The African Union and the United Nations discuss the situation in the Great Lakes Region

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, November 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — As part of their efforts to advance the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Region, the Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union (AU), Smail Chergui, and the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region, Said Djinnit, today met in Addis Ababa.

The meeting provided an opportunity to take stock of the implementation status of the PSC Framework and the efforts aimed at promoting lasting peace, security, stability and development in the Great Lakes Region. Discussions also focused on the preparation of the next meeting of the Regional Oversight Mechanism, scheduled to take place in Addis Ababa in January 2015, on the margins of the AU Ordinary Summit. In this regard, the AU and the United Nations underlined the important role of the Guarantors of the PSC Framework (the AU, the UN, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region – CIRGL and the Southern African Development Community – SADC) and the need for their active involvement in the preparatory process.

It should be recalled that the Regional Oversight Mechanism is the body responsible for monitoring progress in the implementation of the PSC Framework. Since its establishment, on 24 February 2013, the Mechanism has met five times, in Addis Ababa and New York, alternatively.

Categories: AFRICA

SECURITY COUNCIL PRESS STATEMENT ON THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR RWANDA

NEW YORK, November 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The members of the Security Council recall its resolution 955 (1994) of 8 November 1994, which established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The members of the Security Council also note this year marks its twentieth anniversary.

The members of the Security Council recognize the contribution of the ICTR to the fight against impunity through fulfilling its mandate of prosecuting persons responsible for the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi during which Hutu and others who opposed the genocide were also killed, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law, as set forth in resolution 955.

The members of the Security Council do also acknowledge the contribution of the ICTR to the process of national reconciliation and the restoration and maintenance of peace.

The members of the Security Council emphasize that the establishment of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals pursuant to resolution 1966 (2010) was essential to ensure that the closure of the ICTR does not leave the door open to impunity for the remaining fugitives and for those whose appeals have not been completed.

The members of the Security Council call upon all States to cooperate with the ICTR, the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals and the Government of Rwanda in the arrest and prosecution of the remaining nine ICTR-indicted fugitives, and further call upon States to investigate, arrest, prosecute or extradite, in accordance with applicable international obligations, all other fugitives accused of genocide residing on their territories.

The members of the Security Council reaffirm their strong commitment to justice and the fight against impunity.

Categories: AFRICA

Mali: Justice Crucial to Peace Talks / Draft Pact on 2012-13 Conflict Needs Strengthening

NAIROBI, Kenya, November 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A draft peace agreement to end the military and political crisis in northern Mali does not adequately address the need for justice for serious international crimes during the conflict, Human Rights Watch said today. The next round of negotiations between the Malian government and armed groups involved in the conflict is scheduled to begin on November 20, 2014, in Algiers.

All parties to the 2012-2013 armed conflict in northern Mali committed serious violations of the laws of war that included possible war crimes. Agreements that ended previous civil armed conflicts in Mali from 1962 through 2008 failed to address rampant impunity and weak rule of law, and some included provisions providing immunity from prosecution.

“Mali’s peace talks need to succeed where previous deals have failed by bringing those responsible for atrocities to justice,” said Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The final agreement should include provisions to support the prosecution of war crimes, strengthen the truth-telling commission, and ensure the vetting of security force personnel.”

Security has been deteriorating in northern Mali. While control of the north by the Malian government was largely restored in 2013 following a French-led military intervention, the groups negotiating with the government and others linked to Al-Qaeda are occupying territory and committing abuses against civilians and peacekeepers.

Following the conclusion of the third round of peace talks in late October 2014, Algeria’s foreign minister, Ramtane Lamamra, said that the international mediation team had produced a “draft agreement for comprehensive peace,” which would form the basis for discussion when talks resume.

Human Rights Watch research in Mali and elsewhere suggests that a failure to prosecute individuals responsible for serious wartime abuses enables and may even encourage future abuses. Providing immunity to those who committed war crimes denies the victims and their families a measure of justice for their suffering.

Human Rights Watch and other organizations documented hundreds of alleged war crimes and other serious abuses during the 2012-2013 armed conflict. These include the summary executions of up to 153 Malian soldiers in Aguelhok by opposition armed groups; widespread looting, pillage, and sexual violence by the ethnic Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA); and the recruitment and use of child combatants, unlawful amputations, and destruction of shrines by Islamist armed groups. Malian soldiers were also implicated in serious abuses, including extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, and torture or ill-treatment of suspected rebels.

The government has made little progress in holding to account those responsible for war crimes and other abuses. The provisional release of scores of men detained in relation to the conflict, including several commanders from northern armed groups credibly implicated in abuses, has raised concern of a de facto amnesty for these crimes.

International law encourages countries to provide a broad amnesty or pardon for captured combatants and others detained for their participation in a conflict, so long as they are not responsible for war crimes or other serious abuses.

However, the releases that began in late 2013 under the June 18, 2013 Ouagadougou Accord and characterized by the government as “confidence building measures” in advance of negotiations, have been carried out without sufficient review to determine whether any of those freed are implicated in serious international crimes. Amnesties for those responsible for serious international crimes are not recognized under international law.

“It is time to break the decades-long cycle of conflict, abuse, and impunity. Any deal which turns a blind eye to the need for justice will not only disregard the rights of victims and their families, but also encourage further abuses and sabotage a truly durable peace,” Dufka said. “Ensuring that the talks incorporate measures to address long-standing impunity is all the more urgent given the deteriorating security situation, and increasing attacks, lawlessness, and banditry by armed groups in the north.”

Categories: AFRICA

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on South Sudan

NEW YORK, November 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Secretary-General commends the strong stance adopted by the IGAD Heads of States on the conflict in South Sudan which is in the interest of the people of South Sudan.

The Secretary-General is encouraged by the parties’ intent to cease hostilities immediately and reach agreement on an inclusive power sharing agreement within 15 days.

The Secretary-General hopes that the parties will live up to their stated commitment to peace and meaningfully engage in dialogue in order to reach a comprehensive peace agreement that addresses the root causes of the conflict in South Sudan.

Categories: AFRICA

Foreign Secretary deeply concerned at reports of mass rape in Northern Darfur

LONDON, United-Kingdom, November 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Foreign Secretary comments on recent reports of a mass rape in Northern Darfur, and the subsequent denial of access to the United Nations African Union Peacekeeping Mission to the area

The Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said:

“I am deeply concerned by the emerging reports from Northern Darfur. These are serious allegations that must be investigated immediately. The Government of Sudan must grant the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) full and immediate access to the affected areas and reported victims.”

Categories: AFRICA

Statement by the IMF Staff Mission to Niger

NIAMEY, Niger, November 7, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A staff team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) led by Mr. Cheikh Anta Gueye visited Niamey from October 21to November 3, 2014, for discussions on the 2014 Article IV consultation and the fourth and fifth reviews of the program supported by the Extended Credit Facility arrangement (ECF). The discussions covered the implementation of the program as well as economic and financial developments in 2014, the medium-term outlook and the policies needed to consolidate macroeconomic stability and foster inclusive growth.

At the conclusion of the mission, Mr. Gueye issued the following statement:

“Niger’s overall macroeconomic performance has been generally satisfactory. Economic growth slowed to 4.1 percent in 2013 largely due to the adverse climatic conditions on agricultural production and the regional security situation, despite a significant increase in oil production. Inflation was contained to 2.3 percent in 2013 as food prices fell thanks to the government’s food security program supported by development partners, and improved food markets. However, limited government resources and project implementation capacity continued to weigh on public investment.

“Program performance was mixed, with the budget experiencing repeated shocks. All performance criteria were met at end-December 2013 and end-June 2014, except the criterion on domestic financing of the government, which was missed on account of unexpected security and food expenditures and a shortfall in external financing. For the same period, fiscal targets were met, except for those on the basic fiscal balance and total revenues at end-June 2014, which were missed when adverse security shocks required additional expenditures against the background of shortfalls in customs revenues. Also, the floor on poverty reduction spending was missed at end-2013 and June 2014.

“The medium-term outlook remains favorable. Growth is expected to rebound to 6.5 percent in 2014 and be sustained over the medium term as two large natural resource projects — crude oil export and uranium production — are scheduled to begin in 2017 and 2019, respectively. Risks to the outlook stem from both internal and external sources. The main near-term risk is a further deterioration in the regional security situation, which could severely impact FDI inflows, private sector activity, and the budget. The country also remains vulnerable to climate shocks, commodity price volatility and limited predictability in donor support.

“The Article IV discussions focused on enhancing food security, leveraging regional trade to increase growth, and promoting the middle class and financial inclusion. Preparations of the 2015 budget are well advanced, and the authorities’ focus on strengthening investments in infrastructure, health and education while maintaining a sustainable fiscal stance seems appropriate. The mission stressed the need to ensure efficiency of spending through structural reforms. The mission and the authorities also agreed on a revised structural reforms calendar.

“The mission met with H.E. Senior Minister Bazoum, Acting Prime Minister, members of the government, senior administrative officials, and representatives of civil society and the private sector.

“The mission thanks the Nigerien authorities for the fruitful discussions and their warm hospitality.

“The IMF Executive Board is expected to complete the 2014 Article IV consultation and consider the ECF review in December 2014.”

Categories: AFRICA