Statement by NSC Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan on Human Rights in The Gambia

WASHINGTON, December 5, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United States is deeply concerned by continued reports of human rights abuses in The Gambia. Since October, the Government of The Gambia has denied access to UN Special Rapporteurs investigating reports of torture and extrajudicial execution, targeted individuals for arrest and detention because of their perceived sexual orientation or political position, and enacted legislation that imposes a possible sentence of life imprisonment for the so-called crime of “aggravated homosexuality.”

We remain concerned about ongoing reports of forced disappearances and arbitrary arrests, including of journalists, human rights advocates, and civil servants, as well as continued calls by senior officials for the persecution of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. We remain deeply disappointed in the Gambian government’s failure to investigate the disappearance of two U.S. citizens missing since June 2013.

Protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms is a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy, and we will be guided by these values as we respond to these negative developments in The Gambia. Such actions are inconsistent with international standards and deal a setback to the Gambian people and all people who value human rights. The United States calls on the Government of The Gambia to respect all human rights, repeal discriminatory legislation, and cease these harmful practices.

Categories: AFRICA

Vatican / Audience with the President of Mozambique: Church’s fundamental contribution to development

VATICAN, Holy See, December 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Today in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father Francis received in audience the president of the Republic of Mozambique, Armando Emilio Guebuza, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, under secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial discussions the good relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Mozambique were highlighted. In this context, reference was made to the fundamental contribution of the Catholic Church to the development of the country through her educational and healthcare institutions, and her important role in the promotion of peace and national reconciliation.

Finally, attention turned to various regional challenges, such as disarmament and the struggle against poverty and social inequality.

Categories: AFRICA

Conclusions of the inaugural meeting of the International Contact Group for Libya

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, December 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — 1. At the initiative of the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the International Contact Group for Libya (ICG-L), established pursuant to the communiqué adopted by the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC), at its 459th meeting held at ministerial level in New York, on 23 September 2014, convened its inaugural meeting in Addis Ababa, at the AU Headquarters, on 3 December 2014.

2. The meeting was chaired by Ambassador Smaïl Chergui, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, and attended by representatives of Libya and its neighbors (Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Niger, Sudan and Tunisia), other AU Member States (Mauritania, as Chair of the AU, Nigeria and South Africa), members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States of America), the United Nations, the League of Arab States, the Community of Sahelo-Saharan States (CENSAD) and the European Union (EU), as well as by Italy and Spain. The AU Special Envoy for Libya, Dileita Mohamed Dileita, and the UN Special Representative and Head of the UN Support Mission for Libya (UNSMIL), Bernardino Leon, were also in attendance.

3. Participants reviewed the current situation in Libya and the efforts being made to end the violence in the country, as well as facilitate political dialogue among the Libyan stakeholders, with a view to promoting national reconciliation and completing the ongoing transition. In this respect, they received updates by the Foreign Minister of Libya, the UN Special Representative and the AU Special Envoy, as well as by Algeria and Egypt as Chairs of the Security and Political Committees established within the framework of the Ministerial Committee of the countries of the region, and had in-depth exchanges of views on the situation on the ground, regional and international efforts, as well as on the modalities for the functioning of the ICG-L.

4. Participants expressed deep concern at the prevailing situation in Libya, marked by continued fighting and insecurity in different parts of the country, the collapse of State authority, and deep political and social divisions, and a worsening humanitarian crisis, with over 350,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and more than 100,000 refugees who crossed into the neighboring countries. They underlined that this situation poses a serious threat to the cohesion of the Libyan society and the very existence of the State, as well as to regional security and stability. In this respect, Participants noted the growing threat posed by terrorist and criminal groups, some of whom, including foreign elements, have found safe havens in parts of Libya. In this context, they welcomed the adoption by the UN Security Council, on 22 September 2014, of resolution 2178(2014), which condemns violent extremism and terrorism, requests all States to prevent the movement of terrorists and terrorist groups and underlines the importance of addressing the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters. They also expressed concern at the continued proliferation and trafficking of arms, and strongly condemned all those involved in these illicit activities. They demanded that all parties facilitate humanitarian access and guarantee the security of humanitarian workers.

5. Participants strongly condemned all acts of violence in Libya, including the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian institutions, the targeted killing of individuals, including human rights activists and other civil society actors, and retaliatory acts, as well as the senseless destruction of property and infrastructure. In particular, they condemned in the strongest terms the recent land attacks and air strikes, and noted with deep concern their disastrous impact on the civilian population, as well as on property and infrastructure. They reiterated the determination of their respective countries and organizations to ensure that those responsible for acts of violence and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL) are held accountable. They agreed on the need for continued efforts to ensure the scrupulous implementation of the embargo on arms and related material of all types, imposed on Libya by resolution 1970(2011) of 26 February 2011.

6. Participants expressed support for UN Security Council resolution 2174(2014) of 27 August 2014, which provides for the imposition of sanctions against all those involved in serious violence of human rights and IHL and those undermining the political process. Participants welcomed the decision of the UN Security Council Sanction Committee of 19 November 2014 to declare the Ansar Al Sharia group as a terrorist organization.

7. Participants, having emphasized that there can be no military solution to the current crisis in Libya, called for an immediate and unconditional end to the fighting. They strongly condemned all external interferences and interventions that are exacerbating the situation on the ground and further polarizing the political and social landscape.

8. Participants noted with appreciation the central role of Libya’s neighbors, who bear the brunt of the crisis, and their extensive efforts in helping Libya to address the many challenges facing it and to facilitate the promotion of lasting peace, security, stability and reconciliation in the country, within the framework of the regional ministerial committee established in Algiers in May 2014. They look forward to the holding of the 5th meeting of the countries of the region, in Khartoum, Sudan, on 4 December 2014. They received an update on the efforts being conducted by Algeria to convene an inclusive inter-Libyan dialogue to restore peace and stability and thus lay the foundation for national reconciliation, and expressed full support for these efforts.

9. Participants also welcomed and strongly supported the efforts of the United Nations, through Special Representative Bernardino Leon and UNSMIL. They also welcomed the efforts of the AU, through the Special Envoy. They further welcomed the efforts of other international stakeholders, including the League of Arab States, the EU and other stakeholders, including bilateral partners, noting in this respect the various meetings of the Special Envoys for Libya and the Madrid Conference of 17 September 2014.

10. Participants reiterated the support of the international community to the Libyan legal institutions. They welcomed the announcement by the UN Special Representative of a new round of talks (Gadames II) due to start on 9 December 2014, to be followed by consultations of the Libyan stakeholders with their respective constituencies, before resuming on 15 December 2014, to reach agreement on the management of the remainder of the transitional period and lay the foundations for building an effective Libyan State that meets the aspirations of the Libyan people. They strongly supported the efforts being deployed by the Special Representative to this effect. They expressed satisfaction at the readiness of the Libyan stakeholders to participate in this inclusive dialogue, which should be based on the following principles: respect of the unity and territorial integrity of Libya, commitment to the Constitutional Declaration, rejection of the use of force or threat to use force, and promotion of democracy, human rights and rule of law.

11. Participants underlined that a successful international engagement towards the resolution of the Libyan crisis requires a coordinated and harmonized international approach, to leverage the added value of the various regional and international actors concerned. In this respect, they agreed that all countries and organizations involved in the current efforts should, as a matter of urgency, coordinate their efforts. They requested the UN and AU, through the Special Representative and the Special Envoy, to take the necessary steps towards facilitating a unified approach and process, in order to increase the prospects for a successful inclusive dialogue in Libya. In this respect, they look forward to a report on steps taken and results achieved at their next meeting.

12. Participants agreed on the central role that the ICG-L can and should play in facilitating close coordination and harmonization of initiatives. They agreed to meet at least once every two months. In-between the regular sessions of the ICG-L, the AU and the UN will take the necessary steps and arrangements to ensure continued exchange of information on the evolution of the situation and related international efforts, as well as follow-up to the conclusions reached. Participants also agreed that the Special Envoys should act as a supporting mechanism to the ICG-L and feed into the work of the Group.

13. Participants agreed to take advantage of the 24th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU, due to be held in Addis Ababa, in January 2015, to convene the 2nd meeting of the ICG-L, to take stock of the evolution of the situation and implementation of the present conclusions. They welcomed the offers by the Republic of Niger and Spain to host the two subsequent meetings of the ICG-L. Participants, in the meantime, encouraged the AU PSC and the UN Security Council to remain actively seized of the matter and to take the decisions that may be called for by the situation.

14. Participants thanked the AU Commission for all the arrangements made to ensure the successful convening of the inaugural meeting of the ICG-L.

Categories: AFRICA

IMF Management Concludes the Second Review under the Staff-Monitored Program for Sudan

KHARTOUM, Sudan, December 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — On November 19, the Management of the International Monetary Fund completed the second review under the Staff-Monitored Program (SMP)1 with Sudan.

Despite the major challenges facing Sudan, performance under the SMP, which expires at end–2014, has been satisfactory. The authorities met all June quantitative targets under the SMP, except for reserve money growth, which the authorities are taking corrective measures to address. On structural reforms, the authorities adopted an amended law on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism and closed all government accounts in commercial banks. They continue to minimize non-concessional borrowing and maintain satisfactory track record of payments to the Fund as agreed under the SMP. Fund Management welcomes the authorities’ commitment to meeting the program’s objectives.

The outlook for the rest of 2014 remains favorable. Non-oil growth is projected at 2.9 percent as gold extraction is expected to be strong and agriculture to rebound due to favorable weather. Inflation is expected to drop to 29 percent by year-end from 47 percent in July as the one-off effects of the September 2013 fuel price increases dissipate, monetary policy is tightened, and food prices decline owing to the expected good harvest. The fiscal deficit is expected to narrow to about 1.0 percent of GDP. The outlook for 2015 has improved but is subject to domestic and regional risks. Real GDP growth is projected at 3.4 percent supported by a good harvest, robust gold production, and the recovery of oil production.

The authorities’ medium-term program focuses on policies and reforms to reduce inflation, increase international reserves and achieve high and inclusive economic growth. The implementation of the government’s medium-term program faces challenges, including a dearth of external financing, economic sanctions, and an unsustainable external debt burden.

Sudan is in debt distress with most of its external debt in arrears. Debt relief prospects are predicated on normalizing relations with international creditors. In this context, Sudan has to intensify efforts, jointly with South Sudan, to secure broad support for comprehensive debt relief from Sudan’s bilateral external creditors. The agreement between the governments of Sudan and South Sudan to extend the deadline for the “zero option” for two more years is positive in this regard.2

IMF staff will continue to provide the authorities with policy advice in implementing and monitoring their economic program. The IMF will also continue to provide technical assistance to Sudan to help strengthen institutional capacity for economic management.

1 An SMP is an agreement between country authorities and Fund staff to monitor the implementation of the authorities’ economic program. SMPs do not entail financial assistance or endorsement by the IMF Executive Board.

2 In September 2012, Sudan and South Sudan reached the so-called “zero option” agreement under which Sudan would retain all the external liabilities after the secession of South Sudan, provided that the international community gave firm commitments to the delivery of debt relief to Sudan within two years. Absent such a commitment, Sudan’s external debt would be apportioned based on a formula to be determined.

Categories: AFRICA

Security Council Press Statement on the terrorist attack in Mogadishu

NEW YORK, December 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The members of the Security Council are outraged by today’s terrorist attack in Mogadishu which has caused numerous deaths and injuries and damaged a UN convoy, for which Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility. The members of the Security Council condemned the attack in the strongest terms. They expressed their condolences to the families of the victims as well as to the people and government of the Federal Republic of Somalia. The members of the Security Council also wished a speedy recovery to those injured.

The members of the Security Council reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivation, wherever and whenever and by whomsoever committed.

The members of the Security Council reiterated their determination to combat all forms of terrorism, in accordance with their responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations.

The members of the Security Council underlined the need to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice and urged all States, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with relevant regional authorities in this regard.

The members of the Security Council reminded States that they must ensure that measures taken to combat terrorism comply with all their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law.

The members of the Security Council underlined their support and gratitude to all UN staff working under difficult circumstances to bring peace and stability to Somalia. The members of the Security Council reiterated that this or any other attack by Al Shabaab would not dent their resolve to support the people of Somalia.

Categories: AFRICA

Namibia First Developing Country to submit Report on Mitigation Measures and their Effects.

LIMA, Peru, December 4, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The report, called ‘biennial update report’ (BUR) provides a summary of Namibia’s actions to implement the Convention, including actions taken to mitigate climate change, as well as their effects. It also includes information on greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the report spells out financial, technological and capacity-building needs and support received.

Biennial update reports are an integral step towards the implementation of the framework for developing countries’ measurement, reporting and verification to enhance the transparency of mitigation actions, their effects and the support received.

Namibia is the first developing country to submit a BUR. Further BURs are expected soon in line with agreed timelines, which is the result of a mandate from the UN Climate Change Conference held in Cancun in 2011.

This is clear testimony to the fact that developing countries are acting to mitigate climate change and are transparently contributing to fully implementing the climate change convention. It is also clear testimony to increasing cooperation among nations.

Categories: AFRICA