Daily Archives: April 29, 2008

Mozambique police allowed to torture and kill people at will with impunity

BBC | Apr 29, 2008

Police in Mozambique have been accused of killing and torturing people with near total impunity.

The human rights group Amnesty International has published a report saying the Mozambique police appear to think they have a licence to kill.

The group says officials have responded to rising crime rates with often lethal force, but that they almost never face criminal proceedings.

Police in the southern African nation refused to comment on the report.

Amnesty’s report was published just a day after Mozambique’s League for Human Rights said the country’s human rights situation had deteriorated in 2008.

Changes needed

“Police in Mozambique seem to think they have a licence to kill and the weak police accountability system allows for this,” said Michelle Kagari, deputy director of Amnesty’s Africa Programme, in the report, entitled “Licence to Kill”.

“In almost all cases of human rights violations by police – including unlawful killings – no investigation into the case and no disciplinary action against those responsible has been undertaken, nor has any police officer been prosecuted.”
Amnesty’s report highlights individual cases including that of Afonso Penicela, who was allegedly grabbed from his home by police, beaten up, shot in the back of the neck and set on fire.

He survived long enough to tell his family what had happened to him, before dying in hospital from his injuries.

No police officer has been arrested over Mr Penicela’s death.
In February, police opened fire on a group of people protesting in the capital Maputo about increased transport fares, Amnesty’s report says.

Three people were killed and around 30 injured in the incident.
Amnesty has recommended urgent changes to police codes to bring them into line with international standards.

UN covered up peacekeeper crime and corruption

The 18,000-member force in Congo is the UN’s largest peacekeeping operation. It has been plagued by sexual abuse and corruption scandals.

Telegraqh | Apr 29, 2008

By Our Foreign Staff

The United Nations covered up evidence that peacekeeping troops were involved in smuggling gold and ivory and trading arms with rebel fighters in the Democratic Republic of Congo, it has been claimed.

UN peacekeepers in Congo are accused of smuggling gold and trading in arms.

A BBC investigation claims to have obtained new witness accounts which contradict UN claims that no weapons transfers occurred.

The UN launched an investigation into the Pakistani and Indian peacekeepers after the allegations were first aired last year, and although there were indications that a Pakistani soldier had been involved in drug smuggling, no evidence of arms trading turned up.

The BBC’s Panorama programme, returning to the region to follow up its original report, said it found witnesses who backed claims of arms trading between the UN and militia in the mining town of Mongbwalu.

They said weapons were given to militias there to guard the perimeters of gold mines and to secure the region. A former militant, who was not named, told the BBC he saw seven boxes of ammunition being brought from a UN camp to resupply a militia called the Nationalist and Integrationist Front during a battle.

Former leaders of the militia jailed in the capital, Kinshasa, also claimed they received weapons from UN peacekeepers.

A previous BBC report also claimed that a separate contingent of Indian peacekeepers had flown a UN helicopter into Congo’s Virunga National Park to trade ammunition for ivory with a Rwandan rebel group whose commanders directed Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

In July, the UN said it had opened an investigation into charges that Indian peacekeepers sold arms to Congolese militias near the Rwandan border.

The BBC said “confidential UN sources” said they had been blocked from thoroughly investigating the allegations of arms trading for “political reasons”, saying this suggested that reports were buried to avoid embarrassment to key allies in US anti-terrorism efforts and major contributors to UN missions.

The UN has said it was looking into charges that the probe by its internal watchdog, the Office of Internal Oversight Services, was obstructed by peacekeepers.

A UN spokesman in Congo said the BBC report did not appear to raise new allegations, and added that investigations are continuing into accusations of misconduct. “It is clear that there were cases of unacceptable conduct by individuals, but there is no proof to establish the traffic mentioned,” said Kemal Saiki, a spokesman.

He said UN investigations had yet to turn up “irrefutable proof” of weapons or munitions transfers. Pakistan denied the previous allegations against its peacekeepers, and spokesmen for the country’s Foreign Ministry and its military could not be reached for comment on the latest claims.

The Indian Army told the BBC that the previous UN probe showed nearly all allegations were based on hearsay.

The 18,000-member force in Congo is the UN’s largest peacekeeping operation. It has been plagued by sexual abuse and corruption scandals.

US recession will be a really bad one according to Warren Buffett

ABC Australia | Apr 28, 2008

By Michael Rowland

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has repeated his view that the US is in recession and the slowdown will be more severe than most people expect.

Mr Buffett, the world’s richest man, says Americans are being hurt by rising food and petrol prices and the US recession will be longer and deeper than most people think.

“My feeling from what I see in the economy is this, it will not be short and shallow,” he said.

Economic growth figures due out in the US this week are expected to confirm the extent of the slowdown.

The US Federal Reserve is also poised to make another cut to official interest rates to help stimulate the flagging economy.

Overnight confectionery giant Mars said it was set to buy US chewing gum firm Wrigley’s for $24.5 billion, with Mr Buffet taking a minority share in Wrigley’s once the deal is completed.