Taking intel seriously

first_img2019 did not take off to a pleasant start as it witnessed three devastating terror strikes in three different parts of the world within a period of three months commencing from mid-February. As the fifth month begins, the world hopes that coming times remain safe and secure from terror attacks. The element of intelligence needs to play a critical part in the near future as in the preceding months, it did not quite measure up to professional expectations. Also Read – A special kind of bondThe year began with a deadly explosion on February 14 killing more than 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel when its convoy was hit by a suicide bomber in Pulwama (Jammu & Kashmir) who was inspired and used by Pakistan-based notorious Islamic terror outfit, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). Its elusive head Masood Azhar had earlier warned about a likely strike as his focus has always been on Kashmir. Soon after the incident, questions arose if there was adequate intelligence supplied by the state and other intelligence agencies to the enforcers to prevent the unfortunate act. There are two exclusive and dedicated central agencies as arms of the intelligence apparatus to garner hard intelligence and share the same with the concerned to neutralise any untoward happening. Other than these, there is military intelligence and other subsidiary setups including a full-fledged state intelligence formation for gathering hard inputs to act against the forces detrimental to national security. Also Read – Insider threat managementWith such a robust and well-structured Intelligence set up in place, it is hard to fathom why Pulwama strike could not be prevented? Or it is equally possible that there was intelligence available but the relevant agencies didn’t act on time even after the receipt of the precious preventable inputs. The state intelligence officials of J&K are very dedicated and professional. Given the sensitivity and strategic significance of the state, they seem to be forever vigilant. However, the Governor of the state, soon after the blast, had admitted that there was no intelligence available that such a deadly thing was coming. It would, therefore, seem there was something amiss somewhere either in the coordination between the multiple intelligence agencies or some lack of oversight or possibly a huge communication gap. Identifying the perpetrator of the incident who rammed the car in the CRPF convoy or loading such huge quantity of explosives in the car, all such likelihood went unnoticed. Such gaps need a diligent study and tight measures put in place at the earliest to prevent any recurrence. Now we come to the Christ Church (New Zealand) killings of March 15, coming exactly after a month of the Pulwama incident. Here, the perpetrator is of different faith but common feature with those abetting Pulwama terror is only acerbic hatred towards another faith. Here the killer was a far-right Christian and the victims were all Muslims, and more than fifty in number. Coming to the Intelligence part of it, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern admitted that intelligence available for the happening of this ghastly incident was grossly misplaced. At the same time, she said that there were warnings about the planning of misadventures by the right-wing activists but they were not taken seriously. Jacinda had also admitted subsequently that she had received a precious document in hand which could have prevented the mosques’ massacre but it was too late as by then, Brenton Tarrant, the Australian killer had done his job. Intelligence was there yet it couldn’t measure about the time leading to the avoidable killing of the innocents. Similarly, the Australian and New Zealand intelligence agencies didn’t have any whiff that Brenton had explored identifying enemies of Christians in 2016 itself in Turkey and the issue was politically exploited by President Erdogan in his election campaign of March 31 this year. Similarly, there was no intelligence available with the Australians that Brenton had remitted money to his Austrian far-right friends sharing the same ideology. All escaped the radar of the intelligence services. It would be pertinent to point out that in 2016, New Zealand spent around 179 million worth US dollars to rejuvenate the intelligence services but obviously the hefty sum invested didn’t commensurate the results. Meanwhile, April 21 (Easter Sunday) saw 253 chilling deaths when Islamic fanatics, inspired by ISIS, killed Christian worshippers in several churches and foreign tourists in many popular hotels in various parts of Sri Lanka. Here, a war of words and acrimonious exchange of controversial statements are all over on the role of the Intelligence services immediately in the aftermath of the carnage. Both, President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have already begun a blame game living in a deniability mode that intelligence warning of the church and hotel blasts were not shared with them. The self-inflicted perceptions seem preposterous as how can the two top men of the government be kept in dark about such a vital input having bearing on the national security? It may be reiterated that as early as on April 11, Indian intelligence had alerted about the upcoming tragedy. It went unheeded and it is now understood that there is severe infighting within the intelligence set up itself that national security interests were harmed. It would appear that intelligence officers are owing allegiance to different political masters resulting in such a chaotic situation. Meanwhile, authoritative sources confirm that President Sirisena was apprised of the intelligence lead and three briefing sessions were held. It is further confirmed that senior DIG Nilantha Jaywardane met the President and briefed him personally on April 11 and April 16. Subsequent to receipt of additional intelligence on April 20, Jayawardene briefed the President on phone. His denial seems far from reality and in the internal tussle in the establishment, Defence Secretary, Masiri Fernando, and the IGP Pujith Jayasundara were made scapegoats. This trend is so unhealthy for the crucial intelligence services. Further, glaring intelligence failure in Sri Lankan intelligence was noticed when in a recent raid in Kattankudy, huge cache of arms and ammunition plus explosives were recovered as well as a fierce encounter ensued killing fifteen persons. All were, unknown to the intelligence of Sri Lanka. Reasons are not easily comprehensible. Since 1980, Saudi money was pumped in leading to mushrooming of 60 mosques in a city of 45,000 people. Wahabism writ runs aggressively and the local population seems to be badly radicalised with the venom of Wahabism. Saudis are also known to be considering establishing an Islamic university in the region so heavily indoctrinated. In the same vein, activities of the National Towheed Jamaath (NTJ) and its linkages in Tamil Nadu and Kerala escaped the intelligence radar. In sum, it’s the intelligence failure that caused so many killings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. Perhaps in this context, former minister and ex-Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is often credited for having exterminated LTTE terrorism in 2009, recently stated that he would contest the next elections and if elected, on priority, revamp the intelligence networking in the island country by improving surveillance capability. He is bang on so it seems as that’s what is required. We, therefore, see in the comparison of the three terror attacks that intelligence continues to be a key factor and cannot be ignored. That said, intelligence collection is not an easy job. Failures are simple to project but successes are difficult to list as faceless intelligence personally ordinarily go into oblivion unsung and unnoticed. Their services need recognition and the officers credited. On their part, they need to remain apolitical. In the recent past, France, Belgium, and other countries were also struck by serious intelligence failures. This time ISIS and its affiliates (also the far-right elements) seem to have South Asia as their prime target. If intelligence is not put on top gear, fatalities will only increase making the world bereft of safety and tranquil. The time has possibly come for all members of the intelligence community at the global level to sit and brainstorm to uproot the menace of terror. At least, a sincere and visible attempt can be made. (The author is a retired IPS officer, a security analyst and a former National Security Advisor to Mauritius. The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img read more

In South Delhi basic issues of water supply traffic congestion take centrestage

first_imgNew Delhi: In the sweeping South Delhi landscape largely comprising urban villages and unauthorised colonies, ask residents what concerns them the most and the reply inevitably is water supply, sewer lines and traffic congestion. While political parties are raising the issues of nationalism, unemployment and full statehood status for Delhi for the Lok Sabha election, the residents of the high-profile constituency insist that they need someone who takes care of their day-to-day problems first. Also Read – Odd-Even: CM seeks transport dept’s views on exemption to women, two wheelers, CNG vehicles For Bhagwanji, an elderly painter, the ideal MP will be the one who takes care of the electricity and water woes he faces in his village in Tughlaqabad. “I don’t have an electricity connection, so I need to pay Rs 300 every month for a connection and Rs 300 for water. This makes a big dent in my pocket as my work is seasonal.” Water supply remains one of the biggest concerns for the residents of South Delhi. Some places in Mehrauli, Chattarpur and Sangam Vihar still experience water scarcity. While the people admit that the supply has improved a lot over the last two years, yet, they say, a lot remains to be done. Also Read – More good air days in Delhi due to Centre’s steps: Javadekar Mumina, who works as a domestic help, said she has to buy water from tankers as sometimes they do not get water for a month. “The situation gets really bad during the summer in Sangam Vihar. While Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal has done a lot of work for the people but these basic issues still need to be sorted,” she said. Baby Prasad nods in agreement. “We want someone to work for the daily issues first. I live in Chattarpur which has a water supply problem. Some work has been done, like piped water has reached some places, but it is yet to reach the inner lanes. Sewer lines are also urgently needed there,” said Prasad, who works as a cook. Before the delimitation exercise carried out in 2008, the constituency comprised a number of upscale areas, but now it predominantly has urban villages, unauthorised and resettlement colonies and slums which present a number of infrastructural challenges. It has 10 assembly segments — Chattarpur, Palam, Bijwasan, Kalkaji, Mehrauli, Deoli, Ambedkar Nagar, Sangam Vihar, Tughlaqabad and Badarpur. The seat is witnessing a triangular contest among AAP’s Raghav Chadha, sitting BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri and Congress’s Vijender Singh. The AAP, which is seeking to wrest the seat from the BJP, has been raising local issues before the people. In the 2014 parliamentary elections, the Congress did not win even a single seat in Delhi and it is seeking to reverse its fortunes this time by fielding among others Olympic medal-winning boxer Singh, who is making his political debut. The civic issue of parking and traffic congestion in the heavily-populated constituency also weigh on people’s mind. Many complain about the unending jams that they have to negotiate, especially during rush hour, and say these matters haven’t been paid heed to. “The Mehrauli-Badarpur Road is always choc-a-bloc. When I return from my office which is in Gurgaon, the Khanpur area always has jams and something needs to be done about it,” said Cyril Sebastian, who works in a media house. Bidhuri said that if he is elected, within 100 days the fourth phase of metro will be started which was supposed to be launched in 2016 from Jaitpur to Aerocity. He also promised to set up water treatment plants in the required areas in the constituency within six months. He claimed that there was scarcity of water under the Sheila Diskhit-led Congress government and many people did not have access to filtered water which he made available. The incumbent BJP MP told PTI that during his tenure, a Delhi University college was opened for the first time in 40 years and the Mahipalpur underpass on the Delhi-Gurgaon e-way was constructed, besides the setting up of a rugby stadium near IGNOU. Bidhuri is a prominent leader from the Gurjar community in the constituency which is a Jat-Gurjar stronghold. Niharika Goyal, a journalist living in Deoli, believes that caste will play an important role in the elections. According to her, the competition will narrow down to the BJP and the Congress now that the grand old party has fielded Singh, a Jat, against Bidhuri. Chadha believes the politics of caste and religion has taken a backseat in a place like Delhi. “I personally don’t think it is going to play a role. The first on people’s mind would be comparing promises made by the political parties,” he said. The AAP candidate said the dominant issues in South Delhi are access to water, electricity, education, healthcare education, sewage, roads, and this time the people will vote on the basis of the local factors affecting their lives. He said if voted to power, he would ensure the regularisation of unauthorised colonies, provide each colony and cluster with adequate supply of piped water and also work on issues related to schools. Chadha also said he would also work on the issue of traffic congestion on the Mehrauli-Badarpur road, which goes through eight of the 10 assembly segments in the constituency. Singh said the issues he will focus on are youth and sports in the constituency. “I am genuinely concerned about employment, which I think is a prominent issue for the youth. And being a sportsperson, I am also keen on working towards developing sports infrastructure. It’s about time we had good infrastructure so that budding athletes can actually flourish,” he said. As the Olympic bronze medallist is preparing for his first bout in the political arena, away from the lights of the boxing ring, some people think the apart from the caste factor, his celebrity status will also attract votes for the Congress. The constituency has been represented by popular leaders such as Sushma Swaraj, Madan Lal Khurana and Vijay Kumar Malhotra in the past. In 1999, former prime minister Manmohan Singh also contested from the seat but he lost to Malhotra by 30,000 votes. The constituency currently has 20,65,755 voters and it will go to polls on May 12.last_img read more

Morocco Grants Fishing Authorizations to European Boats

Rabat  – The joint committee in charge of the implementation of the Morocco-EU fisheries agreement granted fishing authorizations to European boats which met all requirements, following its first meeting on Thursday and Friday in Rabat. The holding of this session, a requisite for the EU boats to start their fishing activities, is part of the implementation of the said agreement which was adopted by the two parties on July 15, said a statement by the agriculture ministry.The session touched also on the approval of provisions related to the technical and financial aspects of the new accord such as the boarding procedure for Moroccan sailors, conditions of obligatory unloading of catches for each category of ships, and supervision of European ships. After the meeting, fishing licenses were granted to European boats which met all requirements set by the said committee, the statement said. read more

Uber Morocco Defends Its Right to Operate in Casablanca

Rabat – Uber‘s push into Morocco is proving to be a bumpy ride.Less than twenty-four hours after the Wilaya of Casablanca deemed as “illegal” the activity of the ride-sharing service in Morocco, the company replied by publishing a statement on Wednesday stressing that its information service acts as a liaison between customers and drivers.“We respect the local law and our technology is open to any type of vehicle that has a transport license,” says Uber, a service that allows any driver to use their private vehicle to provide taxi services in Morocco’s largest city Casablanca. “Several transport laws were written before the existence of smartphones and applications and we want to work with regulators to adapt the regulation to the new technologies,” Uber said, adding that the company does not own cars and the drivers have all the licensing and certification needed to provide transportation services.“We are open to any constructive dialogue on this topic,” said Uber.On Tuesday, the Wilaya of Casablanca said in a statement carried by Maghreb Arab Press agency (MAP) that Uber Morocco is not allowed to continue with their business, promising stern measures against drivers and those responsible in case of resistance.This is not the first time Uber’s activity was deemed illegal by authorities. In South Korea, authorities said they will arrest drivers on the spot if the Uber service become fully operational. France and Spain also ordered a ban on the Uber taxi service following nationwide protests by taxi drivers.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission read more

Turkeys President Stops Man From Jumping Off Bosporus Bridge

Taroudant  – Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly saved the life of a man as he sought to jump off the Bosporus Bridge in Istanbul on Friday.Television footage showed Erdogan’s motorcade stopped in the middle of Istanbul’s Bosporus Bridge that links Europe with Asia, where a man was threatening to commit suicide by plunging into the water.Erdogan’s staff were seen speaking to the sobbing man before they pulled him over the fence to safety and escorted him to meet the president in his car.The man, identified as Vezir Cakras, was suffering depression due to family problems and wanted to put an end to his life. Cakras started sobbing at the sight of Erdogan and kissed his hand in a traditional Turkish sign of respect.The video footage showed the man shaking hands and talking with the president, who allegedly convinced him to not think of committing suicide again.According to Turkish News Agency Anadolu, the president made some phone calls to the authorities and gave orders to help the desperate man.An official, who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said Erdogan promised to help the victim.Turkish media reported that Cakras came to Istanbul from Siirt, a city in eastern Turkey, which is the hometown of the president’s wife Emine Erdo?an and where the president was elected as lawmaker in the past. read more

With Trump the Idea of Palestinian State Vanishes Israeli Minister

Rabat – For Israeli Education Minister, Naftali Bennett, the idea of a Palestinian state vanished when Donald Trump was elected U.S. President last Tuesday.According to Aljazeera, the Israeli politician, heads right-wing religious party Israeli Home, called upon Israelis to abandon any idea of allowing Palestinians to have their own state.He explained that this would be possible now that Trump won the election in the United States, “This is the position of the President Elect … the era of a Palestinian state is over.” Bennett is not the only voice calling for the disregard of the right of Palestinians to establish an independent state. Ayelet Shaked, Israel’s Justice Minister and member of the same Orthodox Jewish party, has also called on Trump to overlook  previous US policies and move Israel’s capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The minister is hopeful that Trump will follow through on his promises.Relocation of the Israeli capital to Jerusalem is supported by another Israeli cabinet member, Tzipi Hotovely, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.This relocation would effectively cancel the possibility of a Palestinian state since the Palestinians’ desired location for a state capital is Eastern Jerusalem.  This would not be possible if Israel take ownership of the entire city.Israel’s opposition leader, Isaac Herzog, who cheered for Trump’s victory at the polls, addressed him saying:“I am confident in the security and economic alliance between the US and Israel.  As our strongest ally, we will be strengthened under your presidency.”Israel’s Prime Minister, in his turn, described Donald Trump as “Israel’s true friend.”Edited by Constance Guindon read more

Nick Jonas to Perform at Mawazine Festival in Rabat

Rabat – American singer, songwriter, producer, and actor Nick Jonas will perform at the 16th edition of Mawazine Music Festival, to be held in Rabat (May 12-20), the event’s organizer Maroc Cultures Association announced on Wednesday.Nick Jonas was born in Dallas, Texas, in 1992. He began his career in theater as a young boy and was offered a recording contract as a teenager. Jonas formed the boy band the Jonas Brothers with two of his siblings and found great success while working with the Disney Company. Beyond the band, Jonas has gained notoriety as a solo artist and expanded his acting career to TV and movies.The Jonas Brothers’ self-titled album was released in 2007, reached the Top 5 on the Billboard charts and went double platinum. The album’s single, “S.O.S.,” soared to No. 1 on iTunes. Nick Jonas’s career extends beyond his identity with his brothers and he demonstrated that in 2010 when he embarked on his first solo tour with his side project, The Administration.While balancing a recording career and performing in numerous musicals, Jonas has also worked as a television actor. He began by starring in Disney Channel’s TV movies Camp Rock (2008) and Camp Rock 2 (2010) with Demi Lovato.Mawazine “World Rhythms” is a music festival that takes place annually in Rabat, featuring many international and local music artists. read more

Loophole in proposed passenger rights bill could put air travellers at risk

A passenger rights company says a loophole in proposed regulations could allow airlines to get off the hook for compensation and put air travellers at risk.AirHelp notes in an open letter to the government that the rules impose no obligation on airlines to pay customers for delays or cancellations if they were caused by technical problems discovered on the tarmac.AirHelp’s chief legal officer Christian Nielsen says the regulation fails to incentivize airlines to preempt pre-flight problems, jeopardizing passenger safety.Transport Minister Marc Garneau has insisted that airlines won’t mess around with safety and dismissed the idea they will look for ways to worm out of compensation. He has pointed to the European Union as having similar regulations.Nielsen and passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs dispute that view, insisting airlines in the EU remain accountable for mechanical malfunctions, including those found right before take-off.Barring the loophole, the government’s long-promised passenger bill of rights would see passengers who are bumped from overbooked flights or forced to sit through long delays receive up to $2,400 in compensation.The Canadian Press read more

15 Movies Nominated For The Tangier National Film Festival

Rabat – Fifteen movies have been nominated to compete at the 19th edition of the national film festival, which will take place in Tangier between March 9-17.In its most recent press release, the CCM (Moroccan Cinematographic Center) revealed that after considering 23 films, the selection committee, which was composed of academics, journalists, critics, and screen writers, among others, has nominated fifteen movies—13 fictions and 2 documentaries—for the national film festival.The Nominated Movies are: Fictions1)        “Volubilis” by Faouzi Bensaidi2)        “Razzia” by Nabil Ayouch3)        “Burn out” by Nour-Eddine Lakhmari4)       “Apatride” by Narjiss Nejjar5)       “Jahilia” by HiHicham Lasri6)       “Les voix du desert” by Daoud Aoulad Syad7)       “Lahnech” by Driss Mrini8)       “Le papillon” by Hamid Basket9)       “Kilikis, la cite des hiboux” by Az Alarabe Alaoui10)   “Le cris de l’âme” by Abdelilah El Jaouhary11)   “Tarantella” by Rabii El Jawhari12)   “Larmes de sable” by Aziz Salmy13)   “Korssa” by Abdellah Toukouna Documentaries1)      “House in the fields” by Tala Hadid2)      “Silence des cellules” by Mohamed nabil read more

Ahlam Alshamsi to Donate Mawazine Proceeds to Hospital

By Intissar FaouziRabat- Emirati singer Ahlam Alshamsi has announced that she will donate everything she receives for her performance at the Mawazine Festival to a Moroccan hospital in solidarity with the ongoing boycott campaign.After Moroccans launched a campaign in late April to boycott three major companies selling dairy, bottled water, and fuel, in response to increased prices, some called for the  Mawazine Festival to be boycotted as well. Alshamsi, a judge on the Arab version of The Voice and Arab Idol, has come under criticism from Moroccans who have accused her of hypocrisy and not loving Moroccan people. In response, Alshamsi said on her social network pages that she sympathizes with the demands expressed by a number of Moroccans to boycott the Mawazine Festival, but she cannot refuse any invitation to meet her Moroccan audience. Furthermore, she said, Mawazine is a cultural and humanitarian festival that encourages tourism in Morocco.Alshamsi wrote on her Instagram account “I am participating with you in this campaign by giving my payment as a donation to one of the hospitals in Morocco. My participation is a support and a declaration of sincerity and love that I carry for you, to meet the Moroccan public is the real gain that I can receive #mawazine.”Alshamsi will perform on the final day of the 17th Mawazine Festival, Saturday, June 30, on the Nahda stage. read more

Casablanca Police Arrest Woman for Kidnapping 5YearOld Girl

Rabat – The judicial police of Casablanca arrested a 46-year-old woman today who allegedly kidnapped and locked up a minor girl.The statement from the General Directorate of National Security (DGSN) said a missing 5-year-old girl was found in good health after four days of searching. The communique added that her parents had filed a complaint about their daughter’s disappearance under suspicious circumstances. The police determined the identity of the suspect and arrested her at her home in Hay Rahma in Casablanca.The girl had been kidnapped from a market in Al-Wifaq in the Hay Al Hassani area of Casablanca.The suspect has been placed in custody for further investigation  of the criminal act and the possibility of the suspect’s involvement in other crimes. DGSN statement said the arrest was carried out in cooperation with Morocco’s General Directorate for Territorial Surveillance (DGST). read more

New Mexico seeks bigger slice of outdoor recreation economy

SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico will seek out a bigger share of the nation’s outdoor recreation economy by creating a special division dedicated to expanding the state’s foothold in the lucrative industry.At a state park in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed legislation that creates a special outdoor recreation division. The plan takes cues from other states in the U.S. West such as Colorado that actively promote outdoor adventure as an engine of economic development and a resource for public health and consciousness about natural wonders.Sponsors of the New Mexico bill including state Rep. Angelica Rubio of Las Cruces say they’ve added a unique component: a public-private grant fund to underwrite outdoor experiences for children from low-income households and diverse backgrounds, who might not otherwise have the time or means to explore nature.“There is no book big enough to be able to teach what the outdoors can,” Rubio said. “I really want kids to get their hands and feet dirty.”Rubio expressed confidence that outdoor apparel companies would help sponsor grants for children.The Democrat-led Legislature approved an initial $200,000 in general fund spending to set up the new division within the Economic Development Department. Another $100,000 pays for infrastructure and trail projects by the state’s Youth Conservation Corps, and the state is providing $100,000 in seed money to the grant fund for childhood programs.Lujan Grisham recalled learning to ski and finding her love for geology as a child in the mountains outside Santa Fe, and acknowledged many children don’t have the same opportunities.“This is about providing New Mexicans equal access,” she said.On hand to pledge support for the initiatives were several state agency secretaries and Public Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richards — who together oversee more than 30 state parks and vast tracks of trust land that are traversed by the Continental Divide Trail, archaeological sites and prime hunting grounds for big game.Tourism Secretary Jen Schroer ticked off a list of the state’s enviable outdoor attractions that include 17 national parks and monuments.Morgan Lee, The Associated Press read more

Meknes ChildKiller Reconstructs the Crime Scene

On July 14, amid heightened security, the 35-year-old main suspect in the rape and murder of the 10-year-old Reda in Meknes reconstructed the scene of his crime.The child was found dead and abandoned in a building near Sahrij Swani in Meknes on July 11.Police who found the victim’s body reported that he had been choked with an electric cable. His body showed signs of sexual and physical violence. The main suspect, known as “Biour”, has a criminal record. The suspect’s record includes premeditated murder as well as physical and sexual assaults.Read Also: Moroccan Police Arrest Man Suspected of Rape, Murdering a ChildAccording to a Youtube video of the crime scene reconstruction, “Biour” lured the victim to the door of the abandoned building. He then forcibly pushed the victim inside by choking him as he resisted.Once inside the building, “Biour” tied his victim’s hands and raped him alternately with another suspect, known as “Haska.” The latter is still subject to a search warrant.Afterwards, “Biour” hit the child’s head three times using a wooden stick, followed by “Haska” who did the same with a stone.At the end, “Biour” tied his victim’s neck to the iron bars of a window using an electric cable ensuring the death of the child.The third suspect, referred to as “Ramjani,” is a 17-year-old minor. While “Biour” spontaneously told the crime’s details, in the video, “Ramjani” appeared reluctant.In the crime scene footage, “Ramjani,” standing at the door of the building, said that he had fled the scene before the victim was killed. “Ramjani” stated that he had discovered the body of the deceased after he tried to discover what was happening in the building.He then admitted that he had found the first two suspects raping the child and “could not run to inform the police.” “I feared they would do the same to me; I did not do it, they forced me to rape him too,” he added.The Public Prosecutor’s Office in the court of appeal in Meknes ordered the detention of both of the accused in “Toulal” prison pending trial. read more

Morocco Submits Film Adam For Best International Feature at Oscars

Rabat – The Moroccan Cinema Center (MCC) has selected Maryam Touzani’s directorial feature debut, Adam, to represent Morocco at the prestigious Oscar Awards. The film has been entered into for preselection in the category of Best International Feature Film.Although Morocco has not had great success in the Oscars so far and a Moroccan movie has not passed the shortlist stage since 1977, Adam has received wide critical acclaim since it entered the festival circuit making supporters hopeful.The movie, which will make its debut in theatres in January 2020, spotlighted the controversial topic of unwed mothers in Morocco. The story was inspired by a pregnant woman who was going door-to-door asking for work in Touzani’s hometown of Tangier. “In a country like mine, it’s the biggest shame for a woman to have a child out of wedlock,” said Touzani. “She doesn’t want to disappoint her parents so she cannot tell the truth.”Touzani also explained her reasoning behind featuring taboo topics: “There is a facade that everything is all right on the outside even if people are tormented inside. It is good to let in some air and light, and people are relieved and happy things are being spoken about.”Whether Adam proceeds to the next stage or not, Touzani will be at the Oscars. Touzani recently joined the Oscar’s Academy, in the “Screenwriters” category. As part of the role, she will be responsible for selecting the nominees and winners in the category for the upcoming Academy Awards.She is joined by three other Moroccans already in the Academy, actor Saïd Taghmaoui, director Nabil Ayouch, and producer Khadija Alami.Read also: Brice El Glaoui Bexter: Morocco’s Rising Star Discusses Film Industry, His Career read more

Conquering hunger key to peace UN food agency chief tells Washington officials

16 March 2007Conquering hunger is critical to peace and prosperity, the head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has told United States officials, urging stepped-up efforts to address the global problem. “Today and every day for the foreseeable future, 18,000 children will die of hunger and hunger-related ailments – one every five seconds,” WFP Executive Director James T. Morris told a US Senate hearing on food aid yesterday. “The number of hungry people – now estimated at 852 million worldwide – is growing by some 4 million a year. In spite of record contributions from our donors – led by the United States – the resources available to fight hunger are simply not keeping pace. We are not winning this war.” Mr. Morris said the problem was “not only an affront to conscience in an era of plenty, but an untenable situation we ignore at our own risk.”Investing in good nutrition for the youngest children and their mothers would break the cycle of “inherited hunger” that handicaps economic development in poor countries, he said. “This is the single best investment you can make in a better future for the poorest countries, indeed for all of us.” The WFP chief, who was addressing the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, steps down in April from his post running the world’s largest provider of food aid. He said his five-year tenure was one of unprecedented challenge for WFP, citing huge disasters that ranged from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami to the explosion of violence in the Darfur region of Sudan.He also singled out the devastating impact of climate change and HIV/AIDS on food security, and the fact that both commodity and transport costs had risen sharply over that same period. Mr. Morris said the US, the single-largest donor to WFP, could lead the world in making that extra investment, which he said could help reverse the negative global trends fuelling the continued rise in the numbers of hungry poor. “President Eisenhower once said you can change the world with wheat, and not weapons. I believe that’s true,” he said. read more

Grave violations against children increasing in Somalia UN report says

11 June 2008The number of grave human rights violations against children in Somalia, from acts of murder and rape to the recruitment of child soldiers to the denial of humanitarian access to those in need, have all increased in the past year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today in a new report to the Security Council. The number of grave human rights violations against children in Somalia, from acts of murder and rape to the recruitment of child soldiers to the denial of humanitarian access to those in need, have all increased in the past year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today in a new report to the Security Council.The Secretary-General accused both the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and anti-Government groups of committing serious violations against children, and said that children are being killed and maimed as a result of military actions by Ethiopian troops in confrontations with the anti-Government forces as well as with civilian demonstrators.“The widespread use of children in almost all fighting forces in the country was noted, particularly in Mogadishu,” the Secretary-General reported, adding that the recruitment of child soldiers is also increasing, although exact numbers cannot be verified.Mr. Ban called on the TFG and opposition groups to renounce the recruitment and use of children in their armed forces, and urged such forces in Somalia “to make all efforts to minimize civilian casualties during fighting.”Somalia has recently seen fighting between the TFG, which is backed by Ethiopian forces, against various anti-Government groups, including remnants of the Union of Islamic Courts, Al-Shabaab insurgents and Hawiye clan militias.Since February 2007, 340,000 have fled fighting in Mogadishu, while 1.9 million Somalis – about 20 per cent of the population – are in need of humanitarian assistance.The Secretary-General noted that reported cases of rape and other sexual assaults against children rose from 115 last year to 128 this year. He called for investigations into all incidents of grave child rights violations and also urged the TFG to end the detention of children and to control the proliferation of small arms.In addition, the Secretary-General urged the Ethiopian forces to “refrain from indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian objects, including but not limited to schools and hospitals,” and called on the Ethiopian authorities to investigate allegations of grave violations against children by their forces.The TFG “is also urged to engage in a genuine reconciliation process with all factions within the country to create conditions for security and stability.”Yesterday, Mr. Ban welcomed a peace deal that was initiated in neighbouring Djibouti between the TFG and the opposition Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia, following 10 days of United Nations-facilitated talks. read more

Human rights defenders in DR Congo under threat says UN expert

Human rights defenders, including lawyers and members of non-governmental organizations, “face illegitimate restrictions of their right to core freedoms, i.e. freedoms of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association,” said Margaret Sekaggya, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. “Defenders, in particular journalists, who report on human rights abuses committed by State and non-State actors are killed, threatened, tortured or arbitrarily arrested, and their offices are raided,” she said in a statement issued following her 21 May to 3 June visit to the country.Ms. Sekaggya expressed “specific concern at the plight of women human rights defenders whose activities are often hindered by the authorities and who may face discrimination from their male colleagues.”She issued a list of recommended actions to be taken by the Government, the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, known as MONUC, and the international community to protect the human rights advocates. The Government should “investigate all human rights abuses against defenders, hold fair trials of alleged perpetrators and sentence them if convicted,” she stated.In addition, the Government should openly “give legitimacy to the work of human rights defenders, including women defenders, and acknowledge it as human rights work.” Further recommendations included sensitization training for Congolese police and public condemnations of all attacks on rights workers. Ms. Sekaggya also recommended that MONUC increase the staffing and financial capacity of its human rights offices, and said the international community should help the Congolese Human Rights Ministry’s programmes, and assist it in re-establishing offices in the provinces. The Special Rapporteur, who carries out her duties in an independent and unpaid capacity, will present her report to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council in March 2010. 3 June 2009An independent United Nations expert has called on the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to protect human rights workers and prosecute those who threaten or attack them. read more

Ban welcomes new arms pact between Russia and the United States

Negotiations between the two nations on a successor agreement to the 1991 Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, better known as START, wrapped up today.According to media reports, the new pact will require both sides to cut their deployed nuclear warheads, missiles and launchers. It will also re-establish a verification mechanism to replace the one that expired with START last December.Congratulating Russian and US presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama on the agreement and for the leadership they have displayed, Mr. Ban voiced hope in a statement that “this new treaty can be ratified without delay so as to allow its expeditious implementation.”The Secretary-General called on both nations to press ahead with efforts to reduce and eliminate all nuclear weapons, encouraging other nuclear-weapon States to follow their example.He also expressed optimism that today”s announcement will give “significant impetus” to this May”s review conference of the United Nations-backed Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which forms the foundation of the world”s nuclear non-proliferation regime and marked the 40th anniversary of its entry into force earlier this month.Parties to that pact will meet in New York in May to review its operation and how to further its full implementation and its universality. Under the provisions of the treaty, review conferences are held every five years.Mr. Ban has characterized the last review meeting in 2005 as “disappointing.”At the end of that meeting, Sergio Duarte, the President of the last Review Conference and currently UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said the gathering ended having accomplished “very little” amid widely diverging views on nuclear arms and their spread. It wrapped up without any substantive agreement having been reached by nations.In 2008, the Secretary-General put forward a five-point action plan to reinvigorate the international push towards disarmament.It begins with a call for the parties to the NPT to pursue negotiations on nuclear disarmament, either through a new convention or through a series of mutually reinforcing instruments backed by a credible system of verification.In addition, it is based on the following key principles: that disarmament must enhance security be reliably verified be rooted in legal obligations be visible to the public and must anticipate emerging dangers from other weapons. 26 March 2010Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed today”s agreement reached between Russia and the United States to reduce their arsenals, hailing it as an “important milestone” in global efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons. read more

UN rights chief calls for special tribunal for Kenyas postelection violence

8 June 2010The United Nations human rights chief today urged the Kenyan Government to reconsider setting up a special tribunal to pursue accountability for the crimes committed during the violence that followed the disputed December 2007 elections. “I have been assured that this option is still open,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a statement issued at the end of a three-day visit to Kenya. Ms. Pillay arrived in Kenya following a visit to Uganda, where she participated in the Review Conference of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is due to conclude in Kampala on 11 June. While she welcomed the ICC’s involvement in the investigations into the post-election violence in Kenya, she warned that its role is limited.“The involvement of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is a major development in the fight against the current almost total lack of accountability for the terrible events that took place in the wake of the elections,” Ms. Pillay said.However, “the ICC will, for practical reasons and as a matter of policy, only be able to address a small number of high-profile cases of people suspected of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide,” she added.An estimated 1,300 people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced in the violence, which also included widespread rape, arson, robbery and other crimes. Last month ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo conducted a five-day trip to Kenya to start investigations into the violence, and to meet with some of those directly affected by the unrest.Ms. Pillay also voiced concerns about Kenya’s newly established Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, which she said has so far been a “disappointment to many.” In addition, she highlighted issues of witness protection, the forthcoming referendum on the proposed new constitution, and the shortcomings of the Kenyan police. “The difficulties facing Kenya are serious, but definitely not insurmountable, as the country enters this critical period encompassing the referendum on a new constitution, widespread reforms, and the 2012 election. “I urge everyone – politicians, religious figures, media, ethnic leaders as well as the general public – to think about what is best for Kenya, what gives Kenya the best chance to come out of this tense and difficult period of its history with its head held high,” she stated.The High Commissioner touched on the same themes in a wide-ranging address earlier in the day to the University of Nairobi, the last stop on a visit that also included meetings with top Government officials and parliamentarians, as well as with Kenya’s National Commission for Human Rights, civil society organizations and others.“Ultimately, it is an independent, credible and efficient national judicial system which can best safeguard the rights of individuals and communities, deter further abuse, and instil confidence in governmental institutions. “Indeed, the principle of accountability for unlawful and abusive conduct underpins good governance and societal cohesiveness. Conversely, impunity and corruption may – and routinely do – corrode public trust in the rule of law and in justice,” she told the gathering. read more