Saturday, April 25, 2015

Egypt: Relics return home: Egypt receives smuggled antiquities from US

History returns home as 2.3million euros worth of smuggled antiquities arrived in back in Egypt.

Some 123 artifacts were seized by US customs as part of a five year investigation into international smuggling networks dubbed Operation

South Africa: Immigrants Flee South African Violence

Source: Voice of America

Lameck Masina, Sebastian Mhofu
April 24, 2015 6:48 AM JOHANNESBURG—

In South Africa, the resentment fueling this month’s anti-immigrant violence is spurring fearful foreign nationals to return to their neighboring countries.

Roughly 400 Malawians boarded six buses and arrived this week in their homeland’s commercial capital, Blantyre, with eight more busloads expected in coming days. Hundreds of Zimbabweans are on the move, too, as are other African immigrants.

South Africa’s chronic inequality and high unemployment levels mean there aren’t enough jobs to go around. Poor South Africans contend immigrants – primarily coming from other African nations – are taking their jobs and diminishing their economic prospects, sparking turmoil that began earlier this month in neighborhoods of Johanesburg and Durban.

At least seven people have been killed in attacks on foreign-owned businesses, and thousands have been displaced.

Though the violence has subsided, apprehensions remain.

Nearly 130 humanitarian groups signed a letter asking the African Union's human rights arm to require that South Africa strengthen protections for immigrants. That would include establishing special courts for addressing attacks against immigrants and foreign-owned businesses, the Associated Press reported.

"The solution to the violence should not be to repatriate all foreign nationals, but to ensure an environment ... in which their rights are protected," the letter said.

Leaders of the Southern African Development Community’s 15 member countries are scheduled meet next week in Zimbabwe about better integrating immigrants and discouraging xenophobia.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe currently is chair of both the development community and the African Union. At an event last Saturday marking Zimbabwe’s 35th anniversary of independence, he called anti-foreigner attacks the work of "misguided" elements.

South Africa’s government has condemned the violence and sent the military to assist police in Durban and Johannesburg hot spots.

Malawi begins repatriation

Meanwhile, the Malawi government this week began repatriating citizens after two were killed and 3,200 dislodged from their homes, Malawi Information Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa said. He added that many fled with just the clothes on their backs to enter safe camps in the two troubled South African cities.

The Malawi government has set aside about $450,000 for the repatriation, Nankhumwa said, noting more funding may be needed.

"Day by day, we discover that there are more Malawians" being displaced, he said. “For example, we started with 90 people, then 120 and then 360…. Now we are talking about 3,200. So, this is likely necessitating the rise of economic costs."

On Tuesday, human rights groups in Malawi led protests in the capital of Lilongwe and petitioned the South African High Commissioner to Malawi to end attacks on foreigners within 24 hours.

Xenophobic attacks first had erupted in 2008. Billy Mayaya, a human rights activist who led the protests, said he fears this latest outbreak will spoil the long relationship between Malawi and South Africa.

"Malawians started migrating to South Africa in the 1800s, so this is a long relationship which has deep roots," he said. "… We don’t want these incidents to undermine that long-time relationship that we have had with South Africa."

The Consumers Association of Malawi announced it would hold "Black Friday" vigils, during which Malawians boycott South African shops, goods and services to protest the xenophobic attacks.

John Kapito, the group’s executive director, said South African shops should remain closed during these days "to avoid unnecessary incidents."

Some Zimbabweans head home

Economic strife has led an estimated 1 million Zimbabweans to resettle in South Africa. Last weekend, Mugabe expressed "our sense of shock, disgust" at the violence there and said his government was working on transportation to bring home endangered people.

Mugabe Talent Hungwe, 29, is among those who've returned to Zimbabwe.

"We were beaten up, we ran away with a few things and left some," she said while holding her 21-month-old child. She'd been staying in a camp in South Africa, but "it was no longer safe to stay there.... We feared that an outbreak of cholera would kill us."

Hungwe hopes to get a job in Zimbabwe, but its economy has been in almost continuous decline for 15 years.

Ralph Danga said he had been doing carpentry in South Africa for five years. With the outbreak of xenophobic attacks in his Durban neighborhood, "We ran away, we slept at the police station," he said.

When he returned home the next day, "we saw that the house had been broken into and they took everything. I have got a work permit. Now I am planning I go to Zimbabwe. After that I gonna come back. I can’t leave my money here. It is almost 1,000" South African rand.

Earlier this week, churches in Zimbabwe held services seeking divine intervention. They said Mugabe’s government needs to strengthen the country’s economy.

Shingi Munyeza, president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, said his is "a peaceful nation. But our economy is not in a good place," prodding people to seek their fortunes in neighboring countries, he said. "So we are imploring the government of Zimbabwe to deal with the economic issues so that our people are not an embarrassment, a shame, and they go and [get] butchered, abused, humiliated…."

The attacks started after Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini reportedly said foreigners should "pack their bags" and leave. The king said his words were poorly translated and taken out of context. He has since appealed to his people, who comprise South Africa’s largest ethnic group, to end the unrest.

Gulf of Guinea: who will win the oil battle?

Source: ISS
Gulf of Guinea: who will win the oil battle?

Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are eagerly awaiting the a verdict from the Hamburg-based International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, set to be delivered tomorrow, 25 April. The two countries are caught in a dispute over their maritime boundary. The real issue, however, is the control of a major oil field.

The court will issue a ruling on the Ivorian request filed on 27 February this year, which urged for all Ghanaian activities to be suspended within the disputed area. The final verdict is expected after 2016, with court investigations taking time.

According to experts, the maritime area in question contains a reserve of 2 billion barrels of crude oil and 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas. Côte d’Ivoire currently produces between 37 000 and 40 000 barrels of crude oil per day, while Ghana’s daily production is between 110 000 and 115 000 barrels. For both countries, taking advantage of these resources would significantly boost their oil production.

The border between Côte d’Ivoire, a former French colony, and Ghana, colonised by Great Britain, was never formally delineated. Until now, this has not caused major problems. Indeed, the neighbours share a similar history and have communities that belong to the same ethnic group, the Akan. These communities have the same customs and speak similar languages, which may have contributed to their peaceful relationship until the recent dispute.

The disagreement began in 2007, when Ghana discovered the so-called Jubilee oil field located on the shared border. To avert any trouble, the Ivorian and Ghanaian authorities created a joint commission in 2008. However, this did not stop Ghana from continuing its offshore exploration and allowing Tullow Oil, a British company, to develop Jubilee in 2010. In 2013, Côte d’Ivoire responded by awarding French oil company, Total, a licence to operate in an oil field in the same zone.

Despite this somewhat hidden legal battle, both parties maintained that they would find a solution without resorting to an international court. They kept up this façade until 19 September last year, when Ghana decided to seek arbitration through the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. It was after this development, which made it clear that negotiations had failed, that Ivorian authorities asked for Ghana’s activities on the disputed site to be suspended.

Both sides both have a strong case. Ghana says Côte d’Ivoire has not challenged the border in over 40 years, based on the fact that in 1970, the Ivorians signed an agreement with an international consortium establishing its eastern limit to this line. Accra further claims that a 14 October 1970 decree, signed by the first Ivorian president, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, provides further confirmation of the border. Finally, Ghana claims that Côte d’Ivoire recognises this demarcation in its 2011 to 2030 general strategic development plan.

Ghana’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong said that ‘the two countries share a maritime border that was mutually recognised for decades, although it has not been set officially. ’She added that this boundary, tacitly acknowledged by both parties, always served as a landmark for maritime activities to oil companies.

Conversely, Ivorian barrister Adama Kamara says, ‘Côte d’Ivoire has never recognised either tacitly or explicitly the existence of any maritime border with Ghana.’ He recalls that this issue was raised for the first time in 1988, within the framework of a joint border commission set up between the two countries, but was never resolved. French professor Alain Pellet supports this statement, adding that the Ivorian Act No. 77-926 stipulates that ‘the delimitation of the sea with neighbouring countries, is done by agreement in accordance with equitable principles.’ Pellet believes Côte d’Ivoire has always considered these boundaries to be undefined, and that even Ghana would have shared this position in 1992.

These opposing viewpoints show just how committed each country is to claiming this oil zone. It brings to mind the Nigerian-Cameroonian border dispute over the Bakassi Peninsula. In this decades-long case, the main issue was the control of fishery resources, with oil resources as a secondary priority. The Hague International Court of Justice ruled in favour of Cameroon in 2002, and control over the peninsula was officially handed over on 14 August 2008. Cameroon took formal possession of the peninsula five years later. The case shows that the judgment process in international courts can be very long. This should have encouraged Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to settle their dispute outside court, without infringing on the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The disputed maritime space could have been transformed into an area of common interest if the countries had signed a petroleum product-sharing contract with an agreed allocation, as Nigeria and São Tomé and Príncipe had done in 2001. The former received 60% of the production and the latter 40%. They could also have created a joint operating company like Libyan-Tunisian Joint Oil, which was founded in 1988 by Tunisia and Libya to resolve their maritime border dispute, and whose profits are divided equally between the two countries.

They could additionally have followed Senegal and Guinea-Bissau’s example. The two countries created a mining (which included oil extraction) and fisheries management and cooperation agency in October 1993, allocating 80% of maritime resources to Senegal and 20% to Guinea-Bissau.

It is unfortunate that these two member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have instead chosen to confront each other in an international court. But the process is not irreversible, as Ivorian and Ghanaian authorities could still withdraw their requests and return to the negotiating table. If not, they are heading towards a sentence that could damage their peaceful history.

It is hoped that this dispute, whatever the outcome, would not negatively impact on the fight against maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea. The maritime actors in both countries should remain focused on the regional maritime activities recommended by the ECOWAS Commission. This is as important, as pirates and other maritime offenders could take advantage of a loosening of the security system.
Barthélemy Blédé, Senior Researcher, and André Diouf, Intern, Conflict Management and Peacebuilding Division, ISS Dakar

Ethiopia: One year on, Ethiopian Zone 9 bloggers remain in detention


24 April 2015
PEN International

This statement was originally published on on 24 April 2015.

This weekend, the 25 and 26 April 2015, marks the anniversary of the detention of six bloggers and three independent journalists arrested under Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Proclamation 2009. One year on there is little to celebrate.

Since their detention, their trial has been adjourned at least 26 times, most recently on 8 April, according to Trial Tracker Blog – a blog which publishes regular reports on their case. Their next hearing is scheduled to take place on 26 May, two days after Ethiopia's general election. Repeated delays alongside allegations of procedural irregularities, lack of access to legal counsel, and mistreatment during detention, continue to go unaddressed by the court giving rise to concerns for the defendants' right to due process.

Atnaf Berhane, Mahlet Fantahun, Natnael Feleke, Befeqadu Hailu, Zelalem Kiberet, Abel Wabela contributors to the Zone 9 blog, and Tesfalem Waldyes, Asmamaw Haile Gorgis, and Edom Kassaye independent journalists were arrested on 25 and 26 April 2014 in a series of coordinated arrests. After being held for more than 80 days without charge – beyond the maximum period permitted by law – the group were formally charged with intending to “destabilise the nation,” connections to outlawed organisations including Ginbot7 and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), and planning to carry out terrorism under the Anti-Terrorism Act on 18 July 2014. They also stand accused of using digital encryption to communicate. A translated version of the charge sheet is available here.

In July 2014, it was reported that Soliana Shimeles had been charged in absentia with coordinating communications with terrorist organisations for Zone 9 from abroad, enlisting new recruits to join Ginbot7, and coordinating digital security training with “Security in-a-box” on 17 July 2014. According to translated court documents, the authorities seized as evidence a Ginbot7 press release, recruiting criteria for Ginbot7, a human rights and digital security training manual and documents from an advocacy workshop.

Since 2009, the state has increasingly utilised its Anti-Terrorism Proclamation No. 652/2009 to arbitrarily arrest, prosecute and detain independent journalists and opposition activists. At least five print journalists are currently held in the country for supposed terrorism offences: Eskinder Nega (journalist for now-defunct political magazine Change), Reeyot Alemu (contributor to the independent weekly Feteh), Woubshet Taye (deputy editor of the now-defunct Awramba Times), Yusuf Getachew and Solomon Kebede (editor and managing editor of the now-defunct weekly newspaper Ye Muslimoch Guday [Muslim Affairs]); for more information see PEN's previous actions and Case List. PEN believes that these journalists have been jailed because of their critical reporting and considers the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation to be draconian. Actions classified as 'terrorist' by the law would often not even be considered crimes outside of Ethiopia.  

Bilateral Relations: Iran, Turkey keen on expansion of ties

Source: IRNA

Defense ministers of Iran and Turkey on Friday expressed their interest in promoting bilateral ties in the fields of defense and military and called for peaceful settlement of regional problems.

Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan, participating in Istanbul Peace Summit, left Tehran for Turkey on Thursday and conferred with his Turkish counterpart, Ismet Yilmaz, on the sidelines of the event.

During the meeting, the two ministers said the problems facing the region should be tackled through peaceful means such as dialogue, maintaining that military intervention will only complicate the situation.

Dehqan touched on Iran and Turkey's extraordinary capabilities in the domains of defense and military, contending that Tehran-Ankara cooperation in the fields will help consolidate peace and stability in the region.

Yilmaz, for his part, described Iran-Turkey borders as borders of peace and friendship, noting that fortunately, the two countries have no dispute in any affair and differences in views are solvable through dialogue among the officials.

Dehqan enlisted certain commonalities of the two nations, saying that commonalities are so abundant that differences can have no impact on bilateral ties.