L-R. Human Rights lawyer Eronie Kiiza with some of the journalists who were tortured at the offices of UN Human Rights Headquarters in Kololo; John Cliff Wamala, Josephine Namakumbi, and Shamim Nabakooza at High Court in Kampala on March 03, 2021. PHOTO | ABUBAKER LUBOWA.

Four journalists who were beaten at the United Nations Officers in Kololo last month have dragged the government to court over the continued harassment. 

In their lawsuit filed today before the High Court in Kampala, Mr John Cliff Wamala, Mr Geoffrey Twesigye both from NTV, Josephine Namakumbi (NBS) and Shamim Nabakooza (Record TV), are seeking a court declaration that beating, dispersing, chasing, and blocking journalists from doing their work is a violation of freedom of expression and freedom of the press guaranteed by Article 29 of 1995 Constitution.

The respondents in this case are; Lt Col Franklin Namanya alias “Napoleon” and the Attorney General (AG).

The journalists are also seeking a court declaration that as media personnel, they are entitled to free practice in their work without any intimidation or battering from security agencies as this causes both physical and psychological torture. 

“As a participant and superior, the first respondent (Lt Col Namanya) is personally liable for his misconduct and that of the violent gang he supervised, commanded, and let loose upon the applicants on February 17 as they tried to perform their media duties,” reads in part the lawsuit.

Last month, several journalists were admitted to hospitals with serious injuries which they sustained when military police assaulted them while covering the National Unity Platform (NUP) president, Robert Kyagulanyi as he delivered a petition to United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) offices in Kololo, Kampala.

The group in their affidavits in support of their case noted that on a fateful day while doing their official work, Mr Kyagulanyi and some members of his team were allowed entry into the premises of UNHRC, however, security personnel blocked the media from covering the submissions of the petition.

They further state that they were directed by police to converge in an area called a safe zone, however, in the nick of time a military pickup with men in security uniforms wielding guns, sticks and batons emerged from the back of the safe zone.

“They dramatically hopped off the trucks and came surging towards us and when we sensed danger, we ran to the opposite side,” reads in part Mr Wamala’s affidavit.

“The said military men looked already charged to harm us. One of the officers caught up with me and aimed for my head with a baton which hit me so hard. I lost balance and almost tripped off to the ground thus a sharp excruciating pain followed thereafter,” he further stated.

Ms Namakumbi states that Lt Col Namanya angrily shouted at them ordering them to leave thus letting other military officers run after them.

According to the court documents, the group states that how the court treats their case will set a precedent on how the officers will conduct themselves before journalists. By Juliet Kigongo, Daily Monitor

The P&O European Highlander ferry arrives into the port of Larne, Northern Ireland, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020.   -   Copyright  Peter Morrison/Associated Press 

The European Union will take legal action against the UK over its decision to extend the grace period on food controls between Britain and Northern Ireland, a move Brussels considers "a violation" of the Brexit trade agreement.

In a statement, European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič on Wednesday expressed his "strong concerns" about this "unilateral action" by the British government which, he said, "a clear departure from the constructive approach that has prevailed up until now". 

"Following the UK government's statement today, Vice-President Šefčovič has expressed the EU's strong concerns over the UK's unilateral action, as this amounts to a violation of the relevant substantive provisions of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland and the good faith obligation under the Withdrawal Agreement," the statement said. 

"This is the second time that the UK government is set to breach international law. 

"This also constitutes a clear departure from the constructive approach that has prevailed up until now, thereby undermining both the work of the Joint Committee and the mutual trust necessary for solution-oriented cooperation".

Posting on Twitter, Šefčovič added that he would "be raising our strong concerns" with the UK's Lord David Frost, a Cabinet Office minister for Europe, Brexit and trade and former Brexit chief negotiator. 

The British decision constitutes a "violation" of the provisions of the Northern Ireland Protocol under the EU-Britain Brexit Agreement and the "obligation of good faith" under that agreement.

In order to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland and preserve the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, the protocol allows Northern Ireland to adhere to certain EU rules.

However, this is caused friction between the DUP and the UK government over the need for customs declarations and some checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from mainland Britain.

The UK government decided on Wednesday to extend until 1 October the grace period on the controversial agri-food controls between Britain and Northern Ireland to allow businesses to adapt to the new post-Brexit arrangements.

This is a "temporary" measure designed to avoid major disruptions "as part of a pragmatic and proportionate implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol," Northern Ireland Minister Brandon Lewis stressed in a written statement to Parliament.

Discussions on the subject are continuing with the European Union, he assured.

Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney called the move by the British government as "deeply unhelpful".

In a statement, he said: "At the EU-UK Joint Committee on 24 February, the UK reiterated its commitment to the proper implementation of the Protocol, as well as the implementation of all decisions taken in the Joint Committee in December 2020.

"The decision taken by the British Government today clearly undermines this commitment. A unilateral announcement is deeply unhelpful to building the relationship of trust and partnership that is central to the implementation of the Protocol".

Coveney had met with Lewis and Lord Frost earlier on Wednesday to discuss the issue.

"I made clear to them my regret that the UK had moved in a unilateral way, rather than working in continued partnership with the EU in accordance with the EU-UK joint statements of 11 and 24 February," he added. Euronews

Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Health Mutahi Kagwe reacts after receiving the first batch of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines under the COVAX scheme against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Jomo Kenyatta international airport in Nairobi, Kenya March 3, 2021. © REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
 

Millions of coronavirus shots from the global Covax scheme have arrived in Nigeria, Angola and Kenya, as African countries ramp up their vaccine rollouts.

 

Richer countries have surged ahead with vaccinations but many poorer countries are still awaiting deliveries, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to warn that the crisis cannot end unless everyone can inoculate their populations.

The Covax facility, run by the WHO along with health NGOs, is aiming to supply vaccines to dozens of countries in the first 100 days of 2021, and two billion doses by the end of the year.

While the continent's most populous country Nigeria received almost four million jabs on Tuesday, Angola received more than 600,000 doses and DR Congo was scheduled to get a consignment later, following recent deliveries to Ghana and Ivory Coast. 

Kenya received its first shipment of just over 1 million Covax-funded AstraZeneca/Oxford shots early Wednesday.

 
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However, there are still critical hurdles for the scheme's rollout in vast African countries with sketchy infrastructure and an array of security challenges -- a point addressed by Faisal Shuaib, director of Nigeria's primary healthcare agency.

"States without a functional airport will have their vaccines transported by road using vans with fitted cold cabins, from the nearest airport," he said.

He called the delivery -- which arrived around noon in the capital Abuja -- a "good day for Nigeria" and promised the rollout would begin in earnest on Friday with frontline health workers the first to be inoculated.

Nigerian official Boss Mustapha urged traditional rulers, religious leaders, civil society groups and the media to spread the message that vaccinations were needed, adding: "This is a fight for everyone."

In Angola, where some healthcare workers were vaccinated shortly after the doses were offloaded, the WHO's Djamila Cabral said the arrival of vaccines brought a "stronger hope to save lives", but warned that everyone needed to continue respecting Covid restrictions to beat the pandemic.

70 percent goal 

The almost four million AstraZeneca/Oxford doses received by Nigeria, made by the Serum Institute of India, are the first of 16 million shots that Covax plans to deliver over the coming months to the country of 200 million.

The government said it hoped to vaccinate at least 70 percent of its adult population over the next two years and health officials said more than two million people had already registered for the jab online.

"As the vaccines arrive in batches due to limited supply we will inform Nigerians about who and where to receive the vaccine," Shuaib told reporters.

Nigeria has recorded 1,915 deaths from 156,017 cases since the start of the pandemic and Angola 508 deaths from 20,854 cases -- though official figures in most countries are considered to be underestimates.

A new virus variant has also been discovered in Nigeria, but researchers have not yet determined if it is more contagious or deadly than the original strain.

Last week, Ghana and Ivory Coast were the first African countries to receive vaccines from Covax, an initiative led by the Gavi vaccine alliance, WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) with UNICEF as implementing partner.

Some 237 million AstraZeneca doses are to be delivered by the end of May to 142 participating economies, Covax says. BY NewsWires/(AFP)

A Sudanese passenger plane was forced to make an emergency landing last week after a cat attacked the pilot, local media reported.

It is not clear how the cat stowed away on Tarco Airlines flight, which was scheduled to fly from Khartoum International Airport to the Qatari capital Doha, the New Arab said.

The captain was forced to make an emergency landing just half an hour after take-off as a result, an airport source told local news site Al-Sudani.

The New Arab said it was unable to independently verify the account but flight information available on Qatar's Hamad International Airport showed a delay of 72 minutes, which was the time the incident reportedly took place. It's thought the cat was a stray that had taken refuge in the plane overnight. MEM

Procera’s master distiller Roger Jorgensen is excited by the potential of African juniper

 

Procera, a new high-end, small batch gin from Kenya, hopes to shine a light on African juniper as an interesting alternative to common juniper.

Procera’s master distiller Roger Jorgensen is excited by the potential of African juniper. The first gin in the world to be made with fresh juniper procera berries grown in the highlands of Kenya, from which the gin takes its name, Procera has gone on sale in the UK priced at £70 a bottle.

The use of African rather than common juniper lends Procera, which is distilled and bottled in Nairobi, an earthy, nutty depth and a spicy finish.

In addition to African juniper, Procera is made with nine other botanicals found growing in the African continent, including Madagascan pink pepper, Moroccan orris root and Somali honey.

The gin is housed in 50cl hand-blown glass bottles made by Kenyan artisans. The small batch nature of the project means that only 100 bottles can be made a day, and only 6,000 have thus far been released.

Hoping to expand its footprint this year, the gin is currently on sale in the UK, US, Hong Kong, France and Germany.

Having brought it into the UK and helped it secure listings at bars like Dukes and The Connaught while working for Enotria & Co, spirits specialist Ivan Dixon is now a co-owner of the brand.

Procera’s master distiller, Roger Jorgensen, believes the use of fresh African juniper helps Procera to stand out in a crowded gin market.

“Juniper berries grown in the tropical sun are gorgeous. We pick them when they’re fresh and green, meaning you get a bright, fresh greenness in the taste.

“In my opinion, fresh juniper makes better gin, as it keeps its brightness and offers a true taste of the terroir. When you dry things it doesn’t speak of the terroir in the same way.

“African juniper is nuttier, earthier and more sun-kissed than common juniper, but the greenness is even more of a signature,” Jorgensen said during a Zoom tasting of Procera hosted for the UK trade.

In addition to the brand’s flagship gin, Jorgensen has made two additional expressions – a spicy gin designed to be used in a Negroni and another made solely from African juniper.

Procera is made with fresh juniper procera berries

Of the spicy gin, Jorgensen said: “It has a bright juniper start with a strong umami mid-palate then pepper aromas that pinball around your palate in a long finish. I wanted it to be able to stand its ground in a Negroni and not let the Campari have all the fun.”

Jorgensen is perhaps most excited by his single botanical gin, which he says smells like “standing in a pine forest”. In addition to fresh African juniper, the gin is made with a portion of dried juniper procera, fresh foliage from the trees, which grow at up to 3,500m altitude, and juniper wood.

“We had an ‘aha’ moment when we first tasted it. It blew us away that we could get that level of complexity from a single botanical gin. It’s a true representation of the terroir and the possibilities for it are so exciting,” said Procera’s general manager, Guy Brennan.

“I want to convince South African distillers to use African not European juniper as it’s falling on the ground and going to waste. I’d like it to have protected status like a French AOC,” Brennan added.

He also feels distillers should be experimenting with different types of oak away from the traditional French and American oak widely used in spirits ageing. “African wood can be as good if not better than French and American oak. It’s crazy that the industry only uses two types of wood.

“We’ve been doing trials with different African woods like coconut and mango, which I think have a huge future. I’m excited about what coconut wood does to alcohol – it brings out a leather note that would work well with an agave-based spirit,” Brennan said.

“Mango wood gives you the smell of sweet popcorn when you go to the movies, and would work well with a Bourbon,” he added. The Drinks business

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