Monday, June 13, 2011

With Growth Comes Change

Dear Readers, 

Contact FM has been working on a new website. Starting today, the stories from your favorite radio station, CFM will now be posted on our new website

As we work toward the official inauguration of our website at the end of June 2011, you can continue reading all our coverage and much more on the new website. The new website will come with a number of new features. For example, we will have a blog section, we will also have live streaming. Currently we are working to ensure that the live streaming services, once installed will deliver our quality programming to wherever you may be visiting us from. 

The website will also for the first time have a business section, where you can search for different services on offer, right as you continue listening to your favorite radio station. 

Many more services will be offered so as to fit in well with your busy lifestyle. So from all of us here at CFM, we can only tell you to stay tuned and keep in touch!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Rwandan Universities to Harmonize with the EAC

Rwandan institutions of higher of learning will now be starting the academic year in September to June in a move to take up the system used in other East African Community member states. This is a decision made by the Cabinet meeting that sat on Wednesday chaired by President Paul Kagame.

The major reasons for the new academic calendar is to harmonize it with the calendar for the East African Community member states, to have it match with the counties’ financial year, to ease the flow of students going to study in member states and to cut short the period of time spent by students before joining  Universities.

However, Edward Munyamariza, the spokesperson of the civil society in Rwanda, says  that although most of the time the government engages with the civil society on different decisions that have impact on the population, on this academic calendar decision, it was not consulted.

When contacted, the Minister of Education Pierre Damien Habumuremyi told Contact FM that before this decision was taken, all the stake holders were consulted and the allegations by the civil society are simply not true. The academic year has been starting from January to October while in other EAC member states, the year begins in September and ends in June.

The new decision will include changes in the existing syllabus to fit well in the integration requirements. Edward Munyaneza says these changes will come along with consequences, but the civil society is ready to talk with the government to reduce the risks.

The education sector in Rwanda has been facing a lot of changes recently due to its inclusion in the east African community, for example the use of English as a communication language in schools. However the Education minister says that these changes are inevitable.

The Education minister also said that the higher education institutions in the country have already started preparing themselves to adopt the new system in September next year. Normally the academic year lasts for ten months but if this system starts operating, the academic year will be reduced to eight months.

Prison Authorities Hold Woman at Remera Over Tender Row

Chantal Mushambokazi, a businesswoman who won a tender last year to run the Remera prison canteen located in Kimironko, here in Kigali was this Friday taken hostage in the prison director’s office due to a contract dispute.

In July last year, Mushambokazi won a renewable contract that ran until February 2011. Mushambokazi’s family told Contact FM that she honoured this contract but had written to the prison management asking for the contract to be renewed.

They didn’t respond. She had also asked for the contract to be reviewed because of very high market prices that no longer made the business profitable. Still they didn’t respond. As a result she recently wrote to Remera prison authorities asking them to terminate the contract and on Wednesday she stopped work all together. 

It is in this respect that Contact FM visited Remera prison to find out the real picture. We were stopped at the gate and told to obtain a letter from the Director General of the National Prison Services. In the meantime we talked to Mushambokazi on the phone who told us she was coming out of prison to talk to us. But prison authorities prevented her from leaving prison premises and confiscated her phone as well.

Our efforts to speak to Remera prison director, Uwera Gakwaya Teddy to establish the reason for Mushambokazi’s ordeal and the contract situation were futile as she refused to pick our reported calls.

Update: Court Incompetent to Try Genocide Cases, Declares Danish Court

The Danish court of Roskilde, west of the capital Copenhagen said on Wednesday it has no competence to try Rwandan genocide suspects, a decision that reveals a legislative vacuum in Denmark.The court found that there was no legal basis for Denmark to pursue foreigners blamed for genocide in a third country. 

This decision will directly impact on the trial of Emmanuel Mbarushimana, a Rwandan genocide suspect who was arrested in Denmark in December 2010. However, the court said it was competent to try him on murder charges and would keep him under provisional detention in the meantime.

During the genocide, Mbarushimana was the inspector of primary schools in Muganza commune in former Butare prefecture in present-day southern province. Mbarushimana is alleged to have led a death squad involved in the massacre of 25,000 Tutsis in the town of Gasagara between April 21 and 25, 1994.  

The 49-years old arrived in Denmark in 2001 and lived in Roskilde, 30km west from the capital Copenhagen.
Rwanda’s Prosecution says there are at least 15 genocide suspects on Danish soil.


Rwanda Declared to be a Manageable Risk

Rwanda has been rated as a country with manageable risk according to a survey released at the end of May by Strategico, a French organization that handles risk organization. Strategico looks at some specific factors such as arms and politics, economic issues such as the budget and financial stability, population issues, religion and social issues such as development, education, freedom of speech and so on. 

The organization concentrates specifically on African countries; it has noted Benin and Cote D’ivoire as the countries whose risk has reduced. Burkina faso’s situation especially politically has been termed as tense since after the elections there have been a series of protests and mutinies, Guinea has also been associated with risk as Conde is said to be scaring investors and the opposition while closer home in Uganda-the tense political situation and frequent protests have also made the country be taken as experiencing a high risk.

Rwanda Working to Improve Financial Literacy

The government of Rwanda says that it is aware of the big problem of a lack of financial know how among small and medium entrepreneurs. The challenge has led to many of the entrepreneurs loosing on opportunities to access financial assistance when such chances arise. Trade and industry Minister Francois Kanimba says that there is a major plan in the pipeline to help address this issue.

" There is an operation to be implemented this year supported by the Access to finance Rwanda project-this is a project supported by DFID to implement a financial literacy program. I’m sure this program will contribute a great deal to inform the people even to educate them about the opportunity they have when they start working with financial institutions, so the program is underway."
Another problem that Kanimba says is being worked on is the challenge of the low levels of banked population of the SMEs. According to a FINSCOPE survey done in 2008, only 14 percent or 518,423 people of the adult population were banked. 

" But my belief that this number has dramatically changed the last 3  years, we don’t have yet an updated survey but I’m sure this indicator is growing fast taking into account a number of considerations, for example, since the time Bank Populaire has been transformed into a fully fledged commercial bank, we have seen the number of bank accounts increasing by more that 30% but also the coming in of a number of micro-finance banks like Urwego Opportunity bank and the fast growth of some big micro-finance banks who are outreaching people in rural areas, someone should be expecting now the number of banked people to have moved far higher that 25% by the time being."

FinScope, a FinMark Trust initiative, is a nationally representative study of consumers' perceptions on financial services and issues, which creates insight

Sean Kingston to Confirm Rwandan Tour Next Week

JamaNext week, that’s when the Jamaican born American singer Sean Kingston will officially announce whether or not he will attend the Guma Guma superstar final concert. The artist who was set to have the final concert in Kigali in July remains hospitalized in Miami while recovering from injuries suffered in a scary Jet Ski accident on Sunday, he is said to spend six weeks on the hospital bed according to his representative. 

Sean Kingston suffered a broken jaw and wrist and got water in his lungs after he and the female passenger riding with him crashed into Palm Island Bridge. Reports reaching us say that Sean Kingston still has a breathing tube in his mouth so he can't talk and he's awake and alert in his hospital bed. He has so far canceled his July 7 concert at Lincoln-Way Central High School, in Miami USA.

One More Year for the TFG, Says Museveni

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has said Somalia's transitional government should be given another year to consolidate gains against militants Otherwise, Uganda will withdraw its troops helping the government fight Islamist al-Shabab militants.

The current mandate for the UN-backed government is due to expire on 20 August and the UN is calling for elections to be held quickly. President Museveni said polls this year would allow the militants to reorganise.

Uganda currently contributes about 5,000 troops to an African Union (AU) peacekeeping force, called Amisom, in Somalia. Burundi supplies the rest of the force.

Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmad told the International Contact Group on Somalia that the country was too unstable for a vote. He also called for the transitional government's tenure to be extended. The AU force in Somalia deployed to Mogadishu in 2007 to back the weak interim government.

Somalia has been racked by constant war for more than 20 years. Its last functioning national government was toppled in 1991.

Anti-Apartheid Heroine Albertina Sisulu Dies

Veteran ANC stalwart Albertina Sisulu has died at the age of 92 in her Linden, Johannesburg home, SABC news reported on Thursday.

The wife of former ANC president Walter Sisulu, she was one of the last of a generation of leaders venerated as struggle heroes.

She had little interest in politics when she met Walter Sisulu, future general secretary of the ANC.

But she plunged wholeheartedly into the liberation struggle and emerged from years of detention, bannings and arrests as a major political figure in her own right.

"All these years I never had, you know, a comfortable life," she commented years later.

Sisulu, born Nontsikelelo Albertina Tetiwe, was born in the Tsomo district of the Transkei on October 21 1918, the second of five children of Bonilizwe and Monikazi Tetiwe.

Orphaned as a teenager, she was obliged to help provide for her younger brothers and sisters. Abandoning her ambition to train as a teacher, she left the Transkei to train as a nurse at Johannesburg's Non-European Hospital, as nurses were paid during training.

Education was key
She nevertheless continued for the rest of her life to be keenly interested in education, which she saw as central to the struggle.

"Even in the struggle, if people don't know what they are fighting for it is useless," she said in later years.

"We must educate our women because often they suffer the most -- and their children with them. If we all knew what was really important, we would just need to shout once."

Sisulu started work in Johannesburg as a midwife in 1946, often walking to visit patients in townships.
"You know what it means to be a midwife? You have got to carry a big suitcase full of bottles and for your lotions that you are going to use, and bowls and receivers, and we used to carry those suitcases on our heads," she said.

In 1944 she married Walter Sisulu, an ANC activist, with whom she was to have five children, Max Vuyisile, Mlungisi, Zwelakhe, Lindiwe and Nonkululeko. They were married for 59 years, until he died in his wife's arms in May 2003 at the age of 90.

Max and Lindiwe went on to become successful and well-respected politicians in the new South Africa. Max is currently the speaker of Parliament and Lindiwe the minister of defence and military veterans.

True love
Albertina said of her marriage: "I was told that I was marrying a politician and there was no courtship or anything like that.”

Yet at his funeral their granddaughter read a tribute to him on her behalf: "Walter, what do I do without you? It was for you who I woke up in the morning, it was for you who I lived ... You were taken away by the evils of the past the first time, but I knew you would come back to me. Now the cold hand of death has taken you and left a void in my heart."

Political involvement was part of her life, particularly women's organisations.

She joined the ANC Women's League and, when it was relaunched in 1990, she became its deputy president. She helped form the Federation of SA Women in 1954 and the following year helped launch the Freedom Charter.

Sisulu opposed Bantu education, running schools from home, and marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest passes for women in 1955. "We said, 'nothing doing'. We are not going to carry passes." She spent three weeks in jail before being acquitted on pass charges, with Nelson Mandela as her lawyer.

Her husband was the ANC general-secretary by then so she was the breadwinner -- "because my husband was just for ANC then".

She recruited nurses to go to Tanzania, to replace British nurses who left after Tanzanian independence. The South African nurses had to be "smuggled" out of SA into Botswana and from there they flew to Tanzania.

House arrest
By 1964 her husband was in jail for life and she was banned for five years, then placed under house-arrest for 10 years.

"That was the worst," said Sisulu.

She was alone with her own five children plus her late sister-in-law's three children.

She was in and out of jail, including one stint with her son, then 17-years-old, who went into exile after that.

Her children grew up in boarding schools, and by the mid-70s, two were in exile.

"None of the children in this house hasn't tasted jail," she commented, describing the constant jailings and questionings by police as "the food in this house". Once three generations were in jail simultaneously -- her husband, her son and her grandson.

She worked as a nurse until 1983 when she "retired" at the age of 65, only to start working for Soweto doctor Abu-Baker Asvat who was murdered a few years later.

In 1983 she was elected co-president of the United Democratic Front (UDF).

The same year she was charged with furthering the aims of the ANC; her conviction was overturned on appeal but she was restricted to her home under state of emergency laws.

World traveller
In 1989 she managed to obtain a passport and led a UDF delegation overseas, meeting British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and United States president George HW Bush. In London, she addressed a major anti-apartheid rally to protest against the visit of National Party leader FW de Klerk.

In October 1989 her restrictions were lifted and the following day her husband was released from jail.

In 1994, she was elected to the first democratic Parliament, which she served until retiring four years later. That year she received an award from then-president Mandela.

She may have retired again but her activism did not stop.

In 2000, the family publicly disclosed that their adopted son, Gerald Lockman, had died of HIV/Aids.

In 2003, now widowed, Sisulu celebrated her 85th birthday by unveiling the plaque for a new community centre for children with special needs in Orlando West. It was mainly through her tenacity that this centre became a reality -- she worked on it for 20 years.

Weeks later, she and Mandela opened the Walter Sisulu Paediatric Cardiac Centre for Africa in Johannesburg, named for her late husband. She became a trustee for the centre and helped fundraise for it.

Her impact was so great that in April 2004, Thabo Mbeki at his inauguration as president referred to her and Adelaide Tambo along with his own mother Epainette Mbeki as "my mothers".

Still on the go in August 2006, a frail Sisulu attended the 50th anniversary re-enactment of the 1956 Women's March on Pretoria. "There are many difficulties still in our path," she said in a message read there on her behalf.

Her life is detailed in a biography by her daughter-in-law Elinor Sisulu, Walter and Albertina Sisulu: In our lifetime

Bosnian General Mladic Due at the Hague

Bosnian Serb ex-army chief Ratko Mladic was due to make a long-awaited first appearance before a UN judge on Friday after 16 years on the run from genocide charges. The man dubbed the "Butcher of Bosnia" will be asked to identify himself, answer questions about his health, and then plead to 11 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity on the indictment.

For long Europe's most wanted man for atrocities committed during Bosnia's 1992-95 war that killed 100,000 people, 69-year-old Mladic was arrested in northeast Serbia last Thursday.

"Sixteen years is a long time to wait for justice," the prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), said after his dramatic capture.

Mladic is accused of masterminding the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of about 8,000 Muslim men and boys - Europe's worst mass killing since World War II - and the 44-month siege of the capital Sarajevo from May 1992 in which 10,000 died.

He was flown to the Netherlands on Tuesday to stand trial before the ICTY, after Serbian judges denied his appeal on health grounds and found him fit to stand trial. On the eve of his much-anticipated appearance, however, Mladic's lawyer Milos Saljic said his client was treated for cancer two years ago while evading justice.

The ex-general had also suffered three strokes and two heart attacks, the lawyer said, as the prosecution of the tribunal warned the trial would not start for months.

"It is a complex case, it will take time to prepare," spokesman Frederick Swinnen said.

Mladic's one-time mentor, Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, died in The Hague four years into his own genocide trial in 2006, of a heart attack. If he fails to plead to the charges on Friday, Mladic will be given 30 days to do so or have the court enter a not-guilty plea on his behalf.

If he pleads guilty, there will be no trial, only a sentencing procedure. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison. It was not clear ahead of the hearing whether Mladic had appointed a lawyer or would opt instead to conduct his own defence, like Radovan Karadzic whose genocide trial opened in October 2009.

The two men, regarded as the political and military architects of the Bosnian Serb campaign, are charged with seeking to "permanently remove" Muslims and Croats from areas of Bosnia in pursuit of a "Greater Serbia".

As international news crews swarmed into The Hague, the tribunal rented extra space at a nearby conference centre to handle an overflow of visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of the ex-general in the dock. Mladic's family are not expected among the throngs, having said through a lawyer they will visit him after the hearing, "calmly".

Five victims' representatives said they will be in The Hague to see Mladic in person.

Munyagishari Yet to be Transferred to the Hague

A week after the arrest of Bernard Munyagishari in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Congolese authorities are yet to transfer him to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania.

Munyagishari’s transfer is taking longer than expected like that of Gregoire Ndahimana who was arrested by Congolese authorities in August 2009 but wasn’t transferred for weeks until ICTR threatened to take DRC to the UN Security Council.

Usually, the transfer process takes time for fugitives arrested in the West, where arrests are followed by long legal battles but those arrested in African countries are normally transferred within days. 

Munyagishari, 52, was arrested on May 25 near Goma town. He is the former President of the Interahamwe in former Gisenyi prefecture in present-day Rubavu district of the western province. He is wanted by the ICTR on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, including rape. 

He is alleged to have recruited, trained and led Interahamwe militiamen in mass killings and rapes of Tutsi women in Gisenyi and beyond, between April and July 1994.

Dutch MPs Unhappy With Decision on Ingabire Documents

Dutch Parliamentarians are not happy with a court’s decision to send 3 of the nine documents belonging to Ingabire Umuhoza Victoire to Rwanda; the decision was made by a court in Rotterdam in the Netherlands on Wednesday. The documents were confiscated from her home near Rotterdam in December last year during a search at the request of Rwanda’s Prosecution in an ongoing case where she is accused of planning to form an armed group to destabilize Rwanda. 

It is not clear when and if these documents will be sent to Rwanda. Meanwhile, Ingabire’s trial is due to begin on the 20th of June, she is accused of genocide ideology, complicity to commit terrorist activities, spreading harmful propaganda, threatening state security and complicity in forming an armed group.

Rwandan Academic Calendar Set to Change

The academic calendar has been changed to catch up with the East African community education system. This is amongst the resolutions in a cabinet meeting that took place on the 1st of June, chaired by President Paul Kagame. The academic year will be starting from 1st of July and end on the 30th June eh following year. This decision is set to be implemented from the beginning of next year.

The education sector in Rwanda has been facing a lot of changes recently due to its inclusion in the east African community. In our subsequent editions we will be assessing the impact of these changes on Education in Rwanda.

IFC Invests in Rwandan SMEs

The International Finance Cooperation-IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has this Thursday invested 1.6 million US Dollars in equity in Business Partners Rwanda SME Fund (BPI Rwanda).  

The fund aims to provide financing and management support for up to 70 SMEs, increasing employment and local entrepreneurship in Rwanda.  

Speaking to members of the press after the signing of the financial cooperation, Trade and Industry Minister Francois Kanimba said that the new development would help deal with the problem of low access to finance by the sector.

“…so we do expect from this arrangement an improvement in terms of increasing the rate of access to finance by SME groups. But at the same time, IFC has set up a swap arrangement with the Central Bank to provide a longer term financing scheme to SMEs. One of the ways they are using to disburse these funds is by signing agreements with some banks involved in refinancing the small and medium enterprises…”
Business Partners International is a South Africa based financier of SMEs, established in 2004 as a joint venture between IFC and Business Partners. Meanwhile, at the same function, IFC, announced a $2.5 million loan to Urwego Opportunity Bank of Rwanda, intended to improve access to finance for smaller businesses and borrowers in new areas of the country.
The investment is in form of a five-year, $2.5 million equivalent local currency loan to Urwego Opportunity Bank – the country’s only regulated microfinance bank.  UOB will use the financing to support its existing lending facilities, while expanding into rural areas.  

Jean Philippe Prosper, IFC Director for East and Southern Africa.
“…cost of funding is of course an issue and probably it is secondary to the availability of funding so we are now focusing on expanding the availability of funding and our primary targets are as our mission statement says that we will be focusing on those people in the lower end of the SMEs. We will be continually focusing on helping microenterprises to become more viable as a business entity…”

FDLR Occupies Shabunda in the DRC

The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels have occupied the entire territory of Shabunda in eastern DRC after government troops in the area vacated and reportedly went for training.
Areas affected include Tshamambe, Tshemalizi and Mulungu.

Civil society groups in south Kivu say the FDLR rebels are committing atrocities against civilians and have erected roadblocks where they are charging 2,000 Congolese Francs (2$) per person.

Colonel Delphin Kahimbi, the Operation Commander of Amani Leo campaign said FARDC forces had left for training as part of the restructuring of army units to strengthen their capacity.

In the meantime, Congolese civilians are paying the price as they are victims of the many atrocities being committed by the rebels with a risk of serious human rights violations.

This latest occupation by FDLR has reminded Congolese of the infamous Luvungi atrocities where in September last year FDLR rebels occupied the village and committed over 500 mass rapes against women and children for 4 consecutive days.

NLC Surpasses Demarcation Targets

The National Land Centre says the largest component of the land registration programme has reached a high of over 65% of the country, which is way above their intended target. The component involves the demarcation and adjudication of land, which the land centre had estimated would be at least 50% this month.  

The centre says it has demarcated around 5.5 million people out of an estimated 8 million people.  In an interview with Contact FM, Dr. Emmanuel Nkurunziza, the director general of the national land center shared what their time estimates are for this programme.

The centre says it has been facing some challenges though especially those to do with disputes. According to Nkurunziza, some emanate from families themselves, some are caused by polygamy while others are caused by conflicts between state and private land-challenges he says have mostly been dealt with by the adjudication committees as well as by other district resolution organs. 

Emmanuel Nkurunziza, there, the director general of the National Land Centre. He was speaking in the wake of a visit by stakeholders of the national land registration programme who were conducting a practical field check to evaluate its progress.

Senate to Review Penal Code

The Rwandan senate is currently reviewing the penal code in order to harmonize it with the constitution passed in the year 2003 and other laws that were enacted in subsequent years. Marie Mukantabana, vice president of the senate explains why it was necessary to make amendments to it.  

"The penal code came into force in 1977 and in the meantime many things have changed, other laws have been enacted and the legal environment has changed, reforms have taken place, and it was time for the revised penal code which will be suitable for the current circumstances. There are items that will be added and there are laws that contain provisions, penalty clauses, and the penal code revision should incorporate all that. So the current code is richer since it takes into account all the changes that have occurred in the meantime."
The penal code has more than 600 articles and that number may change as the review is not finished yet. Mukantabana added that the senate committee has completed its review of all the articles and adopted the report and the bill will be submitted to the Senate in a plenary session that begins on the 6th of June. The senate will then adopt it and hand it over to the chamber of deputies which is expected to adopt the changes made by the senate.

Ouattara Announces New Government

Ivory Coast announced a new government on Wednesday in another step towards re-establishing itself after a five-month dispute over presidential elections that descended into deadly violence.

The line-up of 36 ministers does not feature the party of Laurent Gbagbo, the former president who refused to step down after November elections, leading to the violence.

The new government is headed by Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, who is also defence minister; it includes 14 members of President Alassane Ouattara's Rally of the Republicans party and eight from the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast of his main ally, former president Henri Konan Bedie.

One-time rebel movement the New Forces has five members in the cabinet, one of them being Soro, while five ministers are from the civil society. The remaining portfolios are held by smaller parties, with Gbagbo's Popular Ivorian Front absent. Ouattara had wanted to include Gbagbo's party but it had imposed conditions for its participation, including the release of the former president and others.

Gbagbo is being held at an official residence in the north of the country and faces prosecution over the conflict.
The new government is expected to hold its first cabinet meeting on Friday.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ugandan Forces Stay Put at Migingo

Ugandan security forces on the disputed Migingo and Ugingo islands in Lake Victoria have defied exit orders issued by the Kenyan government. The officers have stayed put and continued with their operations despite eviction threats issued by the provincial commissioner of Nyanza Province Francis Mutie.

The PC had issued quit orders to both the Ugandans and Kenyans who had moved to Ugingo Island in a bid to restore calm in the area. But some of the Ugandan officers said they had not received “formal communication from Nairobi and Kampala to leave Ugingo” and were only reading about it in the newspapers.

A delegation led Mutie visited Migingo and Ugingo islands for the first time two weeks ago and asked Uganda to stop behaving in a manner likely to strain the good relations between the two East African nations.

The PC said the Ugandan marine police officers should be removed until the row is resolved. Mutie added that Uganda has been occupying Migingo island since 2004 whicg is wrong. Kenya’s land minister said records dating back to 1912 confirm beyond any reasonable doubt that the two islands are the property of kenya

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Human Rights Watch Releases Report on Gacaca

Human rights Watch is today releasing a report on the gacaca court system. The 144-page report is featured in the Human rights Watch website and its titled; Justice Compromised: The Legacy of Rwanda's Community-Based Gacaca Courts

It assesses the courts' achievements and outlines a number of serious shortcomings in their work, including corruption and procedural irregularities. Human Rights Watch details the system's achievements such as swift trials with popular participation, a reduction in the prison population, a better understanding of what happened in 1994, locating and identifying bodies of victims and a possible easing of ethnic tensions. 

Human Rights Watch says it also interviewed rape victims whose genocide-related cases were transferred in May 2008 from conventional courts that have stronger privacy protection, to gacaca courts saying many rape victims felt betrayed by this loss of confidentiality. 

The report is based on Human Rights Watch observing over 2,000 days of gacaca trials, reviewing more than 350 cases, and interviews with hundreds of participants from all sides of the gacaca process, including accused persons, genocide survivors, witnesses, other community members, judges, and local and national government officials.
Gacaca courts were established in 2001 to address the overload of cases in the conventional justice system and a prison crisis.

Rwanda's Concerns Over New Rebel Group in the DRC

Media reports indicate that Kigali has started sharing intelligence information as it builds a case for a possible intervention against the new group, which threatens to scuttle peace building in the volatile Great Lakes region.  

The East African Newspaper reports that the Rwanda army leadership has said that intelligence chiefs from the East African Community partner states and the United Nations are still analyzing data on the group, allegedly formed by two Rwandan dissidents, Col Patrick Karegeya and Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa. 

The United Nations early this year reported that the two mobilized the formation of a coalition of rebel groups that include the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC), Mai-Mai Sheka, Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR), Mai-Mai Yakutumba and FDLR-Soki, holed up in the Kivus. Lt Col Jill Rutaremara, the Rwanda Defence Spokesperson, according to The East African, estimated about 300 youth had been recruited into the ranks of FPLC and details of their profiles and activities had been shared with the UN Security Council. 

RURA Rules Out Portability for Now

The telecommunication industry in Rwanda continues to strive to grow but has been lately faced by various setbacks.

Even with the thought that introducing the number portability system, a system that would see you own your number including the prefix and be able to move with it across networks, would increase competition among operators, the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency-RURA, the body tasked with regulating public utilities still believes that it is too soon to bring it on board.

In an earlier interview Regis Gatarayiha, the acting Director General of RURA, he said that the system would only be introduced once Rwanda hits the 60% mobile telephony penetration level…

"…On the issue of Number portability, our position as the regulator is that we think due to the low levels of mobile telephony penetration levels in the country which is currently at 30%, we cannot be able to have it. There is nowhere in the world where it is done with 30% penetration levels. Everywhere else they do it when they have at least 60% penetration levels. This is to enable the available operator to continue to fight for more people to buy sim cards, phones etc so that they can reach a larger number of people who don’t have mobile telephone services. We have taken the position that we will look into it but until we get to the penetration level of 60%.  

But, MTN’s former Brand Marketing Manager Albert Rudantsimburwa feels otherwise. He believes that taking this stand would put less pressure on the existing operators to compete for new customers. In February this year, Rwanda shelved its plans for a fourth mobile license after the mobile market stuck at 3.6 million.

The reason given by the regulator was based on the fact that there was slow subscriber growth saying that with no growth for the past few months, it was important that the market shares at least 6 million subscribers by 2012.
According to Rura statistics, MTN had 2.59 million customers in January 2011, Tigo had 692,000 and Rwantatel had 345,000.

But with the removal of Rwandatel mobile telephony from the equation, Albert believes that there is need for the introduction of another operator to shake up the completion element in the market…

Kenya Loses Bid to Try Suspects at Home

The government’s attempt to convince the International Criminal Court that it is serious about investigating and punishing election violence suspects failed on Monday. 

Efforts to have the cases pending at the ICC brought back home were thrown out, with the judges finding the government’s grounds for claiming to be serious about punishing crimes against humanity unconvincing.
Judges appeared puzzled by the government’s claims to be investigating the cases without providing any proof.
In one case, the government gave the court a letter from the Attorney-General ordering the Commissioner of Police to investigate persons to have masterminded the violence. 

However, the letter was written after the government filed the case to have the Ocampo Six tried at home.
Judges, in their ruling, also noted that Kenya is short on measures already taken to punish impunity and long on promises of future action. The judges were categorical that any bid to challenge admissibility of the case must be supported by facts of existing investigations, which the government failed to provide.
The ruling by Pre-Trial Chamber judges now leaves the government with one option— a higher bench chaired by ICC President Judge Song Sang-Hyun to decide the fate.

Libyan Rebels Launch TV Station

Libya's rebels have launched their first homegrown satellite TV station, trying to counter the regime's powerful media machine, which they say transmits Muammar Gaddafi's message, depicts the opposition as terrorists and drums up patriotic passion by beaming images of burning buildings hit by NATO strikes.

Thousands of Libyans waving flags gathered in a public square in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi to watch the first broadcasts. 

The channel was born out of an Internet video streaming site launched by Zuhair Albarasi and fellow Libyan businessman Mohammed al-Nabbous, who since the uprising began in mid-February searched for a way to show it to the world and to the Libyans themselves.

But in a country where Internet access has been sharply curtailed for much of the population, the channel — hosted on Livestream — remains limited in its reach.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fugitive Arrested in the DRC

Rwanda has welcomed Wednesday’s arrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo of Bernard Munyagishari, one of the remaining fugitives sought by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Munyagishari, 52, is the former President of the Interahamwe in former Gisenyi prefecture in present-day Rubavu district of the western province. Munyagishari, currently detained in Goma pending transfer to the Tribunal, is wanted by the ICTR on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, including rape. 

He is alleged to have recruited, trained and led Interahamwe militiamen in mass killings and rapes of Tutsi women in Gisenyi and beyond, between April and July 1994.

Munyagishari, a native of Rubavu commune in Gisenyi prefecture was arrested pursuant to an international warrant issued on 8 September 2005. He has featured on the US Rewards for Justice programme as a fugitive from international justice.

New Genocide Memorial Opened at Murambi

A new exhibitional Genocide memorial has been opened at Murambi in Southern Province. The memorial has been opened at a site where, in April, 1994, approximately 50,000 Tutsi men, women and children were massacred by the interehamwe militia and soldiers loyal to the government responsible for the Genocide.
Established by The National Commission for the Fight against Genocide-CNLG, in association with the Aegis Trust, the memorial stands on a green hill amid the rolling countryside of the former Gikongoro Prefecture.

Tough Times as Farmers' Homes Pulled Down

Some farmers who used to live in grass thatched houses in the Southern Province have now been forced to sleep with their animals in the same house after authorities in their area pull down their grass thatched houses. Elias Biseruka is 40 year old who is married with six children.
He lives in a village called Kaburanjwiri of Cyebero cell, Ntongwe sector of Muhanga district. He told Contact FM that at the beginning of this week, local authorities demolished the grass thatched houses in the area.
We are still trying to reach out to the local leaders in the area and the ministry in charge of eradicating the grass thatched houses under the campaign dubbed “Bye bye Nyakatsi” for their reactions on the issue, and we will let you know as soon as we get more information in our subsequent edition.

Umuganda Dodgers Forewarned

Due to the poor attendance of the community service locally known as umuganda in the capital Kigali, authorities have put in place penalties for those who will not be taking part in this activity.
Some of the reasons raised as to why people in Kigali city don’t participate in the community services is poor planning and communication by their local leaders.
But depending on nature of profession or work, some people will be exempted from taking part in the monthly exercise
The Kigali city mayor Fidele Ndayisaba said that there are measures to deal with all problems to do with this community service in an interview with Contact FM’s  Richard Ndayambaje. The law establishing community works in Rwanda was approved on 17 November of 2007.
However, this law has been raising different reactions among city dwellers questioning why they were not consulted in the creation and the enacting process of this law.

RURA to Revise Interconnection Charges

Rwanda is expected to have new interconnection fees come the 1st of July this year. This is according to the Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Agency RURA. There has been an on-going study on the entire telecommunications sector which among other things, is expected to recommend new interconnection fees among telecommunication operators.

The current interconnection fee is at 40 Rwandan francs which, according to the telecoms regulator, is not cost effective and its reduction is expected to allow operators to lower prices and deepen mobile penetration. 

Meanwhile, Rwanda plans to adopt a SIM Card registration scheme and has set June next year as the deadline for sim card registration. RURA says this will help in curbing criminal acts made by cell phone users. 

The scheme is expected to be implemented within six months after cabinet has approved the law governing it. This move has already attracted some concern especially with regard to privacy but the regulator says, that is all covered in the law that will govern that registration.

Regional Governments to Jointly Fight Use of Small Arms

The Regional center on small arms (RECSA) has announced that it is going to implement a three year EU-funded project titled the fight against the illicit accumulation and trafficking of firearms in Africa.
This was at two day meeting that opened shop Thursday by police chiefs’ cooperation organizations, from Eastern, Central, Western and Central Africa regions, to discuss ways of dealing with illicit accumulation and trafficking of firearms and explosive materials in Africa.
Moussa Fazil Harerimana, Rwanda’s internal security minister concurs with Francis, insisting that the establishment of a joint task force to address common problems across borders among other countries is of at most importance.

Catholic Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse in Kenya

Renowned Catholic priest Father Renato Kizito was arrested on Thursday over fresh charges of sexual abuse following accusations by his 26-year-old male secretary.

The man told police that the sexual attack occurred on Tuesday night within Riruta area of Dagoretti, in the outskirts of the capital Nairobi.

Police had earlier gone to a house where the priest was said to be staying, but they did not get him. He, however, presented himself at the Kilimani police station when he learnt that he was being sought.

Fr Kizito, 49, an Italian priest of the Comboni Missionaries who was detained at the station from 8am was whisked out and bundled into a police car which sped off to an undisclosed hospital, trailed by another saloon car with five heavily armed police officers.

The priest who appeared shocked did not speak to journalists.

It is the second time the priest is being implicated in a sexual abuse case in the last two years.

In 2009, the Catholic priest was accused of sexually molesting young boys under his care but he denied the reports and instead termed them as a "case of blackmail, defamation and extortion."

Situation Remains Tense in Abyei

The situation in and around the disputed Sudanese region of Abyei remains tense with close to 40,000 people said to be fleeing the ongoing unrest.
A monitoring group said on Wednesday that satellite images indicate evidence of "war crimes" committed by Sudan’s northern army in Abyei.
This comes days after the Sudanese Armed Forces took control of Abyei town which is close to the oil fields in southern Sudan's Unity State and at the same time lies in South Kordofan State, the only oil-producing state in northern Sudan.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Prominent Kenyans Face Extradition to UK

Two prominent Kenyans are facing extradition to the United Kingdom where they have been charged with money laundering. The development is raising hopes for success in Kenya's war on graft.

On Tuesday, Kenyan Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo told reporters in Nairobi that Kenya had no choice but to extradite a former minister and the former managing director of the Kenya Power and Lighting Company to the United Kingdom. 

" …the time for Kenya to join other countries that respect the rule of law is now. So that is my position. I am surprised to see some of the remarks appearing in the media saying that if this happens, we will do this, if this happens we will do that. No no no…comply with the law and facilitate those Kenyan citizens to go and answer those charges where the courts have issued the warrants…"

Kilonzo was responding to questions regarding current member of parliament Chris Okemo and former utility official Samuel Gichuru. Both Okemo and Gichuru are wanted on the British island of Jersey to face charges of money laundering.

Late Monday, Attorney General Amos Wako submitted extradition requests from the United Kingdom, along with a report from Police Commissioner Matthew Iteere, to Chief Public Prosecutor Keriako Tobiko for consideration.
Tobiko will decide whether or not the extradition request is valid based on the strength of the evidence submitted by the United Kingdom. If Tobiko approves, Wako will then issue orders for the arrest and extradition of both Okemo and Gichuru
In return for the extradition of Okemo and Gichuru to Jersey, it was revealed that Britain was prepared to help locate and extradite Kenyan citizen Yagnesh Devani. Devani is wanted in Kenya for stealing nearly $100 million worth of oil from the Kenyan Pipeline Company.

Rwandatel Lays Off Staff

135 Rwandatel employees have so far been suspended for 3 months. Eugene Gashugi, president of the Rwandatel workers union says that through negotiations with Rwandatel’s administration, the process has been handled well. The suspension was done in two phases and it has been halted with 135 being the final tally.
Gashugi hopes that in due time when things get better some of them will be able to get their jobs back, but in case that is not possible, there was also a resolve from the negotiations to give those employees, the benefits they are due to be given.
Rwandatel’s mobile telecommunication license was revoked by the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) in April this year. Since then, an interim administrator was appointed by Rwanda’s commercial court to take charge of the company and to advise the court in 2 months time whether the company can be turned around or be liquidated.
This was after a commencement of the insolvency proceedings by the office of the Registrar General. The administrator is expected to present his report to the court at the end of this month.

Kanziga Appeals Asylum Decision

The lawyer representing Agathe Kanziga, widow of former Rwandan President, late Juvenal Habyarimana has told Contact FM they have appealed Tuesday’s decision by the prefecture of Essonne, near Paris in France that denied her asylum.
This decision was also endorsed by the Ministry of the Interior of France after the commission in charge of issuing residence had also denied her asylum.
Maitre Philip Meyak, the lawyer representing the family of Habyarimana says they will appeal this decision since it’s “political.”
On February 13, 2007, Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda (CPCR), an association of civil society groups based in France that advocates for the rights of Rwandan genocide survivors had lodged a complaint in a Paris court against Kanziga on charges of complicity in genocide.
Its head, Alain Gauthier said they are happy with this latest decision adding that Kanziga should not use politics as a scapegoat.
Kanziga is also the subject of an extradition request from Rwanda and is due to appear in the Appeals court of Paris on June 29 for the hearing.
Kanziga, 69, has been living in France since 1998 with her children. Rwanda on October 19, 2009 issued an international warrant of arrest for Kanziga accusing her of being a key member of the inner circle (Akazu) that planned the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.