Saturday, February 27, 2010

Even the US can be wicked to journalists; so why blame Yoweri Museveni?

U.S. journalist John Weston Osburn was detained by homeland security on his way back in to the States after being twice denied by Canadian Border Officials on his way into Canada to cover protests at the 2010 Olympics. While in the area between border posts, Osburn was told that he was in a “no mans land,” and was denied the right to speak with a lawyer.

“I repeatedly told the officers that my rights were being violated and that I wished to be released. I felt humiliated, powerless and have rarely felt so unprotected,” said Osburn.

“The supervising officer made reference to making sure i had no weapons of mass destruction and that I wasn’t a terrorist, when it was obvious i have nothing to do with those things. This was all after i was thoroughly questioned and searched on the Canadian side which was two hundred yards away at most,” he said.

Osburn travelled 2000 miles to Vancouver from Salt Lake City, Utah, with the aim of documenting protests to the 2010 Olympics. He has worked with Indymedia and the Glass Bead Collective in the US.

Related Links

•Independent/crowd-sourced Olympics protest coverage can be followed at

Interview with Wes by Vancouver Media Cooperative

VMC: Another independent journalist was turned away at the US-Canada border Tuesday on his way to Vancouver to cover protests at the 2010 Olympic Games. John Weston Osburn, a long time indymedia activist, drove 2,000 miles from Salt Lake City to cover Games with the Vancouver Media Cooperative. He was interrogated and denied entry into Canada, making him the second US journalist to be denied entry in the last four days.

After he was turned around, he went back to the US and tried to re-enter Canada, this time at the truck crossing, where he was again denied entry due to past convictions for misdemeanors. This time, he flipped on his video camera to record the experience. Stopped by homeland security, Osburn was again interrogated about the Olympic protests. When he told homeland security that he wanted to speak to a lawyer,

OSBURN: They told me I didn’t have that right, and I wasn’t in US or in Canada, I was in no mans land, as the officer described it. I asked again for my lawyer and he replied that he “owned me,” he said “I own you,” I was told to spread my legs and I was searched, then the put me in a holding cell, I was in the holding cell for about two hours, at one point I asked to use the bathroom, which they later allowed me to do but only, uh, they did so watching me.

VMC: In a disturbing pattern of recent interrogations of journalists coming to Vancouver, border guards seized Osburn’s computer and notebooks.

OSBURN: Basically they ransacked my truck, they went through and they took my journals, my sketchbooks, my computer, my digital camera, they thumbed through that, I’m assuming they made copies but that I don’t want to speculate on that, but they did definitely go through it. Then I was fingerprinted and I was photographed, when I asked if I had a choice of being fingerprinted and photographed I was told no, my tape of filming being turned away, they erased the tape.

VMC: Osburn says he was prepared to have to deal with some issues at the border, but he was surprised by his experience.

OSBURN: I was kind of expecting, I was expecting to get kind of shook down, but I wasn’s expecting the type of just, the animosity and just the humiliation. Even though it was only two hours, it was a really unsettling experience, because they made me well aware that I had no rights, they made me well aware that I had no rights and there was no one there to protect me.

VMC: Though Osburn is the first to be interrogated by US homeland security, his experience shadows that of other independent journalists trying to enter Canada on the eve of the 2010 Olympics. Democracy Now! Host Amy Goodman was interrogated about the games in November. Last Saturday, US journalist Martin Macias Jr was turned away at the border. At least two other independent journalists were subjected to lengthy interrogations at the US-Canada border on their way to Vancouver to cover resistance to the 2010 Games.

From Brookings: Fractionalized, Armed and Lethal: Why Somalia Matters

For the last few years, Somalia has held strong onto the top spot in both the Index of Failed States and the Fragile States Index. And this country—if one can use that term—is likely to maintain its lead for the foreseeable future. But this is nothing to brag about.
Gunmen from Hizbul Islam head for Somalia's southern port of Kismayu.

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Reuters/Feisal Omar

Contemporary Development Challenges in Kenya
Thursday, October 01, 2009
9:30 AM to 11:00 AM
Washington, DC

Four Ways to Help Africa?
Mwangi S. Kimenyi, The Brookings Institution, September 08, 2009

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Mwangi S. Kimenyi, The Brookings Institution, July 30, 2009

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By definition of a failed state, Somalia has no single legitimate governing authority and is divided among numerous constituent factions that are relatively strong and have control of some lucrative sources of revenue. These factions are well organized and function more or less as independent states. Yet no single faction has a monopoly on violence, which explains why Somalia has remained a failed state for so long. In essence, the various factions have no interest in a well organized sovereign state. As such, the failed state is in a precarious equilibrium, resulting in what may appear as paradoxically both a functional and stable, stateless society.

Probably because of its fragile nature and the fact that it is small and poor, the international community has grossly underestimated the capacity of this country to destabilize the region and to engage in extremely costly activities to the international community. At present, there are no well-coordinated international efforts to rebuild this state. Yet this country—or better, its various factions—possesses the potential to inflict major global damage and could be the next hotbed for international terrorism. Ignoring Somalia would be a huge political and humanitarian mistake. But the Somali state may also have degenerated beyond the stage where marginal interventions can be beneficial; thus the focus should shift to building a new state. As the events of the last two decades have shown, the Somali state was not consensual and focusing on reverting to the same structure is likely to be futile.

Fractionalized Society

A number of factors make Somalia an increasingly volatile country. The first of course is the presence of numerous factions that lay claim to a specific territory or strong mass of supporters. Some factions have established control of a sizeable part of the country while others consist of small warring groups. Of these factions, many have a claim to illegal enterprises and have established themselves as legitimate tax collectors or traders. With the vacuum created by the absence of a state sovereign, each faction has established its own organized “government” and possesses substantial capacity to impart violence. The factions include the governments of Somaliland and Puntland, both of which have been able to control a significant section of the country and are able to maintain some degree of peace. Other notable factions are the warring groups in the central region, including the Federal Transitional Government, Al-Shabab, Hizbul-Islam and Ahlu Sunna Wal-Jamaa. Then of course there are other groups like the Islamic courts that control most of South-Central Somalia, and the infamous pirates, whose sole interest is monetary gain (and which may support some of the other insurgent groups).

With all of these groups competing for control, it is not surprising that some of these factions have connections or are sympathetic with terrorist groups. Some Somali factions have accepted financial support from terror organizations in order to settle clan disputes.

The absence of a central authority combined with its general lawlessness makes Somalia an ideal haven for terrorists.

Illegal Arms Market

Not only is Somalia heavily fractioned, but these factions are well-armed. Although U.N. Security Council Resolution 751 placed an arms embargo on Somalia, reports indicate that the number and variety of small arms available in Somalia is greater than at any time since the early 1990s. Private businesses, nation states, arms dealers, Somalis in the Diaspora, and local clans/militia all contribute to the growing number of smuggled weapons in the country. In fact, small arms are so prolific in Somalia that they are a form of currency in most parts of the country.

The Somali arms market, based in Mogadishu, is a key hub for arms trading in East Africa and weapons are constantly being transported along its porous border to Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and the DRC. The Kenyan government estimates that thousands of small arms are smuggled across the border every year. In fact, the Kenyan government is finding it difficult to fight crime as a result of the large number of illegal arms smuggled from Somalia. The presence of such a high number of guns poses a threat to security in Northeast Africa and beyond.

Drug Economy

Where there are guns, there are often drugs; and in Somalia the trade is in khat—a narcotic leaf that is traditionally consumed in parts of Africa and in Arab countries for its stimulating properties. Although khat is considered legal in many countries, it is an addictive drug. Khat is the most common drug in Somalia and it is estimated that approximately 75 percent of all males in Somalia use it. The khat trade is fairly lucrative, with a significant proportion of the drug originating from the Kenyan highlands and exported freely to Somalia. Kenya exports about $250 million of khat annually, beating out tea as one of the county's most lucrative exports, with a majority bound for Somalia. The Kenya National Agency for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse estimates that Kenya exports about $300,000 worth of khat to Somalia daily. Despite the negative consequences of a stateless Somalia that Kenya is experiencing, there has not been any attempt by the Kenyan government to curtail this trade, because local interests benefit a great deal.

With no central government to regulate the trade, warlords in Somalia have extended their power and now collect taxes and customs duties on khat. Many clans and regional administrations rely on import tax from the drug as their main source of revenue. In 2003, the U.N. Panel of Experts on Somalia reported that many warlords now control the khat trade and use the proceeds to buy weapons needed to maintain control of their territory. This highly addictive substance even allows warlords to keep their troops loyal since otherwise troops suffer the consequences of withdrawal. Accordingly, khat is often included as part of troop salaries.

Diaspora Support of Factions

Evidence shows that civil wars are likely to last longer and be more intense in countries that have large populations outside of their own, due to support that members of the Diaspora provide to warring factions. Somalia is a case in point. Although the Diaspora can and has played a critical role in facilitating peace building and local reconciliation in some cases (especially in Somaliland and Puntland), in other cases the Diaspora has also provided financial support to warring clans facilitating conflict. Without financial support from the Somali Diaspora, many clans lack the resources to wage war against each other. Estimates show that at least 1 million Somalis—approximately 13 percent of the population—live abroad, mainly in Kenya, Yemen, the U.K., Canada, Scandinavia, the Netherlands and the U.S. The UNDP estimates that annual remittances (or Hawala) from the Somali Diaspora are about $1 billion (about 18 percent of GDP). Although it is impossible to measure the exact amounts, the available data shows that the flow of remittances is substantial. On balance, the Diaspora is contributing to the further degeneration of the state.


In the past couple years, Somalia has been making headlines with its infamous piracy. Some Somali factions that have specialized in piracy appear to be gaining influence, evidenced by the increasing number of international incidents. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reports that there were 111 reported piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden in 2008. This resulted in the seizing of 49 vessels by pirates and the kidnapping of more than 600 crew members for ransom. Preliminary estimates reveal that piracy rose at an even greater rate in 2009, with 217 pirate attacks off the Somali coast, which resulted in the seizing of 47 ships and the hostage of 867 crew members. It is estimated that pirate activities in Somalia brought in between $50 to $100 million in 2008, making it the most lucrative industry in Somalia. Piracy has proved to be a low-cost, high-profit industry for those seeking to control territory and maintain power in Somalia. In January 2010, over $5 million in ransom was paid to the Somali pirates.

Allowed to prosper, revenues from piracy fuel local economies and add to the chaos and fractionalization of Somali society. There are well established formulas for sharing the profits from the pirates involved in the hijacking with the ground militia who control the territory, the local community elders and officials, the financier/investor who supply weapons and equipment, and the sponsors. Evidence suggests that local businessmen sometimes even invest in hijackings in exchange for a share of the final ransom. With a coastline of about 1,880 miles, opportunities for piracy are great.

One way or another, piracy money is laundered and finds its way into other parts of Africa and the Middle East, increasing the possibility that funds will support terrorism. Piracy earnings are also impacting neighboring economies, such as the distortion of the real estate market in Kenya. There is even a high probability that Somali piracy will soon attract the attention of international crime syndicates. The fact that piracy is now considered a lucrative investment opportunity further demonstrates how the disintegration of the state can benefit so many.
Reconstituting a New State

As the conflicts between factions continue unabated and human suffering increases exponentially, warlords thrive in their economic exploits, accumulating foreign assets and further investing in violence. For those who control the various aspects of the economy, statelessness is a highly-valued institutional asset. Combining economic and political interests has resulted in an equilibrium “state of statelessness” whereby factions have little interest in moving towards reconciliation. Why give up their power when they are profiting from the current situation?

In addition to the warlords and territorial factions that frustrate peace, a number of neighboring countries such as Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea also support some factions and in the process intensify the divisions. Furthermore, statelessness has benefited many in the international community—including some developed countries. There are credible claims that European firms have exploited the lack of governing authority and signed contracts to dump waste off the Somali coast. There are also vast international commercial interests that frustrate peace in Somalia. They include fishing, trade in military hardware (mainly former communist states), and market access to the Middle East. It is well documented that foreign trawlers owned by companies in Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Russia, Britain, Ukraine, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, India, Yemen and Egypt have been illegally fishing in Somalia. All these interests are better served under a stateless Somalia.

After years of lawlessness and the current state of organized chaos, it is unrealistic to expect the factions to negotiate a settlement and revert to the previous unified Somali state. From the perspective of individual factions, there are no gains that would arise from an agreement that removes their capacity for violence and thus eliminates their control over economic rents. Yet, it is folly for the international community not to invest in an aggressive strategy to deal with the situation in Somalia. This strategy therefore must not focus on rebuilding the old state, but rather on building or constituting a new state or states. While the African Union (A.U.) must be involved in designing a way forward, the task calls for a broader international mandate.

The United States and other developed countries should lead an international effort aimed at the reconstitution of the Somali state. After the unsuccessful Operation Restore Hope, the U.S. literally withdrew from direct engagement, preferring to act through surrogate front-line states such as Kenya and Ethiopia, and giving token support to A.U. peace keepers. The humanitarian dimension was sub-contracted to civil society groups such as CARE and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), among others. These approaches have limited success and will not work because they only treat symptoms. Thus far, efforts by African nations including the African Union have not yielded fruit. In fact, hardly any militarily strong African country has contributed forces and equipment to support the peace mission.

In tandem with destroying terror networks, a prudent approach must focus on a long-term solution that not only leads to peaceful co-existence of the Somalis, but also improves the quality of life and creates opportunities to engage in productive activities. At the core of such a strategy must be the progressive weakening of the factions’ capacity to engage in violence and to undertake illicit activities. Achieving these objectives require a strong military presence for an extended period of time. Sources of illicit wealth must be curtailed, especially the trade in guns, drugs and piracy. In this respect, the United Nations must take an expanded role and should have the mandate to occupy the country until factions are sufficiently weakened and willing to negotiate peace. In essence, the monopoly on violence must be consolidated in an international body such as the U.N. probably together with the A.U. The outcome of negotiated peace is likely to be a new state, with different structures of governance. It is also conceivable that the outcome could be more than one state.

Finally, the strategy must involve a broad development agenda. As already noted, statelessness has many concentrated benefits, which motivates factions to invest heavily so as to retain the economic rents derived under statelessness. The military agenda must therefore be complemented with an internationally coordinated development agenda including investment in productive activities, building infrastructure and the provision of social services, especially investment in human capital-education and health. Today, investments in human capital are extremely low because alternative investment in illicit activities has much higher returns.

Somalia is a small country. But like a tick that kills a big animal, this small country can destabilize an entire region and endanger the international community. Dealing with the crisis will involve substantial costs, but failure to act now raises future costs that the world will pay exponentially. And the future might not be that distant.

From Brookings: (Re)Introducing the African Union Convention on the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons

This article will be published in a forthcoming issue of International Legal Materials of the American Society of International Law.
An internally displaced Somali woman holds her daughter outside their makeshift shelter at a camp in the outskirts of Mogadishu.

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Reuters/Ismail Taxta

An African Solution to Internal Displacement: AU Leaders Agree to Landmark Convention
Andrew Solomon, Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement, October 23, 2009

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Sermid D. Al-Sarraf, Esq., International Network to Promote the Rule of Law, USIP, February 28, 2009

Andrew Solomon

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More than seventeen million individuals, including at least eleven million internally displaced persons (IDPs), are uprooted and on the move in Africa at the present time. Virtually all of these people have been forced or obliged to flee their homes and communities as a result of conflict, situations of generalized violence, human rights violations, natural disasters, and environmental degradation. Many of the displaced, both refugees and those who remain within the borders of their own countries, exist on the margins of society and are vulnerable to significant human rights abuse as a result of their displacement. Situations of mass displacement, like those confronting approximately twenty countries in Africa, can also put considerable stresses on affected communities and negatively affect how states are governed and develop. Displacement may also give rise to conflict or undermine peace building efforts. Solutions to displacement therefore require complex frameworks and responses that take into account the humanitarian, human rights, development, and security dimensions of this phenomenon.

The African Union Convention on the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons is one such framework. It was adopted by African heads of state and government to address the root causes and challenges of forced displacement on the continent at a Special Summit in Kampala, Uganda on October 22-23, 2009. Based on the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, the Convention seeks to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of internally displaced persons, facilitate durable solutions to their displacement, and ensure that these individuals have an opportunity to lead dignified and productive lives. It also establishes a legal framework for cooperation among states, international and regional organizations, and civil society and other non-state actors to combat displacement and it consequences.

The Convention affirms the leading role and responsibility of national governments to protect and assist IDPs and prevent situations of internal displacement in the region and within their individual countries. As such, the Convention strengthens the principle of “sovereignty as responsibility,” which asserts that national sovereignty includes the responsibility of a state to provide for the welfare of its citizens and to relieve the humanitarian consequences of conflict. In addition, those who have endorsed the Convention have also explicitly recognized the link between promoting peace, security, and development on the continent and the need to mitigate the plight of the displaced. In this sense, the Convention contributes to Africa’s overall security and development architecture in addition to serving as the centerpiece of regional responses to one of the continent’s most pressing humanitarian and human rights crises.

The Convention is significant for a variety of other reasons. It is the first instrument intended to legally bind an entire region on matters related to preventing situations of mass displacement and to resolving the vulnerabilities and needs of those who have been displaced. While other regional organizations, such as the Council of Europe and the Organization of American States, have adopted resolutions calling upon their member states to protect the rights of the internally displaced, these instruments are non-binding. Although another binding instrument related to IDP protections exists in Africa—the Protocol on the Protection and Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons, adopted by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in 2006—it is only binding on the eleven ICGLR member states at a sub-regional level.

Another ground-breaking aspect of the Convention is its formal recognition of displacement triggers other than armed conflict and situations of generalized violence. The Convention recognizes and embraces a much more comprehensive list of factors that force people to flee their homes and communities. Specifically, the Convention obligates state parties to protect those who have been displaced as a result of both natural and man-made disasters. Displacement caused by development projects, including exploration and exploitation of natural resources, is also prohibited by the Convention.

Moreover, the Convention makes a significant contribution to the law of internal displacement by recognizing the rights of IDPs and the obligations states have toward them during all phases of displacement—from prevention, to treatment of persons while they are displaced and through their return, local integration, or resettlement. Among its many provisions, for instance, the Convention affirms the panoply of rights enjoyed by IDPs as individuals under human rights and humanitarian law. These include the right of all persons to be protected from arbitrary displacement and the right of those displaced to humane treatment, non-discrimination, equality, and equal protection under the law during their displacement. The Convention also recognizes the right of displaced persons to make informed decisions to return to their original homes or to resettle elsewhere in the country.

As a protection instrument, the Convention is focused first and foremost on elaborating the obligations of state parties. In this respect, the Convention sets forth a number of concrete measures to be taken by national authorities to prevent displacement and protect and assist those who are arbitrarily displaced. These measures range from complying with international human rights and humanitarian law, to developing and implementing early warning and disaster management systems to deal with complex emergencies that can forcibly displace people from their homes. In addition, the Convention obliges state parties to prohibit displacement and its use as a means of warfare, i.e. ethnic cleansing. Similarly, it requires that state parties criminalize acts of arbitrary displacement and prevent discrimination, inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary detention, and sexual and gender based violence. Notably, those bound by the Convention are also obligated to ensure that individuals who commit acts of arbitrary displacement are held accountable. This obligation extends to holding non-state actors, such as insurgents and rebel groups, private military contractors, and multinational corporations, accountable for arbitrary displacement.

In the same vein, the Convention requires armed groups not affiliated with the state to protect and assist internally displaced persons in areas under their effective control. Moreover, non-state actors and armed groups—like formal state parties to the Convention—are called upon by the Convention to provide humanitarian organizations with access to the displaced and facilitate the delivery of relief supplies to those in need. Assistance to local communities that host internally displaced persons is also mandatory under the Convention.

The Convention also requires that national authorities make funding available to assist IDPs and designate institutional focal points in each of their countries to facilitate coordination among relevant government agencies and with local and international partners on issues related to internal displacement. National authorities may, for instance, designate an existing government ministry or agency to take responsibility of IDPs or create a special commission or working group to coordinate government activities. The Convention also obligates governments to provide compensation and other reparations to remedy the harm suffered by persons as a result of their displacement.

No multilateral legal instrument is perfect, and the Convention does have limitations. Concerns over the lack of effective enforcement mechanisms and insufficient guarantees for equality, non-discrimination, and other human rights have been raised. Similarly, there is some question regarding the extent to which non-state actors and armed groups called upon by the Convention to protect IDPs can be bound by its provisions. Nevertheless, the Convention, which has benefited from the input of international experts, is considered to be generally consistent with international standards and a potentially effective instrument to address displacement and its consequences in Africa.

The Convention will enter into force as a legally binding instrument once it has been ratified by fifteen states of the African Union. At the present time, however, none of Convention’s seventeen original signatories, including the three states that signed the Convention after the Special Summit in Kampala, have completed ratification in accordance with their national law and procedures

The United States of America and Canada can be evil, too

A variety of measures were taken by both Canadian and U.S. authorities against independent jounrnalists attempting to cover the protests around the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.

Listen to the report:

The 21st Winter Olympics are being held from February 12th–28th, 2010, in Vancouver and Whistler, in the Canadian province of British Columbia.

Host cities use the Olympic Games as a means to attract corporate investment in a similar way as with large-scale events such as the Republican and Democratic political conventions and global financial gatherings such as the World Trade Organization, G-8, and G-20 meetings.

Canada won the bidding process to host the Winter Olympics in July 2003. The following year, the operational cost was initially estimated to be $1.35 billion.

By the beginning of February 2010, the estimated total cost of the Games—including required infrastructure improvements—had risen to at least $6 billion, including a staggering $1 billion spent on security preparations, to be headed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, five times the initial security budget estimate.

The Olympics themselves are a massive brand. According to the official website of the Vancouver Olympic Committee, or VANOC:

One of the key conditions of being awarded the right to host the 2010 Winter Games was a commitment to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that the Olympic Brand would be protected in Canada.
VANOC took this quite literally, copyrighting lines from the English and French versions of Canada’s national anthem—which it will use on official merchandise—and managed to get a landmark piece of legislation passed in the House of Commons in 2007—the Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act—that made using certain phrases related to the Games a violation of law.

These include the number “2010” and the words “games” and “winter”—phrases which normally could not be trademarked because they are so generally used.

VANOC proceeded to take small local businesses to court for using the word “Olympic” in their names, including those in existence long before the Games were awarded to Vancouver.

VANOC’s often bizarre court forays included trying to prevent the non-incorporated “Eco-Tourism 2010 Society” from using 2010 in its name, and to target cheeky yoga-wear retailer Lilu-lemon—which launched a December 2009 clothing line called:

“Cool Sporting Event That Takes Place in British Columbia Between 2009 and 2011 Edition.”
With 7 years preceding the Olympics, a unprecedented resistance movement has grown up, based out of Vancouver. Harjap Grewal, from the Olympic Resistance Committee, explains why anyone would protest what was on the surface, a simple sporting event:

“It’s a unique moment in history because a call for a convergence normally happens at the G-8, WTO and World Bank summits that happen around the world, and this time organizers have actually called for a demonstration against the Olympics Industry.

We don’t see the Olympics Industry as being that much different than these other institutions that are unaccountable to the people of the world. The IOC is like the WTO, the IOC is like the IMF, is like the World Bank, and it encourages the transfer of wealth from public hands to private pockets.”
As early as 2007, over 70 percent of Vancouver citizens polled by Robbins SCE Research did not support the cost of the Olympics, and a January 2010 Canadian Press/Harris Decima poll found that 84 percent of Canadians believed the Games would end up in the red.

Harsha Walia, from the Olympic Resistance Committee, stated:

“We see that the Games have been overrun with a budget of over $7 billion, indigenous lands continue to be exploited and stolen, with ski resort developments all across British Columbia, increasing poverty and criminalization of the poor in the Downtown Eastside, a massive cutback in public spending and an increasing budget for policing and militarization here in Vancouver. We have $1 billion that are being sunk into a military police state in the lead-up to the Olympics.”
The most visible slogan of the anti-Olympic protest movement has been “No 2010 Olympics on Stolen Native Land”. In an interview with the Vancouver Media Coop, First Nation artist and activist Gord Hill explained why many members of Canada’s indigenous population oppose the games which are taking place on land whose status is uniquely unresolved in Canada:

“Well here in BC in particular, it refers to the history of colonialism here in the province, and the lack of treaties that the government was required—by its own laws—to make in its western expansion across Canada. So when they got to BC, which was forming itself as a colony at that time under the British, they started to make treaties.

The first ones were known as the Douglas Treaties, after the first governor, and he made a number of small treaties on Vancouver Island, and after that they just stopped the process and just imposed government control over all these indigenous lands here in the province. It’s illegal and it’s actually immoral because they were bound by their own laws to make treaties before they settled on any land or any business took place on sovereign indigenous land.”
Radical sports writer Dave Zirin is quick to point out that the Olympics are a destructive force wherever they go. Speaking to’s Franklin Lopez in Vancouver this January, Zirin explained his position:

“My beef with the Olympics is that everywhere they go you see the same three things—you see police repression, you see budget-busting graft, and you see hardcore gentrification and displacement. And that’s true no matter where the Olympics go.

Most people know about how this went down in Beijing—but it’s not a China issue, it’s not a Beijing issue, it’s an Olympics issue. Wherever they go they make these demands of a given community and I don’t think any community should have to deal with that to host a sporting event.”
After filming the January 20th interview with Zirin, Lopez got a little taste of where the $1 billion security budget for the Olympics was being spent:

“I produce a radical television/web show where I have been very critical of the Olympics for over a couple of years now. I’m also supporting Vancouver Media Coop, which is a local, independent, news-gathering cooperative that is very sympathetic to the views of the Olympic Resistance Network and the anti-Olympic movement. And thirdly I produced a video exhorting people to come to Vancouver to protest.

I was videotaping Dave Ziron, who is a radical sportswriter for The Nation—and he also writes for Sports Illustrated Online, and wrote A People’s History Of Sports In The United States. The place where he spoke was very close to my office. That event was put on by the Olympic Resistance Network and, as expected, the police were probably there undercover.

About an hour after the event was over, I get a call from one of my workmates [to say] that the Vancouver Integrated Security Unit—that is basically a special police force put in place to protect the Olympic Brand—had visited me and insisted that they ‘knew’ that I was in the building, and that they just wanted to talk to me for five minutes.

The folks were in plain clothes, and not just in plain clothes but plain, kind of hipster, grungy clothes, and they left their business cards with their Royal Canadian Mounted Police logos and their Vancouver Integrated Security Unit logos.

The only thing that I can think of is that it’s not that it’s hard to find anybody in this day and age, but that somebody followed me from the event, reported back to them, and once they were done gathering their intelligence at the event, they came and saw me, or tried to look for me at least.”
VIVO is an artist-run center in Vancouver that had planned a number of media, arts and activist-focused public events during the Olympics—both at its space and on the airwaves.

Armed with a 12-watt radio transmitter that had been used previously without incident in several art installations across British Columbia, it didn’t take long for VIVO to find out that the Olympics were not the time to get creative with your dissent.

I spoke with Kristen Roos from VIVO:

“We had only just been on the air not even for 24 hours. Normally I know that other pirate radio stations, they come and give you a warning, and if you keep broadcasting they give you another warning, but they came right in with, ‘Okay, if you keep broadcasting you’ll get a $25,000-a-day fine.

I’ve done projects like this, small scale stuff, before, and it’s kind of under the radar. It’s just a really particular time right now. Industry Canada doesn’t usually come knocking on your door with Olympic jackets on, you know? They all had Olympic jackets and VANOC passes to get into places. Not normal activity.

They’re supposed to be checking out things based on complaints but whether we would have got a complaint for such a small project like this if the Olympics weren’t here? I doubt it.”
Martin Macias—a student, radio host on Chicago Public Radio, and activist who worked on Chicago’s successful campaign against the 2016 Olympic bid—arrived in Vancouver airport on February 6th, prepared to spend a week documenting resistance to the 2010 Games.

Macias was turned away by Canadian immigration after being interrogated and having his belongings searched:

“They looked at my notebook, they looked at my newspapers, looked in the phone books that I had in my bag, and they found a number in there which is from the conference, and it’s a support number, I guess in case you need something while you are in Vancouver, if you need food of shelter or if you have problems with the authorities, any issues with them, you can call that number.

The customs agent, she saw that as a sign that I came to Vancouver with the intention of being involved in some kind of activity where I would possibly need support, in case I was arrested or in case I had issues with the authorities. And she saw that as reasonable grounds to refuse my entry.”
In an interview with radical sportswriter Dave Zirin at The Nation magazine, Macias chillingly reported what is becoming a clear conflation by security services policing protest at national and international events:

“I kept telling them,” said Macias, “[that] I wasn’t going to Vancouver to protest but to cover the protests but for them that was one and the same.”

Less anticipated than the Canadian crackdown was the interest that U.S. authorities would have in those turned away by its northern neighbor.

Following his denial of entry by Canada, on the grounds of misdemeanor convictions in the U.S. from several years ago, U.S. Indymedia journalist John Weston Osburn—a veteran of documenting both the 2008 Republican National Convention and 2009 G-20 protests—was interrogated by the Department of Homeland Security after he was sent back from the Canadian border:

“They took me inside their substation and basically started interrogating me. They asked me why I was heading for Canada, and I told them I was going to film a protest. And they asked me what the protests were about and they seemed like they wanted me to admit that it was an anti-Olympic protest.

And when they started asking me about the specifics of the protest, I basically got defensive because I didn’t feel like it was any of their business. It was my right to go film whatever I wanted to film and I didn’t feel I owed them any explanation for that.

So I asked them to speak to a lawyer, and they told me that I didn’t have the right to a lawyer, and that I was not either in Canada or in the United States but that I was in—as one officer worded it—that I was in ‘no man’s land’ and that I belonged to him. I found that really troubling.

As I was in there and they were telling me this, there was an American flag hanging and a big wooden eagle and I was thinking to myself, ‘If this isn’t America, then where the hell am I?’

He said, ‘So you want to plead the fifth then?’ and I said, ‘Yes, I do’ and he said, ‘Well you can plead it in here’ and he put me in a holding cell. While I was in the holding cell, it was basically a degrading experience because they completely ignored my demands to be released.

I asked multiple times if I was being detained and on what grounds. One time when I asked, ‘Am I being detained?’ and they said ‘No” but then I said ‘Am I free to go?’ and they said ‘No.’”
Meanwhile, on the streets of Vancouver, independent journalists were finding that the police were not making much effort to discriminate between protesters and reporters.

I spoke with Chris Bevacqua, a photographer working with the Vancouver Media Cooperative about what he witnessed covering Friday protests in downtown Vancouver.

Following the breaking of a few windows of corporations—who were official sponsors of the Olympics—the police moved into action:

“At that point, police knew we were coming, so riot police came from around the building and at that point we were penned in on either side. And still taking photos at that point. I don’t know when the call was made but then the police suddenly attacked. It seemed as though it was without warning to me. I didn’t hear anything. Maybe there was, I don’t know.

And people just started getting tackled and pulled to the ground and just hit with clubs and stuff, and I’m just clicking away, just trying to get in there and take photos. And then I realized that I got pushed back—not super hard but I was pushed back—and I kind of realized that the police were sort of attacking everybody and looked around and in particular—there’s a video of him on the Vancouver Media Coop’s site—who was most definitely a photographer who had a camera in his hand. He didn’t have a bandana over his face or anything like that and was basically beaten up by police. I think it would be safe to say he was pushed around pretty hard.

The cop in front of me swung his club and hit the protester’s leg next to me but it could easily have been either of us, he wasn’t really aiming for anyone in particular. I think he was just swinging his club.”
I asked Indymedia reporter John Weston Osburn why he thought it was important to drive 2,000 miles to report—unpaid—on what was happening outside the Olympics.

“Well I think when corporate media comes and covers them I think there’s a really obvious conflict of interests. If there’s people vocalizing opposition to policies of corporations and the actions of these corporations then the corporations aren’t going to cover them.

It’s been a really common thing during these protests that they’ll go largely uncovered or there’s a lot of misinformation that’s usually put into them.

In this country, if we really want to maintain free speech and freedom of the press, then we have to become the press. And that’s why I’m so committed to citizen journalism.”

Russia is a murderer of journalists


Preface by Kati Marton

About this Report

1. Summary

2. A Record of Impunity: Seventeen Deaths

Secrecy, indifference, and conflicts mar investigations into journalist deaths. Moscow has a responsibility to uphold the rule of law. Its international partners have an obligation, too.

SIDEBAR: Roadmap for the International Community

3. High Profile, Low Success: Two Cases Fall Apart

Assassins targeted internationally known journalists Paul Klebnikov and Anna Politkovskaya two years apart in Moscow. Despite promises, arrests, and trials, no one has been brought to justice.

SIDEBAR: In Defense of Jury Trials

4. Local Journalists at Risk: Profound Impact, Grave Dangers

Enterprising young reporters tackling sensitive local topics are often isolated and vulnerable to reprisals from powerful forces. Eduard Markevich and Pavel Makeev paid the ultimate price.

SIDEBAR: A Federal System to Investigate, Prosecute

5. No Foul Play: Brushing Aside Suspicious Deaths

Yuri Shchekochikhin and Ivan Safronov were energetic journalists, expert in their fields, fair in their reporting. They died in suspicious circumstances that have not been fully investigated.

SIDEBAR: When Everything Is ‘Top Secret’

6. Investigating the Investigators: When Police Are Suspects

Can President Medvedev halt attacks on the press without moving against corruption in law enforcement agencies? The slayings of Maksim Maksimov and Magomed Yevloyev show how the issues are intertwined.

SIDEBAR: Public Apathy Hampers Press

7. The Robberies: Reaching for a Dubious Motive

Investigators are quick to classify slayings as street crimes rather than examine more sensitive motives. The murders of Natalya Skryl and Vagif Kochetkov were mischaracterized—and then botched.

SIDEBAR: In Their Words

8. The Togliatti Murders: ‘They Can’t Kill Us All’

Valery Ivanov and Aleksei Sidorov were friends and colleagues, a pair of crusading editors out to expose crime and make a splash in Russia' car-making capital. They were murdered 18 months apart.

SIDEBAR: No Place for Justice

9. The Deadly Caucasus: Reporting at Extreme Risk

Journalists have been silenced for covering Chechnya and its neighboring republics, Dagestan and Ingushetia. Opaque investigations into the killings of Vladimir Yatsina, Magomedzagid Varisov, Telman Alishayev, and Anastasiya Baburova have fed deep skepticism.

SIDEBAR: 'Who Needs Your Truth?’

10. A (Limited) Success: Landmark Convictions Won

Guilty verdicts in the killing of Igor Domnikov show that persistence can lead to justice. But critics say the case, successful as it has been, remains far from complete.

Global Campaign Against Impunity

Murder is the ultimate form of censorship. One reporter is killed, and hundreds are sent a message that certain topics are too dangerous to be discussed. Since 1992, more than 500 journalists have been murdered in direct relation to their work, CPJ research shows. While hundreds more have died in combat or other dangerous circumstances, murder is the leading cause of work-related deaths.

Video: CPJ's María Salazar-Ferro describes the scourge of impunityJustice is served in less than 15 percent of these murder cases. Our research suggests that the absence of justice promotes a higher incidence of murder.

Now, with support from the Knight Foundation, CPJ is launching a global campaign to combat impunity. We will focus initially on Russia and the Philippines, two very different countries that share two traits: They are among the world's deadliest nations for journalists, and they are among the worst in solving these crimes.

Video: CNN's Christiane Amanpour discusses impunityCPJ's efforts seek to build on the success of the Miami-based Inter American Press Association (IAPA), which in 1993 launched a campaign against impunity in journalist murders in Latin America. Over this period, the justice rate in Latin America improved markedly, according to CPJ's independent analysis. There are many factors, but IAPA's campaign undoubtedly made a difference.

Please take a few moments to watch the accompanying videos, which outline the implications of impunity and our plans to combat it.

Other links on this page will take you to our special reports on unsolved journalist murders, CPJ's ongoing coverage of the Philippines and Russia, our database and statistical analysis of journalist deaths since 1992, and, perhaps most important, how you can get involved.

We will be tracking progress in the Philippines and Russia in the years ahead and hope to see impunity levels decline in both countries. Concerted action on a global scale and collaboration with our colleagues and supporters, we believe, is a prescription for success. We ask for your help in making this possible.

Joel Simon
Executive Director

Museveni accuses two Ugandan journalists of libel

An opinion column in Uganda’s leading independent newspaper suggesting parallels between President Yoweri Museveni and former Philippine leader Ferdinand Marcos led to criminal libel charges against two journalists today, according to local media reports.

A magistrate in the capital, Kampala, charged Angelo Izama, a senior reporter, and Henry Ochieng, editor of the Sunday Monitor news magazine, based on a complaint from Museveni, who claims he was defamed in a December 19 column, Monitor Publications lawyer Anne Abeja Muhwezi told CPJ.

Izama’s column, quoting opposition figures and academics, largely discusses the risk of political violence during next year’s general elections. But the complaint focuses on a portion of the piece that draws similarities between Museveni’s Uganda and the Phillipines under Marcos, according to CPJ research. Museveni, who took power in Uganda a few months before Philippine protests ousted Marcos in 1986, is expected to seek a fourth term in next year’s general elections.

Izama and Ochieng were released on bail of 100,000 Ugandan shillings (US$50) pending trial on February 25, according to Muhwezi. Criminal libel is one of several Ugandan penal code statutes, including sedition and the promotion of sectarianism, whose constitutional basis is under review by the country’s highest court. Ugandan courts have typically postponed action in such cases while the Supreme Court case is pending.

“If anything proves that a government is authoritarian, it’s jailing journalists who raise questions about the government,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes. “It’s regrettable that the magistrate charged Angelo Izama and Henry Ochieng with criminal libel. It’s time for Uganda to join the ranks of democracies by eliminating criminal defamation statutes.”

Izama told CPJ he was first interrogated about the column on December 22 and was subsequently told to report to the police “media crimes” division at least once a week. Ochieng was first summoned on January 11. Both journalists spent two hours at the media crimes division today before being driven to court in a police vehicle, Muhwezi said.

Izama and Ochieng are among several Monitor journalists facing criminal charges in connection with their coverage, according to CPJ research. Sedition charges also hang over radio journalists Robert Kalundi Sserumaga and Betty Nambooze, while a government ban remains on popular debate programs and Central Broadcasting Services, the station of the traditional kingdom of the Baganda, Uganda’s largest ethnic group, since last September.

Latin America takes steps against criminal defamation

In an encouraging development, three courts in Colombia, Costa Rica, and Chile have recently followed the growing regional consensus against criminal defamation by dismissing criminal penalties against journalists accused of libel and slander.

The newsweekly magazine Semana reported that a piece written by Alfredo Molano, at left, in the op-ed pages of the Bogota-based daily El Espectador in February 2007 described how the members of a family in Cartagena and Valledupar had undue influence in private businesses and public offices in the country’s Caribbean region.

Three Rwandan journalists sentenced to prison

Three journalists were sentenced to prison on Monday in Rwanda over a story reporting on an extramarital affair between the mayor of the capital, Kigali, and a government minister, according to local journalists and news reports.
Magistrate Fidele Bazihana of Nyarugenge Court in Kigali convicted former Editor Charles Kabonero, Acting Editor-in-Chief Didas Gasana, and reporter Richard Kayigamba of the Kinyarwanda-language private weekly Umuseso in absentia of invading the privacy of Cabinet Affairs Minister Protais Musoni and Kigali Mayor Aisa Kirabo Kacyira under Rwanda’s 1977 penal code and Rwanda’s 2009 Media Law, defense lawyer Christopher Niyomugabo told CPJ.

The magistrate sentenced Kabonero to one year in prison and gave six-month prison terms to Gasana and Kayigamba. The three were also ordered to pay damages of 1 million Rwandan francs (US$1,700) to the two officials. (The lawyer was unable to clarify yet whether the amount was a total figure or would be paid to each official.) The magistrate dismissed the prosecution’s requests to ban the newspaper and imprison the journalists upon conviction, according to Niyomugabo. The journalists are free pending an appeal, he said.
“These prison sentences are deeply disturbing because they reveal a pattern of using criminal defamation to silence critical journalism in Rwanda,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “We urge the court of appeals to overturn this ruling.”

Umuseso, known for its critical coverage of the government, was the first to report the allegations in November 2009, according to local journalists. Kabonero told CPJ today that the story was a matter of public interest because Rwanda’s 2008 Law on the Leadership Code of Conduct criminalized offenses like adultery for public office holders. Both Mayor Kacyira and Musoni, who is also the interim information minister, publicly denied the accusations.

Kabonero and Gasana are already appealing a suspended two-year prison term from a 2008 conviction for slander over a story about tax evasion charges against businessman Tribert Rujugiro in South Africa, according to CPJ research. Rujugiro was later detained in London on a South African arrest warrant on the charges reported by Umuseso, according to news reports.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Lifeline top officials visit Malawi

Thumbs up to Privation Commission

Thanks guys for making your Annual Reports accessible to everyone; you are doing a good job.
Zachimalawi is happy with your performance, though you are busy selling our companies.

More indicators on Malawi

Demographics (United Nations Population Fund):
Population: 12,884,000
Population aged 15-59: 6,185,000
Urban population: 2,211,000


Under 5 mortality per 1000 births: 184
Male life expectancy: 41 years
Female life expectancy: 41 years
Combined average life expectancy: 41 years
Combined average life expectancy 1975-1980: 43.8 years


Education (UNESCO, 2004):
Males with secondary education as percentage of secondary school-age youths: 32 percent
Females with secondary education as percentage of secondary school-age youths: 26 percent


Literacy rates (UNESCO, 2004):
Percentage of literate males aged 15 or older: 75.5 percent
Percentage of literate females aged 15 or older: 48.7 percent
Combined literacy rate for aged 15 or older: 61.8 percent

HIV/AIDS indicators for Malawi

Treatment Map
Adult HIV Prevalence Rate (%): 14.1%
No. Of People living with HIV/AIDS: 940,000
No. Of HIV Testing & Counseling Sites: 184
No. Of People in need of ART (Dec. 2006): approx. 170-180,000
No. Of People On ART (Sept. 2006): 70,000
No. Of Sites Reportedly Distributing ART (June 2006): 101 in the public sector; 28 in the private sector
No. Of People on ART Public Sector (June 2006): 57,366 in both the public and private sector; no further breakdown exists
No. Of People on ART Private Sector: see above
No. Of People on ART in Non-Governmental Programmes: counted in public estimates
No. Of People Expected to be on ART (2006 End) (Sept. 2006): 80,000
Front Line Drug Regimen (Dec. 2006): stavudine + lamivudine + nevirapine, also known as triomune
*PMTCT Regimen (Dec. 2006): The PMTCT regimen is Nevirapine for both mother and baby but Malawi is nevirapine but Malawi is considering combined ARV regimen for PMTCT and this is yet to be determined. ART is recommended for pregnant women who are eligible based on staging or CD4 counts.


HIV/AIDS Fund Disbursements:
Total Funds Disbursed By The Global Fund as of Sept. 2006: US$49,793,160
Total Funds Disbursed By The World Bank Multi-Country HIV/AIDS Programme (MAP) as of Sept. 2006: US$35 million
Total Funds Disbursed By PEPFAR During 2005 Fiscal Year: nil

Sources: Government of Malawi, UNAIDS

Demographics (United Nations Population Fund):
Population: 12,884,000
Population aged 15-59: 6,185,000
Urban population: 2,211,000


Under 5 mortality per 1000 births: 184
Male life expectancy: 41 years
Female life expectancy: 41 years
Combined average life expectancy: 41 years
Combined average life expectancy 1975-1980: 43.8 years


Education (UNESCO, 2004):
Males with secondary education as percentage of secondary school-age youths: 32 percent
Females with secondary education as percentage of secondary school-age youths: 26 percent


Literacy rates (UNESCO, 2004):
Percentage of literate males aged 15 or older: 75.5 percent
Percentage of literate females aged 15 or older: 48.7 percent
Combined literacy rate for aged 15 or older: 61.8 percent

Contacts for HIV,AIDS information in Malawi

HIV/AIDS Organisations
Ministry of Health and Population
Contact person: Tel: +265 1 789 400
Location: P.O. Box 30377
Lilongwe 3, Malawi +265 1 788 849
Fax: +265 1 789 431
What we do:


National AIDS Commission of Malawi
Contact person:Dr Owen Kalua, director of programmes Tel: +265 1 727 900
Location: P.O. Box 30622
Lilongwe, Malawi Fax: +265 1 843 363
What we do: Prevention work; strengthen the capacity of institutions, communities and individuals to stop the spread of the epidemic and mitigate its impact.


Actionaid - Malawi
Contact person: Tel: +265 1 757 500/04/08
Location: P.O. Box 30735, Lilongwe Fax: +265 1 771 349
What we do: Prevention; care and support, advocacy, outreach; education; counselling.


Family Health International (FHI)
Contact person: Dr Margaret Kaseje, country director Tel: +265 1 775 106
Location: House City Center
Arwa House, 3rd Floor/ North Wing
Lilongwe 3, Malawi Fax:
What we do: Diversified programme of research, education, and services in family health and HIV/AIDS prevention and care.


Malawi Network of AIDS Service Organisations (MANASO)
Contact person: Tel: +265 01 835 018/46
Location: P.O. Box 2916
Blantrye, Malawi Fax:
What we do: Networking; information sharing, training workshops; grants management aimed at building the capacities of community based organisations.


Malawi Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS
Contact person: Victor Kamanga / George Kampango Tel: +265 1 773 727
Location: Private Bag 377
Lilongwe 3, Malawi Fax: +265 1 770 194
What we do: Support groups; information; training programmes; conferences.


National Association of People with HIV/AIDS in Malawi (NAPHAM)
Contact person: Kumbakani Black Tel: +265 1 791 943
+265 1 770 641
Location: Private Bag 355
Lilongwe, Malawi +265 1 776 343
Fax: +265 1 791 939
What we do: Home-based care; counselling; education; condom promotion; information; support; advocacy.


Partners in Hope
Contact person: Tel: +265 01 727 155
Location: P.O. Box 302
Lilongwe, Malawi Fax:
What we do: Clinic with programmes for ARVs; HIV prevention; prevention of mother to child transmission; home-based care.


Population Services International (PSI)
Contact person: Tel: +265 1 677 345
Location: P.O. Box 529
16 Leslie Road
Blantyre, Malawi Fax: +265 1 674 138
What we do: Uses social marketing to deliver health products, services and information that enable low-income and other vulnerable people to lead healthier lives.


Southern African AIDS Training Programme (SAT)
Contact person: Tel: +265 1 774 422
+265 1 774 427
Location: Private Bag B325, Lilongwe 3, Malawi Fax: +265 1 775 351
What we do: Supports community responses to HIV and AIDS through in-depth partnership; networking; skills exchange; lesson sharing in HIV prevention, HIV and AIDS care and support throughout the region.


Salima HIV-AIDS Support Organization (SASO)
Contact person: George Kanyemba Tel: +265 262 821
Location: PL Bag 18
Salima, Malawi Fax:
What we do: Networking; information sharing, training workshops; grants management aimed at building the capacities of community-based organisations.


Umoyo Network
Contact person: Tel: +265 621 022
+265 621 348
Location: Private Bag 254
Blantyre, Malawi Fax: +265 624 980
What we do: Capacity building in reproductive health and HIV/AIDS of local NGOs in Malawi.


UN Theme Group on HIV/AIDS, Chair
Contact person: Mr Michael Keating, UNDP Tel: +265 1 773 329
Location: Lilongwe 3, Malawi Fax:
What we do: Supports an expanded response and policy advice on preventing transmission of HIV, providing care and support, reducing the vulnerability of individuals and communities to HIV/AIDS.


UNAIDS Country Co-ordinator
Contact person: Desmond Johns Tel: +265 1 772 603
Location: P.O. Box 30135
Lilongwe 3, Malawi Fax: +265 1 773 992
What we do: UNAIDS leads, strengthens and supports an expanded response aimed at preventing transmission of HIV, providing care and support, reducing the vulnerability of individuals and communities to HIV/AIDS.


Sources: - The Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)
- The World Bank
- World Health Organization
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Country Profiles
- United Nations Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs. 2005. “World Population Prospects: The 2004 Revision.” New York.
- The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)

HIV programmes in Malawi

National Strategic Framework: 2005–2009

Epidemiological Assessment (UNAIDS):

Major vulnerable and affected groups
Young people 13–24 years old are particularly vulnerable to HIV, especially girls. The HIV prevalence is almost twice as high in urban areas (25%) as in rural areas (13%). High levels of movement among urban, rural, and mining areas facilitate HIV transmission. Mobile groups in Malawi, including truck drivers, sex workers, fishermen and -women and fish traders, migrant and seasonal workers, military personnel, prisoners and refugees, are also vulnerable to the epidemic.

Policy on HIV testing and treatment
The Government of Malawi, through the National AIDS Commission, undertakes to promote and provide high-quality, cost-effective, confidential and accessible voluntary counselling and testing services country-wide, in particular youth-friendly services and services that are adequate and accessible to other vulnerable groups. Voluntary counselling and testing is either confidential or anonymous. The government and the National AIDS Commission further promote and encourage couple counselling and the disclosure of HIV test results to partners, strive to ensure that voluntary counselling and testing services are staffed by adequate numbers of trained counsellors and coordinate and ensure the links between voluntary counselling and testing services and other services related to HIV/AIDS to provide a continuum of prevention, treatment, care, support and impact mitigation. The National AIDS Commission also ensures that HIV testing is routinely offered to all pregnant women attending antenatal clinics unless they specifically choose to decline. The delivery of quality community home-based care is promoted as an essential component of the continuum of care for people living with HIV/AIDS. A National Plan to Scale Up Antiretroviral Therapy has been developed, and antiretroviral therapy has been provided free of charge in the public sector since 2003. The prescription and sale of antiretroviral drugs is regulated to guarantee quality control and to reduce the risk of drug resistance developing through inappropriate use of the drugs. The national Essential Drug List is regularly updated to incorporate essential drugs for HIV/AIDS treatment in accordance with the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines. Infections related to HIV/AIDS are treated according to the national Essential Health Package.

Critical issues and major challenges
As the demand for HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment services increases, health sector capacity needs to be built up to scale up provision of services throughout the country. The greatest challenge facing Malawi is a human resource crisis, which has generally created a lack of capacity to deliver health services, especially in rural areas where primary health care is severely compromised. The scaling up of the Essential Health Package has been critically slowed, with only 10% of 617 facilities satisfying the human resource requirements for delivering the Essential Health Package (four professional or technical employees). Staffing is also inadequate to roll out antiretroviral therapy and other services related to HIV/AIDS, including voluntary counselling and testing, treating opportunistic infections and preventing mother-to-child transmission. Drug procurement and supply management systems need to be strengthened, as well as systems for monitoring adherence to treatment and drug resistance. Stigma and discrimination remain present. Nutritional support for people living with HIV/AIDS needs to be assured. Efforts need to be made to ensure greater involvement of people living with HIV/AIDS in the national response. Financial sustainability of the national programme is also a concern.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Study: In Malawi, money in girls’ hands boosts school enrolment

Small stipends paid directly to young girls have had a powerful impact on their school attendance in Malawi, reducing drop-out rates considerably and helping to protect them from HIV. That’s among the findings from a study, supported by the World Bank, of a two-year cash transfer programme targeting girls aged 13 to 22 that wrapped up in December 2009.

Stipends ranging from $1-$5 a month for the adolescent girls, in addition to payments to parents that ranged from $4-$10, reduced drop-out rates by approximately 40 percent.

And, for every extra dollar a girl received above $1, “enrolment increased by a percentage point,” says Berk Özler, a senior economist with the World Bank’s Development Research Group.

Özler and fellow researchers Sarah Baird of The George Washington University and Craig McIntosh of the University of California, San Diego, wanted to test the best way to use cash payments known as conditional cash transfers to boost school enrolment among young women in sub-Saharan Africa.

Drop-out rates are high among teenage girls in Malawi, one of the poorest countries in Africa. One of the main reasons is the relatively high cost of secondary school. Another is that Malawian girls tend to marry at a young age, and “once a girl is married, schooling is over,” says Özler.

Keeping girls in school who otherwise would have dropped out may not only increase learning, but delay marriage and reduce the rate of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Adult HIV prevalence in Malawi is around 12 percent, according to UNAIDS estimates.

Staying in school is part of an effective ‘social vaccine’ with respect to sexual risk behaviour.

Patrick Brenny, UNAIDS Country Coordinator in Malawi
In another paper, researchers found that the onset of sexual activity was significantly delayed among girls who took part in the programme, and their likelihood of being married or pregnant after one year had declined.

Past studies have suggested that “just the fact of being in school may lead to these desirable outcomes but the evidence was scant,” Özler says.

These current findings reinforce UNAIDS’ evidence-based contention that girls continuing their education greatly lowers their vulnerability to HIV. For those who stay in secondary school, each additional year means they are more likely to develop the skills and experience needed to keep themselves safe from HIV.

According to Patrick Brenny, UNAIDS Country Coordinator in Malawi, the study underlines the critical necessity of a comprehensive approach to reducing young women and girls' risk and vulnerability to HIV infection in Malawi.

“Staying in school is part of an effective ‘social vaccine’ with respect to sexual risk behaviour,” said Mr Brenny.

Empowering young people to protect themselves against HIV is one of the nine priority areas in the UNAIDS Outcome Framework 2009-11.

Cash transfers boost schooling, nutrition

In countries without adequate safety net support, children’s nutrition often suffers, and children, especially girls, are taken out of school. In an attempt to counteract this trend, some 29 developing countries have put in place some type of conditional cash transfers programme to boost schooling and nutrition, with many others planning on piloting one.

The World Bank backs conditional cash transfers programmes in 13 countries. It provided $2.4 billion to such initiatives in 2009 during the global economic crisis. Studies have found that cash payments to the female head of household leads to better outcomes for children and families. In Brazil, for instance, the chance of childhood survival increases by 20 percent.

But the effect of cash payments made directly to girls versus parents had not been studied until now.

Support to girls ‘makes sense’

In Malawi, the researchers wanted to find out whether the monetary amount of the cash transfer would make a difference, and whether making the payment conditional on school attendance would have an additional impact. They also wanted to test whether making payments directly to girls would affect the outcome.

The study involved a sample of 3,805 girls and young women aged 13 to 22 in 176 urban and rural areas in Zomba, a highly populated district with high dropout rates and low educational attainment. According to a 2005 government survey, children drop out of school mainly due to financial hardship.

Of these girls, a randomly selected group of 1,225 were either offered stipends on the condition they attend school 80 percent of the time, or offered the same stipends unconditionally. The rest did not receive any offers and served as the comparison group for the study.

Girls getting the monthly stipend participated in a lottery where they picked a bottle cap out of an envelope to win an amount between $1 and $5 a month. Guardians were also randomly assigned a separate amount ranging from $4 to $10 a month. On average, girls received $3 and their parents $7, meaning that cash payments to both girls and guardians totalled an average of $10 a month, but ranged from $5-$15.

Each household received an informational sheet detailing the amounts and conditions of the offer, if there were any, and the contract was signed by the girl and her guardian.

Özler says that the condition to attend school at least 80 percent of the time did not seem to make a difference to schooling outcomes in Malawi, nor did increased total cash payments above the minimum of $5 per month. That’s in contrast to the CCT experience in Latin America, where the condition to attend school has been key to the programme’s success.

The girls, however, were demonstrably motivated by their stipends, which they mostly spent on personal items such as clothing.

“The study was successful in getting dropouts to come back to school and in keeping girls in school. Maybe it makes sense to directly support adolescent girls,” says Özler.

The researchers are now conducting follow-up tests and surveys in Malawi to assess, among other things, the impact of the programme on maths and reading skills.

The study was funded by the Global Development Network; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the World Bank’s Gender Action Plan, Knowledge for Change Trust Fund, World Development Report 2007 Small Grants Fund, Spanish Impact Evaluation Fund, and Research Group; and the National Bureau of Economic Research in the United States.

Building political tolerance at community level

Building 2009 polls on grassroots' communities
By Richard Chirombo
Mussa Paulo, DPP, nearly banged into an on-coming lorry ON august 27, 2007, as he attempted to duck Dyson Misomali, a United Democratic Front (UDF) director of youth for Blantyre- Kabula constituency.
Paulo, also from Kabula, is no stranger to politics, or politicians. Not merely because he currently serves as Democratic progressive Party constituency governor for youth; he has over the years been bodyguard to a myriad of notable politicians who, from an observer's point of view, have little in common other than the common string that is politics, and being Malawian.
Talk about Malawi Congress Party (MCP) President John Tembo, New Republican Party (NRP) president Gwanda Chakuamba, Stanley Masauli of the resuscitated Republican Party, and Steve Ching'ang'a, among other notable politicians- he has served them all as bodyguard- either as a single individual or part of a security detail.
"The reason I nearly got run over was political; many Malawians have a long-held view that people who belong to other political parties, other than their own, are their sworn in rivals, that there should be no interaction whatsoever. I might have shared in this misconception, but now I know (what politics is all about). Politics, in the developed world, means campaigning in the run-up to federal or national elections, and then holding hands for the sake of national development thereafter. Not in Malawi," says Paulo.
He defends his case by adding that a majority of Malawians have taken politics beyond its traditional meaning, perhaps because of its Chichewa translation of Ndale which, literally translated into English, comes to mean 'slashing one's legs at one go' (as in cutting of grass)-a martial arts technique that sees someone falling over himself from the sudden effect of a slash-like movement of the legs.
Yet, in his own words, he also reveals that on so many occasions, in his other life as bodyguard, he came to learn about the behind-the-podium-life of politicians. He saw his (former) bosses screech to resounding halts whenever they saw their perceived political 'enemies' embroiled in the delay-tentacles of an auto-mobile break-down.
After which, he says, they would agree on where they would meet for one-too-many, or beer, sessions. 'Why can't we learn from this, as we approach the May (19, 2009) general elections, that the polls may be peaceful, that in the end we will all agree to concentrate on development until one's term of office expires? There is a lot to be done to transform our lives, and all these things depend on purpose of unity".
Politicians do it at night.
A lot, it seems, needs to be done, and the signs were bounty recently at Namatete Primary School, in Blantyre, where constituency-level politicians drawn from various political parties met to discuss unity as we approach the May 19, 2009 general elections, equally expected by many a politician and political analysts to be the most challenging Malawi has ever braced since the advent of the Third Republic.
The primary school lies at a distance of 900 metres, East of Chirimba bus stage as one goes towards Blantyre City Centre. There, at Namatete, is a wall two-metres tall, that swallows linear-constructed, but dilapidated all the same, blocks christened classes. These walls also serve as classrooms. In fact, over six chalkboards cover every ten metres of this wall (sorry, classroom!) and, every school day, pupils sit down on stones facing this brown wall.
Every school day, teachers bid their homes bye saying 'we are going to school', yet it is a wall they mean. All they do, and know at this school, ironically constructed in one of Malawi's highly esteemed cities, Blantyre, is stand in front of the wall- the pupils, some can hardly afford soap, watch both the teacher and the wall. Of course they listen to the teacher and not the wall, but environments can also talk. The wall cries for help, in form of classrooms, enough teachers and quality education, on behalf of the pupils.
But, according to UDF's Misomali and Ephraim Pofera, MCP constituency secretary for Kabula, the school remains in such state because people are pre-occupied with politics: the opposition always against, the ruling party always dictating. People are the ones who suffer.
"They (innocent people) are denied their right to development. The problem affects children hard; in this case, pupils have to brace the rain, sometimes so heavy, wind, and the October sun. It's unfair, really. Tit-for-tat politicking, on every side, both the opposition and the ruling party, is retarding social-economic development," says Misomali.
This has largely been detrimental, he enthuses, as some people go about removing other parties' flags and political insignia. Where has sanity gone, when Malawi was supposed to be a boat? One boat.
In fact, in the words of Pofera, what has gone haywire with multiparty politics in Malawi, that it now means enemies to the point of shedding innocent blood? Multiparty politics were supposed to be at the individual person's discretion, whether to join this party or that, just as it happens with churches. He rightly points out that some are catholics, presbyterians, protestants, restorationists, muslims, hindus, among other religious affiliations. But they don't stone each other for their beliefs, they live in peace.
"After all, after all", exclaims Pofera, as if powered by the virtuoso of a newfound revelation, " were we not all members of one political party during the late Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda's regime. Were we not all MCP? The institution of a multiparty politics' system simply meant we now had a choice, and making one's choice doesn't mean violence or muzzling of other views. No, that is anathema to democracy," explains the MCP constituency secretary.
But all the three grassroots' political officials agree that the key to peaceful 2009 elections is not success on the voting day. Rather, the key rests in the processes initiated in the run-up to the same, and that this means political involvement of communities and their leaders. They say, at the moment, politicians only use people at the grassroot to propagate their political ambitions, mostly using violence against perceived political enemies. This is exacerbated by deep-rooted poverty, high illiteracy levels, lack of clearly spelt out ideologies and ignorance about world political systems among rural and peri-urban dwellers.
The future, however, is bright, the way MCP campaign director for the constituency Duncain Hora sees it. Hora says the first solution to any political impasse lies in the realisation that before politics and whatever it means, there was kinsmanship among all and sundry in Malawi; that brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunts, grandmothers and fathers, even good neighborliness first lived before politics.
So, as we approach the 2009 elections, people should put these considerations first before thinking of politics. That way, Malawians will come to take politics and elections as only a process through which people who love each other tell those who have failed to impress and have failed electorates' expectations that "well, you will do better than this next time, from the experience you have, let us help the one we now want to fill in your weaknesses. Anyone who chooses someone, or allows themselves to be elected to fill the gaps in other people's weaknesses, is a friend in deed," says Hora.
Edward Chaka, executive director for Peoples' Federation for National Peace and Development (Pefenap), an organisation that has been holding discussions on civil and political rights in the districts of Blantyre and Thyolo, with much emphasis on freedom of assembly and association, says imparting knowledge on grassroots leaders and community members is one plausible approach to solving the probable problem of political violence during the 2009 general elections, among the country's political players.
Lack of knowledge is one weakness that has, for a long time, been exploited by politicians to use villagers as tools of political discourse. But with the requisite knowledge that comes from realizing that every citizen has a constitutionally-enshrined right to form or join a political grouping of their choice; that this right goes with the freedom to assemble as a means of achieving political ends, may be the genesis of much needed political tolerance necessary to achieve sustainable social-economic development.
"In the end, resolving political issues at national level should be a process that begins at community level; it is a local responsibility. It is at this level that people are exploited and engaged to be castigating political opponents," according to Chaka.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Malawi warned of imminent floods

Malawi's Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services has issued a warning that floods will hit some parts of the country. The warning comes after some parts of the country including Thyolo, Chikhwawa, Neno, Mwanza experienced drought that has scorched maize in the filed.
On the other hand Salima, Mzuzu, and Rumphi have experienced hail storm while Karonga and Chitipa were hit by an earthquake respectively.

In a statement this year, the department said due to prolonged dry spell that occurred, some parts of Malawi are likely to experience above normal rainfall with persisting El Nino conditions until April this year.

The department said the floods will be due to compensatory effects for the deficiency that has occurred so far in Malawi.

“The projected rainfall for the country during the second half of the season will be characterized by some high intensity storms likely to cause floods in some areas,” said the department.

The department’s Deputy Director Grey Munthali warned that the floods are more likely to occur in low lying areas and his office has since alerted relevant departments on the forecasts.

On her part Commissioner for Disaster Preparedness in the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) Lillian Ng’oma said her office has disaster desks manned by officers in all the districts across Malawi to respond in times of disasters.

Mass Media Writing Course Outline

1. PROGRAMME : Diploma in
2. COURSE TITLE : Mass Media Writing
3. YEAR : 1

7. METHOD OF ASSESSMENT : 40% course work
60% exam
The course introduces students to general principles of news writing for print and broadcast. It introduces students to constructive and descriptive writing.

The aim of the course is to equip students with reporting and news writing skills.

By the end of the course students should be able to:
• Gather information for news stories
• Identify potential news sources
• Generate stories from events, readings and observation
• Write news stories for print, radio and television.

1 The reporter-characteristics of a reporter
news and news values
• The audience determines what reporters write. Discuss
Mencher M, (2006) News Reporting and Writing
Chapter 3

Severin Werner etal, (1988)
Communication theories,methods,uses
2 Sources of information-documentary, observation and human sources
A story is more interesting when human sources have been used been used. Discuss Mencher M, ibid
Chapter 11

Manning Pual, (2001)
News and News Sources: A critical Introduction

3 Information gathering-
The interview
Anonymous sources
• How and when can anonymous source be used? Mencher M, ibid
4 The press conference • Why do journalists take notes even when they are recording the interview?
5 Writing the story-
finding focus-5ws and h inverted pyramid
• Why do journalists use the inverted pyramid?

• Practicing the inverted pyramid
6 The lead/intro
Hard news and soft news
Side bar
• Distinguish hard and soft stories.
• Writing leads.

7 The main body
backgrounding Writing news stories

Fine tuning the story-using S-V-O pattern,
• Writing news stories.
• Adverbs and adjectives are crutches of an inadequate writer. Discuss
9 Word usage Test
10 Attribution
• Word usage and attribution exercise/writing stories
11 Rudiments of a news story - • Looking at stories which have all the rudiments. What is the importance of each story rudiment?
I2 Writing for radio • Writing news for radio
• Writing for radio is the same as writing for print. Discuss Andrew Boyd, Techniques of Radio and TV News
13 Writing for television Andrew Boyd
14 Writing for television News writing/revision


Mencher M,(2006) News Reporting and Writing, MacGraw-Hill

Fedler, Fred et al (2005) Reporting for the Media (8th Ed); Oxford University Press, Oxford
Manning, Paul (2001) News and News Sources: A Critical Introduction; Sage Publications; London
Boyd Andrew, Techniques of Radio and TV News
Julian Haris et al (1984) The Complete Reporter, New York, Macmillan
Dobson Chrisopher (1998) The Freelance Journalist: How Survive and Succeed. Oxford, Focal Press.

Briefs on gays and lesbians in Africa: Crackdowns on gays make the closet safer

NAIROBI— More than two-thirds of African countries have laws
criminalizing homosexual acts, and despite accounting for a
significant percentage of new infections in many countries, men who
have sex with men tend to be left out of the HIV response.

"[They] are going underground; they are hiding themselves and
continuing to fuel the epidemic," UNAIDS executive director Michél
Sidibé told IRIN/PlusNews recently. "We need to make sure these
vulnerable groups have the same rights everyone enjoys: access to
information, care and prevention for them and their families."

IRIN/PlusNews has compiled a short list of human rights violations
against gay Africans:

Malawi - On 28 December 2009, soon after a traditional engagement
ceremony, Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were arrested and
charged with "unnatural offenses", which carries a maximum prison term
of 14 years, and "indecent practices between males", which carries
five years.

The men deny that they have had sexual relations, but the state
prosecutor has applied for them to be sent to hospital to prove they
have had sex, which rights activists and their lawyers say would
violate their constitutional right to dignity. The trial has been
postponed until 25 January 2010.

Uganda - In October 2009, David Bahati, parliamentary representative
of the ruling party, tabled the Anti-homosexuality Bill (2009), a
private member's Bill. It proposes, among other things, the death
sentence for the crime of "aggravated homosexuality" when an
HIV-positive person engages in homosexual sex with someone disabled or
below the age of 18.

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and punishable by a maximum
sentence of life in prison.

AIDS advocates and human rights groups have strongly criticized the
Bill as violating the privacy of gay people, and after pressure from
several international leaders, President Yoweri Museveni has distanced
himself from it, reducing the likelihood that it will be passed in its
current form.

Nevertheless, a local tabloid, The Red Pepper, routinely releases
lists of alleged Ugandan homosexuals.

Tanzania - In May 2009, a local newspaper, Ijumaa, featured a
photograph of two men in bed together with the headline, "Caught
Live!" A report by several gay rights groups noted that the
accompanying article included derogatory and discriminatory language
about men who have sex with men.

An Ijumaa reporter, accompanied by three policemen, had followed the
men from the street into a private hotel, where they had invaded their
room and taken the photographs that later appeared in the newspaper.

According to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights
Commission, more than 40 gay and lesbian activists in Tanzania were
arrested on charges of debauchery in 2009.

Burundi - In April 2009, President Pierre Nkurunziza signed into law a
bill criminalizing homosexuality for the first time in Burundi's
history. Anyone found guilty of engaging in homosexual activity faces
imprisonment for two to three years and a fine of up to US$80.

Paradoxically, other articles in the same legislation take steps to
protect human rights, including abolition of the death penalty and the
outlawing of torture, genocide, war crimes and crimes against

Senegal - In December 2008, the Senegalese government arrested nine
men involved in providing HIV prevention, care and treatment services
to the country's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The men were later sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of
"membership of a criminal organization and engaging in acts against
the order of nature", but in April 2009 an appeals court overturned
this verdict.

Arrests for homosexual activity are not uncommon in Senegal; in August
2008 two men were arrested at their home in Dakar and charged with
"homosexual marriage" and acts against the order of nature. According
to rights groups, a total of 30 men were arrested on charges of
homosexuality in 2009.

Egypt - In May 2008, a court in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, convicted
five HIV-positive men of "habitual practice of debauchery", a phrase
that encompasses consensual sexual acts between men.

The convictions were part of a crackdown on people living with
HIV/AIDS, during which 12 men suspected of being HIV-positive were
arrested; while in custody, they were subjected to HIV tests and anal
examinations to determine whether they had had sex with other men.
Earlier in the crackdown, in January 2008, four HIV-positive men
sentenced to one-year prison terms for debauchery.

Gambia - In May 2008, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh gave gay people
24 hours' notice to leave the country. He promised stricter laws on
homosexuality than in Iran, and threatened to behead any gay people
discovered in the country.

Jammeh's statements were thought to have been in response to a number
of Senegalese gay men fleeing across the border into Gambia to escape
persecution in their own country.

South Africa - In April 2008, Eudy Simelane, the openly gay star of
South Africa's Banyana Banyana national female football squad, was
found murdered in a park on the outskirts of Johannesburg. She had
been gang-raped and brutally beaten before being stabbed to death.

Rights groups said the attack was likely to have been an incident of
"corrective rape", in which men rape lesbian women on the pretext of
trying to "cure" them of their sexual orientation.

Since then there has been a spate of similar attacks on lesbian women
in the country, but few ever reach the courts. According to a 2009
report by the NGO, ActionAid, there have been 31 recorded murders of
lesbian women since 1998, with just three cases reaching the courts,
and only one conviction.

Cameroon - In January 2008, a Cameroonian court sentenced three men
accused of homosexuality to six months' hard labour. Homosexual acts
are punishable by up to five years in prison, and gay men are
routinely imprisoned.

Although the penal code does not give the state the power to arraign
someone unless the person was caught in flagrante delicto, rights
groups say people suspected of being gay are often arrested in public
restaurants and bars.

Nigeria - In August 2007, 18 men - all allegedly cross-dressers - were
arrested in Bauchi State, a predominantly Muslim state in the north of
the country; they were charged with sodomy, the charges were later
changed to vagrancy or idleness. The men were eventually freed on
bail, but in March 2009 the case was still pending

From the UN News Centre: UN urges reviews to surmount obstacles to HIV/AIDS treatment

Executive Director of UNAIDS Michel Sidibé (right) with Sheila Tlou of Botswana
18 February 2010 – With progress uneven towards meeting this year’s goal of universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care, the United Nations today called on countries and regional bodies to convene review meetings to identify obstacles and plan better strategies.
“Universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support is about achieving equity,” UN Joint Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) Executive Director Michel Sidibé said on an official visit to Botswana, noting that some countries are exceeding some of their targets but not reaching others in the programme launched in 2006.

“This is a groundbreaking global movement that is saving millions of lives. However progress has been uneven so now we need to take stock of what’s working and what is not and to link future national progress in AIDS to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” he added, referring to the targets set by the 2000 UN summit to slash a host of social ills, including HIV/AIDS, all by 2015.

In 2006, UN member states signed a political declaration to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010, with countries affirming their commitments by setting ambitious national targets.

UNAIDS urged countries to undertake an open and inclusive consultations, bringing together governments, development partners, civil society, networks of people living with HIV and community groups to review progress in reaching country targets.

It will help convene these reviews, which will use data collected this year in country progress reports to identify barriers and strategies to meet their targets this year and beyond, and set up an international advisory team to analyze them and make recommendations on how to redouble progress towards universal access.

Mr. Sidibé is on a visit to Southern Africa, which began with a trip to Swaziland, the country with the highest rate of HIV prevalence in the world with more than one in every four people infected.

UNAIDS has praised Botswana for progress towards achieving universal access targets. Despite having one of the highest prevalence rates in the world, it has been able to provide antiretroviral treatment to more than 80 per cent of people in need. It has also made significant strides in preventing mother to child transmission of HIV, achieving over 93 per cent coverage in 2009. Botswana was one of the first countries in Africa to adopt universal access targets.