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Archive for December 29th, 2011

Analysis: International Criminal Court verdict on Kenya Cases ready for release shortly

Posted by African Press International on December 29, 2011

By api,

The verdict on Kenya cases ready for release any time. The Presiding judge may not want to wait for many more days.

After the confirmation of charges hearing where Kenyan leaders were answering accusations labelled against them by Chief Prosecutor Ocampo at the ICC, the waiting for the verdict started.

The country is divided on the issue. Some would like to see the suspects facing a full trial and there are those who think otherwise, saying the whole case is a set up to fix the suspects.

Whatever it is, all right thinking Kenyans agree that Kenya will never be the same after the verdict is read out. There will be those who will be disappointed and others rejoicing.

The good thing that may cool tempers is the fact that no persons will claim that the judges  are bribed in order to arrive at a certain decision.

During the waiting period for the verdict that started on the 6th of October 2011, many experts and others who are opinionated have come out with conclusion after conclusion. There are those who have come out condemning the suspects and wishing for a verdict that will send them to a full trial. One thing this group forgets is the fact that the suspects will still remain innocent even if the case is confirmed.

These group of people should also wake up and see what happened to the recently freed Rwandese man who was represented by Mr Ogeto and Mr Otachi (both Kenyan lawyers, also active in ICC Kenya cases), whose case was in Arusha whereby the sentence was overturned in his favour by the court of appeal.

This was a man whose case was confirmed and faced a full trial. This means that having a case confirmed does not affirm one’s guilt at all.

Every Kenyan interested in the cases facing the six suspects should sit down and get answers to the following questions.

  • Do we really believe Uhuru Kenyatta stood out there to dish out money to people and directed them to go and kill other Kenyans?
  • Do we really believe William Ruto held a meeting in his home attended by thousands of people whereby he armed them and send them out to massacre other Kenyans?
  • Do we really believe that Mr Francis Muthaura directed police to keep off from doing their job of guarding Kenyans?
  • Do we really believe that Hussein Ali issued orders to his juniors directing them to cooperate with Mungiki in killing ODM supporters?
  • Do we really believe that Mr Joshua Sang used his Radio station to agitate the Kalenjins to go out and kill other tribes in the Rift Valley?
  • And finally, do we really believe Henry Kosgey worked with Ruto to cleanse the Rift Valley, by influencing the Kalenjins to murder other tribes in the region?

It is not enough to listen to propaganda aired and make conclusions that the six are guilty of offences they are accused of by the ICC prosecutor. We know there are victims out there who must be remembered and cared for by the government. However, emotions must never guide anyone to arrive at a decision that will shatter another person’s life.

This is the time of soul-searching. People need to look into their souls for answers. Whatever the ICC decides in the cases facing the six, Kenyans must not forget that the country belongs to all and living together in peace must guide everyone and especially now that the general elections is around the corner.

It is sensible to accept that even if the cases are confirmed and send to trial, any of the suspects can still vie for positions of importance in Kenya, and if elected, can take up the job while awaiting the trial to come to an end, – and as history of the ICC has shown, proceedings may take up to 5 years. Therefore, this means that if the suspects are to go on trial, their lives will not stagnate because they remain innocent as long as the cases are going on.

Mr Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr William Ruto are both candidates in next year’s presidential elections and as it is, confirmation of charges will not stop their candidature.

End

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Norway: Condemns bomb attacks in Baghdad

Posted by African Press International on December 29, 2011

“I strongly condemn today’s attacks in Baghdad, which appear to have killed more than 50 people. It is particularly worrying that these attacks are taking place at a time when the political situation in Iraq is so fragile,” said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

There was a series of coordinated bomb attacks on shops, schools and public building in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, today. The attacks came just days after the last US troops withdrew from the country.

“It is vital that the Iraqi authorities and all political factions in the country now take part in an inclusive process in order to bolster the fragile democracy. A democracy that represents the various ethnic and religious groups in the country is the only way to meet the needs of all the Iraqi people. Norway will continue to support institution building in various areas in Iraq,” said Foreign Minister Støre.

Norway is providing support to the petroleum sector, the justice sector, anti-corruption efforts and efforts to promote human rights.

 

 end

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Small farmers in developing countries cannot compete with subsidised big farmers in developed countries

Posted by African Press International on December 29, 2011

FOOD: WTO “must address” food security

Small farmers in developing countries cannot compete with subsidised big farmers in developed countries

JOHANNESBURG,  – An exchange between two leading world officials on how trade affects food insecurity in countries has helped focus attention on the stalled Doha trade talks.

Olivier de Schutter, UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, says: “Food security is the elephant in the room, which WTO [the World Trade Organization] must address”, pointing out that food import bills had soared by a third for poor countries this year.

Schutter said developing countries should limit their reliance on international trade to ensure they had enough food and be able to put in place measures to beef up their own production and insulate themselves from global price shocks.

Pascal Lamy, director-general of the WTO, on the other hand, believes food security is central to the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture (AoA), the world’s first treaty aimed at improving market access and reducing trade-distorting subsidies in agriculture and the Doha Round.

''Trade and food security is in effect a WTO issue, and so there is great frustration within the UN that this enormously restricts the role of, for example, the Food and Agriculture Organization-based Committee on Food Security''

Measures such as temporary import restrictions, state purchases from small-scale farmers, allowing state-held food reserves, safety net insurance schemes and targeted farm subsidies could help, said Schutter, but WTO rules left little space for developing countries to implement them.

He said WTO members should convene a panel of experts to analyse whether existing WTO rules, and those being negotiated under the Doha Round were compatible with national and international food policies; assess the impact of trade liberalization on world food prices; and initiate talks at the WTO to take into account the long-term impacts of the 2007 global food price crisis for the international trade regime. (More details in his briefing note, The World Trade Organization and the Post-Global Food Crisis Agenda: Putting Food Security First in the International Food System  )

Lamy points out that most experts, including those in the UN, agree that international trade is part of the solution.

Allowing developing countries to implement trade restrictive measures could hurt them the most, as, he said, “about 60 percent of developing countries’ agriculture exports go to other developing countries.”

Lamy agreed with Schutter on the need to ensure safety nets are in place to help the urban and rural poor, but he said the AoA provides developing countries with the room to implement policies in line with their national objectives through the use of certain subsidies.

Developing countries do not have to cut their subsidies or lower their tariffs as much

Some issues WTO needs to address in agriculture
Ceilings on subsidies: Current ceilings on how much the US and the EU can spend on subsidies that distort trade are still rather high
Cotton subsidies: The US has still not fully complied with a WTO ruling in 2009 to remove subsidies for its cotton producers.
African farmers could have gained from a 3.5 percent average increase in world cotton prices, if the US had cut subsidies.
Biofuel Subsidies : Not covered yet. A new study found that US ethanol subsidies may have artificially inflated maize prices by as much as 17 percent in 2011.
Source: ICTSD

as developed countries, and they are given extra time to complete their obligations under AoA. Poor countries don’t have to do this at all, he added.

The Doha Round could help to give developing countries more space by making it easier to maintain food reserves for food security purposes for instance, said Lamy. (More details on Lamy’s response )

Other views

Almost all economists, and even those within the UN, agree that trade is part of the solution and insulating domestic economies with trade restrictions might work in the short-term for a particular country but can have far-reaching repercussions for others in the region.

Economist Dirk Willem te Velde at the UK’s Overseas Development Institute (ODI) cited Tanzania’s export ban on maize in July as an example. “At that moment, Kenya would have wanted more trade rather than less in order to become more food secure.”

The Doha Round

The Schutter-Lamy debate has reopened issues around the Doha talks which have been going on, in stop-start mode, for the last 10 years

“Two schools of thought are emerging”, said Jonathan Hepburn, the agriculture programme manager at the Geneva-based think-tank, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development: One says that “with Doha in limbo, high and volatile food prices, a changing climate, and

growing world population, it made sense to begin discussing how trade relates to food security and other issues.

“The other – of concluding Doha first – is favoured by many developing countries who have invested scarce resources in maintaining missions and negotiators at the talks for 10 years.”

Economist Edward Clay of the ODI says: “Perhaps no one is actually able to admit that the Doha Development Round [DDR] is dead and so begin the discussion again with that openly conceded. That leads to the question what should be taken over from the DDR.”

He digs deeper: “Trade and food security is in effect a WTO issue, and so there is great frustration within the UN that this enormously restricts the role of, for example, the Food and Agriculture Organization-based Committee on Food Security: the key issues are not just discussed but actually negotiated elsewhere.

“Second, primarily allowing trade to address food security is somewhat in greater doubt in our current era of extreme food commodity market volatility.”

jk/cb source www.irinnews.org

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David Kato opposed the criminalization of homosexuality, which experts say is one of the main barriers to HIV services for men who have sex with men

Posted by African Press International on December 29, 2011

HIV/AIDS: Five faces we were watching in 2011

David Kato opposed the criminalization of homosexuality, which experts say is one of the main barriers to HIV services for men who have sex with men

NAIROBI,  – From scientific breakthroughs to herbal “cures”, HIV was never far from the headlines in 2011.

IRIN/PlusNews brings you some of the people behind this year’s headlines:

Mandisa Dlamini – Mandisa, daughter of murdered HIV activist Gugu Dlamini, took centre stage at the South African AIDS Conference in the country’s port city of Durban. Thirteen years after she was killed because of her HIV status, Gugu’s murder continues to be a potent symbol of the dangers of stigmatization.

Mandisa’s story was an emotive reminder of the darker side of HIV aid and activism; she said following her mother’s death, which has been used to draw international attention to HIV stigma, friends were few and far between. Her story of growing up alone and becoming a teenage mother following Gugu’s death before being taken in by a social worker she now calls mother, was not only a window into the lives of so many children, but also a commentary on how the HIV response often fails the most vulnerable ones left behind.

Myron Cohen - A professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology and public health at the US University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Myron Cohen was the principal investigator in HPTN 052, the landmark randomized controlled trial which provided definitive proof that antiretroviral treatment reduces HIV transmission.

Hailed as one of the major scientific breakthroughs of 2011, “treatment as prevention” presents an opportunity for high burden countries to make real progress in significantly reducing the number of new HIV infections.

Ambilikile Mwasapile – The Tanzanian herbalist, a retired Lutheran pastor, made news with a concoction of herbs he claimed could cure several ailments, including diabetes, tuberculosis and HIV infection.

At his busiest, Mwasapile was reported to be seeing up to 2,000 people a day from all over the East African region; news outlets reported that people died from various illnesses while waiting to see him.

HIV activists criticized the Tanzanian government for failing to reign in Mwasapile and properly advise people living with HIV that they must continue with their HIV medication, even after taking his drink.

David Kato – One of Uganda’s leading gay rights activists, David Kato was murdered on 26 January, leaving the country’s gay community afraid and angry. Kato was vehemently opposed to an anti-homosexuality bill – still before parliament – which would impose the death penalty on people found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality”.

The continued stigmatization of men who have sex with men, in Ugandan society and under Ugandan law, has been pinpointed as one of the main reasons they have failed to access HIV services, despite being categorized as a “most at-risk” population.

In October 2010, Kato – a schoolteacher by profession – had his name and photograph and name published by a local tabloid, The Rolling Stone, under the headline, “Hang Them”. He and others named in the publication sued, and a judge ruled that the paper had violated their constitutional rights to privacy and ordered compensation.

In November 2011, a court sentenced a man to 30 years in prison for the murder of Kato. However, activists continue to claim there was a cover-up of the events surrounding his death.

Barack Obama – The US is already a global leader in the fight against HIV – close to half the 6.6 million people who accessed ARVs in 2011 did so through the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) – and in December, President Barack Obama reaffirmed his government’s commitment to ending the pandemic when he pledged to provide treatment to six million people globally by 2013, an increase of two million on PEPFAR’s previous target.

He also pledged that the US would provide ARVs to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission to 1.5 million women, support 4.7 million male circumcisions in eastern and southern Africa, and fund the distribution of at least one billion male condoms.

kr/llg/cb source www.irinnews.org

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