Kenya – spy row at Ruto and Sang ICC trial

The Hague Trials Kenya/allAfrica

Kenya: ICC – Lawyer of Ruto Witness Shocked By Deportation of ‘Spy’

The lawyer of the last known prosecution witness in the ICC case against Ruto and Sang is shocked by the deportation of a Kenyan “spy” from Dutch soil.

“This is shocking. It raises more concerns about the Kenyan cases. All kinds of things are happening in Kenya, and now they are happening in the Netherlands as well,” says Goran Sluiter, lawyer of Witness 727.

False papers

The Dutch embassy in Nairobi confirms that a Kenyan government official was arrested at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport last week. “The man was carrying false papers,” says the first secretary at the Dutch Embassy, Stijn Janssen. He did not enter the Netherlands but was imprisoned, released and sent back to Nairobi. The Kenyan embassy in The Hague refused to comment on the issue.

According to the Daily Nation, the NIS officer in question tried to meet an ICC witness in the Netherlands last week. The ICC security team and Dutch security agents had been closely monitoring the witness and the officer.

Although Dutch lawyer Goran Sluiter says he can’t confirm that the spy tried to contact his client, Witness 727 is probably the last Kenyan ICC prosecution witness who is set to testify. 727 is hiding in the Netherlands. He is refusing to testify following serious intimidation.

Risk of death

According to Sluiter, ICC suspects should be held in detention to prevent witness intimidation. “Suspects of serious crimes are being treated so well, they are not even imprisoned. There is a huge risk of them fleeing. Also there’s a risk of influencing, intimidating and even killing witnesses.”

“It’s clear that ICC has fully underestimated these cases,” Sluiter says. “If the Kenyan trails would have been calm and quiet, it might have been the right treatment. But now the ICC is ruled by fear of Kenya and the African Union. They should step up action against suspects.”

Scared

His sentiments are echoed by Miaina Kiai, the former chairman of Kenya’s National Human Rights Commission during the 2007/8 post-election violence. “It’s not surprising that witnesses have said we don’t want to do this”, Kiai said in an interview with The Hague Trials Kenya.

Many (possible) witnesses are said to have been intimidated in the ICC Kenyan trials against Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang. The case against President Uhuru Kenyatta was dropped by the ICC prosecutor because of a lack of evidence.

South Africa – ombudsman looks at issue of images of xenophobic violence

Mail and Guardian

If publishing a shocking image can do something to cut through the smugness, then it is worth some offence and discomfort.

We are forced to be passive observers of a man's most private and desperate moments as he fights for life. (Paul Botes, M&G)

We have been here before. In 2008, during a previous round of xenophobic violence, images of a man burning to death shocked the country.

The Mozambican had been attacked and set alight in Johannesburg’s Alexandra, not far from a group of police officers and journalists. Police tried to put out the fire and save him but he died.

Pictures of his last moments, sitting on the ground in his own funeral pyre, appeared on many front pages.

It didn’t end there. At first, he was nameless, just a symbol of violence. But in follow-up reports, journalists identified him as Ernesto Alfabeto Nhamuave and told his story, including the return of his body to Mozambique and his burial.

Last Saturday another Mozambican was attacked in Alex. Images of Emmanuel Sithole’s murder ran on the front page of the Sunday Times the next day. The only difference was that this was a stabbing.

Images of such violence are clearly shocking, and editors need to think carefully about publishing them, as well as about where they are placed.

There is a big difference between the front page and pages inside the paper. On the front page, the violence is forced on anybody who simply notices the newspaper in a shop, including children. Placed inside, pictures are only accessible to those actively reading the newspaper.

It is worth trying to understand the different reactions such images draw. The violence is horrifying to see, and the fact that it is real puts it in a completely different category to the fictional violence we are accustomed to seeing on television and in films.

There is something profoundly disturbing about witnessing somebody being killed. We are forced to be passive observers of a man’s most private and desperate moments as he fights for life.

Some people react with a ghoulish fascination, the kind of curiosity that makes people stare at accident scenes. Others dislike being forced into a kind of voyeurism. The violence is unpleasant and it is tough to be dragged into the situation without being able to intervene. Many of us may have some mix of these feelings.

There is always another, much smaller audience that must be borne in mind: friends and family of the victim. For them, the horror is of a completely different order. Imagine your father, sister or child dying publicly on the front page of the newspapers.

And, to add another layer of complexity, there is the issue of race. Many have pointed out that black people are more easily shown in these kinds of images. It’s additional reason for editors to think carefully before using the images.

A decision to publish carries the risk that the newspaper will be criticised on a number of grounds, including being insensitive to the broader audience and the relatives of the victim, appealing to the audience’s base instincts to boost circulation, and for feeding a particular set of stereotypes.

But pictures can play a role in bringing home an important reality and, if the story is significant, this can outweigh the offence caused.

There’s no question that the outbreak of xenophobic violence is a story of the utmost importance, because it hurts the country in many different ways.

As South Africans, we need to own the ugly truth of it. People living in wealthy suburbs can’t brush away the violence and believe that it belongs elsewhere. It is too easy to take refuge behind the gulf that cuts through our society; to absolve ourselves simply because we didn’t wield the knife that killed Sithole.

The briefest moment of introspection must reveal that poverty and inequality are at least factors in this kind of violence. Xenophobia is our shared story. If publishing a shocking image can do something to cut through the smugness, then it is worth some offence and discomfort.

At a more practical level, the reportage seems to have had some real consequences. It has made Sithole’s name and story a matter of public concern and may have helped to secure the arrest of four men in connection with the killing.

It may well have nudged the authorities into strengthen their response to the events. This has been slow – and marred by attempts to find scapegoats, including foreigners themselves and, as usual, the media – but at least the response has been scaled up.

Apart from issues regarding the use of the pictures of Sithole, the reporters involved have been criticised for not making a greater intervention. James Oatway and Beauregard Tromp have described in interviews an attack that was brief – less than two minutes – ferocious and could easily have turned against them. They encouraged Sithole to flee and took him to hospital in a vain attempt to save him.

Other players might have been able to do something to alter the course of events, including witnesses and the medical staff, whose response seems to have been inadequate.

We should be careful not to judge the reporters too quickly. Who knows with certainty how we would have acted in such a crisis. The real test is what we do next, as a country, to deal with xenophobia, and the factors that fuel it.

The Mail & Guardian‘s ombud provides an independent view of the paper’s journalism. If you have any complaints you would like addressed, email ombud@mg.co.za . You can also phone the paper on 011 250 7300011 250 7300 and leave a message


Somalia – government wants to drive Al Shabab from southern valley strongold

Reuters

World Thu Apr 23, 2015 5:07pm BST

Somalia seeks to drive militants from southern valley bases – PM

(Reuters) – Somali and African forces aim to drive al Shabaab Islamist militants out of one of the last major tracts of territory in southern Somalia that the group still holds and which it uses to launch attacks, the Somali prime minister said on Thursday.

Omar Sharmarke also told Reuters he was pressing Kenya to reopen Somali money transfer firms that are a lifeline to many in Somalia but whose licences Nairobi suspended after al Shabaab raided a north Kenyan university this month killing 148 people.

Al Shabaab has been driven out of major towns and coastal strongholds since an African Union peacekeeping force and the Somali national army launched an offensive last year.

But the group, which wants to topple Somalia’s Western-backed government, still holds rural areas, such as the Juba valley corridor that leads to the strategic southern port of Kismayu, where a Kenyan contingent of AU troops is based.

“There is a corridor they use as a launching pad,” Sharmarke said in an interview. “There are efforts to close down this corridor which they have been using for the last few years.”

He did not give a timeline for any new operation.

To keep militants out of Kenya, Somalia’s southern neighbour is improving border security, including building new observation posts and barriers, often referred to as a “wall”. Sharmarke said rooting out the militants was a better tactic.

“We have to close the vacuums they use as a launching pads rather than put a wall between families and communities,” Sharmarke said in Nairobi after talks with Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed.

The Somali prime minister also said Kenya was working on new regulations so Somali money transfer firms, known as “hawalas”, could be reopened, adding Kenya’s central bank was leading the process. He said temporary measures were being considered while permanent rules were being drawn up, but did not indicate when the transfer firms would be permitted to reopen.

“Millions depend on hawalas and there are now efforts to see whether, in the interim, these hawalas could be opened.”

Kenya’s central bank had no comment on the remarks but referred to an earlier statement that noted concerns about informal remittance firms and “the global challenges of money laundering and terrorism financing.”

Many of the remittance firms have also been shut down in the United States and other Western nations because of rules aimed at preventing cash reaching al Shabaab.

Sharmarke said he planned to visit Washington in the next few weeks to discuss the issue, while his government planned to push through new Somali anti-money laundering legislation.

Kenya has also announced a three month timetable to close Dadaab, a camp where some 335,000 Somali refugees are housed.

Sharmarke said any action to repatriate the refugees should be done responsibly and only when it was safe. A botched repatriation would help the militants by alienating people, he said.

“We cannot play into the hands of al Shabaab and other terrorists out there. We should not create political discontent out of this repatriation,” he said.

(Editing by Peter Graff)

South Africa – tens ofvthousands march against xenophobia

Mail and Guardian

Thousands of South Africans turned out for the march against xenophobia in Johannesburg on Thursday.

Not in our name: Participants at the march in xenophobia in Johannesburg on Thursday. (Delwyn Varasamy, M&G)

A question: “Who is leading this march?”

“No one,” answers the unionist.

Of course it isn’t true; a wide spectrum of activists, unionists, academics and more have come together to march against xenophobia in Johannesburg on Thursday.

But the answer is instructive: indeed, no one is the clear leader, because the march is led by all its thousands of participants, and not from the front.

Five kilometres of cross-class, cross-nationality, cross-race, foot stomping, through Hillbrow to Newtown, under the banner “People’s March against Xenophobia”.

There are many, many young people. There are many students, but there are many school children, too, grouped together by their school uniforms.

Sweaty construction workers, grey-faced from cement dust, appear on the balcony of a ruined building. One leg on the balcony, one fist in the air, they smile down.

Sello Lerothli from the Democratic Left Front remarks that maybe this will bring happiness to fearful foreigners, “because they can see progress”.

Here comes a cry from a few rows ahead. It echoes back, one hundred, two hundred people away. Antiphonal chanting, from over there, from over here, like a surround sound system and the only chant playing is “Sisonke!” [We are together]

Past the churches, and the healers, and the shops, thousand upon thousand marchers. Schoolgirls holding signs that say “We stand against xenophobia!”; non-governmental organisations, political parties, unions, men in business suits and men in clerical collars; and the unaffiliated but equally outraged.  

A man who says he is from Bangladesh quickly rolls down the metal shutter of his shop, “just in case”. But he needn’t worry; there will be no violence on Jeppe Street today.

All of Hillbrow peers down from the derelict buildings; hundreds of faces appear from the broken windows. They cheer the crowd on. The marchers below look up and cheer back. Together they chant, “We want peace! We want peace!” There are hundreds of hands showing two-fingered peace signs above, and thousands more peace signs below.

It’s a call-and-response ritual, and a quiet acknowledgment between the two parties that many of those on the balconies are foreigners.

“We want peace!”

It builds all through the march, the upward looking marchers and the residents above, until its climax outside the Ethiopian restaurant in Jeppe Street.

There isn’t any space left in the restaurant’s windows for the many more who want a spot to call out to the marchers below.

A number of marchers just below the window stop and the peace signs are exchanged. A roar grows louder and soon there are hundreds looking up at the sea of peace signs.

A question: “Where are you from?”

“Why do you want to know?” is the nervous, defensive answer.

“Sorry.”

There is a man in chains. Quite literally, he is dressed in chains and he walks with a fierce look of defiance. He is noticed, and the photographers draw nearer to see him. An activist, central to the march but irrelevant to this moment, jumps opportunistically in front of the cameras.

The chained man and his comrade don’t linger long. They are from the South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights. Miles Golden Bhudu, the project manager, is the chained man’s comrade.

He says, “No mercy for xenophobic criminals.”

At Mary Fitzgerald square, Zwelinzima Vavi joins many others on stage. Irvin Jim, Winnie Madikizela Mandela, religious leaders, activists. They all call for peace.

The MC cries: “Today there is no Nigerian! Today there is no South African! Today we are all African. Mr DJ, can we get something African on the ones and twos?”

Ethiopia – state organized rally against IS killings ends in chaos and violence

Addis Standard

2nd demo 3
Thousands of city dwellers descended on the streets of Addis Abeba this morning to participate in a government organized rally against the killings by militants of the Islamic State (IS) of Ethiopians and possibly Eritreans and the killings of three Ethiopians by xenophobic attacks in South Africa. But the rally was marred by chaos following chants by protestors that led to a police crackdown.

 

2nd demo 2 A picture from the MoFA also shows a peaceful side of the story
The rally was called by the government following a parliament’s decision yesterday to declare three days of national mourning that began as of today. Yesterday a voluntary rally by thousands of people that started in Cherkos neighborhood, home to two of the identified victims, was forcibly dispersed by the city and federal police forces.
At one point in today’s rally the police have started firing teargas against a group of youth who used the chance to protest against the government chanting “your time is over,” and “where is the government?”. A number of people were injured following police’s crackdown against different groups inside the demonstrators; plain-clothed security agents have also detained many at the scene. Shortly after disturbances began the Agazi special force have also come to occupy large swaths of the Meskel Square.

 

2nd demoA screenshot from activists’ Facebook sites show the other side of the demonstration
One of our reporters, Mahlet Fasil, said she also saw three security officers, one from city police and two from the federal police, taken by Ambulance after they were beaten by demonstrators. Addis Standard cannot verify if all the injured have sustained beatings from the police or were victims of minor stamped amidst the chaos. Hundreds of people were seen running to take shelters inside St. Estifanos Church, adjacent the Meskel Square.
The entire program of the rally was not clear, but police started dispersing it shortly after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s speech was over. Other speeches by religious leaders and Diriba Kuma, Mayor of the city, were booed by groups of demonstrators.

 

Meskel Square is now calm but other reports say riot police have surrounded the Addis Abeba University campus, a flash point for many demonstrations in the country that often ended up with police crackdown including killings. The police have also continued dispersing crowds from tents in Cherkos neighborhood where three more victims have been identified.

 

2nd demo 1Another screenshot from activists’ Facebook sites show the other side of the demonstration
But according to a facebook statement from the government communication affairs office, the program ended in peace although a few people who wanted to advance their political causes using the opportunity tried to disrupt it unsuccessfully. “Less than 20 people who have the intension to use the death of our citizens to advance their cheap politics have tried to spread chaos but the public have ignored them,” a statement on the Facebook of the office said.
A video showing the beheading and execution to death of more than two dozen Christian Ethiopians surfaced over the weekend on the official site of IS militants. The number of those brutally murdered was originally reported to be 28, but some latest information say it is 30 and also possibly includes Eritreans.It is also not clear when the killings happen.
The 29-minute online video purports to show militants holding two groups of captives. It says one group is held by an IS affiliate in eastern Libya known as Barka Province and the other by an affiliate in the south calling itself the Fazzan Province, according to AP.

Nigeria to summon South African ambassador over xenophobic attacks

Mail and Guardian

Nigeria says it is summoning the South African ambassador to express its concern over the attacks on fellow Africans and to protest against it.

Africans protest against the xenophobic attacks in SA. (Reuters)

Nigeria’s foreign ministry has summoned South Africa’s high commissioner over anti-immigrant violence in which at least seven people have been killed, it said in a statement on Wednesday.

South Africa deployed soldiers on Tuesday to try to quell the unrest after being criticised by governments including China and Zimbabwe for failing to protect foreigners from armed mobs.

“The essence of the summon was to register Nigeria’s protest over the on-going xenophobic attacks against fellow Africans in South Africa,” the ministry said, adding that the meeting had happened on Monday.

It also called on the South African authorities to quell the unrest and bring those involved to book.

On Tuesday, four men aged between 18 and 22 were charged with the murder and robbery of a Mozambican man, Emmanuel Sithole, whose death was captured by a newspaper photographer and plastered across the front pages, shocking the nation.

Isolated counter-protests involving a few dozen people have occurred in Nigeria, an economy in which South African firms such as mobile phone giant MTN and supermarket chain Shoprite have large stakes.

Diplomats from several African countries have urged their citizens back home not to seek vengeance.

“We are appealing to our countries not to retaliate,” Democratic Republic of the Congo ambassador Bene M’Poko told a news conference in Johannesburg, stressing that South African firms in the rest of the continent were “working peacefully”. – Reuters

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Nigeria’s Patience Jonathan to quit as African First Ladies President

Punch

Mrs. Patience Jonathan

 President Goodluck Jonathan’s loss in the March 28 presidential election has started taking its toll on his wife, Patience.

Arrangements had been concluded for her to quit her position as the President of the African Ladies Peace Mission, two months before the expiration of her tenure.

The mission comprises of wives of Presidents of all African countries.

Mrs. Jonathan was elected the mission’s President at its seventh summit held in Abuja in July 2012 and her tenure would have expired in July 2015 when a new president would have been elected.

But because she will cease to be Nigeria’s President’s wife from May 29 when her husband will hand over power to the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari , Mrs. Jonathan had summoned an emergency summit of the mission for May 15 for the purpose of electing her successor.

According to a copy of the invitation to members dated April 6 and personally signed by the President’s wife, she explained that she summoned the emergency summit to ensure that there would not be leadership vacuum in the organisation as it happened in 2010 when her predecessor left office without handing over.

She said her desire was to put in place a standard that would strengthen the organisation and ensure effective mechanism to guarantee seamless takeoff for the incoming leadership.

The invitation partly read, “…Your Excellency may recall that Nigeria was re-elected President of the AFLPM at the 7th Summit in Abuja in July 2012. With the recent election in my country and a new government coming on board from May 29, 2015, it has become necessary to convene an emergency summit of the AFLPM to facilitate a smooth and formal hand over to the new Executive Committee that will pilot the affairs of the Peace Mission for the next two years.

“The Emergency Summit is proposed for Friday, May 15, 2015 at the Interim Secretariat of the African First Ladies Peace Mission, Abuja by 2pm. The Summit will, however, be preceded by the 4th meeting of the Executive Bureau by 9am, on May 15 at the same venue. The Bureau Meeting is for members of the Executive Bureau, comprising South Africa, Sudan, Cameroon, Libya and Congo Brazzaville.

“…In the light of the above, may I appeal to Your Excellency to give utmost consideration to attending the Emergency Summit in order to ensure that our organisation maintains its current momentum.

“We will deeply appreciate your kind early response to help us in planning the Summit, in view of limited time available to us.”

When contacted on the telephone, the Special Assistant to the President on Peace Mission, Mrs. Martha Onwuzurumba, was hesitant.

She demanded to know the source of the information from our correspondent.

Mrs. Onwuzurumba who is the wife of the President’s Chaplain, Ven. Obioma Onwuzurumba, is said to be in charge of the Mission’s secretariat.

She said she would not speak on the matter.

“The African First Ladies Peace Mission is not a Non-Governmental Organisation for Nigeria, so I won’t be able to answer your question,” she said.

The AFLPM, which aims at promoting peace and harmony in Africa, was established in 1995 after the United Nations’ Conference on Women in Beijing, China.

Copyright PUNCH.

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