Category Archives: Legal and Judicial

Women Detail Alleged Assaults by Ugandan Security Personnel

One month after election-related violence in northern Uganda, two women who say they were brutally assaulted by security officers are still recovering from their injuries. The government has questioned the women’s claims while stopping short of an explicit denial.
Jane Abola and Asara Night were part of the campaign team for Kasiano Wadri, an opposition candidate in a by-election for a parliament seat. During a final planning meeting at a hotel in the Arua municipality on the evening of August 13, opposition legislators reportedly were forced to run and hide at the sound of gunshots.
Abola says she ran into a bathroom, but was pulled out roughly and attacked by security officers on the order of a regional police commander. The officers demanded she tell them the whereabouts of legislator Robert Kyagulanyi, better known as Bobi Wine.
“He started kicking me, beating me with those sticks of theirs, their batons, the gun, pricking me with the barrel of the gun, using the butt of the gun,” Abola said of the officers. “At one point he jumped on my back, said ‘[I] am going to kill you if you don’t tell me where Bobi Wine is.'”
An X-ray shows Abola now has damaged vertebrae in her lower back and needs immediate surgery. However, she does not have the $5,000 required to pay for the operation.
Asara Night says soldiers cornered her in the same hotel that evening and beat her.
“It was like, for those soldiers, today is our day,” she said. “It reached a point I could not now realize the pain on my body, because it was too much. I could not now shout, I could not talk. They were just beating. Now when they realized I was not shouting, the only thing, they just had to carry me like a sack from the hotel. They threw me through the window outside. That’s where I was carried to be thrown in the vehicle of the police.”
Night now wears braces on her back, hand and knee, and has constant headaches.
The alleged beatings took place after an incident in which protesters threw stones at the convoy of President Yoweri Museveni, who was in the area campaigning for the ruling party candidate.
Museveni has come under increasing criticism, both at home and abroad, for his government’s heavy-handed response to any dissent. Bobi Wine, the president’s most prominent critic, was arrested last month and charged with treason before leaving for the United States to receive medical treatment.
Abola and Night maintain that their group did not cross paths with the president’s on August 13, because Wadri’s rally that night was in a different location in Arua. Both remain in Kampala hospitals, recovering from their injuries.
No Ugandan official has specifically denied the women’s allegations. Last week, however, Museveni said that anyone who alleged torture by security personnel would need to prove it in court.
Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo says the Arua incidents are regrettable and that action is being taken.
“When those soldiers, when those policemen eventually appear before the respective disciplinary committees, those committees, those disciplinary procedures will be transparent, will be public,” Opondo said.
The Uganda Law Society, in its quarterly report released Tuesday, condemned what it called the inhuman and cruel actions by security personnel in the Arua incident.

Source: Voice of America

South Sudanese Cautiously Optimistic over Signed Peace Deal

South Sudan’s warring parties signed what they call a final peace agreement to end a civil war that killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.
The deal, signed in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Wednesday, was witnessed by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and other regional heads of state. Juba town residents say they are cautiously optimistic peace will return to their country.
Emmanuel Agele, who resides in Juba’s Gudele suburb, believes peace will prevail.
“Surely it’s going to hold because everybody is tired of war, the war has changed the situation of the country completely, and I’m sure that everyone doesn’t want that kind of situation to go on whether on the side of the opposition or the government; all the people are now desperate,” Agele told South Sudan in Focus.
Juba lawyer BuotManyelBuot said he hopes the signing means the country’s leaders have learned from their mistakes.
“We have seen previous peace agreements signed, we have seen citizens’ jubilation but eventually we didn’t see results so hopefully this time around our leaders have learned the hard way and by saying this, we mean guns have to be silenced, [and] IDPs have to be repatriated back to their homes,” Buot told South Sudan in Focus.
Atem Jong Ahai, a University of Juba student, said he is skeptical there will be lasting peace. Ahai said he still has vivid memories of what happened in July 2016 at the presidential palace in Juba.
MaturDhorKachuol, another University of Juba student, said the country’s leaders should sympathize with citizens.
“We feel very sad, we feel discouraged. We feel the reason why we fought for independence is not what has been actually realized in the country,” Kachuol told South Sudan in Focus.
Peace activist Joseph Oliver told VOA young South Sudanese should monitor the deal’s implementation.
“Over all these years implementation has been a challenge, so my call to the youth is to start looking up and coming up with strategies how to follow this that we can participate actively,” said Oliver.
Tut Kew, President Kiir’s adviser on security, told reporters at Juba International Airport awaiting Kiir’s return Thursday that the agreement marks an end to violence in South Sudan.
“The President has signed the peace in Addis. There will be no more conflict in South Sudan. All opposition parties have also signed the peace agreement,” Kew told VOA.
The deal reinstates RiekMachar as vice president during a 36-month transitional period.
Information Minister Michael Makuei has said several times that IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) mediators should not allow Machar to work with Kiir again, and that Machar should only reside in South Sudan as a citizen.
Tut Keu said those differences have been put aside.
“All the outstanding issues, we have resolved them and everybody signed. Actually the unresolved issues were simple ones that cannot bar the signing of the peace agreement, those were just political issues,” said Tut Keu.
But the agreement still leaves many contentious issues unresolved, including the number of states and their boundaries. Kiir years ago unilaterally increased the number of states from 10 to 32. Unresolved issues are to be settled by heads of state at IGAD.
Juba resident Paul MalualAJak wants to see the deal implemented immediately.
“I want our leaders on the top [like] our dear President SalvaKiir to encourage our politicians from different opposition so that they come together as one family so that we carry out development because development cannot come unless our politicians have a political will,” Ajak told South Sudan in Focus.
The National Salvation Front and the People’s Democratic Movement refused to sign the deal. National Salvation Front leader General Thomas Cirillo has said he refused to sign because the agreement does not address the root cause of the conflict in South Sudan.

Source: Voice of America

UN: Millions of Refugee Children Out of School

The U.N. refugee agency reports 4 million refugee children are missing out on an education, a situation that bodes ill for their future and for the well-being of the communities in which they live. The UNHCR has launched a new report “Turn the Tide: Refugee Education in Crisis.”
The U.N. refugee agency reports enrollment of refugee children in school is not keeping pace with the growing refugee population, which has reached unprecedented levels. Globally, the UNHCR cares for nearly 20 million refugees, and more than one-half are children.
This means the number of refugee children needing to go to school also has risen. But this is not happening.
UNHCR Senior Education Advisor Ita Sheehy says 61 percent of refugee children are attending primary school, dropping dramatically to 23 percent for secondary school. This, she underscores, is compared with 84 percent of children globally.
“So, if we put those figures together, we know that a refugee child is five times more likely than any other child not to be in school,” said Sheehy. “This gets much worse as we get up to higher education levels, and we are again seeing that the percentage of one percent of refugees going to university has not increased in the past year despite all of the efforts.”
The report notes 92 percent of all refugees are hosted in developing countries. It says this poses problems because these poor countries have little money to provide quality education for their own children, let alone for refugee children.
The UNHRC is urging host countries to enroll refugee children in their national school systems. It says putting these two groups together will result in a better educational result rather than keeping them in separate, parallel systems.
The agency is calling on the international community to invest in refugee children’s education. At the same time, it urges donors to provide sustained financial support to improve the school systems in the developing host countries.

Source: Voice of America

SOUTH AFRICA TAKING STEPS TO REDUCE VULNERABILITY TO EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

CAPE TOWN– South Africa has a number of initiatives aimed at fostering climate change adaptation and reducing the risk and vulnerability of South Africans, says the Department of

Environmental Affairs acting deputy director-general for Climate Change and Air Quality, Tlou Ramaru.

One of the notable projects yielding results is the one being undertaken with the support of the department, focusing on building resilience in the Greater uMngeni Catchment area in KwaZulu-Natal province, added Ramaru when addressing the Adaption Futures Conference in Cape Town on Tuesday.

The project produces early warning systems in support of local communities and small-scale farmers to inform them about climate-proof settlements (built and ecological infrastructure), settlement planning and climate resilient agriculture, he said.

The department has also developed the Long Term Adaptation Scenarios Flagship Research Programme (LTAS) aimed at developing national and sub-national adaptation scenarios for South Africa under plausible future climate conditions and development pathways.

This is a complex research work required for the projection of climate change impacts for key sectors, and an evaluation of their socio-economic implications in the context of the development aspirations of these sectors, Ramaru said.

South Africa has also developed the National Framework on Climate Services to enable better management of the risks of climate variability and change at all levels. The framework incorporates science-based climate information and prediction services into planning, policy and practice.

The nature of the National Framework on Climate Services requires an interface with different stakeholders within the various levels of government, and outside government. Therefore, successful implementation of the National Framework on Climate Services requires a well-coordinated structure with good governance to enhance the country’s capability to provide integrated climate services to all relevant users in a manner that empowers them to be climate resilient, Ramaru said.

Furthermore, the department has the Adaption Fund programmes, which are implemented by the South African National Biodiversity Institutes. The programmes deal with drought resilient agriculture, rain water harvesting, climate smart agriculture, sustainable livelihoods, ecosystem based adaptation and climate proofing.

The draft National Climate Change Bill has been developed to provide for the effective management of inevitable climate change impacts through enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change to enable South Africa to build social, economic, and environmental resilience and an adequate national adaptation response in the context of the global climate change response.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

President Ramaphosa back in South Africa from a successful visit in Angola

President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed confidence that the steps being taken by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) will result in the consolidation of democracy, peace and stability in the region. The President was speaking at the conclusion of the Extraordinary Summit of the SADC Double Troika, which took place on Tuesday, 24 April 2018, in Luanda, Republic of Angola.

President Ramaphosa, who arrived back in South Africa this evening, said the Extraordinary Summit of the SADC Double Troika took concrete decisions in relation to the implementation of SADC decisions in the Kingdom of Lesotho and the preparations for elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republic of Madagascar.

Regarding the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Extraordinary Summit endorsed the Roadmap for Reforms and National Dialogue and urged the Government of Lesotho to prioritise the Constitutional and Security Sector Reforms, which should be completed by May 2019. The Extraordinary Summit agreed that the Facilitator, President Ramaphosa, will appoint a high profile personality to support him in his role as the Facilitator. Furthermore, the Extraordinary Summit approved the extension of the mandate of the SADC Preventative Mission in the Kingdom of Lesotho (SAPMIL) for a further period of six months, from May to November 2018.

On the DRC, the Extraordinary Summit noted the progress made in the implementation of the December 2016 Political Agreement and in the Electoral Calendar for the elections, which are scheduled to take place on 23 December 2018. The Extraordinary Summit called on all stakeholders to remain committed to the implementation of the Electoral Calendar and ensure a conducive environment for the holding of peaceful and credible elections.

Relating to Madagascar, the Extraordinary Summit approved the urgent deployment of the SADC Special Envoy, H.E. Joaquim Chissano, former President of the Republic of Mozambique, to be assisted by the Chair of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ, Angolan External Relations Minister Manuel Domingos Augusto, and the SADC Secretariat to facilitate a National Dialogue aimed at the de-escalation of the political tensions and reaching consensus on the electoral process.

President Ramaphosa’s delegation at the Extraordinary Summit included International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Police Minister Bheki Cele and State Security Deputy Minister Ellen Molekane.

Source: Republic of South Africa: The Presidency