaccinations targeting 1,374,836 children up to five years old in North Kivu and 1,144,750 in South Kivu. According to independent monitoring by the World Health Organization (WHO), 3.5 percent of targeted children in North Kivu were missed in the July first round of vaccinations, while in South Kivu the number was 5 percent.

“During the July NID, insecurity – active fighting in some health zones – did not allow the vaccination teams to do their job” in the North Kivu health zones of Kamango, in three health areas in Binza, and three health areas in South Kivu’s Molungu, said Nomo.

“Even though the situation remains difficult in both Kivus, the second [round] of the NID is scheduled to take place throughout both provinces,” he said.

Nomo said issues with maintaining the cold chain, the system of temperature controls required to keep vaccines potent, were being addressed through the introduction of solar fridges by the government, with support from UNICEF, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), and the World Bank. Currently, only 30 percent of the country’s health centres have a functioning refrigerator.

“Providing good quality vaccines at the beneficiary level remains a challenge,” he said.

Calliper production

StandProud (founded in 1998) has established centres in Bunia, Butembo, Goma, Kalemie, Lubumbashi and Kinshasa.

“We’ve made thousands and thousands of callipers. Hard to know exactly how many since 1998, but there are at least 5,000 individuals who have benefited over the years,” Kay said.

“I have made a lot [of leg braces]. I don’t know how many, but many, many, many”

Louis Nwande-Muhala, a calliper technician at the Goma centre, says it takes about two days to construct the custom-made leg braces – if there is electricity and the materials are available. The braces are made of steel, with leather used for the joints and hip support. The workshop also does repairs on braces, which have to deal with the country’s broken streets.

Nwande-Muhala’s left leg was paralysed at the age of five, not from polio, but from a quinine injection into his hip muscles, an old treatment for malaria that is still practised by some nurses despite the availability of safer treatments.

He first encountered the NGO when he wanted to acquire a leg brace. After being fitted for the brace, he decided to give up his tailoring job to make callipers. “I have made a lot [of leg braces]. I don’t know how many, but many, many, many.”

go/rz/cb source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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Outcry in Uganda due to influx of unexpected refugees

Posted by African Press International on July 19, 2013

Uganda unprepared for influx of DRC refugees

More refugees are expected as fighting continues in the DRC (file photo)

KAMPALA,  – Some 66,000 Congolese refugees have crossed into Uganda in recent days, following fighting between Ugandan rebel group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and the Democratic Republic of Congo‘s (DRC) national army (FARDC). Their arrival has left the Ugandan government and humanitarian agencies struggling to meet the refugees’ needs amid funding challenges.

“The situation is very dire. It’s overwhelming… given the massive arrivals of these refugees, and sudden number of this nature, in an area with very limited preparedness to extend humanitarian assistance,” Mohammed Adar, country representative for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Uganda, told IRIN. “We don’t have the infrastructure to support this huge influx of this scale in an area [where] we didn’t have [a] presence in the past.”

Uganda already hosts more than 200,000 refugees and asylum seekers, over 60 percent of whom are from DRC.

The new refugees are in the western Ugandan town of Bundibugyo, where they are occupying five primary schools and other sites; they have been arriving since 11 July, when fighting broke out close to DRC’s border with Uganda.

Over-stretched resources

“These [Bundibugyo] villages were empty. They didn’t have any facilities. We are putting up water systems, sanitation, shelter, and providing food,” Charles Bafaki, a senior settlement officer with the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), which is coordinating the emergency response, told IRIN by telephone.

UNHCR says only 29 percent of its US$93.8 million operating budget for Uganda this year was funded by 19 June. “We appeal for financial assistance from donors and international community to support this huge influx of refugees,” Adar said. “The international community and donors have a responsibility to help Uganda share this burden.”

The ADF was formed in the mid-1990s in the Rwenzori mountain range in western Uganda, close to the country’s border with DRC. The rebellion was largely contained in Uganda by 2000, with reportedly just about 100 fighters finding refuge in DRC’s North Kivu Province. However, the Ugandan government has recently reported that the group is recruiting and training  – with the support of Somali Islamist militants Al-Shabab – in eastern DRC.

On 15 July, officials said they were struggling to relocate the refugees to a newly established transit centre, near Bubukwanga Subcounty, Bundibugyo District, about 28km from the DRC-Uganda border. “They are currently occupying schools, churches, people[’s] gardens, verandas, and causing tremendous problems for the host community,” UNHCR’s Adar said.

The agencies say the refugees are in dire need of humanitarian assistance and relief services.

“While food and supplies have arrived, the huge numbers of people and their wide distribution has made it difficult to provide services,” Adar added. “The main concerns at this point are water, health and sanitation, and shelter.”

The UN World Food Programme has delivered enough food for 20,000 people for five days, and more food is expected to arrive, UNHCR said in astatement issued on 15 July.

Uganda’s military says it has beefed up security at the DRC-Uganda border to ensure the ADF rebels do not infiltrate the country.

More refugees on the way

Meanwhile, UNHCR also says it has experienced an increase in the number of Congolese refugees crossing into Uganda’s southwestern district of Kisoro, following fresh fighting near North Kivu’s provincial capital, Goma, between the M23 rebel group and FARDC troops. According to Congolese officials, an attack by M23 on 14 July was repelled by FARDC; however, fighting continued on 15 July.

“The situation near Goma is a big concern. It’s definitely going to cause problem for us,” UNHCR’s Adar said. “We have received over 1,000 refugees at our transit centre in Kisoro in the last few days. These are coming in as a preventive measure. We expect more new arrivals to cross as a result of the Goma situation.”

so/kr/rz source http://www.irinnews.org

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International Criminal Court’s sex scandals

Posted by African Press International on June 22, 2013

ICC commissions an independent external review of the allegations of sexual assault

The Registrar of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has commissioned an independent external review of the allegations of sexual assault of four individuals under the ICC92s protection programme by a former staff member working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This decision follows the completion of an initial internal inquiry that was announced on 12 April 2013. The ICC is determined to address the serious allegations concerned with great rigor and transparency.

The results of the initial internal inquiry confirmed the seriousness of the= allegations and the need for more detailed investigation of the surrounding circumstances. Furthermore the incident highlighted operational and organizational issues that require more in-depth review. The Court is already in th= e process of implementing operational changes pending the outcome of the ind= ependent review.

Composed of four highly-qualified specialists with extensive experience at a national and international level in the relevant areas the Review team is m= andated to establish all facts and circumstances surrounding the allegations= of sexual crimes against the four individuals and to identify all responsib= le persons, including those responsible for exercising managerial oversight= over the suspected perpetrator. It will also provide an analysis of the nature and sufficiency of the Court=92s response to the allegations. Finally,= the independent Review team will provide an analysis of and recommendations= for the Court 92s victim and witness protection systems.

The results of the external review will be submitted to the ICC Registrar. A public version, giving due consideration to the requirement to ensure prote= ction of all victims and witnesses of the Court, will be provided to the Pre= sident of the Assembly of the States Parties, Ambassador Tiina Intelmann, an= d will be publicised.

President Intelmann welcomed the announcement by the Registrar of the establishment of the Independent Review Team with a broad and comprehensive mandat= e. Furthermore, she expressed the hope that the outcome of the external review would include tangible steps to ensure that the Court92s policy of zero tolerance of any type of misconduct of such nature is strictly enforced.

 

End

source ICC

 

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