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The East African : June 30th 2014
16 The EastAfrican OPINION JUNE 28 - JULY 4, 2014 PUBLISHED WEEKLY BY THE NATION MEDIA GROUP Political will needed to stop poaching Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania must reciprocate the international community’s support in the fight against illegal poaching and logging, the proceeds from which are channelled to support terrorism and armed conflicts on the continent. The East Africa Initiative on Illegal Timber Trade has attracted the support of Interpol, the Food and Agriculture Organisation the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. But for this initiative to succeed, the three East African countries must first show the world that they are serious about curbing the illegal trade in wildlife and timber products by invoking their national laws to crack down on offenders. According to the Convention on the Interna- tional Trade in Endangered Species, $12 million out of the $200 million generated annually from the illegal trade in African ivory trickles down to some of the militia groups in the region. Kenya and Uganda, for instance, are facing a big threat from the Al-Shabaab militia and cannot afford to be complacent. Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda are also used as transit countries for timber illegally logged in other countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo. The three countries must demonstrate that they are ready to apprehend and prosecute those involved in the illegal timber trade and in illegal logging. Lessons f≥om Ka≥amoja After more than half a century of failed ef- forts, Uganda’s Karamoja region is on the verge of take-off. The area’s potential has finally appeared on the radar of savvy investors, thanks to improved security, investment in key infrastructure and a disarmament exercise that, while not fully complete, has largely pacified the area. A multi-sectoral approach has now seen elec- tricity reach the area, while permanent roads are being built and crops being introduced to supplement pastoralism. The Constitution requires the Uganda govern- ment to take electricity to all district headquarters at the very minimum, and to connect all districts with bituminised roads. Yet the perception of Karamoja as a desolate lawless place had created a veil that shielded actors there from accountability for the resources under their charge. Opening up communications links to the area will lift the veil. A key lesson from Karamoja is that govern- ments must take a leap of faith if they are to uplift marginalised communities. On the face of it, there is little economic value in taking electricity to a region of manyattas. But the mining, fabrication and big ticket mineral processing projects under consideration prove that strategic public investment is the catalyst such areas need to change their social and economic profile. A PUBLICATION OF THE NATION MEDIA GROUP LINUS GITAHI: Chief Executive Officer JOSEPH ODINDO: Editorial Director PAMELLA SITTONI: Managing Editor Nation Centre, Kimathi Street, P.O. Box 49010-00100 G.P.O. Nairobi. Tel. 3288000, 2221222, 337710, Fax 214531, 213946. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org © Nation Media Group When the Immigration officer throws your landing card away, you should start sweating. ” Cha≥les Onyango-Obbo I t had been a couple of weeks since I had last returned to Nairobi through Jomo Kenyatta International, when I arrived at JKIA a few days ago. So I filled out my landing card, handed it and my passport to an Immigration officer, and waited for the entry ritual. Instead, the chap took the landing card and threw it in the trash basket beside his chair. He asked me to do the fingerprint thing, and asked me In these terrible days, it was heartening to see baby steps still being made in the regional project what my business was in Kenya. Before I could answer, he stamped the passport and I was done. When the Immigration officer throws your landing card away, it is the signal that you should start sweating. There was no need, it turned out. East African integration had outraced me. All that stuff about common visas, common this, common that, that Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ugan- Integ≥ation by stealth: How I got a f≥ight at JKIA da’s Yoweri Museveni, and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame have fidgeting with, is beginning to pay off. A while back Kenya got rid of both departure cards for all of us, and land- ing ones for its citizens. In between my last journey through the airport, and the latest return, they ditched the landing cards too. Typical of people who are content with their good fortunes, I forgot to find out whether that was just an East African deal, or global. In these terrible days, when the Al Shabaab terrorist have become such an enhanced menace, and we don’t even have an East African team in the World Cup, it was particularly heartening to see that baby steps continue to be made in regional integration. Less travel time It used to take a shipment a month, and paying police bribes at at least 30 collection points, to travel between Mombasa and Kigali. Now, there is still the odd bribe, I am told, but you can get your container of mitumba making the same trip within five days – or less. Someone joked that traders who used to demand that trade ministers be fired and presidents impeached for destroying their businesses with the scandalous delays, now have a different lament. You see, if you are a Kampala trader, and your goods arrived in Mom- basa and got caught up in the corruption and bureaucracy of Mombasa port, you still enjoyed some advantages. That gave you time to raise the money to pay import duties to the revenue authority. Today, however, your clearing agent will call to say your consignment has arrived. His call finds you in the village where you have gone for a relative’s funeral. Two days later, he calls. The taxman wants money for the goods, he tells you. “But I am still in the village,” you reply, “and broke.” And right there, your troubles start. The collector starts counting the penalty. The other day an MP in Tanzania asked why Kenya Airways was using Kilimanjaro in its promotions, when the mountain was Tanzania’s. Tanzania’s attorney-general swatted her aside gently, saying that while that may be the case, Tanzania doesn’t have a patent on the mountain. She spoke of an East Africa that is slowly dying away because, with the common tourist visa (Tanzania is not yet part of it), you can go to the Kenyan embassy in Tokyo, and get a visa to go see the mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Not bad for Africa. Cha≥les Onyango-Obbo is is the edito≥ of Mail & Gua≥dian Af≥ica (mgaf≥ica.com). Twitte≥:cobbo3 Impunity fo≥ ‘senio≥ o∞cials’? Shame on AU sideration was that granting criminal jurisdiction to the African Court of Justice and Human Rights. The political impetus behind this T proposal is clear. A number of African states worry about the instrumentalisation of the International Criminal Court — particularly given the ability of the United Nations Security Council to refer situations to the ICC. Whether those situations occur in state parties to the Rome Statute or elsewhere. And given the continued imbalance of power within the Security Council. The sentiment is that the ICC has become a new tool of leverage over weaker states — the less extreme version of the tale. Or a means of effecting regime change — the more extreme version of the tale. At face value, nobody would have a problem with expanding opportunities for African survivors and victims of international crimes to seek restitution. On their own continent. We can all be sceptical, of course, about how the AU intends to resource the African Court’s new jurisdiction. For all its huffing and puffing about sovereignty and taking our matters into our own hands, the AU is still largely externally financed. Resourcing criminal jurisdiction is an entirely he Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union met this week. One of the proposals under con- different matter than resourcing the African Court’s mandate now. Criminal jurisdiction implies prosecution services, investigations and witness protection. The African Court will need to be able to support defence services if necessary. If it follows the ICC’s innovations, it will also need victims’ participation and representation services. Plus, of course, penal services. It is not, in short, a small undertaking. That said, addressing resourcing is logistical. The political impetus behind the AU’s move is not. Amendments to the draft Protocol under The amendment undermines the entire proposal to grant the African Court criminal jurisdiction consideration this week included the following: “… no charges shall be commenced or continued before the Court against any serving African Union Head of State of Government, or anybody acting or entitled to act in such capacity, or other senior state officials based on their functions during their tenure of office.” The hand of the government of Kenya, in its frenzied lobbying in defence of those sitting in the presidency and vice-presidency, is clear. But the The hand of the govt of Kenya is clearly discernable in this move.” L. Muthoni Wanyeki amendments go beyond the old arguments about presidential immunities that even the Constitution of Kenya no longer wholly recognises. To other “senior state officials.” The meaning of state officials is clear. The meaning of “senior” is not. How low down the ladder will a state official suspected of committing international crimes have to be for survivors and victims of international crimes to believe that the African Court will prosecute him or her on their behalf? The amendment undermines the entire proposal to grant the African Court criminal jurisdiction. It ensures that justice will only ever be one-sided (affecting non-state actors suspected of committing international crimes). And, in its protection of state power, it contributes to the viciousness with which battles to capture and maintain state power are fought. It is a farce, a mockery. And it is dangerous. L. Muthoni Wanyeki is Amnesty Inte≥national’s ≥egional di≥ecto≥ fo≥ East Af≥ica. This column is w≥itten in he≥ pe≥sonal capacity.
June 23rd 2014
July 7th 2014