David James MBE Tours Ghana with Emirates FA Cup - African Business Magazine
David James MBE Tours Ghana with Emirates FA Cup

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    The officials exchanged views on the future development of the entire range of traditionally friendly bilateral relations, in particular the implementation of the decisions made at the fourth session of the Russian-Guinean Commission, which was held in Moscow in April 2016. They also reaffirmed the shared commitment of Moscow and Conakry to step up political dialogue and cooperation in trade, the economy, research, technology, culture and other areas.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

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  • Special Representative of the Chinese Government on African Affairs Xu Jinghu Attends African Union Extraordinary Summit on Maritime Security and Safety and Development in Africa

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    Special Representative Xu Jinghu conveyed President Xi Jinping’s sincere greetings and best wishes to President Faure Essozimna Gnassignbé, congratulated on the complete success of the summit on behalf of the Chinese side and expressed appreciation to Togo’s excellent organization as the host country. Special Representative Xu Jinghu expressed that Togo is an old and good friend of China in Africa. The two countries enjoy a solid foundation of political mutual trust, mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation in economy and trade, as well as sincere and friendly people-to-people and cultural exchanges, making China-Togo relationship a model of state relations. China attaches great importance to the development of China-Togo relations and is willing to make joint efforts with Togo to turn the advantage of bilateral traditional friendship into the driving force for cooperation and development, so as to constantly lift bilateral friendly cooperation to new levels.

    Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé thanked the Chinese side for sending Special Representative Xu Jinghu to attend the summit and offering strong support to Togo for hosting this summit. He noted that the Lome Charter adopted at this summit has charted the course for African countries to jointly address maritime security issues and develop marine economy. Over a long period of time, China has offered sincere and tangible help with no strings attached to African countries, including Togo, which the African side appreciates. The Togolese side is willing to, together with China, push the implementation of outcomes from the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation for positive progress at an early date, and inject strong impetus into Togo’s economic growth.

    Foreign Minister Robert Dussey expressed that Togo’s achievements in national construction and social and economic development are closely related to the long-term and brotherly support and assistance from China. As a sincere, friendly and trustworthy friend of China, Togo stands ready to work with China to strengthen bilateral cooperation in various fields and actively push for new achievements in bilateral relations.

    In addition, Special Representative Xu Jinghu also met with Chairperson of the AU Commission Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui. Both sides exchanged views on China-AU relations, expanding bilateral cooperation in maritime safety and blue economy, hotspot issues in Africa and others.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China.

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  • Time to move on – UN expert urges Cambodia to fully implement rights and freedoms at every level

    The time for the Government of Cambodia to blame the troubles of the last century for the situation today is surely over, United Nations Special Rapporteur Rhona Smith said at the end of her third visit* to the country to assess progress on issues of discrimination against ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples, vulnerable groups as well as the current human rights situation.

    “Cambodia has earned its place on the international stage as an equal sovereign state and, as such, the Government must take responsibility for fully implementing at the national, provincial and commune/sangkat levels all those rights and freedoms in the treaties it has so willingly ratified,” stressed the independent expert mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and advise on the situation of human rights in Cambodia.  

    On the eve of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the 1991 Paris Peace Accords which laid down the framework for the present Cambodian constitution and enshrined respect for human rights, Ms. Smith observed that the Cambodia of 2016 is very different from the Cambodia of 1991: “The progress and development is well worth celebrating, however imperfect aspects of that progress may be.”

    Drawing on the text of the Accords, she identified particular issues with the realisation of human rights today. “The Cambodian constitution in Article 31 makes clear the emphasis to be placed on respect for human rights and on ensuring that the law is applied without discrimination on any ground. Yet, there are many examples of the law being applied in an apparently discriminatory or politicised manner,” she said. “Restrictions on freedoms of assembly, expression and association are particularly problematic.”

    The Special Rapporteur commended Cambodia’s strong and vibrant civil society, symbolic of the post-1991 country. However, she underlined that “civil society is under a duty to respect the law of Cambodia and the rights and freedoms of others,” noting that “human rights defenders and activists are not, necessarily, political actors.”  

    The independent expert called on the Cambodian authorities to review and revise a number of laws to strengthen the protection of human rights, and called for judges to publish reasoning for all decisions in order to strengthen both real and perceived judicial independence.

    Focusing on vulnerable groups not yet in a position of equality under the law, Ms. Smith commented that rounding up people in street situations is simply not acceptable, after a visit to the Prey Speu Drop In Centre. “There is a need for a holistic approach to economic and social rights to ensure no one is left behind,” she said in a reference to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

    Chronic overcrowding in the two main prisons was also a cause for concern, on which the expert recommended increasing the use of non-custodial sentencing and reducing the reliance on provisional detention as two ways to alleviate the overcrowding.

    “The Paris Peace Accords provided for full and fair opportunities for everyone to organise and participate in genuine elections,” the expert said looking to the forthcoming local elections in 2017 and national elections in 2018. However, she warned that “there is a deep loss of trust between the two principal political parties.”

    “I urge both parties, through intermediaries as necessary, to explore opportunities for working productively together,” Ms. Smith stated. “Both parties were elected in 2013 to serve the people of Cambodia. The people deserve that those they entrusted do so professionally in the best interests of the people.”  

    During her ten-day visit, the Special Rapporteur met in Phnom Penh with numerous senior Government officials, members of the UN system, the diplomatic community and representatives of a broad range of civil society actors and other stakeholders.

    In addition, she undertook visits to various sites in and around Phnom Penh including Khmer Cham living on land and on the river, the Prey Sar commune correctional centres (CC1 and CC2) and the Drop In Centre (formerly Prey Speu). She also visited Kampong Speu Province where she had meetings with provincial authorities, members of indigenous communities, and communities claiming loss of land due to sugar concessions.

    The Special Rapporteur will present her next report to the Human Rights Council in September 2017. 

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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  • International partners welcome the successful conclusion of the state-formation process for the new HirShabelle Administration

    The United Nations, African Union Mission in Somalia, European Union (EU), Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Ethiopia, Italy, Sweden, and the United Kingdom welcomed the successful conclusion of the state-formation process for the newly-formed HirShabelle Administration and congratulated President Ali Abdullahi Osoble and Vice President Ali Abdullahi Hussein as they take up their heavy responsibilities.

    Somalia’s international partners acknowledged the Federal Government’s efforts to advance the state-formation process, as well as the important facilitation role played by IGAD in this process.

    International partners encourage the new administration of Hirshabelle to reach out to groups that were not part of the state-formation process and ensure that the interests of all communities are protected. This should be taken into account in the electoral process by inclusive representation in both houses. Reconciliation across HirShabelle is critical at this stage.

    International partners urged the new HirShabelle authorities to now focus on the electoral process for Somalia’s Federal Parliament. The new Administration has an opportunity to show leadership by abiding to the rules and procedures agreed by the National Leadership Forum and called on them to ensure that at least 30% of the seats allocated to HirShabelle in both the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament are reserved for women.

    International partners called on the new administration to make every effort to ensure that the process results in the designation of reputable holders of public office who will not undermine the legitimacy and credibility of the new Government and Parliament.

    “Welcome to HirShabelle – Soo dhowoow” said SRSG Michael Keating. “The international community is ready to support the new administration as it sets its agenda for its citizens and develops the institutions to meet their needs”.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM).

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  • Quash the sentences against 13 IRA-Mauritania members and cease harassment of human rights defenders in Mauritania

    We, the undersigned organisations, condemn the persistent and strategic targeting of the Initiative for the Resurgence of an Abolitionist Movement in Mauritania (IRA-Mauritanie) and its members and we call on the Mauritanian authorities to quash the sentences of the 13 IRA-Mauritania members currently imprisoned.

    IRA-Mauritania was founded in 2008 in response to a culture of widespread impunity regarding slavery in the country. Since 2010, we have documented repeated cases of arrest, judicial harassment, trumped-up charges, arbitrary detention, and, while in detention, ill-treatment and torture of members of IRA-Mauritania in response to their peaceful and legitimate activities in the defence of human rights.

    From 30 June 2016 to 10 July 2016, 13 members of IRA-Mauritania were arrested in connection with riots on 29 June 2016 near Nouakchott which were organised by the Hratine people, whose slum the authorities planned to destroy for an alternative development project. No members of IRA-Mauritanie participated in the planning or the execution of the riots, nor did they express opinions on the eviction of the Hratine people prior to their arrest. However, all 13 were arrested in connection with the riots and detained in unknown locations until 12 July 2016 when they met with the public prosecutor who opened the investigation into their case. They were then allowed access to their lawyers and, following this, they were charged on various counts. While in detention, two members reported torture and ill-treatment. On 18 August 2016, all 13 human rights defenders were convicted and sentenced to prison terms of between three and fifteen years. An appeal of their sentences lodged on 22 August 2016 was accepted by the court, but has yet to be heard. On 28 September 2016, all 13 were transferred to a detention center over 700 kilometres from Nouakchott, where they live and work, to the town of Zouérat.

    The President of IRA-Mauritanie, Mr Biram Dah Abeid, has also been repeatedly arrested and imprisoned throughout the course of his career working to eradicate slavery in Mauritania. Biram Dah Abeid was the recipient of the 2013 Front Line Defenders Award, the 2013 United Nations Prize for Human Rights and he is a 2016 U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report Hero. IRA-Mauritanie has won the 2015 Human Rights Tulip Award and the 2016 James Lawson Award from the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict.

    From 2010 to 2016, Biram Dah Abeid was arrested three times and imprisoned three times for varying lengths of time. Most recently, on 11 November 2014, he was arrested and subsequently charged on 15 January 2015 with the crimes of “illegal assembly and rebellion”, “encouraging rebellion”, and “refusing to comply with administrative orders” after organising and participating in a caravan to raise awareness about enslavement of Hratine peoples in Mauritania. After 18 months in prison, the human rights defender was released on 17 May 2016 when a Supreme Court judge found that the maximum penality for his sentence was only one year. In this same period, there were at least 65 arrests of IRA- Mauritania members throughout Mauritania.

    We, the undersigned organisations, condemn the repeated targeting of the peaceful and legitimate work of IRA-Mauritania by the Mauritanian authorities and call on the Mauritanian authorities to immediately cease targeting the organisation.

    Furthermore, the undersigned organisations call on the Mauritanian authorities to (i) immediately quash the sentences against the 13 members of IRA-Mauritania detained at Zouérat and (ii) immediately and unconditionally release them from the detention center in Zouérat and ensure their safe return to Nouakchott (iii) cease all harassment of human rights defenders in Mauritania, especially those working on issues relating to slavery, and (iv) ensure their ability to carry out their peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

    List of Signatories:

    ACAT Germany
    Amnesty International
    L’Association Mauritanienne des droits de l’Homme
    International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
    Front Line Defenders
    L’Initiative pour la Résurgence du Mouvement Abolitionniste en Mauritanie (IRA- Mauritania)
    World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

    Distributed by APO on behalf of International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH).

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