Weekly anb12131.txt #7

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WEEKLY NEWS ISSUE of: 13-12-2001      PART #1/7

* Africa. Human Rights Day - 10 December -- Human Rights Day. The United Nations' Human Rights Day is aiming to increase awareness of the growing global problem of exploitation. Slavery, indentured and bonded work and trafficking in human beings are on the increase, according to the latest estimates from the Geneva-based International Labour Organisation (ILO). Juan Somavia, the ILO's director-general, thinks something must be done. The first step, Mr Somavia believes, is to raise public awareness of the evil, which he sees increasing in Africa, areas of the former Soviet Union and parts of Asia, especially the subcontinent. (...) A recently published ILO report, which examines trafficking in children for labour exploitation in west and central Africa, reveals just how intractable and complex the problem is. The report reveals disturbing evidence of entrenched and elaborately organised networks of trafficking in children between Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Benin, Gabon, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria. Boys and girls as young as five years old are trafficked by their families to intermediaries who exploit or sell them as labour. In general, girls work as unpaid domestic workers or street traders. Boys tend to work on plantations, or in construction and mining sites. The children endure unsafe conditions and long hours and often receive no pay. Both girls and boys are also being forced to become prostitutes. But Mr Somavia thinks the issue of forced labour has "not yet really caught the world's attention". What he wants to emphasise is that this is "not some relic of a bygone age but a continuing problem of serious proportions". (Financial Times, UK, 10 December 2001)

* Africa. US to help Africa find terrorism funders - Walter Kansteiner, the US assistant secretary of state for Africa, said on 7 December that Washington was looking to help Africa's banking sector establish oversight mechanisms that could better identify possible terrorist financing operations. Speaking in Nairobi, following a trip to Ethiopia and on the way to Zimbabwe and South Africa, Mr Kansteiner: "An important part of this trip was to look at how we can assist African governments in financial oversight and forensic accounting. I've gotten a very good response from both the Kenyans and Ethiopians." Kenya's bankers have been concerned at rumours that financial institutions in Nairobi and Mombasa might have links to terrorism, and have asked the central bank to set the record straight. Mr Kansteiner said his mission was to lay the political groundwork for co-operation, and would be followed by more in-depth technical discussions. (Financial Times, UK, 11 December 2001)

* Afrique. Conférence internationale sur le sida - La 12e Conférence internationale sur le sida et les MST (maladies sexuellement transmissibles) en Afrique, sur le thème "Les communautés s'engagent", s'est ouverte le 9 décembre à Ouagadougou et se clôturera le 13. Mobiliser les communautés africaines, chercheurs, travailleurs sociaux, personnes vivant avec le VIH, décideurs politiques, religieux... contre le fléau sera l'un des principaux enjeux de ce grand rendez-vous auquel participent quelque 4.000 personnes. Si les efforts de prévention doivent être maintenus, sinon renforcés, plus que jamais l'accès aux médicaments semble prioritaire. Il y a encore beaucoup de chemin à parcourir pour que les 28 millions de personnes vivant avec le virus en Afrique subsaharienne disposent des traitements au même titre que les patients des pays riches. - Le 10 décembre, le directeur de l'Onusida, Peter Piot, a appelé à un "soutien international massif" pour financer la lutte contre le sida en Afrique, notamment l'accès aux traitements. Il a relevé que les fonds consacrés cette année à la lutte contre le sida sur le continent étaient estimés à 500 millions de dollars, alors qu'il faudrait 5 milliards de dollars annuels. De son côté, l'envoyé spécial de l'Onu, Stephen Lewis, a souhaité que "2002 soit l'année d'une percée pour les donateurs internationaux". - Notons par ailleurs que les Eglises en Afrique, lors d'une réunion des secrétaires des conférences épiscopales catholiques et lors d'une consultation internationale à Nairobi organisée par le Conseil oecuménique des Eglises, ont décidé d'intensifier leur participation à la lutte contre le VIH/SIDA. (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 11 décembre 2001)

* Africa. Action against the Media - Congo RDC: In an open letter to President Kabila (11 December), Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) urges the President to consult with the relevant authorities to make plans for the release of sports journalist Frédéric Kitengie who was arrested on 5 December. Egypt: The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights says (11 December) that the Government should "put an end to all security measures and practices that run counter to Egypt's commitments as a state, party to international human rights. Freedom of opinion and expression has continued to deteriorate". Ethiopia: On 5 December, the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists' Association expressed concern over the alarming increase in the harassment of journalists. Morocco: Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has said (10 December) it is outraged over the authorities' relentless harassment of Demain Magazine's publication's director, Ali Lmrabet, who was recently sentenced to four month's imprisonment and a fine. Mozambique: On 3 December, Mediacoop, the cooperative that owns the weekly newspaper Savana, announced its intention to sue a district court judge for what it terms the unlawful arrest of Kok Nam, a photojournalist and director of Savana. Niger: Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) on 3 December asked the Speaker of Niger's National Assembly to explain the recent adoption of a new law which will considerably increase the tax bill of the independent press. Togo: RSF has written to the Togolese govt. (4 December) protesting the suspension of two radio programmes broadcast by the independent radio station Radio Victoire. Tunisia: In a letter to President Ben Ali (10 december), RSF protested the fact that Tunisian opposition figures are prevented from communicating with the outside world. (ANB-BIA, Brussels, 12 December 2001)

* Africa. UN targets child sex trade - The United Nations Children's Fund, Unicef, is calling for a co-ordinated global approach to the problem of sexual exploitation of children, which it says affects millions worldwide. Unicef has produced a new report, entitled "Profiting from Abuse", to coincide with a world congress in Japan next week which will examine commercial sexual exploitation. It calls on every government to adopt and enforce laws against the sale of children, child prostitution, and pornographic material involving children. The trade in child sex is growing, according to the Unicef report; in the Philippines alone there are estimated to be about 100,000 child prostitutes, five times the number there were 15 years ago. The report's authors say about a million children worldwide are sold into sex every year, with the problem more acute in developing countries. Not surprisingly, some of the most common causes are listed as poverty, gender discrimination, war, and the drugs trade. The document notes the increased vulnerability of people forced to flee their homes through conflict, who can then become subject to demands for sex by border guards or military personnel. The one positive note is struck by the declaration earlier this year at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which became the first world body to declare rape in times of war a crime against humanity. Unicef says the multi-billion dollar sexual exploitation of children can only be tackled by a global approach of zero tolerance involving tough criminal penalties against abusers. (ANB-BIA, Brussels, 13 December 2001)

* Africa. Christians and Muslims dialogue - Three meetings on Christian-Muslim dialogue at local, regional and international levels will take place in Cairo, 17-21 December. An informal meeting between World Council of Churches (WCC) staff and about 30 local Christian and Muslim leaders will consider the educational use in the local context, of a recent WCC publication: "Striving Together in Dialogue: A Muslim-Christian Call to Reflection and Action". A second meeting will focus on how Arab Christians and Muslims see the Arab world as such, and in relation to other countries and countries, after 11 September. The meeting: "Relations between Nations, Cultures and Religious Communities Today: A Perspective from the Arab World", is being sponsored by the Arab Group on Christian-Muslim Dialogue, This group works with the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) and the WCC. The meeting will involve about 30 participants. The MECC and the WCC will then facilitate a discussion with approximately 25 scholars and leaders engaged in Christian-Muslim dialogue from the Middle East, the USA, the UK and Pakistan. This meeting will attempt to assess Christian-Muslim relations, local and global, after 11 September. (WCC, Geneva, 13 December 2001)

* Algérie. Accord avec l'UE - Le 5 décembre, après plusieurs années de discussions, l'Union européenne et l'Algérie sont parvenues à conclure les négociations sur leur accord d'association qui bloquait encore sur la libre circulation des travailleurs et la lutte contre le terrorisme. Cet accord, dont le contenu exact sera divulgué ultérieurement, sera paraphé le 19 décembre à Bruxelles en présence du président Bouteflika. La clause "droits de l'homme" prévue dans l'accord, restera de pur style, comme dans les autres accords d'association, en dépit des violations massives des droits de l'homme en Algérie dénoncées par toutes les organisations humanitaires. De plus, profitant de l'effet du 11 septembre, les militaires algériens ont obtenu que l'UE fasse figurer dans l'accord une coopération dans la lutte antiterroriste. (Libération, France, 7 décembre 2001)

* Algeria. Violence never far away - 6 December: Fighting breaks out in a north east Algerian town between security forces and thousands of Berber demonstrators calling for cultural and linguistic recognition in the country. Police in Tizi Ouzou, the capital of the predominantly Berber region of Kabylie, use tear gas grenades in an attempt to move the young Berbers staging a sit-down protest outside the headquarters of military police. Stones and Molotov cocktails are thrown and anti-government slogans are chanted by the protesters, who are furious at attempts by more moderate members of the Berber community to enter dialogue with the Algerian Government. Meetings are scheduled, today, between the moderates and Algerian Prime Minister Ali Benflis to discuss the Berber community's demands for better social, economic and cultural conditions. 7 December: Suspected Algerian Islamic militants have killed 17 civilians and wounded four others in the worst attack so far during this year's Ramadan, the Muslim holy month. Algerian security sources said the attack occurred late on Thursday night in the area of Cadat in the province of Ain Defla, about 130 kilometres south west of Algiers. The security forces have launched "a vast operation to look for the criminals." No details on the identity of the victims have been given. (ANB-BIA, Brussels, 8 December 2001)

* Algérie. Nouveaux massacres - 17 personnes ont été tuées et 4 blessées dans un massacre perpétré le soir du 6 décembre par un groupe d'islamistes armés à Aarib, dans la région d'Aïn Defla (160 km à l'ouest d'Alger). Selon des "sources locales de sécurité", un groupe de "terroristes", terme désignant les islamistes armés, serait à l'origine de l'attaque. Les forces de sécurité ont lancé une vaste opération de recherche des criminels. Ce massacre porte à 48 le nombre des morts dans des violences liées aux islamistes armés depuis le début du ramadan. - Le 7 décembre, six personnes ont encore été assassinées dans des attaques menées par des groupes armés islamistes près de Aïn Defla, de Saïda et de Oum El-Bouaghi. (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 10 décembre 2001)

* Algérie. Kabylie: accord et émeutes - La rencontre qui a regroupé autour de M. Ali Benflis, le chef du gouvernement algérien, un millier de délégués des comités villageois de Kabylie s'est terminée le ventredi 7 décembre au petit matin sur une note d'espoir. Les deux parties ont convenu de mettre en place 4 commissions pour débattre des différents points de la plate-forme de revendications. La première commission s'attellera à trouver la meilleure réponse à la revendication identitaire (langue berbère), la seconde se chargera d'étudier la prise en charge, sous toutes ses formes, des victimes du "printemps noir". La 3ème et 4ème commission plancheront respectivement sur les poursuites pénales à l'encontre des gendarmes coupables de dépassements et l'examen des revendications socio-économiques. - D'autre part, le lundi 10 décembre, les journaux d'Alger ont rapporté qu'une dizaine de personnes ont été arrêtées en Kabylie, où des manifestations contre le pouvoir ont encore éclaté ces derniers jours. Des émeutes ont fait une quinzaine de blessés entre jeudi et dimanche à El Kseur. (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 11 décembre 2001)

Weekly anb1213.txt - #1/7