UK’s Armed Forces Minister visits East Africa

Rt Hon Mark Lancaster MP, Minister of State for the Armed Forces of UK visited Eastern Africa from 6 to 13 April to witness the full spectrum of UK Defence activity across the region. During his tour he visited Rwanda, Somalia, Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

Mr Lancaster’s visit to Ethiopia focused on where the UK and Ethiopia work together on peacekeeping. From mission specific training to a large peacekeeping deployment, the minister has seen the breadth of the UK’s role in Africa. In Somalia, the minister saw the AU’s highest priority mission; in Kenya he visited the UK’s primary training facility in Africa; whilst in South Sudan he was able to meet members of the largest deployment of UN peacekeepers, and in Rwanda he saw further key aspects of the UK’s defence engagement.

The minister met members of Britain’s armed forces who are currently engaged across Africa with bilateral and multilateral partners, and are playing a critical role in addressing security and stability challenges to help achieve a safe and more prosperous Africa. He highlighted the role they are playing in underpinning the British government’s role as a member of the P5, the EU and the Commonwealth.

On the final leg of his trip, whilst in Ethiopia, the minister met General Samora Yonus, Chief of Staff of Ethiopian National Defence Force and discussed a wide range of topics of co-operation. The minister acknowledged Ethiopia’s continued commitment to AMISOM and its regional leadership, particularly in regards to South Sudan. Both sides agreed that they would continue to co-operate and, where appropriate, enhance bilateral defence ties.

Rt Hon Mark Lancaster TD MP, Minister of State for the Armed Forces said:

“I have much enjoyed my visit to East Africa and to Ethiopia. The visit has provided me with a welcome opportunity to reinforce the UK’s continued support to the Ethiopian National Defence Forces with training for peacekeeping support operations. I have been extremely proud to see the way Britain’s global influence is being exerted to support our partners in East Africa.”

The minister also visited the Ethiopian Peace Support Training Centre and heard how Ethiopia prepares and manages its contribution to peace support operations.

Throughout the visit the Armed Forces Minister met with government ministers and higher officials to help deepen defence relationships, and discuss shared interests and regional challenges.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of British Embassy Addis Ababa.

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Sudan should charge or release remaining 248 individuals in prolonged detention – African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS)

On 10 April 2018, about four days to the scheduled visit of the UN Independent Expert on Sudan, President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir issued a presidential decree ordering for the release of all political detainees. Following the announcement, individuals detained during the January/February 2018 anti-austerity protests were released from custody after spending 84 days in detention, without charge or appearance before a court to determine the legality of their detention.

The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) welcomes the release of the detainees, however expresses deep concern for approximately 248 detainees still languishing in detention without charge or access to a court of law as well as the existing legal framework allowing for arbitrary and indefinite detention. ACJPS also expresses concern for the continued abuse of the law by the authorities to interfere with the peaceful and legitimate exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association.

ACJPS received reliable information on the detention of 60 members from the Ma’alia tribe in East Darfur state and are being held at Kober prison in Khartoum and Port Sudan Prison in Red Sea State. Detainees at the Port Sudan prison have been denied family visits. ACJPS also received reliable information on the arrest and detention of 155 prisoners of war from two factions of the Sudan Liberation Movement who are currently being held at the Al Huda Prison in Omdurman.

ACPS previously document the re-arrest of 8 Darfurian students from the central bus station in Khartoum Bahri currently under NISS detention in Khartoum. ACJPS is aware of two other individuals currently detained at Kober prison, in Khartoum since January 2018.

The Sudanese authorities have relied on powers of arrest provided for under the National Security Act 2010, Criminal Procedure Act 1991 and the Emergency and Protection of Public Safety Act of 1997 to give effect to these arrests and continued detention. The laws in question grant competent authorities with wide grounds for arrest and detention and lack the requisite safeguards against arbitrary arrest and prolonged detention.

The Third Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War of 1949 guarantees, among others, humane treatment for prisoners of war as well as conditions of confinement awaiting trial. The detention of prisoners of war should be intended to prevent further participation in the conflict and they may only be prosecuted for possible war crimes.

ACJPS urges the Government of Sudan to:

  • Guarantee the safety and well-being of all detainees; protect them from torture and other ill-treatment and grant them immediate and unfettered access to their lawyers, family members and medical services.
  • Charge or release all those arbitrarily detained, and for those charged, ensure prompt access to a lawyer of their own choosing.
  • Ensure that all detainees are brought promptly before a judge to review the legality and conditions of their detention, have the right to challenge the lawfulness of their detention before a court, and are guaranteed the right to fair trial according to international standards.
  • Undertake comprehensive law reform of the National Security Act 2010, Criminal Procedure Act 1991, Emergency Act 1997, to guarantee custodial guarantees including access to legal representation at all stage of proceedings, prompt information on details of arrest, judicial oversight, in line with international human rights law obligations.
  • Ensure that the humane treatment of prisoners of wars and adherence to conditions of detention according to international humanitarian law

To the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, Mr. Aristide Nononsi, ACJPS humbly requests that during deliberations with the Sudanese authorities, to call on the Sudanese authorities:

  • Charge or release the 248 detainees in custody; guarantee them unequivocal access to families and legal representatives, special attention is drawn to the case of the 8 Darfurian students, 2 individuals from East Sudan and 20 members of the Ma’alia tribe detained in Khartoum and Port Sudan respectively;
  • Conduct an immediate, independent and impartial investigation into all allegations of excessive use of force against peaceful protestors during the January 2018 protests including protest killings, ill-treatment and torture of detainees by police and NISS. Findings of such investigations should be made public and perpetrators should be held accountable before an independent and impartial tribunal.
  • Undertake comprehensive legal reform in relation to provisions on detention and repeal provisions allowing for indefinite detention without any judicial oversight. Such legal reform should ensure custodial safeguards such as prompt and unequivocal access to family members and lawyers to all those held in custody, repeal all legal provisions that grant immunities for Sudanese officials, and subject officials to the jurisdiction of ordinary courts.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS).

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New Permanent Representative of Tunisia presents credentials

The new Permanent Representative of Tunisia to the United Nations (Vienna), Mr. Mohamed Mezghani, presented his credentials today to the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV), Mr. Yury Fedotov.

During his career, Mr. Mezghani has served in various capacities, among them:

Ambassador, General Director of Political and Economic Affairs and Cooperation with Europe, the European Union and the Mediterranean (2016-2018); Member of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Cabinet (2016); Ambassador of Tunisia to Spain (2013-2016); Director of Relations with European countries not of the European Union and Russia at the General Directorate of Europe, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2012-2013); General Manager of a Euro-Mediterranean company specialized in Logistics and International Transport (2010-2012); Ambassador, General Consul of Tunisia to Marseille (2007-2010); Ambassador of Tunisia to Malta (2005-2007); Official Representative to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Director of Relations with the European Union and the Mediterranean (2001-2005).

Additionally, between 2001-2005, Mr. Mezghani served as the Head of several Tunisian delegations, including the Association Committee Tunisia-EU; the Joint Committee Tunisia-EU in charge of Social Affairs and Migration; the Negotiations of the Action Plan Tunisia-EU within the Framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy; for the Negotiations of the Free Trade Agreement between Tunisia and EFTA countries; the Negotiations of a Free Trade Area Agreement between the Arab Mediterranean countries.

Mr. Mezghani also served as Minister Counsellor, Deputy Ambassador of Tunisia to the European Union in Brussels (1993-1999); Director in charge of relations with the European Economic Community, European Organisations and Mediterranean Institutions at the General Directorate of Europe, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1992-1993); Deputy Director in charge of relations with the European Economic Community at the General Directorate of Europe, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1989-1992).

Mr. Mezghani graduated from the National Institute of Administration (ENA) with the rank of Counsellor of Public Services (1987) and studied at the Brussels Institute for European Studies (1998).

Mr. Mezghani is married and has two children.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Information Service Vienna (UNIS).

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South Sudan: Council adopts conclusions

On 16 April 2018, the Council adopted conclusions on South Sudan.

The conclusions note that 2018 is a critical year for securing peace in South Sudan, as the term of the transitional government of National Unity as set out in the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) comes to an end. While ARCSS remains the basis for the process, the discussions must reflect the reality on the ground.

The Council reaffirms the EU’s deep concern at the continued fighting and grave violations and abuses of human rights that have inflicted horrific levels of human suffering and left the country in ruins. In the conclusions, the EU urges all parties to the negotiations to put the future of the country and the needs of its people first. It also urges all parties to the conflict in South Sudan to immediately cease fighting and participate in the peace process in good faith.

The Council concludes that the EU remains ready to apply all appropriate measures to those obstructing the political process.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Council of the European Union.

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