The African Union calls for renewed efforts to resolve the conflict in Western Sahara

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, April 16, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, welcomes the report issued by the United Nations (UN) Secretary General on the situation concerning Western Sahara, on 10 April 2014. The report covers a wide range of issues, including the consultations undertaken by the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy with the Parties to the conflict, namely the Kingdom of Morocco and the Frente Polisario, as well as with other stakeholders; the activities of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO); and humanitarian activities and human rights.

The Chairperson of the Commission notes the recommendation made for the UN Security Council comprehensively to review the framework that it provided for the negotiating process in April 2007, should no progress occur before April 2015. She also notes the call made to all relevant actors, in light of the increased interest in the natural resources of Western Sahara, to “recognize the principle that the interests of the inhabitants… are paramount”; as well as the recognition that the end goal remains the sustained, independent and impartial monitoring of human rights.

The Chairperson of the Commission urges the UN Security Council to seize the opportunity of the consideration of the report of the Secretary-General and the adoption of its next resolution on Western Sahara, which is expected to extend the mandate of MINURSO until 30 April 2015, to give the much-needed impetus to the search for a solution to the conflict, bearing in mind that Western Sahara has been on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories since 1963. She recalls that, in resolution 2099 (2013) of 25 April 2013, the Security Council called upon the Parties to continue negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General without preconditions and in good faith, with a view to achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the UN Charter. It is also important that the Security Council provide MINURSO with a human rights mandate, as is the case for other UN peacekeeping operations, and address the issue of the exploitation of the Territory’s natural resources, in keeping with the legal opinion issued by the UN Legal Counsel on 29 January 2002.

The Chairperson of the Commission reiterates AU’s support for the efforts of the UN Security Council and those of the Secretary-General, including his Personal Envoy. It is against this background, and in line with the relevant decisions adopted by the AU Executive Council, that the Commission is taking steps to consult with a number of stakeholders, including relevant international partners, with a view to urging for renewed international efforts to facilitate the early resolution of the conflict on the basis of international legality.

Source: APO

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UN human rights expert welcomes release of Eritrean refugees in Djibouti

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 16, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, today hailed the release of all Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers, some of whom had been held in detention for more than five years at the Nagad Police Academy in Djibouti.

Following joint efforts by the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and civil society actors, the Djiboutian Government agreed on Sunday, 13 April 2014, to set free all Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers. The Eritrean Prisoners of War were not included under this measure.

“I welcome the Government of Djibouti’s decision to relocate 266 Eritreans to the UNHCR administered refugee camp in Ali Addeh in the south of the country, some of whom I met during my mission to Djibouti in 2013” Ms. Keetharuth said.

The Special Rapporteur expressed great concern about rampant human rights violations in Eritrea which caused hundreds of thousands to leave their country for an unknown and precarious future.

“I reiterate my call on the international community to grant at least temporary refuge or protection to the more than 300,000 Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers, in line with their obligations under international refugee and human rights law,” Ms. Keetharuth stressed.

Source: APO

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Statement by the Press Secretary on the Visit of Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh

WASHINGTON, April 16, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — On Monday, May 5, President Obama will host President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti at the White House. President Guelleh’s visit underscores the strength of the strategic partnership between the United States and Djibouti, including the important role Djibouti plays in preventing conflict, promoting regional stability, and countering extremism as host to the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa at Camp Lemonnier. The President looks forward to discussing a range of issues of mutual interest with President Guelleh, including security and counterterrorism, development, trade, and energy cooperation.

Source: APO

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New Study Shows Kenya’s Shift to Green Economy Should Generate USD 45 Billion by 2030, Build Climate Resilience and Boost Food Security / Positive Returns Projected within Seven to Ten Years

NAIROBI, Kenya, April 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Kenya’s transition to a green economy could produce major economic benefits – equivalent to an estimated USD 45 billion by 2030 – as well as greater food security, a cleaner environment and higher productivity of natural resources, according to a new study launched Tuesday by the Government of Kenya and the UN Environment Programme.

The Green Economy Assessment Report: Kenya finds that the transition to an inclusive, low emission , resource efficient green economy will result in stronger economic growth and increased wealth creation opportunities by 2021.

Under a green economy scenario, with an investment of two percent of GDP, national GDP would exceed a business-as-usual scenario by about 12 per cent, or KES 3.6 trillion (equivalent to USD 45 billion), by 2030. Per capita national income would nearly double from KES 39,897 (USD 498.70) to KES 69,702 (USD 871.30). Under a business-as-usual investment scenario and a two per cent investment, GDP would only increase to KES 53,146 (USD 664.30) over the same period of time.

As green economy measures mitigate the impact of climate change, the report finds the country’s aggregated Green House Gas Emissions measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent would be 9 per cent lower by 2030 under a green economy scenario with an investment of two per cent of GDP compared to a business-as-usual scenario and a two per cent investment.

In the agriculture sector, the report finds that green economy investments would increase the average agriculture yield by about 15 per cent from its current baseline. Agriculture accounts for approximately one quarter of Kenya’s national GDP annually and up to 65 per cent of its exports.

Kenya is already implementing policies and initiatives to move towards a green economy, and this approach is recognized in the country’s long-term development blueprint and in the government’s Second Medium Term Plan (2013-2017).

The report finds that further green energy investments could lead to about a two per cent reduction in energy consumption and an expanded supply of electricity from renewable sources compared to business-as-usual. For example, under a green economy scenario, renewable energy would double geothermal capacity by 2030, compared to business-as-usual, and other renewable energy resources would also grow during this period, contributing to 20 per cent of the total power supply.

To accelerate these efforts, the report urges the government to consider adopting targeted clean energy solutions for households and institutions, such as energy efficient lighting and appliances; and, making additional investments in renewable energy, such as geothermal, solar, wind and biofuel energy.

While Kenya’s manufacturing sector has continued to contribute about 10 per cent to the country’s GDP for over many years, it is still one of the largest in Sub-Sahara Africa and considered a key pillar for the country’s future growth. However, the report finds that to green this sector, more public policies are needed to encourage and incentivize investment in resource-efficient and clean production processes, recycling and eco-labelling, among other transformative strategies.

The country’s transport sector is also critical to its green economy goals. This sector is expected to triple between 2010 and 2030, and vehicles on the road have already doubled during the last decade. To better regulate this sector and reduce emission of harmful gaseous pollutants, the report suggests that the government needs to create incentives to lower the age of its passenger and freight fleet, as well as promote more mass transit and non-motorized transport .

UNEP supported a consortium of Kenyan institutions that formed the “Inter-Ministerial Committee on green economy” to lead the green economy in the country. The Committee comprised members from various government ministries and the private sector organizations.

The report, which examines the economy-wide impacts of green investments under different scenarios, reveals that positive returns could be realized within seven to ten years.

It confirms that an overall green economy, resources efficiency and recycling policy framework is fundamental to underpin the success of these sector initiatives. Several areas where further government action is needed are identified, from improving regulatory compliance and developing national standards, resources efficiency and resource productivity targets ; to securing financial resources and introducing fiscal instruments like tax rebates on environment friendly technologies and innovations


• Cabinet Secretary of the Kenyan Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Judi Wakhungu, said:

“Green Economy driven by resource efficiency is the basis for sustainable development and poverty eradication. A green economy revolution is already taking place in Kenya, where the harvesting of geothermal energy from the East African Rift is just one of the many renewable energy projects underway across the country. By learning to more accurately value our own natural resources, Kenya will be able to better harness these strategies as it moves towards a holistic, inclusive green economy in the future.”

• UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said:

“The next wave of investment and innovation in Kenya will be driven by the need for new energy sources, wealth generation and job creation. Kenya is already demonstrating leadership by pioneering green economy approaches in the energy, urban and natural resources sectors as a vehicle to deliver its national development goals. This report confirms that the country can achieve even greater prosperity and well-being by scaling up its green investments in key sectors, while also factoring the conservation and efficient use of its natural capital into future decisions related to infrastructure, investment in the development of the energy, transport, agriculture and industry sectors.”

Source: APO

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Burkina Faso / Norbert Zongo Case : The African Court recognizes the responsibility of the State of Burkina Faso in the denial of justice for the victims

PARIS, France, April 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — FIDH and MBDHP welcome the decision of the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights in the affair concerning the assassination of the Burkinabe journalist, Norbert Zongo, and of three of his companions. Almost 16 years after these acts, the Court recognises the role of Burkina Faso in denying justice for the beneficiaries of these four murdered men.

In its ruling of 8 March 2014, the African Court found that Burkina “failed to act with due diligence in seeking, trying and judging the assassins of Norbert Zongo and his companions” [and as a result violated] “the rights of the Applicants to be heard by competent national courts” [in violation of Articles 7 and 1 of the African Charter). Moreover, the Court decided that Burkina Faso had violated the right of the freedom of expression of journalists (in violation of Article 9 of the African Charter and of 66.2 of the Revised Treaty of the ECOWAS), insofar of its “failure … in the investigation and prosecution of the murderers of Norbert Zongo, caused fear and worry in media circles”. The Court, which has not yet ruled on the demands for reparation, has given 30 days for the two parties to submit their arguments on the issue.

“The assassination of Norbert Zongo remains a dark point in our recent political history, and the State, for not having rapidly considered such a symbolic case, is responsible for the denial of justice suffered by victims’ families. The African Court has just reminded the authorities of this failure. This is a first victory for human rights defenders in Burkina, who have been demanding truth and justice for Norbert Zongo and his companions for the past 16 years. This is also a victory for regional justice in the fight against impunity,” said Chrysogone Zougmoré, MBDHP President.

On 13 December 1998, Norbert Zongo, an investigative journalist and editor of the weekly news journal The Independent, his younger brother Ernest Zongo, and colleagues Abdoulaye Nikiema and Blaise Ilboudo, were found burned in a car that was taking them to southern Burkina Faso. Both families of the victims and the MBDHP tied these murders to the investigations led by Norbert Zongo on several political scandals, both economic and social, affecting Burkina Faso at the time, and for which he had complained of having received threats.

After dealing with the many flaws of the investigative procedure (the plaintiffs were only interviewed shortly before the seven-year investigations was to end, 5 of the 6 identified suspects were never prosecuted, the only one implicated was awarded an order of dismissal, after which the authorities failed to pursue other avenues) the victims’ families and the MBDHP decided to file a complaint with the African Court in December 2011. The Court based its findings on the deficiencies of the national procedures, and noted the absence of an effective remedy in the Burkinabe judiciary.

“The Judgment of the Court in the case of Norbert Zongo has a particular importance as it relates to the question of the effectiveness of national justice and the freedom of expression of journalists, two issues that go beyond the borders of Burkina,” said Sheila Muwanga Nabachwa, FIDH Vice President and focal point for the East African region of the Coalition for the African Court. “This decision clearly emphasises the primary responsibility of States to ensure access to justice and to protect fundamental freedoms”, she added.

For Mabassa Fall, FIDH Representative to the African Union, “this ruling proves once again that the African Court is an essential means of redress for victims of human rights violations that would not get justice before their national courts. Additionally, it shows that NGOs and individuals have a definite role to play in increasing the effectiveness of the regional judicial system.”

At the hearings before the African Court, Burkinabe authorities indicated the limitation period for the Zongo Affair by national courts is 31 August 2016. As such, FIDH and MBDHP call once again on Burkina Faso to take all necessary measures to shed light on the circumstances surrounding these killings, establish the identity of those responsible, and bring the perpetrators to justice.

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Created in 1998 to ensure the protection of human rights on the African continent, the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights has jurisdiction over all cases and all disputes concerning the interpretation and application of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ rights and any other relevant human rights instrument ratified by the States concerned. In operation since 2006, its decisions are binding. To date, twenty seven (27) States have ratified the Protocol to the African Charter establishing the African Court, but only seven countries, including Burkina Faso, have made a special declaration under Article 34.6 of the Protocol which allows individuals and NGOs to appeal directly to the Court. The effectiveness of the Court is thus frequently called into question by the very low number of States allowing citizens to directly appeal to it.

For more information on the case Beneficiaries of the late Norbert Zongo, Abdoulaye Nikiema Ablasse, Ernest Zongo, and Blaise Ilboudo and the Burkinabe Movement for Human and Peoples’ Rights. v . Burkina Faso, please refer to the African Court, MBDHP and FIDH webpages.

Source: APO

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