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S/Leonean Judge, Barnett, seeks W/African Envoys’ support for AU rights job



Justice Tonia Barnett
Justice Tonia Barnett

A Sierra Leonean Judge, Justice Tonia Barnett has sought the support of diplomats from West African states for her candidature for the position of Commissioner of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights.

Barnett, the Sierra Leonean nominee, said at a dinner hosted for Ambassadors and High Commissioners from West African countries, that protection of rights had been her passion hence the zeal for the position.

The dinner was organised by the Sierra Leonean High Commission led by High Commissioner Solomon Gembeh.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Commission, based in Banjul, Gambia was established in 1987 and the term of the current Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso from Ethiopia lapses in 2021.

NAN also reports that some of the countries whose diplomats were present at the dinner with the Sierra Leonean nominee include: Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Ghana, Liberia among others.

Barnett sought the support of their home governments for her candidacy, saying that having withnessed war and rights deprivation, she is very committed to the tenets of the position.

She said: “As a woman whose teenage life were robbed by rebel incursion in Sierra Leone, my upbringing made me strong and has given me an opportunity to be here tonight.

“My nomination by my President Julius Bio has garnered support from the Judiciary in Sierra Leone and Key Civil Society Organisations including the Human Rights Organisation.”

The nominee said that being a judge who has never been investigated and whose morality never questioned, she had met the qualification criteria for the job as stipulated by Article 31 of the Charter of African Human and Peoples Rights.

She said that her work as a legal practitioner and judge over the years, working mainly to protect and promote human rights, also lent credence to her work experience as a precondition.

“Before I was appointed Judge, I was a Magistrate for 11 years, hearing and determining sexual abuse cases, cruelty to children.

“As a judge of the High Court; I hear and determine cases that border on human rights. Cases like the right to family life, rights of association and right to belong to political parties.

“These are rights that border on the African Charter and human rights, treaties and conventions.

“Presently in Sierra Leone, the Chief Justice is pushing very hard to ensure that access to Justice is a right and must be enhanced and enjoyed by every citizens.

“We hold view that it is not only fair hearing, but you must have the right to make a complaint and be heard by a competent court,” she said.

Barnett who holds LLM in Women and Children Affairs, stressed that in discharging her work she upheld treaties and conventions which her country had signed and ratified.

She said that her believe in human rights resulted in a perceived controversial bail which she granted a frail-looking 75-year-old man who had prostate cancer in a case of sexual abuse.

The man, she said, had not been found guilty and could not be allowed to suffer in the poor prison facilities in his old age and ill health condition while the case was being determined.

The nominee recalled that her passion for human rights and fair hearing was kindled during the war when she saw a man hacked to death over an accusation even without hearing from him.

“Article for of the Charter on African Human And Peoples Right stipulates that the rights of man must be enhanced and that is also entailed in our constitution.

“During the campaign for the abolition of the death penalty, my position was – because death is irreversible and wrongful conviction can be detrimental, I said that we should reconsider death penalty.

“To every right, there must be a corresponding responsibility. I want to enjoy my freedom of expression but I must not defame.

“With that in mind and all citizens living up to that, I think we would have a peaceful society.

“So as a candidate for the position, what I bring is vitality. We need to go down, we need to get up from the chairs and walk. We need to canvass with state parties to understand that human right issues is not just a one party issue, it is everybody’s issue.

“If the citizens’ rights are being jeopardised, it allowed for uprising and a peaceful society will not be enhanced. As Africans we want a peaceful society, we have cried too much.

“Those who have not experienced war would want war,” she said.

She assured that the role will avail her opportunity to achieve some of her dreams to impact the lives of African in slums and fostering their rights as well. (NAN)

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UN Secretary-General visits Buhari At State House



United Nations Secretary-General Antonio


The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday paid visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House in Abuja.

He was received by top government officials.

Buhari’s conversation with Guterres centred on the need to ensure peaceful and democratic elections as well as the robust participation of women and young people in all areas.

President Buhari also thanked the UN boss for the visit, stressing that it came at a time when the world is focussing on the Russia/Ukraine crisis. Buhari also believes that the visit underscores the assurance that the world is with Nigeria.

On his part, the UN scribe called for developed nations to ramp up vaccine support to countries in the global north, halt the asymmetrical distribution and reform the global financial system.

Earlier in the day, he visited the UN House in Abuja alongside some top officials and diplomats of the agency.

Guterres is on a two-day official visit to Nigeria – the first of such.

The UN chief had arrived in Nigeria on Tuesday and also visited Borno State where he proposed the reintegration of repentant terrorists. This, he said, is key to the restoration of peace in the North East region.

“The best thing we can do for peace is to reintegrate those, that in a moment of despair, became terrorists but want to become now citizens and to contribute to the well-being of their brothers and sisters,” he told a gathering at an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp.

The UN scribe is also expected to perform the wreath-laying ceremony in honour of the August 26, 2011, suicide bomb attack victims.

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Ukraine : UN Agencies Condemn Attacks On Health Care Facilities



UN logo


UN agencies on Sunday called for an immediate ceasefire and an end to attacks on healthcare professionals and facilities in Ukraine, describing such incidents as acts of “unconscionable cruelty”.

Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, 31 attacks on health care have been documented via the WHO’s Surveillance System for Attacks on Health Care (SSA), the heads of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Population Fund and the World Health Organization said in a joint statement.

“To attack the most vulnerable -– babies, children, pregnant women and those already suffering from illness and disease, and health workers risking their own lives to save lives –- is an act of unconscionable cruelty,” they said, calling for an immediate ceasefire.
In 24 of the reported attacks, health care facilities were damaged or destroyed, while in five cases ambulances were hit. A total of 12 people were killed and 34 injured, according to the UN agencies’ statement.

“Humanitarian partners and health care workers must be able to safely maintain and strengthen essential health service delivery, including immunisation against Covid-19 and polio, and the supply of life-saving medicines for civilians across Ukraine as well as to refugees crossing into neighbouring countries,” said the statement, signed by UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell, UNFPA counterpart Natalia Kanem and WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

At least three people were killed, including a young girl, in an attack Wednesday on a children’s hospital in Mariupol in southern Ukraine.

According to the United Nations’ reproductive health agency two other Ukrainian maternity hospitals had already been attacked and destroyed before that strike.

“Attacks on health care and health workers directly impact people’s ability to access essential health services -– especially women, children and other vulnerable groups,” the UN agency chiefs said in their statement on Sunday.

“We have already seen that the health care needs of pregnant women, new mothers, younger children and older people inside Ukraine are rising, while access to services is being severely limited by the violence,” the statement added.

Oxygen and medical supplies, including for the management of pregnancy complications, are running dangerously low, they warned.

“The health care system in Ukraine is clearly under significant strain, and its collapse would be a catastrophe. Every effort must be made to prevent this from happening,” the UN agencies warned.

“We call for an immediate ceasefire, which includes unhindered access so that people in need can access humanitarian assistance. A peaceful resolution to end the war in Ukraine is possible.”


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Yoon Suk-yeol wins South Korea’s presidential election



Yoon Suk Yeol


Yoon Suk Yeol, a conservative former top prosecutor, has been elected South Korea’s new president, defeating his chief liberal rival in one of the country’s most closely fought presidential elections.

With more than 98 percent of the ballots counted, Yoon had 48.6 percent of the votes against his rival Lee Jae-myung’s 47.8 percent.

Yoon said on Thursday that he would honour the constitution and the parliament and work with opposition parties when he takes office as the country’s next leader, calling the election result a “victory of the great people”.

“Our competition is over for now,” he said in an acceptance speech, thanking and consoling Lee and other rivals.

“We have to join hands and unite into one for the people and the country.”

At a separate ceremony with supporters, Yoon said he would put top priority on “national unity,” adding all people should be treated equally regardless of their regional, political and socioeconomic differences.

“I would pay attention to people’s livelihoods, provide warm welfare services to the needy, and make utmost efforts so that our country serves as a proud, responsible member of the international community and the free world,” he said.

Yoon is to take office in May and serve a single five-year term as leader of the world’s 10th-largest economy.


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