NEW YORK, December 17, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Police in the semi-autonomous republic of Somaliland on December 13 raided the Hargeisa offices of the critical independent daily Hubaal, arrested two staff members, and ordered the publication to be shut down, according to news reports. This is the third time the paper has been targeted this year.
Police told Hubaal staff to turn off their cellphones, and ordered them to leave the offices, according to news reports. Mustafa Mohamed, a reporter, and Osman Ahmed, an IT specialist, were arrested, but were released today with no explanation.
Mohamed Ahmed Jama, managing director of the paper and the owner of Hubaal Media Network, which publishes the paper,has gone into hiding, a representative of the Somaliland Journalists Association told CPJ. The offices were closed today. It is unclear if the paper will resume publishing.
Somaliland Police Commissioner Gen. Abdullahi Fadal told local journalists that police had a court warrant allowing them to close the offices because Hubaal had recently published stories that were dangerous to the country’s internal security.
Hubaal had published a story that claimed the police were divided into two rival groups. The police commissioner denied the allegations on public television the day before the raid, local journalists said.
“Authorities must put an end to this repeated harassment of journalists at Hubaal,” said CPJ East Africa Representative Tom Rhodes. “Somaliland will never achieve its democratic aspirations if the press does not feel empowered to report critically on the government.”
In June, the Attorney General filed criminal charges against Mohamed and Hassan Hussein, editor of Hubaal, and suspended the newspaper for more than a month on defamation charges. Police detained Mohamed and Hassan for one day a week later, local journalists said. In August, President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud issued a presidential pardon dropping all charges against Mohamed and Hassan.
Two masked gunmen raided the Hubaal offices on April 24 and fired at Mohamed, whose arm and finger were broken in the attack, according to news reports. The gunmen were later identified as police officers. The attack followed a series of critical articles published in Hubaal that accused the government of nepotism and misuse of office.
Authorities arrested one of the gunmen implicated in the April raid on Hubaal, but he was released without being charged and without a court hearing, local journalists said. The Military Court Chairman Brigadier-General Yusuf Farah claimed the gunman, Ahmed Hassan, could not be held for more than 180 days since the complainants had not followed up with the case, according to news reports.
Journalists staged a protest over Ahmed Hassan’s release on December 3, according to news reports. But police detained four journalists for six days on charges of holding an illegal protest, local journalists told CPJ.
OTTAWA, Canada, December 17, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement:
“Canada is concerned by the recent fighting in Juba and appeals for calm. We call for the rule of law to be obeyed, for the lives and property of civilians to be fully respected and for the political differences that may have led to this violence to be addressed through dialogue.”
The Government of Canada advises against all travel to South Sudan, including to the border areas and Juba, due to the present high level of armed conflict and violent crime.
Canadians are advised to remain indoors, to monitor local media and to be aware that the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular assistance in South Sudan is extremely limited. Canada will continue to monitor the situation.
GENEVA, Switzerland, December 16, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Ambassador Abdul Samad Minty, permanent representative of South Africa to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva, Switzerland, recalled his friend and former president Nelson Mandela in a memorial service on 16 December at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva.
The service of prayer, remembrance and thanksgiving for Mandela’s life was sponsored by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and led by participants from the WCC, ACT Alliance, Conference of European Churches, Lutheran World Federation, World Communion of Reformed Churches, World Student Christian Federation and the World YWCA.
In welcoming remarks, WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit noted that the ecumenical movement as a whole lent support to Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement for many decades. Tveit and other religious leaders from throughout the world travelled to South Africa over the past ten days, praying with the family and nation.
“In a remarkable way, Mandela gathered the whole world to celebrate the best and shared values of human beings, also in the moment of his death. This was a miracle in itself, a new sign of hope he gave to the world,” he said.
Tveit recalled the challenge issued by Archbishop Desmond Tutu at last week’s memorial celebration in a Johannesburg stadium, “Do you commit yourselves to the values of Nelson Mandela?”
“None of us can be like him,” said Tveit. “But we can follow him. We all can learn from him.”
Dr Agnes Abuom of Kenya, newly elected moderator of the WCC Central Committee, recalled Mandela as “the model and epitome of the full liberation we seek.” She compared him to Joseph in the biblical book of Genesis, capable of forgiving those who had sold him into decades of slavery. Even so, “supporting Nelson Mandela was not always fashionable.”
Abuom said that “Mandela was a gift from the continent of Africa to the whole world”, attracting heads of state and government from more than half the nations and providing once again the sense of “a new global consciousness”.
Ambassador Minty said that the Ecumenical Centre service on Monday 16 December happened to fall on a South African holiday, the Day of Reconciliation. This year, a monumental statue of Mandela is being unveiled in South Africa.
Minty was a schoolboy when he first met Mandela in the 1950s. He reminisced him, both as a great leader and as a person with genuine concern for all people he met.
He paid tribute to the many individuals, communities and institutions that struggled against apartheid over many years. He offered thanks in particular to the “very, very prophetic role” played by the WCC and its Programme to Combat Racism (PCR). He praised church leaders, including former WCC general secretary Philip Potter, the first PCR director Baldwin Sjollema, as well as Archbishop Desmond Tutu who chaired the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission during Mandela’s presidency.
Minty also honoured the memory of Archbishop Trevor Huddleston from the Church of England, “a lifelong friend to Nelson Mandela” who “played a kind of Gandhian role” in the anti-apartheid movement.
Minty concluded, “We all have the responsibility to answer for ourselves how we can take up the legacy that Nelson Mandela leaves us with. And how can we all live up to that great legacy and create or turn hope into reality?”
OTTAWA, Canada, December 16, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Today, Lois Brown, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie, Christian Paradis, attended the third African Union Conference of Ministers Responsible for Mineral Resources Development in Maputo, Mozambique. During the conference, PS Brown helped launch the African Minerals Development Centre, to which Canada is the largest contributor.
“Creating sustainable economic growth, led by the private sector, is the number one way to break the cycle of poverty,” said PS Brown. “When managed properly, the extractive sector can generate substantial revenues for governments which they can in turn invest in much-needed infrastructure and basic services, including health and education. Local businesses can also benefit, which leads to greater job creation.”
Approved in February 2009 during an African Union Summit, the Africa Mining Vision seeks to use Africa’s mineral wealth as a tool for social and economic transformation and supports the transparent, equitable and optimal development of Africa’s mineral resources. In January 2013, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that the Government of Canada is contributing $15.3 million over five years in support to the Centre through the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). Canada’s commitment to help African countries maximize the benefits of their extractive sectors helps ensure these benefits flow to their people in ways that improve their overall quality of life.
“Canada’s support for the African Minerals Development Centre will help deliver guidance and policy advice to African countries on how to manage their natural resources responsibly and transparently,” added PS Brown. “This means developing clear and consistent mining codes, legislation, and taxation systems that will facilitate both investment and local business participation in extractive sector development.”
Sustainable economic growth is one of Canada’s development priorities. Canada recognizes that leveraging the resources, expertise and innovation capabilities of the private sector contributes to reducing poverty throughout the world.
LONDON, United-Kingdom, December 16, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — On the eve of the third anniversary of the Arab Spring, William Hague calls for further political, economic and security progress in Tunisia
Following the announcement of Mr Mehdi Jomaa as Prime Minister of Tunisia, Foreign Secretary William Hague said:
“I warmly welcome the announcement of Mr Mehdi Jomaa as Tunisia’s new Head of Government. On the eve of the third anniversary of Mohammed Bouazizi’s protest, the event that sparked the Arab Spring, this step demonstrates Tunisia’s commitment to taking forward democratic transition. We hope all Tunisia’s leaders will work together quickly to finalise a constitution and a date for elections in order to embed political freedoms, revive economic growth and underpin security.
“On 17 December, Tunisia, and the world, will remember the events in Sidi Bouzid, which inspired change and calls for democracy and human dignity far beyond Tunisia’s borders. Through our Arab Partnership programme, the EU, G8, and other international bodies, the UK remains committed to helping Tunisia build the democratic institutions and fundamental freedoms which we believe are the strongest foundations for long-term prosperity and security.”