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Somalia truck bomb death toll rises to 276

 

Desperate Somalis searched for news of missing loved-ones on Monday, after a massive truck bomb in Mogadishu killed at least 276 people and left 300 injured in the deadliest ever attack to hit the conflict-torn nation.

Residents of the Somali capital, while wearily accustomed to regular bombs and attacks by Islamist militants, have been left stunned by the monster explosion Saturday which gutted surrounding buildings and left victims burned beyond recognition.

A statement from the information ministry on Monday said “276 people were killed in the blast… and 300 wounded were admitted at the different hospitals in Mogadishu.”

The government said it had set up an emergency committee to help relatives find the missing, with a crisis centre in the capital that residents can turn to.

Police official Ibrahim Mohamed told AFP that many of the victims were “burned beyond recognition” in what he described as “the deadliest attack ever.”

Turkey sent a military plane full of medical supplies to Mogadishu on Monday, also evacuating some of the injured for treatment.

The blast occurred at a junction in Hodan, a bustling commercial district which has many shops, hotels and businesses in the city’s northwest. Several experts told AFP the truck was probably carrying at least 500 kilogrammes (1,100 pounds) of explosives.

Abdulahi Nuradin was one of many helping friends and family hunting for news of the missing.

“It has been more than 24 hours now and we don’t have any traces or information about the sister of my friend. We can assume she is dead, with her flesh somewhere amongst the horribly burned dead bodies,” he told AFP.

“We went to several hospitals to seek any information but no to avail, the family is now 99 percent convinced she is dead, I saw so many severed pieces of human flesh at the hospitals, you cannot even look at them,” he added.

– ‘Devastation beyond imagination’ –

Local government official Muhidin Ali said more than 100 bodies who were impossible to identify had already been buried.

“The gruesome dead bodies were displayed at the hospitals for relatives but a few were recognised and most of them not at all, the devastation is something beyond the imagination of humankind,” he said.

There has been no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Shabaab, a militant group aligned with Al-Qaeda, carries out regular suicide bombings in Mogadishu in its bid to overthrow Somalia’s internationally-backed government.

The group has a history of not claiming attacks whose scale provokes massive public outrage.

The previous deadliest assault took place in October 2011, when a truck bomb targeting a government office left 82 dead and 150 injured.

Saturday’s blast, the worst in Somalia’s history, came six years after Shabaab militants were pushed out of Mogadishu by African Union and Somali troops.

While they were also pushed out of major towns across southern Somalia the militants still control rural areas and launch attacks on military, government and civilian targets in Somalia, as well as terrorist raids in neighbouring Kenya.

According to the Nairobi-based Sahan thinktank, at least 723 people were killed and over 1,000 injured in bomb attacks in 2016 in Somalia.

News

Victims to lose out as Burundi set to leave…

On 27 October 2017, Burundi will become the first country to withdraw from the Rome Statute (RS) of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The state’s imminent withdrawal from the ICC raises questions for the ICC’s existing preliminary examination (PE) of the situation in the country since April 2016.

The ICC Office of the Prosecutor’s (OTP) PE in Burundi—considered to be at the subject-matter determination phase (Phase 2) at the time of the OTP’s last PE report (14 November 2016)—has been looking into alleged RS crimes including killings, arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, torture, and sexual violence committed in the country since April 2015.

“In one week, the decision to withdraw Burundi from the Rome Statute will come into effect. This comes at a time when the machine continues to kill with impunity in Burundi. Today, Burundian justice, as it is so-called, has lost contact with life. It has become a mere tool of repression of any dissenting voice the powerful and the party in power CNDD FDD,” said the Burundi Coalition for the ICC.

 

SOURCE; Coalition for the International Criminal Court

Press Releases

NCICC CONDEMNS THE SECRET TRIAL OF BOKO HARAM SUSPECTS…

 

Press release:  17th  October 2017

 

The Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court (NCICC) expresses deep concern at the ongoing mass trial of the Boko Haram suspects.

Over 1600 Boko Haram suspects are being detained in Niger state and SECRET trial is going on.

We commend the Attorney General of the Federation for taking the initiative to ensure that justice is served to the many victims of gross human rights abuses and severe crimes alleged to have been committed by the Boko Haram sect.

However, it is pertinent that due process is followed in the course of administering justice. Section 36 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended provides for fair trial for all Nigerian citizens.  Public hearing is a yardstick for free and fair trial which forms a fundamental principle of Natural justice so it is quite disturbing that the trial of the Boko Haram suspect is being done privately.

NCICC maintains that accelerated/secret hearing in criminal matters of this nature is not advisable as it may present a glitch in the administration of justice. Suspects must be afforded the opportunity to be represented by a legal practitioner of their choice and lawyers must be given reasonable time to prepare their defense. It is important that all the antecedents of criminal trials be upheld as they are mere suspects and have to be proven guilty or otherwise.

NCICC call on Judges, prosecutors and defence lawyers to get involved in the prosecution of the suspects.  Lawyers should be given adequate time and facilities to prepare for and ensure fair trial of the suspects.

NCICC Calls on the Attorney General of the  Federation to ensure open trials and adequate protection of witnesses, we urge the judiciary to designate more judges and assign these cases to them. There is no way four judges can do justice to 1600 cases. It will take them a decade to do so.

Finally we appeal to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to provide more pro bono defence counsel because the Legal Aid Council is so thinly staffed and poorly funded to be able to give quality legal defence to 1600 defendants.

Chino Obiagwu

Chair, Steering Committee

 

 

News

Saraki calls for international conference on North East, Boko…

The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, has called for an international conference on North East and Boko Haram threat in Nigeria.

He made the call during General Debate at the 137 Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly on Sunday at St. Petersburg, Russia.

 

According to him, convening an international conference like the one convened in London on Somalia and Syria will go a long way in finding a lasting solution to the problem in the region.

He added that “Nigeria’s North East region has suffered terribly as a result of the onslaught of Boko Haram insurgents.

“Two million Nigerians are internally displaced or have fled to neighbouring countries like the Lake Chad region, where 4.4 million people are threatened by food insecurity.

“Of the fund needed to address the problem, less than half has been raised. The UN has described the situation in the Lake Chad region as the most neglected humanitarian crisis in the world.

“The 8th National Assembly is at the forefront of improved coordination efforts to overcome institutional and logistic impediments in the way of getting aid for those in need.

“We have reached an advanced stage in plans for a development commission to tackle the crisis in the North East; incidentally, the region has the highest poverty rate in the country.

“We have also made economic growth and greater investment the core of our legislative agenda.

“The sooner we deliver economic reforms and greater prosperity to all Nigerians, the sooner we can achieve more inclusive society and minimise societal divisions and grievances.”

Saraki further pointed out the need for government to attend to challenges in other parts of the country for sustainable peace.

According to him, Plateau in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria has been faced with ethnic and religious conflicts, with more than 7,000 people killed in the last decade.

He said that the challenge of climate change led to shrinking of the Lake Chad, which could no longer sustain thousands of displaced persons camped along its receding banks, especially in the North of Nigeria.

He emphasized among other things, the need to tackle youth unemployment, poverty, religious intolerance and marginalisation, which were major factors of restiveness in the country.

He added that “the National Assembly believes that inter-faith dialogue, especially that driven by women and the media, can support the role of passing the message of religious tolerance among the younger generation.

“This is because of their influential roles in the social-cultural fabric of the society.

“We also cannot overemphasise the special role education has to play in overcoming prejudices and uprooting stereotypes, promoting inter-denominational services, as well as cultivating and promoting shared values.

“Parliamentarians can champion the IPU’s core values of equality, inclusiveness, respect, integrity and solidarity as necessary tools for bringing about peace through cultural pluralism.

“I urge us to adopt the Tirana Summit Declaration of 2004 for a world in which religious faiths will not only co-exist peacefully but work actively to promote a sense of social cohesion and collective purpose.”

On the theme of the 137th IPU — “Promoting Cultural Pluralism and Peace Through Interfaith and Inter-Ethnic Dialogue” — Saraki said it was timely in view of the need to seek an alternative to war in resolving conflicts across the globe.

He said the ethnic divide and religious antagonism across the world had opened up new theatres of conflicts leading to a heightened humanitarian crisis; “and something urgent must be done.’’

He added that “according to the UN, 20 million people are at risk of famine in countries like Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

“140 million people in 37 countries are in need of aid; and earlier this year in the Dhaka Declaration, the 136th IPU Assembly called attention to food insecurity in Yemen, Afghanistan and parts of Africa.

“Indeed, as the IPU President rightly observed, we are entering the age of famine.”

Saraki expressed concern over increased cases of hate speeches directed at those who were considered to be different in culture, tradition and religion

 

President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki

The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, has called for an international conference on North East and Boko Haram threat in Nigeria.

He made the call during General Debate at the 137 Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly on Sunday at St. Petersburg, Russia.

Saraki, who lamented the havoc caused by insecurity in the region, said while Nigerian government was doing its best to tackle the problem, international interventions were necessary.

According to him, convening an international conference like the one convened in London on Somalia and Syria will go a long way in finding a lasting solution to the problem in the region.

He added that “Nigeria’s North East region has suffered terribly as a result of the onslaught of Boko Haram insurgents.

“Two million Nigerians are internally displaced or have fled to neighbouring countries like the Lake Chad region, where 4.4 million people are threatened by food insecurity.

“Of the fund needed to address the problem, less than half has been raised. The UN has described the situation in the Lake Chad region as the most neglected humanitarian crisis in the world.

“The 8th National Assembly is at the forefront of improved coordination efforts to overcome institutional and logistic impediments in the way of getting aid for those in need.

“We have reached an advanced stage in plans for a development commission to tackle the crisis in the North East; incidentally, the region has the highest poverty rate in the country.

“We have also made economic growth and greater investment the core of our legislative agenda.

“The sooner we deliver economic reforms and greater prosperity to all Nigerians, the sooner we can achieve more inclusive society and minimise societal divisions and grievances.”

Saraki further pointed out the need for government to attend to challenges in other parts of the country for sustainable peace.

According to him, Plateau in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria has been faced with ethnic and religious conflicts, with more than 7,000 people killed in the last decade.

He said that the challenge of climate change led to shrinking of the Lake Chad, which could no longer sustain thousands of displaced persons camped along its receding banks, especially in the North of Nigeria.

He emphasised among other things, the need to tackle youth unemployment, poverty, religious intolerance and marginalisation, which were major factors of restiveness in the country.

He added that “the National Assembly believes that inter-faith dialogue, especially that driven by women and the media, can support the role of passing the message of religious tolerance among the younger generation.

“This is because of their influential roles in the social-cultural fabric of the society.

“We also cannot overemphasise the special role education has to play in overcoming prejudices and uprooting stereotypes, promoting inter-denominational services, as well as cultivating and promoting shared values.

“Parliamentarians can champion the IPU’s core values of equality, inclusiveness, respect, integrity and solidarity as necessary tools for bringing about peace through cultural pluralism.

“I urge us to adopt the Tirana Summit Declaration of 2004 for a world in which religious faiths will not only co-exist peacefully but work actively to promote a sense of social cohesion and collective purpose.”

On the theme of the 137th IPU — “Promoting Cultural Pluralism and Peace Through Interfaith and Inter-Ethnic Dialogue” — Saraki said it was timely in view of the need to seek an alternative to war in resolving conflicts across the globe.

He said the ethnic divide and religious antagonism across the world had opened up new theatres of conflicts leading to a heightened humanitarian crisis; “and something urgent must be done.’’

He added that “according to the UN, 20 million people are at risk of famine in countries like Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

“140 million people in 37 countries are in need of aid; and earlier this year in the Dhaka Declaration, the 136th IPU Assembly called attention to food insecurity in Yemen, Afghanistan and parts of Africa.

“Indeed, as the IPU President rightly observed, we are entering the age of famine.”

Saraki expressed concern over increased cases of hate speeches directed at those who were considered to be different in culture, tradition and religion.

He said there were rising inter-ethnic clashes with many recorded fatalities and communities displaced.

He added that the diverse cultural, traditional and religious practice across Africa that ought to be its source of strength had turned out to be a threat to its existence.

According to him, the situation has led to bloodletting, like the case of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

He added that Nigeria had also experienced a civil war and lately experiencing the increased spate of hate speeches and ethnic conflicts, which was threatening the unity of the country.

“2017 has been a year of unremitting woes. There is no part of the world that is untouched by trouble and strife, conflicts created by apparent failure in all spheres to achieve peaceful co-existence.

“In the U.S., white supremacists engage in pitched battles with anti-fascist and `Black Lives Matter’ protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“The country has been boiling since then as the fault lines widen between the various segments of American society, giving vent to long-simmering tensions.

“In Spain, the reverberations of the Catalan independence referendum are being felt. Or is it the sporadic bursts of xenophobic violence in South Africa?.

“We will also not forget the election-related unrest in Kenya, fractured along ethnic lines between the Luos and the Kikuyus.

“We also see again and again the consequences of gaps in mutual understanding within communities.

“In Myanmar, tensions between the Buddhist majority and the Muslim Rohingya sent a wave of human misery flowing to the border of Bangladesh,’’ he said.

Saraki, however, expressed optimism that the 137th IPU would offer lasting solution to the growing world conflicts.

Press Releases

NIGERIAN COALITION ON THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT CELEBERATES INTERNATIONAL…

 

 

Released  date: October 11th ,2017

As the world commemorates the international Day of the girl child with the theme Empower Girls”, the Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court joins the rest of the world to recognize this special day.  The NCICC continues to contribute to the development of the Nigerian woman and indeed the girl child by advocating for access to justice for all, an end to sexual and gender based violence and all contemporary forms of slavery in Nigeria.

 

Sexual violence and contemporary forms of slavery which includes; early marriage and child marriages are perhaps the most disturbing of girls’ rights violation in the country. The NCICC urges the Nigerian government to make maximum efforts in ensuring access to justice for girls in the society. Every child, and particularly girls, have the right to freedom from all forms of violence. It is an international legal obligation, enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the world’s most widely ratified human rights treaty.

 

In compliance with article 7 of the Rome statute, the NCICC, whose major priority is to advocate for the domestication of the Rome statute in Nigeria, has embarked on several sensitization projects to promote gender equality and put an end to early marriage, child marriage and all other forms of contemporary slavery prevalent in Nigeria most especially the North eastern part of Nigeria.

 

The NCICC strongly supports the position of the “Global initiative” to end violence against Children and build a better future for all. We call on the government to tear down the barriers that continue to hold girls back and to fully harness innovations, set economic empowerment programmes to reach poor and marginalized girls and ensure education for young girls and boys reach every part of the country. We advocate strongly for improved quality of education for all. On this day we also remember the Chibok school girls who are still in captivity, expressing solidarity with their families and strongly appealing to the Nigerian government not to relent in its efforts to rescue them even as we hope to build a better future for our girls and children in the diaspora.

 

The NCICC therefore urges the government to use the values of the United Nations to form a space where all children can safely thrive and develop to their full potential.

 

 

Chinonye Obiagwu

Chair, steering Committee

 

 

News

JUDGE WITHDRAWS FROM TRIAL OF BOKO HARAM SUSPECTS

A judge of an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Tuesday withdrew his participation in the trial of eight Boko Haram terrorists after the defendants cast a vote of no confidence against the court.

The suspects were arraigned for the killing of five foreigners who were abducted from a construction site in Kebbi State in 2011.

The suspects are also accused of alleged culpability in the murder of seven other foreigners in Borno State.

The seven were abducted from another construction site in Bauchi State in February 2013 and taken to the Sambisa forest where they were later killed.

The judge, John Tsoho, said the demands of the defendants were clear enough to be considered by his court ”regardless of how it was made.”

The defendants, comprising the first, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh defendants had at the commencement of session on Tuesday demanded a transfer of the matter, on the basis that they were not sure they would get justice in the case.

According to a lawyer representing the defendants, Samuel Attah, the reason for the application was because of a decision of the court to revoke a previous order it had made asking the State Security Service hand over the suspects to the Nigerian Prisons Service.

Mr. Attah said his clients were surprised that the court later revoked the initial order and asked that the defendants to be detained by the SSS.

Similarly, the lawyer representing the seventh defendant, Ellasha Oloruntoba told the court that based on its decision regarding the detention of the defendants, ”his client felt he would be better tried by another court.”

The defendants also complained of failing health and alleged that their appearance in court for the trial is ”constituting a threat to their lives.”

However, the second and third defendants specifically asked the court not to transfer their case. Their lawyers, Leonard Obiji and Nathaniel Odejinle, asked the court to separate the cases of their clients so that their trial would continue in the same court.

Responding, the judge, Mr. Tsoho said his court would take due cognisance of the application of all the defendants.

“The defendants are asking for a transfer of the case. The defendants also prayed for a trial de-novo. They allege that standing trial in the court is a threat to their life.

“The message the defendants is seeking is clear enough. This court must not disregard their plea, no matter how they have made it.

“This court disqualifies itself from continuing with this case. Accordingly, this case file shall be transferred to the Chief Judge to be assigned to another court,” Justice  Tsoho said.

 

 

Culled from premium times https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/244934-update-judge-withdrew-self-boko-haram-trial.html

News

Trial of Over 1600 Boko Haram Suspects Begins October…

On Monday, 9 October 2017, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) will commence trial of more than 1600 Boko Haram suspects at a Special Court set up by the Federal Government. Trial will begin with detainees in the Wawa Barracks, in  Kainji, Niger State, for which a list of prosecutors to handle the cases have already been approved, and the Legal Aid Council has equally released a list of lawyers to stand in for the suspects.

Beyond this, four judges from the Federal High Court have also been drafted to sit on the cases at Kainji and dispose of them expeditiously. Mr. Salihu Isah, Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the Minister in a statement issued 24th September,  listed some of the challenges against the prosecution of the suspected Boko Haram terrorists to include poorly investigated case files arising from pressure during the peak of conflict at the theatre, over reliance on confession based evidence, lack of forensic evidence, absence of cooperation between investigators and prosecutors at pre investigation stages and poor logistical facilities to transport defendants from detention facility to court for trial, among others.

Isah stated that the trial would be in four categories, including “Boko Haram suspects who were, hitherto, investigated by the Joint Investigation Team set up by the Defence Headquarters, otherwise known as DHQ/JIT, and case files transmitted to the AGF; and after a careful review of the cases based on their individual merit, it was discovered that they have no prima facie cases that will sustain a charge against them in any court of law, hence, were recommended for release and handed over to the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) for rehabilitation and/or de-radicalisation.

“The second category is the set of suspects that the Attorney-General found prima facie cases against them and charges already filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, who are also mostly in the detention facility under reference and may be willing to plead guilty for a lesser sentences.

“The other category are the suspects whose case file are either recommended for further investigation or that have no investigation conducted on them at all, hence, they do not have case files that will warrant the Attorney General of the Federation to form any opinion in respect of their case.

“Lastly, the fourth category is the suspects whose cases were reviewed and a prima facie were found and may be willing to opt for a full trial.”

He noted that given the above categorisation, the number of the suspects affected by any of the aforementioned categories would only be determined when the trial has commenced.

News

Timbuktu destruction: Reactions to landmark ICC reparations order

The prosecution of al-Mahdi for his part in the destruction of 10 UNESCO-protected monuments presented a landmark trial for the ICC © MINUSMA/Marco Dorminus
On 17 August the ICC delivered its first reparations order for the war crime of destruction of cultural property. The Court found Malian Islamist Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi – who had pled guilty last year to intentionally directing attacks against religious and historic buildings in Timbuktu in 2012 – personally liable for 2.7 million euros of the harms linked to his war crimes conviction.

Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi was sentenced to nine years in prison by ICC judges in October 2016 for his part in the destruction of 10 historic and religious monuments between June and July 2012 in Timbuktu, home to thousands of precious manuscripts, mausoleums of local saints and historic structures that were widely used and revered by the local population. To read more about the reparation order, click http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/news/20170823/timbuktu-destruction-reactions-landmark-icc-reparations-order

News

Cameroon: UN Secretary-General Urges Dialogue to Resolve Grievances

Strongly condemning recent violence in south-west and north-west regions of Cameroon, including reported loss of life, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has urged all stakeholders to refrain from any further acts of violence and called on the authorities to investigate the incidents.

In a statement attributable to his spokesperson, the Mr. Guterres urged “political leaders on both sides to appeal to their followers to refrain from any further acts of violence, and to unequivocally condemn all actions that undermine the peace, stability and unity of the country.”

“[He] takes note of the calls by the authorities for dialogue and encourages representatives of the Anglophone community to seize the opportunity in their quest for solutions to the community’s grievances, within the framework of the Cameroonian constitution,” the statement added.

The Secretary-General reiterates the support of the United Nations for such efforts, through the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), the statement noted.

Culled from UN news  http://allafrica.com/stories/201710030825.html

News

Cameroon: Soldiers in Cameroon Shoot Dead Several Independence Activists

Government forces in the central African nation killed at least eight people and wounded several more amid a crackdown on activists who wish to secede from the country.

One demonstrator was killed by soldiers when he attempted to raise the blue and white Ambazonia flag, which is the name the separatists want for their own state.

Donatus Njong Fonyuy, the mayor of Kumbo, told Reuters that five prisoners were also shot dead after a fire broke out at the local jail. The cause of the fire was unclear.

Divisions deepen in Cameroon

The anglophones, who make up some 20 percent of the nation’s population,complain of being marginalized and not getting their fair share of the country’s oil revenue.

Marginalization has long been a complaint, but the separatist movement began gathering steam late last year. Sunday’s protests were timed to coincide with the anniversary of anglophone Cameroon’s independence from Britain and reunification with the rest of the nation in 1961. The region could have gone its own way back then and become a sovereign state but opted to join their francophone compatriots.

One separatist group made a symbolic proclamation of independence on Sunday.

“We are no longer slaves of Cameroon,” said Sisiku Ayuk, who describes himself as the “president” of Ambazonia.

“Today we affirm the autonomy of our heritage and our territory,” he said on social media on Sunday.

The recent protests have also become a rallying point against President Paul Biya, who has ruled over Cameroon for the past 35 years.

Businesses were closed in the region’s two main cities, Buea and Bamenda, as army helicopters flew over the largely deserted urban centers.

The deployment included troops from the army’s Rapid Intervention Brigade (BIR), a unit that more frequently fights Boko Haram – the Islamist militants occupying much of the north of the country.

Security forces were deployed on the outskirts of Buea and armed with water cannons to prevent a group of protesters from entering the city from a nearby town. The demonstrators chanted and waved the Ambazonia flag.

“I now know that the Biya regime has been raising an army all these years to fight its own people,” said one resident, who insisted on anonymity out of fear of reprisal.

“We are simply fighting for our rights, but the military, which is supposed to protect lives and property, has turned into our greatest nightmare,” she said.

“We are ready to die for the freedom of our land,” Kenneth Agborbechem, one of the protesters, told dpa news agency.

Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary warned journalists not to give a voice to separatist groups.

“The media must not encourage those who advocate division, who want to destroy and destabilize our country,” he told Reuters.

culled from deutsche welle news. http://allafrica.com/stories/201710020036.html