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UN expert group launches first information-gathering visit to Morocco

Posted by African Press International on December 7, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will undertake its first official visit to Morocco* to assess the situation of deprivation of liberty in the country.

During the ten-day visit from 9 to 18 December 2013, the group of independent experts will visit various detention facilities, including prisons, police stations and detention centres for migrants in irregular situations, in order to gather first-hand information from detainees, their families or representatives on their cases of deprivation of liberty.

The Working Group will also engage with relevant authorities as well as civil society organizations, in the cities of Rabat, Casablanca, Salé, Tanger and Laâyoune.

The delegation will consist of the Chair-Rapporteur Mr. Mads Andenas (Norway), Mr. El Hadji Malick Sow (Senegal) and Mr. Roberto Garretón (Chile). They will be accompanied by staff from the Working Group’s Secretariat at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

A press conference on the preliminary observations of the Working Group will be held at La Tour Hassan Hotel, Rabat, on 18 December 2013 at 15:00.

The final report of the visit will be presented to the Human Rights Council in 2014.

(*) The Working Group will also visit Laâyoune, Western Sahara, on 15 and 16 December 2013.

 

SOURCE

United Nations – Off

 

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Military Continues Working

Posted by African Press International on December 4, 2013

WASHINGTON, December 3, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The Defense Department continues to work with nations in North Africa to promote security and increase stability in the region still feeling the effects of the Arab Spring, Amanda J. Dory, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for African affairs, told a Senate panel today.

Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco are confronting instability and the U.S. military is working to build or strengthen their police and military forces, Dory told the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Near eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs.

“Our strategic approach recognizes that developing strong and responsive defense institutions can support regional stability, allowing partner militaries to operate under civilian authority while respecting the rule of law and international human rights,” Dory said in prepared testimony.

The effects of the Arab Spring in North Africa continue to reverberate within the region and beyond its borders into the Sahelian states of sub-Saharan Africa, she said.

Libya remains a key source of instability in North Africa and the Sahel. After the overthrow of Muammar Gadhafi, there is little government infrastructure inside Libya, Dory said, and certainly no tradition of democracy.

Violence is rampant in Libya and the Libyan government is too weak to control its borders and militias provide what security there is. Arms merchants are shipping Libyan weapons out of the country and these arms are fueling instability from Mali westward, Dory said.

“The Department of Defense is prioritizing its assistance to focus on building Libyan security capacity and on improving the Libyan government’s ability to counter terrorism, counter weapons proliferation and secure and destroy its chemical weapons stockpiles,” she said.

The United States will provide general-purpose-force military training for 5,000-8,000 Libyan personnel, Dory said.

“This training effort is intended to help the [Libyan] government build the military it requires to protect government institutions and maintain order,” she said.

The training of Libyan military personnel may begin next year in Bulgaria.

In Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, DOD maintains close military-to-military ties with their military counterparts. All three are engaged in a security dialogue with the United States and “they share our goals of countering terrorism and enhancing cross-border security,” Dory said.

She added, “We engage with the three governments on a bilateral basis every 12-18 months to ensure our shared security goals are aligned and U.S. government security assistance is prioritized accordingly,”

But all three countries, she said, are feeling the effects of terrorism and growing violent extremism.

In Tunisia, the military deserves tremendous credit for supporting and protecting the population during the country’s democratic transition, Dory said. U.S. assistance to the security sector focuses on counterterrorism support, border security training, she said, and a continuation of long-standing U.S. Foreign Military Financing and International Military Education and Training programs.

Algeria remains a critical security partner in countering regional violent extremist organizations, Dory said.

“Its strategic location in the Maghreb, and its long history combating domestic terrorism and violent extremism, make Algeria a linchpin in the struggle against al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and its affiliates and bringing stability to the region,” she said. “The January 2013 terrorist attack against the In-Amenas oil facility highlighted the growing transnational threats in the region.”

DOD continues to expand engagement with Algeria in cooperation with other U.S. government departments and agencies across a range of activities, to include information sharing and exercises, Dory said.

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, she said, has recognized for years that democratic political and economic reforms are needed in his country.

“During the Arab Awakening, he continued to respond to popular demands for change from within Moroccan society,” Dory said of Morocco’s king. “The United States and the Kingdom of Morocco share a long history of bilateral relations that is enduring and expansive.”

A major non-NATO ally, Morocco “has been a strong partner in the struggle against terrorism, and our bilateral military and political cooperation is growing,” she said.

 

SOURCE

U.S Africa Command

 

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Harstad: Zimbabwe’s Energetic youthful Afro-pop comets Mokoomba Band members perform before a thrilled crowd at the Arts Festival of North Norway

Posted by African Press International on July 7, 2013

Energetic, talented young Zimbabweans musicians overflowing with natural talent embolden with infectious rhythms enjoyable by all age groups was an attraction of the day on the 29th day of June in Harstad at the Arts Festival of North Norway 2013..

Interview with one of the lead men of the band:

The Band Members:

Mokoomba, the Afro-pop comets, were the last to perform at the week-long Festival, doing it festively in a concert that moved the audience in Harstad‘s Nordic Hall!

Combining modern and traditional instruments and encompassing the diverse cultures of the southern regions of Africa, Mokoomba created a unique universe of sound. The young artists are at the forefront of, and trend setters for, new African music.

In record time, the band has skyrocketed to the status of Afro-fusion’s most renowned group. On their impressive tour schedule for summer 2013, we find places such as Liverpool, Morocco, the Roskilde festivalAlgiers, Nürnberg – and yes, Harstad!
After Harstad-Norway, the group say they are heading to Africa and are planning to perfom in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, before the end of this summer of 2013.
www.africanpress.me/ - Mokoomba Band members from Zimbabwe at the Arts Festival of North Norway 2013

http://www.africanpress.me/ – Mokoomba Band members from Zimbabwe at the Arts Festival of North Norway 2013

Entertainment:
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Comments made about the group by those who understand the art of music:
“I have seen the future in African music. It’s name is Mokoomba” – Thorsten Bednarz, Deutschlandradio Kultur.
“Both the show and the music are totally inebriating! They deserve all possible success, because the music they make is so genuinely good!” – Tineke van Brederode, Mixed World Music
End

 

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Mohamed Garba, the new president of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ)

Posted by African Press International on April 3, 2013

  • By Dickens Wasonga.

The President of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mohamed Garba, has been elected in Casablanca (Morocco) as the new president of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) following the third congress of that continental body representing the interests of over 50,000 journalists in Africa.

Mohamed Garba replaces Omar Faruk Osman Nur, who served as FAJ President for the past six years.

www.africanpress.me/ - The new FAJ President Mohamed Garba from Nigeria (in glasses, checked shirt seated front) address the delegates after his election

http://www.africanpress.me/ – The new FAJ President Mohamed Garba from Nigeria (in glasses, checked shirt seated front) address the delegates after his election

www.africanpress.me/ - Newly Elected members of the FAJ Steering Committee immediately after their election in Casablanca, Morocco.

http://www.africanpress.me/ – Newly Elected members of the FAJ Steering Committee immediately after their election in Casablanca, Morocco.

www.africanpress.me/ - www.africanpress.me/ - Newly Elected members of the FAJ Steering Committee immediately after their election in Casablanca, Morocco.

http://www.africanpress.me/http://www.africanpress.me/ – Newly Elected members of the FAJ Steering Committee immediately after their election in Casablanca, Morocco.

www.africanpress.me/ - Members of the FAJ Elections Board consult during the conference and elections.

http://www.africanpress.me/ – Members of the FAJ Elections Board consult during the conference and elections.

www.africanpress.me/ - A panel discussion on improving Gender parity in the Media in Africa during the Congress

http://www.africanpress.me/ – A panel discussion on improving Gender parity in the Media in Africa during the Congress

The Congress in accordance with Article 9.4 and 9.5 of the FAJ Constitution, elected a 9 members steering committee, which later elected Mohamed Garba as the new President.

In the same vein, Maria Louisa Carvalho of the Angolan Journalists Union was elected as the Vice President of the Federation, while Stanis Nkundiye of the National Syndicate of Media Professionals in the Democratic Republic of Congo retains his position as the Treasurer of FAJ.

Other members of the Steering Committee include Ibrahima Khalilloulah Ndiaye (Senegal), Alexandre Niyungeko (Burundi) Muheldin Ahmed Titawi (Sudan) Credo Tetteh (Togo) and the former Vice President of the Federation, Foster Dongozi, from the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) and Mouhamed Bchir Chakakou (Tunisia).

Three reserve members to the Steering Committee were also elected namely, Edouard Adzotsa (Congo Brazzaville), Collin Haba (Rwanda) and Rolland Affail Monney (Ghana).

In his inaugural speech to the participants at the Congress, FAJ new President Mohamed Garba, said that the primary concern of the new Steering Committee will be to unite the affiliates in the continent and moreover to ensure that unions in the continent are strengthened in order for them to defend the rights and welfare of their members.

The Steering Committee, he emphasised, cannot do their work effectively without the existence of strong unions. “We will endeavour to confront the major challenges before us and will always do the best we can to promote respect of the rights of journalists and to promote quality journalism in Africa”.

Mohamed Garba paid tribute to the outgoing FAJ President, Omar Faruk Osman Nur, who he said had demonstrated a lot of determination for the past six years to ensure that FAJ meets objectives that it has set out for itself at its inception.

This new Steering Committee, he said, will utilise that working programme set up by the former Steering Committee, and will not at any time hesitate to contact and consult with Faruk, in order to tap from his wealth of experience.

FAJ President Mohamed Garba thanked the Moroccan Union of Journalists for hosting the Congress. He also thanked the IFJ President, Jim Boumelha for his unflinching support to the unions in the continent and his commitment to ensure safety and protection of journalists in Africa and the world at large.

He assured the IFJ President that he will continue to work with the IFJ in the most effective manner and will make its doors continuously open to all the regional associations in the continent.

This two day congress was the occasion for delegates from 34 countries to have a look at the governance and policies of the Federation.

Delegates scrutinised and discussed the activities and financial reports, debated and approved motions, reviewed constitutional amendments and working programme for 2013-2016 as well as elected new leaders. Delegates also addressed pressing issues facing journalists and their organisations such as increased attempts to criminalise journalism work, working conditions in the media industry, gender equality, safety of journalists and impunity.

For the first time since FAJ has been created the congress included an event specifically dedicated to the working programme to achieve gender women equality. The pan-African gender council committee has been formally put in place sanctioned by the congress, making FAJ the first IFJ continental federation that has special structures dedicated to address the needs, interests, and issues of women journalists. In this regard, the congress elected Mrs Mounia Belafia (Morocco), Fatima Abdulkareem (Nigeria), Carla Lima (Cape Verde), Angele Chisimba (Zambia) and Kadiatou Diallo (Guinea Conakry) as members of the gender council committee. Delegates said they are very confident on the new FAJ leadership on which they are expecting to score more key successes to promote and protect the rights of journalists.

The congress was hosted by the Syndicat national de la presse marocaine (SNPM). Younes M’Jahed president of SNPM expressed deep pleasure to welcome delegates in Morocco, and called on them to develop more solidarity and to stand up together for a better recognition of the work of journalists in Africa.

FAJ over the years has received recognition and support from its parent organization, the International Federation of Journalists and claims the position of legitimate voice of journalists and journalism in Africa. Delegates asked the new leadership to rebrand its image in order to maintain a high-level profile with partners and the trade union movements.

FAJ represents 50,000 journalists in 34 countries in Africa

ENDS.

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Third FAJ continental congress kicks off in Casablanca with a call for organising journalists and defending press freedom

Posted by African Press International on April 3, 2013

  • By Dickens Wasonga.

The third continental congress of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) held in Casablanca, Morocco ended with a call for organising journalists, building stronger unions and defending press freedom in Africa

The event which is hosted by the Syndicat national de la presse marocaine (SNPM) is attended by 38 delegates from 34 countries in Africa.

Journalists’ trade unions and associations affiliated to the International Federation of Journalists have formed since 2008 a continental body representing the interests of their members in all media sectors either electronic, broadcasting or print, working as reporters, presenters, producers, freelancers or even editors at national, regional and international levels with the common objective to work to improve the social and professional rights of their members, be they full-time or freelance.

Delivering the welcome address, Younes M’Jahed, president of SNPM said the congress is the occasion to consolidate the Federation of African Journalists. “FAJ is now a big African organization which has demonstrated on the ground its force to strengthen journalists’ unions and fight against all press freedom abuses and attacks against journalists,” said Younes M’Jahed. “African journalists’ unions are mature. They are working in difficult conditions but are resisting and defending their independence from all powers and foreign interference. That’s why we consider that the strengthening of union bodies is capital for our future.”
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Jim Boumelha, president of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said strengthening the pan-African solidarity among journalists is a very important objective, because Africa needs good journalists practicing good journalism, freely, safely and professionally. Looking at FAJ’s report of activities and programme of work, Boumelha stated: “anybody who wants to know what you have achieved should read your document of work. They will of course realise the huge challenges you had to confront, from the issue of safety of journalists and impunity to criminalization of journalists, the fight for better working conditions and the implementation of international labour standards”. “They will see at the same time, how with very limited resources FAJ has set out to lift and upgrade its democracy and structures, to increase its capacity to confront employers and governments and to break the walls between media sectors and between men and women”.
He called on FAJ members to consolidate their work on protecting the free flow of information which is a cornerstone for the IFJ’s mandate. “Indeed freedom of expression is imperative for sustaining development, consolidating democracy and initiating dialogue. And I am proud that you have taken it as a central battle line not only within FAJ but in many of your respective unions,” Boumelha added.
Everywhere in Africa there are still many obstacles to freedom of expression and free press. Boumelha highlighted the issue of censorship, violence, intimidation and harassment of journalists, pressure and threats, poor working conditions, lack of financial resources and training as areas where FAJ can make a difference, while assuring them of the IFJ’s unflinching support.
Approaching the issue of safety and security of journalists, Jim Boumelha said, in the past decade more than 2000 media professionals have been killed in the exercise of their profession, most of them victims of targeted killing and most of them local journalists working in their communities.
“The murderers of journalists are too seldom held accountable. For both killings in war zones and under other circumstances only very few cases are investigated. In even fewer cases the perpetrators are brought to justice. Indeed, impunity stands in the way of justice in about eighty percent of these cases, and as long as this pervasive culture of impunity exists, journalists will remain easy targets.”
On the other hand, the Minister for Communication of Morocco Honorable Mustapha El Khalfi, said the country’s commitment is to be a model for press freedom. “Africa’s future depends on the emergence of a strong, free and responsible press. This mission involves credible media and respect for press freedom,” El Khalfi said, highlighting the process in Morocco to reinforce press freedom and freedom of expression through a new legal framework provided by Article 27 of the country’s new Constitution which guaranties the right to access to information.
Delivering a speech to delegates, Mr. Driss Yazami, president of the national human rights Council of Morocco, said Africa has to take up two challenges: respect for human rights and freedom of expression, and the achievement of a sustainable development and social justice. “The role of journalists is at the cornerstone to meet these objectives and we need to join our efforts to better defend freedoms and the expansion of a human rights culture,” Yazami concluded.
Omar Faruck Osman, president of the Federation of African Journalists said the Federation has made tremendous gains since 2010. “We extended solidarity and support to ever combat ready unions and their members; we strongly campaigned for the safety of journalists and tackled the culture of impunity in Africa; we sought justice for victim journalists and their families; we helped strengthen the voice of journalists at the national regional and continental levels. Journalists in Africa and their unions are more organized than ever before. We struggled against all odds in the past three years. We fought to decriminalize journalism and the entire media work,” Osman said.
He nevertheless stated that FAJ is meeting in the middle of unprecedented crisis for journalists which threaten to undermine all the gains FAJ has made over the past three years. “Violent repression and the injustice against journalists are relentless. The number of journalists detained in Africa for their work since the last congress has increased. More than 70 % of journalists are working under precarious conditions. Ethical standards are declining due to external life-threatening pressure and lack of decent salaries”, he stated.
FAJ has a mandate to enforce trade union development in the media industry in Africa, to address professional matters, to protect and defend freedom of expression and information as well as journalists’ human rights, as laid down in the Declaration of Principles of Freedom of Expression in Africa.
ENDS/

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