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US Defense Secretary to Visit Morocco, Discuss Counter-terrorism2 minutes read

It has become a regular practice for American and Moroccan security officials to exchange visits to discuss cooperation and means to boost collaboration.

Bernard Akede

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US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is expected to arrive Morocco

US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is expected in Morocco on Friday to discuss cooperations between both countries in counter-terrorism.

Esper’s visit to Morocco comes after trips to Tunisia and Algeria, a tour marking his first visit to Africa since he assumed office.

The defense secretary will open his tour on Wednesday with a visit to Tunisia to hold “bilateral talks with President Kais Ssaied and Tunisia’s Minister of Defense Ibrahim Bartagi.”

Esper is then expected to deliver a speech at the American military cemetery in Carthage, where American soldiers who died in North Africa during World War II are buried.

There are reports that the primary purpose of the visit is to further strengthen ties with Tunisia, a major ally in the region, and to discuss the threats posed by extremist organizations such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda, in the North African country. This was according to a senior US military official.

On Thursday, the Pentagon chief will then leave for Algeria to hold talks with President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

According to US military sources, the visit to Algiers seeks to “deepen cooperation with Algeria on key regional security issues, such as the threat posed by extremist groups.”

Esper’s Maghreb tour will end in Rabat to “strengthen the already close relations” in the aspect of security with Morocco, recalling that the African Lion military exercise which seeks to further strengthen cooperation between international partners to combat terrorism and insurgency, is hosted by Morocco.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s event had to be canceled.

While speaking to AFP, the senior official who chose to remain anonymous did not reveal whether the US defense secretary would be personally received by King Mohammed VI.

Esper’s visit to Morocco comes a week after the US ambassador to Morocco David Fischer, was received by the country’s General Director of National Security and Territorial Surveillance – DGST-DGSN – Abdellatif Hammouchi. While on that visit, bilateral cooperation between the two countries in several fields, including security was discussed.

It has become a regular practice for American and Moroccan security officials to exchange visits to discuss cooperation and means to boost collaboration.

The U.S long ago described the Moroccan anti-terror approach as “comprehensive.”

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Nigerian Jailed 30 Months Over Attempt To Traffick 23-Year-Old Woman To Libya

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A Nigerian man in the northern city of Kano has been jailed 42 years for attempting to traffick a 23 years old female compatriot to Libya.

Emmanuel Okpala was jailed 30 months by a Federal High Court sitting in Kano, on Wednesday, for attempted human trafficking.

The convict was arraigned by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), on a count charge of attempted trafficking.

The trial judge, Justice Obiora Egwuatu, said the court found the suspect guilty as charged, and sentenced him to 30 months in Correctional Centre without option of fine.

Earlier, the Prosecution Counsel, Mr Abdullahi Babale, told the court that the convict, had on July 11, conspired with one Mr Peter now at large at Kofar Ruwa Motor Park, Kano with the intention to obtain financial benefit.

“The duo attempted to traffic a 23-year-old woman, Eze Blessing of Ogun State, to Libya enroute Kano, Katsina and Niger Republic in which they are not permanent residents.”

According to the prosecution, the offence contravenes Section 29 of the Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Act 2015 and punishable under Section 26 (1) of the same Act.

The convict, a resident of Abeokuta Road Sabon Gari, Kano, pleaded guilty to the charge.

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Group Lambastes Egypt Over Execution Of 49 People In 10 Days

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Egyptian authorities executed 15 men convicted for alleged involvement in three cases of political violence as well as 2 women and 25 men convicted in criminal cases between October 3 and 13, 2020, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday.

In a statement, the rights group asks the Egyptian Government to immediately halt executions, and re-try those sentenced to death in grossly unfair trials.

According to HRW, 13 of the 15 men charged with political violence had been held in Cairo’s Scorpion Prison.

Their executions follow a suspicious incident inside Scorpion’s death row ward on September 23 in which Interior Ministry forces killed four prisoners after those prisoners killed four security personnel. Authorities alleged the prisoners were trying to escape, the group said.

“Egypt’s mass executions of scores of people in a matter of days is outrageous,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

“The systematic absence of fair trials in Egypt, especially in political cases, makes every death sentence a violation of the right to life.”

The government typically does not announce executions, or even inform the prisoner’s family.

On October 13, the pro-government Al-Masry al-Youm newspaper published the names of eight prisoners executed in the Maximum-Security Prison in Minya governorate, south of Cairo, including a woman.

On October 6, pro-government newspaper Al-Watan said authorities in Cairo Isti’naf Prison carried out 11 executions, including a woman, convicted in criminal cases.

Al-Watan reported on October 3 that authorities executed eight prisoners and on October 8 another seven in Alexandria, in murder and rape cases.

The independent Al-Shehab Center for Human Rights published on October 7 the names of 15 people it said authorities had executed on October 3. Ten had been convicted in the South Giza Case 3455 of 2014, known as the Ajnad Masr (Soldiers of Egypt) case; three in the North Giza Case 4804 of 2013, known as the Kerdasa case; and two in the East Alexandria Case 6300 of 2013, known as the Alexandria Library case.

The Kerdasa and Alexandria Library cases stem from violent events coinciding with the August 14, 2013 violent dispersal of the largely peaceful Rab’a sit-in protesting the army’s removal of President Mohamed Morsy, a day in which security forces probably killed over 1,000 protesters.

The Kerdasa case involved violent protests and an armed attack by a mob on the Kerdasa police station, killing its warden and 12 other Interior Ministry officers and soldiers, and mutilating an officer’s body.

A terrorism court sentenced 183 out of 188 defendants in a grossly unfair mass trial.

The Cassation Court, Egypt’s highest appeal court, overturned the ruling in February 2016 and ordered a retrial before a different terrorism court, which in July 2017 sentenced 20 to death, 80 to life in prison, acquitted 21, and sentenced the rest to long prison terms.

The Cassation Court upheld these sentences in September 2018. Seventeen of the 20 sentenced to death remained on death row.

Nine leading Egyptian human rights organizations said in a 2018 statement that authorities ignored basic fair trial guarantees, including access to legal counsel and the need to establish individual criminal responsibility.

In the Alexandria Library case, authorities charged 71 people following violent protests near the library and killings of 16 people, including an officer and two soldiers, in different incidents.

In September 2015, a criminal court in Alexandria sentenced three defendants to death, one of them in absentia, and the rest to prison.

The Cassation Court upheld the death sentences in July 2017 and acquitted four defendants. Human Rights Watch reviewed 66 pages of the case file comprising the indictment and the evidence, mainly unsubstantiated allegations by security officers with scant material evidence that two executed, Yasser Shokr and Yasser al-Abasiery, were responsible for the killings.

In the Ajnad Masr case, authorities charged about 45 defendants of involvement in armed attacks by Ajnad Masr, an extremist armed group, which claimed responsibility for several attacks in 2014 and 2015. In December 2017, a Giza terrorism court sentenced 13 to death, others to prison terms, and acquitted 5. In May 2019, the Cassation Court upheld the sentences. Three people from this case remain on death row.

Under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt has become one of the top 10 countries for executions and death sentences. Those arrested for alleged political violence frequently face a host of abuses including enforced disappearances, torture to extract confessions, and no access to lawyers. In an examination of 28 death sentence cases since 2016, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights found that authorities had forcibly disappeared 198 people, and 212 said they had been tortured. The majority of those sentenced to death were convicted in military or terrorism court trials that do not meet fair trial standards.

Authorities routinely add dozens, sometimes hundreds, of defendants to a case without justification. Mass trials, which became the norm after 2013 in political cases, do not allow sufficient time to present a defense or to establish individual criminal responsibility.

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Egypt’s Prime Minister Explores Archeological Shaft in Saqqara; Details of the Grand Excavation to be Announced

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Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly, Minister of Tourism and Antiquitues Dr. Khaled El-Anany, and Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Dr. Mustafa Waziri have inspected excavation works of the Egyptian mission in the Saqqara Necropolis.

The mission unearthed three archeological shafts in which are buried a large number of sarcophagi that have been unopened for over 2,500 years, in addition to wooden, colored and gilded figurines and other archeological finds made of gold.

The discoveries will be announced at a press conference in Saqqara in the coming weeks after documenting the finds.

Descending the shaft

Madbouly, El-Anany, and Waziri descended down one of the shafts to inspect the new discoveries in a gesture from Madbouly to laud the efforts of the SCA mission.

The prime minister commended the efforts of the minister of tourism and antiquities, and the shaft employees for their efforts in making regular discoveries.

El-Anany in return thanked Madbouly for the support and attention the government is giving to archeology, which have led to these discoveries in Egypt, in addition to other unprecedented achievements to inaugurate archeological projects that were hailed the world over.

El-Anany disclosed that five museums will open before the end of 2020.

Madbouly expressed his pride in Egypt’s unique civilization.

It is worth noting that the Egyptian archeological mission has made a number of significant discoveries in Saqqara, the most recent of which was unearthing 59 colored sarcophagi that contained well-preserved mummies of officials and priests from the 26thDynasty. The discovery was announced at an international press conference in early October 2020.

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