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Morocco King Pardons 188 People Linked To Hirak Protests

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Morocco King Pardons 188 People Linked To Hirak Protests

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has pardoned a total of 188 people linked to the “Hirak” protest movement on the occasion of Islam’s Eid al-Adha religious feast, the National Council on Human Rights said on Tuesday.

The council initially reported that royal pardons had been granted to 11 activists serving sentences of two to three years in prison for their part in the Al-Hirak al-Shaabi, or “Popular Movement” whose protests rocked the northern Rif region in 2016-2017.

The other pardons concern people sentenced in connection with the demonstrations in the disadvantaged region, according to the Moroccan press.

It was not immediately possible to get confirmation from the justice ministry, which published the list of people granted royal pardons.

The social unrest linked to Hirak began in October 2016 after the death of a fisherman and spiralled into a wave of protests demanding more development in the neglected Rif region and railing against corruption and unemployment.

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The pardoned Hirak detainees were immediately released and the rights council has begun coordinating with local authorities in various cities to prepare for their return home, according to a council official.

A Casablanca court on June 26 sentenced 53 Hirak members to prison terms ranging from one year to 20 years. The severity of the punishment sparked anger and protests, along with appeals for royal clemency.

The total number of convictions tied to Hirak are not known, but the protests have led to more than 400 arrests, the rights council says.

Social issues

The movement’s leader Nasser Zafzafi, sentenced with three companions to 20 years in prison for threatening the security of the state, was not among those on the pardon list. Nor was journalist Hamid el Mahdaoui, sentenced to three years for covering the events.

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The defendants in the Casablanca trial have appealed and the hearing is scheduled for October.

Amnesty International has called for the verdicts and sentences to be overturned “due to the unfair nature of their trials”. Authorities have said the trials were fair.

The 2016 protests began when fisherman Mouhcine Fikri was crushed to death in a rubbish truck, while he was apparently trying to retrieve swordfish seized by authorities as it was caught out of season.

Subsequent unrest in the Rif region, where the marginalised Berber ethnic group is the majority, focused on social issues as demonstrators demanded jobs and development.

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Morocco is marked by glaring social and territorial inequalities, against a backdrop of high unemployment among young people.

In 2017, the north African kingdom was ranked 123 out of 188 countries on the UN’s Human Development Index.

Royal pardons are traditionally handed down at major holidays.

Mohammed VI also pardoned 522 people for Youth Day on Tuesday which is also the birthday of the monarch, who turned 55.

On Monday, the anniversary of “the revolution of the king and the people”, he had also granted 428 pardons, including for 22 Salafists convicted of extremism or terrorism but who had volunteered for a “Reconciliation” reintegration programme.

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African News

NYSC Introduces Biometric Clearance System To Curb Corruption – DG

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NYSC DG Sulaiman Kazaure

Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps, Major Gen Suleiman Kazaure, has disclosed that the corps has introduced a biometric clearance system to eliminate corruption and compromise by officials and corps members.

The DG stated this on Monday during a leadership and anti-corruption sensitisation workshop in Abuja, designed to raise a crop of officials that would imbibe good leadership qualities and enthrone a culture of transparency and accountability.

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He also revealed that the scheme had ensured strict compliance with government policies on the treasury single account, integrated personnel and payroll system, and government integrated financial management information system.

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The D.G says the introduction of biometric clearance system for corps members has virtually eliminated all chances of compromise by officials, as well as absenteeism and abscondence by corps members.

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The biometrics system now ensures only deserving corps members are paid the monthly and other statutory allowances.

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African News

Zimbabwe: Party Accused Of Partisan Distribution Of Aid To Victims Of Cyclone

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Zimbabwe: Party Accused Of Partisan Distribution Of Aid To Victims Of Cyclone

Zimbabwe’s ZANU-PF lawmaker for Chimanimani East, Nokuthula Matsikenyere, has been sucked into the eye of a storm over the partisan distribution of aid to victims of cyclone idai.

Chimanimani and Chipinge in the south east of Manicaland were the worst affected areas by the storm that left a trail of destruction and more than a hundred forty persons dead.

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Affected villagers have accused ruling ZANU-PF officials, including Matsikenyere, of politicizing the disaster relief donated by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).  They said the aid was given to only ZANU-PF supporters.

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In a heated meeting on Saturday in a village where the relief aid was distributed, Matsikenyere was quoted as openly saying to the disgruntled villagers they deserved to be deprived of the disaster relief because they did not vote for her during last year’s elections.

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The lawmaker later confirmed to a news crew that she directed the aid distribution, but that she was not involved in compiling names of recipients.  She did not admit to saying what the villagers attributed to her.

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African News

Study Shows Millions In Africa Live In Fear Of Losing Their Homes

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Study Shows Millions In Africa Live In Fear Of Losing Their Homes

A new study Prindex shows tens of millions of urban dwellers in Sub-Saharan Africa live in fear of losing their homes against their will.

The study shows that in eighteen countries surveyed, nearly thirty-two million adults in urban areas are “insecure in their rights to their home and land.”

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The study says this means that more than sixty million adults living in urban areas are tenure insecure.  If the trend continues, the study says insecurity could afflict more than two hundred million by 2050.

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Measuring security of tenure is one of the indicators used to assess progress in attaining the first of the sustainable development goals, which is the eradication of poverty.

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Prindex is an initiative launched by two think tanks—the global land alliance, and the London-based overseas development institute.

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