Putin Signs Controversial Internet Law

Russian President Vladimir Putin / AFP

 

President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed into law a “sovereign internet” bill which will allow Russian authorities to isolate the country’s internet, a move decried by rights groups. 

Russian lawmakers insist the new law is necessary to ensure the security of Russia’s online networks but critics say the vaguely worded bill gives new censorship powers to government monitors.

The text of the law was published Wednesday but it will not come into effect until November.

READ ALSO: May Day: Police Clash With Marching Protesters In Paris

The measures include creating technology to monitor internet routing and to steer Russian internet traffic away from foreign servers, ostensibly to prevent a foreign country from shutting it down.

The authors of the initiative say Russia must ensure the security of its networks after US President Donald Trump unveiled a new American cybersecurity strategy last year that said Russia had carried out cyber attacks with impunity.

Thousands of people recently rallied in Russia against this and other bills that critics say aim to restrict information and communication online.

Separately, Putin in March signed controversial laws that allow courts to fine and briefly jail people for showing disrespect towards authorities, and block media for publishing “fake news”.

The laws are part of an ongoing Kremlin clampdown on media and internet freedoms that has seen people jailed for sharing humorous memes.

Last week 10 international rights organisations called on Russia to scrap the internet bill.

“The bill created a system that gives the authorities the capacity to block access to parts of the Internet in Russia,” said a statement backed by Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders and others.

The blocking would be “extrajudicial and non-transparent,” the statement said.

Under the new law, Russian Internet access providers will also need to ensure that their networks have the technical means for “centralized traffic control” to counter potential threats.

This control will pass notably to the Russian FSB security service and the telecoms and media monitoring agency Roskomnadzor, which is often accused of arbitrarily blocking content on the web.

In recent years Russian authorities have blocked online sites and content linked to the opposition, as well as internet services which fail to cooperate with them, including the Dailymotion video platform, the Linkedin online social networking site, and the encrypted messaging app Telegram.

AFP

Onnoghen Should Quit The Bench After His Suspension Has Been Lifted — Falana

 

Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, has asked Justice Walter Onnoghen to quit the bench after his suspension must have been lifted by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The human rights activist made this call on Sunday while featuring as a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today.

He said, “The government should as a matter of urgency, lift the suspension on the Chief Justice since the Chief Justice as so much to on his own admitted that he did not declare his assets, he should do the needful by calling it quits”.

READ ALSO: Onnoghen’s Suspension: NBA To Hold NEC Meeting On Monday

Falana said after the suspension has been lifted, the Chief Justice should quit the bench because he has already admitted that he failed in his duty to declare his asset as required by the constitution.

The Senior Advocate further argued that the Executive and the Judiciary arms of government have failed Nigerians with regards to the case of Justice Walter Onnoghen.

He said it was wrong for President Muhammadu Buhari to have suspended Justice Onnoghen based on an ex parte order of the code of conduct tribunal.

He said by so doing the President did not follow due process, stressing that the government must learn to obey the rule of law.

“You can’t fight corruption without following due process,” Falana said.

Albania To Ban Gambling In 2019

File photo

 

 

Albania’s law to ban gambling will take effect on January 1st,2019  to curb domestic violence and poverty to lining the pockets of criminals, Albania’s love of gambling has spawned a scourge of social ills in one of Europe’s poorest countries.

But at the start of 2019, the Balkan state is taking a nationwide resolution to break the addiction in hopes of curbing suffering that has consumed many families.

On January 1 a law will go into effect shuttering the 4,300 betting venues that have cropped up on nearly every street corner in the country of 2.8 million people.

It is an “extremely high” ratio of one shopper 670 people, far above that seen in both neighboring Balkan states and more developed Western European countries, says economist Klodian Tomorri.

The betting blackout will also outlaw online gambling and restrict casinos — some of which are currently near schools — to five-star hotels in licensed tourist resorts.

For people like Arta, a 31-year-old mother of two, the move is welcome although it comes too late to shield her own family from a devastating loss.

Last July her husband leaped off a building after betting for the losing team in Belgium-France football match, she recalls with tears and trembling hands.

“He bet on Belgium, but in fact, what he got was misery,” said Arta, who is now relying on around 100 euros of monthly state aid to raise her young kids.

According to a study by the University of Tirana, one out of four gamblers has attempted suicide at least once.

Another 70 percent have struggled with stress and psychological problems.

“We also found a close link between domestic violence and gambling, which has led many families to experience very serious crises,” said Iris Luarasi, who runs a counseling line for victims of violence.

Losing everything 

Ilir Musta, a heavyset 35-year-old man, experienced that type of family catastrophe first hand.

“I don’t know how to get out of this, please help me,” he recently told a doctor in Tirana, where he was seeking help for anxiety.

“The game was good at first, but now it’s cancer. I lost my life, my wife, my daughter, I’m a living dead,” added Ilir, speaking in a shaky voice as his eyes darted around the room.

He started betting on sports just two years ago, convinced he was on the verge of making a fortune.

But instead, he found himself drowning in debt and ended up in prison for violently beating his wife after she asked for a divorce.

There are scores of other families who have been ruptured by the destructive addiction.

According to Tirana lawyer Vjollca Pustina, some 70 percent of divorce cases brought to court in the capital this year have been linked to gambling.

The government says rehabilitation centers will be opened to help gamblers who will be forced to quit cold turkey.

But there is concern that the centers will not be ready soon enough.

“Gambling addiction is a disease and must be managed once the betting rooms are closed for players, but for the moment rehabilitation centers are completely missing,” said Menada Petro, professor of social sciences at the University of Durres.

 Cash and crime 

The industry has also been criticized for draining money from families in a country where the average monthly salary is below 300 euros ($342).

According to official figures, Albanians spend some 140 to 150 million euros ($170 million) on sports betting annually, which amounts to 70 percent of what the average family spends on healthcare.

But when accounting for illegal betting, the real figure is estimated to be around 700 million euros ($798 million), according to the government.

For Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama, another core goal is cutting off cash flow for organized crime groups who profit from the industry and use it to launder money.

But he admits that the new law will not end the fight against gangs, a key task for a government that wants to kickstart EU accession talks.

“The war will continue as criminals change their skin and strategy,” Rama said in a recent TV interview.

Going underground 

Some betting shops already closed in December while others are trying to profit from a final year-end rush, said Artan Shyti, president of the Federation of Albanian Betting Companies.

The next battle will be controlling illegal venues, especially online.

Betting firms “have started to move to Macedonia, Montenegro, and Kosovo where they already have their subsidiaries and can operate quietly (online),” Shyti told AFP.

Albania tried to reduce the number of betting clubs in 2013, but politics and special interests got in the way.

Now the new law, passed in October, will put some 8,000 people out of work.

“The authorities have allowed (this industry to grow) and now they are forcing us to suddenly close our business without distinguishing between clean and dirty (operations),” says Arjan Gumi, 47, who has run small betting club in Tirana for 16 years.

He says he doesn’t yet know what to do next and is hoping the government follows through on a promise to assist the unemployed.

“It is tragic for our families too,” he added.

AFP

Kenyan President Signs Controversial Cyber-Crimes Law

File photo: Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta

 

Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, on Wednesday, signed into law a sweeping cyber-crimes act criminalising fake news and online bullying, with clauses that critics argue could stifle press freedom.

The bill imposes stiff fines and jail terms for hacking, computer fraud, forgery of data, cyber espionage, publishing child pornography or sending pornographic content via any electronic means.

However, bloggers and media rights activists have expressed alarm over a clause which criminalises the publication of “false, misleading or fictitious data.”

Punishment for this can be a fine of $50,000 (42,000 euro) or up to two years in prison, or both.

The Committee for Protection of Journalists (CPJ) last week urged Kenyatta not to sign the bill, arguing it would make it easy for authorities to gag journalists publishing information they dislike.

“Kenyan legislators have passed a wide-ranging bill that will criminalise free speech, with journalists and bloggers likely to be among the first victims if it is signed into law,” said CPJ’s Africa coordinator, Angela Quintal.

Additionally, anyone found guilty of publishing false information that “is calculated or results in panic, chaos, or violence” or that is “likely to discredit the reputation of a person” can be fined $50,000 or jailed for up to 10 years.

Article 19, a London-based freedom of expression watchdog, in an April analysis of the bill, said it contained important additions modelled after relevant international standards.

However it also “contains several broadly defined offences with harsh sentences that could dramatically chill freedom of expression online in Kenya.”

Rights activists have warned about an increasingly hostile and oppressive environment for journalists in Kenya, after a dramatic and bloody election season in 2017.

“While political tensions have eased, the ability of journalists to report and comment freely continue to be undermined by state officials,” Human Rights Watch said earlier this month.

In January government closed three television stations for a week after they tried to provide live coverage of opposition leader Raila Odinga staging a mock inauguration ceremony, a move criticised by Kenya’s foreign allies.

Then in March, eight prominent columnists working for Kenya’s biggest media group, the Nation Media Group, quit over increased meddling by government and a loss of media freedom at its outlets.

AFP

Mali President Eyes Amnesties Under ‘National Consensus’ Law

 

Mali’s President, Ibrahim Keita

Mali will adopt a law on “national consensus” that may amnesty rebels who took part in a revolt in 2012, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said in a New Year’s speech.

Keita, in a nationwide message late Sunday, said the law would draw on a so-called charter for peace, unity and national reconciliation, which he received in June as the outcome of a two-year-old peace pact between the government and Tuareg rebels aimed at shoring up Mali’s shaky security.

The “draft law on national consensus… (will) include exemption from prosecution for all those who are implicated in armed rebellion but who do not have blood on their hands,” he said.

It will also include “measures of conciliation”, he said.

These will be implemented after trials that are currently underway are fast-tracked to the conclusion, and after compensation for victims is speeded up.

Ideas include a programme to rehabilitate “all those who lay down their weapons and publicly undertake to renounce violence,” Keita said.

But he insisted the package is “neither a reward for impunity nor an avowal of weakness, and even less a denial of right for the victims.”

“It offers the possibility for reintegration for all those who let themselves be carried away by armed conflict, who have not committed unacceptable acts and who show sincere repentance,” he said.

Northern Mali was overrun in March and April 2012 after al-Qaeda-linked jihadists hijacked a rebellion by ethnic Tuareg groups.

A French-led military intervention in 2013 rolled back the jihadist threat.

However, the region remains highly unstable, prompting France and the United Nations to maintain a high military profile, and a peace deal with the Tuaregs signed in 2015 is still shaky.

Keita’s speech came on the heels of a government reshuffle, and ahead of presidential elections this year.

He has appointed a new prime minister, Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga, who is viewed as a loyalist, and installed 36 new ministers, including a new foreign minister.

AFP

Benue Anti Grazing Law Infringes On Our Fundamental Rights – Miyetti Allah

The Secretary-General, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Mr Usman Ngelzerma has said that the Anti-Grazing law in Benue State is infringing on the fundamental rights of its members and citizens of the state.

He made this known during a telephone interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Monday.

“The way the law is made is infringing on the fundamental human rights of our members and citizens, these are some of the grey areas.

“Whether we like it or not, a law has been made by the body that is constitutionally charged with the responsibility of making laws,” he said.

Mr Ngelzerma noted that the law has to strike a balance and that the state government should make arrangements for the people affected who are indigenes of the state.

“The law has to put all the other factors into consideration, it has to create a balance between the paramount and the culturists. If you promulgate a law stopping open grazing, then you have to make provision for culturist who also have their rights and privileges to be protected.

“No arrangement has been made for these people in whatever form. And these are indigenes of the state Can we now say that some Tivs who are living in other states doing their farming business should also be driven out because they are not indigenes of the states?” he questioned.

His comments come days after the Benue State Government enforced the anti-grazing bill, a decision which has been met with much agitation especially among cattle breeders and neighboring Nasarawa State.

Ogun Govt. Set To Review Obsolete Forestry Law

Ogun Govt. Set To Review Archaic Forestry Law The Ogun State Government has commenced the review of its Forestry and Wild Life laws promulgated 80 years ago, so as to meet up with current challenges in the forestry sub-sector of the state’s economy.

The State Commissioner for Forestry, Mr Kolawole Lawal, disclosed this while speaking with journalists on the outcome of a stakeholders meeting with Ijebu-Ode timber contractors at his office, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, the state capital.

According to the commissioner, the crux of the meeting was to deliberate on ways of tackling the spate of deforestation in the nine forest reserves across the state by illegal operators.

He stated that the review of the Forestry and Wild Life laws had become imperative to forestall forest depletion which according to him, is a major factor in issues of climate change.

Mr Lawal noted that since the promulgation of the law in 1937, “No serious review had been carried out. What was done in 2006 was not a review but just a compendium of the scattered law in a single booklet”.

He, however, expressed optimism that the law when reviewed, would tackle holistically the menace of illegal logging head on.

“The outdated law has greatly affected the operation of the Ministry and development of its forest reserves but once the review is passed into law and approved, illegal activities will be stamped out in our forest reserves”, he said.

On his part, the Secretary, Association of Ijebu Timber Contractors, Ijebu-Ode Chapter, Mr Jide Fakayode, commended the state government for its unrelenting efforts at combating illegality in the reserves.

He then assured the government of the association’s cooperation and commitment to the development of forestry sector.

Gov. Ajimobi Signs New Anti-Land Seizure Bill Into Law

ajumobiThe Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi has signed a new anti-land grabbing bill into law, prescribing 15 year jail term or fine for offenders.

This is one of the provisions of the new Real Properties Protection Law, 2016, which has now been signed into law by the Governor, at the Executive Council Chambers in Ibadan, the state capital.

The law titled, “A law to protect the rights of property owners and prohibit forceful entry, illegal occupation, violent and fraudulent conducts, in relation to real properties in Oyo state, and for purposes connected therewith.”

Meanwhile, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Michael Adeyemo, Commissioner for Lands, Housing, Survey and Urban Development, Mr Ajiboye Omodewu, and Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Seun Abimbola, were also at the signing ceremony.

 

However, the law prescribes a 10 year jail term or a fine of 500,000 Naira upon conviction for illegal entry into any construction site.

Under the new law, any professional who is in the conduct of his duties facilitates a contractual agreement between a land owning family and any other person, knowing that such agreement will contravene the provisions of the new law is also liable to imprisonment for three years, a fine of 500,000 Naira or both.

Similarly, anyone that writes whatever is deemed to be a frivolous and unwarranted petition, containing false claims, under the anti-land grabbing law is liable to imprisonment for 10 years on conviction.

The law however read that, “Any person who, without lawful authority, uses or threatens violence for the purpose of grabbing any real property for himself or for any other person commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment of 15 years or a fine of 500,000 Naira or both.

“Any person who encroaches on any real property commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for five-years or a fine not exceeding 500,000 Naira.

“Any person who is on any property as an encroacher and having with him any firearm, dangerous or offensive weapons commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for five years.

“Any person who offers for sale any property knowing that he has no lawful title to the property or authority of the owner or sells a property knowing that he has no lawful title to the property or that the property has been previously sold by him or his privies is liable upon conviction to imprisonment for five-years.”

Ajimobi however lamented, “We want to use this opportunity to allay the fears of property owners and investors across Oyo state, that it will no longer be business as usual. Where there is no law, there is no offence, but now we have a law in place.

“The law was meant to protect the rights of property owners and to stop the nefarious activities of land merchants who willfully and violently seize people’s land

“We will ensure the full implementation of this law. I, therefore, advise those bent on encroaching on other people’s property, most times using violence, threats or imaginary connection with the powers that be to have a rethink.

“I salute our ever-reliable members of the House of Assembly, led by the distinguished Speaker, Hon. Michael Adeyemo, for the industry put into this holistic law that is meant to give property owners a new lease of life.” He said.

DSS Cannot Enforce The Law By Being Unlawful – Muyiwa Subo

DSS Raid, Law, Muyiwa SuboFollowing the reactions that trailed the recent raid on judges by the Department of State Services, legal practitioner, Muyiwa Subo says “one cannot enforce the law by being unlawful”.

He made the comments on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, while addressing the issue of the raid on homes of some judges of the Supreme, Appeal and High Courts, by the DSS.

Mr Sobo said the case was largely an abuse of the judges’ rights to privacy.

Bringing in an international perspective, he said “the right to privacy is such a huge aspect of civil liberty in any democracy.”

He also condemned the comments purportedly made by the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, that they should go to court if thing such rights were violated.

The DSS argued that “the way one acquires evidence may be questionable, however it doesn’t mean the evidence would not be valid in court”.

The DSS claims to have received a search warrant which is admissible according to the Administration Of Criminal Justice Act of 2015.

Meanwhile, Mr Sobo on the other hand argued that the admissibility of evidence regardless of how it is acquired, is against civil liberties in a democracy.

“This is because the people must have the confidence that they are safe in their homes, against the power of the government. Besides you cannot gather evidence of corruption simply based on a person’s lifestyle” he added.

He therefore maintained that evidence should not be valid if illegally obtained.

Speaking further on the idea behind the sting operation, the legal practitioner asserted that a search warrant is only needed when attempting to prevent destruction of evidence or in a case where public safety is involved.

Requesting to know what formed the basis of the investigation, he insisted that the DSS must defend its actions otherwise, “it means everything seized during that process will not be admissible”.

A wrong move

Another legal practitioner, Shina Fagbenro-Byron also deplored the

shina-fagbenro-byron
Shina Fagbenro-Byron

manner of approach of the DSS.

He said “if they had a reason to believe that there was an on-going crime as at the time they broke in, then their actions can be justified.

Before resorting to breaking down doors, he asks, “did they knock and the judge did not open”

Mr Byron however stated that the judiciary needs to take a deep look at itself to determine if they are instruments of justice or of law.

He admitted that the justice system has had some challenges and “there is corruption there just as there is everywhere else in the world”.

Police Nab Kidnap Suspect, Fake Lawyer In Oyo

Oyo PoliceThe Oyo State Police Command has appealed to members of the public to always monitor their wards and safeguard them from evil perpetrators.

The appeal was made by the Oyo State Commissioner of Police, Adeleye Oyebade, while parading a suspect who kidnapped his sister’s three-year-old child for a ransom of 200,000 Naira.

Mr Oyebade urged the state residents to be absolutely sure to take safety measures to avoid the abuse of their children as much as possible.

He added that prompt information led to the rescue of the baby alive, urging residents of the state to continue to trust the Police with more of such information.

The Commissioner wondered what could have happened to the rescued child if the Police had not been informed early enough.

He said that the onslaught against crime would be intensified, expressing confidence of better results as the community policing strategy has proven effective.

In his response, the 26-year-old kidnap suspect claimed that his friend, who was at large, masterminded the abduction. He confessed that he had kept the child for two days before he was arrested.

The Police also nabbed a 62-year-old man who said he once studied Law but tried fruitlessly three times to get admitted to the Nigerian Law School.

According to him, he determined to practice anyway and had appeared in court defending people on many occasions before luck ran out on him.

OAU VC Says Increase In Charges Is Inevitable

Prof Bamitale OmoleTwo weeks after students of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife took to the streets to protest the recent hike in their school charges; authorities of the institution have finally broken the silence over the issue.

Vice Chancellor of OAU, Prof Bamitale Omole, who addressed journalists in Ile-Ife town, Osun State, said that the increase in the charges was inevitable if the institution was to attain the international standard.

He said that the current economic reality could no longer accommodate students paying as little as #7,000 per session, hence the regime of a minimum of over #60,000 per fresh student.

He also disclosed that the inflation that has eaten deep into the university’s allocation from the Federal Government has made the charges paid by the students in the last ten years unsustainable, hence the need for the new charges.

In the analysis given by the Vice Chancellor, the Faculty of Arts, Administration, Education, Social Sciences and Law which before now was paying 5,300 Naira for old students would begin to pay 19,700 and fresh students would pay 43,700.

For Faculty of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health Sciences, it has moved from 12,800 to 33,700 while fresh students would be required to pay 57,700.

That of Faculty of Science from 7,800 has become 30,700 and fresh students are to pay 54,700.

In all these, the University said that it was however not oblivious of indigent students and the Senate had made adequate provision for it by setting up a Student Education Relief Committee to provide scholarships and grants for this set of students.

This explanation, however, does not seem to go down well with the student leadership. They still want the charges to be reduced.