The Maputo Protocol: Its potential for a revolution in women’s rights


“The speed with which the Protocol came into force on 25 November 2005 sets a new record for the ratification of pan African rights standards for the continent.
A key lesson is that the challenges of working with countries across the continent can be overcome by collaboration between governments, the AU Commission and national and regional women’s associations.” H.E. Alpha Konare, Founding Chairperson of the AU Commission (2000-2008), 2006, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Gender plays a significant part in defining and determining the access that women have and the role that they play in governance, economic development, and in society as a whole. Traditional gender roles have confined women to the private sphere. Lobbying from women’s rights activists andmounting evidence of the correlation between gender equality and positive economic development and democratic reform has led to efforts at global, continental, regional and national levels to mainstream gender equality; the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the African Women’s Protocol) is a manifestation of these efforts.
Grounded in the belief that instruments, protocols, laws and policies are powerless to change the lives of African women in the absence of an organised public demand for their implementation and enforcement; Oxfam’s Pan Africa Programme through its Gender Justice Pillar works with partners including the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition to build and mobilize a critical mass of active citizens to advocate for effective for realisation of women’s rights contained in the African Women’s Protocol. Oxfam Pan Africa Programme also supports accelerated ratification, domestication and implementation of the African Women’s Protocol through the State of Union a coalition of civil society organisations that tracks the compliance of AU State Parties on 14 key policies and frameworks adopted by the African Union one of which is the African Women’s Protocol.
Adopted by the African Union in July 2003, the African Women’s Protocol is revolutionary legal instrument on Women’s Rights and is the first international instrument to speak to specifically to the rights of women in the African context. Countries that ratify the Protocol agree not only to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women but to end all forms of violence against women, abolish harmful cultural practices that affect women including child marriage, female genital mutilation, to protect women’s reproductive health rights, including the right to abortion in cases of rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother. The Protocol also binds State Parties to the provision of political and economic rights on an equal footing with men, obligating State Parties to ensure equal participation of women at all levels of decision making, maintenance of peace and security, and provide for affirmative action.
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By Moreen MajiwaPambazuka News

Make Bono History


Firstly Bono is collaborating with brostep pioneer Skrillex to save the African children. (They were together in Ghana last month.) Secondly The Observer (or The Guardian; it’s the same thing) has just published what might just be the most revealing and absurd interview with the world’s most self-righteous tax-dodging man who never removes his shades.
The article was titled “There is a difference between cosying up to power and being close to power,” something Bono apparently is an expert in. Of course the interview was conducted in some underground bar in Accra rather than in Bono’s land of origin, where he talked about his “25 years as an activist for African development” and the late Seamus Heaney.
For those whose hatred of Bono is as deep and visceral as mine or those who are merely looking for concrete reasons to despise on this particular celebrity do-gooder, be sure to check out Harry Browne’s devastating takedown The Frontman published by Verso as part of their Counterblast series — other targets put to the metaphorical sword in this series include such verbose and smug apostles of imperialism as Thomas Friedman, the late Christopher Hitchens and Bernard-Henri Lévy.
For those who avoid the high cult of tech utopianism, platitudes and technocracy known as TED talks: you might not know that Bono now describes himself as a “factivist” or in the words of the mildly sycophantic Tim Adams interviewer a “nerd who is aroused by the statistics of development” or in the words of Harry Browne, “Human beings have been campaigning against inequality and poverty for 3,000 years. But this journey is accelerating. Bono ‘embraces his inner nerd’ and shares inspiring data that shows the end of poverty is in sight… if we can harness the momentum.”
This data that so arouses Bono, according to Harry Browne, is mostly fantastical in nature.
Bono clearly takes great pride in his ability to get such diverse elites as the hawkish republican senator Lindsey Graham, former Bush jr cabinet member Condi Rice and the aforementioned EDM superstar Skrillex together in exotic locales like “this beyond-cool village bar” in Monrovia.
Bono also likes to boast about spending a lot of time with that famous humanitarian force known to the public as the US military — he has no qualms at all at courting these kind of interests and hanging out with such figures as General Jim Jones, Obama’s former National Security Advisor during Obama’s escalation of drone attacks on “militants” (anyone brown and male in the wrong place at the wrong time) in Pakistan.
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By Benjamin FogelAfrica is a country

Uproar after Saudi cleric says driving hurts women’s ovaries


Riyadh: A Saudi cleric sparked a wave of mockery online when he warned women that driving would affect their ovaries and bring “clinical disorders” upon their children.
The warning came ahead of an October 26 initiative to defy a longstanding driving ban on women in the ultra-conservative kingdom.
“Physiological science” has found that driving “automatically affects the ovaries and pushes up the pelvis”, Shaikh Saleh Al Lohaidan warned women in remarks to local news website Sabq.org.
“This is why we find that children born to most women who continuously drive suffer from clinical disorders of varying degrees,” he said.

His comments prompted criticism on Twitter, which has become a rare platform for Saudis to voice their opinions in the absolute monarchy.
“What a mentality we have. People went to space and you still ban women from driving. Idiots,” said one comment.
“When idiocy marries dogma in the chapel of medieval traditions, this is their prodigal child,” wrote a female tweeter.
Al Lohaidan, a member of the senior Ulema (Muslim scholars) Commission and former head of the Supreme Judicial Council, said that “evidence from the Quran and Sunna [the teachings of the Prophet] completely prohibit [women’s driving] on moral and social background.”
An online petition titled “Oct 26th, driving for women” amassed nearly 12,000 signatures, while access to it was blocked in the kingdom on Sunday.
Saudi Arabia is the only country where women are banned from driving.
Activists declared a day of defiance against the ban on June 17, 2011, but few women answered the call to drive. Some of those who did were stopped by police and forced to sign a pledge not to take to the wheel again.
Saudi Arabia imposes other restrictions on women, including a requirement to cover themselves from head to toe when in public.
The 2011 call, which spread through Facebook and Twitter, was the largest mass action since November 1990, when 47 Saudi women were arrested and severely punished after demonstrating in cars.

Bahrain jails 50 for up to 15 years


Dubai: A Bahraini court on Sunday sentenced 50 people to up to 15 years in jail, including a prominent Iraqi cleric, for forming a clandestine opposition group, a judicial source said.
Sixteen defendants were handed 15-year terms, while four others were jailed for 10 years and the other 30 sentenced to five years behind bars, the source said.
The defendants, including Iraqi cleric Hadi Al Mudaressi who was sentenced in absentia, were charged with forming the “February 14 Revolution Youth Coalition”, which Bahraini authorities accuse of terrorism.
The group has been the main driving force behind a Shiite-led uprising that began in 2011 to demand more rights.
Several defendants were sentenced in absentia, including Saeed Al Shahabi, a key London-based Bahraini opposition figure who faces an earlier life sentence for his role in the 2011 uprising.
The interior ministry in June named 11 suspects who were arrested in the case, in addition to 13 people who live abroad. Authorities said at the time that they were still hunting down others.
The defendants are accused of forming an illegal group opposing the political system and “training elements to commit violence and vandalism” in addition to “attacking security men,” according to the charge sheet.
“Terrorism was among the means used,” by the group which also had “contact with a foreign state,” it said, apparently referring to Iran.
Bahrain’s opposition, mainly in response to calls by the February 14 Coalition, continues to demonstrate in villages, frequently clashing with police.
At least 89 people have been killed since protests erupted In February 2011, according to the International Federation for Human Rights.

Bahrain unrest: 50 Shia Muslims sentenced to up to 15 years


A court in Bahrain has sentenced 50 Shia Muslims to up to 15 years in prison on charges of forming a clandestine movement, reports say.
The 14 February group has been a key influence behind the Shia-led campaign for more rights in Bahrain which began in 2011.
Bahrain, ruled by a Sunni Muslim royal family, accuses the movement of terrorism.
Sixteen defendants were given 15-year sentences, reports say.
Four were jailed for 10 years and the remaining 30 for five, according to a judicial source quoted by the AFP news agency.
Thirty of those convicted plan to appeal. Twenty were tried in absentia for their involvement in the 14 February youth coalition, a network of secretive groups that organise protests online.


The 14 February youth coalition has been the driving force behind the continuing anti-government protests in Bahrain.
Named after the first day of protests in 2011 that culminated in mass rallies that were forcibly put down with the help of Saudi forces, the group has no visible leadership, depending on anonymity and a decentralised structure to protect its mainly youthful activists.
They organise protests on social networks. They are not formally linked to mainstream opposition groups like Wefaq, which has insisted on peaceful protests and was until recently involved in national dialogue talks with the authorities.
The movement has declared the ruling Sunni al-Khalifa family illegitimate, demanding its overthrow leading to a reformation of the security service and the judicial system and the drafting of a new constitution. The government brands them terrorists - backed by outside forces, meaning Iran.
Prominent among those sentenced was human rights activist Naji Fateel, who was given 15 years, according to the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights.
The society alleges he was tortured during interrogation. This, the group says, included electric shocks, simulated drowning and beatings.
Others sentenced include Iraqi cleric Hadi al-Mudaressi and London-based opposition activist Saeed al-Shahabi, AFP reports. Both were tried in absentia.
The charges are also said to have comprised trying to overthrow Bahrain's ruling family.
The head of the rights group, Mohamed al-Maskati, told the BBC that the sentences were "only likely to fuel anti-government unrest".
He said more court cases were likely to come up.
Bahrain has been beset by unrest since 2011 as the series of pro-democracy movements known as the Arab Spring took hold in the region.
Two weeks ago, the Bahraini authorities arrested Khalil Marzook, a leader of the main Shia bloc Wefaq, on terrorism charges.
Wefaq and other groups responded by suspending their participation in a national dialogue designed to heal political divisions.
Bahrain is seen by Western powers as strategically important, providing a haven for the US Navy's Fifth Fleet in the Gulf.


Syria chemical weapons: UN adopts binding resolution


The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a binding resolution on ridding Syria of chemical weapons.
At a session in New York, the 15-member body backed the draft document agreed earlier by Russia and the US.
The deal breaks a two-and-a-half year deadlock in the UN over Syria, where fighting between government forces and rebels rages on.
The vote came after the international chemical watchdog agreed on a plan to destroy Syria's stockpile by mid-2014.
'Powerful diplomacy'
Speaking after the vote in New York, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described the decision as "historic".
"Tonight the international community has delivered."....


New Gulf radio station to be launched


Station would contribute to preserving GCC traditions, culture, art

Manama: Officials of government radio stations in the Arab Gulf countries support Bahrain’s initiative to launch “This is the Arabian Gulf” Radio Station in October this year, contributing to common GCC action, a Kuwaiti official said Tuesday, according to the Kuwaiti news agency Kuna.
Yusuf Mustafa, Information Ministry’s Assistant Undersecretary for Radio Affairs, said the new radio station would contribute to preserving traditions, culture, art and literature of the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Mustafa was speaking after a meeting of senior radio officials in GCC countries.
He said participants approved initial launch of the Bahrain-based radio station through Bahrain Radio by end of this month.
The GCC countries will assess the new radio station for three months, said Mustafa, and engineers would determine the frequency modulation (FM) in every country.
GCC information ministers will be discussing the new radio station when they meet this month, he said. Once approved, added Mustafa, the Gulf radio stations would launch promotion campaigns for the new station.
Mustafa, meanwhile, said Kuwait Radio gave Bahrain Radio a copy of its programmes for non-Arab listeners in English, Urdu, Filipino and Persian languages.


Sleeping boy left alone on Bahrain school bus dies


Manama: Bahrain is mourning the death of a five-year-old boy who was left on a school bus for up to six hours with outside temperatures soaring above 30 degrees Celcius.
Rashid Fadhel Buzuhair was heading to school with his twin brother Abdullah on Thursday morning when he fell asleep on the bus. None of the students, bus driver and supervisor reportedly noticed that he was left behind the bus as they disembarked. His twin, Abdullah, reportedly mentioned that Rashid was sleeping but that no one asked further questions.
Rashid's body was discovered at around noon as the driver was preparing to take students home. Rashid was declared dead on arrival at the hospital.
He was buried in his village of Dar Kulaib, in the southern part of the country, as Bahrainis took to the internet to express their anger at the incident.
The Ministry of Interior has launched an investigation into the incident. The school owner, the bus driver and the supervisor were questioned by the public prosecution and charged with causing the tragic death of the student through negligence.
“The boy was found dead inside the locked bus as the driver and supervisor failed to ensure all students left on arrival at school,” said Northern Governorate Chief Prosecutor Hussain Al Bu Ali.
“The investigation revealed that the supervisor was in fact a cleaner who was appointed by the school principal to accompany the students. The driver involved in the tragic incident had been asked by the regular school driver to replace him temporarily even though he did not have a driving licence,” Bu Ali said.
The Public Prosecution asked the General Directorate of Traffic to check whether the bus was legally licensed to transport school students.
“A specialized technician has been commissioned to check the bus and assess whether it had the necessary safety requirements to transport students,” Al Bu Ali said. “The Public Prosecution has also ordered a forensic team to check the bus and assess aeration in relation with external temperature at the time of the incident. The investigation will include hearing testimonies from witnesses to determine criminal responsibilities in the aftermath of the tragic incident.”
The education ministry said it had suspended classes at the school, from kindergarten up to high school. Ministry officials said the move was to ensure there were no more tragedies and that safety requirements are fulfilled.

Somalia Al-Shabab claims Nairobi Westgate Kenya attack


Northern Police: Khalil Marzouq Accused of Inciting Terrorism

Bahrain opposition figure Khalil Marzook 'arrested'


A leading member of Bahrain's main Shia opposition party has been arrested.
Khalil Marzook, political assistant to the secretary general of al-Wefaq, was summoned to a police station on Tuesday for questioning over a speech he made last week, one activist said.
Mr Marzook was then arrested on charges of inciting youth violence and trying to overthrow the government, he added.
Wefaq said it considered the move an escalation in the government's campaign to suppress dissent in the kingdom.
Mr Marzook is a former deputy speaker of parliament, who resigned along with other Wefaq MPs when the government launched a deadly crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in February 2011.
The protesters were demanding more rights and an end to discrimination against the majority Shia community by the Sunni royal family.
In a statement, Wefaq said its general secretariat had held an extraordinary meeting to discuss the "regime's recklessness" following Mr Marzook's arrest.
The party claimed the authorities were targeting political opponents as part of an effort to heighten the unrest in the Gulf island state.
It also alleged that Mr Marzook's arrest was a reaction to a resolution passed by the European Parliament on Thursday that called on the Bahraini authorities to stop using violence against peaceful protesters and to allow an independent investigation into alleged human rights abuses, particularly those involving children.
"The prosecution, detention and torture of protestors must stop and freedom of expression and assembly, both online and offline, must be guaranteed," the resolution stated.
MEPs also criticised the EU for its "lack of response" to the crackdown.


Panel probing 14 suspected Syria chemical attacks


GENEVA (AP) -- A U.N. war crimes panel is investigating 14 suspected chemical attacks in Syria, its chairman said Monday, dramatically escalating the stakes after diplomatic breakthroughs that saw the Syrian government agree to dismantle its chemical weapons program.
Paulo Sergio Pinheiro said the Geneva-based U.N. panel he heads has not pinpointed the chemical used in the attacks and is awaiting evidence from a separate team of U.N. chemical weapons inspectors expected to be made public later Monday.
That report is expected to add momentum to a deal to eradicate Syria's chemical weapons program.
Pinheiro also said the panel believes Syrian President Bashar Assad's government has been responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, while rebel groups have perpetrated war crimes but not crimes against humanity "because there is not a clear chain of command."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ended a weeklong diplomacy tour in Paris on Monday. Just a week ago he was here lobbying for global support for military strikes against Assad, but after a breakthrough with Russia, Kerry's latest visit was intended to secure support from allies for the deal to secure and then eradicate Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.
Kerry and his French and British counterparts laid out a two-pronged approach in Syria, calling for enforceable U.N. benchmarks for eradicating the chemical weapons program and an international conference bolstering the moderate opposition.
France and the U.S. insisted that a military response to the Aug. 21 poison gas attack that killed hundreds remained on the table, and were pressing for a U.N. resolution reflecting that in coming days.
"If Assad fails to comply ... we are all agreed, and that includes Russia, that there will be consequences," Secretary of State John Kerry said.
Meanwhile, invitations were going out Monday to top members of the Syrian National Coalition - the main umbrella opposition group - for an international conference in New York timed to coincide with next week's U.N. General Assembly meeting, French officials said.
Bolstering the Western-backed SNC is just as crucial to Syria's future as Assad's agreement to give up chemical arms, said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
"He must understand that there is no military victory, no possible military victory for him," Fabius said. He acknowledged that broad popular support for the rebels has been hampered by fears that Islamic militants are now playing a major role in the 2 1/2-year-old uprising.
In briefing the allies, Kerry was pressing for support for the ambitious agreement that averted threatened U.S. military strikes. It calls for an inventory of Syria's chemical weapons program within one week, with all components of the program out of the country or destroyed by mid-2014.
Those who blame Assad for the chemical attack and supported military strikes say it is up to Assad to uphold his end of any deal.
"It is extremely important that there are no evasions, that there is no cat and mouse game going on over these weapons," said British Foreign Secretary William Hague.
Kerry acknowledged the chemical arms deal would have little immediate effect on the bloodshed in Syria, which has killed more than 100,000 people, but he said full compliance was a key first step.
In Geneva, Pinheiro said the "vast majority" of casualties in Syria's civil war came from conventional weapons like guns and mortars.
The Aug. 21 chemical attack unfolded as a U.N. chemical weapons team was in Syria to investigate earlier reported attacks. After days of delays, the inspectors were allowed access to victims, doctors and others in the Damascus suburbs afflicted by the poison gas. The U.N.'s chief weapons inspector turned over his team's report on Sunday, and the Security Council is due to take it up in a closed session Monday.
The Assad regime insists that the attack was carried out by rebels. The inspection team led by Swedish expert Ake Sellstrom was mandated to report on whether chemical weapons were used and which ones they were, but not on who was responsible.


Al-Amriki and al-Britani: Militants 'killed' in Somalia


Two top Islamist militants, from the US and UK, have been killed in Somalia after falling out with al-Shabab, witnesses have told the BBC.
Omar Hammami, known as al-Amriki, and Osama al-Britani, a British citizen of Pakistani origin, are said to have died in an early-morning attack in a village south-west of the capital, Mogadishu.
They have been hiding from al-Shabab since leaving the group this year.
There have been several previous reports of al-Amriki's death.
In March, the US State Department offered a $5m (£3.1m) reward for any information leading to the capture or conviction of al-Amriki.
One of al-Amriki's fighters told the BBC that they had been overpowered by the al-Shabab attack in a village near the town of Dinsor....

More Mistakes at the N.S.A.

A fresh trove of previously classified documents released on Tuesday provides further evidence — as if any more were needed — that the National Security Agency has frequently been unable to comprehend, let alone manage, its vast and continuing collection of Americans’ telephone and Internet records. The documents, made available by the agency in response to lawsuits by two advocacy groups, revealed that in 2009 a judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court severely reprimanded the agency for violating its own procedures for gathering and analyzing phone records, and then misrepresented those violations to the court.

Diplomacy as Deterrent

After a muddled start in his lurch toward military action in Syria, President Obama did better in his speech on Tuesday night. He offered a forceful moral argument for a limited strike against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad for the use of chemical weapons on Aug. 21. ...

Saudi beheaded for murder

Arab-Africa summit to call for more cooperation

More journalists resign from Al Jazeera


Four employees operating in Egypt say the channel is misleading viewers
  • By Ayman Sharaf special to gulf news

‘Big Heart Campaign’ reveals soul of a nation


Efforts to help Syrian refugee children will continue until July 21
  • By Noorhan Barakat, Staff Reporter

Syria crisis: Russia's Putin issues plea to US over Syria


Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a direct personal appeal to the American people over the Syrian crisis.

South Africa100 Years of Land Dispossession in South Africa


This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Natives Land Act, which ratified and legalized the exclusion of  South Africa’s black majority from land ownership in favor of the white minority.
The result was “just 7% of agricultural land set aside for blacks, though they comprised nearly 70% of the population.” Following changes to the act in 1936, whites would own up to 87% of land by the end of Apartheid. Since the end of Apartheid, the government has been slow in effecting land reform, hampered by a range of factors, including threats from business, organized agriculture (basically white farmers), its controversial “willing buyer, willing seller” approach and a lack of political will. Ben Cousins is a professor at the University of Western Cape and founder of the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies. Since 1989, Cousins has researched land reform, communal areas and small holder agriculture. He has studied Swaziland’s land reform from 1976-1983, Zimbabwe from 1983-1991 and South Africa from the early 1990s. In June, Cousins won the Elinor Ostrom Award for his commitment to the analysis, creation and defence of common pool resources.
How would you describe the legacy of the 1913 Land Act?
Well, Henry Bernstein, a professor at the School of Oriental and African studies in the University of London, describes the South African agrarian question as extreme and exceptional.
The division of ownership on the basis of race was extreme. There was a large amount of black people squeezed into small areas of land, and small numbers of white people with large areas of land. It’s a very extreme form of land redistribution in general, but on productive land in particular.
The fact that this racial distribution came with class divisions, between capital on the one hand, and cheap labour on the other, means that confusion has risen about what extent this is racial dispossession and oppression, or class dispossession and oppression. They were both combined, in complicated ways, and all underpinned by gender inequality. In the earlier twentieth century, people were put into reserves in large numbers, and prevented from accumulating as farmers. Any kind of smallholder or peasant farm was eliminated by state policy, because these people were intended to be labour for the mines, factories, and commercial farms. So, the land question is combined with the labour question.
And along also came the native question, the governance dimension. In areas designated for black people, a particular kind of governance regime was installed. This was essentially a direct rule, a rule through the chiefs, a system that the British implemented in many other parts: complying chiefs helped the colonial government rule. The chiefs became accountable to government. So the whole question of chiefs, land tenure and who has authority to govern that land is another legacy of the Land Act.
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By Camila Osorio AvendanoAfrica is a country 


Italian reporter Domenico Quirico freed in Syria


The Italian newspaper La Stampa says its reporter Domenico Quirico, who was kidnapped in Syria in April, is flying home after being freed.
The 62-year-old veteran correspondent for the Turin-based daily had entered Syria from Lebanon on 6 April saying he would be out of touch for a week.
He spoke by phone to his wife in June confirming he had been kidnapped but said he was in good health.
Mr Quirico was among four journalists held captive briefly in Libya in 2011.
The conflict in Syria has made it one of the most dangerous places for journalists to work in.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Syria was the most deadly country for reporters in 2012.


US Navy increases carrier presence in Gulf


Washington: US officials say the Navy is beefing up its presence in the Arabian Gulf region, increasing the number of aircraft carriers from one to two.
The USS Truman has arrived in the Arabian Sea and was scheduled to take the place of the USS Nimitz, which was supposed to head home. The Navy has ordered the Nimitz, which is in the Indian Ocean, to stay for now.
US officials describe the decision as prudent planning and say it doesn’t suggest the carrier would play a role in any possible strikes in Syria. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss ship movements publicly.
The US had kept two carriers in the region, but budget cuts in February forced officials to cut that to one.

Syrian government behind 'massive chemical attack'



France says the chemical attack near Damascus last month "could not have been ordered and carried out by anyone but the Syrian government".