Arbitrary Detention: UN expert group launches first information-gathering visit to Morocco
GENEVA, Switzerland, December 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will undertake its first official visit to Morocco* to assess the situation of deprivation of liberty in the country.
During the ten-day visit from 9 to 18 December 2013, the group of independent experts will visit various detention facilities, including prisons, police stations and detention centres for migrants in irregular situations, in order to gather first-hand information from detainees, their families or representatives on their cases of deprivation of liberty.
The Working Group will also engage with relevant authorities as well as civil society organizations, in the cities of Rabat, Casablanca, Salé, Tanger and Laâyoune.
The delegation will consist of the Chair-Rapporteur Mr. Mads Andenas (Norway), Mr. El Hadji Malick Sow (Senegal) and Mr. Roberto Garretón (Chile). They will be accompanied by staff from the Working Group's Secretariat at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
A press conference on the preliminary observations of the Working Group will be held at La Tour Hassan Hotel, Rabat, on 18 December 2013 at 15:00.
The final report of the visit will be presented to the Human Rights Council in 2014.
(*) The Working Group will also visit Laâyoune, Western Sahara, on 15 and 16 December 2013.
Statement by the Vice President on the Death of Nelson Mandela
WASHINGTON, December 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Nelson Mandela once said, “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” Mandela's wisdom and compassion were formidable enough to change the world. First his courage and then his forgiveness inspired us all, and challenged us to do better. In the words of the South African poet Peter Horn, he “dreamed the world another way.” I saw his world the way it used to be when I visited South Africa as a 34 year old Senator. When I exited the plane I was directed to one side of the tarmac, while the African American congressmen traveling with me were sent to the other side. I refused to break off, and the officials finally relented. When I tried to enter Soweto township with Congressmen Andrew Young of Atlanta and Charles Diggs of Detroit, I remember their tears of anger and sadness. Because of Nelson Mandela's courage, and compassion, that world has been transformed. One of my favorite Irish poets, Seamus Heaney once wrote: “History says, don't hope on this side of the grave. But then, once in a lifetime, the longed-for tidal wave of justice rises up, and hope and history rhyme.” In the hands of Nelson Mandela, hope and history rhymed. This is a better world because Nelson Mandela was in it. He was a good man.
Norway increases its humanitarian support to the Central African Republic
OSLO, Norway, December 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- “I am very concerned about the security and humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic. Norway welcomes the decision by the UN Security Council to authorize an expanded peacekeeping force, in order to contribute to the protection of civilians and the restoration of security and public order,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.
The security and humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) is steadily deteriorating. Attacks on civilians and violations of human rights are widespread, and law and order is virtually absent. The local population and displaced persons are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and protection.
The Norwegian Government is therefore increasing its humanitarian support by NOK 20 million, to the International Committee of the Red Cross (NOK 15 million) and Médecins Sans Frontières (NOK 5 million). Norway also contributes to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) in CAR. The total humanitarian support to CAR now stands at NOK 32 million. In addition, Norway contributes to other UN funds and programmes in the country.
“I am concerned about the impact of the crisis on the region. There is a risk that the lawlessness we are seeing in the Central African Republic will turn the country into a haven for extremists, armed groups and international organised criminals, thus increasing instability in the region,” Mr Brende said.
The Foreign Minister considers the decision by the UN Security Council to authorise the deployment of an African-led stabilisation force (MISCA), which will be assisted by an expanded French force, to be crucial for the country.
“We are following the situation closely and we will consider further contributions to the humanitarian response early next year,” Mr Brende said, underlining that all parties to the conflict are obliged under international humanitarian law to ensure that people in need have access to humanitarian assistance.
Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia condemns killing of MP
MOGADISHU, Somalia, December 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, has strongly condemned the killing of Mohamed Warsame Feisal, a Member of the country's Federal Parliament.
Mr. Warsame was killed this afternoon in Mogadishu when an improvised explosive device planted in his vehicle detonated. At least three others are reported to have been injured in the attack.
“I condemn this killing in the strongest terms,” SRSG Kay said. “Somalis yearn for a better future. Their Members of Parliament play a vital role in building that future.”
SRSG Kay offers his sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Warsame, as well as to the Federal Parliament of Somalia, and wishes those injured a quick recovery.
STATEMENT OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC IN HOMAGE TO NELSON MANDELA
PARIS, France, December 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Elysée Palace – Friday 6 December 2013
Before our Summit had even begun, some very sad news broke: that Nelson Mandela had died. That is why, at this very moment, as we meet, I wanted to say the words that you could say in my place, at this very moment.
The world is in mourning.
Nelson Mandela left us yesterday. He had already made History in his lifetime. In death, he takes his place in the world's conscience.
Nelson Mandela changed much more than South Africa. He sped up the course of the world, armed only with his principles and a steadfast will. He managed to win every battle he led and joined.
Nelson Mandela withstood 27 years of prison. He won over the odious apartheid system. He reached out to his oppressors. He established democracy in a country that had never known it.
He made South Africa a power, yes, but a power in the service of peace.
Nelson Mandela is an example. An example of resistance in the face of oppression. An example of freedom in the face of injustice. An example of dignity in the face of humiliation. An example of clear-sightedness in the face of intolerance. An example of forgiveness in the face of hatred. An example of lucidity in the face of the excesses of power. An example of intelligence in the face of tests. That is what Nelson Mandela stood for, and still stands for today.
And if he became a hero, a global hero, it is because he was deeply human and deeply good.
In his Robben Island prison, and as the leader of South Africa, he remained the same man,
with the same simplicity, the same modesty and the same smile. His humanity was summed
up in a beautiful sentence: “as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others
permission to do the same”.
Nelson Mandela is no longer with us, but his message remains and continues to inspire new
generations. Nelson Mandela will always be the model for men and women who are fighting
for their rights. He will always be the reference point for those who continue their unending
fight against racism, discrimination and all forms of intolerance and injustice. Nelson
Mandela will always be the model for those fighting for freedom and empowerment.
My dear friends,
Destiny decreed that all of Africa should be gathered here in Paris, for a Summit on Peace and
Security, the day after the passing of Nelson Mandela. This is both a symbol and a demand for
France, the country of human rights, pays tribute to Nelson Mandela. France shares the
sorrow of the people of South Africa who have just lost their founding father. France
expresses its solidarity with all Africans, represented here by Heads of State, Heads of
Government and Ministers. Now more than ever, France remembers Mandela's message of
hope for people the world over.
France is fully committed to this message and on behalf of Mandela, will do its utmost to live
up to it.
Today, it is Nelson Mandela who is presiding over our work at this Summit.
Thank you very much.
The African Union stresses the imperative of the restoration of public order and the protection of the civilian populations in the Central African Republic
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, December 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, continues to closely monitor, with utmost concern, the evolution of the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR). She reiterates the strong condemnation by the AU of the abuses and other massive violations of human rights that continue to be committed against the civilian populations. She stresses the urgent need to do everything necessary to bring this unacceptable situation to an end.
The Chairperson of the Commission encourages the Peace Consolidation Mission of the Economic Community of Central African States in the CAR (MICOPAX), which will transition into the African-led International Support Mission in the CAR (MISCA), on 19 December 2013, to intensify its efforts, in order to contribute to the speedy restoration of public order and the effective protection of the civilian populations, and to take all necessary steps to this end. She welcomes the initiatives taken by her Special Representative in the CAR, Hawa Ahmed Youssouf, including the sustained and continued consultations with the transitional authorities, the military command of MICOPAX, the religious leaders and key representatives of the international community in Bangui, in order to address the prevailing situation on the ground. She appeals to the French forces deployed in the CAR to extend all the necessary support to MICOPAX.
VATICAN / TELEGRAM ON THE DEATH OF NELSON MANDELA
VATICAN, Holy See, December 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Holy Father sent a telegram of condolence to Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa, on the death of Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela yesterday.
In the text, the Pope extended his condolences to the Mandela family, members of government, and all South Africans. Pope Francis recalled “the steadfast commitment shown by Nelson Mandela in promoting the human dignity of all the nation's citizens and in forging a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation, and truth.”
“I pray,” the message continues, “that the late president's example will inspire generations of South Africans to put justice and the common good at the forefront of their political aspirations. With these sentiments,” the telegram concludes, “I invoke upon all the people of South Africa the divine gifts of peace and prosperity.”
Tribute to Nelson Mandela: The Passing of a Man of Peace
PARIS, France, December 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- FIDH and its 178 member organisations throughout the world, including Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) in South Africa, pay tribute to Nelson Mandela and express their sincere condolences to his wife and children and to the entire nation of South Africa.
Mandela was a man who tirelessly dedicated his life to fighting arbitrariness and injustice. He was imprisoned for 27 years for his resolute fight against racism and segregation and was a symbol of courage and self-sacrifice in the face of oppressive regimes. His isolation allowed those upholding apartheid to preserve a political system entirely built upon violence, racial discrimination and inequalities; his liberation marked the inevitable dismantling of this system.
Today, in a South Africa that is still characterised by challenges of equality, social justice and security, and in a world where resistance to authoritarianism, discrimination, and the temptation of isolationism still holds its place, it is essential to draw inspiration from the immeasurable political, intellectual and ideological legacy of this pioneer of modern revolutions. His outstanding contribution to the promotion of human rights and democratic principles throughout the world will remain in everyone's memories.
The Embodiment of Universal Struggles
“Nelson Mandela was the true embodiment of the legitimate and universal fight against oppression, discrimination, racism, colonialism, poverty, conflicts. He will forever remain an extraordinary inspiration for all those who defend democratic principles and universality of human rights,” declared Karim Lahidji, FIDH President.
The Symbol of Transformation
“Mandela symbolised ubuntu and the strength of principles, in the face of oppression. His courage and determination showed us how, in the face of injustice, we should never give up the struggle for truth, fairness and justice. He transformed his society and indeed the world, by living his values” said Alice Mogwe, FIDH Deputy Secretary General (Botswana).
Laying the Foundations of a Democratic Society
“The South Africa under apartheid wanted to establish differences in law, the South Africa under Mandela has tirelessly tried to draw its strength from differences. This man of peace, who dedicated his restored freedom to found a democratic and multi-racial South African society, never showed hatred or resentment,” declared Sheila Muwanga Nabachwa, FIDH Vice-President (Uganda).
“Nelson Mandela succeeded in giving a humanistic vision to his political action to reconcile a population that had been divided by decades of arbitrariness and discrimination. He is a true model from who our present rulers should draw inspiration,” declared Dismas Kitenge, FIDH Vice President (DRC).
Promoting Peace and Democracy Beyond Borders
"The fight of Nelson Mandela for human rights continued to illuminate the twilight of his life, beyond the borders of his country. While many conflicts in Africa continue to claim thousands of victims, it is time for our continent to build the foundations of the peace advocated by Mandela,” declared Drissa Traoré, FIDH Vice President (Côte d'Ivoire)
Standing by the Most Vulnerable
“Nelson Mandela's struggle against social and economic inequalities, for women's rights, children's rights, and against the stigmatisation of people living with HIV-AIDS, has made of him one of the best ambassadors of the voiceless,” declared Paul Nsapu, FIDH Secretary General (DRC).
UK support to international response in Central African Republic
LONDON, United-Kingdom, December 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Foreign Secretary announces UK air transport assistance to France for Central African Republic.
On 5th December, with strong UK support, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2127 authorising the deployment of the African-led International Support Mission to CAR (MISCA), and the deployment of French forces to give assistance. The Mission will contribute to the protection of civilians, the restoration of public order, and the stabilisation of CAR at a critical moment.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said:
“The UN Security Council made an important decision yesterday to authorise African Union and French troops to respond to the security and humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic.
“We are determined to play our part in helping to address the violence. We have therefore agreed with the Government of France that we will help move French equipment to CAR by means of a UK C17 transport aircraft. Three separate flights will take place this month, with the first one due to land in CAR shortly.
“This comes on top of £10 million in UK aid announced on 30 November. Having already contributed £5 million in July, the United Kingdom is now one of the largest donors of humanitarian assistance to the people of CAR. We will continue to work alongside the International Red Cross and UN agencies to help thousands of people gain access to food, water, shelter, sanitation and healthcare to alleviate the desperate humanitarian suffering.”
Côte d'Ivoire: UN call for investigations into serious human rights abuses by traditional hunters
GENEVA, Switzerland, December 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- A UN report has called for investigations into serious human rights abuses committed by traditional hunters called Dozos between March 2009 and May 2013 in Côte d'Ivoire.
The report, released today by the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) in cooperation with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for human rights (OHCHR), documents serious human rights abuses committed by Dozos while undertaking security activities, These include violations of the right to life, including extrajudicial killings and summary executions, illegal arrest and detentions, looting and extortions.
The investigations carried out by the Human Rights Division of UNOCI showed that at least 228 people were killed, 164 others injured by bullets, machete and knives, and 162 arbitrarily arrested and illegally detained by Dozos between March 2009 and May 2013. In addition, 274 cases of looting, arson and extortion committed by the Dozos have been verified and confirmed, including in the regions of Gbôklé, Haut-Sassandra, Gôh, Cavally, Guemon, Tonkpi, Marahoué, Nawa, Indenie-Djuablin, Poro and Moronou.
“Dozos involved in the perpetration of human rights violations must be held accountable,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. “The authorities have the duty to carry out serious investigations into the human rights violations committed by the Dozos in Côte d'Ivoire, bring the perpetrators to justice and provide appropriate redress to the victims. The State authorities of Côte d'Ivoire have the duty to deploy appropriate security forces throughout the country to prevent the population from using Dozos on security issues. Impunity granted to Dozos in Côte d'Ivoire is unacceptable and must be stopped,” she said.
The Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Côte d'Ivoire, Doudou Diène, and NGOs have already made several recommendations urging the Government to take steps to address the situation of the Dozos who continue to endanger the population.
“I welcome the ongoing efforts by the Government to cover the entire country with professional security forces. These efforts are crucial in reestablishing the rule of law and in preventing Dozos from carrying out security functions,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) in Côte d'Ivoire, Aïchatou Mindaoudou. “The UN continues to offer its support to the Ivorian authorities for the advancement of security sector reforms. However, it is necessary that the Government investigates human rights abuses committed by the Dozos, in the interest of victims' rights to truth, justice and reparation.”