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Senegal: Human Rights Watch urges action against Quranic school abuses2 minutes read

Some children reported being imprisoned by their teachers in cell-like rooms for weeks or months.

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Senegal: Human Rights Watch urges action against Quranic school abuses
Photo credit: www.hrw.org

Children studying in Senegal’s Quranic schools face “alarming rates” of abuse, including rape, neglect, and imprisonment, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday, urging the government to reform the still-unregulated religious institutions.  

In the Muslim-majority nation where religious leaders wield wide social and political influence, poor children have long been entrusted to Quranic schools, called “daaras”, for education.

In its report on the young students known as “talibes”, the New York-based rights group and PPDH, a coalition of Senegalese groups, called on President Macky Sall to implement large-scale measures to protect tens of thousands of children living in unregulated daaras.

The report documents the deaths of 16 talibes from 2017-2018 from beatings, neglect or endangerment, and other cases of rape, sexual abuse and being forced to beg in the streets.

Some children reported being imprisoned by their teachers in cell-like rooms for weeks or months at a time. Others caught trying to flee said they were chained up to prevent them from trying to escape again. 

“Talibe children are filling the streets, suffering horrific abuse, and dying from abuse and neglect,” said Corinne Dufka, associate Africa director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement.

Senegal: Human Rights Watch urges action against Quranic school abuses

“Senegalese authorities say they are committed to protecting children and ending forced child begging, so why are so many abusive, exploitative, or dangerous daaras still operating?”

Past attempts to crack down on forced child begging -often by talibes- were praised by children’s groups but greeted with anger by powerful Islamic figures in Senegal.

Often from poor rural families, the talibes are sent to Dakar and other Senegalese cities nominally to memorise the Quran, but are often left vulnerable to abuse and receive little education.

“I didn’t like the daara because they hit us all the time -if we didn’t memorise the verses of the Quran, or if we didn’t bring money,” said a 9-year-old talibe in the HRW report, who fled his daara in Dakar to escape abuse in 2018. “At the daara, they beat you until you think you will die.”

HRW said that while many Quranic teachers in Senegal do not force children to beg and treat them decently, others continue to abuse and neglect those entrusted to them.

Human Rights Watch estimates that over 100,000 talibe children in Senegal are forced by their Quranic teachers -also known as marabouts –to go out into the streets daily and beg for food, money, rice or sugar. Many set begging quotas enforced with often-severe beatings.

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UN condemns use of IEDs against civilians in Libya

“UNSMIL strongly condemns these acts, which serve no military objective, provoke extreme fear among the population, and violate the rights of innocent civilians…,” the UN said.

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A man inspects the wreckage of a car outside the Khadra General Hospital which is dedicated to treating people infected with coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Libyan capital Tripoli on April 8, 2020, after it was targeted by forces loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar. (Photo by Mahmud TURKIA / AFP)

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has condemned the use of improvised explosive devices against civilians in the southern part of Tripoli, as the armed conflict between the east-based army and the UN-backed government continues.

UNSMIL “is extremely concerned about reports that residents of the Ain Zara and Salahuddin areas of Tripoli have been killed or wounded by improvised explosive devices placed in or near their homes,” UNSMIL said in a statement Monday.

“UNSMIL strongly condemns these acts, which serve no military objective, provoke extreme fear among the population, and violate the rights of innocent civilians who must be protected under international humanitarian law,” the statement said.

UNSMIL called on all individuals to “seek information and heed security advice to stay away from areas that have not been declared safe to enter by a competent authority or items of unknown origin which may be explosive devices”.

UNSMIL also commended the search and clearance work by Libyan Police and Military Engineers, reaffirming its continued support to Libyan partners, communities, and stakeholders “who are working tirelessly to rid Libya of the threat of explosive remnant of war (ERW)”.

The UN-backed government’s forces accused the rival east-based army of planting mines before withdrawing from conflict areas in southern Tripoli.

Since April 2019, the east-based army has been leading a military campaign attempting to take over Tripoli and topple the UN-backed government.

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Strike looms as public sector wage dispute enters arbitration in South Africa

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The ongoing face-off between workers in the public sector and the South African government continues. According to the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC), disagreement between the trade unions and government has moved the talks to arbitration for further hearing.

PSCBC General Secretary, Frikkie De Bruin explains that the arbitration hearings will begin by mid-June. An arbitrator will issue an award after the hearings are complete, with the matter potentially heading to court or resulting in a strike if the unions aren’t happy.

Ordinarily, public sector workers make up a third of South Africa’s expenditure. But with the coronavirus lockdown and income reduction, Pretoria seems unwilling to incur more debt.

If not handled carefully to appease the workers, the ruling African National Congress, (ANC) could lose its political dominance in the next local elections.

If no resolution is reached and the workers decide to resolve it an industrial action, it could erode all effort made by the government in the fight against the coronavirus.

The dispute started in February when the government affirmed that it could not fulfil its 2018 agreement on a three-year wage agreement.

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Ethiopia to divest 40% of Ethio Telecom

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The Ethiopian government is finalizing plans to sell a 40 percent stake in Ethio Telecom- the country’s sole telecommunication provider . The plan was announced by Ethiopia’s State Minister of Finance, Eyob Tekalign Tolina.

Ethiopia’s telecommunication industry is considered one of the last closed markets. It has been one of the government’s plans to liberalize the country’s economy launched by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Ethio Telecom has a large market serving a population of around 110 million.

The government will retain ownership of the remaining 60 percent.

Foreign firms in the telecom sector will be invited to bid and a percentage of the minority stake will be sold to Ethiopian citizens. South Africa’s MTN and Kenya’s Safaricom have shown interest in expanding into Ethiopia in the past.

Ethiopia’s communications regulator says the country would proceed with the privatisation of the telecommunications sector despite the novel coronavirus outbreak.

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