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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Pan-African Parliament comes up with
resolutions to advance continent

By Ndumiso Mlilo JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) ended their 10-day robust discussions on Saturday with various resolutions to advance the continent.

The African Union (AU)’s legislative body had deliberated various issues since March 2 in Johannesburg. PAP and the Nairobi-based Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) decided to initiate a process to have AU members adopt integrated climate-related legislation. PAP also agreed to domesticate the Paris Agreement on Climate Change adopted in 2015.

“We want to have a unified legislation on climate change as a continent to lessen the impact of climate change and PAP will lead that process,” PAP Vice President Bernadette Lahai told Xinhua.

Lahai said they also agreed to ensure youths’ role in shaping the future of the continent. African youths will meet later this year to discuss various issues like immigration, peace and security.

She said PAP, PACJA and the Pan-African Parliamentarians’ Network on Climate Change (PAPNCC) will meet to devise a policy and legislation on climate change.

PAP also called on African countries to combat gender-based violence through education.

Hasna Houmed Bilil, chairperson of PAP’s Permanent Committee on Gender, Family, Youth and People with Disability, said some governments have not shown any political will to carry out regulations and tackle abuse against women.

“The parliament has an important role in safeguarding the implementation of the reforms and laws,” Bilil said.

PAP called on its members to establish systemic capacity building at the institutional level in order to understand and champion gender issues. The parliament also asked for a repeal of the laws that discriminate against women.

Moreover, PAP called for integrated legislation to fight an increase of electronic waste. PAP said that children in some African countries work in hazardous places (e-waste dumps) where they are exposed to the dangers of the effluent and fumes.

African parliamentarians were also resolved to promote greater regional and continental integration by stepping up the pace of introducing a common passport that will allow visa-free travel to member states.

PAP had in the past asked African governments to adopt and ratify a PAP protocol to grant the legislative body relevant legislative powers. However, the process of ratifying the PAP protocol has been slow, said PAP President Roger Nkodo Dang.

Dang said that it is a grave concern for the continental parliament that some three years after the AU adopted PAP’s new protocol, the ratification process remains slow in African member countries.

Currently, PAP is unable to play its expected pivotal role in promoting Africa’s integration and steering the social, political and economic development of the continent since AU members have failed to ratify the protocol.

PAP needs 28 member states to ratify its protocol but only 14 out of the 54 AU members have done so.

The African parliamentarians also discussed how to combat terrorism, promote intra-Africa trade and security, as well as address illicit financial outflows.

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EARLIER REPORT:

South African women’s group drops out of global
UN meeting to protest new U.S. travel ban

NEW YORK United States (Xinhua) -- The International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), a global organization committed to ensuring health of women, on Friday said that it is “deeply saddened” that a South African women’s group decided to drop out of a UN meeting on women’s rights in order to protest the new travel ban signed by U.S. President Donald Trump.

IWHC said in a press release here that its partner, the South African organization, Masimanyane Women’s Rights International, has canceled its participation in a meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).

“This annual meeting is an important global gathering of diplomats, international delegates, and women’s rights advocates that plays a crucial role in determining the focus of the global women’s agenda and its progress,” the press release said. The annual CSW meeting is to take place at UN Headquarters in New York on March 13-24.

Masimanyane, an international advocacy organization working to strengthen women’s rights, reduce HIV/AIDS, and eradicate violence against women, has made this decision in response to the Trump Administration’s executive orders targeting women, refugees, travelers, and immigrants.

In a statement, the organization denounced the U.S. travel ban targeting predominantly Muslim countries, for denying the right of women from United Nations member states to participate in the global forum.

“As such, Masimanyane’s decision is an expression of solidarity with the women and advocates of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen,” the press release said.

“IWHC believes that the Trump Administration’s executive orders display a fundamental disrespect for women, racial justice, equality, religious tolerance, and human rights,” the press release said. “Women migrants and refugees, women of color, women living in poverty, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, and other marginalized groups will bear the brunt of this Administration’s callous policies.”

As a global organization committed to ensuring that women can control their own their bodies and determine their own futures, IWHC is working to oppose policies by the Trump Administration that violate human rights and roll back progress for women and girls.

IWHC is participating in CSW deliberations to ensure that access to sexual and reproductive health remains on the agenda. Family planning is essential for women’s participation in the workforce, which is the special focus of this year’s gathering. The 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women, is the second held since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, which puts women at the core of a globally agreed set of development goals and targets.

“Separately, IWHC has learned that a number of advocates from various countries have been denied visas to participate in the multilateral meetings held at CSW,” the press release said. “Each year, IWHC trains advocates from various countries ahead of the negotiations at CSW.”

The CSW is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

“The organization is closely monitoring problems involving visas and entry to the United States,” the press release added. 

On Tuesday, the UN high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, voiced his concern about the new U.S. rules, known as the Executive Order signed on Monday by U.S. President Trump, stressing the need to protect people fleeing deadly violence, a UN spokesman told reporters here.

The new executive order prevents nationals of six Muslim countries from entering the United States, excluding Iraq from the list of a previous ban.

The new document maintained a 90-day ban on nationals of Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, Iran and Somalia from entering the United States, effective from March 16.

In addition to the travel ban, the order also suspended granting refugee status for 120 days after the effective date. Syrian refugees, which were singled out in the original version as being banned indefinitely, will be given the same treatment with refugees of other origins.

Trump signed a similar executive order on Jan. 27, which imposed a ban on nationals of seven Muslim countries to enter the United States for 90 days, refugees for 120 days and Syrian refugees indefinitely.

A federal judge of the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Washington later slapped a nationwide restraining order on the travel ban, and the ruling was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

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South Africa intensifies crackdown on child pornography

CAPE TOWN  South Africa (Xinhua) -- The South African Police Service (SAPS) vowed on Friday to intensify the fight against child pornography following the first sentence of an offender convicted of child pornography.

The SAPS, with its links through Interpol to police services across the globe, is playing an important role in fighting child pornography, said Acting SAPS National Commissioner, Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane.

He was speaking after the Port Elizabeth Regional Court sentenced 33-year-old Jayde Sheldon Bailey to a five-year imprisonment for the distribution and possession of child pornography.

It is the first time in the country that an accused has been sentenced to direct imprisonment for the distribution and possession of child pornography images. Previously, the accused have either been fined or received a suspended sentence, or both a fine and a suspended sentence.

In March 2015, a team of detectives from the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Unit of the SAPS arrested the suspect at his residence in Port Elizabeth after he was found in possession of thousands of child pornography images and videos. His arrest was followed by the arrest of his then girlfriend, who is now his wife.

The case of the wife of the accused is still continuing and her case has also been postponed to March 27 this year in a different court.

The justice system in South Africa has acknowledged that the possession of child pornography is a serious and disturbing offence that deserves direct imprisonment.

Phahlane welcomed Bailey’s sentence, saying this sentence sends a strong message out to those who prey on vulnerable children and youth.

“This is indeed a landmark case,” he noted.

“We commend our FCS Unit and our justice system for their sterling efforts in bringing these and similar perpetrators to book.”

Phahlane pledged that the SAPS will work harder to identify and bring cyber-sex pests and other sexual offenders before courts of law and to ensure that justice prevails.

             

 

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