Pontus Marine LTD- Leader of fishing industry in Somaliland

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Possible action against Egypt on Nile water

Sudan not part of possible action against Egypt on Nile water
Friday 26 June 2009 June 25, 2009 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan will not be part of possible legal action against Egypt being pursued by some Nile basin countries, an official said today.
The independent Al-Akbar newspaper said that the UK based Guardian newspaper reported that parliamentarians from 11 African Nile basin countries are considering file a lawsuit against Egypt regarding the 1929 and 1959 agreements that gave it exclusive right on the usage of the longest river in the world.
The 1929 agreement signed between Britain and Egypt states that no project on the Nile would be undertaken by any basin countries that would impact the volume of water reaching Egypt.
Legal experts say that the agreement is binding to Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo despite the fact that most of these countries were not independent at the time.
Thirty years later Sudan and Egypt amended the agreement that enabled the construction of the Aswan dam close to the borders between the two countries.
The 11 countries will reportedly also add Britain to the case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) asking for compensation losses incurred because of these agreements.
The move reportedly came after Egypt refused to sign a framework agreement in the Congo last month saying it amounts to its “historical right” in the Nile water.
The Egyptian Al-Ahram Weekly newspaper said that Cairo asked that other signatories “explicitly approve Egypt’s right to 55.5 billion cubic square meters of water annually; that no projects on the Nile be implemented without Egyptian approval, and that Convention articles be amended only on a unanimous vote”.
However, the stipulations put forward by Egypt were deemed unacceptable by other countries.
The 1959 agreement between Egypt and Sudan states that no projects are allowed on the Nile by any other country without its consent.
A unidentified Sudanese official at the water resources and irrigation ministry emphasized to Al-Akhbar newspaper that neither his government nor Ethiopia will join the effort to sue Egypt.
He added that Sudan under British rule in 1929 and thus was not a party to the first agreement and noted that it is up to the political leaderships not the parliamentarians to take such a step.
Egypt is extremely sensitive to any talk about modifying its share in the Nile water with some officials saying that this amounts to a declaration of war warranting military action.
Yesterday the editor in chief of the semi-official Al-Ahram daily Morsi Atallah wrote a column saying, “Nile water is a red line”.
“Egypt will not forfeit its historical rights…will move to defend these rights if any attempt is made to touch Egypt’s share and no one inside or outside should be surprised” he wrote.

Ethiopia arrests Oromo rebels after raid on dam site

Ethiopia arrests Oromo rebels after raid on dam site
June 26, 2009 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopian authorities on Friday arrested three rebels from Oromo Liberation Front accusing them of carrying a raid on a dam construction site in the western part of the country and beating Chinese workers.
Ethiopia TV reported that rebels were planning "terrorist activities" there, and were later caught by security forces. "The culprits beat Chinese technicians working at the site, robbed laptops, printers, digital surveying machines and other equipment at the site," it further said.
The Chinese technicians were transported to hospital after being badly beaten by the OLF gang during the attack this week at the Neshie Dam..
The three were paraded on TV, together with guns, communications equipment and bomb-making materials.
Established in 1973, Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which Ethiopia considers it as "Terror group" has been fighting for the liberation of the southern Oromo region since 1993, alleging government discriminates the Oromos, largest ethnic group of the nation.
The Ethiopian government which describes the Oromo rebels as "anti-peace elements" accuses arch-foe Eritrea of supplying weapons to destabilize political stability in the country.
However an opposition figure told Reuters that the government’s version on the arrests was not credible.
"Unless there is ample evidence that the three persons apprehended as terrorists were attempting to carry out terrorist activities along the dam site, we cannot trust what the government is alleging," said Gebru Gebremariam, chief whip in parliament for United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF).
"The government always carries out massive arrests of the Oromo people under the pretext of terrorism."

In equality in Saudi Arabia and women's transport problems

In equality in Saudi Arabaia: Women’s transport: Solutions needed
Laura Bashraheel Arab News
JEDDAH: In Saudi Arabia, the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive, transportation is definitely an issue. Women are usually driven around by family members and personal drivers, or are forced to use some other type of private transportation. While the private transport is a booming business, the higher the demand the more expensive the supply becomes.
Providing alternative solutions is the only exit. Some companies provide cars and drivers to ferry their women employees for work purposes, but not all companies have the budget to do that. Workingwomen, meanwhile, find it difficult getting to work and are often charged thousands of riyals a month in transportation.
Hadeel Al-Amir, a 30-year-old employee at a private company, does not have a personal driver. Her husband also travels a lot and so she used to face an everyday dilemma when going to work.
Therefore, she found a driver who charges SR1,200 a month to take her to and from work everyday. Of course, she pays extra to go to other destinations apart from work. “I pay SR40 per trip and sometimes even more if this driver is not available,” said Al-Amir.
Al-Amir receives SR300 a month in car allowance. “The government should provide more means of transportation,” she added. She believes spending this amount of money on transportation is a “rip off.”
“Limousines could come in handy sometimes but I have to wait in the street to catch one,” she said, explaining how she had to once wait for 20 minutes under the sun for a taxi.
Many believe that buses would also be expedient. However, buses need stations and a bus network, something that the Kingdom lacks. The few buses that do operate in cities and towns across the Kingdom do so randomly.
“I would go on a bus if the service was available the whole day,” said Mona Ismaeel who is 25 and employed at a company on Jeddah’s Madinah Road. “Me and my sisters spent huge amounts of money on transportation when we were studying at university, not to mention the harassment of drivers,” she said.
Mona’s father died and she has no brothers. “My mother uses my aunts’ drivers every now and then,” she said, explaining how this is an embarrassing situation.
The family bought a small car but drivers would not last long. “Drivers nowadays charge up to SR2,000 a month. We have a visa but our last driver only stayed with us for one month and then ran away so he could work illegally and earn double what he was getting from us,” she added.
Mona said the government should find a solution to the “humiliation” she and women like her face. “Rich people do not worry about transportation. They buy three cars instead of one and issue as many visas as they want,” she said.
Although the government is building bridges to ease congestion on Jeddah’s roads, they are still far from finding solutions to the problem.
The private sector, however, recognizes the potential of the chauffeur-driven car business. Meshwar, a car service company, provides transportation and charges by the hour. The service started three years ago and expanded due to high demand. According to Shadi Shakir, the company’s marketing manager, most of the company’s clients are women. “Our customers are those who do not have drivers and at the same time do not want to use taxis,” he said.
“The company was established to serve the needs of society. We are now increasing our business,” Shakir said.
Saudis, however, are not the only ones who suffer from a lack of transportation. Expatriates experience the same. They, however, are not allowed to issue driver visas.
A German expatriate, who lives and works here along with his wife and son, faces a lot of problems especially since his wife works and son goes to school. “Now we have a car, we are not allowed driver visas,” he said, adding that only foreign doctors and general managers are allowed that luxury, and that he does not fall into either category.
“The only way to get a driver is on the black market. We’ve hired an illegal driver who charges SR1,800 a month,” he said. He described his situation as a “nightmare” especially since his wife does not speak Arabic and so he has to find a driver who speaks English.
At the same time, he worries about his son being ferried to school with a complete stranger. “A train, metro or a monorail could be really convenient. They would reduce the horrible traffic situation in Jeddah,” he said.

Eritrea slams US for providing weapons to Somalia

Eritrea slams US for providing weapons to Somalia
Sat Jun 27
ADDIS ABABA (AFP) - Eritrea on Saturday slammed the United States for providing weapons to Somalia's beleaguered government in its battle against Islamist insurgents.
Washington announced on Thursday that it was sending the Horn of Africa nation an "urgent supply" of weapons and ammunition at the request of Mogadishu as armed groups closed in on the transitional government's strongholds.
"US misguided acts of intervention and supply of weapons have not, in the past years, advanced the cause of stability in Somalia," the Eritrean foreign affairs ministry said in a statement.
"A repeat of those measures will not produce positive results but only aggravate and prolong the crisis," it added.
On May 7, the Shebab, a hardline Islamist armed group, and Hezb al-Islam, a more political group, launched an unprecedented nationwide offensive against the administration of President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.
The internationally-backed Sharif has been holed up in his presidential quarters, protected by African Union peacekeepers as his forces were unable to reassert their authority on the capital.
Around 300 people are confirmed to have been killed in the latest violence, many of them civilians.
The United States has also approached Eritrea with "concerns" that it is aiding the insurgents and warned that such support would be a "serious obstacle" to better ties, a US State Department spokesman said on Thursday.
But Eritrea again dismissed the allegations.
"These pronouncements do not contain novel or substantive elements," it said.
Ties between the two countries have in recent years been frosty, with Eritrea accusing the United States of backing its arch-foe Ethiopia in a long-running border dispute.

US Congressional Hearing Examines Military, Political Situation in Somalia

US Congressional Hearing Examines Military, Political Situation in Somalia
By Dan Robinson Washington26 June 2009
The violent and unstable situation in Somalia was the subject of a U.S. congressional hearing on Thursday. Testimony by officials from Somalia, the United Nations and the African Union, and experts came as the Obama administration confirmed it has decided to bolster Somalia's embattled Transitional Federal Government against Islamist forces.
With each day bringing further deterioration in Somalia, including among other things the recent bomb attack that killed the Somali transitional government security minister, Thursday's hearing was timely.
Coinciding with the hearing, the State Department confirmed that the U.S. is providing urgent shipments of weapons and ammunition to Somalia's Transitional Federal Government, the TFG, to help it avoid a complete takeover by Islamist rebels the U.S. suspects has ties to al-Qaida.

Ted Dagne, African Affairs Specialist with the Congressional Research Service, predicted that violence is likely to increase in coming months as the Islamist group al-Shabaab, backed by foreign fighters, attempts to oust the transitional government. "The primary objective of this offensive is to force the collapse of the TFG (Transitional Federal Government), and to force AMISOM (African Union Mission to Somalia) to leave Somalia," he said.
Al-Shabaab has taken over much of Mogadishu and southern Somalia, and is on a U.S. government list of international terrorist groups.
Dagne says highly de-centralized and mobile al-Shabaab forces threaten the Transitional Federal Government, and noted that African Union forces are constrained because they are not authorized to take offensive action. He said al-Shabaab is supported by more than 400 foreign fighters, and is funded by al-Qaida and certain foreign governments.
Peter Pham, Associate Professor of Justice Studies, Political Science and Africana Studies at James Madison University, says conditions in Somalia threaten security and stability of the Horn of Africa:
"Even without toppling the TFG, al-Shabaab has already achieved a major objective by securing a territorial base from which like-minded militants and terrorists can carry out attacks elsewhere, especially against targets in the Arabian Peninsula as well as participating in the current violence against Somalis," he said.
Representative Donald Payne, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, said further violence can be avoided only if Somalis from all three regions of the country come together: "As we gather today many Somalis continue to be displaced, maimed and killed. The dream and aspirations of millions of Somalis are on hold or crushed," he said.
Of Somalia transitional government and regional officials invited to the hearing, the foreign minister of the Republic of Somaliland declined to attend.
But the President of the Puntland State of Somalia, Abdirahman Mohamed Farole, appealed for foreign assistance to stable areas of the country, saying this would be the best way to prevent extremist groups from expanding areas they control:
"There are limited options for dealing with extremists and terrorist threats in Somalia. The international community must support stable regions, for example Puntland, and offer long-awaited development incentives in order to attract the attention of other Somali regions that see the benefits as counter-weight to joining extremists," he said.
Speaking for the Transitional Federal Government, Idd BedelMohamed,Deputy Permanent Minister of Somalia at the United Nations, read a statement accusing al-Shabaab and some hardliners of rejecting reconciliation, and acknowledged that the transitional government faces intensified attacks:
"Insurgent groups continue to attack [the] Somali government and AMISOM forces with a new influx of foreign fighters allied and in support of al-Shabaab and its radical agenda. Attacks by radical groups against the combined forces of TFG and AMISOM are becoming more sophisticated, coordinated and lethal," he said.
Ugandan Minister of Defense, Crispus Kiyonga, said the African Union force, composed of 2,590 Ugandan troops 1,600 from Burundi, has so far been able to defend the transitional government's state house, Mogadishu port and airport, but said reinforcements to al-Shabaab have created a difficult situation.
"What we have in Somalia is an extraordinary situation that requires extraordinary means. For the U.N. to keep urging that peace be created first before a U.N. peacekeeping force can be sent continues to deny the Somali people badly-needed international forces to assist in the stabilization of that country," he said.
Ngoga Gateretse, Senior Advisor to the African Union Special Envoy for Somalia, called the situation in Mogadishu grave and said al-Shabaab is trying to force an extreme form of Islam on the Somali people, "This is completely new and shocking to the majority of the Somalis. It is unfortunate that some would use the religious zeal of sincere Somalis to prosecute what amounts to terrorism and the promotion of their agenda," he said.
A State Department official did not provide details of military aid going to the U.N.-backed transitional government. However, news reports quoting U.S. officials said it consisted of small arms as well as training which would be conducted outside the country.

Feelings About Michael Jackson in East Africa

Mixed Feelings About Michael Jackson in East Africa
By Alisha Ryu Nairobi26 June 2009
East Africans are expressing deep shock over the death of pop star Michael Jackson Thursday of an apparent heart attack. In Kenya, the airwaves were filled Friday with some of Jackson's greatest hits, and even some residents in Somalia's restive capital Mogadishu took a moment to pay tribute to the entertainer. But not everyone was a fan.
(Photo: A young Michael Jackson at home in Encino, California in 1972)
Nairobi high school teacher Winnie Miriti says she remembers her parents playing Michael Jackson records at home when she was growing up. She says she the singer was a huge part of her childhood and he will always be fondly remembered.
"The music industry has lost a great man," said Miriti. "He was a true legend. I am going to buy his album right now."
Construction worker James Murua says he will remember Jackson as a first-class entertainer, whose music touched an entire generation of people around the world.
"Great, great loss to humanity really because he set a trend with all of the dance moves and all of the current big celebrities copied their style from Michael Jackson," he said.
Michael Jackson catapulted to fame in the 1960s as the 8 year-old lead singer of the Jackson Five, a hugely successful pop group made up of Jackson and his four brothers. With his unique vocals and signature "moonwalk" dance moves, Jackson went on to become one of the best-selling male solo artists of all time.
But Michael Jackson's successes were often overshadowed by troubles in his private life. He was twice accused of sexually abusing young boys and was formally charged in 2003 with molestation. Jackson was acquitted two years later, but his reputation had been tarnished.
Judy Mwaluko, a young student in Nairobi, knows many of Jackson's songs, especially "We are the World," a song Michael Jackson co-wrote with Lionel Ritchie in the mid-1980s.
Many of the music industry's biggest names, including Jackson, sang the song as a group to raise awareness for famine victims in the Horn of Africa. Mwaluko says while she appreciates the charity work Jackson performed, she says as a man, he was a disappointment.
"His music is not him. I still love his music," she said. "But he really did many messed up things. So, I would not do anything to remember his life or anything like that."
A journalist in the Rwandan capital Kigali, Eunice Juhalo, says people there are sad to hear of Jackson's death. But she says there are many people like her, who have no opinion of Jackson one way or another.
"He is not my favorite musician," said Juhalo. "I know zero about his music and here, his death is like anybody else's death."
Some people in east Africa risked severe punishment to remember Michael Jackson. In Somalia's restive capital Mogadishu Friday, a group of young Somali men ignored the civil war raging around them for a few minutes to listen to their favorite Jackson song.
They could not turn up the volume on their tape recorder for fear of being heard by members of al-Shabab, a militant Islamist group that is fighting to overthrow the Somali government. Al-Shabab does not tolerate music or dancing and has threatened to punish anyone who violates the rule.
Tapping his toe in defiance, one of the Somali men told VOA that Michael Jackson will be missed.
He says he and his friends are shocked that their African-American brother is gone. But his music will live on because that is something no one will ever forget.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Independence of Somaliland in 1960

The independence of Somaliland
Today is the 49 repetition of the independence of the Republic of Somaliland from the British rule that has occupied the country since 1884. Somaliland republic with the capital of Hargeisa has been marked as the most success storey of democracy in the region since its second independence in 1991, because of its multiparty system that has promoted democracy and freedom of speech .
Although some of the parties in the past have been affiliated with the, then Italian Somaliland, both groups have had the sentimental views of greater Somalia against the indirect rule of the King of Ethiopia, Haile selllase mariam.
As a kid ,I remember that ( aan maalo hasheena maandeeq) let us avail from our source of milk of the mandeeq (the abundance and the satisfying source of milk )
The region that today encompasses Somaliland was home to the earliest civilization that roamed this modern day country but only until the uprising against the rule of Siyad Barre.
Unstable, and the SNM expanded its control in the north-west region. Mogadishu responded by instituting draconian measures in the north-west to suppress the SNM. When these failed, the government indiscriminately used raids and bombing campaigns to assert control. Nonetheless, by the end of the 1980s, the SNM controlled virtually all of the north-west, including the major towns of Hargeisa and Burao. The Siad Barre regime was on the verge of collapse.
The region, like the rest of Somalia, was marred by political instability and differences in culture, both due to regional feuds and the markedly different societies created by the British and Italian colonial authorities.
Second Independence
On May 18, 1991, after the collapse of the central government in Somalia in the Somali Civil War, the territory asserted its independence as the Republic of Somaliland, although it has received no international diplomatic recognition.
The economic infrastructure left behind by British, Soviet Union, and American funding and military assistance programs has been largely destroyed by war. The people of Somaliland had rebelled against Siad Barre dictatorship in Mogadishu which prompted a massive reaction by the government. Tony Worthington wrote of his first visit to Hargeysa, in 1992, at the time of Somalia's great famine, saying that he had never seen such devastation, after bombing by the ousted Siad Barre dictatorship had left 50,000 dead in the city alone. However, the country was re-built during the years that followed.
Abdurahman Ahmed Ali Tur was sworn as the first president of Somaliland, although he died just a year later. Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Egal was elected president in 1993, re-elected in 1998 and remained in power until his death on May 3, 2002. The vice president Dahir Riyale Kahin was declared the new president shortly afterwards.
Since independence Somaliland has been trying to extend its domination to Sanaag and Sool region which eventualy Somaliland succeeded. Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf's Puntlander forces have led several invasions to defend these areas considered to be a part of Puntland State but in vain.
Somaliland is currently in the process of holding its second presidential election with the support of the West and president Riyale could be replaced by a former SNM leader as a president whose mind and talents may have already been exhausted.

Somaliland needs leaders who have no boundaries and are not tribal and that can put public interest before theirs , and could lead the country through the current turbulence of this world that has left the country behind in the dark ages.
Will the people of Somaliland put tribalism aside and give the political leadership to the elite and a new blood leadership, is a big question question?
By Medeshi

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson dies in LA hospital

AP Source: Michael Jackson dies in LA hospital
By NEKESA MUMBI MOODY and DERRIK J. LANG, Associated Press Writers
Nekesa Mumbi Moody And Derrik J. Lang,
Associated Press Writers
LOS ANGELES – Michael Jackson, the moonwalking former child star who became known the world over as the "King of Pop" before his life and career deteriorated in a freakish series of scandals, died Thursday, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. He was 50. The person said Jackson died in a Los Angeles hospital. The person was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.
The circumstances of his death were not immediately clear. Jackson was not breathing when Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics responded to a call at his Los Angeles home about 12:30 p.m., Capt. Steve Ruda told the Los Angeles Times. The paramedics performed CPR and took him to UCLA Medical Center, Ruda told the newspaper.
Jackson's death brought a tragic end to a long, bizarre, sometimes farcical decline from his peak in the 1980s, when he was popular music's premier all-around performer, a uniter of black and white music who shattered the race barrier on MTV, dominated the charts and dazzled even more on stage.
He was perhaps the most exciting performer of his generation, known for his feverish, crotch-grabbing dance moves, his high-pitched voice punctuated with squeals and titters. His single sequined glove and tight, military-style jacket were trademarks second only to his ever-changing, surgically altered appearance. Over the years, his skin became lighter and his nose narrower.

Letter to AU Heads of State in Advance of Libya Summit

Letter to AU Heads of State in Advance of Libya Summit
June 25, 2009
Related Materials:
African Union: Focus on Justice in Somalia, Chad
Your Excellency,
As you meet for your summit in Libya, we write to ask you to address a few of Africa's most pressing human rights concerns-security in Somalia, accountability for crimes in Chad, and support for the International Criminal Court.
The African Union's ongoing effort to contribute to stability in Somalia through the deployment of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is an extremely challenging undertaking. Since the end of 2006, the conflict in Somalia has devastated the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians, generated war crimes and massive human rights abuses, and contributed to a humanitarian catastrophe. The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) under President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed is under intense and unrelenting military assault by Al-Shabaab and other armed opposition groups. AMISOM troops have regularly come under attack by forces who display few qualms about using civilians as shields or using weapons indiscriminately. AMISOM faces a daunting task in fulfilling its mandate to provide protection for the TFG without engaging in the abuses that characterize the conflict into which AMISOM is increasingly drawn.
AU troops have kept humanitarian aid flowing through the port of Mogadishu, an accomplishment that has probably saved countless Somali lives. And AMISOM has often showed remarkable restraint in the face of attacks that show no respect for international humanitarian law. Human Rights Watch has received credible reports, however, that AMISOM troops have displayed serious lapses in discipline, including firing indiscriminately at civilians. We urge you to ensure that such conduct is not repeated and is effectively addressed.
Human Rights Watch recommends that the AU and its member states:
Urge the UN Security Council to set up a commission of inquiry to map out the worst human rights abuses in Somalia and lay the factual groundwork for future, concrete accountability processes.
Work to ensure that donor assistance to Somalia's security forces is matched by robust mechanisms to vet personnel and remove those implicated in serious human rights abuses; demand accountability where serious abuses do occur; and monitor and report on human rights abuses impartially.
Ensure that all credible allegations of abuse by AMISOM personnel are thoroughly and impartially investigated and, where appropriate, hold those responsible to account. The first step in this direction would be to finalize and publish the results of the AU's investigation into the February 2, 2009 incident in Mogadishu, where AMISOM troops were alleged to have fired indiscriminately at civilians.
Condemn violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by government forces as clearly as abuses committed by insurgent forces in Somalia.
Human Rights Watch also remains concerned about the case of the former president of Chad, Hissène Habré, who stands accused of crimes against humanity. We seek your constructive engagement in this case.
As you will recall, in July 2006 the AU mandated Senegal to prosecute Habré "on behalf of Africa" and asked the AU chairperson "to provide Senegal with the necessary assistance for the effective conduct of the trial." Three years later, Senegal has failed even to begin proceedings. Some claim that the delay is simply the result of a failure to furnish Senegal with the required resources. The evidence suggests otherwise, as the European Union, Chad, and numerous non-African countries (but not the AU) have offered Senegal assistance and are still waiting for a credible budget from Senegal. The Habré case offers a clear opportunity to demonstrate Africa's capacity and will to deal speedily with crimes and violations of international law committed in Africa. We urge the AU to encourage Senegal to move proceedings forward and offer Senegal concrete assistance.
The AU's commitment to accountability is at the heart of its founding document, the Constitutive Act, which sets forth its objectives and principles. African states were a driving force behind the creation of the International Criminal Court and more than half of AU member states recognize the crucial role of the ICC, as demonstrated by their own membership in the court, making Africa the largest regional grouping of ICC states parties.
At the June 8-9, 2009 meeting convened by the AU in Addis Ababa to discuss the court, most of the African states parties reiterated their commitment to upholding their Rome Statute obligations. African civil society groups and leaders, in statements signed at conferences in Banjul, Cape Town, and Addis Ababa, also expressed strong support for the ICC to provide justice when national courts are unable or unwilling to prosecute.
When ICC judges issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir earlier this year for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, several African non-states parties claimed the move was "anti-African." Some African officials have suggested that the ICC is unfairly targeting Africans, noting that the court's first situations under investigation are from Africa. However, three out of four of these situations were voluntarily referred by the states where the crimes were committed: Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Central African Republic. The fourth, Darfur, was referred to the court by the UN Security Council. The most recent case of ICC action involves the killing of AU peacekeepers from four African countries in Sudan, a war crime.
As the African Group of Legal/ICC Experts recently stated, "The Court has not taken up any situation on its own motion. All of the situations before the Court reflect the will of sovereign states or of the Security Council."
The reality that justice unfolds on an uneven international landscape has generated genuine frustration. This is a landscape that needs to change, so that the leaders of the world's most powerful states as well those from smaller, weaker states are subject to the reach of law for the worst crimes under international law. However, denying justice to some victims because redress is not possible for all cultivates, rather than combats, the culture of impunity. We need more justice, not less.
The ICC makes decisions about its investigations on a variety of factors, including whether it has jurisdiction. Some of the most egregious crimes perpetrated around the world since 2002 have been committed in states that are not parties to the court and are thus outside the court's authority. At the same time, Human Rights Watch believes, where justified by the evidence, the ICC prosecutor should exercise his statutory authority to begin an investigation, regardless of state referral.
We urge the AU summit to reaffirm its welcome commitment to securing justice by building on the consensus reached by many AU members in Addis on June 8-9 in relation to the International Criminal Court. Moreover, we urge the summit to avoid any outcome that would undermine the integrity of the court. Such an outcome would call into question the AU's commitment to fighting impunity.
In addition, we advocate enhanced communication and cooperation between the AU and the court, which the AU has already begun to implement. Human Rights Watch asks the AU to support or encourage the establishment of an ICC liaison office in Addis Ababa to strengthen institutional contact and negotiate a cooperation framework between the ICC and the AU. We have been encouraging the ICC to take similar measures in other parts of the world.
We thank you for attending to these concerns and look forward to our continuing dialogue with you on securing peace and justice for Africans who have been victims of the worst crimes in violation of international law.
Georgette Gagnon
Africa Director
Read related issues: http://www.hrw.org/en/africa

'Michael Jackson rushed to hospital'

'Michael Jackson rushed to hospital'
Michael Jackson has reportedly been rushed to hospital in Los Angeles, according to local reports.

The LA Times reports that paramedics found the singer at his home and he was not breathing.
They performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) at the scene before taking him to the UCLA Medical Centre hospital.
No further details are immediately available.
Other reports say his mother is on the way to visit him.
Earlier this week, Jackson fans were given another chance to grab a ticket for his forthcoming UK residency.
The King of Pop is set to step out onto London's O2 arena stage on July 13.
The 50 concerts sold out in a matter of hours when tickets were released in March.

Somali pirates cause broadband delay

Somali pirates cause broadband delay
Somali pirates have claimed a new victim by disrupting the laying of an undersea fibre optic cable that has promised to end east Africa’s isolation as the last region of the world not connected to the global broadband network.
The managers of Seacom, a $600m project owned by private investors, said on Wednesday that its cable would not come into service until July 23 – nearly a month later than planned – because pirate activity off the coast of Somalia had delayed the work of its cable-laying contractor.Tyco Telecommunications, the contractor and part of Tyco Electronics, was forced to suspend its cable-laying around the Horn of Africa so it could revise its security plans and beef up protection for its ships following the latest surge in pirate activity in April and May.
Piracy from Somalia has been on the rise since last August, resulting in dozens of ships and hundreds and crew members being taken hostage, millions of dollars in ransoms and severe disruption to commercial shipping.
Wednesday’s announcement from Seacom marked the first time the pirates have disrupted east Africa’s faltering efforts to end its dependence on satellite internet links, which are slow, unreliable and often prohibitively expensive.
Brian Herlihy, chief executive of Seacom, which is based in Mauritius, said he was “frustrated” by what he called the “pirate-induced delay”. He and Tyco would not comment on whether they had received specific information that Tyco ships were on a pirate hit list.
So far no cable-laying ships have been attacked, but the ships contracted by Seacom were huge – needing to carry up to 6,000km of fibre optic cable – and vulnerable to pirate attack because they moved so slowly.
“Cable-laying ships would be prime targets,” said Pottengal Mukundan, director of the International Maritime Bureau in London. “They’re very slow when they’re laying the cables and they really can’t get away.”
Maritime experts said some ships using the waters off Somalia had beefed up anti-pirate security by employing armed guards from private security companies while others had hired armed patrol boats to escort them. Tyco declined to comment on its security procedures.
Mr Herlihy said the laying of the cable, which will connect the east Africa portion of Seacom to Mumbai, had been completed in the past few days. The delay had not been announced until the job was finished to avoid putting the ships in further danger.
The Seacom cable will link South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia to India and Europe. A separate project led by the Kenyan government called Teams will connect Kenya to the United Arab Emirates.Source: Financial Times, June 25, 2009

Mogadishu's lost innocents

Mogadishu's lost innocents
By Mohamed Olad Hassan
BBC News, Mogadishu
Cradling her baby brother in stick-thin arms, eight-year-old Halima Mayow says little about the incident which wiped out their family in Mogadishu.
But, at a camp on the outskirts of the Somali capital, the only word she does utter - "Mortar! Mortar!" - sums up the tragedy which has spawned two more orphans in this war-torn country.
A neighbour tells me a shell landed on the children's family home at a slum in the Siisii area, north of the city.
"It killed the father, the mother and three of the children," Shamso Abdulle said.
"We took these two children with us after their family was buried by the villagers.
"They will live with us because we don't know where their relatives are and we couldn't leave them there."
Intense fighting between forces in favour of the UN-backed government and radical Islamist guerrillas has triggered a human exodus from the bullet-pocked capital since the second week of May.
The UN refugee agency says more than 100,000 people have been forced out of their homes during the recent bout of bloodletting.
Orphans under trees
It leaves an estimated half a million internally displaced people languishing on the outskirts of the city.
“ The tiny body of 30-day-old Sahali Haji Abdi lies trembling, as a doctor looks for a bullet in his abdomen ”
Oxfam's co-ordinator for the failed Horn of Africa state warned last week that the crisis in Somalia was Africa's worst for many years.
According to figures gathered from the cemeteries, hospitals and residential areas by local human right groups, more than 200 people have died over the last month alone.
"Nearly 300 others were injured," said Ali Fadhaa, of the local Elmen rights organisation.
The crump of mortars; the crackle of gunfire; eerily empty streets; prowling guerrillas and looters; sprawling refugee camps; hospitals overflowing with casualties, their bodies smashed open by bullets, shells and shrapnel - these are the everyday scenes of life in Mogadishu.
Those who have managed to flee the carnage have done so with little more than sleeping mats and the clothes they wore.
“ I lost my parents when we were separated by gunfire as we ran out of our village ” Ma'ey Kheyrow, 16
Food is scarce, water is very costly and there is no sanitation, though some refugees have access to water tanks donated by local non-governmental organisations affiliated to international aid groups.
Relief efforts have been hampered by the lack of security, poor infrastructure and harassment from government soldiers.
As well as her own children, 24-year-old Sahra Ahmed Dahir is caring for six orphaned youngsters under a tree in the Elasha neighbourhood, south-west of the city.
"We're looking for shelter but it's very expensive. I have no-one to support me and and nowhere to go," she said.
"My husband died a week ago before we came here. He was hit by a stray bullet, while trying to go out to bring food to the children."
The internally displaced people's camps are full of young people who have been separated from their adult relatives during the fighting.
Sixteen-year-old Ma'ey Kheyrow has been left caring for her baby brother after losing her parents and sister.
"I only remember a week ago we were separated by gunfire as we were running out of our village in Mogadishu," she says. "We ran in two different directions and since then I haven't heard of them."
Civilians end up slaughtered daily in the crossfire.
The gory civilian by-product of the mayhem can be glimpsed in the city's three hospitals: Medina and Keysaney (run by the International Committee of the Red Cross) and Daynile (run by Medecins Sans Frontieres).
Just 30 days old, the tiny chalky grey body of Sahali Haji Abdi lies trembling on an operating table in Medina Hospital.
His little stomach is slit down the middle.
A nurse tells me a doctor is searching for a bullet in the baby's abdomen; I can see a large hole in his lower back.
Sahali's frantic mother awaits the results of the surgery outside the operating theatre.
"Me and my family were about to flee a house in Jungal [north Mogadishu] when the bullet hit my son," she said.
"I only realised he was hit when I heard him cry out and saw blood streaming out of a cot he was lying on."
Casualty convoy
Whenever there is fighting, a convoy of cars, minibuses and trucks deliver civilians to the already overflowing hospitals.
Those without motor transport have to rely on wheelbarrows or carts.
Dr Mohamed Yusuf, a surgeon at Medina Hospital, told me they could not cope with the patients because of a lack of beds and staff.
"We have the medicine provided by Red Cross, but there are few doctors and nurses," he said.
The hospital has only 100 beds but is often coping with four times that number of patients, many lying on tables, the floor or tents in the corridors.
There are few certainties in Somalia, but one thing seems depressingly inevitable: as battles continue to rage in Mogadishu, more innocents like Halima, Sahali and Ma'ey will endure suffering beyond their tender years.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Somalis watch double amputations

Somalis watch double amputations
Hardline Islamists in Somalia have carried out double amputations on four men for stealing phones and guns.
They have each had a hand and foot cut off after being convicted by a Sharia court in the capital earlier this week.
More then 300 people, mainly women and children, watched as masked men cut off their limbs with machetes.
The four men reportedly admitted to the robberies, but were not represented by a lawyer and were not allowed to appeal against their sentence.
The al-Shabab group, which controls much of southern Somalia, has carried out amputations, floggings and an execution in the southern port of Kismayo but such punishments are rare in the capital.
“ 'Help, help, help!' one of them shouted ” Eyewitness Mohamed Abdi
The amputations were carried out in the open in front of an al-Shabab military camp in the north-east of Mogadishu.
A local resident said the four men cried out during and after the amputations. Each man had his right hand and left foot cut off.
"'Help, help, help!' one of them shouted," Mohamed Abdi told the BBC.
Eyewitnesses estimate the age of the four men - Aden Mohamud, Ismail Khalif , Jeylani Mohamed, and Abdulkadir Adow - to be between 18 and 25.
Mr Abdi said the whole process took about an hour to complete.
Human rights lobby group Amnesty International has condemned the amputations.
"These punishments amount to torture," said Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty's Africa deputy director.
The group says that committing torture could amount to a war crime.
After the four were sentenced to double amputations on Monday, mosques in the area announced through their loud speakers that the amputations would take place at 0800 local time on Thursday.
Al-Shabab spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage told journalists that the amputations were a warning to all thieves.
"If they are caught red-handed in similar circumstances, they will face amputation," he said.
He also said al-Shabab would look after the welfare of the amputees.
On Monday, the court had said it was too hot for the sentence to be carried out on that day as an amputation in such conditions could lead the accused to bleed to death.
The punishments carried out in Kismayo have shocked many Somalis, who traditionally practise a more tolerant form of Islam than al-Shabab's strict Wahabi interpretation.
Onlookers at the amputation in Mogadishu on Thursday declined to comment when asked for their reaction.
President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a moderate Islamist, took office in January but even his introduction of Sharia law to the strongly Muslim country has not appeased the hardliners.
The government has not carried out any amputations under its version of Sharia.
Since 7 May, al-Shabab and its allies have been locked in ferocious battles with pro-government forces.
The president has declared a state of emergency and has appealed to Somalia's neighbours to send troops to help.
Story from BBC NEWS:

U.S. sends arms to Somalia, rebels amputate limbs

U.S. sends arms to Somalia, rebels amputate limbs
(Reuters)25 June 2009
MOGADISHU - Washington has sent weapons to Somalia’s government after a green light from the U.N. Security Council to prevent rebels seen as a proxy for al Qaeda overrunning the Horn of Africa nation, sources said on Thursday.
When a moderate Islamist was elected president in January, there was hope he could end nearly two decades of bloodshed in Somalia by reconciling with hardliners who want to impose a strict version of Islamic law across the country.
But Osama bin Laden declared President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed an enemy in an audio tape released in March. He called on the insurgents to topple the government and for Muslims around the world to join their jihad.
The Washington Post said on Thursday arms and ammunition had been sent to the government in a move signalling that President Barack Obama’s administration wanted to thwart the hardliners.
“It’s confirmed. They received approval from the U.N. Security Council,” an international security source said.
While there is a U.N. arms embargo on Somalia, the source said the Security Council had agreed to a waiver procedure for the new weapons and ammunition.
Another foreign security source said arms had come into Somalia for the government via Uganda, which provides half the 4,300 African Union troops protecting key sites in Mogadishu.
“The prospect of the government collapsing is sending alarm bells ringing in Western capitals, but whether this latest move will succeed remains to be seen,” said Rashid Abdi, analyst at International Crisis Group.
“Going further than providing arms to actually sending in more foreign forces would be a mistake,” he said. “The government would then play right into the hands of the militants, who would accuse them of accepting foreign meddling.”
The al Shabaab group, which has foreign fighters in its ranks and is accused of close ties to al Qaeda, stepped up its attacks in early May. It now controls most of southern Somalia and all but a few blocks of the capital Mogadishu.
On Thursday, the insurgents used long knives to cut off a hand and a foot each from four young men in Mogadishu as punishment for theft, witnesses said.
It was the first double amputation in Somalia.
The men screamed in pain, and some spectators vomited.
Al Shabaab has carried out executions, floggings and single-limb amputations before, mainly in the southern port of Kismayu. Movies and soccer games are banned in areas it controls while men and women cannot travel together on public transport.
Al Shabaab’s strict practices have shocked many Somalis, who are traditionally moderate Muslims, although residents give the insurgents credit for restoring order to regions they control.
“We have carried out this sentence under the Islamic religion and we will punish like this everyone who carries out these acts,” said al Shabaab official Sheikh Ali Mohamud Fidow.
Security analysts and government officials say the rebels have been regularly supplied with weapons this year in spite of the U.N. arms embargo, while foreign fighters from Pakistan, Afghanistan and other nations have joined the battle.
Western governments and some of Somalia’s neighbours fear that if the insurgents succeed in toppling the government, the country would then be used as a base to destabilise neighbours.
The government has launched a series of attacks this month to drive the rebels out of Mogadishu. It has failed to make headway and is relying on African Union troops from Uganda and Burundi to protect the presidential palace, airport and seaport.
Somalia’s security minister, the Mogadishu police chief, and a legislator have all been killed this month. The insurgents are using more suicide car bombers and security sources say its roadside bombs have become more sophisticated.
The government has declared a state of emergency.
The last time Islamists seized control of Mogadishu in 2006, neighbouring Ethiopia intervened. Its troops drove them from the capital but instead sparked the insurgency that is still raging.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has not ruled out sending troops back to Somalia if the situation worsens, but said there were no plans for unilateral intervention for now.
He also told a news conference that he believed the government would be able to resist the onslaught from al Shabaab and allied group Hizbul Islam.
“We do not want to find ourselves in a situation where a so-called Ethiopian horse would be trying to take the chestnut out of the fire on behalf of everybody else,” he told a news conference late on Wednesday.
“And this horse being whipped by every idiot and his grandmother.”

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Peace maker : New Garad for Jama Siyad of Dhulbahante

Garad Abdirashid Garad Ismail elected as the new Garad for the J.Siyad Dulbahante subclan.
Garad Abdirashid Garad Ismail has been elected as the only Garad for the Jama Siyad Sub clan of Dhulbahante of Somaliland recently in the Sool Capital of Lasaanood.
( Photo : Garad Abdirashid - Right talking to Sulatn M. Abdikadir of Ida gale, M. H. Gani of Habar younis and many other sultans and Boqors during the inauguration)
Garad Abdirashid whose father Garad Ismail died last year, is the eldest of the sons of the late Garad and the most competent and experienced in clan culture of the Sool community.
Garad Abdirashid who has served the former government of Somalia as an intelligence officer has worked along with leaders like the current President of Somaliland , President Riyale, as well as Ali Waran Ade who is the current Minister of aviation of Somaliland.
Garad Abdirashid who has dual citizenship of the United Kingdom and Somaliland is known for his wisdom in dealing with clan matters as well as for his tolerance and moderate views in dealing with the current Somali conflict.
Garad Abdirashid has been credited with the current mutual neighbourly and peaceful coexistence of Somaliland and Puntland through constant lobbying and close relations with both the regional government of Puntland and the republic of Somaliland.
The people of Somaliland believe that a long lasting peace will prevail between the clans of Sool and Sanaag under the leadership of Jama Siyad by Garad Abdirashid Garada Ismail.
Writen by medeshi

Locusts swoop down on Ethiopia

Locusts swoop down on Ethiopia
ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — Crops in large swathes of Ethiopia risk being destroyed by swarms of locusts coming from northern Somalia, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said Tuesday.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) "reports that locust swarms have been confirmed in seven regions in the country, including in areas where there is no previous record of infestation," a statement said.
"The government is expected to present a response plan specifying immediate and medium-term actions to be taken during the week," OCHA said.
It added that 1,390 hectares of land in several regions, mainly in southeastern Ethiopia had been sprayed in ground and air operations.
The vast majority of Ethiopia's 77 million inhabitants depend on subsistence agriculture and have been badly hit by successive infestations of voracious locusts that destroy every plant in their path.

Somali court postpones amputations, citing weather

Somali court postpones amputations, citing weather
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — An Islamic court in Somalia that sentenced four men to have a hand and a leg cut off postponed the punishment Tuesday, saying the sweltering weather could cause them to bleed to death.
The court sentenced the men Monday in the capital, Mogadishu, after accusing them of stealing mobile phones and guns. The court is run by al-Shabab, a powerful insurgent group that is trying to topple the U.N.-backed government and install a strict form of Islam.
"The sentence will be carried out later," an al-Shabab official said, requesting anonymity because he was not allowed to speak publicly. "It was postponed because of the hot weather and fears that the victims will bleed to death."
No date was set for the punishments to be carried out.
Amnesty International has appealed to al-Shabab not to carry out the "cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments."
The U.S. considers al-Shabab a terrorist group with links to al-Qaida, which al-Shabab denies. The group, which controls much of Somalia, is boosted by hundreds of foreign fighters.
Somalis traditionally observe Sufi Islam, a relatively moderate form of worship. But in recent years, insurgents have begun to follow austere Wahabi Islam — rooted in Saudi Arabia and practiced by Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.
Somalia has not had an effective government since 1991 when the overthrow of a dictatorship plunged the country into chaos. A surge in violence in recent weeks, which diplomats said is a major push by the insurgents to force the government out of its Mogadishu strongholds, has killed about 225 people.
Last week, the national security minister and Mogadishu's police chief were among those killed.
The country's lawlessness has spread security fears round the region and raised concerns that al-Qaida is trying to gain a foothold in the Horn of Africa.
Somali lawmakers pleaded this weekend for immediate international military intervention from countries including Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti to help quash the insurgency. But there was no indication reinforcements would be forthcoming.
Some 159,000 people have fled their homes since May 7, according to the U.N. refugee agency. The United Nations says an estimated 3.2 million Somalis — almost half the country's population — need food and other humanitarian aid.
Two years ago, Ethiopia deployed troops to support Somalia's fragile, Western-backed government, but they were widely unpopular and finally withdrawn in January.

Somalia MPs flee assassinations

Somalia MPs flee assassinations
Scores of Somali politicians have fled the war-torn Horn of Africa nation in the last month amid escalating clashes.
As few as 280 MPs remain, with 250 needed to make a quorum in the 550-seat assembly, based in the capital.
One MP quit on Wednesday warning the chamber was doomed and 20 others have gone to Kenya in the last week after several high-profile assassinations.
Meanwhile, casualties of recent unrest have had to be flown to Kenya because hospitals in Mogadishu cannot cope.
About 56 patients, mainly government forces, wounded in fighting over the last week have been flown to Nairobi for treatment.
Since 7 May, an alliance of militant Islamist hardliners, which controls parts of the capital and much of southern Somalia, has been locked in ferocious battles with pro-government forces in Mogadishu.
New radio station
It also emerged on Wednesday that the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia, Amisom, is to set up a radio station in Mogadishu.
The station will support embattled President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's fragile transitional government.
Somalia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists and many reporters faced with death threats have either fled or will not risk working in the country.
Since the latest bout of fighting began last month, 130 lawmakers, including several ministers, have fled to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
About 20 legislators have made their way there in the last week alone, during which time a fellow MP was gunned down, a security minister was killed in a suicide blast, and Mogadishu's police chief was died in battle.
On Wednesday, Abdullah Haji Ali, an MP for Somaliland, resigned, predicting the parliament was doomed to fail amid the deteriorating security situation and that nine of his colleagues were also ready to go.
Dozens of other Somali MPs are abroad - some in neighbouring Djibouti and others in Europe and the US - with only about 50 on official visits, according to Reuters news agency.
Refugee crisis
The BBC Somali Service says one cannot rule out the possibility of the parliament losing so many MPs it will lack a quorum - threatening the UN-backed government's ability to function formally.
But analysts reckon the president's position will probably remain safe, as long as the African Union's 4,300 troops stay in Mogadishu.
At the weekend, Somalia's interim government urged neighbouring countries to send troops to help.
The Kenyan government says it has not yet decided whether to intervene.
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga has said if Mogadishu falls to the radical Islamists, the consequences would be very grave.
Kenya has a 1,200-km (745-mile) border with Somalia and every day hundreds of refugees try to cross into Kenya.
BBC world affairs correspondent Adam Mynott says Kenya already has more than 300,000 displaced people in camps close to the border.
Ethiopia, another neighbour, which pulled its troops out of Somalia in January after two years, has said it will not intervene again unless it has a "firm international mandate".
President Ahmed, a moderate Islamist, took office in January but even his introduction of Sharia law to the strongly Muslim country has not appeased the guerrillas.
Somalia has been without an effective government since 1991.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Monday, June 22, 2009

Eritrea : Overview of U.S. Refugee Policy

Eritrea : Overview of U.S. Refugee Policy
For the majority of countries in sub-Saharan Africa, religious freedomis the norm, even where other conflicts hold sway or where there has been communal violence along sectarian lines as in Nigeria. The primaryexceptions have been Sudan and Eritrea.
During the 22-year civil war between "North" and "South" the Government of Sudan conducted or tolerated attacks on civilians, indiscriminate bombing raids, and slave raids in the south, all with a religious aswell as an ethnic dimension. Although the conflict in Darfur involves human rights abuses based on ethnic differences, it lacks the religious dimensions of the North-South conflict. With the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the North-South conflict, an interim National Constitution entered into force that includes specific religious freedom guarantees. The country remains in a state of political transition; however, the Government of National Unity hascontinued to impose some restrictions on non-Muslims in the north,while permitting the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) to develop a secular administration respecting the rights of Christians, Muslims,and others in the south. During Fiscal Year 2007, 704 Sudanese refugees who had found refuge in Egypt, Ethiopia, and Kenya (primarily) were settled in the United States. Although gains of the CPA remain tentative, efforts are focused primarily on repatriation of refugees to Southern Sudan. However, UNHCR continues to refer a limited number of Sudanese refugees in need of protection for consideration by the USRAP.
The Government of Eritrea continues to engage in systematic violations of religious freedom, including harassing,arresting, and detaining members of independent evangelical groups(including Pentecostals), Jehovah's Witnesses, and a reform movement within the Eritrean Orthodox Church. It also sought greater control over the four approved religious groups: the Eritrean Orthodox Church,the Roman Catholic Church, the Evangelical (Lutheran) Church of Eritrea, and Islam. Often detainees held for their religious affiliations were not formally charged, accorded due process, provided medical treatment, or allowed access to their families; some are reportedly held in harsh conditions that include extreme temperature fluctuations. While many were ostensibly jailed for evasion of military conscription, significant numbers were being held solely for their religious beliefs or attending a non-registered church.
Eritrea, with 963 arrivals to the U.S. was one of the four countries of origin(together with Somalia, Burundi, and Liberia) that account for the majority of African refugee arrivals to the United States in FY 2007.

System condones : Saudi father sexually abuses his daughter for 19 years

Victim of incestuous father cries out
Walaa Hawari Arab News
RIYADH: A Saudi woman who was sexually abused by her father for 19 years has accused society and the country’s legal system of collaborating with the perpetrator of the crime.
“I always thought that my father was the one who was doing me wrong, but I discovered that society and the legal system were collaborating with him,” said 32-year-old Amal, speaking at a forum entitled “Drugs and Smoking: Two Sides of One Coin, Avoid Them” at the Armed Forces Hospital in Riyadh on Tuesday.
Amal’s drug-addict father began abusing her when she turned 13. However, with little knowledge of who to turn to and fearing what her family and society would say, Amal was left without help for years on end.
“I hid my fear for many years, while taking all possible precautions to prevent him from taking advantage of me,” said Amal as she painfully described how she would hide from her father and try to never be alone with him.
“My main agony was at night when everyone was asleep. Although my sisters and I slept in one room, he would sneak in and touch me while I struggled and tried pushing him away,” said Amal.
As she grew older, Amal understood that what her father was doing was not rape. It was, however, an attack on her femininity, her privacy and her rights as a human being. This gave her the courage to address the problem and inform her mother and wider family who, to her disappointment, did not want to tackle the issue, fearing the consequences.
“Even my uncles knew but did not want to interfere dreading a scandal,” said Amal, adding that she has now come out to protect her sisters and give hope to others who may be experiencing the same.
After graduating from university — a remarkable feat in itself as Amal’s father tried to stop her from studying — Amal turned to officials for help. Her first glimpse of hope came via a television program about the Social Welfare Committee in Riyadh.
Amal called the television channel and got hold of the committee’s telephone number.
“Although they tried to help by following up on the issue with me over the telephone, the greatest obstacle was a lack of offices or representatives in our area at that time,” she said.
Amal said she filed complaints against her father with the municipality, the Human Rights Commission and the National Society for Human Rights. She added that her father was admitted into hospital for drug rehabilitation several times and would then be released a few weeks later. “The last time he approached me was when he returned home after a week’s treatment in hospital. I mustered courage and put up a fight. I beat him up and then left his house together with my sisters and mother. We moved in with my brother,” said Amal.
She finally filed charges accusing her father of mistreating her, sexually abusing her and preventing her from getting married.
Amal remembers with sadness that none of the agencies she approached took proper action to protect her.
“All they had were words of support ... the judge did not rule in my favor over the two charges of mistreatment and sexual abuse. As for the third, all he said was if a suitor was to propose he would marry me to him,” she said.
Although her father is currently being penalized on drug related charges, he has not been classified as a sexual predator and still has control over her. Amal has requested her guardianship and that of her sisters is handed to her brother, something that the courts refused. “How can an incompetent person become responsible for a family?” said Amal, wondering what she would do should her father demand she returns home.
Mohammad Al-Harbi, director general for social welfare at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said: “Providing shelter is top priority in cases such as this... however, we have received many complaints that are found to be false after investigations.”
Al-Harbi believes Amal failed to win her rights because she did not go through proper channels. “We have a hotline where we receive cases and refer callers to offices close to their locations... we have a system in which a committee visits such people, studies their cases and guides them on the proper procedures,” said Al-Harbi.
He explained that should there be evidence of abuse, victims are moved to shelters or other safer environments. He said four shelters have recently opened in Riyadh, Dammam, Taif and Abha.
Al-Harbi said hospitals have been asked to cooperate with the Ministry of Social Affairs and inform them of any abuse cases they attend. “Hospitals usually communicate with the families of drug addicts and mentally ill patients to understand their home situation. When such people pose a threat to their families then all official agencies, including the police, the social services and the courts, take action to protect the families, punish the perpetrators and ensure the threat is removed,” said Al-Harbi. He added that a lack of communication between official agencies could cause great harm.
In the meantime, Amal is still waiting for society to do her justice. She has devastating memories of the past and a great deal of fear of the future.

Somali 'thieves' face amputation

Somali 'thieves' face amputation
Hardline Islamists have condemned four young Somali men to a double amputation for stealing mobile phones and guns.
They will each have a hand and a leg cut off after being convicted by a Sharia court in the capital, Mogadishu.
The al-Shabab group has carried out amputations, floggings and an execution in the port of Kismayo but such punishments are rare in the capital.
Al-Shabab and its allies control much of southern Somalia and are battling the UN-backed government.
Hundreds of residents attended the hearing in north Mogadishu.
Armed al-Shabab militants were on guard, while the accused were chained around their ankles.
'Too hot to amputate'
Three mobile phones and two assaults rifles were displayed, which the accused had allegedly stolen, reports the AFP news agency.
"The defendants admitted the charges brought against them and were sentenced accordingly. Each one of them will have his right hand and left leg amputated publicly," said Judge Sheikh Abdallah al-Haq.
It is not clear where the leg will be cut.
No date was set for the punishment, which will be carried out after the health of the accused is assessed.
Furthermore, Monday was very hot and the court decided that carrying out an amputation in such conditions could lead the accused to bleed to death.
Amnesty International said the four men had not been given a fair trial.
"We are appealing to al-Shabab not to carry out these cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments," said Tawanda Hondora, a spokesperson for the human rights group.
"These sentences were ordered by a sham al-Shabab court with no due process or guarantees of fairness."
The punishments already carried out in Kismayo have shocked many Somalis, who traditionally practise a more tolerant form of Islam.
The transitional government says that al-Shabab has links to al-Qaeda and has brought hundreds of foreign fighters to Somalia.
President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a moderate Islamist, has declared a state of emergency and has appealed to Somalia's neighbours to send troops to help fight the hardliners.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Somali Leader Declares Emergency; Ethiopia Says It May Invade

Somali Leader Declares Emergency; Ethiopia Says It May Invade
By Hamsa Omar and Jason McLure
June 22 (Bloomberg) -- Somalia declared a state of emergency amid increasing violence in the war-torn country as the leader of neighboring Ethiopia threatened to invade if its security is threatened by Islamists seeking to take power.
Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s declaration came after three government officials, including Security Minister Omar Hashi Aden, died in separate incidents last week.
“I take this decision after we encountered many attacks from insurgents to remove the government,” Sharif told reporters at the presidential palace today in the capital, Mogadishu. “We decided to impose martial law in order to overcome the risky conditions that exist in the country.”
The United Nations said last month that al-Qaeda has sent as many as 300 fighters to Somalia to support Islamists and warlords seeking to topple Sharif. The foreigners are training members of the al-Shabaab rebel group and helping them mobilize funds and weapons, Nicolas Bwakira, the head of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, said on May 22.
Somalia’s government called for foreign troops to enter the country to help fight the insurgents on June 20. A day earlier, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said he would reinvade Somalia if Hisbul Islam, led by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, and its allies in the al-Shabaab militia pose a “serious threat” to his country.
U.S.-backed Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia in December 2006, ousting the Islamic Courts Union government that had briefly captured southern Somalia. The army occupied the Mogadishu and the southern town of Baidoa in an effort to bolster the government, though the forces became bogged down in a guerrilla war with Islamist militias that now control most of the country’s south. They withdrew in January.
‘Existential Threat’
If Aweys is “a real threat, an existential threat to us and if he wants to be attacked then of course we will try to do what we did before,” Meles said in an interview in Addis Ababa. “If he poses a clear and present danger, then we will deal with a clear and present danger in any way we can.”
Aweys was previously based in Asmara, capital of Eritrea. Ethiopia fought a border war with the neighboring country from 1998 to 2000. Eritrea has denied it supports Aweys.
“We don’t like him, there is no pretension on our side that we like him or are comfortable with him,” said Meles. “We would like to see his back.”
Aweys said in a statement to reporters yesterday in Mogadishu that the rebels would oppose foreign troops Al-Qaedeployed in Somalia “by any means.”
Al Qaida
Al-Shabaab has been accused by the U.S. of providing safe- haven and logistical support to al-Qaeda, which aims to establish a caliphate, or Islamic government, in Somalia. The militia vowed to defeat any foreign troops that come to the aid of the government.
“Our cats and dogs are eager to eat the dead bodies of your boys if they will deploy to our territory,” Sheikh Ali Mohamoud Rage, a spokesman for al-Shabaab, told reporters in Mogadishu.
Somalia has requested assistance from the United Nations, the AU, the Arab League and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in East Africa to help deal with an emerging humanitarian crisis as thousands of people flee fighting in Mogadishu.
The AU Commission said in a statement late yesterday that Somalia’s government “has the right to seek support from AU member states and the larger international community, in order to protect the Somali people.”
Somalia is in its 18th year of civil war and hasn’t had a functioning central administration since the ouster of Mohamed Siad Barre, the former dictator, in 1991.
To contact the reporters on this story: Hamsa Omar in Mogadishu via Johannesburg at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net; Jason McLure in Addis Ababa via Johannesburg at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

The World’s Most Failed State is Somalia


The World’s Most Failed State is Somalia
Written by Adam Gonn
Published Monday, June 22, 2009
Five Middle East and North African countries rank among the top ten failed states in the world, according to the Foreign Policy magazine’s Failed State Index for 2009, with Somalia ranking top as the most failed state in the world.
The criteria of what the magazine considers a failed state is based on methodology developed by the Washington based NGO Fund for Peace, Foreign Policy Managing Editor Blake Hounshell told National Public Radio (NPR). Fund for Peace goes through over 30,000 press reports looking at 12 different factors, then designates each country a score from one to ten in each category, he said.
Some of the factors involved are the number of refugees each country has, the level of its brain-drain, the inequality within the country and the level of democracy and corruption. Somalia scored 114.7 on the index and it was the only country out of the 177 surveyed the scored 10 in three categories: ‘Criminalization and/or Delegitimization of the State’, ‘Security Apparatus Operates as a “State Within a State,”’ and ‘Rise of Factionalized Elites’, according to Fund for Peace.
“It’s not surprising at all,” Andrew Stroehlein of the International Crisis Group told The Media Line. “Somalia has been at the top—or at the bottom, you should probably say—for many years.”
“It’s been a constant tragedy; a constant blight on the international community’s ability to deal with failed states and conflict and crisis situations. There is enough blame to go around. The serial failure since 1991 is just tragic,” he said.
Somalia has not had a functioning government since Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991. The ensuing years have seen a chaotic system of rival clans controlling various parts of the capital and countryside without ever gaining complete control for more than a few months at a time.
Much of the recent attention Somalia has received has focused on the sharp increase in pirates from the country’s northern coast, which threatens both international shipping and vital aid to the country. There is also a growing concern that the lawlessness of the country will provide a safe haven for Al-Qa’ida to establish its bases there.
Iraq and Afghanistan both received a ten each, in category 12: “Intervention of Other States or External Political Actors.” Category 12 is defined as military or paramilitary engagement in the internal affairs of the state at risk by outside armies, states, identity groups or entities that affect the internal balance of power or resolution of the conflict.
No other country received a ten in any other category.
The report does not specify whether or not the rating is based on the U.S. or any other foreign military having a presence within the country.

Somalia: Al-Shabab should not carry out amputations

22 June 2009
Somalia: Al-Shabab should not carry out amputations
Amnesty International is calling on the Al-Shabab armed group not to carry out amputations on four men accused of robbery tomorrow morning in Mogadishu.
The four young men were sentenced today to cross-amputation (amputation of the right hand and the left foot) by an “ad-hoc” court set up by Al-Shabab in their military camp in northern Mogadishu. They were accused of stealing pistols and mobile phones from Mogadishu residents.
"We are appealing to al-Shabab not to carry out these cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments,” said Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty International’s Africa Deputy Director. "These sentences were ordered by a sham Al-Shabab court with no due process or guarantees of fairness."
The four men allegedly admitted to the robbery, but have not been represented by a lawyer, nor are they allowed to appeal against their sentence. The amputations are reportedly to take place in Al-Shabab’s camp, Masla, in northern Mogadishu.
Al-Shabab factions and the Hisbul Islam armed group, headed by Sheikh Hassan Aweys, launched a military offensive against forces of the Transitional Federal Government, on 7 May 2009. The armed opposition is in control of several districts of Mogadishu. An Al-Shabab-controlled coalition in the port city of Kismayo, southern Somalia, has carried out at least two amputations since the beginning of 2009.
Public Document
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or email: press@amnesty.org
International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK

Save Somalia: Organisation of Islamic Countries

Save Somalia: OIC
Published by
June 22, 2009
JEDDAH/MOGADISHU — As violence rages in the Horn of Africa nation, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) called Sunday, June 21, for an urgent international action against rebels in Somalia.
“It has become inevitable that the international community should intervene immediately to support the transitional government, re-establish order and lighten the suffering of innocent civilians,” OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said in a statement cited by Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Ihsanoglu called on OIC member-states to help the Somali government, assuring it of the organization’s “unshakeable support.”
He also condemned the rebels’ attacks as “terrorist acts contrary to Islam’s principles of peace and reconciliation.”
Somalia has sunk into deadly violence between government troops and hardline militants from Al-Shaabab group its Hizbul Islam allied militia seeking to unseat the Somalia government.
The six-week fighting killed around 300 people and displaced more than 125,000, according to UN figures and casualty tolls compiled by AFP.
The Somali government late Saturday declared a state of emergency, amid calls for foreign intervention against the Islamists.
“Today the Somali cabinet has unanimously declared that the country is in a state of emergency,” a cabinet statement said.
Parliament speaker Sheikh Aden Mohamed Madobe also called on neighboring countries to step in militarily to rescue the Somali government.
“The government is weakened by the rebel forces. We ask neighboring countries — including Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Yemen — to send troops to Somalia within 24 hours.”
“We’ve been forced to make this request because of the escalating violence. Those fighting the government are being led by a (former) Pakistani army general, they are burning the flag and killing people.”
Kenya said on Friday it would not sit by and allow the situation in its neighbor to deteriorate further because it would destabilize the region.
Rebels Warning
But Al-Shaabab group vowed a deadly fighting against any country sending troops into Somalia.
“We tell our enemy that we do not fear any invasion from outside,” Shabaab’s Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage told a press conference.
“We forced Ethiopia to withdraw from Somalia early this year and we shall do the same again.
“We, the Somali young mujahideen, shall fight against any troops deployed here to help the government until our last holy fighter passes away. This is a clear signal that the so called government established by the enemy had totally failed.”
Shaabab has emerged during its fighting against the western-backed interim government and its Ethiopian allies who invaded Somalia late in 2006 to topple the Islamic Courts.
But the group has rejected the election of Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed as Somalia’s president, launching deadly attacks against his government.
Ethiopia said on Saturday it would only send troops into Somalia under a mandate from the international community.
“Any further action from Ethiopia regarding Somalia will be done according to international community decision,” Communications Minister Bereket Simon told AFP.
He stressed Addis Ababa’s support to the Somali government.
“We have supported them in the past and we will continue. An unstable Somalia is a danger for everyone,” he said.
“We are following the situation very closely and wait for any answer from the international community.