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June 20, 2013
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News in 'Human Rights' section
Cote d’Ivoire is once more under the spotlight for alleged human rights violations, with fingers being pointed at the government of President Alassane Ouattara for doing too little to curb abuses, improve the justice system and end impunity.
Of late, concerns over rights abuses have been raised by Amnesty International, International Crisis Group and independent expert of the UN on human rights issues in Cote d’Ivoire, Mr. Doudou Diene.
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, says close to 65,000 Ivorian refugees are still in Liberia residing in five camps about two years after they fled post-election fighting in their country.
The Ivorians are being hosted in camps in Saclepea, Bahn, Solo, Dougee and Little Wlebbo, UNHCR Liberia Office spokesman Sulaiman Momodu told WADR in Monrovia at the weekend.
Amnesty International has called for the ‘immediate’ transfer of Mrs. Simone Gbagbo, wife of ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, by Côte d’Ivoire to The Hague for an investigation into her alleged role in crimes against humanity.
The rights advocacy group made the call after the International Criminal Court (ICC) revealed it had an outstanding warrant for her arrest.
Two Liberians have died in Senegalese jails in 2012 due to harsh prison conditions, and close to 40 others are lingering in jail awaiting trial, a Liberian embassy in Dakar has said.
The embassy is therefore urging Senegalese authorities to speed up the trial of Liberian citizens, complaining that many are being held in custody in parts of Senegal with no court dates announced.
Supporters of indicted ex-Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo are enraged, but not surprised at the arrest warrant issued against his wife Simone Gbagbo by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The ICC said the former Ivorian First Lady was wanted for alleged crimes against humanity committed in the wake of violence after the disputed presidential elections in 2010.
A Liberian female journalist is among four international journalists who have received the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) 2012 awards for courageous reporting in defiance of violence and repression.
The three other journalists honoured are Mauri Konig of Brazil, jailed journalist Dhondup Wangehen of China and Azimjon Askarovof Kyrgyzstan.
In Dakar, the Senegalese capital, the streets are literally littered with children as young as seven years old carrying tin cans to beg for food and money from early morning to midnight reportedly for their Koranic tutors.
These children, locally called 'Talibes' (meaning disciples), are given by their parents to the tutors who send them out to beg for alms to supposedly sustain them while undergoing study of the Koran, the holy book of Islam.
A campaign has been mounted to collect one million signatures to stop the lower house of parliament from approving a bill strengthening gay rights in Liberia. The bill was recently approved by the Senate.
As part of the campaign, hundreds of people opposed to same sex marriage took to the streets of the Liberian capital, Monrovia, at the weekend to demonstrate their discontent.
Having voted in two previous elections using the Tactile Ballot Guide, blind people in Sierra Leone will not exercise their franchise independently come 17 November as the National Electoral Commission (NEC) has annulled the practice.
The TBG was first used in Africa on a pilot basis for the May 2002 presidential and parliamentary polls in Sierra Leone and the blind used it again in 2007, though limited to the capital Freetown.
A prison watch and advocacy group in Liberia has decried the appalling conditions of holding cells and prisons across the country.
In its latest report, Rescue Alternatives Liberia (RAL) described police cells as having poor ventilation, unsanitary conditions and improper roofing as the worst case scenarios.