Daily Archives: May 24, 2018

More Refugees Flee Carnage in Central African Republic

Thousands of people continue to flee violence in the troubled Central African Republic and the United Nations says many lack access to humanitarian care. Its response plan requesting $515 million launched in January is barely 10 percent funded.

Hundreds of Central Africans sing in the Cameroon border town of Garoua Boulai to officially welcome 30 of their fellow citizens who crossed over from the C.A.R. to Cameroon within the past week.

It has become a weekly event to welcome people fleeing the carnage and socially integrate them into their community or reunite them with family members.

Among the newly arrived is 37-year-old Pierre Magnou. He said he and his family were targeted by armed gangs firing automatic weapons and burning houses in areas of the C.A.R capital, Bangui, two weeks ago.

He said in October 2017, he, his wife, and two children returned from Congo where they were in exile and settled in their PK5 Muslim-dominated neighborhood, thinking peace had returned.

But he said bloody conflicts between Muslim Seleka fighters, Christian anti-Balakas and some segments of the population continue in his country.

Not wanting to live in uncertainty, he said they decided to flee until the U.N. peace mission completes what he said is an unending task of bringing peace.

The downward spiral

The Central African Republic descended into bloodshed after longtime leader Francois Bozize was overthrown in 2013 by a predominantly Muslim rebel alliance called the Seleka. Christian militias called the anti-Balaka emerged in response, accelerating a cycle of sectarian violence.

In February 2016, Faustin-Archange Touadera, who promised to bring peace in the troubled nation, was elected president.

C.A.R. minister of humanitarian activities Virginie Baikoua visited Cameroon last week. She said violence has continued because it is hard to bring the various armed factions together for true dialogue.

She said one of the most serious problems they have is the circulation of arms. Young people need a lot of education to understand that they are strong enough to contribute to the development of their country by working, not killing, she added.

U.N. coordinator for humanitarian affairs for the C.A.R. Najad Rochdi said the number of people needing urgent assistance has increased dramatically this year due to the resurgence of violence.

“One quarter of the population is in a situation of vulnerability, fragility, and therefore, it is very easy for them to be recruited by either the armed groups or the criminal gangs,” she said. “Eighteen percent of children under five are dying. That is 18 percent of the future generation of Central Africans who today are not given the chance to live.Not even to go to school, just to live, which is the basic right of a human being.”

She said 2.5 million C.A.R. residents are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

Source: Voice of America

Uganda Police Seek to End 48-Hour Detention Rule

The Uganda Police Force is facing stiff resistance over a proposal that would allow officers to hold suspects beyond the maximum of two days before they are granted bail or appear in court. While police say the change will only affect terrorism suspects, opponents say those accused of petty crimes will be held longer too.

Police say certain crimes, such as terrorism, require cross border investigations to acquire evidence and witnesses. Authorities are seeking support from parliament to amend Article 23 of the Constitution so that police can hold terrorism suspects for seven to 14 days before producing them in court.

Patrick Onyango, the deputy spokesperson of the Uganda Police, said sometimes, analyzing samples picked up at crime scenes needs time because “for us we also use another government analytical laboratory. They also need time.”

“Sometimes they say, ‘we are overwhelmed with … the samples you bring to us.'” he added. “So we were requesting, members of parliament, that in certain cases they need to amend the constitution to allow us to keep suspects for at least more than 48 hours.”

Before the proposal can advance, it must receive support from the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee. Jova Kamateka, who chairs the committee, is skeptical. She said police already flout the rule.

“They have failed to honor the rule in small, small cases,” she said. “And we think that even the rule as it stands now, you can take a suspects to court and say you are not ready, and ask for extension. Secondly, our police cells � we don’t have that much space.”

Last year, as police investigated the murder of Felix Kaweesi, the former assistant inspector general of police, suspects spent more than five months behind bars without appearing in court.

Several other suspects, including opponents of President Yoweri Museveni, have also been held in police custody for more than 48 hours before appearing in court or being granted bail.

The Uganda Human Rights Commission, a government body, has continuously faulted police for ignoring the rule. The chairperson of the commission, Meddie Mulumba, said any effort to thwart terrorism should uphold fundamental principles of human rights.

“Yes, we abhor terrorism, we abhor violent crimes,” she said. “But we are saying police should be facilitated, should be trained, should use scientific methods of investigations. What is it that they want to do in the police cell without scrutiny of the public that they cannot do in a prison? Because, all we are trying to say, arrest this person, in 48 hours, take this person to court, this person is remanded.”

Police maintain that as long as investigations are ongoing, suspects in what they consider sensitive cases will stay in custody to prevent new crimes from being committed.

Source: Voice of America