Posts tagged as: fellow

Trial Against Rwandan Terror Suspects to Be Heard in Camera

Photo: Cyril Ndegeya/The East African

Some of the suspects accused of terrorism at the High Court of Rwanda in Kigali.

By Robert Mbaraga

The trial of the 44 Rwandans accused of having links with the terror group Al Shabaab and the Islamic State will be heard on May 2 in camera, a court in Kigali has ruled.

The special chamber of the High Court of Rwanda that tries international crimes upheld the prosecution’s plea that an open hearing would compromise national security.

In its plea, the prosecution raised fear that a public hearing would lead to more radicalisation and cause clashes among the families of the accused because “some of the accused were apprehended because of information provided by their fellow suspects.”

The defence lawyers had insisted that the prosecution explains what it meant by national security, arguing that all persons connected to this dossier have been arrested and detained and cannot thus cause any security threat.

On their part, the accused said that only a public hearing would be fair.

“All our pre-trial hearings were conducted in camera, and our families have never had a chance to know the details of our charges. Our trial in merit should be heard in public and this will help our brothers avoid what we are charged with,” one of the accused told the court.

The accused said that they would appeal against this ruling.

The Rwandan criminal procedure law allows the court to order that a case be heard in camera “when its public hearing may be detrimental to public order or good morals.” The same law does not, however, define public order or good morals.

The court set the next hearing for May 2. This date could, however, be affected by the appeal filed by the accused.

The three-judge bench also ordered that the case be disjoined for minors and be heard by a specialised chamber.

Four of the 44 are below 18. Their trial will now be heard by the Gasabo Intermediate Court.

The ruling on the two main objections which had paralysed the trial for almost two months, now raises hope that the fate of the 44 terror suspects will finally be known.

They have been in detention for more than a year.

The details about the charges brought against them have not been made public, but their indictments indicate that they are charged with complicity in a terrorist act, membership to a terrorist organisation, formation of a criminal gang, formation of an irregular armed group and conspiracy and incitement to commit terrorism.

Rwanda

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Support Swimmers, They Have Bright Future

WINNING medals in major global events is a dream for many sports persons the world over. And, countries invest their sportsmen and do whatever is possible for them to make their fellow citizens proud. It is against this background that Tanzania has embarked on a renewed campaign to make sure local athletes win medals.

The campaign, which received huge government support, aims to restore the nation’s pride in athletics, this time focusing much on Club Games in Australia in 2018 and Tokyo Olympic Games of 2020.

The campaign, most often reportedly to concentrate on athletics as major medal hopefuls, followed by boxing as a sport that previously helped Tanzania win it medals in major events, is promising to succeed if the government continues to back it.

Out of focus, despite doing fine at the moment, is swimming whose athletes have shown remarkable progress in recent days. It was reported recently that eighty records were broken in the National Swimming Championship held at Haven of Peace School in Dar es Salaam.

Very impressing, were two upcoming athletes, Sonia Tumiotto and Collins Saliboko who dominated most of the races. The swimmers, who are products of Saint Felix School in United Kingdom, have managed to break more than five national records in the event that featured more than 200 swimmers from Dar es Salaam and upcountry.

Sonia broke 10 national swimming records while Collins broke six of them. Aliasger Karimjee, also a student of the UK- based, Saint Felix School, managed to break two records for swimmers 17 years and above.

It was good to learn that athletes attributed their success to good and professional trainers at the school, whom they said, helped them to succeed. Something worth to focus on as per the swimmers’ revelation is proper diet.

They said apart from training, they were provided a balanced diet as per consultation with dietitians. Since most of the young swimmers are still in tender ages, we would like them to start training seriously with psychological focus on the Club Games and Olympics.

The swimming body should work closely with these youthful record breakers and their parents to groom them into future world stars. We would also like to advise the athletes to train hard after school hours, keep competing in many competitions while keeping focus on coming games.

Tanzania

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Liberia: Bwi Starts Training Farmers in Agriculture

By Webmaster Admin

AgriCorps Founder Trent McKnight sees farmers and students studying Agriculture Science as the noble ones that want to feed the nation

Some of the farmers who participated, and the students, want the training go across Margibi to include farmers in other districts

The administration of the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) in Kakata, Margibi County has introduced a new program in Agriculture Science.

The program aims to enlighten the minds of local farmers and gardeners on agricultural practices, which will continuously be demonstrated with presentations and students/farmers classified into several distinct groups. Each of the groups will discuss topics such as the protection of crops from disease and pest attacks, successful farming during the dry season, and how to add nutrients to the soil.

The first ever National Diploma in Agriculture (NDA) extension program, over the weekend, hosted a day-long seminar that brought together farmers, gardeners and BWI students.

The idea for the NDA seminar, according to Abraham Wowah, BWI’s Post Secondary and Professional Program (PSPP) Coordinator, stemmed from the establishment of the PSPP as instructed by BWI principal and chief executive officer, Harris Fomba Tarnue, a year ago.

The NDA came about as a result of the PSPP wanting the senior students majoring in agriculture to put into practice what they have learned in the class a few months ago.

Mr. Wowah said the NDA’s primary focus is to access difficulties the students face as well as to evaluate them to overcome future challenges in the field of agriculture extension.

“It seeks to acquire feedbacks from the public as to the students’ performances and to also capacitate senior students, who are subsequently preparing for the job market,” Wowah added.

He said the PSPP came into existence based on the instruction from Mr. Tarnue to integrate the agriculture vocational training program with the NDA. The program, he said, also offers short-term courses in computer literacy, labor union affairs and entrepreneurship.

Saturday’s seminar was facilitated by Mrs. Anna Glenn, AgriCorps Fellow, who has been working with the program since September 2016. She is assisted by her husband, Nathan Glenn, a teacher of an agriculture extension class. Mr. Glenn organized and also co-facilitated the seminar.

In separate remarks, the couple said they were gratified to work with the students and the small group of farmers who attended the training. They both are of the opinion that the program will grow to the next level of farming.

AgriCorps Founder and head of Agri Fellow at BWI, Trent McKnight, encouraged the participants to stay focused, “because farming itself is a noble enterprise, even though to grow more food to feed the family and the nation is challenging.”

Mr. McKnight urged them to consider themselves very important, nothing that if food is in short supply, the nation would suffer and the people will starve.

In 2013, McKnight founded AgriCorps, a Peace Corps type organization that connects American agriculture volunteers to the demand for school-based agricultural education in developing countries.

He is a lifelong rancher and businessman in Throckmorton, Texas, USA, with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Agricultural Economics and Comparative Politics from Oklahoma State University and The London School of Economics, respectively. He is a past national president of the Future Farmers of America.

He has served as an agriculture advisor to the U.S. Military in Iraq, agricultural economist to the United Nations in West Africa and chairman of the United States Department Agriculture Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Committee. Agriculture, rural Texas and international development are his passions. He is assigned at BWI playing similar roles in the Agriculture Department.

At the end of the seminar, BWI awarded each of the participants a certificate of participation.

Nyeri AP Officers Forego Meals to Feed Starving Families

By Nicholas Komu

Administration Police officers in Nyeri have opted to forego a meal per day to feed starving families in parts of the county.

In a show of their service to all motto (Utumishi Kwa Wote), the officers have taken up the sacrifice as they launched a food donation and distribution campaign in the county on Wednesday.

The drive which is a partnership between the Administration Police and the clergy in Nyeri seeks to collect food donations from residents which will be distributed to needy families in areas affected by famine.

According to the Nyeri County government data, over 24,000 people are facing starvation following prolonged drought.

Most of the people in dire need of food come from Kieni Constituency which is the food basket of the county and also classified as a semiarid area.

A decline in the amount of rainfall and the number of wet days recorded in the county in the last one year resulted to a drop in harvests.

SHORT RAINS

The short rains which started on the fourth week of October 2016 were erratic and short-lived.

While most food stuffs are still available in the markets, prices have shot up making them unaffordable to most people.

Nyeri County AP Commander Njue Njagi, speaking to the Nation, said that the move to distribute food was initiated by junior officers on the ground who witnessed first-hand the effects of the famine.

“We felt it was a good initiative and when we consulted the other officers they agreed to support the mission and forego a meal to feed their fellow Kenyans,” said Mr Njue.

REMOTE AREAS

The AP unit of the National Police Service was established to operate in close proximity and in interaction with the civilian population which, according to the officers, has pushed them to participate in the programme.

“Very many people are starving in some of the remote areas where we are posted and we see it every day.

“So we decided to extend our service to all motto by mobilising others who are well up to donate food,” said Corporal Tabitha Maina, one of the officers in the drive.

The AP commander noted that even though they had received food aid from the government and well-wishers, it still is not enough to mitigate the ongoing food crisis.

“People have come out to give food donations but, currently, it is not enough so we appeal to others to also join by giving whatever little food they can,” he said.

The law enforcers and religious leaders will also use the programme to preach peace during political campaigns and ahead of party nominations.

Kenya

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We Need to Find Missing Tuberculosis Patients

opinionBy Robert K. Majwala

Uganda once again joins the rest of the World in commemorating the World Tuberculosis (TB) Day; an annual event that honours the day that Dr Robert Koch announced his discovery of mycobacterium tuberculosis, the germ that causes TB, in Berlin Germany in 1882. This day is designed to build public awareness that tuberculosis remains an epidemic, as it was 135 years ago in much of the world, causing the deaths of nearly one-and-a-half million people each year, mostly in developing countries.

Globally the number of new TB cases is equal to the number of new HIV cases per year and TB kills more people than Malaria and HIV. This year’s World TB Day theme is, ‘Unite to end TB’; and the slogan is, ‘Find the Missing TB Patients’. We actively need to find the missing TB patients if we are to deal with the TB disease in Uganda.

According to the 2015 Uganda National Tuberculosis Prevalence Survey, Uganda has an annual prevalence of 253 TB patients per 100,000 population, translating into about 90,000 TB patients per year. However, according to the 2016 Global Tuberculosis report, Uganda notified only 43,736 TB case patients in 2015, which was only 49 per cent of the expected TB patients in that year.

Furthermore, this is complicated by emergency of drug resistant TB, a complicated strain of tuberculosis, whose treatment is very costly. Treating resistant TB requires about Shs18 million (about $5,000) for up to 20 months; with severe side effects. According to the Uganda National TB and Leprosy Programme records, in 2016, only 420 drug resistant TB patients were notified out of the expected 2600; suggesting that up to 84 per cent of all the drug resistant TB patients were not notified. These patients continue to be a danger to the public and continue to spread drug resistant TB in the communities where they reside.

The current state of affairs calls for renewed efforts to address the TB epidemic. Given that the available public health actions are missing more than half the expected number of TB patients as well as up to 85 per cent of drug resistant TB patients, there is an urgent need for innovative strategies to improve TB prevention, TB case finding; TB treatment to completion and management of drug resistant tuberculosis.

In order to find the missing TB patients, there is a need for concerted efforts engaging multiple stakeholders – government, development partners, implementing partners, civil society organisations and the community need to improve TB case notification. Funding for TB programmes needs to be prioritised by the government. Currently, government funds only 4 per cent of all the resources needed for TB prevention, treatment and care including drug resistant TB; with development partners contributing the greatest proportion (76 per cent). The remaining 20 per cent of the resources needed to tackle TB is left unfunded. This situation calls for renewed advocacy for TB, just like it was for HIV in the early 1990s. There is a need to teach the general public about the signs and symptoms of TB in order to create demand for TB diagnosis and treatment across the board. This will help to reduce stigma associated with TB diagnosis.

All partners need to support efforts geared towards systematic TB case finding, focusing on the most-at-risk groups for TB including; prisoners, people living with HIV/Aids, people with diabetes, children below 15 years, men, refugees and internally displaced persons, pastoralists and nomadic communities; people in hard to reach areas including urban slum residents and urban poor, and contacts of persons confirmed to have multi-drug resistant TB, among others.

There is need for massive investments in better and newer diagnostics for TB screening and diagnosis, while ensuring their continued functionality. Results from the 2015 Uganda TB prevalence survey suggest that when a chest X-ray was added to smear microscopy, this helped to identify 33 more TB patients compared to the 30 patients that were identified with symptom screening alone. Thus, the addition of a chest x-ray for TB screening has the potential to increase more TB case patients and should be considered. Other newer technologies including the geneXpert technology, if deployed optimally and supported with consumables and demand creation for TB, have the potential to increase the number of TB patients diagnosed.

There is an urgent need for TB capacity building among health workers at all levels. Nationally, the number of smear negative and extra pulmonary TB case patients has been declining over the years and this is attributable to lack of enough clinical acumen to diagnose TB by health workers. A training curriculum needs to be developed and implemented in a phased manner until all health workers have been trained.

In conclusion, finding missing cases requires concerted efforts at all levels and by everyone. Renewed efforts are needed by all stakeholders at every level. Just like this year’s World TB Day theme and slogan, let us all unite to find missing TB patients.

Dr Majwala is a Public Health Fellowship Programme Fellow – Field Epidemiology Track, attached to National TB and Leprosy Programme, Ministry of Health

Uganda: We Need to Find Missing Tuberculosis Patients

opinionBy Robert K. Majwala

Uganda once again joins the rest of the World in commemorating the World Tuberculosis (TB) Day; an annual event that honours the day that Dr Robert Koch announced his discovery of mycobacterium tuberculosis, the germ that causes TB, in Berlin Germany in 1882. This day is designed to build public awareness that tuberculosis remains an epidemic, as it was 135 years ago in much of the world, causing the deaths of nearly one-and-a-half million people each year, mostly in developing countries.

Globally the number of new TB cases is equal to the number of new HIV cases per year and TB kills more people than Malaria and HIV. This year’s World TB Day theme is, ‘Unite to end TB’; and the slogan is, ‘Find the Missing TB Patients’. We actively need to find the missing TB patients if we are to deal with the TB disease in Uganda.

According to the 2015 Uganda National Tuberculosis Prevalence Survey, Uganda has an annual prevalence of 253 TB patients per 100,000 population, translating into about 90,000 TB patients per year. However, according to the 2016 Global Tuberculosis report, Uganda notified only 43,736 TB case patients in 2015, which was only 49 per cent of the expected TB patients in that year.

Furthermore, this is complicated by emergency of drug resistant TB, a complicated strain of tuberculosis, whose treatment is very costly. Treating resistant TB requires about Shs18 million (about $5,000) for up to 20 months; with severe side effects. According to the Uganda National TB and Leprosy Programme records, in 2016, only 420 drug resistant TB patients were notified out of the expected 2600; suggesting that up to 84 per cent of all the drug resistant TB patients were not notified. These patients continue to be a danger to the public and continue to spread drug resistant TB in the communities where they reside.

The current state of affairs calls for renewed efforts to address the TB epidemic. Given that the available public health actions are missing more than half the expected number of TB patients as well as up to 85 per cent of drug resistant TB patients, there is an urgent need for innovative strategies to improve TB prevention, TB case finding; TB treatment to completion and management of drug resistant tuberculosis.

In order to find the missing TB patients, there is a need for concerted efforts engaging multiple stakeholders – government, development partners, implementing partners, civil society organisations and the community need to improve TB case notification. Funding for TB programmes needs to be prioritised by the government. Currently, government funds only 4 per cent of all the resources needed for TB prevention, treatment and care including drug resistant TB; with development partners contributing the greatest proportion (76 per cent). The remaining 20 per cent of the resources needed to tackle TB is left unfunded. This situation calls for renewed advocacy for TB, just like it was for HIV in the early 1990s. There is a need to teach the general public about the signs and symptoms of TB in order to create demand for TB diagnosis and treatment across the board. This will help to reduce stigma associated with TB diagnosis.

All partners need to support efforts geared towards systematic TB case finding, focusing on the most-at-risk groups for TB including; prisoners, people living with HIV/Aids, people with diabetes, children below 15 years, men, refugees and internally displaced persons, pastoralists and nomadic communities; people in hard to reach areas including urban slum residents and urban poor, and contacts of persons confirmed to have multi-drug resistant TB, among others.

There is need for massive investments in better and newer diagnostics for TB screening and diagnosis, while ensuring their continued functionality. Results from the 2015 Uganda TB prevalence survey suggest that when a chest X-ray was added to smear microscopy, this helped to identify 33 more TB patients compared to the 30 patients that were identified with symptom screening alone. Thus, the addition of a chest x-ray for TB screening has the potential to increase more TB case patients and should be considered. Other newer technologies including the geneXpert technology, if deployed optimally and supported with consumables and demand creation for TB, have the potential to increase the number of TB patients diagnosed.

There is an urgent need for TB capacity building among health workers at all levels. Nationally, the number of smear negative and extra pulmonary TB case patients has been declining over the years and this is attributable to lack of enough clinical acumen to diagnose TB by health workers. A training curriculum needs to be developed and implemented in a phased manner until all health workers have been trained.

In conclusion, finding missing cases requires concerted efforts at all levels and by everyone. Renewed efforts are needed by all stakeholders at every level. Just like this year’s World TB Day theme and slogan, let us all unite to find missing TB patients.

Dr Majwala is a Public Health Fellowship Programme Fellow – Field Epidemiology Track, attached to National TB and Leprosy Programme, Ministry of Health

Women Take Battle Against Male Dominance Online

By Jacky Habib

Kenyan women have set out to tackle their representation in the media and at event panels.

They have taken the fight against male dominance to the cyberspace with an initiative dubbed Say No To Manels.

A “manel” is a term used to describe a panel of all-males– highlighting the underrepresentation of women as experts.

To solve the problem of women’s noticeable absence on panels, Ory Okolloh, Sophie Gitonga and Nanjira Sambuli established a database of women experts across Kenya.

LIP SERVICE

“In Kenya, the ‘gender rule’ has gained much lip service. That, as we see time and again, does not translate into reforms or the requisite action to make women’s representation a reality,” Sambuli says.

In September, they opened an online form for woman to register themselves or their colleagues as authorities on any given topic in order to make their expertise and availability known to event organisers and the media.

Since last May, technology activist Nanjira Sambuli has been urging people to reject all-male panels.

She started the hashtag #SayNoToManels and #SayNoToManelsKE, which call out media organisations and events that are male-dominated.

400 EXPERTS

The hashtags also encourage people to include women’s voices.

“When organisers are asked why this [lack of women] is so, many often trivialise it, or give an excuse about there being no women available, or say they don’t know of women in the particular area of expertise to invite,” Sambuli says.

The public database is meant to counteract this issue.

Since its launch, almost 400 experts have signed up from disciplines ranging from technology to health.

While the database founders have not formally reached out to media or event organisers, they often use their Twitter account (@SayNoToManelsKE) to call out groups for hosting all-male panels and direct them to the database.

COMMENTS

They say people have been finding it organically for the most part, having fielded several inquiries from those looking for women experts.

One of the women on the database is Crystal Simeoni, a tax justice expert who regularly speaks at and attends high-level events.

She says she often hears condescending comments about her presence in certain spaces.

“At the African Union or United Nations, the reaction from men is ‘What is a pretty person like you doing here?’ and I say ‘The same thing that you are, what do you think?'” Simeoni says.

MEN DOMINATE

According to the Media Council of Kenya, men are 10 times more likely than women to be used as a source of news in Kenyan media.

The Council further notes that men are central to most of the news stories in print (72 per cent) and electronic media (46 per cent).

In addition, it was found that most media organisations do not have a gender or diversity policy or strategies in the workplace to create gender balanced reporting, making it likelier that they will rely on male sources.

James Ratemo Communications and Information Head at the Media Council of Kenya says journalists are often pressed for time and male sources are seen as the go-to experts.

TRAINING

“They want to find subjects who are readily available and typically don’t think about gender. They can easily find men who are willing to talk.”

Having a gender balance in reporting must be intentional, says Ratemo.

“When we leave it to fate, males will always dominate.”

To sensitise journalists on the importance of representation, the media council partnered with Unesco to train reporters across Kenya on gender mainstreaming.

THE GOAL

By increasing women’s representation, the goal is that women like Claire Kinyanjui will have fewer obstacles to navigate in the workplace.

Kinyanjui, a lawyer and entrepreneur is on the database as an expert in the areas of security, peace, conflict and law.

“Law is a male dominated field. I’ve had experiences where a guy was chosen over me,” she says.

“I’m a woman and I’m petite so people [look at me and] think I’m not capable. All these things I’ve gone through show me that it’s not an even level playing field, and it may never be.”

‘CALL IT OUT’

Kinyanjui joined the database a few months ago but has yet to be contacted about a speaking appearance or interview.

By participating in the Say-No-To-Manels initiative, she hopes to represent women in areas that are typically male-dominated, especially as some of her work centres around gender perspectives of peace and security issues.

Sambuli encourages people to “call it out” the next time they see a lack of women represented– by asking about it during the Q&A of a conference, tweeting or approaching the organisers.

“It should be, and must become, absolutely uncomfortable to sit in any space where issues affecting one half of the Kenyan population do not have representation,” Sambuli says.

TAKE PLEDGE

The Say-No-To-Manels organisers also encourage men and organisations to take a pledge that they will not participate or host all-male panels at conferences, in the media and boardrooms and when possible, recommend women instead.

The Kenyan movement to better represent women on panels coincides with an international movement to do the same.

The hashtag #AllMalePanels highlights events around the world where women experts are not present and resulted in similar databases of women experts being created in various other countries.

Jacky Habib is a 2016-2017 Media Fellow of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada at the Nation Media Group, Nairobi.

Rwanda: Students Use Drama to Fight Teenage Pregnancy

By Francis Byaruhanga

As concerns of unwanted pregnancies among the school-going teens increase, students from GS Remera Protestant in Kigali have taken to using songs and drama to show the dangers of early pregnancy to their fellow students.

Speaking during one such event at the school campus last week, Christiane Umuhire, the director of family promotion and child protection at Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, hailed the students’ efforts towards the fight to end the unwanted teen pregnancies.

“This performance showcased by the students is a reminder that the issue is alive and fresh, and calls for attention from the administration and other stakeholders,” she said, adding that packaging the messages in poetry and songs makes them easily understood by society.

For Mertilde Mukakabare, a member of Unity Club, communicating the evils of unwanted pregnancies through drama and poetry is an effective method because students communicate directly to their vulnerable colleagues.

She, however, advised that girls should be keen on the messages since they are the ones that are most affected by the pregnancies.

“Girls should say ‘No’ where necessary in order to avoid bad peer influence that could lead them into risky sexual behavior, drug abuse and other illegal activities,” Mukakabare advised.

She promised a helping hand and collaboration with schools and parents in the campaign against unwanted pregnancies and HIV/AIDS among teens.

“Ministry of Family and Gender Promotion is more worried about the lives of the teens and youth. That’s why we tour schools and sensitise students about the evils of the teenage pregnancies,” she said.

Edward Nkurikiye Umukiza, the head teacher of GS Remera Protestant, said they chose drama as a kind of mobilization to attract the attention of students.

Jean Darc Mukaniringiyimana, the head of the school’s parents association, urged parents and school authorities to work together in the campaign.

“Parents, guardians, tutors and teachers have to promote moral values at an early age,” he said.

Eric Mizero a P.5 student at GS Remera Protestant said the drama had awakened their minds about the consequences of unwanted pregnancies.

For Vestine Dushimimana, a student at the same school, such drama guides them on how to avoid temptations that could result into unwanted pregnancies.

“The messages in the play gave us the confidence to say ‘No’ when necessary,” she said.

The event also featured giving prizes in form of scholastic materials to students who participated in the different performances.

Nigeria: Niob Tasks New Fellows On Professional Development

By Zakariyya Adaramola

The President of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Bldr Tijjani Shuaib has tasked the newly elected Fellows of the institute to rise to the task of nation-building by upholding the tenets of the building profession saying, “as Fellows, you have become torch bearers of the profession.”

Shuaib who is the 19th President of the institute tasked the fellows on continual development of their professional capacity saying that it would equip members with requisite skills needed to distinguish their services as experts.

“One of the central policy enforcements required from Fellows is Continuous Professional Development,” he said, adding that it prepares Fellow of the Institute to render accurate policy advice and serve as resource persons to world class institutions.

Nigeria

Court Strikes Out Six Charges Against Kanu, Others

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Africa: Open Data for Tax Justice

“Multinational companies typically publish global, consolidated accounts – and international accounting standards now allow these to roll into one all financial information on the substance of their economic activities, or at best to provide regional figures. This means that country-level information on profits, revenues, taxes, borrowings and employees, for example, are not provided. …

“As the name suggests, the longstanding proposal for country-by-country reporting (CBCR) would make multinational companies break down and publish their results for each country. This is essential for citizens to know what companies and their affiliates are doing where they live, and what contributions they are making.” – Open Data for Tax Justice announcement

The need for CBCR, a demand first advanced by tax justice campaigners in 2003, has become widely recognized, leading to proposals by international bodies such as the “rich states” club of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). The OECD proposal for collecting and sharing such data only by selected tax authorities, however, is in sharp contradiction to the initial goal of public transparency. And further retreats from transparency are already visible in initial actions by the Republican-dominated U.S. Congress (see http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/iff1702.php).

In response, leading tax justice campaigners have set out a roadmap for “the creation of a global public database on the tax contributions and economic activities of multinational companies. ” Using new technologies to collect in standard format information from a wide variety of public sources, the database has the goal of making information accessible worldwide for journalists, policymakers, tax officials, and civil society activists.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from the press release and white paper released on February 17, 2017

For more details, see http://datafortaxjustice.net

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on tax justice and related issues, visit http://www.africafocus.org/intro-iff.phpEditor’s Note

The Trump Election: Intersecting Explanations

http://www.noeasyvictories.org/usa/trump-win-reasons.php

Observations (fourth installment, Feb 28, 2017)

Much of the commentary on the narrow victory by Tom Perez over Keith Ellison in Saturday’s election for the chair of the Democratic National Committee has had a narrow focus, interpreting it as a victory for the Democratic establishment over progressives who had backed Bernie Sanders in 2016. While to some extent true, that is a highly over-simplified view, and neglects the wide-ranging mobilization and rethinking within the broader context of the highly decentralized Democratic Party, progressive movements, and their common social base.

Several articles on Saturday’s results with more nuanced analysis:

Peter Dreier, “Three Cheers for the Perez-Ellison DNC Team To Move the Democrats in a Progressive Direction,” Huffington Post, February 25, 2017 http://tinyurl.com/gkqmp46

David Weigel, “Why did Keith Ellison lose the DNC race?” Washington Post, February 26, 2017 http://tinyurl.com/zq7hf9r

James Downie, “Tom Perez’s biggest problem as DNC chair: His backers,” Washington Post, February 27, 2017 http://tinyurl.com/hqu2vxd

And, for a wide range of articles digging more deeply into the mistakes and structural limitations of the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign, and their implications for current strategy, see http://www.noeasyvictories.org/usa/clinton.php (10 articles from Nov. 11 – Dec. 20, 2016 and http://www.noeasyvictories.org/usa/democratic-party.php (15 articles from Mar. 30, 2016 – Feb. 21, 2017

And you can find sources on 19 other relevant “explanations” for the election outcome at http://www.noeasyvictories.org/usa/trump-win-reasons.php

Launch of White Paper Setting Out Roadmap for Creation of a Public Database of Country-by-country Reporting Data

Press Release

17th February 2017

Leading tax justice campaigners and open data specialists are today publishing a white paper setting out a roadmap for the creation of a global public database on the tax contributions and economic activities of multinational companies.

The open database would draw on various existing information sources to create a central point for publicly available country-by-country reporting (CBCR) data to help tax authorities, tax justice campaigners, investors, journalists and citizens to gain a better understanding of the activities of these companies.

Multinational companies typically publish global, consolidated accounts – and international accounting standards now allow these to roll into one all financial information on the substance of their economic activities, or at best to provide regional figures. This means that country-level information on profits, revenues, taxes, borrowings and employees, for example, are not provided. There may be a set of results for “Africa” or “Europe”, but even then the combination of operations in (say) Ghana and Mauritius, or France and Luxembourg, makes it is impossible to unpick these numbers in a useful way.

As the name suggests, the longstanding proposal for country-bycountry reporting would make multinational companies break down and publish their results for each country. This is essential for citizens to know what companies and their affiliates are doing where they live, and what contributions they are making.

An OECD standard has now been introduced which will require all multinationals of a certain scale to report this information privately to the tax authority in their headquarters country. In addition, there are public standards for limited CBCR data with respect to the extractive and financial sectors in the EU, creating multiple requirements for some multinational companies. It is critical that this data is used effectively, and seen to be so used.

The next two to three years provide a window in which to establish a single format for reporting, to ensure lower compliance costs for businesses and to facilitate more effective use of the data by civil society, media and tax authorities alike. This will both confirm the value of CBCR and help policymakers to move towards a global consensus on requiring a comprehensive public CBCR under a single standard.

The paper – What Do They Pay? – is coauthored by Alex Cobham (Tax Justice Network), Dr Jonathan Gray (University of Bath and Open Knowledge International) and Professor Richard Murphy (University of London). It is the result of a partnership between the Tax Justice Network (TJN) and Open Knowledge International (OKI) supported by Omidyar Network and the Financial Transparency Coalition (FTC). TJN has, since its establishment in 2003, led the way in developing and promoting the idea of public CBCR for multinational companies. OKI, who partnered with TJN in establishing the Open Data for Tax Justice initiative, are pioneers in using open data to achieve tangible policy results and human progress. The FTC has championed public CBCR since its inception, as have many FTC members including Christian Aid, Tax Justice Network-Africa and TJN.

The white paper is divided into four main sections. Firstly, the authors present a set of user stories, questions, requirements, and scenarios of usage for a database. Secondly, they look at what kinds of information a public database could and should contain. Thirdly, they look at the opportunities and challenges of building a public database drawing on various existing information sources. Fourthly and finally, the authors suggest next steps for policy, advocacy, and technical work towards a public database.

As leading organisations in this field, TJN and OKI now propose to establish an open database, to include all publicly available CBCR data; to provide a venue for multinationals that wish to lead in transparency by publishing their data voluntarily; and to make the data, and core tools and risk measures, accessible to a wider audience.

Alex Cobham, chief executive of the Tax Justice Network, says:

“This white paper marks an important step towards the creation of a fully public database to track the tax behaviour of both multinationals and jurisdictions from Luxembourg to Mauritius, and from Bermuda to Singapore. We’re delighted that so many organisations and experts have contributed to this process, which has really strengthened the analysis and design. And we’re delighted, too, at the ongoing discussions with investors and business groups around providing and using data.

“It’s striking that civil society is leading on this process, rather than the OECD or a global tax body. But just as civil society created the original proposal for country-by-country reporting, perhaps it’s right that we should also take a lead in creating the database that will eventually deliver the full benefits – from lower costs for multinationals dealing bilaterally with different tax authorities, and for tax authorities exchanging information with each other, to the benefits of the public being empowered to hold governments and multinationals to account for their role in international tax avoidance.”

Dr Jonathan Gray, Prize Fellow at the University of Bath’s Institute for Policy Research and Senior Advisor to Open Knowledge International, says:

“This new report outlines the case for a global public data project that would transform democratic engagement around the role of multinational corporations in our economies. A civil society database would be more than just an information source: it would facilitate collaboration amongst researchers, journalists and campaigners and pave the way for an official database at an international body such as the UN.”

Richard Murphy, Professor of Practice in International Political Economy at City, University of London and director of Tax Research UK, says:

“Country-by-country reporting was created to be used. Its purpose is to show what is happening in the world and to change it. That’s why a database holding all publicly available CBCR data is vital: with it we can see who is doing what, and where and demand change from the governments and companies engaged in tax abuse.”

Launched in 2016, supported by a grant from Omidyar Network, the FTC and coordinated by TJN and OKI, Open Data for Tax Justice is a project to create a global network of people and organisations using open data to improve advocacy, journalism and public policy around tax justice.

More details about the project and its members can be found at http://datafortaxjustice.net

What Do They Pay?: Towards a Public Database to Account for the Economic Activities and Tax Contributions of Multinational Corporations

Alex Cobham Chief Executive, Tax Justice Network Visiting Fellow, King’s College London

Jonathan Gray Prize Fellow, Institute for Policy Research, University of Bath Co-Founder, Public Data Lab Senior Advisor, Open Knowledge International

Richard Murphy Professor of Practice in International Political Economy, City, University of London Director, Tax Research UK

February 2017

[Excerpts: for full report see http://datafortaxjustice.net/what-do-they-pay/]

Introduction

Many of the policy proposals put forward by the Tax Justice Network (TJN) after its establishment in 2003 were so far from mainstream thinking about tax that it was difficult to find a policy audience with which to discuss them seriously (Murphy, Christensen & Kimmis, 2005). But by 2013, just ten years later, these proposals had come to form the basis for the global policy agenda – including “Countryby -Country Reporting” (CBCR) of the tax contributions and economic activities of multinational companies.

So common is the exposé of tax avoidance by multinationals today – think of headlines featuring Apple or Amazon, Google or Starbucks – that it would be easy to forget how recently things changed. But the Tax Justice Network’s first front-page media splash was only in 2007. Even the headline, ‘Revealed: How multinational companies avoid the taxman’, has become so familiar that it would be almost redundant today (Guardian, 2007).

Over the past decade, international media coverage and civil society campaigning has flourished. Investigative journalists have undertaken international collaborations highlighting the scale and societal effects of tax avoidance strategies. In many lower-income countries, the tax treatment of multinationals has risen to the top of policy agendas, driven by civil society mobilisation and public anger. In OECD countries, protesters have taken to the streets to oppose the minimal contributions of high street companies. The issue has caught the attention of populist political movements of various stripes.

By 2013, issues of tax were atop the global policy agenda too. The G8 and G20 groups of countries set the aim of reducing the ‘misalignment’ between the location of multinational companies’ economic activity, and the location of declared, taxable profits. The OECD was given a mandate to change international tax rules to achieve this end, including the specific remit to introduce a country-by-country reporting standard. While there are a range of benefits to this data being compiled and made public, the critical development is that it is intended to show for the first time exactly where companies do business, and the extent to which this is aligned – or misaligned – with where they declare profits. This is would not be a smoking gun to establish that a specific tax avoidance structure has been at play; but it could be a powerful instrument to help a variety of different actors to know where to investigate further, and what the scale of the problem may be.

The OECD standard for CBCR is technically very close to the original TJN proposal (Murphy, 2003) – but politically very far from it. The TJN proposal was for accounting data that it always intended be made public, to ensure the accountability to citizens of both multinationals and of tax authorities. The OECD data, in contrast, is to be provided privately to the tax authority in a multinational’s headquarters jurisdiction. It may then be exchanged, under a range of conditions, with other tax authorities in which subsidiaries of that multinational company trade. But under no circumstances are those tax authorities allowed to make the information more widely accessible. Longhorn et al (2016) provide a comprehensive analysis of various CBCR standards, their evolution and the arguments and evidence on their value.

Knobel and Cobham (2016) demonstrate the paths by which OECD reporting could exacerbate, rather than ameliorate, existing global inequalities in taxing rights with respect to multinationals. In addition to failing to respond to lower-income countries’ revenue losses, the lack of transparency means that the current standard will also fail to build confidence in the fair tax treatment of these high-profile taxpayers – missing an important opportunity to build tax morale and wider public support for tax compliance.

As things stand, if CBCR data is not made publicly available the OECD initiative would perhaps be the least transparent transparency measure imaginable. And yet, it marks an important step forward for CBCR. With most major multinationals now actually facing the obligation to comply with the OECD requirement, the argument about transparency has turned. The question now is no longer ‘Why should this information be collected?’ Instead, it is now ‘Why should this information, now collected, be kept secret?’.

The OECD is in some sense a late adopter, with multiple country-bycountry reporting standards having been introduced since the original proposal. Notably, these include public CBCR for extractive sector companies in both the EU and US, and for financial institutions in the EU. There were also two notable attempts to include CBCR data in International Financial Reporting Standards, and although both failed the fact that this was not on technical grounds did prove that this data is within the scope of such standards. The data is, to be clear, accounting data rather than tax data: it reflects the location of activities, and is not an extract from a tax return.

That some variations on CBCR have been adopted does, however, mean that in the absence of any official attempts, there is the possibility for civil society to take steps towards establishing a public database of all available CBCR information. This could support greater use of the existing data by various stakeholders, from tax authorities to activists and journalists. The data produced may also be of some interest to investors, many of whom are now showing some awareness of the significance of this data. Importantly, it also provide a platform for the creation and testing of risk measures – above all, those that capture the extent of profit misalignment and therefore allow tracking of progress on the global policy aim of its curtailment. In addition, such a database would provide an avenue for companies that embrace transparency to begin unilaterally to publish their own CBCR.

Overall, the use of such data is likely to provide valuable evidence not only on the underlying issues of misalignment, but also on the challenges and opportunities of CBCR data. In particular, it may help to resolve questions on the need for data quality and consistency, and to motivate convergence towards best practice among existing and possible future standards. Over time, it is possible to imagine such a database being hosted within a more official setting such as the mooted intergovernmental tax body that could be created at the UN (Cobham and Klees, 2016).

For now, this report focuses on what a global public database could look like; what public sources of information already exist and which may be important to prioritise in addition; how far towards ideal CBCR it is possible to reach using existing sources; and what changes would be needed to strengthen the contribution from CBCR towards the shared, global policy aim of reducing corporate tax avoidance by curtailing profit misalignment.

Our aim is not to create the perfect, final product in terms of a public CBCR database. In their “Changing What Counts” report, Gray, Lämmerhirt and Bounegru (2016) emphasise the role that citizen and civil society data can play as an advocacy tool to shape institutional data collection practices. In that spirit, the aim here is to provide not a final product but the basis for discussion, experimentation and iterative improvement, that we hope will help to prepare the way for a global database that is maintained by an international public body in the longer term.

To that end, we would like to experiment assembling and aligning data that has been published in accordance with various existing CBCR standards and publishing requirements. This may be used to construct an open, online database into which researchers and other actors can enter new data as it becomes available, and which has the potential to become a longer term global repository for public data about the tax contributions and economic activity of multinationals, and a useful resource for future research and policy analysis. The proposed database could contain and support a range of different tools and indicators, in order to facilitate different forms of analysis and comparison across companies and across jurisdictions. This would represent an important step towards understanding the role of multinationals in the composition of the world economy – as well as paving the way for an official public database.

The purpose of creating a database would extend beyond that of a technical project to simply gather and publish existing information. There are other things that we might expect a global civil society database to do. As economic sociologist Donald MacKenzie argues, economic models can be considered not just cameras which represent the world, but also as engines which change them in different ways (MacKenzie, 2008). By taking steps to render the economic activities and tax contributions of multinationals publicly visible, measurable, quantifiable and accountable, it might be expected to change not only the dynamics of corporate reporting (as one might expect), but potentially also the operations and organisation of multinational firms as they adjust to new forms of publicity and public engagement. The behaviour-changing effects of public data on the economic activities and tax arrangements of multinationals are certainly deserving of further attention and research.

A public database could potentially play a social function in assembling and facilitating collaboration between different “data publics” interested in multinational taxation. It would thus represent an experiment in socio-technical design to organise public activity around tax base erosion. As well as supporting links between relevant data projects such as OpenCorporates, Open Ownership, the Open Contracting Partnership and OpenOil, it could act as a locus to coordinate the efforts of different actors and groups who are interested in undertaking research, journalism, advocacy, public policy, and public engagement work in the service of building a fairer global tax system. This would not simply be a matter of catering to pre-existing social groups, but also potentially creating new kinds of associations and collaborations between different actors. As such a public database could also be viewed as a democratic experiment – especially if these different groups play not only a role not only in using and consuming data, but also in co-designing and assembling the database (Gray, 2016a, 2016b). Such a database might thus open up space for new kinds of democratic deliberation and public engagement around how the global economy is organised – and how some of the largest most powerful economic actors on the planet – both multinationals and jurisdictions including major tax havens – can be understood, managed and held to account; as well supporting civil society interventions around the kinds of transparency measures and data collection processes we have in place to understand and shape the behaviour of these actors.

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