Category Archives: Legal-Judicial

Ethiopia’s Progress Warrants Support, US Lawmaker Says

After leading a congressional fact-finding trip to Ethiopia, U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith said he’s convinced the Horn of Africa country is making rapid progress toward democracy, thanks to new leadership.
“Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is the right man at the right time and is therefore deserving our support,” said Smith, a Republican from New Jersey who chairs the House subcommittee on Africa, global health, global human rights and international organizations.
Smith shared that observation during a hearing Wednesday on Capitol Hill, at which he and U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, a California Democrat, discussed their late August trip. They were part of a five-person delegation meeting with Ahmed and other Ethiopian officials, lawmakers, political and religious leaders, human rights activists and victims of detention and torture.
The congressman is the architect of H.R. 128, legislation condemning human rights abuses in Ethiopia and outlining a number of reforms that the country must take to promote peace and democracy. The resolution passed in the House of Representatives earlier this year.
Smith praised Abiy, a former intelligence official who, since assuming office, “has released thousands of political prisoners,” lifted a months-long state of emergency and “initiated an historic peace deal between Ethiopia and Eritrea this past July.”
Expectations have been raised, he added, “and the reforms that have begun must continue.”
Smith said he and Bass met with a group of former prisoners and torture victims in the capital, Addis Ababa, “and what they described as having been done to them was horrific.” They demand justice, he added.
Smith and Bass also met with young people. Youth-led protests began in late 2015 and forced out Prime Minister HailemariamDesalegn in February after six years in office. Smith said the economy needs to grow to provide jobs for young people, including those who were active in protests and civil disobedience.
Abiy has begun opening up Ethiopia’s business sector, selling stakes in state-owned businesses such as telecommunications and airlines. Smith said he hopes to see additional economic reforms.
The Ethiopian government faces an array of challenges, including a humanitarian crisis caused by fighting and recent flooding. The U.N. migration agency reports well over 2 million people have been displaced and need immediate attention.
Bass acknowledged other daunting obstacles: “Regional security issues, the country’s past human rights records [and] ethnic tensions across the country and hard-liners” among the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front party who hope to stall Abiy’s reform agenda.
But, she said, the hearing gave voice to Ethiopians about ways the U.S. could help its ally move forward.
GirumAlemayehu, an Ethiopian community representative who testified at the hearing, said he was impressed by changes in his homeland but feared ongoing violence, including in the Oromo and Somalia regions, could hinder full progress.
“Create an independent commission to investigate the alleged security forces who have committed killings, mass detention and torture and used excessive force,” he said, urging the U.S. government to prod Ethiopia’s leaders on that front.
Another speaker was Jemal Said, an Ethiopian from Oromia, the country’s largest state and home to ethnic Oromo. For years, they had found limited political and economic opportunity, and the state became a hotbed of anti-government protests. The Oromo celebrated when Abiy freed thousands of political prisoners, but, Said said, they still want to see Oromo recognized as a federal language. Currently, only Amharic is recognized as an official federal language.

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

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

DRC Humanitarian Crisis Back on International Agenda

A Senior U.N. migration official says a main success of Friday’s U.N. pledging conference for Democratic Republic of Congo is that it has put that country’s forgotten humanitarian crisis back on the international agenda.

Donors have pledged $528 million for urgently needed humanitarian aid in DR Congo, making a significant dent in the U.N.’s efforts to raise $1.7 billion. Jean-Philippe Chauzy is the International Organization for Migration Chief of Mission in DRC. He tells VOA the conference also has succeeded in drawing international attention to the severity of the crisis in the country.

“Just over the past two years, the number of Congolese displaced by the violence has increased by more than 200 percent,” said Chauzy. “As we talk now, we have about 4.5 million internally displaced Congolese and more than 13 million people in need. And the crisis also is affecting provinces, and until about one year ago that were relatively stable. The Kasai, for instance, or Tanganyika.”

Six months ago, the United Nations declared the Kasai, Tanganyika and South Kivu as a level 3 emergency, its highest-level emergency. The DRC government, which has called this designation exaggerated and insulting, boycotted its own pledging conference.

Chauzy says the humanitarian crisis is spreading rapidly and the DRC government has a responsibility to protect its people from the violence generated by armed groups and ethnic tension.

During his three years as mission chief, Chauzy says he has traveled widely throughout the DRC. He says he continues to be shocked by the desperate conditions under which the displaced are forced to live, especially those who are crammed in communal centers.

“When you see Congolese families that are living literally under two pieces of sticks and a piece of cloth or plastic without any latrines, without any water and sanitation, without any proper food, without any health, it is profoundly shocking,” said Chauzy. “And I would not hesitate to qualify some of these living conditions as absolutely inhuman.”

Chauzy says IOM is in the process of moving people out of these atrocious collective centers into sites that meet proper international standards. He notes this is just one of the many essential aid projects that will be made possible by generous funding from donor countries.

Source: Voice of America