Photo: UNHCR/ S. Modola
Civilians at a site for internally displaced people in the grounds of a ruined cathedral in Mogadishu in August, which was the last month that the city was attacked with mortars.
By Harun Maruf
Kenya and Ethiopia have used excessive force against Somali civilians amid efforts to halt cross-border attacks by al-Shabab, according to an internal report by aid agencies working in Somalia.
The report, obtained by VOA’s Somali Service, says Kenya has carried out dozens of airstrikes targeting pastoral communities in Somalia’s Gedo region since June of 2015. It says Kenyan Wildlife Service personnel pressed into border patrol duty have targeted people with arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings.
The report says Ethiopia deployed a paramilitary force along the border to push back pastoralists who had settled in a “grey zone” between Somalia and Ethiopia. It says the force, known as the Liyu Police, committed acts of sexual violence, including a practice called “break and rape” in which women’s limbs are fractured.
Kenya Defense Forces spokesman Colonel Jospeh Owuoth denied the accusations, saying Kenya attacks only al-Shabab targets. Ethiopian leaders in the region could not be reached, but the president of the region, Abdi Mohamud Omar, has previously denied all allegations concerning abuses by the Liyu Police.
But residents of the regions told VOA of incidents that seem to confirm the report’s findings. Mohamud Nur Osman is a community leader in Likoley village, Gedo region. He says Kenyan warplanes recently struck several locations where it had rained and herders had gathered to let their animals graze.
“People have fled from drought-hit areas. They move to where it rains. They [Kenya] bomb where people have been converging,” he said.
He says one strike took place near his village seven days ago. “People who are following the clouds have arrived there. They are civilians, not an army, and they were targeted. No one was killed, but animals died, including camels and goats,” he says.
More on This
KDF Launches Airstrikes Against Militants in GedoKDF Airstrikes in Somalia Reportedly Killed Militants
Hassan Mohamed Mukhtar, who fled an area near the Somali-Ethiopian border, told VOA his younger sister, Ruqiya, was arrested and taken to Barey town in Ethiopia by the Liyu Police 15 months ago. They acted because her husband had once accepted $100 to help an al-Shabab operation, he says.Aid agencies collaborateThe report was written within the past two weeks and its authenticity was confirmed to VOA’s Somali service by three humanitarian aid workers working in Somalia. U.N. aid agencies and associated non-governmental organizations, “protection clusters,” as they are called, periodically team up to write such reports.Both Kenya and Ethiopia have stationed troops in Somalia for years as part of an African Union mission mandated to fight al-Shabab. The mission, AMISOM, played a central role in ejecting al-Shabab from Somali cities.The new report says Kenya and Ethiopia have mobilized non-AMISOM troops to secure their borders. It was these steps that resulted in many actions which are outside of the AMISOM mandate and caused confusion with regards to accountability, it says.Ethiopia’s Liyu Police were formed in 2007 to fight against the rebel group, the Ogaden National Liberation Front, in the ethnic Somali region. Human rights groups have accused them of abuses against civilians in the region.In Kenya’s case, airstrikes targeted water points with the rationale that those resources are used by al-Shabab militants. But the report says “the distinction between military targets and civilians is skewed in the Somali context.”The report also says Kenya has deployed members of its Wildlife Service along the border with Somalia to bolster security. But the report says Somali pastoralists who often move across the frontier, “were now subject to arbitrary arrest, detention, abductions and extrajudicial killings.”Kenya denialsKDF spokesman Colonel Jospeh Owuoth strongly denied the allegations. “That is not correct, absolutely not true for several reasons,” he said.“When the KDF and AMSIOM conduct an airstrike it makes sure, almost excessively sure that they have no civilian components in that locations,” he said. “We strictly target only the al-Shabab terrorists, at no time have we ever targeted a water point where there are civilians or a building or a location where we suspect there are civilians.”“There is a drought in Somalia and you find that most of the civilians go to where there are water holes. You find that that is a big community of animals and people. We cannot bring fire on such a location,” he added.Owuoth also denied the Kenya Wildlife Service is responsible for violent acts against Somali pastoralists. “KWS has never crossed into Somalia and has not operated on the border. That is not true at all,” he said.The report by the Somalia protection cluster accused Al-Shabab of blockading towns and urban areas controlled by the AMISOM and Somali forces in the Bakool and Bay regions.It says the blockades prevents aid agencies from delivering humanitarian assistance to people in the drought-stricken region.“The lack of movement from AS-controlled areas raises the question of whether AS will allow populations under their control or influence to leave and seek humanitarian assistance,” the report says.
Apr 28 2017 | Posted in Kenya
| Read More »
columnBy Prof Zulfiqarali Premji
Cancer care is in a pathetic state and the problem is so huge that it is even difficult to find an appropriate method to measure its magnitude. Huge global inequities exist in cancer survival for women.
In low-resource settings, breast and cervical cancer disproportionately affect women in the prime of life, resulting in substantial economic and societal effects.
Cancer was once associated with affluence but now places its heaviest burden on poor and disadvantaged populations. There are three main reasons for rise in cancers viz. population ageing, rapid unplanned urbanisation, and the globalisation of unhealthy lifestyles. Non-communicable diseases including cancers have some common denominator, which are the risk factors (enemies). Indeed, Tobacco usage, alcohol intake, high blood pressure, diet and physical inactivity are indicated, at different levels, as risk factors. Eating healthily, maintaining normal weight, and exercising throughout life could avoid one-third of cancers. Chronic infections are also part of the risk factors, liver cancer is often causally associated with infection by the hepatitis B virus (HBV), cervical cancer is associated with infection by certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV), and stomach cancer is associated with Helicobacter pylori infection. By increasing the availability and access to vaccines like HPV and HBV, there could be significant opportunities to reduce cancer incidence and mortality in developing countries.
In women, cancer of the cervix and breast are the most common, while among men, Kaposi’s sarcoma, followed by oesophagus and head and neck cancers, are the commonest, there is evidence that incidence of cancer of the prostate is on a rapid upward trend.
1. Lack of reliable statistics to define the scale of the problem of cancer is a key challenge. The data presented by ORH are proportions of patients by region and type of cancer treated at ORH. These data do not reflect the true burden of cancer and there is need for comprehensive national cancer registries, but this requires funds and human resource both are in short supply.
At every regional hospital a small team should be formed comprising of nurses, clinical officers and laboratory staff. They should be given specific training and be able to start some sort of screening program and be able to collect data for regional cancer registry.
2. The specialised human resource needed for cancer care is grossly lacking. Oncology training started at the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (Muhas) some five years back. Apart from specialist training, middle cadre training is also needed; special training for nurses, clinicians, data clerks and also for pathologist, radiologist for confirmatory diagnosis. Equipment used in radiotherapy and for radiological diagnosis needs constant maintenance and repairs by bioengineers and they are also in short supply.
There is no short cut; the required human resource needs to be trained.
3. Cancer prevention and early detection are very important and since the country has to deal with an array of health problems with limited resources majority have no access to cancer screening, early diagnosis, treatment or palliative care. Patients present with advanced disease that is not curable and the delay is often due to a variety of factors. There is almost total lack of response capacity in the country for prevention, public education, screening and early detection, diagnosis and treatment, whether involving surgery, radiotherapy, or chemotherapy. Till recently Ocean Road Hospital was the only cancer treatment centre for the whole country. For a population of over 50 million every regional hospital should be able to treat the common cancers but this is not possible now thus at least the zonal referral hospitals should be equipped as treatment centres. Treatment centres should be started at zonal and with time at regional hospitals. The major challenge is radiotherapy machines, which cost a fortune. In the west these machines are regularly replaced in hospitals because a new version is purchased. The old machine is still functional and with appropriate contacts the machine can be donated, our ambassadors should be able to follow this.
4. There is very little ongoing health education campaign in the country to sensitise especially the rural population.
There should be a cancer health education campaign just like the one for HIV.
5. The private health sector has not actively come fourth to establish cancer treatment centres because perhaps the patients mostly affected are poor and the cost of treatment is high, hence most patients once diagnosed are referred abroad for treatment. The ministry of Health may wish to engage with the private sector to start screening and treatment service in private hospitals at affordable costs and monitor the quality of these services.
A start has been done to control cancer in Tanzania, if more resources are made available and with proper planning and political will cancer epidemic can be brought under control but if it will be business as usual cancer will claim more lives in this country.
Apr 28 2017 | Posted in Health
| Read More »
Photo: The Observer
Irene Nwaho with kids.
analysisBy Olive Eyotaru
Giggles and hearty laughter welcome me as I walk into Parliament’s breastfeeding facility, located at the Office of the Prime Minister.
The Shs 80m-breastfeeding centre for MPs and Parliament staffers was launched by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga in November 2015, and The Observer was curious about how it was changing parenting and effectiveness in the august House.
After going through the gates dotted with tough-looking security personnel, it is a relief to escape into a more calm and serene environment, only interrupted by the sound of children playing.
Outside the enclosed facility is a small compound dotted with baby swings, two slides and a plastic swimming pool, placed around the space fitted with an artificial grass turf.
One of the nannies, Irene Nawaho, ushers me inside the reception area, where three children are seated on a playing mat. A number of toys are strewn around them as they babble in baby language. They are the only babies around, given that it is Holy Thursday and other parents are possibly already on Easter break.
Nevertheless, it does not deter the nannies from pampering them. I am drawn by the clean and airy environment, the bright cartoon characters adorning the white walls, Winnie the Pooh curtains and the sparklingly clean, tiled floors.
The reception area is adorned with sofas where the honourable mothers can relax on arrival with their tots.
Nawaho, a graduate of early childhood development at Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), gives me a guided tour of the facility, which has a kitchen, toilet, bathroom and three separate breastfeeding rooms.
The nannies have a separate toilet and bathroom. In the kitchen is a fridge, where fresh milk, fruits and feeding bottles with expressed milk for the babies are kept.
Belinda Kyalisiima, the other nanny, also manages the kitchen area, where she prepares food for the toddlers.
“I am in charge of cooking for the children, particularly those from six months and above. I prepare their meals on a daily basis and also, with instructions from some of the parents, make special meals for those who probably have allergies and don’t eat certain foods,” Kyalisiima, who studied early childhood development and nutrition at Kingfisher Training School Muyenga, says.
The kitchen cabinets are stocked with different types of cereal, including soya and millet flour. Below the cabinets is a microwave, cooker, more baby bottles, two sterilizing units, a food steamer and a number of flasks brought by the parents.
Parliament has a monthly budget for the facility and buys basic meals including cereals, milk and fruits for the toddlers. The facility’s coordinator and human resource officer at Parliament, Lillian Iculet, says while small meals are provided for the babies, the bulk comes from the mothers; they pool resources and stock up for the children.
A chart is plastered on the corridor wall, detailing a daily order of activities. Between 8am and 9am, mothers come in with their babies. They are bathed and breastfed or given porridge and drinking water, before their busy mummies hurry off to different departments of Parliament for work.
From 9am to 10:30am, this period is dedicated to indoor activities such as sleeping and breastfeeding. At about 10:30am, the children are guided outside to the play area; however, when the weather is unfriendly, they engage in indoor games. A fruit snack is also given.
Midday comes with lunch, when the children are fed milk and porridge and are also given drinking water. For those above six months, meals comprising steamed food are served.
“We make sure they are fed on steamed food in order to retain the nutrients,” Kyalisiima says.
Between 1 and 3pm, the children are bathed, while others splash around in the pool. A glass of juice and expressed milk are also served then. From 3pm to 5pm, when the centre closes, children listen to rhymes and also watch cartoons, before their mothers pick them up for the journey home.
“This routine is, however, not cast in stone. We usually alter it depending on the number of children around and the weather,” Nawaho says.
As we head towards the breastfeeding rooms, one-year-old Felicia Kusiima, whose mother is a librarian at Parliament, runs past us mumbling in baby talk, before pushing the door to one of the breastfeeding rooms open.
In the room are four beds with brightly coloured, cartoon-character blankets arranged in a straight line. Nawaho says this is where toddlers between 15 and 36 months take their naps. We move to breastfeeding room 2, where babies between two months and 14 months sleep. It also has a changing table for babies who have soiled themselves.
Inside the third breastfeeding room, only mothers are allowed in to attend to their young ones. Four comfortable chairs are placed in the room, with each seat separated by a plastic curtain for privacy.
Once a mother is ready to breastfeed her child, she can draw the curtain and create a private space, as slow music is played in the background to create a relaxed environment for her and the baby.
When Parliament first opened the facility for its female legislators and staff, many thought it was a daycare center. Iculet insists the facility was created to provide a space for lactating mothers working at the institution to breastfeed their children and return to office, a stone’s throw away.
The facility did not come out of the blue. The idea was conceived in 2011 by former Parliament director of human resource, Victoria Kaddu, and Hellen Kawesa, the assistant director of communications and public affairs (CPA), after they returned from an internship partnership programme at the New York State Legislature in the United States.
Kawesa recalls their visit, where they were struck by the presence of a well-furnished breastfeeding room on each floor of the three-storied building, and on different wings, where female staff and members of the legislature worked.
“The mothers who were working there would come out of committee meetings or offices and take time off to nurse their children. It impressed us so much and we were told that since this was introduced, the number of female staff had grown drastically and performance was enhanced,” Kawesa says.
Upon return, Kawesa and Kaddu highlighted this aspect to the Speaker and Clerk to Parliament, with recommendations that the Parliamentary Commission considers the idea. While it took four years to be set up due to limited space, Kaweesa is elated the idea was eventually implemented.
“I remember MPs used to come with their babies and nannies to attend committee and plenary sittings and they [babies] had to wait in their vehicles,” she says.
Parliament’s Human Resource regulations stipulate that upon return from maternity leave, a mother is allowed to work for six hours a day and return home to look after the child.
While this is for a period of six months, Iculet says it was not feasible, as it grew tedious for mothers.
Mothers were still not at peace, leaving their little ones home, “that is why we pushed for the facility”, Iculet says, with the greater goal to encourage exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
While many working mothers wish to adhere to the WHO guidelines, private companies offer no more than two months’ maternity leave; in the absence of a facility like Parliament’s, a two-month-old baby is forced to start on formula feeds.
While the facility plays host to 12 children who are not brought in at a go, Iculet says the initial target was for eight children. The assumption was that on a rather busy day, eight children would be brought in at a go.
Harriet Nalusiba, a principal librarian at Parliament, is one of the beneficiaries of the facility. Having had trouble with maids with her now 10-year-old daughter, Nalusiba decided to bring her younger one, Felicia, to the centre when her three-month maternity leave ended.
“It is nice for any woman to have an option to leave your baby at a place where you can walk in any time and breastfeed. I am not worried about rushing home to my child in Matugga,” Nalusiba says.
“Those things affect women’s work so badly and also have a bearing on how men think about women at work. Even when men interview staff, they have at the back of their minds [a woman’s future preoccupation with motherhood].”
Nalusiba’s sentiments are shared by Agago Woman MP, Franca Judith Akello, whose two-and-half-year-old daughter, Mary Akidi, stayed at the centre when mummy had to work. Akello, a mother-of-four, had two children during her first five-year term in the 8th Parliament.
“Whenever I had my babies, I would not settle at Parliament. I would come very late for committee meetings and within an hour, I would be called from home all the time that the baby was crying incessantly and needed to be breastfed. At some point, I got discouraged to have more babies,” the MP recalls.
Now, the convenience of being closer to her child while she represents her people in the House is something Akello does not take for granted.
“I have really enjoyed working at Parliament because I bring her to the centre, then head to work. I would walk there and breastfeed and return at my own convenience. She has also turned out to be a very social daughter because she grew up with other children,” the MP muses.
Bugiri Woman MP, Agnes Taaka Wejuli, is also a beneficiary of the facility, where she takes her seven-month-old son, where he meets Evans Behangana’s baby; Behangana is a police officer attached to the surveillance team at Parliament.
The demand for daycare centres in the country has grown over the years, majorly due to the unreliability of housemaids and scarcity of professional nannies for homes.
In 2014, First Lady Janet Museveni made a herald call, urging bosses countrywide to consider setting up daycare centres at the workplace to level the ground a bit for working mothers.
While the initial plan of Parliament’s breastfeeding facility was to allow mothers to breastfeed their young ones, Iculet hints that in the future, the institution may set up a daycare centre to allow MPs and staff to drop off their children even after weaning them. This, she says, will happen once the construction of the new chambers of Parliament is complete.
“There is a lot of demand for daycare services; so, we could have a wing for that so that even the male staff and MPs can bring their children. For now, our focus is on breastfeeding,” Iculet says.
While the concept at Parliament may seem expensive, Iculet gives assurance to employers who would like to adopt the idea that one can set up a facility in one room at a much lower cost.
Apr 27 2017 | Posted in Health
| Read More »
By Lorraine Josiane Manishatse
Burundi Government accepts the proposal by the UN Secretary General (UNSG) to replace Jamal Benomar, his special advisor on the Burundian conflict, by Michel Kafando.
Alain Diomède Nzeyimana, Deputy Spokesman for Burundi President, says the Presidential Office has received a letter from the UN Secretary General nominating Michel Kafando, the former chairman of interim government in Burkina Faso, to replace Jamal Benomar, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the resolution of Burundi conflict. “However, we have not yet received a letter confirming his appointment,” Nzeyimana says.
He says the government of Burundi has given the green light. “The government could not oppose the appointment of that person. He is a veteran in diplomacy and international relations. We hope that he will accomplish his mission,” says the deputy spokesman for the Burundian President.
“He has the mission to restore peace and security in Burundi”
“We welcome the nomination of the former chairman of the interim government in Burkina Faso to be the new UN Special Representative in Burundi. The fact that the people of Burkina Faso entrusted him to lead the interim government after President Blaise Compaoré fled the country following the popular insurrection, shows that he is trustworthy, “says Tatien Sibomana, a political opponent. For him, Kafando has honored his promise to the people of Burkina Faso by organizing a credible and transparent general election.
He says that this diplomat played a prominent role in restoring the rule of law in Burkina Faso. “Africa needs people who keep their promises like him,” Sibomana says.
Kafando will replace the Moroccan Jamar Benomar, whom the Government of Burundi had challenged. It accused him of producing biased reports on Burundi. According to Sibomana, Burundi is experiencing a political crisis caused by President Nkurunziza’s desire to seek a third illegal and unconstitutional term. These UN representatives come to Burundi with a special mission to observe the situation prevailing in the country in order to produce reports that they submit to the UNSG.
This opposition politician says Kafando may also be challenged like his predecessor. He says the Burundian government does not accept a diplomat who dares to denounce the crimes committed in Burundi.
“I would like to warn this new UNSG representative to avoid being manipulated by the Government of Burundi and be impartial by listening to all parties to know the real situation prevailing in Burundi,” says Sibomana.
He also says the UN, which is responsible for ensuring peace and security, should implement all the resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council on Burundi and compel the Government of Burundi to effectively take part in inclusive dialogue.
Rights Defenders Call On Protest Against Human Rights Violations
Exiled activists organise demonstrations against alarming rights violations; an idea that is not shared by activists… Read more »
Apr 26 2017 | Posted in Burundi
| Read More »
By Nasra Bishumba
Following success of last year’s campaign that saw more than 500,000 children registered, the Government is now gearing up to ease the process by harmonising child registration with the national identity programme, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Local Government has said.
Odette Uwamariya said this while participating at a stakeholders meeting that brought together government, civil society and development partners to review the progress made in attaining the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) recommendations.
UPR is a unique mechanism of the Human Rights Council (HRC) aimed at improving the human rights situation in each of the 193 United Nations member states.
The month-long campaign aimed at having more children registered to enable the Government to plan and avail them vital services, and saw 511,000 children registered countrywide.
At the Kigali meeting yesterday, Uwamariya said that while all local government authorities had been encouraged to take the process seriously, the focus was now on modernising and integrating the available systems so that it’s easier for all parents to register their children.
“We are focusing on the modernisation of the civil registry, integrating the available systems and linking it with the national ID programme to reduce the procedures involved so that when a child is born anywhere in this country, they are immediately registered without necessarily going through many channels,” she said.
According to the 2014/15 Demographic and Health Survey, the status of birth registration in Rwanda shows that only 56 per cent of children were notified at the sector Civil Registration and Notary Services in 2015.
The statistics show a decline from 83 per cent in 2005 and 63 per cent in 2010, which was blamed on the legal status of parents that hampers many from registering their children.
The current registration system does not cater for special cases such as unwanted pregnancies, informally married couples, and juvenile births.
Uwamariya also touched on funds allocated to vulnerable people, saying the Government and its development partners were working hand-in-hand to see that the current momentum in poverty eradication is maintained.
“Sixteen per cent of the population still live under the poverty line but we are optimistic because looking at the trend in the last few years, so many households have graduated from poverty thanks to combined efforts of the Government and its partners. Our target for 2017-2019 is to reduce the number to 9 per cent and, in 2020, we look forward to going to zero per cent,” she said.
Talking about the Universal Periodic Review recommendations, the Minister for Justice, Johnston Busingye, told participants that the follow-up phase is critical, pointing out that government would find it harder to deliver without the input of the civil society and other development partners.
“We will continue to prioritise inclusive participation and transparency as indispensable elements of the process. We are aware that it’s government’s obligation to protect, promote and preserve human rights but if non-governmental organisations did not show up to work with us, it would be a heavier obligation. Working on this with all willing stakeholders will result in a report that is broadly objective and agreeable,” he said.
This particular review follows the one done in November 2015, where 67 recommendations accepted by Rwanda in 2011 were looked at. During the second review, Rwanda accepted 50 recommendations to be implemented in four years.
Busingye said that in September 2016, the Ministry of Justice, together with other public institutions and civil society, adopted a roadmap to implement the 50 recommendations that the Government had accepted.
He added that yesterday’s meeting sought to evaluate progress in the implementation of that matrix six months after it was shared with concerned institutions.
Apr 26 2017 | Posted in Rwanda
| Read More »
By Diane Uwimana
In the early morning of 24 April, sounds of gunshots were heard in Kigobe neighborhood of Ntahangwa Commune in the capital Bujumbura. “The police officer was pursuing a “tuk-tuk” driver who was trying to escape.
Instead of stopping, he rather tried to run away and the police officer shot in the air trying to stop him. The policeman has been arrested for investigation”, says Pierre Nkurikiye, the police spokesperson.
Pierre Nkurikiye also says shootings were also heard in Kanyosha neighborhood in the south of the Burundian capital. “it was around midnight past twenty minutes when a police officer shot in the air trying to prevent robbers from stealing a house of the locality”, he says.
In the evening of 22 April, Jean Claude Bashirahishize, a resident of Rukina zone in Mukike Commune of Bujumbura Province was shot dead by soldiers from the Ruhororo military position.
Séverin Ndayizeye, the local chief said the young man was shot when he was trying to escape from the soldiers when they were controlling identity cards of the passengers. Gaspard Baratuza, Spokesman for the Burundian army also confirms the information that the young man was shot dead as he was trying to escape.
On 23 April, a dead body of Asmane Nduwimana, a driver and resident of Buterere neighborhood was discovered in Kanyosha southern area of the capital Bujumbura. “His “probox” type vehicle was stolen by unknown people”, says the police spokesman.
One woman on Musenyi hill of Cankuzo Eastern province and another one from Taba hill of Songa Commune in Bururi southern province were also killed by unknown people on 23 April. One person was arrested in each of the two localities for investigation.
Jean Baptiste Nsabimana, a human rights activist says 10 bodies have been identified. He also says cases of disappearances (14), torture (22) and arbitrary arrests (166) have been reported in different parts of the country from 1 to 23 April 2017.
Pro-Government People Protest Against UN Human Rights Commission Report On Burundi
Communication officer within the ruling CNDD-FDD launched a campaign to protest the UN High Commissioner for Human… Read more »
Apr 25 2017 | Posted in Burundi
| Read More »
columnBy Fred K. Nkusi
A famous quote by Rodgers says “it’s not enough to know something; it’s more important to know why and how”. This adage tallies suitably with the government’s agenda to introduce a new system of teaching that emphasises the use of computers and internet to impart knowledge in schools.
This is a tailored programme that will enable students to access computers and basic Microsoft software installed in them such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and PowerPoint, among others, to digitise subject content delivered in schools, and to help students get access to internet in their schools.
The Internet has become not only the wealthiest information resource in the world, but the most rapid means of communication. In addition to equipping school children with information technology skills and knowledge, typologies of internet application in education is understood as the usage of internet technologies to solve various routine educational tasks, most notably teaching, learning and management of the educational process.
By using web application, it will enable teachers to conduct teaching with such technologies, which for the contemporary generation of students present an integral part of their lifestyle. To school children, the usage of internet-connected computers in classrooms will encourage self-learning and students’ motivation.
Again to the school children, if the changed model of teaching becomes a reality it will profoundly re-shape the students’ behavior to accommodate to the digital age. Giving up the reproductive model and onsetting the creative pedagogy implies an emphasis on the development of independent students’ activities and their critical thinking and skills in fixing real problems that affect society.
Furthermore, when school children are helped to access information and communication technology, it will promote digital literacy in society as a whole. As a result, it will embolden the careers in the science and information communication technology, which tallies very well with national priority areas.
However, a counter balance ought to be done to avoid students using the internet in a manner that is abusive and unorthodox. Arguably, educators and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and cybercafé owners must be alert to protect children’s safety when using ICTs and promote their positive use.
As noted in this column previously, internet is not, however, a panacea. Therefore, no reluctance to pre-empt possible cyber abuses, such as cyber-sexting, cyber bullying and other online harmful content.
A paradigm shift to internet usage in education will not only revitalise education-related aspects but will also be a means of promoting the human rights on the internet, as envisaged in numerous national and international norms. Under Rwandan media law, for example, everyone has the right to receive, disseminate or send information through internet.
Understandably, a person has the right to create a website through which they can disseminate information or their opinions, and this doesn’t require the netizen to be a journalist. Like adults, school children have the right to freedom of expression through any media channels of one’s choice, including new communication technologies such as the internet.
Internationally, the same rights people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression, which is applicable regardless of frontiers and through any media of one’s choice, in accordance with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Aside from recognising the right of the Internet, open nature of the Internet is a driving force in accelerating progress towards development in its various forms, including in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Returning to education, no doubt the Internet bolsters quality education that plays a pivotal role in development, and therefore calls for all stakeholders to contribute to this awesome undertaking designed to produce resourceful youth. Equally, it promotes the right to education, which encourages individual freedom and empowerment and yields important development benefits.
Enjoyment of human rights on the Internet by school children is an important tool for fostering citizen and civil society participation, for the realisation of development in their communities and the country at large. However, the promotion and protection of the “digital individual” in a human rights perspective is currently a topic of great concern and some urgency.There’re challenges as to make the protection of human rights effective in the online realm, especially with regard to the privacy.
The right to the Internet enjoyment by school children is inextricably linked with the requirement for privacy protection. The right to privacy is a human right and the need for privacy is universal and deep-seated in each human being. Privacy is essential to human dignity and autonomy in all societies, enabling individuals to create barriers to protect themselves from interferences in their lives, such as their information and communications.
In closing, the Internet is an issue of growing interest and importance as the rapid pace of technological development which enables individuals all over the world to use new information and communication technologies. Thus, training school children in information communication technologies will be catalyst to their future role in bridging many forms of digital divides that remain between developed and developing countries, between men and women, and between boys and girls.
The writer is an international law expert.
Apr 24 2017 | Posted in Rwanda
| Read More »
By Innocent Habonimana
The Ministry of Energy and Mining says the shortage of fuel earlier his week was due to a “technical breakdown” that interrupted clearance processes within the Burundi Revenue Authority (OBR), an allegation the Authority denies.
From last Monday till yesterday, many of the fuel pumps around Bujumbura town were dry. Long queues of cars and motorcycles waited for hours at the few stations that were open. Service at fuel stations returned to normalcy this Thursday.
Daniel Mpitabakana, Director of the Fuel department at the Ministry of Energy and Mining, says that connection breakdown that happened on Monday and that hindered the normal course of the OBR activities made it impossible for providers to supply fuel.
“There was a technical breakdown for over four hours [on Monday]”, he says. He says when there is such a breakdown, importers cannot do customs clearance and therefore cannot cater fuel to consumers.
He explains that the breakdown goes back to the end of March when another severe shortage of fuel had interrupted activities- especially public and private transport- that rely on fuel.
In a series of tweets on this Thursday, OBR dismissed the claim saying it “is not aware of any connection breakdown of Monday 1April 2017 the Director of the Fuel department is talking about”.
Asked after OBR had dismissed his claim, Mpitabakana did not backtrack.
The “technical breakdown” reason, which some see as a pretext, for fuel shortage replaces the “lack of foreign currency” explanation that has been usually used to explain away constant fuel supply disruptions in Burundi over the last months.
UN Rights Chief Alarmed By Rape Chants in Burundi
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has expressed outrage at an apparent widespread pattern… Read more »
Apr 21 2017 | Posted in Burundi
| Read More »
By Bernard Busuulwa
Issues of taxation, manpower and marketing have hampered the rollout of Islamic banking products in Uganda, as technocrats struggle to finalise regulations for the new products.
While regulations to guide the use of agency banking have been finalised and are scheduled for issuance after April 19, issues surrounding taxation of Islamic banking products remain unresolved.
Under Islamic banking rules, no interest is charged on loans to borrowers; profits and losses realised from a business are shared equally between lenders and borrowers, and lending is restricted to morally acceptable ventures: Lending to alcohol firms, tobacco producers and gambling companies is prohibited.
Concerns over how much tax should be applied to Islamic financial products and the elimination of double taxation have slowed consultations on the matter.
For example, a mortgage transaction arranged between a bank and a client under Islamic banking would require the two parties to make equity contributions towards the deal without charging the home buyer any interest.
The client would instead be obliged to buy out the bank’s equity share in order to achieve full ownership of the house or piece of land in question. Recent proposals in favour of taxing the banks’ contribution have raised questions about the competitiveness of Islamic banking products when compared with conventional financial offerings.
In contrast, mainstream mortgage products require clients to make reasonable equity contributions towards the purchase of real estate, disbursement of a bridging loan facility by a commercial bank, and repayments that carry annual interest charges. Withholding tax is levied on interest earned from the mortgage, while the value of the loan is exempt from taxes.
A shortage of specialised Islamic banking professionals has also slowed down the rollout of Islamic financial products. Due to the sensitive nature of Islamic banking operations, use of qualified Shariah professionals is considered essential in regulation, selling and distribution of financial services.
However, according to research data, there are only 10 qualified Shariah professionals on the local market.
This is in a business environment with 24 commercial banks and a small pipeline of specialised Islamic banking players who have shown interest in the market but are yet to obtain commercial licences.
“Taxation of Islamic banking transactions seems complex because it is difficult to determine the exact point of taxation, and also minimise the risk of double taxation. But the UK has already come up with useful tax guidelines that define the degree of taxation for Islamic banking transactions, involving both physical assets and direct cash, which would be compatible with our environment. The human resource gap experienced among local Shariah professionals in Uganda could be filled by foreign manpower previously nurtured by big banks like Standard Chartered, Barclays and KCB in their native markets. In addition, there are overseas players in big Shariah markets like Malaysia that are capable of providing outsourced compliance services for Shariah boards,” said Abubaker Mayanja, the managing director of ABL Dunamis Ltd, a financial advisory services firm.
East Africa’s Cecafa Moot Joint Afcon Bid
The Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa) is in slumber as club and national teams’… Read more »
Apr 21 2017 | Posted in Uganda
| Read More »
analysisBy Diane Uwimana
“About 720 people were killed, over 80 others tortured since Burundi has plunged into the current situation in April 2015,” says Jean Baptiste Baribonekeza, Chairman of the National Commission for the Human Rights-CNDIH. He also says that between 700 and 800 people have been arbitrarily arrested in different areas of the country. “Thanks to our intervention, some of them have been released”, he says.
The chairman of CNDIH says the human rights situation deteriorated at the beginning of 2015 but has improved day after day. “Considering the situation between 2015 and 2016, there has been some improvement in 2017”, he says.
Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, Chairman of the Association defending the Human Rights and the detainees’ rights-APRODH, says his associations estimated the death toll of 2000 Burundians, imprisonment of 8000 people, flight of thousands of Burundians to other countries , torture of hundreds of people including women who have been sexually abused before their children and the disappearance of hundreds of people. “All this was caused by Pierre Nkurunziza when he violated the Arusha Agreement and Burundi Constitution”, he says.
The same view is shared by Léonce Ngendakumana, Deputy Chairman of Sahwanya Frodebu party. “The violation of the Arusha Agreement and Burundi Constitution caused many killings, tortures, sanctions against Burundi government, corruption, economic embezzlement, and the deterioration of the education system,” he says.
Ngendakumana says Burundi has moved into recession since 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a controversial term in office. Ngendakumana says the government and its allies must engage in an inclusive dialogue with the opposition to restore democracy in Burundi. “The only option to end the crisis is the inclusive dialogue”, he says.
Jean De Dieu Mutabazi, chairman of RADEDU party says Burundi was in trouble for three years but the situation has improved day after day. “The efforts by the troublemakers and opposition to destabilize the country have been undermined year after year. Today, the security situation is good”, he says.
UN Rights Chief Alarmed By Rape Chants in Burundi
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has expressed outrage at an apparent widespread pattern… Read more »
Apr 20 2017 | Posted in Burundi
| Read More »