Maya Angelou’s Life in Photos


The poet and memoirist Maya Angelou died on May 28th, at the age of eighty-six. A civil-rights activist and a professor at Wake Forest University, Angelou—born on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri—was the author of works including “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” and received awards including the National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her public life spanned decades and included a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize, as well as dozens of honorary degrees.


TREACHERY: I married two of the teenage girls in Sambisa forest – Boko Haram Leader


One of the Boko Haram leaders have admitted to marrying two out of the over 200 girls kidnapped from Chibok in Borno state.
The Boko Haram leader, Hassan Ali, who was reportedly arrested by the local vigilante in Maiduguri three weeks ago, confessed that he got “married” to two of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls in Sambisa forest.
According to reports from Leadership, Hassan Ali who is a native of Kwapchi-Kilakise village who was said to have killed his biological father, Mallam Hassan Arigizhe, and his uncle, Zakariya Ali, was also said to have sanctioned the killing of his younger sister whom he forcefully took to Sambisa when she refused to accede to the sexual demands of one of the Amirs (leaders) in Sambisa, an act that elevated him to the position of Amir too.
According to the officials of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria in Borno State, Hassan was arrested by the Civilian-JTF and members of the VGN when he was spotted in a car trying to leave Maiduguri for Benisheik, along the Damaturu-Maiduguri highway.
A VGN official said: “It was on the first day that we mobilised to Pilgrims Camp when we wanted to be given permission to go to Sambisa in search for the missing girls. When he was asked to identify himself, he pretended to be a dumb person. But those that knew him said he was lying and they started to beat him up; it was when he sensed death that he later confessed that he was a member of Boko Haram, and that he was sent to come to Maiduguri to buy yams worth N200, 000. He said he had finished his transaction and the truck had since left for Sambisa.
“When we asked him about the abducted girls, he said they were all fine, that none of them was being hurt or molested; he said as a matter of fact he was betrothed to two of them as wives due to his position as Amir. He said they eat good food there – mostly canned foods and canned drinks; they eat spaghetti, rice, smoked fish and yam.
“I was the one that personally interviewed him when he was arrested near Njimtilo at the outskirts of Maiduguri, towards Damaturu. I even took some jotting of his statement before we later left him with the Sector-6 officials of the Civilian-JTF. I did not take his photograph but some of our local hunters who had camera phones did. Unfortunately, all of them had gone back to their various localities after the state government had disbanded us last week.”

Bahrain activist Nabeel Rajab urges serious dialogue


Human rights activist Nabeel Rajab says he would talk to the government to end the political deadlock in Bahrain, following his release from prison.
But in an interview, he warned that the state was not serious about reform and meaningful dialogue with its opponents.
Months of talks between the government and opposition to resolve ongoing unrest were suspended in January.
Mr Rajab was freed on Saturday after completing a two-year sentence for organising "unauthorised" protests.
Fellow human rights activists considered him a prisoner of conscience whose legitimate work the Gulf kingdom had attempted to silence.
'Playing for time'
Before his imprisonment in July 2012, Mr Rajab was repeatedly detained in connection with the pro-democracy protests that erupted the previous year.
While Mr Rajab was in detention, the Sunni-led government continued clamp down on peaceful protests and to arrest and intimidate leaders of the Shia-dominated opposition. At the same time, bombings and other attacks on security forces personnel became more frequent.
Asked if he would speak with officials to help break the deadlock, Mr Rajab replied: "I am a human rights activist and that determines my relationship with the government, so I would not refuse to meet anybody if that would help the situation."
But he warned: "There is no attempt to have a proper dialogue with the opposition. The government is not serious. It is just playing for time."
"The royal family does not want to see a balance of power. They want everything in their hands and as long as that is their attitude we are not likely to reach a solution," he added.
The opposition's demands include judicial reform, electoral reform, release of opposition political prisoners, and an elected government with full legislative powers.
'Redouble our efforts'
Mr Rajab said the situation in Bahrain was worse now than when he was jailed, citing legislation aimed at stopping online criticism and the increased violence.
The majority still believed in a peaceful struggle, but a minority calling for violence was "a normal reaction when you detain all who call for peaceful change", he warned.
Despite the restrictions on dissent and the risk of being imprisoned, Mr Rajab insisted he would continue to speak out on human rights issues.
"Laws were made while I was in prison that gave the king, the army, and the ministry of the interior immunity from criticism. The country has turned into a dictatorship. I know that I will have to be more careful but I also know I am going to talk."
Mr Rajab argued that the key to stopping violence was to end the ban on peaceful demonstrations and restrictions on freedom of expression.
"Some of the people who have come to my home say that the peaceful struggle has failed. But I say that we have to redouble our efforts, show them that peaceful struggle has not failed and by doing so we can slowly, slowly lower the level of violence."


Plan to set up Arab Court for Rights welcomed


Manama: Human rights activists from the region and Arab world have welcomed a proposal to set up the Arab Court for Human Rights, but insisted on giving women a fair representation at all levels, including as judges.
Activists taking part in the four workshops at the two-day conference on Sunday and Monday in Bahrain said that they looked forward to the court charter stipulating gender equality through a fair presence of women within the structural organisation of the court and, very importantly, as judges.
Judges should be fully independent and should be appointed to a single term that is not renewable, the activists representing civil society organisations versed in human rights and national rights institutions said.
There should be a clear mechanism for selecting judges who should be fully competent and should not represent their countries, they said.
The independence of the court should be clearly stipulated in the statute, the activists said.
Other recommendations included ensuring the right of all NGOs as well as citizens and expatriates living in the Arab world to file lawsuits at the court.
They said that all trials should be open and that the court should issue periodic reports on its activities and plans.’
The general assembly of the court should include representatives from all member countries, they said.
The court should stipulate in its bylaws that all victims and complainants who file lawsuits should be given proper protection.
One recommendation called for involving young people in the court process as an investment in the future.
According to a Bahraini rights activist, international laws would be taken into consideration while establishing the court. However, some areas that are peculiar to the Arab region will also be highly considered, he added.
Bahraini MP Sawsan Taqawi said in a statement that she supported the Arab dimension in the court to ensure it is endorsed by Arabs.
Arab League officials on Sunday said they expected the court to be established in September.
Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa in November 2011 called for setting up the court that will contribute to international justice and fairness.
“I will propose to our fellow Arab states that we now move concretely toward the creation of an Arab Court for Human Rights to take its proper place on the international stage,” King Hamad said then. “Bahrain was an immediate supporter of the Arab Charter of Human Rights 15 years ago, but in truth this text has not created a system like those of Europe and the Americas.”
The Bahraini leader said that the nations of Europe were routinely held accountable before the European Court in Strasbourg.


Bahrain activist Nabeel Rajab released from prison


Prominent Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been freed after serving two years in prison for his involvement in illegal protests.
Rajab, who heads the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), was convicted in 2012 of taking part in illegal gatherings and disturbing public order.
An appeals court later reduced his original three-year term by a year.
He was one of several leading activists arrested by the authorities after pro-democracy protests erupted in 2011.
Soon after his release on Saturday, Rajab told the Associated Press news agency that he was happy to be out after spending more than 600 days in prison.
He also appealed for the release of all political prisoners, the agency added.
Rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights First, have campaigned on behalf of Rajab throughout his prison sentence, calling on the authorities to release him.
In December 2013, a Bahraini court rejected a request by Rajab's lawyers for early release. They argued that he was eligible because he had already served three-quarters of a two-year sentence.
In addition to his role with the BCHR, Mr Rajab is deputy secretary general of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).
Before his imprisonment in July 2012, Mr Rajab was repeatedly detained in connection with the pro-democracy protests that erupted in the Gulf kingdom the previous year.
Amnesty said that he was punched in the face several times by riot police as he led a demonstration in February 2012, and in May 2012 was charged with "insulting a national institution" in comments about the interior ministry he posted on Twitter.
In June 2012, Rajab was sentenced to three months in jail over different tweets he wrote about the prime minister. The conviction was eventually overturned on appeal, but only after he had begun his two-year sentence for taking part in unauthorised protests.
At his trial, Mr Rajab told the court that he had been held in dire conditions and subjected to ill treatment, including being placed in solitary confinement with a dead animal and kept almost naked.
BCHR's founder, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, is serving a life sentence for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government. He was convicted on evidence that was widely accepted as having been secured under torture

Caspian Renewable Energy, LLC

Caspian Renewable Energy, LLC, (previously operating as Caspian Energy Holdings – ‘CEH’) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Caspian Group Holdings, LLC, a Washington DC based international energy and economic development group of companies providing governments and multinationals long-term, tailor-made, diversification solutions through strategic partnerships and innovative thinking.
With a special focus on ‘distributed smart solar’ (DSS) technologies, Caspian Renewable Energy, LLC assists governments and State oil and gas companies to diversify their energy generation portfolios by introducing proven, cutting edge American technology companies in support of sustainable, long-term energy solutions.
As State and traditional energy companies alike seek to optimize and better manage their scarce and depleteable, carbon-based, energy resources, clean renewables are gaining foothold as the logical solution. Typically such solutions often come as the result of close collaboration between public and private sector stakeholders, driving to the forefront innovative solutions. One such example is a recent venture Caspian Renewable Energy, LLC (at the time CEH) assisted in making into reality: The Government of Bahrain, in May of 2012, announced project AWALI a 5 MW, smart solar distributed project, the first step in the Kingdom’s long-term plan to meet up to ten percent of its national energy requirement — through clean, renewable energy solutions.

Bahrain's Nabeel Rajab is coming home



#BokoHaram: http://reut.rs/1qVStlL pic.twitter.com/jotBaghkZX

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U.S deploys 80 military personnel to help find Nigerian girls abducted by :
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14-year-old protester killed in Bahrain


Mahmoud Mohsen, a 14-year-old child from Sitra, has been killed in Bahrain after being shot from close range by Police. Mohsen was taking part in a protest earlier today in Sitra, to the south of Manama, following the death of an activist last week in an unexplained explosion.
According to Al Wefaq National Islamic Society, Mohsen was shot at from a very close range in the chest using a “bird shot gun”, also known as “buck shot”. The weapon is a regular feature of policing protests in Bahrain, with at least 11 people having died in the past 3 years from its use and many more injured.
Whilst dozens of youths have been killed since 14th February 2011, Mohsen is one of the youngest. Ali Alshaikh, another 14-year-old from Sitra, was killed in August 2011 after being hit by a tear gas canister.
The Interior Ministry has said an investigation is under way.
However, in a statement Sheikh Ali Salman, Secretary General of Al Wefaq, said “We don’t need an investigating committee to establish the cause of death, when it is clear he has been shot in head and chest.” He added, “This child has caused no danger on you (the authorities), and this is a crime.”
The Bahrain Justice and Development Movement condemn the targeting of children in Bahrain, both with the use of weapons, mass arrests and in the eyes of the law. Such deaths will continue to occur in Bahrain until the heavy handed and repressive treatment of protesters. In direct contravention of human rights, is stopped.
The death of Mohsen is a further step away from the security détente needed to ensure a positive environment can take place for talks between the opposition and the authorities. This tragedy is yet another setback in the reaching progress for a political solution in Bahrain.
Picture of the body of Mahmoud Mohsen after death (warning graphic content)


Italy rescues child migrants from seas as concern grows


The Italian navy has rescued nearly 1,000 illegal migrants from the seas off southern Italy inside two days, with 170 children among them.
In the latest rescue, 462 migrants including 37 children and 148 women were rescued off Lampedusa.
On Monday, 488 migrants including 133 children and 62 women were found off Capo Passero in Sicily.
The number of unaccompanied minors arriving this year has alarmed the Save the Children charity.
While most children under 10 who arrive in Italy are with families, many adolescents are travelling alone and Save the Children says there are not adequate facilities to accommodate and protect them.
There has been a huge increase in migrant numbers. Italy has taken in at least 26,644 so far this year compared with 3,362 during the same period last year, the Associated Press news agency reports.
The number of people detected trying to enter the EU illegally last year rose by nearly half on 2012, with nearly one in four from Syria, the EU's frontiers agency reported last week.

Iran 'releases' dancers from Pharrell Happy tribute video


A group of Iranians who were arrested for filming a video tribute to Pharrell Williams' song Happy have been released on bail, reports from Tehran suggest.


HM King Hamad meets Pope Francis


The Vatican, May19(BNA)His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa today met Pope Francis at the Apostolic Palace as part of his visit to the Vatican at the invitation of the Holy Pontiff. HM the King stressed Bahrain’s keenness to reinforce friendship and cooperation with the Vatican so as to spread the principles of love among nations and peoples and achieve peace and stability.

He urged consensus between all monotheistic religions and cultures so as diversity becomes part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

HM the King stressed the need to advocate religious, cultural and linguistic diversity by promoting tolerance, pointing out that the only path to achieve successful development is the one which emanates from the identity of society itself. He added that the history of the Muslim-Christian dialogue shows that progress can be achieved only when representatives of the two religions set aside their differences and promote consensus, focusing particularly on common principles and morals bonding monotheistic religions.

HM the King said that Bahrain works constantly to reinforce the values of tolerance and co-existence among all religions and embrace the path of moderation, tolerance and the renunciation of fanaticism and extremism, reaffirming the Kingdom's commitment to the teachings of the Islam, which advocates love, peace and co-existence between all people.

HM The King cited the Dialogue of Civilizations and Cultures, which was hosted recently in Bahrain under the theme:" "Civilisation in Service of Humanity", in the presence of over 150 leading figures from all over the world. He said that recommendations of the conference focused particularly on promoting consensus and the renunciation of sectarian violence and hate-mongering.

HM the King commended the tremendous efforts of His Holiness Pope Francis and the Vatican to build bridges of understanding, tolerance and co-existence, foster common core human values which bond all religions and civilizations and spread the values of tolerance and moderation.

His Holiness Pope Francis hailed Bahrain as a model of co-existence and tolerance between all religions, commending the care enjoyed by the followers of all religions among the residents who are living in the Kingdom.

HM the King and the Holy Pontiff discussed working towards the renunciation of all forms of religious fanaticism so as to achieve civil tolerance and peace. HM King Hamad invited Pope Francis to visit the Kingdom of Bahrain, wishing him utmost health and happiness as well as success in performing his humanitarian duties.


Saudis adopt 6,691 babies


Saudi families have adopted 6,691 abandoned children, according to a report released by the Justice Ministry on Friday.
“Courts in the Kingdom have completed procedures for the adoption of 391 abandoned children in 2013,” the report said.
Eid Al-Buqami, director of orphan care at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said there is a long list of Saudi families who intend to adopt children. “Our offices in different regions have received a large number of such applications.”
He said abandoned children are taken to hospitals for medical check up before being handed over to families seeking to adopt them. Police conduct necessary investigations as part of the procedure.
The ministry receives the child on the instructions of the regional governorates, Al-Buqami said.
“Families who adopt the children must make arrangements for breastfeeding. This is a basic condition,” he added.

Africa: Boko Haram and U.S. Counterterrorism Assistance to Nigeria


“The kidnapping of hundreds of children by Boko Haram is an unconscionable crime, and we will do everything possible to support the Nigerian Government to return these young women to their homes and to hold the perpetrators to justice. I will tell you, my friends, I have seen this scourge of terror across the planet, and so have you. They don't offer anything except violence. They don't offer a health care plan, they don't offer schools. They don't tell you how to build a nation; they don't talk about how they will provide jobs. They just tell people, You have to behave the way we tell you to, and they will punish you if you don't.” -- Secretary of State John F. Kerry
Nigeria is a key strategic partner in Africa. Nigeria has the continent’s largest population and largest economy, and it plays a vital role in efforts to resolve crises and promote stability and prosperity in West Africa and beyond. In the midst of rapid economic growth, however, Nigeria faces security challenges, notably Boko Haram (BH), a violent Islamist movement that has staged regular attacks in northern Nigeria since 2010. Given Nigeria’s importance as a regional political and economic leader, the U.S. has a vital interest in helping to strengthen Nigeria’s democratic institutions, boost Nigeria’s prosperity and security, and ensure opportunity for all of its citizens. The U.S. and Nigeria also work closely together in multilateral fora, including the UN Security Council, where Nigeria is serving a term as a non-permanent member for 2014-2015.
As the President noted in his National Defense University speech in May 2013, countering terrorism requires a holistic approach. We continue to work with Nigeria and other international partners to help promote and support such an approach to Boko Haram. The United States has been working to counter BH for many years, and we will continue to do so. The first part of this fact sheet provides information about BH and the many atrocities it committed in Nigeria prior to its attack on a girls’ secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, where it kidnapped approximately 300 girls. The latter part provides information about various U.S. Department of State initiatives and programs to assist Nigeria’s counterterrorism efforts, such as the Antiterrorism Assistance Program and the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership.
* * *

The U.S. Government designated Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 on November 14, 2013. (A transcript of an interview with senior officials about this designation can be found here: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2013/11/217532.htm.) BH commander Abubakar Shekau, Khalid al-Barnawi, and Abubakar Adam Kambar were designated on June 21, 2012, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists under section 1(b) of E.O. 13224. (A fact sheet about FTO and E.O. designations can be found here: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/01/219520.htm.) Since June 2013, the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program has advertised a reward offer of up to U.S. $7 million for information leading to the location of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau.
BH is a Nigeria-based group responsible for numerous attacks in northern and northeastern Nigeria that have killed thousands of people since its emergence in 2009, and conducted high-profile kidnappings of Westerners in the Far North Region of Cameroon. In 2013 alone, BH has carried out kidnappings, killings, bombings, and attacks on civilian and military targets in northern Nigeria, resulting in over 1,000 deaths and injuries. BH primarily operates in northeastern Nigeria, Cameroon’s Far North Region, and the Lake Chad Basin, and receives the bulk of its funding from bank robberies and related criminal activities, including extortion and kidnapping for ransom. The group espouses a violent extremist ideology and at times has received some limited assistance, including funds and training, from al Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Among its most lethal attacks, BH was responsible for indiscriminate attacks in Benisheikh, Nigeria in September 2013 that killed more than 160 civilians, many of them women and children. Other major attacks that have been claimed by or attributed to BH since 2011 have included:
  • An August 26, 2011, a bomb attack on the UN building in Abuja killed at least 21 people and injured over 120.
  • On November 4, 2011, multiple vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks in Yobe and Borno States targeted security force offices and the Military's Joint Task Force (JTF) offices, as well as several markets and 11 churches. More than 100 people were killed, including nearly 70 bystanders at a major traffic circle in the center of Damaturu, Yobe State.
  • On January 20, 2012, multiple near-simultaneous attacks in Kano State were carried out on at least 12 targets including police stations, an immigration office, and the residence of an Assistant Inspector General of Police. Over 150 persons were killed and hundreds were wounded.
  • In April 2012, assailants attacked the Theatre Hall at Bayero University, Kano, with IEDs and gunshots, killing nearly 20 persons.
  • On April 26, 2012, VBIEDs simultaneously exploded at the offices of This Day newspaper in Abuja and Kaduna, killing five persons and wounding many others.
  • On June 17, 2012, attacks on three churches in Kaduna State killed worshippers and instigated violence throughout the State. At least 10 people were killed and an additional 78 were injured in the riots that ensued.
  • On February 8, 2013 nine Nigerian women working in a polio vaccination campaign in Kano were killed by gunmen riding in three-wheeled motorcycles; several other polio workers were injured.
  • On March 18, 2013, a VBIED attack on two luxury buses at a motor park in the Sabon Gari neighborhood of Kano killed more than 20 persons and wounded scores.
  • On July 6, 2013, over 50 students were killed in their dormitories at Mamudo Government Secondary School in Yobe State.
  • On August 11, 2013, gunmen killed approximately 44 persons praying at a mosque outside Maiduguri and another 12 civilians in a near-simultaneous attack at a nearby location in Borno State.
  • On September 29, 2013, gunmen killed more than 40 students in the dormitory of an agricultural technical school in Yobe State.
  • In November 2013, BH members kidnapped a French priest in Cameroon.
  • On December 2, 2013, a coordinated and complex attack by violent extremists on the Maiduguri airport and air force base killed over 24 persons, wounded dozens, and destroyed a large amount of military equipment, including several military helicopters.
  • On December 20, 2013, violent extremists assaulted the Nigerian army barracks in Bama, southern Borno State, in a well-coordinated attack that killed approximately 20 military personnel and numerous civilians.
  • On January 14, 2014, at least at least 31 were killed and 50 injured by suicide bomber in Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria.
  • On February 16, 2014, BH raided Izghe village, Borno State, killing an estimated 115 people.
  • On February 25, 2014, over 59 teenage boys were killed in an attack on Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, Yobe State, Nigeria.
  • On April 14, 2014, BH attacked a girls’ secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria, with 16 killed and approximately 300 girls kidnapped.
  • Also on April 14, 2014, a morning rush hour bomb killed at least 71 on at a bus depot on the outskirts of Abuja.
  • On May 5, 2014, an attack lasting 12 hours on towns of Gamboru and Ngala in Borno State, Nigeria, killed an estimated 300 people.
Counterterrorism Assistance to Nigeria
  • Counterterrorism support to Nigeria focuses on building critical counterterrorism capabilities among Nigeria’s civilian and law enforcement agencies. This supports the larger U.S. objective of encouraging Nigeria to develop and implement a comprehensive approach to counter BH that upholds and enforces the rule of law, provides civilian protection, respects human rights and international norms, and addresses the underlying grievances that BH exploits (including through development gains and through responsive governance).
  • Based on our longstanding concerns about Boko Haram, we have a robust security dialogue and assistance relationship with Nigeria. As part of the Bi-National Commission Framework, we hold regular Regional Security working group meetings focused on the Boko Haram threat and ways our two governments can collaborate on a holistic approach to countering the group.
  • Our security assistance is in line with our efforts to ensure Nigeria takes a comprehensive approach to countering Boko Haram. We are working to build Nigerian law enforcement capacities to investigate terrorism cases, effectively deal with explosive devices, and secure Nigeria’s borders, while underscoring that the most effective counterterrorism policies and practices are those that respect human rights and are underpinned by the rule of law. We are also focused on enabling various Nigerian security services with fusing multiple information streams to develop a better understanding of Boko Haram. Our military assistance supports the professionalization of key military units and improves their ability to plan and implement appropriate steps to counter Boko Haram and ensure civilian security.
  • The State Department’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program enhances Nigerian law enforcement’s capability to prevent, detect, and investigate terrorism threats; secure Nigeria’s borders; and manage responses to terrorist incidents. ATA’s primary partners are the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Customs Service, Immigration Service, and National Emergency Management Agency. ATA represents the only donor assistance to Nigerian law enforcement on identifying, diffusing, and the safe disposal of improvised explosives devices (IEDs). ATA curriculum has been integrated into NPF training curriculum, supporting its ability to respond to IED attacks in Abuja and to deploy to the northeast part of the country where Boko Haram attacks are the most frequent.
  • Countering violent extremism (CVE) programs aim to limit recruits to BH by reducing sympathy and support for its operations, through three primary objectives: (1) building resilience among communities most at risk of recruitment and radicalization to violence; (2) countering BH narratives and messaging; and (3) building the CVE capacity of government and civil society. Such efforts include promoting engagement between law enforcement and citizens, and elevating the role of women civil society leaders in CVE.
  • The Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications has developed a strong partnership with the Government of Nigeria, and in conjunction with other international partners, provided assistance on developing a comprehensive communications strategy.
  • Nigeria is an active member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), and the United States has used the multilateral platform the Forum offers to introduce justice sector officials from Nigeria and neighboring countries to a series of judicial tools to investigate and prosecute terrorism cases in conformity with their domestic and international human rights obligations. As part of this effort, the United States and Nigeria have co-hosted a series of experts’ workshops in Abuja on these issues. In addition, Nigeria will join the United States as one of the founding members of the International Institute on Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ), which will open its doors in June 2014 in Malta, and provide rule of law based training on how to counter terrorism and other transnational criminal activity within a rule of law framework. As a founding member, Nigeria will be expected to ensure its police, prosecutors, and prison officials are regular participants in IIJ trainings.
  • Nigeria is a member of the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP), a U.S. Government-funded and implemented effort designed to enhance regional security sector capacity to counter violent extremism, improve country and regional border and customs systems, strengthen financial controls, and build law enforcement and security sector capacity. TSCTP provides counter-IED and civil-military operations training to the Nigerian military, and crisis management and border security training to Nigerian law enforcement agencies. Nigeria also participates in larger regional training opportunities such as combat medical, military intelligence, communications and logistics training with other TSCTP partner nations (Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, and Tunisia).
  • Nigeria has also agreed to become a pilot country to the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF), a GCTF-inspired initiative announced by Secretary Kerry at the September 2013 GCTF ministerial. This will enable community-based organizations in Nigeria to receive grants from the GCERF to carry out grassroots CVE projects.
  • The State Department’s Counterterrorism Finance (CTF) program provides training that aims to restrict Boko Haram’s ability to raise, move, and store money. CTF’s current focus provides Nigeria with cross border financial investigations training to work effectively with counterparts in neighboring countries on critical CTF cases.
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Africa leaders declare 'war' on Nigeria Boko Haram


African leaders meeting in Paris have agreed to wage "war" on Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamic militants.
President Hollande of France, who hosted the summit, said regional powers had pledged to share intelligence and co-ordinate action against the group.
Last month it abducted 223 schoolgirls in north-eastern Nigeria, where it is based. Fresh attacks were reported in Nigeria and Cameroon overnight.
Thousands of people have been killed by Boko Haram in recent years.
The Paris summit brought together President Francois Hollande, Nigeria's Goodluck Jonathan, and their counterparts from Benin, Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
Afterwards, Mr Hollande said participants had agreed on a "global and regional action plan".
He said this involved "co-ordinating intelligence, sharing information... border surveillance, a military presence notably around Lake Chad and the capacity to intervene in case of danger".
 A video emerged on Monday showing about 130 of the girls wearing hijabs and reciting Koranic verses
Cameroon's President Paul Biya said: "We are here to declare war on Boko Haram". Idriss Deby of Chad said it would be "total war".
Earlier, Mr Hollande called Boko Haram a "major threat to West and Central Africa", and said it had links with al-Qaeda's North-African arm and "other terrorist organisations".
BBC's International Development Correspondent Mark Doyle says the group is an international threat, drawing fighters from not just Nigeria but also from neighbouring Niger, Cameroon and Chad.
Border disputes
In the latest violence, suspected Boko Haram militants attacked a camp run by a Chinese engineering company in the far north of Cameroon, near Nigeria's north-eastern border.
Ten Chinese workers are believed to have been abducted. One Cameroonian soldier was killed, officials say.
In Nigeria itself, 11 people were reported killed in a separate attack on a village a few hours' drive from the Cameroonian border.
A relative of one of the victims said a woman and a child were among the dead.
John Simpson assesses the threat of Boko Haram
Representatives from the UK, US and EU also took part in the Paris meeting.
Before it began, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said regional powers needed to co-operate better when it came to cross-border intelligence.
Boko Haram has some of its bases in the Mandara mountain range that straddles the border. But the long frontier has been disputed in at least two places in recent years.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague says Nigeria must work with its neighbours to tackle Boko Haram
The abducted schoolgirls, who include Christians and Muslims, were seized on 14 April in the north-east Nigerian town of Chibok in Borno state.
Mr Jonathan was due on Friday to visit the town but the trip was cancelled for security reasons.
Boko Haram released a video earlier this week showing more than 100 of the girls and offering an exchange for prisoners.
President Jonathan has ruled out negotiations over their possible release, officials say.



From the Balkans to Mali : why access to information is critical for transitional justice


22 years ago, I was a journalist covering the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Whenever I think of that period, I have memories of destruction, of prisoners from all sides who lost 20 or 30 kilos, memories of displaced people getting onto a bus and not knowing if they will ever come back to their homes, echoes of bombings and fear.
I was horrified by the tragedy unfolding under our eyes and the crimes committed in the midst of Europe.
At the time, I was also covering the so-called peace process taking place in Geneva. I vividly remember a strange scene of schizophrenic dimensions. It was mid-December 1992.
In the U.N. building, international mediators were trying to reach a peace agreement between the different leaders. Among them was General Mladic. At that time, General Mladic was very powerful. His sense of impunity was such that three years later, he allegedly ordered the Srebrenica massacre.
In another part of that same U.N. building, on that very same day in December 1992, several lawyers were working hard in a much less fancy room. These lawyers had received a mandate from the U.N. Security Council – Resolution 780 – to collect all evidence of war crimes. This international commission of experts was the embryo of the future International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
No one at the time could have ever imagined that the work of these lawyers would be so effective, and that one day, many of the leaders who participated in that peace conference in the room next door, would be indicted, arrested and tried.
Today when I open the newspaper I find news related to justice initiatives everywhere: the current Truth Commission in Brazil; the African Extraordinary Chambers in Dakar putting the former Chadian dictator, Hissène Habré, on trial; the opening of an ICC preliminary investigation in Ukraine.
continue reading on Fondation Hirondelle


Saudi blogger Raif Badawi gets 10 year jail sentence


Saudi blogger Raif Badawi Mr Badawi's sentence was increased after he appealed against an earlier verdict

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A Saudi court has imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi for 10 years for "insulting Islam" and setting up a liberal web forum, local media report.
He was also sentenced to 1,000 lashes and ordered to pay a fine of 1 million riyals ($266,000; £133,000).
Amnesty International called the verdict "outrageous" and urged the authorities to quash the verdict.
Mr Badawi, the co-founder of a website called the Liberal Saudi Network, was arrested in 2012.
A Saudi newspaper close to the government reported that he had lost his appeal against an earlier, more lenient sentence of seven years and three months in jail and 600 lashes.
Last year he was cleared of apostasy, which could have carried a death sentence.
Mr Badawi had previously called for 7 May to be a "day for Saudi liberals". The website he set up has since been closed.
"Ruthless campaign"
Amnesty International describes him as a "prisoner of conscience" and has called for his release.
"Raif Badawi is the latest victim to fall prey to the ruthless campaign to silence peaceful activists in Saudi Arabia," it said in a statement.
Last October a Saudi journalist was freed after spending a year and a half in prison for writing insulting tweets about the Prophet Muhammad.
Hamza Kashgari fled Saudi Arabia for Malaysia in 2012 but was extradited just days later. He was released last year after making a public apology.




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Protests around the world over abduction of girls in Nigeria. Share how you're taking part


World Press Freedom Day


di Alberto Simoni
Firas Mohammed Attiyah lavorava per una tv di Falluja. È morto il 20 gennaio scorso a Khalidiya, Iraq, per l’esplosione di una bomba piazzata sul ciglio della strada. Stava raccontando lo scontro fra l’esercito iracheno e i miliziani del movimento islamista Isis. Attiyah è stata la prima vittima del mondo dell’informazione del 2014. Da allora altri 13 giornalisti hanno perso la vita in esecuzioni, attentati, scontri. Ieri i nomi di Attiyah, come quello di Thamer (morto a Hilla, Iraq) o Pedro Palma (Brasile) o Vyacheslav Veremiy (Messico) per citare solo alcune delle vittime, sono stati i protagonisti - insieme alle decine di reporter in prigione (a fine 2013 erano 211, peggior anno dopo i 232 del 2002) – della «Giornata mondiale della libertà d’informazione».

Dal 4 aprile su «La Stampa» ogni giorno abbiamo raccontato brandelli di vita di questi reporter scomodi per i loro governi, perseguitati e imprigionati per un articolo o una fotografia fastidiosa. Dall’Eritrea, alla Siria, dalla Cina alla Turchia, la mappa della libertà di stampa - lo attesta il rapporto di Freedom House - non si è allargata. E i giri di vite (con censure sul Web e chiusure dei social network) non conoscono soste. La storia di Eskinder Nega chiude questa rubrica. Non la lotta per la libertà di stampa nel mondo.
da Alberto Abburrà 5/3/2014 8:57:33 PM 3 maggio 22.57
  • Eskinder Nega - Etiopia
    Blogger e giornalista, più volte Eskinder Nega è finito dietro le sbarre nella sua decennale lotta per la democrazia e i diritti. La Wan Ifra gli ha attribuito nella Giornata mondiale della libertà di informazione la «Golden Pen of Freedom». Eskinder Nega è stato condannato a 18 anni di reclusione proprio un anno fa con l’accusa di terrorismo.
    da Alberto Abburrà 5/3/2014 8:55:36 PM 3 maggio 22.55
    • Dawit Isaak - Eritrea
      Dawit Isaak è in prigione dal 2001. Aveva lasciato la Svezia per tornare nel suo Paese d’origine, dopo l’indipendenza del 1991, per contribuire alla costruzione di una stampa libera e li fondò Setit, il primo quotidiano libero del Paese. Ma, nel 2001, il governo fece un giro di vite, sospese le libertà civili e la libertà di stampa. E Dawit finì in galera.
      da enrico.caporale 5/2/2014 8:28:28 PM 2 maggio 22.28
      • Shiva Nazar Ahari - Iran
        Attivista per i diritti umani e giornalista del sito Asad Zan (Donna liberata), Shiva Nazar Ahari è detenuta dal 2012. È stata condannata a 74 frustate e 4 anni per gli articoli sui diritti violati dopo la rielezione di Ahmadinejad. È colpevole di «comportamento ostile a Dio», «complotto contro la sicurezza e «diffusione di propaganda anti-governativa
        da monica.perosino 4/30/2014 8:09:02 PM 30 aprile 22.09
      • More...
      • 5/02/2014

        The State of Press Freedom Worldwide


        By Molly Hofsommer
        Saturday May 3rd marks World Press Freedom Day, which celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom and highlights the state of press freedom throughout the world.  The day marks an opportunity to address the many grave threats and violations of press freedom that continue to occur around the world-- including in some of the United Sates’ strongest allies, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, where news providers and sources are continual targets of repressive regimes.
        The situation for freedom of the press in Bahrain is increasingly bleak. While in a state-sponsored press release the Bahraini government “celebrates the objectivity enjoyed by local press,” Freedom House ranks the gulf kingdom as "Not Free" and identifies a continuing negative trend for the status of individual rights and civil liberties. From before the popular uprising began in Bahrain in 2011 to today, the nation has seen a dramatic decline in press freedom, with the second-worst decline in the world from 2009-2013 according to Freedom House’s rankings.
        Today, bloggers, journalists, and photographers are continually targeted by the Bahraini regime’s persistent crackdown on dissent. Just this past week, well-known press photographer Hussain Hubail and cyber-activist Jassim Al-Nuaimi were sentenced with five year prison terms.  These are only two of the nine news providers currently detained or sentenced to long jail terms. Earlier this month, photographer Abdullah Salman Al Jerdabi was sentenced to six months in prison for charges including “misuse of social networks” and blogger Ali Maaraj was sentenced to 30 months in prison for charges including “improper handling of information technology.”
        In the name of national security, Bahrain has also amped up internet surveillance. Despite the high levels of internet coverage and availability in Bahrain, the kingdom’s level of filtering and surveillance is some of the highest in the world.  In 2012, Reporters without Borders added the Gulf nation to its list of “Enemies of the Internet”.  With draconian degree laws, an opaque National Security Apparatus that monitors any activity that could endanger the kingdom and its institutions, and frequent censorship of websites critical of the regime, Bahrain is gagging citizens’ ability to express their opinion and attempting to silence their demands for reform.
        Saudi Arabia has earned the notable classification as one of the “worst of the worst” countries by Freedom House for its disdainful record on political rights and civil liberties.  Freedom of the press is threatened by increasingly restrictive policies toward the internet and social media outlets.  Currently, the state is researching methods to regulate YouTube, including the possibility of requiring some users to obtain government-issued licenses to produce and post content.  Considering that Saudi Arabia has the world’s highest per-captia use of YouTube and that the website has witnessed an explosion of new content coming from Saudi users, these potential restrictions would have serious implications for the citizens of the gulf Kingdom.
        In recent weeks, Saudi Arabia has threatened to block several other popular internet chat, call, and messaging services such as Skype, WhatsApp, and Viber, reminiscent of the controversial BlackBerry ban threatened in 2010.  News providers face severe punishment for producing content critical of the Kingdom, as seen in the case of human rights defender and blogger Fadhel Al Manafes who was recently sentenced to 15 years in prison for charges including “publishing articles and communicating with foreign journalists with the aim of harming the state’s image.”
        In Egypt, the government shuts down dissenting political voices in the media, jailing foreign journalists from Al Jazeera and charging them with aiding terrorists. As the country prepares for an election, the  current military-backed government has targeted individuals critical of its authority or of its leader, Chief General Abdel Fattah El Sisi. Popular satirist Bassem Youssef’s has been pulled from the air waves until after the Egyptian Presidential Elections are over at the end of this month.
        Unfortunately, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt are only a few of the many U.S. allies where freedom of the press remains a serious struggle such as Turkey, where ten journalists were sentenced to ten months in prison for an insulting tweet of the Prime Minister. Just as the United Nations and UNESCO call on all States, societies, and individuals to actively defend freedom of expression and press freedom, the United States must encourage the same of its close allies. 

        Vogue Italia’s editor wants to help Africa like itself


        Remember Vogue Italia’s Rebranding Africa issue? (Elliot Ross got jealous and denigrated Ban Ki Moon’s cover model shot in an epic post.)
        Seriously, though, it looks like the editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani, who came up with that brainchild, hadn’t yet been informed why the issue was a flop. Because since then, Vogue Italia has forwarded the dignity of and beauty of black people and their histories by labeling a series of simple hoop earrings “Slave Earrings” and included photostories of white models in blackface milling around a backdrop of taxidermied African plains-animals. Had enough? But there’s more: in March 2012’s editorial spread (so it’s not like Sozzani left this one to minions, and innocently had no hand in this), Vogue Italia featured “pregnant” white models in weaves and gold-teeth, pushing prams and eating at their local Micky D’s while taking selfies on ghetto-glorious bling iPhones. They called it the “Haute Mess” editorial, and said something about how it was inspired by Rupaul.
        In Vogue circles, all that adds up to Sozzani being the Bishop Tutu of fashion. So as of June 2012, she became the global goodwill ambassador for Fashion 4 Development. What’s that? It’s an initiative with financial backing from the United Nations (read: my tax dollars go to this). The initiative has the potential to do incredible work, creating support networks for fashion economies in Africa countries and providing fashion workers with scholarships in order to further them in their professions — if they had a less ignorant and racist person at the realm.
        How do we know that Sozzani will not be the sunshine in the African fashion universe? First, because she recently turned up to Vogue Festival in London last month wearing what looks like a whole Holstein cow. Is this someone’s misguided attempt to copy Nguni cow hides? I don’t know, but then she opened her mouth and made Naomi Campbell, who was sitting next to her, sound like she’s WEB DuBois. Another clue: Sozzani doesn’t seem to be aware that the fashion industry is alive and well in several African countries, and fashion magazines already have a strong presence, working towards the same goals as the UN’s initiative without all that nice backing.
        continue reading on Africa is a country 
        By Neelika Jayawardane - Africa is a country