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Mozambique told to tackle crime
by Staff Writers
Maputo (AFP) July 25, 2012

A US-based think tank on Wednesday called on Mozambique to tackle rising crime amid a wave of high-profile kidnappings and as the country becomes a major corridor for trafficking of African wildlife to Asia.

"The Mozambican government has the mandate to put forward the strategic framework for crime and violence prevention," Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) said in a report.

The report said inequality, corruption, organised crime, high number of street dwellers, a weak justice system and youth unemployment have contributed to high crime levels.

The crimes have caused panic in the relatively calm southern African nation which is a popular tourist destination.

"Escalating levels of crime and violence are a serious threat to human development, democratic institutions and good governance throughout much of the world, including Mozambique."

The southern Maputo capital and central Sofala province are some of the most crime-ridden regions of the country.

The lobby group said armed robberies are the major concern for most Mozambicans, "although levels of domestic violence and child abuse are also estimated to be extremely high".

Authorities believe they are dealing with organised crime syndicates with international links.

In June a local paper reported police had detained 22 people implicated in at least 14 kidnappings of wealthy Muslims for ransom since last year.

One family reportedly paid out two million dollars (1.6 million euros) in ransom for the release of an elderly relative who is a prominent member of the Ismaili Muslim community.

Mozambique is also turning into a trafficking corridor for poached African wildlife to Asia.

At least two Vietnamese men were arrested attempting to smuggle out of the country elephant tusks and rhino horns this year.

Rhino horns are prized in Asian traditional medicine and believed that they can cure cancer.

The soaring demand has driven poaching to record levels in neighbouring South Africa, home to most of the world's remaining rhinos.

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Dismissed I.Coast minister cleared in dumping case
Abidjan (AFP) July 25, 2012 - Ivory Coast authorities said Wednesday they would not prosecute former minister Adama Bictogo, who was dismissed in May over his alleged role in payments to pollution victims in a 2006 dumping case.

In an article published by the Etat Fraternite-Matin newspaper, prosecutor Simplice Kouadio Koffi said authorities had uncovered nothing to "motivate charges" against Bictogo, the former minister of African integration.

"There is no fraudulent collusion reported" between Bictogo and those who supervised the funds destined for toxic waste victims, Koffi wrote.

Bictogo had been suspected of syphoning off payments to victims affected by the dumping of toxic waste from a cargo ship in the capital Abidjan, and President Alassane Ouattara fired him in May.

The prosecutor however said Bictogo could face civil proceedings for allegedly collecting an "undue" advance of 600 million CFA francs (about 900,000 euros/$1.09 million) for his services as a mediator in the dispute.

According to Ivorian police and British law firm Leigh Day & Co, which represented Ivorian clients and reached a settlement with the Dutch multinational Trafigura, about seven million euros of the money that should have been paid to victims vanished.

That amount was supposed to compensate 6,000 victims.

In his report, Koffi confirmed money had been embezzled but he did not say by whom.

Trafigura had chartered the Probo Koala cargo freighter to transport toxic waste to the west African country, where it was illegally dumped in and around economic capital Abidjan.

The 528 cubic metres of spent caustic soda, oil residues and water killed 17 people and made thousands sick, Ivory Coast health officials have said.


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US suspends aid to Rwanda amid DR Congo violence
Washington (AFP) July 22, 2012
The United States announced Sunday it will suspend military aid to Rwanda on allegations that the southern African nation is backing the rebellion in the neighboring DR Congo. "In light of information that Rwanda is supporting armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Department of State has decided it can no longer provide Foreign Military Financing (FMF) appropriated ... read more

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