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East African Law Group Decry Human Rights Violations in Uganda

EALS says it is collating evidence that will enable investigations into human rights violation and state of rule of law in Uganda ahead of the 2021 polls.

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East Africa’s regional Bar Association, the East African Law Society (EALS) has condemned the continued human rights violations of the Ugandan government ahead of this month’s general elections.  The society states that its members have observed and noted over the last few days, the growing reports on the worsening state of human rights and rule of law within the country. 

EALS says it is collating evidence that will enable investigations into human rights violations and the state of rule of law in Uganda ahead of the 2021 polls.

In a statement dated 31st December issued by Bernard Oundo, the President EALS said that they are monitoring the situation in Uganda and collecting crucial evidence that will enable them to institute actions against the human rights violators.

Oundo stated that EALS has: “…set up an ad hoc Rule of Law Committee comprising of highly experienced lawyers from across the region to provide technical services for purposes of collecting and preserving relevant evidence and to prepare watertight cases against the violators.

“By this statement, we call upon our members across Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan to voice their solidarity with the Uganda Law Society and the general public in the Republic of Uganda”.  

Some of the concerns include documented and unreported cases of wanton killing, partisan policing, freezing of accounts of several pro-democracy advocates and repression of Civil liberties organisations involved in civic engagements, illegal detention of human rights defenders and Opposition figures among others.

“These obligations are also available under the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. Even more compelling, the reported violations constitute acts of crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court. It is disturbing that many stakeholders have attributed these violations to government security agents and officers in government service.” the statement reads.

The body urged the President, the Attorney General, security operatives and government officials to take steps to forestall further human rights violations.

The statement further said the President, together with his entire executive cabinet, heads of the police, the military top brass must act responsibly to forestall further human rights violations.

Oundo says that the National Bar members comprising of the Burundi Bar Association, the Law Society of Kenya, Tanganyika Law Society, Rwanda Bar Association, Uganda Law Society, Zanzibar Law Society, the South Sudan Bar Association and other partners across East Africa and globally will keep a close watch on the situation.

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Bread Crisis: Libya’s Central Bank Rejects New Letters of Credit for Flour

Governor of the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) Al-Siddiq Al-Kabeer emphasised that the letters of credit, which were opened in 2020 for the supply of flour, were appropriate for the amounts consumed in Libya.

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In response to the Head of Presidential Council, Fayez Al-Sarraj’s regarding requests for new letters of credit to import flour, the Governor of the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) Al-Siddiq Al-Kabeer has on Sunday issued a statement.

Al-Kabeer emphasised that the letters of credit, which were opened in 2020 for the supply of flour, were appropriate for the amounts consumed in Libya.

The General Union of Bakers in Tripoli shut down all bakeries in the city on Saturday, citing an increase in the price of ingredients. This move was justified by the union’s head, Saeed Boukhreiss who claimed the new prices were necessary due to the new prices of flour being linked to lack of supply by the mills’ company.  

The Governor explained that the PM’s call represents a grave breach of the country’s financial law and public spending controls, stipulated in the 2015 Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). He further stated that the state’s balance of foreign exchange with the Libyan Foreign Bank (LFB) is linked to sovereign revenues.

Al-Kabeer also countered rumours suggesting that it had opened letters of credits for importing unnecessary food items.

He further reminds the GNA officials on their obligation to control the country’s borders and ports to curb the smuggling of subsidised goods, especially flour and fuel.

Bakeries reopened Monday after the Bakers’ Union reached an agreement with the control authorities. Bread prices have been impacted largely by flour shortage, the prices of wheat which increased globally by 40% and the new exchange rate of the Libyan dinar to U.S. dollar on the confectionary sector. Bakeries may face dire straits in the coming months if state authorities do not resolve the problem satisfactorily.

In 2018, inflationary pressure and dwindling oil prices among other factors saw bakeries in Tripoli abruptly shut for two weeks, thereby triggering a food crisis around bread – a staple for many Libyans.

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Chevron Nigeria, Host Communities Disagree over Reported Oil Spill in Bayelsa

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Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) has held divergent views with members of its host communities in Bayelsa on leakages reported at Funiwa Oil Fields operated by the oil firm off Bayelsa Coast.

The CNL’s host communities include Koluama 1 and 2, Ekeni, Ezetu 1and 2, Fishtown, Foropa and Sangan in Southern Ijaw and Brass Local Government Areas.

It would be recalled that fishermen operating near the Atlantic Ocean coastline had on Sunday reported an oil leak suspected to be from the Funiwa Fields.

Reacting to the development, Esimaje Brikinn, General-Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs, Chevron said that there was no oil leakage from its operations in Bayelsa.

“CNL, operator of the joint venture between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), (the NNPC/CNL JV), is aware of media reports suggesting an oil leakage from Funiwa field in Bayelsa.

“We wish to state that contrary to these reports, there has been no such oil leakage or spill incident at any of our facilities in Bayelsa State.

“Therefore, any observed crude oil in the environment is not from our operations. CNL remains committed to protecting people and the environment and conducting its operations reliably and efficiently,” he said.

However, Chief Young Fabby, a Community leader in Koluama 1, in an interview said that the denial by Chevron was merely a ploy to evade liability for the leakage and associated pollution.

He said that Chevron had deployed several helicopters to apply chemical dispersants to dissolve and breakdown the oil deposits on the water surface without the knowledge of stakeholders in a bid to cover up the spill.

“We are precise on the location of the oil discharge; it is at Well No 5, within the Funiwa field location. We have video clips of the leakage and wondered why Chevron is denying this incident.

“They have been using chemicals without first informing the regulators and the community, as we speak, I am at the coastline and we have a heap of nets stained with oil and the crude oil has hit the coast,” Fabby said.

Another community leader from the area, Mr Mathew Sele-Epri, said that there was ample evidence of the oil spill, adding that he personally went to the site to verify the claim.

He said that all the operators near the area had denied liability and that the community leadership would ask for the assistance of the Bayelsa Ministry of Environment to determine the source.

“All the companies near the spot, Chevron and Conoil have denied ownership of the oil and we now wonder who has the oil, we are going to engage the state ministry of environment to help us track the source.

“They will bring the regulators to take samples and match the ones we have taken and conduct a fingerprint test to find out which of the operators is responsible,” Sele-Epri said.

When contacted, Mr Idris Musa, Director General, National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), said that the agency would dispatch its officials to the Funiwa field to ascertain the source and cause of the leak.

First Exploration and Production, an indigenous oil firm operating Oil Mining Leases 83 and 85 acquired from Chevron following its divestment from some of its assets in the area where it still retains interests in some fields.

Officials of Conoil and First Exploration and Production have yet to respond to requests for comments on the incident.

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Egypt’s First Flight to Qatar after Three Year Dispute

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Egypt’s national carrier, EgyptAir, resumed flights to Qatar on Monday following the settling of a regional dispute that erupted in June 2017.

The plane left Cairo en route to Doha carrying 38 passengers and is set to return later with 91 people on board, Cairo airport sources said.

The Egyptian and Qatari national carriers last week announced the resumption of flights between the Arab countries after a Saudi-led bloc including Egypt ended a boycott of the Gulf emirate.

Qatar Airways will also resume flights to Cairo on Monday, while flights to Egypt’s Mediterranean city of Alexandria are scheduled to start on Jan. 25.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt signed a declaration with Qatar ending a rift that lasted for three and a half years.

In June 2017, the quartet severed diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting Islamist militant groups, an accusation that Doha denies.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have announced the reopening of their airspace to Qatar.

Emirati low-cost airline Air Arabia is also scheduled to resume flights between the UAE’s Sharjah city and Doha on Monday.

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