Islamic perspective on Kidnapping, killings

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Read Time:6 Minute, 39 Second

Alhamdullilah, I am a Muslim. In spite of the torrent of criticisms by mostly those who refused to learn and those who learned but refused to be guided by the truth; and allowed sentiments to obfuscate their judgement, I am proud to be a Muslim.

It is however unfortunate that the actions of some of those who profess to be Muslims have continued to typify acts that are at variance to the teachings of Islam and in a bid to concretise their egocentric actions, they illegally pronounce jihad killing and abducting innocent people.

By so doing, they help the ignorant non-Muslims to further distort Islamic ideals and paint Islam in an undeserving colour. Rather than the true philosophy of peace in this life and in hereafter, they ascribe different negative meaning to it. All over the world, we have seen cases of anti-Islamic movements by some groups with Islamic connotations.

But no matter how they try, what can never be distorted is the Holy Quran and the practice contained in the hadiths. Allah knew all these will happen before He said ‘He will guide and protect the Book from distortion and that is the joy and pride of every true Muslim today as it remains the only Book that has not been tampered with, revised or edited in history of man.

Few days ago, a curious guy asked about the position of Islam on kidnapping and killings suggesting that these evil acts are tickets to paradise.

Perhaps, it was as a result of development in the country, with particular reference to the kidnap of seven foreign workers which Al-Qaeda claimed were in the custody of Jamatul Ansaru as well as the monstrosity of the Boko Haram, killing of the innocent unarmed health workers among others; but we will continue to say this that neither the Quran nor Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) permits such devilish act and can never be a ticket to paradise.

I was very pleased to answer this question because it will help those who don’t know and sincerely want to know the teachings of Islam!
First of all, I would like to stress that Islam forbids targeting non-combatants by killing or by kidnapping or taking them as hostages, or inflicting any kind of injury on them. There are rules on how to deal with even those who wage war against Islam.
One of the rules of conduct of jihad in Islam that the Prophet (s.a.w) highly stressed is “Do not kill a woman, a child, an old man, or a monk in his monastery; do not cut down trees.” In another version of the hadith he is reported to have said, “…do not kill traders (businessmen) or farmers.”

These clearly mean that it is strictly forbidden to target non-combatants by killing or kidnapping or taking them as hostages, or inflicting any kind of harm on them.

Even if they are combatants, there are rules on how to deal with them. If a Muslim is defending himself or his homeland, he is supposed to be a noble fighter, and that includes fighting with courage and mercy at the same time, and preserving the rights of the defenceless people.

He is not permitted to harm anyone that is not armed. Even in the battlefield during the time of the Prophet in Badr, Uhud, Khandaq and others, Muslims didn’t raise their swords against anyone without a sword. It was not permitted. There are rules guiding the prisoners of war.

Allah Most High has told us in the Qur’an in Suratul Maidah (5:8-9):

O you who believe, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.

Allah has promised those who believe and do righteous deeds [that] for them there is forgiveness and great reward.

Those who take the law into their own hands are only desperados who use Islam to further their personal interest; they have nothing to do with Islam, they have not learned that from Prophet Muhammad who was sent as a mercy to all humanity, a light of guidance, and a model for mankind.  Islam is a religion that is based on Divine Revelation which is encapsulated in the Holy Quran and the Hadiths.

It stands without doubt that these rules of conduct have been recorded in history as noble characteristics of Muslims. I have said it severally in this column that, the wars the early Muslims fought were essentially  defensive as a result of persecution and threat to their lives. Islam has gained ground and widely accepted.

Besides; the promise of Allah to keep the religion will continue till the end of time. Today, the image of Islam and Muslims is been battered by the activities of these outlaws on the pretext of fighting for Islam. Every Muslim should be responsible for his action, you cannot use the action of the few to judge the majority.

The individuals behind such actions as kidnappings and killings in the country are motivated by their raw passions and not that of Islam. They may be Muslims but that does not mean their actions represent the ideals of Islam.

If Saudi Arabia some years ago in the wake of the Osama Bin Laden terror acts, could denounce the activities of the late leader of Al-Qaeda, then those who know little or nothing about Islam should better learn that acts of terrorism is not accepted in Islam.

Etiquette of Islamic marriage

By Harun Rasaq

In Islam, marriage is ‘aqd,a contract. And there are three conditions for the marriage contract in Islam: Both parties should be free from any obstacles that might render the marriage invalid, such as their being mahrams of one another, or where the man is a kaafir and so on.

There should be an offer or proposal (ijaab) from the walii or the person who is acting in his place, who should say to the groom “I marry so-and-so to you” or similar words. There should be an expression of acceptance (qabuul) on the part of the groom or whoever is acting in his place, who should say, “I accept,” or similar words.

The conditions of a proper nikaah are that: Both the bride and groom should be clearly identified, whether by stating their names or describing them, etc. They should be pleased with one another. The one who does the contract on the woman’s behalf should be her walii, because the Prophet (SAW) said: “Any woman who marries without the permission of her walii, her marriage is invalid, her marriage is invalid, and her marriage is invalid.”

There is no marriage contract except with a walii and two witnesses and it must be announced.  In addition, there could be a celebration of the marriage but in accordance to shari’ah.  It is disheartening that despite the wider acceptance of Islam in Nigeria and in Yoruba land in particular, a number of un-Islamic practices based on local customs are diffused into the Islamic concept of marriage.

However,  I will make a particular reference to one conducted recently in Eti-Osa, Lagos. I commend Alhaji, (Hon.) Yahyah A. Dosunmu, the Seriki Adinni of Eti-Osa and Baba Adinni of Ajah Central Mosque, on the way the nikkah ceremony of his daughter, Sister Simbiat Bukola Dosunmu and Brother Abdul Ganiy was conducted.

It must be noted that the more the teachings of Islam are followed in the wedding ceremonies, the more blessed the union will be, the more love and harmony will be between the couple, and the less problems they will encounter in life as couple.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Tourists abandoned on African safari

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Read Time:2 Minute, 30 Second

NORTHPORT, N.Y. (WABC) — It was a once in a lifetime trip to the Dark Continent that for one Long Island couple got even darker.

But after getting stranded on a dusty patch four hours outside Nairobi, they called long distance for help from 7 On Your Side.

It was sold as exotic African safari, but this was the only wildlife these tourists found.

"From a trip of a lifetime, this turned out to be the most frightening experience I could ever imagine," said Fran Zeiler, 2Afrika customer.

An African safari topped Fran and Joel Zeiler's bucket list, so they saved the $8,296 and paid 2Afrika for a grand tour.

But just two days into it, there was trouble.

"The driver said we can't go on with the trip," Fran Zeiler said.

The African tour guide said he was never paid by 2Afrika. The trip was over.

And 15 tourists got dumped on a dusty Kenyan road.

"So what was your reaction when this happened?" 7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda asked.

"Shock," Joel Zeiler said.

They were stranded in a town on the state department watch list and were warned to get out of there by the American Embassy.

"I was terrified. Terrified," Fran Zeiler said.

Frantic calls to 2Afrika never resulted in the money coming.

The Zeiler's and their group scrambled to salvage their safari, paying thousands extra to get on another tour and get home safely.

"I can't believe this man is still out there. I don't know how he sleeps at night," Fran Zeiler said.

She's talking about Kenneth Hieber, the owner of 2Afrika, who sells tours twice a week on his online travel program.

More than a year ago, Hieber promised the troubled tourists a full refund.

"I have no respect for him at all," Joel Zeiler said.

But, no one got a refund. So 7 On Your Side went to his Jersey City apartment.

He never answered, but by phone he told 7 On Your Side he's broke and can't pay anyone back. Yet, Kenneth Heiber boasts about his brand new kitchen with granite counter tops on Facebook.

"I have total disgust," Fran Zeiler said.

We turned disgust to dinero.

Luckily, Fran and Joel paid for the tour with a credit card.

And after 7 On Your Side appealed the charges, Chase came through with more than $7,000.

To top it off, after the travel insurance company twice denied their claim, our intervention succeeded in getting coverage for $1,735.

The Zeiler's got even more money for a total of $8,700 back.

"Unless you have someone like 7 On Your Side behind you, you're not getting anything done," Joel Zeiler said.

Web produced by Jennifer Matarese, Eyewitness News

 

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Africa: What’s life like in a South African prison?

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Read Time:7 Minute, 7 Second

(CODEWIT) — A stuffy, overcrowded cell. At times, two or three men to a single bunk. Lock-down for 23 out of 24 hours.

Is this what awaits South Africa's Oscar Pistorius if he is not released on bail while he awaits trial for the murder of his girlfriend?

Some of South Africa's prisons are better than others.

But whichever one might house Pistorius, there's no question that conditions will be a far cry from those in his $560,000 home in the luxury Silverwoods Estate, on the outskirts of Pretoria.

South African prisons are frequently overcrowded, putting a strain on sanitation, ventilation and medical care, according to Nooshin Erfani-Ghadimi, project coordinator for the Johannesburg-based Wits Justice Project , a civil society group.

The overcrowding means three men may share a single cell, or communal cells for 40 people are jammed with double the number they were intended to hold, sleeping in double or triple bunks, she said.

"We heard of one person who for the first year in in remand detention slept on the floor and then 'graduated' to a bunk," she said.

Many inmates are kept locked up for 23 hours a day, with only an hour outside their cell. Some prisons go into lockdown as early as 3 or 4 p.m., leaving prisoners cooped up for 12 hours or more at a stretch.

"It's not a pretty picture," Erfani-Ghadimi said.

Overcrowding is a particular problem in remand prisons, where it runs at just over 200%, Erfani-Ghadimi said, citing figures from the Department of Correctional Services. Overall, overcrowding in prisons stands at about 133%.

And Pretoria Central Prison, perhaps the most likely destination for Pistorius if he doesn't get bail, "doesn't have a very good reputation," according to Erfani-Ghadimi.

Special treatment?

The track star's high profile case is likely to thrust South Africa's criminal justice system under the spotlight.

Questions have already been asked about why Pistorius, a gold-medal winning Paralympian, is being detained in a holding cell at the Brooklyn Police Station — and not at Central Prison or Newlock, where other defendants awaiting trial are kept.

"If there is some special circumstance that permits this, authorities must share this with the public as they are setting a bad precedent," the women's branch of South Africa's ruling party said in a statement. "All should be treated equally before the law no matter your standing in society."

Pistorius is also getting special treatment, the African National Congress Women's League said, adding that his family can visit him outside visiting hours — unlike relatives of other inmates.

"If Pistorious is denied bail, he must be moved to a proper prison facility with others accused of similar crimes," the statement said. "A strong message must be sent out that wealth and celebrity cannot give you an advantage over the law."

The 26-year-old has rejected the murder allegation "in the strongest terms," his agent said in a statement

Pistorius' lawyers requested Brooklyn last week so that they could have access to their client over the weekend, following his arrest Thursday. The state did not object.

The case of Shrien Dewani, a British man accused of hiring hitmen to kill his wife on their South African honeymoon, cast the country's criminal justice system in an unflattering light. His lawyers argued last year that his extradition would breach his human rights under European law because he risked being attacked by other inmates in South African prisons.

While British High Court judges dismissed that part of Dewani's argument, concerns over potential torture and abuse in detention are warranted, according to Erfani-Ghadimi.

South Africa is a signatory to the U.N. Convention on Torture but it has yet to ratify it — so such abuses have not been criminalized.

"A legacy of apartheid is that prison cells are still unfortunately a place where prisoners can be abused," Erfani-Ghadimi said.

Amnesty International's Annual Report 2012, looking at human rights around the world, also comments that a draft law to make torture a criminal offense had not been presented in South Africa's parliament by the end of the year.

Human dignity

Nevertheless, said Erfani-Ghadimi, the problem doesn't lie in South Africa's laws so much as in the ability of the justice system to cope with the number of inmates in the system.

South Africa's constitution and its bill of rights with regards to prisoners' rights are among the best in the world, she said. "Unfortunately that doesn't necessarily translate into practice."

She believes that conditions are improving, however, thanks in part to the strength of those constitutional rights and the work of civil society organizations campaigning for change.

And Pistorius, if he ends up spending time on remand or is eventually convicted and jailed, should find that his particular medical needs as a double amputee are taken into account, she said.

This could mean that he is sent to a prison with better medical facilities or wheelchair access, she suggested.

According to the bill of rights, prisoners are entitled to "be detained in conditions that are consistent with human dignity, including at least exercise and the provision, at state expense, of adequate accommodation, nutrition, medical treatment."

According to official figures for 2011 to 2012, there were 158,790 prison inmates in South Africa, a nation of nearly 52 million, of whom about 30% were on remand awaiting trial.

This compares with some 2.2 million people incarcerated in prisons or jail in the United States at the end of 2011, according to U.S. Department of Justice figures. Crowding in U.S. prisons stood at 39% over capacity in 2011, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

Long wait for trial

Erfani-Ghadimi blames systemic problems for South Africa's overcrowding. One issue is that the police are quick to arrest people, she said, and they have only 48 hours from arrest to bring charges.

After they are charged, many suspects cannot afford to make bail or hire a lawyer and so are forced to spend months or even years behind bars awaiting trial, she said.

Investigations are often poorly run and court rooms can be overcrowded, adding to the hurdles faced by those on remand, she said.

"Because the system is cumbersome and slow, there's a lot of people stuck waiting — and that means the conditions are not by any means ideal," she added.

A "statement of agreed factual findings" filed in a Constitutional Court ruling in December, in favor of a man who contracted tuberculosis while imprisoned, gives an insight into what could lie ahead for Pistorius.

The statement describes the conditions Dudley Lee endured in Cape Town's Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison — where Nelson Mandela was once held — before he was eventually acquitted and freed.

Prisoners going to court appearances were "stuffed into vans like sardines," it said. Holding cells at court were also "jam-packed." Meanwhile, conditions back at the prison were far from pleasant — though ideal for the spread of disease.

Packed, smoky cells

The air inside the communal cells, locked down without cross-ventilation for up to 15 hours a day, was thick with cigarette smoke, the statement said. Even after Lee was diagnosed with TB, he was kept in a cell with other prisoners. He "begged, bullied and bribed" to get the medication he needed.

As a world famous athlete, Pistorius has money to pay for good defense attorneys, unlike many in the South African justice system. He stated his annual income was 5.6 million Rand ($631,000) at his bail hearing this week.

Nonetheless, his lawyers face an uphill battle on the bail issue, with South African law requiring evidence of "exceptional circumstances" to justify the release for defendants accused of premeditated murder.

If they fail, Pistorius could face several months on remand before his case goes to trial. And if convicted on a charge of premeditated murder, he would face 25 years in prison before he was eligible for parole.

His lawyers will be trying to make sure that doesn't happen.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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South Africa: to push the African Agenda at the BRICS summit

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Read Time:2 Minute, 32 Second
South Africa will host the fifth BRICS Summit in Durban next month – with the aim of harnessing the country's membership to benefit the entire African continent.
This is according to Fadl Nacerodien, the Chief Director at the Policy Research and Analysis Unit of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO).

Nacerodien was delivering a keynote address to mark the official opening of the seventh annual Africa Institute of South Africa's (AISA) Young Graduates and Scholars conference (AYGS) at the Quest Conference Estate, North West University Vaal Triangle campus, on Tuesday.

He said the BRICS summit, which starts on March 27, would present a unique high-level opportunity for South Africa to further support key priority areas of the African Agenda.

BRICS is an acronym for the powerful grouping of the world's leading emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The first BRIC Summit took place in Yekateringburg, Russia, where the elected leaders of the four countries formally declared the membership of the BRIC economic bloc. South Africa joined the bloc in 2010, resulting in BRICS.

"The mobilisation of support for the African Agenda is a key priority of South Africa's foreign policy," Nacerodien told the AYGS conference hall, which was full to capacity.

He said the BRICS have given impetus to Africa's economic emergence and contributed significantly to the relevance and status of the continent.

"Over the past decade, we have witnessed a dramatic increase in commercial and strategic engagements between the BRICS countries and Africa," he said.

Nacerodien is one of DIRCO's representatives attending the AYGS conference from 19 – 21 February.

The AYGS conference provides a platform for emerging African scholars to engage and exchange insights in the debates pertaining to the challenges faced by African societies, and in discussions about the way forward for the upliftment of African value systems and the ultimate integration of the African continent.

According to AISA's Interim CEO, Professor Phindile Lukhele-Olorunju, the AYGS is one of AISA's capacity-building programmes, which is aimed at providing research skills and experience, as well as the publishing and communication platforms for emerging young African scholars.

AISA is one of the science councils funded by the South African government through the Department of Science and Technology.

It was recently ranked number five out of the top 50 think tanks in Sub-Saharan Africa by the University of Pennsylvania in the United States.

The conference presenters are young scholars from different universities across the African continent including South Africa. These comprise students from the University of Zimbabwe, University of Bamako in Mali, Moi University in Kenya as well as major South African universities such as Rhodes University, University of Venda, Wits, University of Johannesburg, University of Pretoria and North-West University's three campuses, amongst others.

This year's conference is held under the theme, 2050 – Africa's future on the horizon: Prospects and challenges for development.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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French hostages in Cameroon ‘freed’

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Read Time:1 Minute, 35 Second

A French family of seven kidnapped in Cameroon earlier this week have been freed and rescued in Nigeria, French media are reporting.

"They are safe and well," a Cameroonian military source is quoted as saying.

The three adults and four children were seized during a holiday, causing alarm in France and prompting it to warn all French citizens to leave the area.

French President Francois Hollande speculated they had been taken by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram.

But French media on Thursday morning quoted sources in Cameroon saying they had been found.

The French veterans minister Kader Arif confirmed the news, but then backtracked, saying there was no official confirmation.

Stayed overnight

The family – a couple, their children aged five, eight, 10 and 12 and an uncle – were snatched on Tuesday in northern Cameroon by six gunmen on three motorbikes, the French news agency AFP reports.

They had been returning from a visit to Waza National Park – which is described as a beautiful landscape, trodden by giraffes, elephants and antelopes – where they had spend the previous night.

The family are reported to live in the Cameroonian capital, Yaounde, where the father worked.

The French government had said it believed they had been taken across the border into Nigeria following their abduction – apparently confirmed by the reports of their release.

"They were found abandoned in a house in Dikwa" in Nigeria, about 100km [60 miles] from the border with Niger, a senior Cameroonian officer told AFP.

"They are in the hands of the Nigerian authorities."

On Wednesday, France urged its citizens to leave north Cameroon "as quickly as possible".

The French foreign ministry said on its website citizens were "officially advised not to go to the far north of Cameroon (the shores of Lake Chad in the South Maroua), and the border with Nigeria, until further notice".

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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South Africa Police: Pistorius Detective Faces Charges

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Read Time:2 Minute, 18 Second

(PRETORIA, South Africa) — The lead investigator in the murder case against Oscar Pistorius faces attempted murder charges himself over a 2011 shooting, police said Thursday in another potentially damaging blow to the prosecution.

Prosecutors said they were unaware of the charges against veteran detective Hilton Botha when they put him on the stand in court to explain why Pistorius should not be given bail in the Valentine’s Day shooting death of his girlfriend.

Prosecutors say Pistorius intentionally killed model Reeva Steenkamp and have charged him with premeditated murder. Pistorius says he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder and that the shooting was accidental.

Police Brig. Neville Malila told The Associated Press that Botha — who gave testimony in the Pistorius bail hearing on Wednesday — is scheduled to appear in court in May on seven counts of attempted murder related to an incident in October 2011 when Botha and two other police officers fired at a minibus they were trying to stop.

Malila said police had learned Wednesday, the same day that Botha appeared in court to oppose Pistorius’ bail application, that the charges against Botha and the two others had been reinstated by the Director of Public Prosecutions. They were initially dropped following the shooting incident.

Malila said police were now waiting for details from the Botha case file from the public prosecutor.

Medupe Simasiku, the spokesman for the prosecutors charging Pistorius with premeditated murder, said he couldn’t say how the charges against Botha would affect their case against Pistorius.

In the state case against the Olympic athlete, Botha offered often confused testimony and conceded that nothing in Pistorius’ account the Steenkamp shooting contradicted the police’s version.

Simasiku said that based on the reinstated accusation against Botha, “we can take action and see if we remove him from the investigation or if he stays.”

Botha was the lead investigator in an assault claim against Pistorius in 2009. Pistorius’ lawyers said police arrested the athlete and held him overnight at a police station and said they will pursue a lawsuit against police for wrongful arrest.

The current case against Pistorius, which is still only in a bail hearing, has riveted much of the world. Pistorius, 26-year-old the man known as the Blade Runner for his carbon-fiber running prosthetic legs, says he fired shots through the locked door of a toilet enclosed inside his bathroom because he thought there was an intruder in there.

Steenkamp was hit three times, in the head, right elbow and right hip, police say, and prosecutors argue Pistorius intended to kill his 29-year-old girlfriend after a fight in the early hours of Valentine’s Day.

 

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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ABIDJAN: Gbagbo Supporters Have Mixed Views of Hague Hearing

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Read Time:2 Minute, 28 Second

Ivory Coast’s 2010-11 post-election violence erupted after former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to leave office despite losing the 2010 vote to his successor, Alassane Ouattara. According to the United Nations, more than 3,000 people died in six months of fighting.

Gbagbo was transferred to The Hague in November, 2011, on charges of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, persecution and inhuman acts. The hearing beginning this week will allow judges to decide whether the evidence is strong enough to send him to trial.

Doubt about fair trial

In Yopougon, a suburb of the commercial capital, Abidjan, and a Gbagbo stronghold during the crisis, residents largely went about their daily lives as the hearing began on Tuesday.  But, they made clear they had doubts about whether the former president would be treated fairly.

Alain Bayoro, a second-year business management student, says national reconciliation would be impossible with Gbagbo behind bars. He says it's impossible to reconcile the Ivorian population as long as Gbagbo is on trial.  He wants President Ouattara to see that he is freed. 

But Mabi Zagboyou, a 30-year-old bread maker, says the main problem is that justice for crimes committed during the post-election violence has been one-sided. The ICC has publicly unsealed arrest warrants only for Laurent Gbagbo and his wife, Simone. At the national level, only Gbagbo supporters have been investigated, arrested and charged, despite widespread evidence that crimes were committed on both sides.

He warns that "impunity will lead to the repetition of these crimes."  He says Gbagbo is not the only one who committed crimes after the election.  He wants others brought up charges, as well.

Country still divided

Scott Straus, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin who has studied the conflict in Ivory Coast, says Ouattara would struggle to win over hardline members of Gbagbo’s political party, the Ivorian Popular Front. But, he says one-sided justice might also alienate more moderate supporters like Zagboyou.

"I think Ouattara’s audience for a more even-handed approach to justice is the large Ivorian middle, the Ivorians who want to see a real break from the policies and the politics of the past and want a fairer, more transparent approach to some of these political problems that have beset the country for the last 15 years. I do think there’s a large middle in Cote d’Ivoire that is persuadable and that he risks losing," said Straus.

The confirmation hearing is expected to last several days, with Gbagbo speaking on the last day.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Zimbabwe Police Seize Radios Ahead of Elections

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Read Time:1 Minute, 18 Second

Police in Zimbabwe issued an edict that critics say allows them to seize radios most people depend on to get their news.
 
On Tuesday, a police spokeswoman said it’s against the law to possess what she called illegal communication devices and "specially designed radios."   She accused unnamed groups of distributing the devices to spread hate speech and influence coming elections.
 
The warning follows raids this month in which police seized hundreds of multi-band radios from a lawmaker aligned with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party, and smaller numbers of radios from non-governmental organizations.
 
Zimbabwe's co-home affairs minister, Theresa Makone, said that unless the devices in question are radio transmitters, not receivers, authorities should return the devices to their owners.
 
"Political parties and well-wishers are well within their rights to give radios to people who cannot afford them" she said Wednesday. 
 
Journalists and pro-democracy activists say the police raids are aimed at suppressing free speech and access to information ahead of a referendum on a new constitution next month and national elections expected in July. 
 
Many Zimbabweans depend on shortwave or medium-wave radios to hear news and viewpoints not offered by state-run media.  State newspapers and broadcasters strongly favor President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party, as do the state security services.
 
ZANU-PF and the MDC are currently in a unity government formed after the violent and disputed 2008 elections.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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KENYA VOTES: the weakness in the media’s election coverage

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Read Time:3 Minute, 16 Second

As Kenya goes to the polls on 4 March 2013, the question uppermost in the minds of many, both locally and abroad, is this: if the election result is disputed, will the country slip into the kind of mindless violence witnessed after the election in December 2007?

Besides those who orchestrated the unrest five years ago – politicians and the now defunct electoral body the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) – the media has also been blamed for its sins of commission or omission in fanning the deadly ethnic fighting that followed the announcement of the presidential results.

Indeed, journalist Joshua Sang, a morning presenter with vernacular Kalenjin language station Kass FM, is facing charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, alongside presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta, his running mate William Ruto, and former head of the civil service, Francis Muthaura.

Whether Sang is innocent or guilty of using his position at the radio station to incite members of the Kalenjin ethnic group to forcefully eject non-Kalenjins from the multi-ethnic Rift Valley region is beyond the point. As witnessed in Rwanda in the 1990s, the radio and other media are tools clearly able to reach the masses and can therefore be used by evil, careless or naive people with devastating effects on the wider society.

Kenya has numerous vernacular radio stations and people fear that it is these that could be used to incite hate against communities and candidates in a country where political discourse is defined by ethnic group.

While TV stations, national language radio stations and mainstream newspapers have been fairly restrained in their coverage of the political campaigns, or at least have not openly shown bias or painted certain candidates negatively, the same cannot be said of vernacular radio stations.

My mother tongue is Kikuyu, so it is only the Kikuyu-language vernacular stations that I can understand. There are three main ones in Kenya: Kameme FM, owned by the Kenyatta family’s Media Max Limited; Inooro FM, owned by media tycoon Samuel Kamau Macharia; and Cooro FM, owned by the state’s Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation.

While Inooro’s owner Macharia has openly declared his support for Raila Odinga’s presidential bid, there is no evidence of openly biased reporting or skewed messages of hate about his main rival, Uhuru Kenyatta. Cooro FM has also striven to be neutral but since it has such a low audience, few are likely to notice.

The same cannot be said for Kenyatta’s Kameme FM. As any listener will confess, the station goes out of its way to paint political rivals as evil, unworthy Kenyans capable of no good. During most of its news and call-in programmes you can hear language that plainly borders on hate speech.

The station is most notorious in the mornings, the most popular time to listen to the radio in Kenya. Presenters set the pace, talking only in negative terms about Kenyatta’s competitors, while inviting views from listeners.

It gets worse: the hosts fail to moderate audience comments and carelessly air dangerously tribal and hateful views. It fails to appreciate that in Kenya a candidate is never seen as an individual, but as representative of his or her ethnic group.

It is stations like this one that I fear may, if not tamed by authorities, be used more to fuel violence than to mediate dispute should one arise.

My analysis does not in any way exonerate other, non-Kikuyu, stations. It is not lost on me that the Standard Group media houses, including Standard newspaper, KTN TV and Radio Maisha, and Radio Africa’s Star newspaper, have shown an open bias toward Odinga’s CoRD alliance – but that is not to say they have used a dangerous risky tone which could jeopardize Kenya’s chance of a peaceful election.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Kenya: No Ordinary Elections

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Read Time:1 Minute, 11 Second

Kenya has never held elections as complex, pivotal or potentially divisive as this year's, which will see in a fresh president and a radical decentralization of power.

When voters go to the polls on 4 March, they will choose not only a head of state and MPs, but also the brand new positions of county governor, senator and local assembly representative, as well as a national assembly seat reserved for women.

Kenya's last elections, held in December 2007, unleashed a wave of violence unprecedented in its scale, which led to the deaths of 1,300 people and the forced displacement of some 600,000 from their homes.

As a result of these clashes, the International Criminal Court has charged four Kenyans – including a leading presidential contender and his running mate – with alleged crimes against humanity. This is the first significant judicial intervention into repeated bouts of election-related violence in Kenya.

No Ordinary Elections, an IRIN multimedia documentary presents a detailed anatomy of Kenya through interviews with civil society experts, portraits of people from all walks of life, as well as a wealth of key data. Some of the pressing issues covered include:

Will devolution really bring power to the people?

What drives the divisions between Kenyan communities?

Why do Kenyan elections tend to trigger violence?

Is Kenya ready if it happens again?

Is there any justice for victims of such violence?

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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