Kenya – Kenyatta orders seizure of illegally acquired land in Lamu

BBC

Kenya’s leader Kenyatta orders Lamu land repossession

Villagers in Lamu County, Kenya - July 2014A huge construction project connecting Lamu to South Sudan may also be prompting a scramble for land in Lamu

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered the repossession of 70% of the land in Lamu, where there has been deadly violence since June.

He said an audit in Lamu County showed that 22 developers had irregularly acquired about 500,000 acres (202,342 hectares) of public land.

Tension in the area has been attributed to anger over people from other parts of Kenya acquiring land on the coast.

More than 100 people have been killed along the coast in raids by gunmen.

Somalia’s al-Qaeda-aligned al-Shabab Islamist group has said it is behind some of the attacks, but the authorities suspect home-grown militants and local political networks of being involved.

Villagers protest at rising insecurity in Mpeketoni. 17 June 2014Villagers near Mpeketoni set up barricades in protest at the violence that began in June
A beach in Lamu, Kenya, July 2013Lamu island’s tourist trade has been badly affected by the recent violence

The majority of inhabitants along the coast are Muslims, who say they face discrimination and accuse various governments over the years of helping people from other parts of Kenya to get rich by giving them land in the area.

Two years ago, a huge construction project began to develop a port at Lamu and an oil pipeline, railway and motorway to link it to South Sudan and Ethiopia – which may also be a factor in the scramble for land in the area.

“Start Quote

This unmitigated scramble for land in Lamu poses great danger to the socio-economic and political stability and growth of the area”

End Quote Charity Ngilu Land minister

‘Dubious and suspicious’

Several people have been arrested in connection with the recent violence, which has included raids on towns and villages.

The trouble first began on 15 June when hotels, restaurants and the police station in Mpeketoni – a town on the mainland near the tourist resort of Lamu island – was attacked.

The BBC’s Paul Nabiswa in the capital, Nairobi, says Mr Kenyatta’s statement came after he met local leaders from Lamu to discuss ways of addressing the security problems which have devastated tourism in the area.

The president said the audit, looking at land ownership between 2011 and 2012, revealed some “shocking details”.

Approximately 70% of the land had been acquired through “dubious and suspicious corrupt circumstances”, he said.

map

In her assessment of the audit, Land Minister Charity Ngilu said: “This allocated land is four times more than the total allocated to the local communities.

“This unmitigated scramble for land in Lamu poses great danger to the socio-economic and political stability and growth of the area.”

President Kenyatta said the land ministry and land commission should begin the immediate repossession of the land and ordered a police investigation into the affair.

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Ugandan court annuls anti-gay laws on technical grounds

BBC

Uganda court annuls anti-homosexuality law

A Ugandan man who was seeking asylum in the US in 2010 because of Uganda's stance towards homosexualitySome gay Ugandans have fled the country, saying they are being persecuted

Uganda’s Constitutional Court has annulled tough anti-gay legislation signed into law in February.

It ruled that the bill was passed by MPs in December without the requisite quorum and was therefore illegal.

Homosexual acts were already illegal, but the new law allowed for life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality” and banned the “promotion of homosexuality”.

Several donors have cut aid to Uganda since the law was adopted.

‘Null and void’

The retrogressive anti-homosexuality act of Uganda has been struck down… it’s now dead as a door nail” Andrew Mwenda Journalist and one of the challengers

Uganda is a deeply conservative society where many people oppose gay rights and the sentence for homosexual acts has always been life imprisonment.

Earlier drafts of the anti-homosexuality act made it a crime not to report gay people – which would have made it impossible to live as openly gay – but this clause was removed.

However the legislation that was passed in parliament was “null and void”, the presiding judge at the Constitutional Court said, as not enough lawmakers had been present to vote on the bill.

The law, which was signed by President Yoweri Museveni in February, toughened up existing laws.

Lesbians were covered for the first time and those found living in a same-sex marriage could have been sentenced to life imprisonment.

The challenge to the law was brought by 10 petitioners, including academics, journalists, both ruling and opposition MPs, human rights activists and rights groups.

“The retrogressive anti-homosexuality act of Uganda has been struck down by the constitutional court – it’s now dead as a door nail,” the AFP news agency quotes prominent journalist Andrew Mwenda, one of the petitioners, as saying.

Ugandan human rights activists stand at the Constitutional Court in Kampala , Uganda - 30 July 2014The court has been packed this week for the hearings about the anti-gay legislation

Kosiya Kasibayo, a lawyer for the state, said a decision had not been made on whether to appeal against the ruling in the Supreme Court, the Associate Press news agency reports.

The BBC’s Catherine Byaruhanga in the capital, Kampala, says supporters of the anti-gay laws have been angered by the ruling of the five judges.

They wonder whether their decision has anything to do with the president’s visit to Washington next week for the US-Africa Summit, she says.

In June, the US imposed sanctions on the East African nation, including travel restrictions on Ugandan officials involved in serious human rights abuses.

The White House also cut funds to a number of programmes it is running with the Ugandan authorities.

Several European nations – including Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden – had earlier cut aid.

But the Ugandan authorities have defended the law in the past, saying President Museveni wanted “to demonstrate Uganda’s independence in the face of Western pressure and provocation”.

Pastor Martin Ssempa, a vocal backer of the anti-homosexuality legislation, told the BBC his supporters would be asking parliament to investigate the impartiality of the judiciary.

line

Uganda’s anti-homosexuality act:

  • Life imprisonment for gay sex, including oral sex
  • Life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality”, including sex with a minor or while HIV-positive
  • Life imprisonment for living in a same-sex marriage
  • Seven years for “attempting to commit homosexuality”
  • Between five and seven years in jail or a $40,700 (£24,500) fine or both for the promotion of homosexuality
  • Businesses or non-governmental organisations found guilty of the promotion of homosexuality would have their certificates of registration cancelled and directors could face seven years in jail.

BBC

Ghana bans West African flights because of ebola

cajnews/allAfrica

By Masahudu Kunateh

The deadliest Ebola outbreak recorded in history is happening right now. The deadly virus has killed more than 600 people in West Africa so far. The … ( Resource: Widow of Ebola Victim Speaks Out

Accra — GHANA has banned flights from other West African countries following the outbreak of Ebola virus.

The Managing Director of the Ghana Airport Company, Charles Asare, said this was part of elaborate emergency measures the authorities are implementing to contain the virus.

In addition to this, restrictions have been imposed on the movement of Liberian refugees still at the Buduburam Refugee Camp.

There is an outbreak of the Ebola disease in the West African sub-region which has already claimed over 600 lives.

Affected countries include Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

Ghana’s Health Ministry has announced that efforts are underway to establish Ebola treatment centres across the country.

The centres are to be located in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale to cater for the southern, middle and the northern zones of Ghana.

Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah, admonished Ghanaians to be patient because the government is doing its possible best to protect Ghanaians.

“It is worth bearing in mind that preparedness is not an event but a process,” he said.

Even though a suspected fever case which was reported at a clinic in Ghana was negative, Ghanaians have expressed fear about the possible spread of the disease in the country due to closeness to the four countries where deaths have been recorded.

Governments in the sub-region are putting in place stringent measures to prevent the further spread of the disease.

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This has generated concern over the readiness of local agencies and the government to contain the disease if a case is recorded in Ghana.

The sector Minister further noted that there was ongoing public education in which posters and brochures have been printed and distributed.

Frontline staff at health facilities and those manning the various border posts into the country have all been sensitized to identify any suspected case.

According to him, the disease surveillance system in Ghana has been placed on “high alert through intensification of viral hemorrhagic fever surveillance, the field officers are on the alert to pick, package and transport specimens to the lab for confirmation.”

The respective health officers at Ghana’s ports have been given orientation in the detection of cases at points of entry.

“We have activated a system for screening all passengers especially from countries that have recorded cases,” Agyeman-Mensah indicated.

He said government is in the process of procuring and prepositioning personal protective equipment and is awaiting more supplies.

All health facilities across Ghana have been directed to set aside holding rooms or isolation facilities as well.

The Health Minister gave the surety his outfit is keenly monitoring the progression of the Ebola disease in West African nations.

“The epidemic is far from slowing down and we must as a nation do all we can to keep it at bay.” allAfrica

Botswana – four San hunters cleared of poaching after court battle

Survival International

Bushmen “poachers” cleared after two-year court battle 1 August 2014

Four Bushmen stand outside court after being cleared from poaching charges.

Four Bushmen stand outside court after being cleared from poaching charges.
© Survival

Four Bushmen accused of poaching on their ancestral land have escaped up to five years in jail after a Botswana court threw out their case last week.

The Bushmen were allegedly spotted on a hunting trip by Botswana’s President Khama as his plane flew over the Bushmen’s land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in April 2012.

The men – Mongwegi Gaoberekwe, Mohame Belesa, Thoama Tsenene and Dipuisano Mongwegi – were intercepted by the police; their spears, bows and arrows, and domestic animals were confiscated.

The men told police they were hunting to feed their families, and did not know it was wrong to hunt eland on their native soil.

In 2006, following violent evictions from their land, the Bushmen’s right to live and hunt in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve was recognized by Botswana’s High Court.

Despite the Court’s order, no hunting licenses have been granted since the ruling.

The Bushmen are widely recognized as inherent conservationists and have practiced sustainable hunting in the reserve for centuries.

In January 2014, President Khama imposed a nationwide hunting ban that could destroy the last hunting Bushmen in Southern Africa. The ban exempts private game ranches, where wealthy trophy hunters can pay up to $8,000 to hunt protected species, such as giraffes.

Scores of Bushman hunters have been arrested and violently intimidated by wildlife officers and police, and the government has now employed a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy against anyone suspected of ‘poaching’.

The Bushmen’s lawyer, Monamo Aobakwe, told Survival today, ‘The men are all overjoyed at the ruling. Thanks to Survival International for continuing to support the Bushmen to ensure they are properly represented and have freedom to justice. It really makes a big difference.’

West Africa ebola plan

WHO

WHO anthropologist Sylvain Landry Faye talking to a resident of Kolobengu village.

WHO Director-General, west African presidents to launch intensified Ebola outbreak response plan

News release

The Director-General of WHO and presidents of west African nations impacted by the Ebola virus disease outbreak will meet Friday in Guinea to launch a new joint US$ 100 million response plan as part of an intensified international, regional and national campaign to bring the outbreak under control.

“The scale of the Ebola outbreak, and the persistent threat it poses, requires WHO and Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to take the response to a new level, and this will require increased resources, in-country medical expertise, regional preparedness and coordination,” says Dr Chan. “The countries have identified what they need, and WHO is reaching out to the international community to drive the response plan forward.”

The Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak Response Plan in West Africa identifies the need for several hundred more personnel to be deployed in affected countries to supplement overstretched treatment facilities. Hundreds of international aid workers, as well as 120-plus WHO staff, are already supporting national and regional response efforts. But more are urgently required. Of greatest need are clinical doctors and nurses, epidemiologists, social mobilization experts, logisticians and data managers. The plan also outlines the need to increase preparedness systems in neighbouring nations and strengthen global capacities.

Key elements of the new plan, which draws on lessons learnt from other outbreaks, include strategies to:

  • stop transmission of Ebola virus disease in the affected countries through scaling up effective, evidence-based outbreak control measures; and
  • prevent the spread of Ebola virus disease to the neighbouring at-risk countries through strengthening epidemic preparedness and response measures.

WHO and affected and neighbouring countries will renew efforts to mobilize communities and strengthen communication so that people know how to avoid infection and what to do if they fear they may have come into contact with the virus.

Improving prevention, detecting and reporting suspected cases, referring people infected with the disease for medical care, as well as psychosocial support, are key. The plan also emphasizes the importance of surveillance, particularly in border areas, of risk assessments and of laboratory-based diagnostic testing of suspected cases. Also highlighted is the need to improve ways to protect health workers, a scarce resource in all three countries, from infection.

Finally, reinforcing coordination of the overall health response is critical. In particular, this includes strengthening capacities of the WHO-run Sub-regional Outbreak Coordination Centre, which was opened this month in Conakry, Guinea, to consolidate and streamline support to West African countries by all major partners and assist in resource mobilization.

The scale of the ongoing outbreak is unprecedented, with approximately 1323 confirmed and suspected cases reported, and 729 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since March 2014.   WHO

South Africa – Zuma continues to undermine NPA

Mail and Guardian

National director of public prosecutions Mxolisi Nxasana has been asked to give reasons against his suspension. He is deemed to be “too independent”.

Mxolisi Nxasana is expected to return to work on Monday. (Paul Botes, M&G)

A letter from President Jacob Zuma was sent to the national director of public prosecutions Mxolisi Nxasana on Wednesday this week, asking him to provide reasons why he should not be suspended.

Nxasana was required to respond by 4pm today, but he has asked for an extension as he has a family funeral to attend this weekend, a reliable source told the Mail & Guardian.

With the recent death of his brother-in-law, it had fallen on Nxasana to take care of his funeral arrangements. It was as a result of this family crisis that he had taken leave from work, said the source.

Because of this death in the family, Nxasana had been unable to respond to the letter in the short time afforded him, the M&G was informed, and he is expected to reply to Zuma next week.

See also: National Prosecuting Authority charges Lawrence Mrebi

It is also expected that Nxasana, who intends to fight his suspension and firing from office, will return to work on Monday.

Zuma announced the commission of inquiry into the fitness of Nxasana to hold office in July.

Recharging Richard Mdluli
Nxasana’s backers in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) believe that previous attempts by former Justice Minister Jeff Radebe to persuade him to step down were related to moves by the prosecuting body to recharge suspended crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli with fraud and corruption.

“He has just shown himself to be too independent, which is why they want to get rid of him,” said an NPA legal figure.

In a shock move, Radebe informed Nxasana at the end of May that he had failed his security clearance on two main counts.

The first was for a murder charge he faced in court when he was 18, which he said he had not declared because he was acquitted on the grounds that he had acted in self-defence.

The second claim against him was his arrest by two police reservists, who he claimed pulled him off the road and swore at him. Nxasana told the M&G the court had refused to place it on the roll because there was no docket.

At the time, Nxasana told the M&G he was on record as having laid charges of abuse against the police reservists.

The Presidency has not yet provided Nxasana with any details of the inquiry, including when it will start. “It is almost like they seem frozen, trying to work out what they will throw at him,” said a source close to Nxasana.

Today Zuma’s spokesperson Mac Maharaj put out a statement, saying that the details of the inquiry into his fitness to hold office were “being finalised”. Nxasana would be informed in due course, he said.

Suspending with full pay
“The Presidency is considering suspending him with full pay, in terms of section 12 (6) (a) of the National Prosecuting Act, pending the inquiry,” said Maharaj.

While not outlining what correspondence Zuma had sent to Nxasana, Maharaj said the President had afforded the National Director of Public Prosecutions an opportunity for written representations.

It is not expected that Nxasana will go quietly. The M&G was informed by the source close to Nxasana that while the government had probably hoped he would step down, Nxasana is not going to leave the NPA without a fight.

Legal figures within the NPA say it should be remembered that Nxasana did not even apply for the job of the head of the NPA, and the government should have done their checks on him before offering him a job.

Instead he was picked for the role, and Nxasana was in the middle of a court case when he got the call to tell him he had the high-profile job.

And when Zuma announced his appointment last year, he sang his praises. “Mr Nxasana currently practises as an attorney with a wealth of experience in criminal litigation, coupled with his having occupied senior positions in the legal profession including the chairpersonship of the KwaZulu-Natal Law Society,” the President said in a statement.


Famine history repeating itself in South Sudan

The News

Friday, August 01, 2014

NAIROBI: A fly-covered baby crawls on the baked earth of southern Sudan watched by a vulture: a brutal but iconic photograph of famine that shocked the world two decades ago.

 

Today, aid workers warn that deadly famine will return in a matter of weeks, killing tens of thousands, as civil war in what is now South Sudan continues.

 

The crisis is man-made and for those who witnessed the fighting in the 1990s, it is a depressing repetition of the past, featuring the very same leaders. “The same politicians and their supporters are fighting for power, and once again civilians are paying the price,” said Peter Moszynski, an aid worker during the famine of the 1990s who has returned to work there once again.

 

The current civil war broke out in mid-December after sacked vice-president Riek Machar was accused by President Salva Kiir of a failed coup attempt.

 

Thousands have been killed and over 1.5 million people have fled more than seven months of fighting between government troops, mutinous soldiers and ragtag militia forces divided by tribe.

 

Civilians have been massacred, patients murdered in hospitals and churches, and entire towns including key oil-producing hubs have changed hands several times.

 

It is a grim repeat of war two decades ago — before South Sudan split from the north — when rebels battling the Islamist government in Khartoum also split along ethnic lines to fight among themselves.

 

“There are horrible similarities with then and now, and it is clear there is a famine looming,” Moszynski said, speaking from oil-rich Unity state, one of the hardest-hit areas.

 

Nearly four million people or a third of the country face “dangerous levels” of hunger, with 50,000 children facing death from malnutrition, the UN has said, calling the hunger crisis “the worst in the world”.

 

Machar led a 1991 coup against rebel commanders, a war within a war that lasted over a decade, before striking a deal that would see him become vice-president of the world´s youngest nation at independence in 2011.

 

Exactly how renewed fighting began this time is disputed. Machar denies that he attempted a coup and claims Kiir tried to purge opponents.

 

“The result has been the same type of ethnic conflict which came about in 1991 only worse, and the development of the new nation has been set back by years,” said John Ashworth, who has worked with churches in South Sudan for three decades.

 

Communities have split between Kiir´s powerful Dinka, the largest tribe, and Machar´s Nuer, the second largest.

 

The UN has been unusually blunt as to who is to blame. Aid chief John Ging has called the “man made” crisis the result of “a political disagreement between two powerful individuals.

 

“Many aid workers fear famine zones could be declared as soon as late August, with parts of Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile states at highest risk.

 

Famine implies acute malnutrition in over 30 percent of people, and at least two deaths per 10,000 people every day.

 

Skeletal children are already being seen.

 

“It is so depressing,” said Vincent Hoedt, who worked for Doctors Without Borders (MSF) during the late 1990s drilling water pumps, and this month returned from the war-ravaged town of Bentiu, where 40,000 civilians shelter behind the razor wire fences of a UN peacekeeping base.

 

“The sad cycle of seemingly endless war continues, even if that has been broken by moments of quiet and of happiness,” he said. Even in areas where there is peace, he added, mud tracks are swamped by torrential rains.

 

Slow-moving peace talks were due to restart on Wednesday in luxury hotels in Ethiopia, but previous ceasefire deals have repeatedly collapsed.

 

Moszynski recalled how he´d hear at night the howls of hyenas, who would grab babies from mothers too weak to fend them off.

 

Today he is “kept awake by gunshots”.

 

The UN is again flying in food and aid at enormous cost. The International Committee of the Red Cross is air-dropping food for the first time since the war in Afghanistan in 1997.

 

Tens of thousands are reported to have died in the Sudanese crisis of 1993 — which came just five years after a famine in which some 250,000 died — mainly in regions straddling tribal boundaries between Nuer and Dinka.

 

Famine was again declared in 1998, when some 70,000 people died.

 

The traumatic photograph of baby and vulture — which won South African photographer Kevin Carter a Pulitzer Prize, reportedly a factor in his suicide soon after — was taken in 1994 in the village of Ayod in Jonglei.

 

Much has changed in South Sudan: most importantly, the rebels are now battling their own government in Juba.

 

But old reports seem fresh today.

 

In a prescient warning, Human Rights Watch in 1993 called on both sides to “correct their own abuses or risk a continuation of the war on tribal or political grounds in the future.”

 

Then as now, both sides were accused of war crimes, including massacres, torture, rape, targeting civilian populations and recruiting child soldiers.

 

Today, teacher turned refugee James Tut, who fled to Kenya in January, has little hope.

 

“This is not a case of those who don´t remember history are condemned to repeat it,” Tut said. “The problem here is that our leaders simply don´t care.”

 the news