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Gambia:Dozens Held Incommunicado, ‘Disappeared’ ...Reveal Whereabouts of People Arrested After December Coup Attempt
Written by PRESS STATEMENT   
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 12:44

(Dakar, May 27, 2015) –Gambian authorities have detained incommunicado,depriving them ofall contact with the outside world,dozens of friends and relatives of people accused of involvement in a coup attempt since January 2015, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said today. Those detained include women, elderly people, and a child, and many are believed to be in ill-health.

The government has refused to acknowledge the whereabouts or even the detentionof many of them, effectively holding them outside of the protection of the law. This amounts to enforced disappearance, aserious violation of international law. The Gambian government should urgently reveal their whereabouts and either charge them with a recognizable offense if there is sufficient evidence or immediately release them.

“Gambian authorities are ignoring basic human rights standards by detaining people incommunicado,raising grave concerns of enforced disappearance,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Because their whereabouts are unknown and necessary safeguards are not in place, they are at high risk of torture and other abuses.”

Read more...
 
“Sierra Rutile is part of Sierra Leone’s economic growth…” -VP Foh
Written by John Baimba Sesay-Freetown   
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 12:41

During a courtesy call on him by Management of Sierra Rutile Company, Honorable Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh said in Freetown, Tuesday, 26th May, that the Company is a major player in Sierra Leone’s economic growth trajectory.

According to Vice President Foh, Sierra Rutile is an old and weather tested company that has stood by Sierra Leone at all times, good or bad.

Speaking earlier, Alex B Kamara, a Director of the Company, said, the Company will continue  to do its utmost to contribute to the development of Sierra Leone.

Read more...
 
‘’WE ARE KEEN TO BE MORE FLEXIBLE THAN YOU HAVE REQUESTED’’- GLOBAL FUND BOSS ASSURES HEALTH AND SANITATION MINISTER
Written by Jonathan Abass Kamara   
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 12:29

Geneva, May 26, 015 (SLENA) - In 2014, Sierra Leone received from the Global Fund an allocation of US$ 126 million to fight HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria. But in order to access the funds the country needed to submit an application in the form of a Concept Note to the Global Fund. The Concept Note would then be reviewed by a special committee of the Global Fund, the Technical Review Panel (TRP). The TRP makes recommendations to the Board of the Global Fund which approves commitments and subsequent disbursements to countries.

The development of the Concept Note is a tedious and multi-stage process that involves among others, mandatory nationwide public consultations. The outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) meant the country could not undertake some of the mandatory activities that would have led to the development of the concept note. This situation led to the postponement of the submission date of the Concept Note four times already since the country learned about the allocation.  The risk is that some of the grants meant for life saving treatment (HIV/AIDS and TB) are coming to an end at the end of 2015 and the capacity in country may not absorb the entire $126 million in the remaining period of the allocation period (having lost half of the implementation period). The country risks getting a smaller funding envelope, when the Global Fund makes a decision on the next allocation as the unspent funds form the basis for decision on the next allocation.

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Japan Disburses 720,000 JPY worth of PPEs to Govt.
Written by Jonathan Abass Kamara   
Monday, 25 May 2015 21:47

Freetown, May 20, 015 (MOHS) -  The Tokyo Metropolitan Government (Japan) Wednesday 20 May 2015 donated Personal Protective Equipment worth 720,000 JPY to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.

The donation is in support to the government of Sierra Leone to end the Ebola Virus disease that has ravaged all sectors of governance.

Speaking at the Handing over ceremony held at the World Health Organization Head office at River Side drive, off Kingharman Road in Freetown, Yukari Hara, First Secretary of the Embassy of Japan in Sierra Leone, expressed appreciation on behalf of the Ambassador of Japan to Sierra Leone for witnessing the ceremony. She told her audience that the PPEs were originally donated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government of Japan to assist in the fight against Ebola and other infectious diseases.

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AS EBOLA CLOCKS 1 YEAR…PRESIDENT PLEDGES TO SUPPORT SURVIVORS
Written by State House Communications Unit   
Monday, 25 May 2015 21:28

Meeting with over 20 survivors at State House Monday 25 May, barely a year since the outbreak, President Ernest Bai Koroma assured survivors of the dreadful Ebola virus disease of government’s readiness to provide them with the necessary social services till their lives return to normal.

He said when the epidemic was reported this time last year, people received the news with mixed feelings and interpretations, saying that the issue of denial resulted to the death of considerable number of people – 3,000 have died so far.

The president disclosed that as at Sunday 24th May the country recorded 4,013 survivors. This, he said, happened because of government’s efforts in conjunction with international partners.

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Editorial

2016 Global Peace Conference to be held in Freetown---as IPRA 50th Birthday confab ends in Istanbul

 

The 26th biennal conference of the Internatonal Peace Research Association (IPRA) is billed to take place in  Freetown, Sierra Leone in November 2016, marking the second time Africa has hosted the conference since the founding of IPRA in 1964. This was announced following the re-election of  the two IPRA Secretaries-general, Dr Ibrahim Seaga Shaw (pictured) and Dr Nesrin Kenar, who co-ordinated the 25th  IPRA conference in Turkey,  at the organisation’s administrative meeting on August 14 during the 25th  IPRA  conference in Istanbul  to serve a second term of two years.

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Business News

“Sierra Rutile is part of Sierra Leone’s economic growth…” -VP Foh

During a courtesy call on him by Management of Sierra Rutile Company, Honorable Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh said in Freetown, Tuesday, 26th May, that the Company is a major player in Sierra Leone’s economic growth trajectory.

According to Vice President Foh, Sierra Rutile is an old and weather tested company that has stood by Sierra Leone at all times, good or bad.

Speaking earlier, Alex B Kamara, a Director of the Company, said, the Company will continue  to do its utmost to contribute to the development of Sierra Leone.

Read more...

Media News

World Press Freedom Day 2015: The MFWA Calls for Professionalism, Gender Equality, and Digital Safety Awareness in the Media

World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) is observed globally on May 3 in celebration of the importance of press freedom and media independence and pluralism. Today, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) joins the world in commemorating press freedom under this year’s theme: “Let Journalism Thrive! Towards Better Reporting, Gender Equality, & Media Safety in the Digital Age.” In accordance with the 2015 WPFD theme, the MFWA calls for increased independent, quality reporting by the media; women’s enjoyment of free expression and participation in public life in and through the media; and awareness of digital safety for journalists.

 

Independent and Quality Media

Since last year, the MFWA has regrettably recorded increases in unprofessionalism by the media in West Africa. Decreases in independent and quality reporting negatively impact the public’s trust in the media and consequently hurt the media’s ability to act as a watchdog. Moreover, independent and quality reporting can play a pivotal role in maintaining peace and stability. Conversely, unprofessional conduct can facilitate violence and other abuses—especially during election periods, which several countries in West Africa enter this year. The MFWA looks forward to continuing to engage the media on increasing media independence and quality journalism.

 

Gender and Media

Although important strides have been made towards improving women’s participation in public life, obstacles remain to West African women’s ability to both express themselves and participate in governance in or through the media. In Ghana, which has exemplary levels of civil and political rights protections in West Africa, the MFWA found underrepresentation of women as featured individuals, discussants, and moderators and in the share of women’s issues discussed on radio programmes.

Gender balance and equality in a particular media platform’s reports and programmes indicate that it is readily accessible to women. Such gender representation can, in fact, empower women to use the media as a vehicle for seeking, receiving, and imparting information about issues in their community. In turn, this helps promote good and sustainable governance and development. Due to the importance of empowering women, the MFWA has made efforts to increase women’s involvement in and through the media in West Africa.

 

Digital Safety for Journalists

Journalists in West Africa are frequently targeted for their work: they have been brutalised and even killed, threatened, detained, and otherwise silenced both online and offline. In 2014, the MFWA recorded two incidents of digital rights violations—one in The Gambia and one in Nigeria—but due to the more hidden nature of online (as opposed to offline) violations, other unreported violations may have occurred. As internet penetration continues to rapidly grow in West Africa and the rest of the world, it is increasingly important for journalists to engage in digital safety practices to protect themselves from violations of their digital rights. The MFWA has always monitored and reported on safety of journalists, including digital rights violations, and it hopes to see more gains in both offline and internet freedoms in West Africa this year.

 

MFWA’s Recommendations

Given the challenges remaining to achieving independent and quality reporting, balance and equality in women’s representation and participation in and through the media, and effective digital safety measures for journalists, the MFWA makes the following recommendations:

 

To Journalists and Media Houses:

  • Exercise professionalism and high ethics in investigating and reporting.
  • Refrain from spreading indecent campaign language and hate speech through reporting and programming, especially during election periods.
  • Fully and equally integrate women into media programming and newsroom decision-making to achieve gender balance and equality in media representation.
  • Develop a document to help journalists conduct risk assessments related to digital safety.

 

To Civil Society:

  • Capacity-build journalists on standards of professionalism and ethics.
  • Capacity-build women to use the media to engage in public debates.
  • Capacity-build journalists on safety of journalists, particularly digital safety.

 

To Governments:

  • Support professional development of the media through effective frameworks and resource allocation. 
  • Ensure that security forces understand and respect and protect journalists’ rights.
- See more at: http://www.mfwa.org/news.php?article_ID=493#sthash.peBzbRhM.dpuf

World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) is observed globally on May 3 in celebration of the importance of press freedom and media independence and pluralism. Today, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) joins the world in commemorating press freedom under this year’s theme: “Let Journalism Thrive! Towards Better Reporting, Gender Equality, & Media Safety in the Digital Age.” In accordance with the 2015 WPFD theme, the MFWA calls for increased independent, quality reporting by the media; women’s enjoyment of free expression and participation in public life in and through the media; and awareness of digital safety for journalists.

 

Independent and Quality Media

Since last year, the MFWA has regrettably recorded increases in unprofessionalism by the media in West Africa. Decreases in independent and quality reporting negatively impact the public’s trust in the media and consequently hurt the media’s ability to act as a watchdog. Moreover, independent and quality reporting can play a pivotal role in maintaining peace and stability. Conversely, unprofessional conduct can facilitate violence and other abuses—especially during election periods, which several countries in West Africa enter this year. The MFWA looks forward to continuing to engage the media on increasing media independence and quality journalism.

 

Gender and Media

Although important strides have been made towards improving women’s participation in public life, obstacles remain to West African women’s ability to both express themselves and participate in governance in or through the media. In Ghana, which has exemplary levels of civil and political rights protections in West Africa, the MFWA found underrepresentation of women as featured individuals, discussants, and moderators and in the share of women’s issues discussed on radio programmes.

Gender balance and equality in a particular media platform’s reports and programmes indicate that it is readily accessible to women. Such gender representation can, in fact, empower women to use the media as a vehicle for seeking, receiving, and imparting information about issues in their community. In turn, this helps promote good and sustainable governance and development. Due to the importance of empowering women, the MFWA has made efforts to increase women’s involvement in and through the media in West Africa.

 

Digital Safety for Journalists

Journalists in West Africa are frequently targeted for their work: they have been brutalised and even killed, threatened, detained, and otherwise silenced both online and offline. In 2014, the MFWA recorded two incidents of digital rights violations—one in The Gambia and one in Nigeria—but due to the more hidden nature of online (as opposed to offline) violations, other unreported violations may have occurred. As internet penetration continues to rapidly grow in West Africa and the rest of the world, it is increasingly important for journalists to engage in digital safety practices to protect themselves from violations of their digital rights. The MFWA has always monitored and reported on safety of journalists, including digital rights violations, and it hopes to see more gains in both offline and internet freedoms in West Africa this year.

 

MFWA’s Recommendations

Given the challenges remaining to achieving independent and quality reporting, balance and equality in women’s representation and participation in and through the media, and effective digital safety measures for journalists, the MFWA makes the following recommendations:

 

To Journalists and Media Houses:

  • Exercise professionalism and high ethics in investigating and reporting.
  • Refrain from spreading indecent campaign language and hate speech through reporting and programming, especially during election periods.
  • Fully and equally integrate women into media programming and newsroom decision-making to achieve gender balance and equality in media representation.
  • Develop a document to help journalists conduct risk assessments related to digital safety.

 

To Civil Society:

  • Capacity-build journalists on standards of professionalism and ethics.
  • Capacity-build women to use the media to engage in public debates.
  • Capacity-build journalists on safety of journalists, particularly digital safety.

 

To Governments:

  • Support professional development of the media through effective frameworks and resource allocation. 
  • Ensure that security forces understand and respect and protect journalists’ rights.
- See more at: http://www.mfwa.org/news.php?article_ID=493#sthash.peBzbRhM.dpuf

World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) is observed globally on May 3 in celebration of the importance of press freedom and media independence and pluralism. Today, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) joins the world in commemorating press freedom under this year’s theme: “Let Journalism Thrive! Towards Better Reporting, Gender Equality, & Media Safety in the Digital Age.” In accordance with the 2015 WPFD theme, the MFWA calls for increased independent, quality reporting by the media; women’s enjoyment of free expression and participation in public life in and through the media; and awareness of digital safety for journalists.

 

Independent and Quality Media

Since last year, the MFWA has regrettably recorded increases in unprofessionalism by the media in West Africa. Decreases in independent and quality reporting negatively impact the public’s trust in the media and consequently hurt the media’s ability to act as a watchdog. Moreover, independent and quality reporting can play a pivotal role in maintaining peace and stability. Conversely, unprofessional conduct can facilitate violence and other abuses—especially during election periods, which several countries in West Africa enter this year. The MFWA looks forward to continuing to engage the media on increasing media independence and quality journalism.

 

Gender and Media

Although important strides have been made towards improving women’s participation in public life, obstacles remain to West African women’s ability to both express themselves and participate in governance in or through the media. In Ghana, which has exemplary levels of civil and political rights protections in West Africa, the MFWA found underrepresentation of women as featured individuals, discussants, and moderators and in the share of women’s issues discussed on radio programmes.

Gender balance and equality in a particular media platform’s reports and programmes indicate that it is readily accessible to women. Such gender representation can, in fact, empower women to use the media as a vehicle for seeking, receiving, and imparting information about issues in their community. In turn, this helps promote good and sustainable governance and development. Due to the importance of empowering women, the MFWA has made efforts to increase women’s involvement in and through the media in West Africa.

 

Digital Safety for Journalists

Journalists in West Africa are frequently targeted for their work: they have been brutalised and even killed, threatened, detained, and otherwise silenced both online and offline. In 2014, the MFWA recorded two incidents of digital rights violations—one in The Gambia and one in Nigeria—but due to the more hidden nature of online (as opposed to offline) violations, other unreported violations may have occurred. As internet penetration continues to rapidly grow in West Africa and the rest of the world, it is increasingly important for journalists to engage in digital safety practices to protect themselves from violations of their digital rights. The MFWA has always monitored and reported on safety of journalists, including digital rights violations, and it hopes to see more gains in both offline and internet freedoms in West Africa this year.

 

MFWA’s Recommendations

Given the challenges remaining to achieving independent and quality reporting, balance and equality in women’s representation and participation in and through the media, and effective digital safety measures for journalists, the MFWA makes the following recommendations:

 

To Journalists and Media Houses:

  • Exercise professionalism and high ethics in investigating and reporting.
  • Refrain from spreading indecent campaign language and hate speech through reporting and programming, especially during election periods.
  • Fully and equally integrate women into media programming and newsroom decision-making to achieve gender balance and equality in media representation.
  • Develop a document to help journalists conduct risk assessments related to digital safety.

 

To Civil Society:

  • Capacity-build journalists on standards of professionalism and ethics.
  • Capacity-build women to use the media to engage in public debates.
  • Capacity-build journalists on safety of journalists, particularly digital safety.

 

To Governments:

  • Support professional development of the media through effective frameworks and resource allocation. 
  • Ensure that security forces understand and respect and protect journalists’ rights.
- See more at: http://www.mfwa.org/news.php?article_ID=493#sthash.peBzbRhM.dpuf

World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) is observed globally on May 3 in celebration of the importance of press freedom and media independence and pluralism.

Today, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) joins the world in commemorating press freedom under this year’s theme: “Let Journalism Thrive! Towards Better Reporting, Gender Equality, & Media Safety in the Digital Age.”

In accordance with the 2015 WPFD theme, the MFWA calls for increased independent, quality reporting by the media; women’s enjoyment of free expression and participation in public life in and through the media; and awareness of digital safety for journalists.

Read more...

Commentary

MORE TROUBLE FOR APC IN KAILAHUN

Key stakeholders of the APC in Kailahun have vowed to kick out Sahr Morkuwah and the APC from Kailahun, and return the district back to its traditional SLPP base.

  These key stakeholders this week registered their dismay about the off-hand manner in which they are being treated – especially for being made the laughing stock of both APC and non-APC supporters.

  “We are not wholly angry at the APC,” they said. “But we are angry at Sahr Morkuwah because of the assurances he gave us that the APC is a grateful party, and urging us all to work and vote for the party. Now look at how the party is treating us – as if we are trash.”

Read more...

View Point

NJALA UNIVERSITY IS A MESS

I visited Njala University two years back with the Parliamentary Education Committee, and still remember the camaraderie then between the staff and the deputy vice chancellor. Everyone was congratulating everyone, and is happy to have met the other.

  There was good reason to rejoice – Njala was then and still is, the leading university in Sierra Leone, and even the Education Committee was proud to be a part of the success story, and encouraged them to go for the gold.

But today, two years later, the situation has gone sour; everyone has reached for his sword and is threatening fire and slaughter – with none of them caring about the students caught in this useless crossfire.

Read more...

News - Press Release

Gambia:Dozens Held Incommunicado, ‘Disappeared’ ...Reveal Whereabouts of People Arrested After December Coup Attempt

(Dakar, May 27, 2015) –Gambian authorities have detained incommunicado,depriving them ofall contact with the outside world,dozens of friends and relatives of people accused of involvement in a coup attempt since January 2015, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said today. Those detained include women, elderly people, and a child, and many are believed to be in ill-health.

The government has refused to acknowledge the whereabouts or even the detentionof many of them, effectively holding them outside of the protection of the law. This amounts to enforced disappearance, aserious violation of international law. The Gambian government should urgently reveal their whereabouts and either charge them with a recognizable offense if there is sufficient evidence or immediately release them.

“Gambian authorities are ignoring basic human rights standards by detaining people incommunicado,raising grave concerns of enforced disappearance,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Because their whereabouts are unknown and necessary safeguards are not in place, they are at high risk of torture and other abuses.”

Read more...

Society -Local News

Taylor Application to Appeal Decision on his Motion for Transfer to Rwanda Denied

Charles Taylor, the convicted former President of Liberia, will serve the remainder of his 50-year prison sentence in the United Kingdom after RSCSL President Justice Philip N. Waki denied his application to appeal. On 30 January 2015, a special Trial Chamber convened by Justice Waki dismissed Taylor's motion asking that he be transferred to Rwanda where other SCSL convicts have been imprisoned.

In his decision, Justice Waki upheld the Trial Chamber's decision on Taylor's "Motion for Termination of Enforcement of Sentence in the United Kingdom and for Transfer to Rwanda". At the same time, he denied Taylor's "Application to Appeal Decision on Motion for Termination of Enforcement of Sentence in the United Kingdom and the Transfer to Rwanda" filed on 6 February 2015.

The Defence had argued that the wording of Rule 73(B) on interlocutory appeals implied it was applicable to special Trial Chambers empaneled by the President. They argued further that they had met the conjunctive tests of "exceptional circumstances" and "irreparable prejudice" prescribed by the Rule. The Prosecution argued that Rule 73(B) applied only to motions arising in the course of judicial proceedings, and not "in the post administrative designation of place of confinement."

Read more...

Development

GAVI commits $1 million for upcoming immunisation campaign in Sierra Leone

Geneva, May 25, 015 (SLENA) - The GAVI Vaccine Alliance took the opportunity of African Ministers of Health attending the 68th World Health Assembly, to host its Anglophone Africa Constituency Meeting at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Prior to the Constituency meeting, GAVI met with the Sierra Leone Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah where the organisation expressed satisfaction over the ongoing reforms in the Ministry, including the re-establishment of the Integrated Health Projects Administration Unit (IHPAU). In addition to GAVI, the re-establishment of IHPAU has the support of the World Bank, the Global Fund and other donors. IHPAU will have a dual role, building the capacity of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation as well as management of donor funds channelled through the Ministry of Health and Sanitation for the Health Sector Recovery Plan, which emphasises Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal, and Child Health (RMNCH).

GAVI is a long-time partner of Sierra Leone and the organisation is being credited with most of the gains the country has made over the years in the area of immunisation, including the country reaching immunisation coverage as high as 98% prior to the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak. It could be recalled that sometime in 2012/13, the relationship between the Health and Sanitation Ministry and GAVI reached a low ebb due to some unfortunate institutional lapses on the part of the Ministry. The institutional reforms taking place in the Ministry will restore partner confidence and is welcomed by all partners.

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Politics

GUMA BRIEFS COMMITTEE ON WATER RESOURCES

For the purpose of providing sustainable water supply to the residents of Freetown and its environs, the Parliamentary Committee on Water Resources which is chaired by Hon. Sualiho M. Koroma few days ago summoned the management of GUMA Valley Water Company; charged with the exclusive responsibility of providing water for Freetown; at Committee Room 1 in Parliament to give an update on the status of their activities undertaken in 2014.

According to the Chairman, this was the first time the management of GUMA had met with the entire membership of the Committee since it was reconstituted in the third session of the fourth Parliament. He recalled that such engagements last year resulted in an oversight of GUMA’s existing facilities. He also assured the management of GUMA not to feel intimated as the Committee was only performing its oversight function; whose findings and recommendations would be tabled and debated in Parliament for necessary action. He furthered, that the briefing was not meant to witch-hunt anyone, but to sincerely discuss their status report; as MPs had a lot of water related issues in their constituencies in Freetown.

Read more...
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