North Africa: Arab Youth Have No Trust in Democracy


By Roberto Savio

Rome — The results of a survey of what 3,500 young people between the ages of 18 and 24 - in all Arab countries except...

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Kenya: Pastoralists Protest Wanton Destruction of Indigenous Forest

By Robert Kibet

Nairobi — Armed with twigs and placards, enraged residents from a semi-pastoral community 360 km north of Kenya's capital, Nairobi, protested this week against wanton destruction of...

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Government Re-Thinking Ban On Private Palm Oil Imports

By Snetsehay Assefa Fortune Staff Writer The government is reconsidering its ban on private companies importing palm oil, which has been in place since May 2011. The embargo was placed after...

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Burundi: Three More Protesters Killed in Burundi Clashes

Photo: World Economic Forum/Eric Miller

President Nkurunziza’s plans to run for a third term have been described as unconstitutional

At least six people have been...

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Nigeria: The Buhari Challenge – Making Nigerian Democracy Work

analysis Nigeria's president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, has few illusions. He has been in and out of power at the highest level since the 1970s. He has already spoken boldly about tackling...

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Kinshasa Discusses Justice Sector Reform

press release

From April 27 to May 2, 2015, the Congolese Ministry of Justice and Human Rights is convening "Etats Généraux," a large conference to evaluate justice sector reform in...

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North Africa: Arab Youth Have No Trust in Democracy


By Roberto Savio

Rome — The results of a survey of what 3,500 young people between the ages of 18 and 24 – in all Arab countries except Syria – feel about the current situation in the Middle East and North Africa have just been released.

The report of the survey, which was carried out by international polling firm Penn Schoen Berland (PBS), is not a minority report given that 60 percent of the population of the Arab population is under the age of 25, which means 200 million people. Well, the outcome of the survey is that the large majority of them have no trust in democracy.

The word democracy does not exist in Arabic, being a concept totally alien to the era in which Muhammad created Islam. However, it is worth noting that the concept of democracy as it is known today is also relatively recent in the West, and we have to wait from its origins in the Greek era for it to make a comeback at the time of the French Revolution.

It became an accepted value just after the end of the Second World War, and the end of the Soviet, Nazi and Japanese regimes.

As a matter of fact, it is still not a reality in large parts of Asia (just think of China and North Korea) and Africa.

Then we have governments, as in Hungary where Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is openly preaching a style of governance à la Russian President Vladimir Putin, followed by several of his esteemers, including the National Front party in France, and the Northern League in Italy. But few have such a negative view of democracy as young Arabs.

After the Arab Spring revolutions in 2012, a massive 72 percent of young Arabs believed that the Arab world had improved. The figure dropped to 70 percent in 2013, then 54 percent in 2014, and now it stands at just 38 percent

After the Arab Spring revolutions in 2012, a massive 72 percent of young Arabs believed that the Arab world had improved. The figure dropped to 70 percent in 2013, then 54 percent in 2014, and now it stands at just 38 percent.

According to the survey, 39 percent of young Arabs agreed with the statement “democracy will never work in the region”, 36 percent thought it would work, while the remaining 25 percent expressed many doubts.

It is clear that the Arab Spring has been betrayed by the return of the army to power as in Egypt, or by the clinging of the old guard to power regardless of the costs, like Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

If you add to this the fact that 41 percent of young Arabs are unemployed (out of a total unemployment figure of 25 percent), and of those 31 percent have completed higher education and 17 percent have graduated from university, it is not difficult to understand that frustration and pessimism are running high among Arab youth.

It also contributes to explaining why so many young people feel attracted to the Islamic State (ISIS) which wants to topple all Arab governments, defined as corrupt and allied to the decadent West, and create a Caliphate as in Muhammad’s times, where wealth will be distributed among all, the dignity of Islam will be enhanced, and a world of purity and vision will substitute the materialistic one of today.

This is why ISIS is attracting youth from all over. Besides, according to experts, for the terrorist to have a geographical space and run it as a state, where hospitals and schools function and there is a daily life to prove that the dream is possible, represents a great difference with previous terrorist movements like Al-Qaeda, which could only destroy, not really build.

But the survey also reveals something extremely important. To the question “which is the biggest obstacle for the Arab world?”, 37 percent indicated the expansion of ISIS and 32 percent the threat of terrorism. The problem of unemployment was mentioned by 29 percent and that of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by 23 percent.

It is worth noting that the threat of a nuclear Iran was mentioned by only 8 percent (contrary to the declarations of Arab governments), while 17 percent consider that the real problem is the lack of political leaders, while only 15 percent denounce the lack of democracy.

It is important to note that no interviews were carried out in Iran, which is not an Arab country but is a Muslim country. However Iranian Muslims are Shiites and not Sunnis, as in all Arab countries, except for Iraq and Bahrein, and perhaps Yemen, where Shiites are a majority. Of the world’s total Islamic population of 1.6 billion people, Shiites make up only 10 percent.

It is within Sunnite Islam that a dramatic conflict is going on, where Wahabism, a Sunni school born in Saudi Arabia and the official religion of the Saudi reigning house, has now split into those who want to return to the purity of the early times and those are considered “petrowahabists” because they have been corrupted by the wealth created by petrol (they are also called sheikh wahabists because they accept government by sheikhs).

Saudi Arabia has been spending an average of 3 billion dollars a year to promote Wahabism. It has built over 1,500 mosques throughout the world, where radical preachers have been asking the faithful to go back to the real and uncorrupted Islam.

It was with Osama Bin Laden that the Wahabist movement escaped from the control of Saudi Arabia, very much like the radical Hamas movement, originally supported by Israel to weaken the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and Yasser Arafat, turned against the Israeli state. It is not possible to ride radicalism.

The survey also reveals that young Sunnis see ISIS and terrorism as their main threat, but we are talking here of a poll which should represent 200 million people between the ages of 18 and 25. Even if just one percent of them were to succumb to the call of the jihad, we are talking of a potential two million people … and this is now being felt acutely.

The polarisation inside Sunni society (Shiites are not part of that – there are no Shiite terrorists) is felt as the most important problem for the future.

In Europe and the United States, this should be the clearest of examples that ISIS and terrorism are first and foremost an internal problem of Islam and that to intervene in that problem will only unify the Arab world against the invader. (END/IPS COLUMNIST SERVICE)

Edited by Phil Harris

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, IPS – Inter Press Service.

Kenya: Pastoralists Protest Wanton Destruction of Indigenous Forest

By Robert Kibet

Nairobi — Armed with twigs and placards, enraged residents from a semi-pastoral community 360 km north of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, protested this week against wanton destruction of indigenous forest – their alternative source of livelihood.

With climate change a new ordeal that has caused frequent droughts, leading to suffering and death in this part of Africa, the community from Lpartuk Ranch in Samburu County relies on livestock which is sometimes wiped out by severe drought leaving them with no other option other than the harvesting of wild products and honey.

“People here are ready to take up spears and machetes to guard the forest. They have been provoked by outsiders who are out to wipe out our indigenous forest to the last bit,” Mark Loloolki, Lpartuk Ranch chairman, who led the protesting community members told IPS.

They threatened to set alight any vehicle caught ferrying the timbers or logs suspected to be from their forests.

Illegal harvesting of forest products is pervasive and often involves unsustainable forest practices which cause serious damage to forests, the people who depend on them and the economies of producer countries.

Their protest came barely a week after counterparts from Seketet, a few kilometres away in Samburu Central, held a similar protest after over 12,000 red cedar posts were caught on transit to Maralal, Samburu’s main town.

Last year, students walked for four kilometres during International Ozone Day to protest against the wanton destruction of the same endangered forest tree species.

A report titled Green Carbon, Black Trade, released by the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) and Interpol in 2012, which focuses on illegal logging and its impacts on the lives and livelihoods of often some of the poorest people in the world, underlines how criminals are combining old-fashioned methods such as bribes with high-tech methods such as computer hacking of government websites to obtain transportation and other permits.

Samburu County, in Kenya’s semi-arid northern region, hosts Lerroghi, a 92,000 hectare forest reserve that is home to different indigenous plants and animal species. Lerroghi, also called Kirisia locally, is among the largest forest ecosystem in dry northern Kenya and was initially filled with olive and red cedar trees.

It is alleged that unscrupulous merchants smuggle the endangered red cedar products to the coastal port of Mombasa for shipping to Saudi Arabia where they are sold at high prices.

“This is a business that involves a well-connected cartel of merchants operating in Nairobi and Mombasa,” said Loloolki.

In Kenya, the future of indigenous forest cover is under threat but has little to do with poverty and ignorance – experts say that it is greed which allows unsustainable practices, such as the lucrative production of charcoal and logging of wood.

“This forest is our main water catchment source and home to wild animals such as elephants,” Moses Lekolool, the area assistant chief, told IPS. “Elephants no longer have a place to mate and reproduce or even give birth, with most of them having migrated.”

According to Samburu County’s Kenya Forest Service (KFS) Ecosystem Controverter Eric Chemitei, “as a government parastatal, we [KFS] do not issue permits for transportation or movement of cedar posts. However, we do not know how they get to Nairobi, Mombasa and eventually to Saudi Arabia as alleged.”

At the same time, Chemitei told IPS that squatters currently residing inside the forest are mainly families affected by insecurity related to cattle rustling, adding that their presence was posing a threat to the main water towers of Lerroghi, Mathew Ranges, and Ndoto and Nyiro mountains.

He further noted that harvesting of cedar regardless of whether forest was privately or publicly owned was banned in 1999, and that over 30,000 hectares – one-third of the Lerroghi forest – has been destroyed.

Reports from INTERPOL and the World Bank in 2009 and from UNEP in 2011 indicate that the trade in illegally harvested timber is highly lucrative for criminal elements and has been estimated at 11 billion dollars – comparable with the production value of drugs which is estimated at around 13 billion dollars.

In a report on organised wildlife, gold and timber, released on Apr. 16, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said: “There is no room for doubt: wildlife and forest crime is serious and calls for an equally serious response. In addition to the breach of the international rule of law and the impact on peace and security, environmental crime robs countries of revenues that could have been spent on sustainable development and the eradication of poverty.”

According to the KFS Strategic Plan (2009/2010-2013/2014), of the 3.4 million hectares (5.9 percent) of forest cover out of the Kenya’s total land area, 1.4 million are made up of indigenous closed canopy forests, mangroves and plantations, on both public and private lands.

The plan also indicated that Kenya’s annual domestic demand for wood is 37 million cubic metres while sustainable wood supply is only around 30 million cubic metres, thus creating a deficit of seven million cubic metres which, according to analysts, means that any projected increase in forest cover can only be realised after this huge internal demand is met.

Last year, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment Judi Wakhungu said that KFS’ revised policy framework for forest conservation and sustainable management lists features including community participation, community forest associations and benefit sharing.

The policy acknowledges that indigenous trees or forests are ecosystems that provide important economic, environmental, recreational, scientific, social, cultural and spiritual benefits.

Nevertheless, illegal harvesting of forest products is pervasive and often involves unsustainable forest practices which cause serious damage to forests, the people who depend on them and the economies of producer countries.

Forests have been subjected to land use changes such as conversion to farmland or urban settlements, thus reducing their ability to supply forest products and serve as water catchments, biodiversity conservation reservoirs and wildlife habitats.

Meanwhile, the effect of forest depletion on women has been noted by Veronica Nkepeni , Director of Kenya’s Centre for Advocacy and Gender Equality, who told IPS that the “most affected are women in the pastoralist areas, trekking long distances in search of water as a result of the effects of forest depletion leading to water scarcity.”

Edited by Phil Harris

Government Re-Thinking Ban On Private Palm Oil Imports

By Snetsehay Assefa Fortune Staff Writer
The government is reconsidering its ban on private companies importing palm oil, which has been in place since May 2011.
The embargo was placed after the government failed to control the edible oil market with a…

Alexander Monson inquest: ‘My son died in the hands of monsters’


“He had wounds to his scrotum, he had head injuries, and he died violently in the hands of monsters.

“When I arrived … at the hospital, I found three police officers at the door. I went into the room and [Alexander] was chained to the bed. I sat with my son for probably an hour at the most, and then he was dead.”

Alexander Monson’s father Nicholas (Jeff Gilbert/The Telegraph)

Mrs Monson, who is divorced from Mr Monson’s father, Nicholas, the 12th Baron Monson, broke down in tears as she remembered her son’s final hours.

The police refused to unlock Mr Monson’s handcuffs until doctors ordered them to do so as they tried in vain to resuscitate him.

Friends said Mrs Monson, who owns and manages a collection of beachfront holiday cottages in the resort of Diani south of Mombasa, has been dreading giving her testimony but wants to help resolve the question of what happened to her son.

The Kenyan Police continue to claim that Mr Monson died of a drugs overdose on the night he was arrested, in May 2012, close to where his mother lives. He was found in possession of a small amount of cannabis, a tablet of the recreational drug ketamine, and cigarette rolling papers.

Initial pathology reports found no evidence of drugs in his system, but later studies expected to be presented at the inquest later this week identified significant amounts of narcotics.

Mr Monson’s family is expected to question how the toxicology reports came to contradict each other so significantly.

Alexander Monson who was killed in Kenya

They point to a post-mortem that showed a “blunt force trauma” to Mr Monson’s head and bruising in his genitals and on his left arm, which they say is evidence he was severely beaten while in police custody. He died a little over 12 hours after being detained.

Some Kenyan police officers are notoriously violent. Human rights groups regularly highlight cases of police brutality, extrajudicial killings and deaths in custody. British aid money is being used to attempt to reform the force.

The inquest is being held to determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed to criminal prosecutions of individual officers on duty the night Mr Monson was arrested.

Lord Monson, 60, who lives in London but has travelled repeatedly to Kenya to investigate his son’s death, has talked of his fears that the police will close ranks to protect the officer who beat his son. He claims to know the identity of that individual.

Burundi: Three More Protesters Killed in Burundi Clashes

Photo: World Economic Forum/Eric Miller

President Nkurunziza’s plans to run for a third term have been described as unconstitutional

At least six people have been killed in street clashes between the police and civilians demonstrating against the Burundian president’s bid for re-election for a third term, a spokesman for the Burundi Red Cross has said, as hundreds continued to gather in the streets of the capital despite a heavy military presence.

Three people were killed in clashes with the police on Sunday and three others died of their injuries overnight, spokesman Alexis Manirakiza told The Associated Press news agency from Bujumbura, Burundi’s capital.

Seven more people had been wounded, he added.

Bujumbura has been hit by protests since Sunday after the ruling party nominated President Pierre Nkurunziza for another term, which many say is unconstitutional.

Hundreds of demonstrators erected barricades and set tires alight in Bujumbura on Monday. The military was deployed on the streets after protests began on Sunday.

In what appears to be the latest development of the police crackdown on dissent, the country’s leading human rights activist Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa has been arrested on Monday, his lawyer said.

Armel Niyongere, said Mbonimpa had not been informed of the charges against him, but said he believed “the arrest is linked to his call for demonstrations today”.

‘Brutally arrested’

A witness, who asked not to be named, said Mbonimpa was arrested “brutally” during a police raid on the headquarters of a media association.

An arrest warrant has also been issued for Vital Nshimirimana, head of a prominent NGO forum and leader of the campaign to block a third presidential term, sources told the AFP news agency.

Presidential elections are scheduled for June 26 and political tensions have been rising since the start of the year.

Burundi’s constitution says the president “is elected by universal direct suffrage for a mandate of five years renewable one time,” but Nkurunziza’s supporters say he is eligible to serve a third term because he was first installed as president in 2005 by parliament to lead a transitional government, and not by a popular vote.

Those who oppose Nkurunziza, running for a third term include members of his own party, lawmakers, the clergy, student groups and civil society.

More than 10,000 Burundians have fled to neighboring Rwanda, citing pressure to support Nkurunziza’s party.

Others alleged violence by the ruling party’s youth wing, known as Imbonerakure, according to the UN refugee agency.

Human Rights Watch has also accused the Imbonerakure of committing serious rights abuses.

Kinshasa Discusses Justice Sector Reform

press release

From April 27 to May 2, 2015, the Congolese Ministry of Justice and Human Rights is convening “Etats Généraux,” a large conference to evaluate justice sector reform in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The conference will be held in the capital, Kinshasa.

According to the terms of reference of the event, the objectives of the Etats Généraux are to evaluate the functioning of the judicial system in Congo and the reforms that have already begun and to formulate recommendations about priority reforms and actions that should now be implemented. Staff from the military and civilian judicial systems; civil servants and officials from the Ministry of Justice, other ministries and the presidency; and representatives of the parliament, bar association, universities, international donors and national and international nongovernmental organizations will come together to participate in the discussions. Over 200 participants are expected, about half of whom will come from outside Kinshasa.

National Prosecutions for Grave International Crimes

Since the early 1990s, eastern Congo has been wracked by a series of regional and local conflicts. Rebel movements have emerged repeatedly, often with the support of neighboring countries. Non-state armed groups as well as the regular army forces battling them have preyed on civilians, committing grave violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

For a long time, there was complete impunity for these crimes.

In 2002, Congo ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and in 2004 Congolese President Joseph Kabila referred the situation in Congo to the court. Since then, in addition to cases before the ICC, there has been notable progress with regard to accountability for grave international crimes before the national justice system. Eager to promote complementarity between the ICC and national courts, Congolese authorities and international partners have implemented numerous projects to strengthen the capacity of Congo’s military justice system to handle grave international crimes (including specialized trainings, mobile courts, legal support to victims and assistance with protection).

Over the past 10 years, there have been about 30 trials for war crimes and crimes against humanity before military courts in Congo.[1] About two-thirds of the cases involved Congolese army soldiers; the others involved members of armed groups. Military and civilian courts have also handed down several hundred convictions for rape as an ordinary crime, notably through “mobile courts”-i.e., in situ hearings of local military and civilian courts-supported by international partners. This progress is encouraging and deserves to be recognized.

Yet despite this progress, the number of actual trials for international crimes is still remarkably small considering the number of serious crimes that have been committed in Congo. Many grave crimes have never been investigated, or in other cases, investigations have been stalled for years. Most of those who have been tried for serious crimes are low-level soldiers, and the trials that have taken place have often been plagued by serious problems: investigations are often of poor quality; victims and witnesses, and sometimes magistrates, are subject to threats and intimidation; and the rights of defendants are not thoroughly upheld. Sensitive cases have been fraught with interference from political and military officials, and those who are convicted sometimes escape imprisonment due to the poor state of detention facilities.

International and regional standards recommend that grave human rights violations and international law crimes be prosecuted before the civilian judicial system, but Congolese civilian courts have yet to handle such cases.

Priority Reforms to Include in the Recommendations

Adopted by the Etats Généraux

During the Etats Généraux, participants will work in nine working groups dealing with different aspects of the justice sector in Congo. Below is an overview of the priority reforms that Human Rights Watch believes should be included in the recommendations adopted by the Etats Généraux for the following six working groups with the aim to strengthen the fight against impunity for grave international crimes: 1) fight against impunity; 2) independence of the judiciary; 3) judicial organization, competence and proceedings; 4) access to justice; 5) criminal justice; and 6) planning, coordination, and follow-up on reforms and funding of the justice system.

Fight Against Impunity

Develop a national criminal strategy for prosecutions of grave international crimes. Such a national policy could detail the government’s strategy concerning the fight against impunity, including cooperation with the ICC, establishing specialized chambers, and strengthening the ordinary judicial system. It could identify the current weaknesses in the national judicial system regarding the prosecution of grave international crimes, the priority actions to be implemented, and ways to better coordinate and direct support from international partners in this field.

Pass the draft law implementing the Rome Statute of the ICC.

Pass and implement the bill creating specialized mixed chambers within the national justice system:

The Congolese government has proposed the establishment of specialized mixed chambers within three courts of appeal (civilian courts), mandated exclusively with the investigation and prosecution of war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of genocide. These chambers would be made up of military and civilian, national and international, judicial personnel. The proposal to establish specialized mixed chambers is also widely supported by Congolese civil society organizations.[2]

As explained in the explanatory note of the government’s draft bill (from May 2014), this initiative, if well implemented, could help address the main obstacles undermining the fight against impunity in Congo. It is recognized that international crimes are particularly complex and require specific expertise. Specialized chambers with the presence of international experts would enable national judicial personnel to gain and increase their experience and expertise regarding investigations and prosecutions of the most serious crimes, witness protection, and upholding the rights of the accused to a fair hearing. The chambers could also act as a buffer against possible interference from the military hierarchy or political authorities in the work of national courts.

In May 2014, the Congolese parliament cited technical errors in the bill presented to parliament on the specialized chambers, and did not put it on the agenda of the parliamentary session. We urge the Congolese government to correct these errors and present the bill again, after having consulted and explained its objectives to members of parliament and other stakeholders.

Many countries have set up national or mixed war crimes units or specialized chambers to prosecute serious international crimes. Specialized mixed chambers have been created in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Kosovo, East Timor, and in Senegal. On April 22, 2015, the transitional parliament of the Central African Republic (CAR) adopted with an overwhelming majority a bill establishing a special criminal court within its judicial system to try serious crimes committed in CAR since 2003, with the participation of international experts.

Guarantee the exclusive jurisdiction of civilian courts over war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide:

To date in Congo, only military courts have exercised jurisdiction over war crimes and crimes against humanity. As explained above, there have been concerns about trials for grave international crimes before military courts in Congo.

Recognizing the difficulties military justice systems have prosecuting offenses against civilians by military personnel, international and regional standards recommend that military courts should not be involved in prosecuting serious human rights violations, and should focus purely on military offenses.[3] This approach is recommended for a number of reasons, including that serious human rights violations do not fall within the scope of military duties, that access to military justice may be difficult or traumatizing for victims of serious crimes committed by soldiers, and that military justice systems may lack impartiality when prosecuting members of their own ranks.

In April 2013, a new law concerning the organization, functioning and competency of Congo’s ordinary courts gave jurisdiction to the civilian courts of appeal over war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of genocide “committed by persons falling under their jurisdiction and that of the Tribunaux de Grande Instance.” [4]

The last phrase suggests that the provision to give jurisdiction over serious international crimes to civilian courts of appeal does not apply when the alleged perpetrators are members of the military or civilians who benefit from “privileges of jurisdiction” under Congolese law, and who are not ordinarily tried by the civilian courts of appeal or tribunaux de grande instance (see below for more on privileges of jurisdiction). This reinforces the lack of clarity in Congolese law concerning which courts really have jurisdiction over such crimes. There are disagreements among jurists and legal scholars in Congo about whether the military justice system has exclusive jurisdiction over soldiers and police officers under article 156 of the Constitution. Congolese authorities should clarify these provisions, if necessary by adopting a new law or through requesting an interpretation of the Constitution from the Constitutional Court, so that civilian courts have exclusive jurisdiction for serious international crimes.

Create a specialized pool of investigators, prosecutors and judges trained to investigate and try the most serious international crimes. These individuals could be nominated for extended periods to the military and civilian courts in the provinces where most serious international crimes are committed.

Improve the quality and impact of the United Nations Prosecution Support Cells (UNPSC) by ensuring the recruitment of individuals with expertise in the field of prosecuting the most serious international crimes, and strengthen cooperation between national judicial staff and the UNPSC experts in order to improve the quality of investigations in such cases.

Finalize reform of the 2002 military judicial code (code judiciaire militaire) to make it compliant with the 2006 constitution. Include the following reforms in the new military judicial code:

Ensure that grave international crimes cases are tried in civilian courts, even if committed by members of the army.

For so long as military courts continue to handle prosecutions of grave international crimes, adopt measures to ensure that high-ranking officers can, in practice, be prosecuted for these crimes. To address the negative consequences of the rule that requires military court judges to be of equal or higher rank than the accused, consider the following measures: 1) nominate a sufficient number of high-ranking military judges; 2) eliminate the rule in the case of military court prosecutions of grave international crimes; or 3) eliminate ranks for military judges who could become part of a separate category of military officials.

For so long as they continue to handle prosecutions of grave international crimes cases, ensure that military court benches be composed of a majority of trained military judges for these cases, which often entail complex international law concepts, such as command responsibility. According to the current judicial code, professional judges are in the minority and are assisted by army officers without any legal training.

Recruit female investigators, prosecutors and judges, train them in the field of prosecuting international crimes, including sexual violence, and assign them to the military and civilian courts of the provinces where most of the serious international crimes are committed.

Strengthen the rights of the accused to a fair trial, including by guaranteeing the right of appeal for all; by adopting a law guaranteeing that legal aid will be paid for by the state for accused who are indigent; and by suspending the fees required for pro deo defense lawyers to obtain copies of case files:

The right for all to have their case heard in appeal is guaranteed under article 21 of the Congolese Constitution and in article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Congo ratified in 1976. However, this basic and fundamental right is not available for all in Congo.

Article 87 of the military judicial code states that no recourse is available before operational military courts set up in times of war. The Goma operational military court, set up in 2008, has judged cases concerning war crimes, including the case of mass rape and pillage committed by Congolese army soldiers in and around the town of Minova in November 2012, without the possibility of appeal.

In May 2014, then-Minister of Justice Wivine Mumba Matipa tabled a bill to create an appeal before operational military courts. However, the parliament did not put this bill on the agenda of the parliamentary session.

The second category of individuals who do not have access to the right of appeal in Congo are those benefitting from privileges of jurisdiction under Congolese law, either in accordance with article 153 of the Constitution (a long list of elected officials and magistrates who instead come under the jurisdiction of the Court of Cassation), or in accordance with article 120 of the military judicial code (generals in the Congolese army or individuals accused in a case involving a general, who come under the jurisdiction of the Military High Court). As these people are prosecuted in the first instance in the highest courts of the country (Court of Cassation and Military High Court), they do not have access to an appellate court. This means that the integrity of any trial involving a general in the Congolese army, for example the recent trial of General Jérôme Kakwavu, who was found guilty of rape, is seriously compromised.

Independence of the Justice System

Ensure the impartial investigation and appropriate prosecution of those suspected of attempting to obstruct or interfere with judicial officials in cases of grave international crimes.

Provide exclusive jurisdiction for civilian courts over war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide (see above).

Finalize the reform of the 2002 military judicial code in order to ensure its compliance with the 2006 Constitution. Include the abovementioned reforms in the new code.

Improve the performance of the High Council of Judicial Magistrates (Conseil supérieur de la magistrature, CSM) by requiring that general assembly meetings be held regularly, and that there be more transparency regarding deliberations leading to CSM decisions.

Judicial Organization, Competence, and Proceedings

Provide exclusive jurisdiction for civilian courts over war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide (see above).

Pass the draft law establishing specialized Chambers within the national judicial system (see above).

Access to Justice

Pass a law on legal aid that guarantees that the state will fund legal aid for accused who are indigent. Consider legislation that would allow indigent civil parties to have access to counsel free of charge.

Pass a law on protection of victims and witnesses, in particular in cases involving grave international crimes. This law should complement article 74 of the code of criminal procedure and list protection measures and psychological support available prior to, during and after trial (building on the progressive practices of the military court in Bukavu and the operational military court in Goma in cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity through application of the Rome Statute). The law should also foresee the establishment of a national protection agency, with the assistance of the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo, MONUSCO, in order to transfer the valuable experience of the peacekeeping mission to the national judicial system.

Immediately pay reparations ordered against the state by criminal courts in cases of grave international crimes and sexual violence. Start consultations to design an effective and sustainable reparations scheme for victims of grave international crimes.

Criminal Justice

Develop a national criminal strategy for prosecution of international crimes (see above).

Pass and implement the draft law establishing specialized Chambers within the national judicial system (see above).

Planning, Coordination and Follow-Up on Reforms and Funding of the Justice System

Create a sub-group on complementarity and the fight against impunity within the thematic Group on Justice and Human Rights, which brings together members of the Ministry of Justice and international partners. This sub-group should focus on the coordination of activities aimed at supporting the prosecution of serious international crimes and sexual violence crimes, to fill gaps and avoid duplication of efforts. The ICC office in Kinshasa could help to coordinate this sub-group.

International partners should prioritize the sustainability and diversification of the projects they support regarding the fight against impunity for serious international crimes.

[1] For example, see UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Report of the Mapping Exercise documenting the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed within the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo between March 1993 and June 2003″ (“UN Mapping Report 2010″), August 2010, (accessed April 25, 2015); ASF (“ASF Jurisprudence Study 2009″), “Study of Case Law: Application of the Statute of Rome of the International Criminal Court by Congolese courts,” March 2009, (accessed April 25, 2015); ASF (“ASF Jurisprudence Study 2014″), “La mise en oeuvre judiciaire du Statut de Rome en RD Congo,” April 2014, (accessed April, 25, 2015); Antonietta Trapani, Impact of International Courts on Domestic Criminal Procedures in Mass Atrocity Cases (DOMAC) (“DOMAC Report November 2011″), “Complementarity in the Congo: the direct application of the Rome Statute in the military courts of the DRC,” November 2011, (accessed April 25, 2015); Milli Lake, “Ending Impunity for Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes: the International Criminal Court and Complementarity in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” African Conflict & Peacebuilding Review, vol. 4 no. 1 (2014), pp. 1-32.

[2] “Democratic Republic of Congo: No more delays for justice (joint declaration),” April 1, 2014,

[3] UN Human Rights Commission, Updated set of principles for the promotion and protection of human rights through action to combat impunity, E/CN.4/2005/102/Add.1, Resolution 2005/81, April 21, 2005, principle 29; Draft Principles Governing the Administration of Justice through Military Tribunals, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/2006/58, January 13, 2006, draft principle 9; UNGA Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, adopted December 18, 1992, G.A. res. 47/133, 47 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 49) at 207, U.N. Doc. A/47/49 (1992), Art. 16, which states that persons presumed responsible for such crimes “shall be tried only by the competent ordinary courts in each State, and not by any other special tribunal, in particular military courts.” The same principle exists in the 1995 Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons, article IX; African Commission on Human and People’s Rights 2008 Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance in Africa, Principle L(a).

[4] Loi organique portant organisation, fonctionnement et compétences des juridictions de l’ordre judiciaire (Law on the organization, functioning and competency of jurisdictions of the judiciary), entered into force on April 11, 2013, (accessed April 25, 2015), art. 91.

South Africa: Zimbabwe Migrants Face Tough Return

Harare — More than 2,000 Zimbabweans displaced by xenophobic attacks in South Africa have packed their bags for home. But Zimbabwe, a country teetering on the verge of economic collapse, is unlikely to offer them the means to restart their lives.

The attacks on foreigners, mainly Zimbabweans, Somalis, Malawians, Mozambicans and Nigerians, started in Durban over two weeks ago following comments by Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, suggesting that African migrants in South Africa were criminals who should go back to their countries and stop stealing jobs and opportunities from locals.

Machete- and gun-wielding South Africans burned foreigners’ businesses and homes, looting goods, and forcing their inhabitants to flee. Six foreign nationals lost their lives in the attacks, which spread from Durban to other parts of the country, including Johannesburg. The worst of the violence has, for the most part, subsided, but African migrants are well aware that they could re-surface at any time.

Several countries, including Malawi, Mozambique and Nigeria have made efforts to evacuate their citizens from affected areas, but Zimbabwe, which has by far the largest number of nationals living in South Africa, is faced with the biggest challenge. Over years of political and economic upheaval in Zimbabwe, some 1.5 million Zimbabweans are thought to have made the trek south in search of safety and better opportunities. Zimbabwe has set up an inter-ministerial rescue taskforce to repatriate several thousand of them.

Labour and Social Welfare Secretary Ngoni Masoka told IRIN that the Zimbabwean government expected to receive some 2,400 returnees who had opted to return home following the attacks, but added the actual numbers returning could be higher.

“We are getting constant updates from our embassy in South Africa. There could be Zimbabweans who might have decided not to approach us for help for various reasons, so it is difficult to know how many are coming back exactly,” he said.

The first batch of 433 returnees arrived last week in government-provided buses at Beitbridge border post from a Durban transit camp where they were being housed following the attacks. According to Masoka, the taskforce is determining their needs, qualifications and destinations so they can be referred to provincial and district welfare officers for help with reintegration. The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) are providing returnees with food and other essentials, while specialists are offering counselling and medical attention.

Masoka declined to say whether the government had set aside a budget for the returnees.

Jairos Mangwanya, 36, is under no illusions that life back at home will be easy. He was among the first batch of returnees last week, but decided to hitchhike to Harare, the capital, after becoming impatient with delays getting on a government bus. He left his pregnant wife and two other children to follow on the government-provided transport and went ahead to organize them some temporary accommodation.

Mangwanya had worked in Durban as a teacher for the past eight years. He fled with his family when Zimbabweans at a neighbouring house were attacked and their belongings looted.

“We didn’t have the time to pack our belongings because the attackers were coming to our house. We only took some blankets and clothes and fled to the police station. We left our passports, educational certificates, money and other vital belongings behind,” Mangwanya told IRIN.

“That means we have virtually nowhere to start from. I can’t look for another job without my certificates and I know it will be a long time before the examinations authorities and birth registration officials here can replace my documents.”

Finding a place for him and his family to stay in Harare will be tough. Space at his two brothers’ homes is already limited.

“My brothers say my wife and the two children will go to one of the houses and I to the other. That must be for a short period, though, because they also have large families and dependants from the extended family,” said Mangwanya.

The other option is to take the family to their rural home in Mount Darwin, some 200km away from Harare. But going there will greatly reduce his chances of being able to provide for his family or of his two children being able to attend school.

Mangwanya left South Africa before receiving his April salary and is likely to forfeit his pension and other employment benefits.

Trynos Musumba, 41, who was travelling from Beitbridge with Mangwanda, had been working as a plumber in Durban and remitting part of his earnings to his 70-year old mother and unemployed sisters in Zimbabwe. He left his South African wife and four-year-old child behind in Durban.

“With my return, it means no-one will be able to fend for my family here. My wife is not employed and she will find life tough. I might have to look at ways of going back to a safe city in South Africa and looking for another job,” he told IRIN.

His mother, who is diabetic, and the rest of the family live in rural Mhondoro, some 50km west of Harare. The area is one of many in the country to have suffered crop failure this year following poor rains.

“This is a very bad situation being made worse for the migrants,” said John Robertson, an independent economic analyst. “They fled Zimbabwe to look for better opportunities and are returning home to the very economic crisis they tried to run away from. The situation could actually be worse than when these people went away.”

He added that unofficial unemployment figures in Zimbabwe are close to 80 percent, despite official figures putting it at 11 percent.

Japhet Moyo, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary general, told IRIN: “Most of the companies have closed down and the few that remain are struggling. Worse still, government cannot absorb [those being retrenched] because it doesn’t have the money to employ more people.”

Robertson said it was unlikely that the social welfare department would help the returnees in any meaningful way. “Our government has never had an unemployment benefit scheme or social security policy and is too broke to fund any intervention to help the returning Zimbabweans re-integrate. It will thus leave everything to the extended family, hoping that relatives will cushion the returnees,” said Robertson.

Musumba said that on the bus he took home with other returnees “many said they will never return to South Africa to look for jobs, but I know as soon as there is peace, they will go back because the situation in our country is so bad.”

Gabriel Shumba, a South Africa-based human rights lawyer who heads the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF), said some 2,000 Zimbabweans remained in camps near Durban. Although churches, NGOs and the South African government are providing some aid, many were still in need of food, clothing, counselling and medical attention.

“The situation remains precarious. There is need for the humanitarian community to scale up support for the people in camps,” he told IRIN.

Shumba said his organisation was working to provide legal assistance to those who had been attacked or their property looted in an effort to ensure perpetrators could be arrested and brought to justice. South African authorities have a poor record of prosecuting perpetrators of past attacks.

He added that he did not believe repatriating victims to Zimbabwe was the answer, arguing that it “would embolden the attackers and encourage more attacks”.

African nations to blame for influx: Zuma

iol news pic Zuma Freedom DayDoC President Jacob Zuma during 2015 Freedom Day celebrations at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Pic: Siyabulela Duda/DoC

Pretoria – Other African nations were responsible for the influx of foreign nationals to South Africa and their criticism of the government over the recent wave of deadly xenophobic unrest was misplaced, President Jacob Zuma said on Monday.

“Our brother countries contribute to this. Why are their citizens not in their countries? It is not useful to criticise South Africa as if we mushroom these foreign nationals and then ill-treat them. Some (immigrants) said if you raise your voice in country X you disappear,” Zuma told a Freedom Day rally at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

“Everybody criticises South Africa as if we have manufactured the problem. Even if people who are xenophobic are a minority, but what prompts these refugees to be in South Africa? It’s a matter we cannot shy away from discussing.”

His remarks follow Nigeria’s decision to recall its top diplomats from South Africa.

Zuma reiterated his condemnation of the attacks that has claimed at least seven lives and said the hardship many South Africans endure was no excuse for turning on fellow Africans. He added government had noted locals’ complaints about their living conditions, including unhappiness with the rising number of immigrants in South Africa.

“We have noted the complaints raised by South Africans and these will be attended to. These complaints include that the number of illegal and undocumented migrants is increasing.”

He said locals complained that immigrants were taking their jobs as some employers now prefer foreigners whom they pay lower wages.

“They are also complaints that foreign nationals benefit from free government services and that they run businesses illegally. There is also an accusation that undocumented foreign nationals commit crime in the country,” said Zuma to applause from his audience.

“None of these justify attacks on foreign nationals and the looting of their shops. We condemn the violence strongly. It is important to emphasise that not all foreign nationals are in the country illegally.”

Zuma noted that reports that Emmanuel Sithole, the Mozambican national who was brutally beaten and stabbed to death in Alexandra, had entered the country illegally. However, he said many immigrants legally entered South Africa and were significantly contributing to the vast economy.

“It is also not true that all foreign nationals are involved in criminal activities. There are some who are involved, but not all of them.”

He said an inter-ministerial committee was examining all the complaints raised during the xenophobic attacks and also to ensure that immigrants observe their host naton’s laws.

“Government has already announced measures to improve security at the border posts including deploying the army in seven provinces recently to patrol border posts. We cannot leave our borders open and hope that either angels and ancestors are guarding our borders. They will never.”

He said soldiers would be deployed as immigration officers to improve the home affairs department’s capacity to man the ports of entry.

Zuma said South Africa was preparing a formal report for the Southern Africa Development Community, the African Union and the United Nations on the migration trends into South Africa and the resultant effects.

He added that representatives of immigrant communities had recently told officials of the deprivation which prompted them to come to South Africa.

“Some of them warned us that there is, with almost certainty, another wave of refugees coming, given the developments in their own countries. They answered the question why they jumped all the countries to come to South Africa.

“They take the trouble to jump all the countries and come to South Africa. They explained why. That will be contained in my report,” said Zuma.

When the crowd called for the president to divulge the stated reason, he responded: “I don’t think we need to appear as being critical to other governments. They all said wherever they are, they know South Africa is a safer country.”

He said the AU must discuss the influx of immigrants into South Africa because fellow African states were contributing to the problem, and all countries had a responsibility to handle their own citizens “with care”.

“We are very happy because we hear there are some murmurs that this matter must be discussed in the AU. We are happy to be given an opportunity to deal with the matter in South Africa and other countries that leads to this situation,” said Zuma.

He said there is a lot of anger in South Africa coupled with a propensity to use violence.

“This results from years of apartheid dehumanisation. We need to do more to promote healing and tolerance amongst all our people. Linked to this is the need to continue efforts to fight racism which continues to be a challenge in our country.”

A diplomatic row is deepening between Nigeria and South Africa after the former recalled it’s acting high commissioner from Pretoria.

At least seven people were killed in xenophobic attacks experienced in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. Hundreds of Africans have been repatriated to their countries while thousands more are believed to be returning independently to neighbouring countries.

Zuma hosted a five-hour meeting with representatives of immigrant organisations at his Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria on Friday.


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De Lille throws her weight behind Mmusi

Copy of cz Patricia de Lille_1338INDEPENDENT MEDIA Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille is the new leader of the Democratic Alliance in the Western Cape. Photo: Jason Boud

Cape Town – Western Cape Democratic Alliance leader and Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille on Monday formally endorsed Mmusi Maimane’s candidacy for the party’s national leadership.

In an open letter to all DA members, De Lille said she believed Maimane had the right qualities to lead the party and his relatively short time in formal politics did not detract from this.

The country was in crisis and it was the DA’s responsibility to show it in a different direction, she added.

“I believe that Mmusi Maimane is the person to lead our party and create a political home for all South Africans in search of this direction. I have had the benefit of discussing our future with Mmusi personally and I believe in his vision for the DA and for the country.

“Like Mmusi, I am a relatively recent member of the DA. Like him, I do not believe that you have to have time served to demonstrate leadership or embrace an ideal. You have to have the right abilities and the right principles required for the task at hand. At this historic moment, Mmusi has these in abundance.”

The DA will elect its new leader at its federal congress in Port Elizabeth on May 9 and 10 after Helen Zille announced earlier this month that she would not be seeking another term.

Maimane’s main contender for the job is academic turned politician Wilmot James.


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