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East-Africa

Uganda Internal Affairs Minister Denies State Torture, Abductions

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General Jeje Odong, Uganda’s Minister of Internal Affairs on Tuesday denied state hand in orchestrating disappearances of people, torture and existence of safe houses.

The Minister made the remarks during a televised interview themed, ‘ what are the unanswered questions on the state of security?’

Ugandans on social media have for the past months been circulating photos of missing relatives and friends- Their disappearances intensified in the run-up to January Presidential elections.

“When we are discussing this question of “disappearances”, we ought to talk about it in relation to the circumstances that must have occurred to cause that situation,” Gen. Odong said, adding, “I can’t say the unaccounted for people are dead. “

According to this minister, “the State is not holding people in illegal detention centres or gazetted places. There are several agencies involved in this exercise.”

“No one is being held in a safe house or CMI dungeon. I wish I could meet and talk to those people saying they had been tortured in safe houses. I don’t have that experience or knowledge,” Odong says.

Western countries have been pressuring President Yoweri Museveni to account for disappeared people and threatened to slam sanctions of his government.

Museveni admitted that his government was holding only 330 disappeared people. However, Minister Odong says, “I have given a list of 177. There is no contradiction in numbers. I am only releasing lists as the numbers are being processed.”

There are growing fears across Uganda and the capital Kampala where un-plated vans with tinted glasses comb through streets in many towns picking red bereted supporters of the opposition National Unity Platform Political party that narrowly lost the elections.

“The red berets are worn by Uganda’s military police and, therefore, exclusively a military store. These are not targeted military abductions,” Odong said.

According to Odong, “As long as someone has committed an offence, we have no apology. If we get you on camera doing something wrong, that is a crime. The due process of court is a different matter.”

He also says, “There is no secret in the intentions of NUP. They are still bent on trying to destabilise with an intention that President Museveni, who won the election, doesn’t swear in. There are plans. They are masterminded by internal groups assisted by external groups. We are aware of these plans.”

“I believe external forces are fueling the situation in the country. I have evidence of external factors and agencies,” The General said.

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East-Africa

Schools in Burundi Reopen With Disregard For Covid-19

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Schools in Burundi reopened early this week bringing an end to more than two months of vacation.

Egide Harerimana, a journalist attached to Iwacu, a private media critical of the Gitega based government, has taken a quick observation of the reopening of the schools.

According to Harerimana, while the start of the school year is happening in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic, the barrier measures are not respected in some schools in the town hall of Bujumbura.

For good reason, insufficient desk benches and the high number of pupils and schoolchildren.

It is 10 a.m. at the Kamenge III primary school north of the city of Bujumbura. Classes haven’t started yet. The students play in the yard. A reunion after two months of long vacation.

Some even go so far as to kiss. Others look at their names on the bulletin board lists. No one cares about covid-19.

The washing kits are there but there is no soap, physical distancing is almost non-existent, the wearing of masks as well. There are risks of contamination.

“The situation is worrying. At a time when we are talking about an upsurge in positive cases, no measures have been taken to protect our children “, deplores a parent who met on the spot.

He calls on the school administration and the government to take all possible measures to protect students from covid-19.

The school administration says it reminded students to strictly observe barrier measures to prevent covid-19.

However, she does not deny a relaxation in the application of barrier gestures.

“It’s difficult to respect physical distancing with all these children,” says Hildegarde Banyankindagiye, headmistress of the primary school (ECOFO) Kamenge III.

She evokes a problem of lack of desk benches: “Three students share a desk bench. Normally, it should be at most two students on a bench to respect the physical distance but it is impossible “.

Time check, 11 a.m. at the Buyenzi municipal high school in Mukaza commune. A few students are in the classroom and others are entering. No one wears a mask.

In classrooms, two or three of them sit on small desks. Difficult to keep a distance between two students. There are no wash kits. Even on the two taps installed, the students wash their hands without soap.

“I wash my hands before I go to class. But in the classroom the situation is dangerous. We’re too tight, without a mask. There are risks of contamination, ”laments a 8th grade student at the same school.

According to Olive Habonimana, director of the municipal high school Buyenzi, it is difficult to control the pupils with respect to the barrier measures.

“We try to sensitize them but sometimes they forget the instructions, kiss or even shake hands,” She explains that wearing a mask is not mandatory.

The situation was the same at the Rohero Municipal High School. On this day of the start of the school year, the activities had not yet started. The pupils formed small groups in class to discuss, share how they spent their holidays.

Observation; they do not wear a mask and do not respect physical distancing. Yet, they came from different parts of the city, where covid-19 is reported.

“It’s difficult to prevent possible contamination when the students are external. We reminded them to wear masks on buses and to wash their hands when they arrive at school, ”said Gertrude Simbananiye, principal of Rohero Municipal High School.

She explains that her school has a high number of students, which is why it is impossible to maintain physical distancing in the classroom.

“Some classes have more than 80 students. So three students must share a desk bench, ”regrets the principal, adding that even classrooms are narrow and cannot contain many desk benches.

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East-Africa

President Ndayishimiye Launches Population Census in Burundi

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The excersise to count every Burundian in the much isolated East African country was officially flagged off by President Evariste Ndayishimiye on Friday.

President Ndayishimiye launched activities of the general census of the population, habitat, agriculture and breeding scheduled for 2022.

He urged his compatriots , each as far as he is concerned to invest in the success of this census so that decision-makers can know the real life situation of Burundian citizens.

Ndayishimiye indicated that the general census under preparation will provide objective figures which will help to know the personnel to be aligned on the fight against poverty.

According to him, the next general census will provide the opportunity to assess what has happened since the last census in 2008 and the economic situation of Burundi.

On this occasion, the President specified that the results of this census will serve as a basis for the implementation of public policies adapted to the real needs of the population.

He added that the general census of 2022 will make it possible to know the number of the population by age groups, and especially the number of young people, which will facilitate the State to take strategies to prepare for a better future.

Ndayishimiye says this census will also provide a good opportunity for the State to make the population understand that it is necessary to give birth to children that we can bear.

It was also an opportunity for the Head of State to call on the entire Burundian population to prepare to respond massively to this census, inviting all the administrators and leaders to sensitize the population on the importance of being registered.

“We have integrated the basic modules of agriculture and livestock in the general census population and housing and data collection will be done using new information and communication technologies,” he said.

On behalf of technical and financial partners friends of Burundi, the representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) appealed to the Government of Burundi to complete the process of setting up the Central Census Bureau, the central technical body of execution and condition sine qua non for the optimal realization and the success of this census.

Because of the importance of the 4th general census of Burundi, the representative of UNFPA in Burundi called on politicians, administrators, religious men and women, members of civil society and the private sector to call for the mobilization and support from all.

He reaffirmed the readiness of UNFPA and the United Nations system to continue mobilizing global expertise in the field of censuses and additional resources to support the diligent completion of this important operation in accordance with international standards until dissemination and development.

It should be noted that this general census of the population, housing, agriculture and livestock in 2022 will last 21 days and that the cost is estimated at BIF 48,556,797,000 (U$24,458,583).

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Crime

East African Community Urged to Fight Wildlife Crimes

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Sylvester Mwakitalu the President of EA Association of Prosecutors (EAAP) has called on the EAC partner states to cooperate in curbing wildlife crimes.

Mwakitalu who is also the Director of Public Prosecution in Tanzania said it was crucial for EAC countries to join forces in addressing transnational organised crime.

“The scourge of tourism and wildlife crimes leaves us with no option other than cooperating,” said Mwakitalu, while addressing the 9th EAAP annual general meeting on Monday.

He also noted the importance of the EAC partner states to fully engage in the repatriation of offenders and exchange of information. Mwakitalu warned that wildlife criminals were getting more sophisticated each day, hence the need for forging cooperation.

Meanwhile, his Kenyan counterpart DPP Noordin Haji advocated for the harmonisation of policies in curbing trans-border crimes.

“This will be an important step especially when we are grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic,” Noordin said.

He also rooted for joint collaboration among partner states, singling out Kenya’s move of returning gold to Tanzania as a perfect example of collaboration among partner states.

Two years ago, Kenya returned 35kg of gold seized in the country by Police to Tanzania.

According to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), the 46-year-old man had arrived from Mwanza via Kilimanjaro and was heading to Dubai.

On his part, the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and social sectors Christophe Bazivamo lauded the prosecutors for safeguarding justice within the region by streamlining delivery of justice by enhancing cooperation among partner states through detection, investigation and prosecution of crimes within the region.

Bazivamo told prosecutors that the EAC, through the East African Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities (EAACA) had endeavoured to pursue monetary and asset recovery in cases of transnational crimes in the region.

“We have engaged in several regional training programmes that have resulted in improved skills in asset recovery, crime detection, investigations, whistleblower and witness protection among others,” he added.

The EAC Deputy Secretary General however acknowledged that the community has encountered numerous challenges in its efforts to counter the prevalence of transnational crimes and wildlife crimes.

EAAP is an association of National Prosecution Authorities of East Africa, whose mandate is to promote and facilitate cooperation among its member states through detection, investigation and prosecution of crimes in the region as well as to offer legal assistance to its members.

 

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