Sowore: SERAP Writes CJN, Calls For Respect For Citizens’ Rights

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has written to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, asking him to urgently develop measures to stop state and federal governments from using “the court as a tool to suppress citizens’ human rights”.

The letter dated October 4, 2019, and signed by the SERAP Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, was in reaction to the ongoing trial of the convener of the #RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore.

According to SERAP, the NJC should ensure that when the authorities disobey court orders and suppress human rights, they are not allowed to come to the court and seek reliefs until they purge their contempt. Otherwise, “the justice system and the Nigerian constitution become a solemn mockery”.

Read the full statement below.

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has sent an open letter to Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman, National Judicial Council (NJC), urging him to use his offices and leadership of the NJC to “urgently develop measures and issue directives to all courts to respond to the disturbing trends by state governments and Federal Government to use the court as a tool to suppress citizens’ human rights.”

SERAP said: “Across the country, state governors and federal government are charging citizens, mostly journalists, bloggers and activists, with serious crimes such as ‘treason’, ‘treasonable felony’ or bogus crime of ‘insulting public officials’, simply for exercising their human rights.”

In the letter dated 4 October 2019 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “These charges, refusal of bail and granting of bail on stringent conditions seem to be dangerous manipulation of judicial authority and functions by high-ranking politicians, something which the NJC and the judiciary under your watch should resist.”

SERAP also said: “In the climate of a growing clampdown on human rights of journalists and activists by several state governments and federal government, the NJC ought to push back and act as protector of individuals’ rights against abuses by the authorities.

We believe that the courts, not the state government or federal government, should have the final say in matters of citizens’ human rights.”

According to the organization, “The NJC should ensure that when the authorities disobey court orders and suppress human rights, they are not allowed to come to the court and seek reliefs until they purge their contempt.


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Otherwise, the justice system and the Nigerian constitution become a solemn mockery.”

The letter, copied to Mr. Diego GARCÍA-SAYÁN, UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, read in part: “If the practice by state governments and federal government is allowed to continue, the courts will be relegated to desuetude, and will lead to arbitrary and unrestricted power as well as further suppression of citizens’ human rights.”

“It is essential for the NJC to issue directives to all courts to promptly consider on the face of the papers filed by the authorities whether the charges brought against journalists, bloggers and activists are truly based on facts or fabricated to secure indefinite detention of citizens with judicial authority.”

“In several cases, journalists, bloggers and activists have either been denied bail, as it is the case with journalist Agba Jalingo, or granted bail with stringent conditions that implicitly violate human rights, as it is the case with journalist and activist Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare.

In all of such cases, the alleged offences are not constitutionally and internationally recognizable.”

“It is important for the judiciary to exercise all the judicial power placed in its hands by the constitution with firm determination and to guard against encroachments on that power by either the state governments or the federal government.”

“Even during many years of military dictatorship when the constitution was suspended and with it, Nigerians’ fundamental rights, the judiciary was still able to play an important role in securing protection of individuals’ rights and rejecting any forms of executive rascality by drawing on a variety of sources, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”

“The return of democracy in 1999 gave rise to a legitimate public expectation that the NJC and the judiciary would be more active and proactive in enforcing the fundamental rights of Nigerians and pushing back in cases of violations and abuses of those rights, for the sake of the Nigerian constitution of 1999 (as amended) and as a step forward for increased accountability and greater integrity in government.”

“Nigerians now have a high degree of scepticism about the ability of the authorities at the state and federal levels to protect their human rights. We urge you to ensure that the NJC and the judiciary consistently demonstrate their original and sacred functions of standing between government and the governed.”

“Charging citizens for crimes of treason and treasonable felony or ‘insult’ simply for exercising their human rights shows the authorities’ lack of commitment to protecting the human rights of all Nigerians, particularly those who perform critical roles and contribute to strengthening and sustaining the Nigerian democratic system.”

“No government should have the power to use the courts as a tool of overriding the rights of individuals. The NJC has a responsibility to ensure that the courts play a central role in enforcing fundamental rights, and ensuring that the authorities do not use the courts as a tool to charge citizens with crimes, which are not constitutionally and internationally recognizable, simply for exercising their human rights.”

“Democracy requires some protection of the weak from the strong. The NJC ought to push for courts’ activism in the area of human rights, especially at this time when the authorities are regularly clamping down on citizens’ human rights. This will enhance democracy, the rule of law, and will be entirely consistent with the constitutional role of the judiciary.”

“Human rights and constitutional principles are fundamental and it is the role of an independent judiciary to give effect to those rights and principles, within the rule of law.”

“We believe that the NJC can ensure that the courts are better protectors of human rights than the executive at state and federal levels can ever be. Indeed, Nigerians including journalists, bloggers and activists require protection from both the state governments and federal government.”

“We believe that it is only an independent and courageous judiciary that can ensure full respect for the human rights of those brought before the courts by the authorities.”

“Agba Jalingo, journalist and publisher of the online CrossRiverWatch, is charged with treason over a report about an alleged diversion of N500 million by the Cross River governor, Ben Ayade.

According to our information, a Federal High Court sitting in Calabar, Cross River State, and presided over by Justice Simon Amobeda on October 4 2019 denied him bail. He was handcuffed to another inmate when he appeared in court.”

“Similarly, journalist and activist Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare are facing trial on seven counts of treasonable felony, fraud, cyber-stalking and insulting President Muhammadu Buhari, simply for exercising their human rights.”

“Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu granted Sowore and Bakare bail but imposed stringent conditions that implicitly violate their constitutional rights to personal liberty, presumption of innocence, freedom of movement and freedom of expression.”

“We hope that the aspects highlighted will help guide your action by ensuring that the NJC is able to urgently respond to the threats to judicial independence and authority highlighted above. We would be happy to provide further information or to discuss any of these issues in more detail with you.”

Kolawole Oluwadare
SERAP Deputy Director
6/10/2019
Lagos, Nigeria

Swiss To Auction 25 Super Cars Seized From E. Guinea Leader’s Son

 

 

A collection of luxury cars seized from Equatorial Guinea’s vice president Teodorin Obiang Nguema will be auctioned off in Switzerland on Sunday and are estimated to bring in 18.5 million Swiss francs ($18.7 million).

“This is an exceptional sale,” Philip Kantor, of British auctioneers Bonhams, told AFP. “It’s a private collection of supercars, with very low mileage.

Among the cars, to go under the hammer at a Geneva golf club, are seven Ferraris, three Lamborghinis, five Bentleys, a Maserati and a McLaren.

The most expensive lots are a Lamborghini Veneno Roadster, valued at between 4.8 million and 5.7 million euros ($5.2-6.2 million) and yellow Ferrari hybrid at 2.4-2.6 million euros.

The cars were all confiscated by Swiss justice after the opening in 2016 of a financial wrongdoing case against Obiang, son and likely heir of Equatorial Guinea’s authoritarian President Teodoro Obiang Nguema who has ruled for 40 years.

All will be sold with no reserve price.

In February Swiss prosecutors said they were dropping charges of financial wrongdoing against Teodorin Obiang Nguema but were confiscating the luxury cars as part of the case.

Under the Swiss penal code, prosecutors can choose to drop charges in this category if defendants offer compensation “and restore a situation that is in conformity with the law.”

Playboy reputation

Equatorial Guinea has also agreed to give Geneva 1.3 million Swiss francs to cover the costs of the case.

Vice president with responsibility for defence and security, Teodorin Obiang has a reputation for a playboy lifestyle.

In October 2017, a Paris court handed him a three-year suspended jail term after convicting Obiang of siphoning off public money to buy assets in France.

He was accused of spending more than 1,000 times his official annual salary on a six-storey mansion in a posh part of the French capital, a fleet of fast cars and artworks, among other assets.

He was also given a suspended fine of 30 million euros.

In September, Brazilian media said that more than $16 million in cash and luxury watches were seized by Brazilian police and customs officers from luggage of a delegation accompanying Obiang on a private visit.

Brazilian daily O Estado de Sao Paulo quoted a diplomatic source from Equatorial Guinea as saying the money was to pay for medical treatment Obiang was to undergo in Sao Paulo.

The watches were for the “personal use” of the president’s son and were engraved with his initials, the report said.

Obiang is reputedly on a fast track to succeed his father.

Last October, he was promoted from colonel directly to division general, without passing through the normal intermediary rank of brigade general.

The following month, he presided over a cabinet meeting for the first time.

The tiny West African nation is one of the continent’s top petroleum producers and has a population of just 1.2 million.

The country is regularly cited by NGOs as one of the most corrupt in the world.

US Congress Probes Trump’s Bid To Host G7 At His Resort

 

US Democratic lawmakers announced an investigation Wednesday into Donald Trump’s offer to host next year’s G7 summit at one of his golf courses, calling it the latest sign of presidential “corruption.”

The US leader prompted concerns about potential conflicts of interest by touting his Trump National Doral Miami club as the perfect site for the high-profile gathering of leaders of the Group of Seven advanced economies.

House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler and Steve Cohen, who heads a constitutional subcommittee, said Trump’s financial interests were “clearly shaping decisions about official US government activities.”

It is just the sort of risk that the US Constitution sought to address via its provisions on prohibiting a president from personally profiting from foreign governments, they added.

Trump’s proposal, they said, was “only the latest in a troubling pattern of corruption and self-dealing by the president.”

They said hosting the G7 at Doral would violate both the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses that are designed to shield a commander in chief from outside influence.

“More importantly, the Doral decision reflects perhaps the first publicly known instance in which foreign governments would be required to pay President Trump’s private businesses in order to conduct business with the United States,” they said.

Nadler’s committee and other panels are already investigating Trump on a number of fronts as they examine allegations of obstruction of justice, public corruption and “other abuses of power” by the president.

The potential emoluments clause violations “are of significant interest and grave concern to the committee as it considers whether to recommend articles of impeachment,” the lawmakers said.

They added that Nadler will schedule hearings on the matter and request documents from the White House regarding the decision.

Trump has caught flak for failing to sufficiently distance himself from his businesses, which include a luxury hotel just blocks from the White House.

He has faced two law suits, including one ongoing case launched last year by several congressional Democrats arguing that Trump has been receiving benefits from foreign governments through his vast business holdings.

On Tuesday the Washington Post reported that the nation’s top law official, Attorney General Bill Barr, has booked a $30,000, 200-person holiday party at Trump’s Washington hotel.

Victims Of Church Abuse Go Global With Fight For Justice

Basilica of Lisieux, northwestern France (file copy) Credit: CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

After years of struggling alone or finding support in national groups, survivors of sex abuse by priests have formed a new international alliance to pressure the Catholic Church to face up to its crimes.

The group, called Ending Clerical Abuse (ECA), brings together activists from dozens of countries on several continents and will be mobilised in Rome this week when Pope Francis hosts a hotly awaited summit on tackling the wave of child sex abuse scandals shaking the Catholic Church.

“It’s a momentous and a historic movement… to bring a global and unified voice,” one of its co-founders, Peter Saunders, told AFP. “This is the first truly global initiative.”

Saunders’ personal story is among countless others suffered by people who grouped together to form ECA last June, including survivors from Chile, Poland, Switzerland, France, Italy, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other countries.

“I was abused at seven years old by a family member. I was also sexually abused by two Jesuit priests at my secondary school at about 12 years of age,” he said.

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The same priest targeted his brother Michael at the same school six years before him, and died aged 55 after a lifelong battle with drug and alcohol abuse.

“I think the Church has been resisting change for many, many years and I think at long last the Church is beginning to bow to the pressure put on by survivors, by our media colleagues around the world, and by public opinion,” he added.

The group’s objectives include forcing the Church to take a “zero tolerance” approach to paedophilia, working to overturn the statute of limitations on abuse cases, and supporting victims in areas where speaking out remains difficult, such as in various African and Asian countries.

 ‘Counter-summit’ 

From Wednesday to Sunday, ECA will bring together victims in Rome to put new pressure on Pope Francis, who has spoken out strongly over the last two years about abuse in the Church after a string of scandals worldwide.

But on the ground, survivors say the fight against the culture of secrecy within the Catholic hierarchy and an instinct to cover up abuse cases remains entrenched.

“Either I committed suicide or I spoke out,” said a 70-year-old Swiss co-founder of ECA, who gives his name only as Jacques. “It was a long and painful fight.”

He said a priest raped him continually when he was aged 14 to 20. After years of therapy, in 2009 he contacted the priest who abused him and attempted to reach closure.

Only after a five-year struggle did senior Church figures “understand the gravity of the acts of their colleague and accept moral responsibility on behalf of the institution,” he said.

As he battled for justice, he also learned that the priest had been identified as a possible paedophile even before he was ordained and had been sent to France several times for “treatment”.

In 2010, Jacques founded SAPEC, a victims group in French-speaking Switzerland, which led to the creation of a commission to investigate abuse and oversee compensation.

 ‘No apology’ 

In Poland, ECA co-founder Marek Lisinski, 50, said he had long dreamed of a new international organisation “to show Polish victims that they are not on their own.”

He said he was “assaulted for 10 months by a vicar” at age 13 and his search for justice led to a prosecution.

“I was forced to become an adult at age 13,” he said angrily.

Over several years he fought dependencies on alcohol and anti-depressants, made three suicide attempts and went through a divorce.

Finally, after nine years of legal proceedings, the vicar was suspended — but just for three years.

“In 2018, the court ordered him to apologise to me, but did not award damages,” he said. “I have never had the apology.”

Lisinsky added: “The Church has ignored victims, moves the perpetrators around (from one parish to another) and refuses to meet with us despite the instructions from the pope. Officially it has apologised… but as an institution it has never accepted its responsibility.”

In 2013, Lisinsky created the Don’t Be Afraid Foundation, which gathered testimony from 700 victims.

He published a shocking map online in October showing among other things all the parishes where abuse had been reported.

“There is barely a day without a victim coming forward to our Foundation. The youngest is a boy of 11,” he said.

Chilean activist Jose Andres Murillo, 43, struggled for 20 years before getting a measure of justice.

Also a founding member of ECA, Murillo was instrumental in bringing to light a huge scandal in Chile that led to 88-year-old priest Fernando Karadima being defrocked and prosecuted.

He said ECA needs to act “to create secure spaces within the Church”, safe from abuse.

“Faith is something positive for a lot of people, which helps them get through difficult moments, but that does not give the Church the right to create trauma in people’s lives,” he said.

AFP

Saudi Arabia Must Hold Khashoggi Killers ‘Accountable’ – Pompeo

Khashoggi Killers 'Will Be Prosecuted In Saudi Arabia' - Govt
Jamal Khashoggi/ AFP

 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that he would ask Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to ensure the murderers of journalist Jamal Khashoggi are held “accountable”.

 

The top US diplomat, on an extensive Middle East tour, spoke ahead of a politically sensitive visit to Saudi Arabia, which has faced intense international scrutiny over Khashoggi’s murder inside its Istanbul consulate.

“We will continue to have a conversation with the crown prince and the Saudis about ensuring the accountability is full and complete with respect to the unacceptable murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” Pompeo told reporters at a press conference in Qatar.

“So, we’ll continue to talk about that and make sure we have all the facts so that they are held accountable, certainly by the Saudis but by the United States as well.”

Pompeo is due to travel to Saudi Arabia later on Sunday as part of an eight-day trip to Amman, Cairo, Manama, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Riyadh, Muscat, and finally Kuwait City.

He was speaking to journalists in Doha after meeting his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani.

He will meet the Qatari emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, before heading to Saudi Arabia.

 Smiles with MBS 

Khashoggi was killed on October 2 in a case which stunned the world and threatened a serious rift between Riyadh and Washington.

The journalist was murdered and his corpse dismembered inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.

Evidence subsequently emerged that the killing was done by a team of Saudis sent from Riyadh and closely linked to the crown prince. Washington subsequently demanded a transparent investigation.

Riyadh prosecutors have announced indictments against 11 people, and are seeking the death penalty against five of them.

But Prince Mohammed, whose right-hand aides were allegedly involved in the murder, was exonerated by prosecutors despite US intelligence reportedly having evidence that he was behind it.

On a previous visit to Riyadh at the height of the Khashoggi affair, Pompeo’s broad smiles with the crown prince outraged some Americans.

However, US President Donald President Trump has said Washington wants to preserve the alliance with the kingdom, although the US Senate has clearly blamed Prince Mohammed for the murder.

Washington is eager for regional unity to gain widespread support its fight against Iran.

Pompeo refused on Sunday to comment on reports that Washington had recently considered military action against Tehran.

 Gulf crisis 

He also called on Qatar and other Gulf countries to end the worst political rift in the region for years, which has seen Doha diplomatically and economically isolated by neighbouring former allies for the past 19 months.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt — all US allies — cut ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups and seeking closer ties to Saudi arch-rival Iran.

Qatar — also a US ally — denies the allegations and accuses the countries of seeking regime change.

“As for the GCC… we are all more powerful when we’re working together when we have common challenges in the region and around the world,” Pompeo said, referring to the six member nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

“Disputes between countries that have a shared objective are never helpful.

“We’re hopeful that unity in the GCC will increase in the days and weeks and months ahead.”

He added that “President Trump and I both believe the ongoing dispute in the region has gone on too long”.

Washington, which at first appeared to back the boycott of Qatar, has so far been unsuccessful in trying to end the dispute.

Attempts at mediation have stalled, as highlighted by the recent resignation of US envoy Anthony Zinni.

“It was time for a change and he made his decision to move on but America’s commitment remains unchanged,” said Pompeo of Zinni.

For Washington, turning the page on the crisis is essential for the successful launch of the Strategic Alliance of the Middle East (MESA), which is a NATO-style security pact that includes Gulf countries as well as Egypt and Jordan.

The US and Qatar held the second “strategic dialogue” between the two countries on Sunday, and signed agreements on defence, education and culture.

“This reflects the good and historical relationship between the two countries,” said the Qatari foreign minister.

AFP

Kim Kardashian Talks Justice On Second White House Visit

VALERIE MACON / AFP

 

 

Kim Kardashian on Wednesday made her second visit to the White House this year to talk criminal justice, months after she successfully appealed for the release of a great-grandmother convicted of cocaine trafficking.

The reality TV star was one of around 50 people, including US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner, set to discuss the clemency process, the White House said in a statement.

“The discussion is mainly focused on ways to improve that process to ensure deserving cases receive a fair review,” deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said.

Kardashian, 37, has championed criminal justice reform in recent months.

Fixing tough sentencing laws had been a priority of former President Barack Obama’s administration, but he failed to win congressional support, prompting a stream of presidential pardons and clemency actions.

Trump, meanwhile, has advocated a more hardline approach to criminal justice.

However, during her first White House visit in May, Kardashian met the president and called for the release of Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old woman who served over 20 years for a nonviolent drug offense.

Days later, the White House said Trump had commuted Johnson’s sentence.

Rohingya Leaders Demand Justice After UN Probe Calls For Genocide Prosecution

 

Rohingya leaders in Bangladesh on Tuesday challenged the United Nations to ensure Myanmar’s generals stand trial after investigators called for top military commanders to be prosecuted for genocide against the minority.

A UN fact-finding mission into violations in Myanmar said the country’s army chief and five other senior brass should be investigated over a brutal crackdown last year that drove 700,000 Rohingya Muslims into Bangladesh.

The report commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council detailed a horrifying list of atrocities against the Rohingya, including murder, enforced disappearance, torture, and sexual violence “perpetrated on a massive scale.”

Estimates that 10,000 were killed in the 2017 crackdown were “conservative”, investigators said.

Myanmar has vehemently denied the allegations, insisting it was responding to attacks by Rohingya rebels.

Community leaders for the roughly one million displaced Rohingya in southern Bangladesh welcomed calls for prosecution but said they would judge the UN on its ability to deliver justice.

“The UN has to ensure that justice sees the light,” Rohingya community leader Abdul Gowffer told AFP by phone.

“The commanders must face an ICC trial,” he added, referring to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The investigators have called on the UN Security Council to refer the Myanmar situation to the ICC or for the creation of an ad hoc international criminal tribunal.

The Security Council has repeatedly urged Myanmar to halt military operations and to allow the Rohingya to safely return home.

But its initiatives have been limited by council member and top Myanmar ally China, who could also thwart efforts to refer the case to the ICC.

Dil Mohammad, another Rohingya leader, urged the UN to take further steps to ensure their safe return to Rakhine state, a process that has stalled with Bangladesh and Myanmar blaming each other for the delay.

“It already took a year to reach this UN ruling,” said Mohammad, who lives in a strip of no man’s land near the Bangladesh-Myanmar border with 6,000 other refugees.

“Many things need to be done very quickly so we can return to our land in dignity and safety,” he told AFP.

The investigators were never granted access to Myanmar and based their findings on interviews with 875 victims and witnesses, as well as satellite imagery and authenticated documents, photographs and videos.

AFP

Four Judges Will Be Posted To Port Harcourt By September, Says NIC President

 

The President of the National Industrial Court, Justice Adeniran Adejumo, has said that by the next legal year which commences in September, four resident judges will be posted to Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

Justice Adejumo said this at the commissioning of a new NIC building in the state, noting that it will allow for quick administration of justice.

“As from the beginning of the next legal year which is September, I will post four resident judges to preside in the Port Harcourt judicial division of the National Industrial Court so that cases here can be attended to without delay,” he said.

Furthermore, the NIC president pleaded with the Government to provide houses for the judges who would be presiding over the new court, to make it easier to carry out their duties.

He, however, thanked the governor, Nyesom Wike, for his overall support towards the judiciary, explaining that judicial officers had gone through so many challenges prior to the establishment of the new facility.

“I came to Rivers years ago with the intention of having a court that will take care of matters arising within our jurisdiction in Port Harcourt.

“The Chief Judge then gave me a court hall and chambers for me to do my business. I sent a judge here with two vehicles – a bus and a car, Our generator and all facilities.

“We renovated the court with our money, only to be here for some months and the court was locked.

“We lost the two vehicles and some other facilities. I had no choice than to relocate the court to Yenogoa and the Chief Judge was kind enough to discuss with his Excellency who gave us one of their courts and a residence was provided.

“As time went on, cases were swelling and the court in Yenogoa alone could not cater for these cases. I had to send some of these cases to Owerri, Calabar and Enugu,” Adejumo said.

But according to him, in a space of 15 months, the Rivers Government built what he described as an edifice which no other state government has ever done.

He said despite telling Governor Wike at the groundbreaking ceremony earlier that judgement will be administered in accordance with the law and not based on any bias, regardless of his kind gesture, he (Wike) was not deterred.

The NIC President, therefore, assured the State Government that the court will be maintained in good condition even as the judicial officers ensure proper administration of justice.

Malaysian Woman Charged With Murdering Indonesian Maid

Petronela Koa cries next to the coffin containing her niece, Adelina Sau, a domestic helper who died in Malaysia, during its arrival at Kupang airport in East Nusa Tenggara on February 17, 2018. 
JOY CHRISTIAN / AFP

 

A Malaysian woman was charged Wednesday with the murder of an Indonesian maid who was found with wounds covering her body and was allegedly forced to sleep outside with a dog.

M. A. Ambika, 60, will be sentenced to death if found guilty of murdering Adelina Sau, in a case that has sparked new tensions between Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur over a long-standing flashpoint issue.

About 2.5 million Indonesians work in neighbouring Malaysia — both legally and illegally — including many as maids, but there have been repeated cases of abuse of domestic helpers over the years.

The victim, in her 20s, died at a Malaysian hospital this month, a day afer being rescued by a migrant workers’ protection group.

Her head and face were swollen and she had wounds on her hands and legs. A Malaysian lawmaker said she had been forced to sleep on a porch next to a dog.

Ambika was charged during an appearance at the magistrate’s court in the northern town of Bukit Mertajam with the murder of the maid at her home on February 10, state news agency Bernama reported.

She did not enter a plea, the agency said. A murder conviction carries a mandatory death sentence in Malaysia.

Her daughter, R. Jayavartiny, 32, was charged with employing the victim despite being aware she did not have a valid work permit. She denied the charge.

Local media reported Ambika’s son, who was also initially arrested after the helper’s death, will appear as a witness in the case.

Two people have also been arrested in Indonesia on human trafficking charges in connection with the death of the maid, with police alleging they used forged documents to send the victim to Malaysia.

Indonesia is reportedly considering reinstating a ban on sending maids to Malaysia following the case. Jakarta last imposed a ban in 2009 to 2011.

Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has urged Jakarta not to go ahead with the ban, insisting recently employers who abuse maids will be brought to justice.

“The Malaysian government will never protect any employer who is found to have acted cruelly,” he said.

AFP

Lebanon Seeks Death Sentence In Murder Of British Woman

A Lebanese judge on Thursday requested the death sentence for a man accused of sexually assaulting and killing British embassy worker Rebecca Dykes late last year.

Tarek Hawshiya, a 30-year-old Lebanese, was arrested on December 18 in connection with the murder.

The driver with ride-hailing giant Uber admitted at the time to strangling Dykes after trying to rape her.

On Thursday, the Lebanese judge tasked with investigating the crime recommended the death sentence for Hawshiya.

Judge Hanna Braidi accused Hawshiya of “raping British diplomat Rebecca Dykes and killing her in the neighbourhood of Achrafieh in Beirut in a premeditated and deliberate act.”

The case will now be sent to Lebanon’s criminal court for trial.

Capital punishment is legal in Lebanon, but there has been an effective moratorium in place since 2004, without any executions carried out despite judgements to that effect.

Dykes was last seen alive on the night of December 15 at a party in Gemmayzeh, a Beirut neighbourhood popular with foreign residents.

According to Braidi’s investigation, she got into Hawshiya’s vehicle shortly after midnight. The car drove through Achrafieh, then stopped on a roadside shortly before 1:00 am.

Dykes’s body was found dumped on that roadside on December 16.

Dykes was employed by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) in Beirut.

On Wednesday, the UK announced an annual scholarship established in her name for a female Lebanese or Palestinian residing in Lebanon to pursue a graduate degree in the UK.

Such crime is rare in Beirut, a city which is considered generally safe, including for tourists and foreign residents.

AFP

Delta Community Seeks Justice For Kidnapped, Murdered British Missionaries

The people of Enekorogha community in Delta State have lamented over non-access to proper healthcare following the kidnap of four British missionaries by suspected militants leading to the death of one of the missionaries.

Staging a procession in the creek community, the people are seeking justice and also asking the government to come to their aid in ensuring that security agencies arrest the perpetrators of the dastardly act which led to the death of one of the doctors identified as Dr Ian Squire.

Members of the community during the procession wailed over the kidnap of four missionaries and sad death of one of them. They marching from the eye of the community to the hospital where they have received free medical care by the missionaries for over ten years.

The clinic operated by the missionaries has been the only healthcare facility available for this community to access proper healthcare but it has since been under lock and key since the unfortunate incident.

A community leader, Andrew Olomokomo during the procession said the death of Dr Squire is a great loss to the community because the missionary left his home country in the United Kingdom to give free healthcare to them in Enekorogha community, making him a part of the community before his death.

For the chairman of the community, Micheal Godwin, the only consolation they can get is justice. Confirming the role the community played in helping the police arrest some of the perpetrators, he also called on the Federal Government and security agencies to ensure the arrest of the gang kingpin.

“We are in big distress now. We have been given free treatment (by the missionaries) since 2007 to date. Now that they have closed this clinic, I think we are in big distress,” one of the elders in the community said.

The four missionaries; David and Shirley Donovan, Alanna Carson and the deceased Ian Squire, all of whom were on a missionary operation to communities in the Ijaw areas, got kidnapped from Enekorogha Creek Community in Burutu Council Area of Delta State On October 13, 2017.

The only secondary school in the community has since been renamed after the late Dr Ian Squire and as the people mourn the death of someone they consider their own, the most important thing in their minds as expressed, is justice for the dead and hope for a better healthcare service delivery.

Justice Ministry To Co-ordinate Criminal Investigation

Criminal Cases
File Photo

The Ministry of Justice has set up of an investigative unit aimed at coordinating criminal cases in the country.

The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, believes the unit is needed to address the consistent rejection of vital evidence, in the course of prosecuting criminal cases on behalf of the government.

“This unit shall investigate and form part of the every investigation in Nigeria for a robust investigation and successful prosecution of such cases,” he stated.

Read Also: Prison Decongestion: FG To Review Cases Of Inmates Awaiting Trial

Also as part of efforts to decongest the nation’s prisons in the next two years, the Federal Government is set to review cases of inmates awaiting trial for five years and above and those on death row.