Africa Media Review for July 9, 2024

Why the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights Matters
Emerging from decades of debate on ways to curb impunity in Africa, crystallized by the Rwanda genocide and the wanton violence that marked the wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone of the 1990s, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Court) was authorized by members of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1998. The African Court’s mission is to protect, promote, and defend human rights enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter) of 1981, which states in its preamble that “freedom, equality, justice and dignity are essential objectives for the achievement of the legitimate aspirations of the African peoples”…The African Court’s rulings are binding for all AU member states, carrying concrete legal and reputational significance for all parties involved. Every case brought before the Court, moreover, advances norms of human rights and the rule of law. It therefore reinforces the integrity of regional and international courts as a means of recourse when national judicial mechanisms have been exhausted. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Senegal’s President Urges Dialogue with Sahel Military Juntas
The military leaders of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso broke away from the Economic Community of West African States earlier this year and formed a confederation of their own on Saturday. ECOWAS heads of state met in Abuja on Sunday and deplored the “lack of progress in interactions” with Burkinabe, Malian and Nigerien authorities, who came to power in a series of recent coups. “We cannot stand idly by,” Senegal’s [President Bassirou Diomaye Faye] said in a video posted Monday. “Our responsibility is to work on bringing everyone closer and reconciliation — to ensure there is room for dialogue”, he said…ECOWAS appointed Senegal’s president as a “facilitator” in negotiations with the three states, alongside Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe. President Faye stressed that, on paper, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger remain members for another year, as per article 91 of the organization’s founding treaty. AFP

Top UN Official in Congo Welcomes 2-week Truce in the East, where Violence Is at ‘Alarming Levels’
The top U.N. official in Congo on Monday welcomed a two-week humanitarian cease-fire in its mineral-rich east, where she said violence has reached “alarming levels” and risked provoking a wider regional conflict. Special envoy Bintou Keita wouldn’t say whether the truce that began last Friday was holding…Keita told the U.N. Security Council, however, that she was extremely concerned at the rapid expansion of attacks by the M23 rebel group and its capture of several strategic locations in eastern North Kivu in the last two weeks, and the spillover into neighboring South Kivu…In addition to the M23 crisis, she also sharply criticized a spate of “horrific attacks” by the Allied Democratic Forces, Zaire, and CODECO armed groups in nearby Ituri province which have caused almost 300 deaths and injuries. AP

Uganda provided Support to M23 Rebels in Congo, UN Report Says
The Ugandan army has provided support to the M23 rebel group operating in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a United Nations report seen by Reuters on Monday said, as escalating clashes there fuel fears of a new all-out conflict…The U.N. has long accused Rwanda of backing the M23, which has repeatedly seized large parts of mineral-rich eastern Congo, allegations Rwanda denied…The Tutsi-led M23 rebels have been waging a fresh insurgency in Congo’s militia-plagued east since 2022…The U.N. group also said it had obtained evidence confirming active support for M23 by officials from the military and military intelligence, with M23 leaders, including the sanctioned Sultani Makenga, travelling to Uganda for meetings…The U.N. report said some 3,000-4,000 Rwandan soldiers were fighting the Congolese army alongside the M23. The Rwandan army’s “de facto control and direction over M23 operations also renders Rwanda liable for the actions of M23”, the experts said. Reuters

Sudan: 328k+ Displaced from North Darfur Capital in Three Months
Approximately 328,981 people (65,933 families) were displaced from El Fasher locality over three months, from 1 April to 30 June. This includes those who had previously been displaced before the escalation of clashes in the city, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM). Since 10 May, El Fasher has experienced an escalation in fighting between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), along with SAF-allied rebel movements. MSF-supported hospitals have treated more than 1,781 war wounded, with 278 fatalities reported. During April and May 2024, clashes across El Fasher led to displacement from the northern, eastern, and southeastern neighbourhoods to other areas within the locality. The matrix highlighted an increase in displacement to sites south of El Fasher and other states in Sudan during June. According to the report, clashes in April displaced an estimated 40,615 people (8,123 families). These clashes occurred in rural villages in North Darfur, with most affected families relocating within El Fasher locality. Radio Dabanga

Sudan Journalist ‘Threatened’ by Security Forces in Omdurman
Security authorities in Omdurman detained Saleh Mohamed Abdallah, editor-in-chief of the El Dawahi online newspaper, on Saturday. He was interrogated and threatened by military intelligence for hours before being released…Once they found out he is a journalist, he was forced to unlock his mobile phone…After hours of interrogation, an official told Abdallah that the pictures on his phone constituted conclusive evidence that he was cooperating with the Forces for Freedom and Change- Central Council (FFC-CC) and the Civil Democratic Alliance (Tagadom), “which they accused of being the political arm of the Rapid Support Forces (Rsf0”…Abdallah was released after officials evaluated the evidence and statements and reviewed his diary. They warned him that if they found him again, they would “smash [his] head with a gun”…According to the Sudanese Journalists Syndicate (SJS), at least ten journalists have been killed since the start of the ongoing war in Sudan. Radio Dabanga

No Oil, No Food: Damaged Pipeline Piles Misery on South Sudan
[South Sudan’s economy reels from revenue losses following the rupture of a key pipeline in its war-torn neighbor Sudan in February.] The damaged pipeline was crucial for transporting South Sudan’s crude oil abroad, with petroleum exports traditionally accounting for about 90 percent of the impoverished country’s GDP. The implications have been far-reaching, with inflation soaring as the value of the South Sudanese pound relative to the U.S. dollar plunges on the black market, from 2,100 in March to 3,100 today. The official rate slipped from around 1,100 in February to nearly 1,550 this month…In May, Finance Minister Awow Daniel Chuang told parliament that the government would struggle to pay salaries to lawmakers, military, police, civil servants and other officials because of a shortfall in revenues. He said the country was losing about 70 percent of its oil revenues because of the pipeline rupture, which has affected exports of Nile blend crude and Dar blend crude. AFP

Arbitrary Detentions and Impunity Widespread in Libya, Warns UN’s TüRk
The desperate plight of migrants and refugees tortured, trafficked and sold “at scale” in Libya took centre stage at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday, where UN rights chief Volker Türk urged the international community to consider halting cooperation on asylum seekers and migration…In a call to the Libyan authorities to investigate crimes against the many thousands of vulnerable people on the move, the High Commissioner also highlighted the discovery of a mass grave in March in southwest Libya containing the bodies of 65 presumed migrants. “As if this were not horrific enough, we are following up on reports of another mass grave recently discovered in the desert area at the Libyan-Tunisian border,” he said. The High Commissioner also urged a review the longstanding arrangement between the European Union and the Libyan authorities tasked with intercepting migrants who attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe… Highlighting a spike in “arbitrary arrests and detentions, enforced disappearances and detention-related violations” inside Libya, the UN rights chief also expressed concern about the continued targeting of political opponents and dissenting voices. UN News

Under IGP Kayode Egbetokun’s Leadership, Nigerian Police Worse off as Media Oppression Tool
In the last six months, more than 24 Nigerian journalists have faced a form of harassment while carrying out their constitutional duties. Officers of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), under the leadership of the Inspector General (IGP) Kayode Egbetokun, were the most prominent perpetrators, accounting for nearly half of the verified cases of harassment…No officers involved have been sanctioned or reprimanded…The attacks range from arbitrary arrests, detention and invitations for no genuine reason…The police have been involved in at least 11 recorded attacks on journalists this year, according to Press Attack Tracker, a project of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID)…The continuous harassment of journalists would impact the overall quality of Nigeria’s democracy, said CJID’s Deputy Director, Journalism Project, Busola Ajibola. Premium Times

Nigeria: Cost-of-living Crisis: Tinubu Approves Massive, Duty-free Importation of Rice, Wheat, Beans, Others
President Bola Tinubu has approved the duty-free importation of major food items like rice, beans and wheat, to cushion the impact of the high food prices Nigerians have been grappling with since he assumed office last year. According to a statement by Mr Tinubu’s spokesperson, Bayo Onanuga, the measures will be “implemented over the next 180 days.” Mr Onanuga, quoting Agriculture Minister Abubakar Kyari, said President Tinubu approved a “150-Day Duty-Free Import Window for Food Commodities”, including “Maize, Husked Brown Rice, Wheat and Cowpeas.” Nigerians have battled high food prices since the president announced the removal of petrol subsidies and also floated the naira so the value of the Nigerian currency can be determined by market forces in 2023. The policies led to an increase in the prices of basic food, with 50kg of rice increasing in price from about N20,000 to over N70,000 in a year. Premium Times

Over 100 People Kidnapped for Ransom in Ethiopia Last Week, US Envoy Says
At least 100 people, including students, were kidnapped for ransom last week in Ethiopia’s restive regions that have seen sporadic fighting since the end of the civil war in Tigray, the U.S. ambassador to Addis Ababa said on Monday. While a peace agreement signed in November 2022 has resulted in a measure of stability for Tigray, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has struggled to bring security to other areas. Last year, more than 1,300 people were killed across the country, with most of the violence affecting the regions of Amhara and Oromia, according to the United Nations. Reuters

Shell Joins Chase for ‘big Prize’ off South Africa’s West Coast
Shell is seeking government permission to drill up to five ultra-deep offshore wells off the west coast of South Africa, a draft scoping report from independent environmental consultancy SLR showed on Tuesday. The oil major plans to drill exploration and appraisal wells in the area as energy companies shift their focus south of Namibia, where a string of discoveries in its prolific Orange Basin holds the potential of more finds…Shell Offshore Upstream South Africa B.V. and its joint venture partners need environmental authorisation from the government before they can operate in the Northern Cape Ultra Deep Block (NCUD) in the Orange Basin…Mounting environmental pressures, including a raft of court actions to halt drilling, and cumbersome bureaucracy has stifled South Africa’s ambitions to develop its nascent oil and gas potential as companies flock to neighbouring Namibia…The offshore block holds the significant Brulpadda and Luiperd gas condensate discoveries, seen as vital to South Africa’s goal of becoming energy independent. Reuters

South Africa Energy Minister Vows Change with ‘aggressive’ Renewables Rollout
South Africa’s new energy minister vowed on Monday to accelerate the shift to renewable energy from coal, breaking with a predecessor who opposed swift decarbonision and pledged to keeping burning coal for a long time. Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, who now runs the newly-created Energy and Electricity Ministry, was addressing journalists as Africa’s most industrial nation celebrated more than 100 days with no power cuts – a record over years of crippling blackouts…Owing to its reliance on coal-fired power stations run by state provider Eskom, South Africa is among the world’s top 15 greenhouse gas emitters – pushing out more than Britain, Turkey or France – and has the highest carbon intensity among the Group of 20 largest economies, according to watchdog Climate Transparency…It cut a very different tone from predecessor Gwede Mantashe, who had repeatedly urged resisting international pressure to rush into green energy, questioning its viability. Reuters