Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Nigeria: Human Trafficking - a View From Edo State

by Atika Balal from The Daily Trust (Nigeria)

Besides prostitution, marriage, and forced labour, some of these victims of human trafficking in Nigeria are used for rituals, begging and even for organ transplantation or money laundering. While most trafficking into the commercial sex trade involves young adult women, minors including some children under 16 are also exploited. Recent research from Armenia notes a high demand for girls from the age of 15 in some of the Gulf States (the most common destination countries for those trafficked from Central Asia); where after this age girls are considered adults ... Surprisingly, even the solemn Muslim pilgrimage has been turned to an avenue for trafficking, by some unscrupulous persons. Hussaina Ibrahim and Idris Aminu were both charged for trafficking from Kano to Saudi Arabia, organizing illegal foreign travels and debt bondage. Their victims were promised good jobs in Saudi Arabia, but were later introduced to prostitution.

Muslims to draft proposals on domestic relations

by Madinah Tebajjukira and Chris Kiwawulo from The New Vision (Uganda)

Joseph Kakooza, the chairman of the Uganda Law Reform Commission, said “The law on the Muslim domestic relations will be formulated to implement the provision of Article 129 of the Constitution, which provides for the establishment of Khadhi courts to handle Muslim matters related to marriage, inheritance and guardianship of children.” Kakooza said he communicated the Government’s position to the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council on Monday. The council spokesperson, Hajji Nsereko Mutumba, said a committee, led by the director of Sharia, Sheik Rajab Kakooza, had been appointed to prepare their proposals. “We want to have Muslim family issues solved in Khadhi courts and not in secular courts as proposed in the Bill,” he said. Dorah Byamukama, a human rights activist, advised that the proposal by the Muslims caters for the principles of marriage like age and equality.

Police action over TV film 'undermined free speech'

by Adam Sherwin from The Times (UK)

West Midlands Police rejected calls to take action against the preachers for stirring up racial hatred. Instead, they pursued a complaint against the film-makers of Channel 4 "Undercover Mosque", accusing them of undermining community relations. But Ofcom, the media watchdog, threw out the police complaints. It found that the programme had “accurately represented the material it had gathered and dealt with the subject matter responsibly and in context”. Ofcom said: “Undercover Mosque was a legitimate investigation, uncovering matters of important public interest. Ofcom found no evidence that the broadcaster had misled the audience or that the programme was likely to encourage or incite criminal activity.” Ofcom rejected all 364 complaints received from viewers, saying that they appeared to be part of a campaign. A complaint from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that the programme treated it unfairly was also rejected. Don Foster, media spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said: “This whole case raises serious questions about West Midlands Police and the CPS in what appears to be an attempt to censor television, stifle investigative journalism and inhibit open debate.”

Reader's views: Gulf maid abuse

from BBC News (UK)

Sarook, a Sri Lanakan in Saudi Arabia: I work as a recruitment agent in Saudi Arabia, finding domestic servants for Saudi nationals. I place mainly Sri Lankans and Indonesians. To be honest, I advise people not to seek employment in Gulf countries - especially women ... One or two house maids report to the office every day complaining about ill treatment. They complain about not being paid, not being allowed to contact their family, not being given proper food, long hours and sexual abuse from their employers. If we discover clients are treating maids badly we blacklist them - and we have blacklisted many.

Dr Sharma, Indian national in Saudi Arabia: I often treat household help brought to the clinic by their sponsors [employers]. They usually start by complaining of routine physical ailments, but after a little gentle questioning, one by one they talk about being abused sexually by the men in the family. Getting beaten and working 18 hours a day is almost routine. I am a Bengali-speaking Indian, so the Bangladeshi maids speak quite personally to me. There is no way we can do anything about it. Saudi Arabia is the most starkly racist place you can have. If an expat is involved in an accident with a Saudi, the Saudi can never be wrong.

Artists too frightened to tackle radical Islam

by Ben Hoyle from The Times (UK)

Across Europe there is growing evidence that freedom of expression has been curtailed by fear of religious fundamentalism. French philosophy teacher Robert Redeker is in hiding after calling the Koran a “book of extraordinary violence” in Le Figaro in 2006; Spanish villages near Valencia have abandoned a centuries-old tradition of burning effigies of Muhammad to mark the reconquest of Spain, against the Moors; and an opera house in Berlin banned a production of Mozart’s Idomeneo because it depicted the beheading of Muhammad (as well as Jesus and other spiritual leaders). In Britain, Tim Marlow, director of exhibitions at White Cube - the London gallery, said, "It’s something that’s there but very few people have explicitly admitted. Institutions, museums and galleries are probably doing most of the censorship. I would be lying if I said of course we would show something like the Danish cartoons. I think there are genuine reasons for concern."

Saudi envoy asks Canada to do more for Mideast peace

by Don Butler from The Ottawa Citizen (Canada)

Because of its history of peacekeeping, its lack of colonial history and its support for developing nations, "everyone really looks at Canada with respect and admiration," Saudi Ambassador Abdulaziz Al-Sowayegh said during an unusually frank address at Carleton University. He said the most important thing Canada could do is support the implementation of UN resolutions on the Arab-Israeli conflict, including demands for Israeli's withdrawal to its 1967 borders. "That, as we see it, would solve all the problems of the region once and for all," he said ... Resolving that conflict, he said, would stop "extremists on both sides" from exploiting it "to advance their distorted ideologies." Though Saudi Arabia has been accused of supporting militant Islam, Mr. Al-Sowayegh said the Saudi leadership considers the fight against terrorism "a continuing struggle that we must win.

Why does Israel need recognition as a Jewish State?

by Jeff Jacoby from israelinsider (Israel)

In advance of the Annapolis conference, Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced the other day that he expects the Palestinian Authority to finally acknowledge Israel's existence as a Jewish state. If the more than 55 countries that make up the Organization of the Islamic Conference are entitled to recognition as Muslim states, and if the 22 members of the Arab League are universally accepted as Arab states, why should anyone balk at acknowledging Israel as the world's lone Jewish state? Yet Saeb Erekat, senior Palestinian Authority negotiator, said on Monday that Palestinians would refuse to recognize Israel's Jewish identity because "it is not acceptable for a country to link its national character to a specific religion." ... The flag of Saudi Arabia features the shahada -- the Islamic declaration of faith; the Islamic phrase Allahu Akbar (Allah is great") appears 22 times on the Iranian flag. And then there is Erekat's own Palestinian Authority, whose Basic Law provides in Article 4 that "Islam is the official religion in Palestine."

White House faces battle over arms sales to Saudis for first time in 17 years

from World Tribune.com (US: Virginia)

Opponents of the Saudi arms deal have focused on the White House agreement to sell the Joint Direct Attack Munitions. A letter signed by nearly a third of the 535 members of Congress warned the administration that the JDAM sale was dangerous to Israel. Other components of the Saudi deal were expected to include the PAC-3 missile defense system or upgrades, the Littoral Combat Ship and advanced aircraft systems. Officials said Riyad was considering the purchase of 12 LCS platforms. This would mark Congress' first battle with the White House over a Saudi arms deal since 1990. In that year, the House persuaded the administration of then-President George H.W. Bush to reduce a $20 billion defense package to $7.3 billion and remove the airborne early-warning and control aircraft and the KE-3 tanker aircraft.