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Peacekeepers from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) provide security in Bentiu, South Sudan, June 18, 2017. Photo AP

 

A United Nations rights commission in South Sudan says the government is harassing activists, journalists and their families, limiting their activities, and targeting their work and finances.

In a statement of "concern" issued this week, the United Nations Commission of Human Rights in South Sudan said the pattern of harassment is impeding the already slow pace of achieving peace among feuding factions and stifling public opinion crucial to achieving democracy.

“Civic space in South Sudan is eroding at the accelerating pace, undermining efforts to achieve a sustainable peace,” said Yasmin Sooka, the commission chairwoman.

The government slammed the statement, with a spokesman saying the commission was spreading untruths,

“This U.N. Human Rights Commission, who is monitoring them?" asked Michael Makuei, South Sudan's information minister. "Who is supervising them? They just sit in their offices here in Juba and they write because they must write something controversial to prove that they are doing their job, so that they continue in their job."

The commission blames government security officers for a continuing crackdown that it says has forced some prominent activists to flee the country.

The commission says those include James David Kolok, a member of the technical committee to conduct a consultative process on truth, reconciliation and healing, and Wani Michael, who has acted as a youth representative on the national constitution amendment committee.

Andrew Clapham, one of the commissioners, said the government’s targeting of high-profile human rights defenders “will have a chilling effect on civil society, and will discourage public participation.”

He said government actions will undermine confidence in the work on transitional justice, framing a constitution, and setting up national elections, which Clapham said are essential to the success of the transition set out by the 2018 Revitalized Peace Agreement.

The commission says the latest restrictions and acts of harassment began after the creation of the opposition Peoples Coalition for Civil Action in July.

The security clampdown accelerated after a planned nationwide government protest in August fizzled amid what activists say was an intentional internet outage and warnings from security officials of serious consequences against organizers if the demonstration happened.

Since then, some activists say their phone service has been disrupted and bank accounts frozen and journalists say they have been increasingly harassed.

A key parliament member recently said that journalists should be restricted in covering the newly formed parliament.

Agents also detained a government broadcaster after he allegedly declined to report news about recent presidential decrees on the South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation airwaves.

In addition, three journalists recently were detained and a radio station was closed as the government clamped down on the August protests.

Government spokesman Makuei says the government could not allow the planned protests by the PCCA, which he described as “enemies.” - Waakhe Simon Wudu, Voice of America

 

PRESIDENT BIDEN:  I’m happy to have the President of Kenya here, President Kenyatta.  It’s an honor to welcome you to the White House, to the Oval Office.  Good to see you again.
 
And, you know, the U.S.-Kenya strategic partnership is essential — we both, I think, believe is essential to addressing key regional and global challenges.
 
And I want to thank Kenya for your — thank you for your leadership in defending the peace, security, and democratic instincts of the region and your country.  You’re doing a heck of a job. 
 
And now you are — you know, Kenya is currently the President of the U.N. Security Council. 
 
PRESIDENT KENYATTA:  That’s right.  That’s right.
 
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  I mean, thanks for letting us stay in.
 
PRESIDENT KENYATTA:  (Laughs.) 
 
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  But all kidding aside, thank you.  Thank you very much. 
 
And we’re continuing our shared fight against COVID.  The United States has donated 2.8 million doses of vaccine to Kenya as part of the 50 million doses we’ve donated to the African Union. 
 
And I’m proud to announce that — today, that we’re making an additional historic one-time donation of 17 more million doses of J&J vaccine to the AU, and we’re going to be sending some more of these by the end of the year to Kenya.
 
And today we’re going to discuss what more Kenya and the United States can do together on the Horn of Africa to advance peace and security.
 
And we’re also going to talk about strengthening the financial transparency and accelerating economic growth.  You’ve spoken to that, Mr. President; I want to talk to you about that.  And the fight against climate change.
 
So, our nations share a deep commitment to fairness and to respect and equity.  And I’m committed to further elevating our ties with Kenya and nations across Africa as a whole.  But Kenya is key to this.
 
So, welcome, Mr. President.  And I’m delighted to have you here.
 
PRESIDENT KENYATTA:  Thank you very much, Mr. President.  And let me once again say it’s a great pleasure to see you once again.
 
I don’t know whether many will recall, but President Biden, in a former life, visited Kenya where we had an opportunity to meet when he was Vice President, when he’d come over — again, on issues related to strengthening the partnership and the relationship between our two countries.  And it’s really a great pleasure and honor to see you again.
 
Let me also take this opportunity, through you, to thank your government and the people of the United States.  During this very difficult time, the United States has done its best to step up in terms of not only helping Kenya, but the African continent in general, with regard to access to vaccines.
 
I’m happy to hear your new announcement of that increase, because as many of you will know, as a continent, we are lagging well behind the rest of the world in terms of being able to vaccinate our people. 
 
So, any additional support, like the President has just mentioned, is greatly welcomed, and we look forward to that continued partnership. 
 
We’re also very closely partnering, especially in regard to the fight against terrorism globally.  The United States has been a very strong partner to Kenya in that particular fight.  And this is an area, again, I’m hoping to have an opportunity to further discuss with the President. 
 
We are also keenly very grateful with his strong position, especially with regard to climate change.  This is an area where Kenya has made tremendous progress in her own right and where we are firmly committed to the Paris Agreement, and we’re glad to see the United States has now rejoined. 
 
And we look forward to working very closely together on that particular agenda, which, as you know, our country, our continent is the least in terms of emitting but pays the highest price.  So, we welcome your leadership in this area, and I look forward to having the opportunity to discuss that further with you.
 
Keenly also wanting to engage, as we have been already, with the President on the issue of trade and investment between our two countries.  This, I believe, is vital not only in terms of further entrenching American interests on the continent, but also in helping us also achieve our social-economic agenda.  So that’s another agenda that we are also going to be engaged in.
 
So, Mr. President, let me just say it’s wonderful to see you again.  It’s wonderful to be back here.  And I look forward to fruitful deliberations as we move forward. 
 
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  So do I.  Thank you.
 
Thank you all.
 
3:19 P.M. EDT - The White House

Photo via MyjoyOnline.com

 

The Rwandan High Commissioner to Ghana, Aisa Kirabo Kacyira has paid a courtesy call on the Director-General (DG) of the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), Alexander Dodoo, to discuss ways the two agencies can work together efficiently.

The visit was to explore ways the two institutions could implement the policy objectives inherent in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), among other trade-related issues.

The High Commissioner paid the visit to the Authority and was accompanied by the First Secretary and Head of Economic Diplomacy at the Rwandan High Commission, Jackson Ngabonziza.

Dr. Kacyira said Ghana and Rwanda had so much in common, including a stable, democratic and safe environment, which are a bedrock upon which both countries could collaborate effectively.

“Please consider the High Commission as partners and not just diplomats so we can both learn from each other,” she said.

“Rwandans value the help Ghana has given to the country during the time of need and the country has made strides in improving trade with other African countries and we are very glad Ghana is not only hosting the AfCFTA secretariat but is implementing it,” the diplomat noted.

The DG of GSA, on his part, expressed his excitement of a potential partnership and pledged the organisation’s unflinching support in ensuring that the two countries improve their trade relations.

“We will love a bilateral partnership between the two agencies. We will love to institute an exchange programme between the standards institutions of both countries so we can learn from each other,” he noted.

The Ag. Director of Standards at the GSA, Joyce Okoree, revealed that the GSA had been working closely with African Regional Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) to harmonise some ARSO standards for the successful implementation of the AfCFTA.

The Head of Public Relations of the Authority, Peter Martey Agbeko, in a brief remark said the potential partnership between the two outfits would take GSA to another level and he is looking forward to reconnecting with the people of Rwanda; having been part of a UNAMIR, sponsored team of journalists who paid a working visit to Rwanda in August 1994.

In the coming days, a MoU will be signed by the two organisations to signify the beginning of a formal collaboration. It’s also expected that exchange of personnel will follow for training in their respective countries. - GNA/MyjoyOnline.com

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