Month: July 2016

Lesotho youth life transformation forum

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In a view to assist youth to take control of their future, the QLife Transformation is to hold a one day forum on the 22nd July, 2016 in Maseru, the capital of Lesotho.

The founder of QLife Transformation, Ms. Qenehelo Tsokeli said, the event will take youth through topics ranging from; Being a Responsible Mosotho in the light of Moshoeshoe I Vision, Self Esteem and Self Worth, Life Skills to Youth and Entrepreneurship.

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Ms. Qenehelo Tsokeli QLife Transformation Founder

Speakers at the forum are all local and will include a Film Producer Mr. Kalosi Ramakhula, Prophetess Masesheke Ntlhakana, the Minister of Health Dr. ‘Molutsi Monyamane, Ts’ita Twins and representatives of financial institutions in Lesotho.

The forum, which according to Tsokeli, will be the first of its kind, is just but one of a planned series of forums.

QLife Transformation was established in 2014 as a non-profit making organisation that provides a range of services including Carer Guidance, Life Skill, Counseling and Personal Transformation.

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Lesotho editor in critical condition after shooting

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New York, July 13, 2016 – Lesotho authorities should launch a credible investigation into the shooting of veteran editor Lloyd Mutungamiri and bring all those responsible to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Mutungamiri is in critical condition in a hospital in South Africa, his employer told CPJ today.

An unknown number of assailants shot Mutungamiri, who is the editor of both the Lesotho Times and the Sunday Express, outside his home in the capital, Maseru, as he returned from work the night of July 9, according to news reports. His wife, Tsitsi Mutungamiri, found him on the ground next to his car after the shooting, she told the South African news website the Independent Online. Mutungamiri’s attackers did not rob him, according to press reports.

Police on June 23 interrogated Mutungamiri regarding a news report about the head of Lesotho’s military, according to press reports and the Southern African Human Rights Defenders Network, an advocacy organization. He was released without charge the same day.

Also, Basildon Peta-the CEO of Africa Media Holdings, which publishes the Lesotho Times and the Sunday Express-faces criminal defamation charges in connection with a satirical column about the military published on June 23, according to press reports. Police briefly detained him on July 6 and released him on bail, the reports said. His trial is scheduled to begin on July 19.

“Rather than dedicating their time to harassing the Lesotho Times, we call on authorities to thoroughly investigate the vicious attack on Lloyd Mutungamiri,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal. “When violence against journalists goes unpunished, the free flow of information is impeded, to society’s detriment.”

International human rights instruments and a growing body of international legal opinion clearly state that defamation laws can have a chilling effect on speech, hampering the right to freedom of expression and the right to be informed. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Pan African Parliament have urged African Union member states, which includes Lesotho, to repeal criminal defamation laws.

According to a report by Amnesty International, Mutungamiri was also charged with criminal defamation for critical reporting in 2014, but the case was never brought to court.

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CPJ is an independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.
 

Contact:Kerry Paterson
Senior Africa Research Associate
+1 212-300-9031
Email: kpaterson@cpj.org

UNAIDS warns that after significant reductions, declines in new HIV infections among adults have stalled and are rising in some regions

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Globally, new HIV infections among adults and children were reduced by 40% since the peak in 1997. However, new analysis from UNAIDS shows that new HIV infections among adults have stalled, failing to decline for at least five years. The report outlines what is needed to step up prevention efforts

GENEVA, 12 July 2016—A new report by UNAIDS reveals concerning trends in new HIV infections among adults. The Prevention gap report shows that while significant progress is being made in stopping new HIV infections among children (new HIV infections have declined by more than 70% among children since 2001 and are continuing to decline), the decline in new HIV infections among adults has stalled. The report shows that HIV prevention urgently needs to be scaled up among this age group.

HIV prevention gap among adults 

The Prevention gap report shows that an estimated 1.9 million adults have become infected with HIV every year for at least the past five years and that new HIV infections among adults are rising in some regions. The Prevention gap report gives the clear message that HIV prevention efforts need to be increased in order to stay on the Fast-Track to ending AIDS by 2030.

  • Eastern Europe and central Asia saw a 57% increase in annual new HIV infections between 2010 and 2015.
  • After years of steady decline, the Caribbean saw an 9% rise in annual new HIV infections among adults between 2010 and 2015.
  • In the Middle East and North Africa, annual new HIV infections increased by 4% between 2010 and 2015.
  • There have been no significant declines in any other regions of the world.

–       In Latin America the annual number of new adult HIV infections increased by 2% since 2010; New HIV infections declined marginally in western and central Europe and North America and in western and central Africa since 2010; New HIV infections among adults declined by 4% in eastern and southern Africa since 2010, and by 3% in Asia and the Pacific since 2010.

“We are sounding the alarm,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “The power of prevention is not being realized. If there is a resurgence in new HIV infections now, the epidemic will become impossible to control. The world needs to take urgent and immediate action to close the prevention gap.”

The AIDS epidemic has had a huge impact over the past 35 years. Since the start of the epidemic, 35 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses and an estimated 78 million people have become infected with HIV.

Equity and access for key populations

In 2014, key populations, including gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers and their clients, transgender people, people who inject drugs and prisoners, accounted for 35% of new HIV infections globally. It is estimated that men who have sex with men are 24 times more likely to become infected with HIV than the general population, while sex workers are 10 times more likely and people who inject drugs are 24 times more likely to become infected than the general population. In addition, transgender people are 49 times more likely to be living with HIV and prisoners are five times more likely to be living with HIV than adults in the general population

It is essential for key populations to have access to the full range of HIV prevention options in order to protect themselves and their sexual partners from HIV. “Today, we have multiple prevention options,” said Mr Sidibé. “The issue is access—if people do not feel safe or have the means to access combination HIV prevention services we will not end this epidemic.”

Prevention dividend from HIV treatment still to be realized

The report highlights that the major hopes for antiretroviral therapy to have an impact on preventing new HIV infections are starting to be realized, although the full benefits may not be seen for some years.

The Prevention gap report estimates that over half of all people living with HIV, 57%, now know their HIV status, that 46% of all people living with HIV have access to antiretroviral treatment and that 38% of all people living with HIV have viral suppression, keeping them healthy and preventing onward transmission of the virus. This underscores the urgent need for the UNAIDS 90–90–90 targets to be met to realize the full potential of antiretroviral therapy. The 90–90–90 targets are 90% of people knowing their HIV status, 90% of people who know their status accessing antiretroviral treatment and 90% of people on treatment having suppressed viral loads.

HIV prevention funding gap

The reports of rising numbers of new HIV infections are coming as data reveal donor funding has declined to its lowest levels since 2010. International donor contributions dropped from a peak of US$ 9.7 billion in 2013 to US$ 8.1 billion in 2015. Low- and middle-income countries are stepping up to fill the gap, with domestic resources accounting for 57% of the US$ 19.2 billion total funding in 2015.

The report notes that although international funding, the main source of funding for HIV prevention for people at higher risk of HIV, has reduced, some major donors are making bold commitments to ensure that funding reaches the people most affected by HIV. In June 2016, the United States of America announced the launch of a new US$ 100 million Key Populations Investment Fund to increase access to HIV services for key populations.

The current allocation of resources for HIV prevention is falling far short of what is needed. Currently, 20% of global resources for HIV are being spent on HIV prevention. The report indicates that to have maximum impact funding should focus on the location and population approach in order to reach people at higher risk with combination prevention options where they live and work.

Regional HIV prevention gaps

The report details the trajectory of new HIV infections and looks at which populations and which locations are most affected. It also outlines where countries need to make more tailored HIV prevention investments.

In eastern and southern Africa, for example, three quarters of all new HIV infections among adolescents aged 10–19 years are among adolescent girls. Adolescent girls are often prevented from accessing HIV services owing to gender inequality, a lack of age-appropriate HIV services, stigma, a lack of decision-making power and gender-based violence. In 2014, only 57% of countries globally (of 104 countries reporting) had an HIV strategy that included a specific budget for women. It is estimated that worldwide only three in 10 adolescent girls and young women between the ages of 15 and 24 years have comprehensive and correct knowledge about HIV. Reaching adolescent girls and young women, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, will be a key factor in ending the AIDS epidemic.

In eastern Europe and central Asia, 51% of new HIV infections occur among people who inject drugs. More than 80% of the region’s new HIV infections in 2015 were in the Russian Federation. The epidemic is concentrated predominantly among key populations and their sexual partners, in particular people who inject drugs, who accounted for more than half of new HIV infections in 2015. However there is very low coverage of prevention programmes, in particular harm-reduction interventions among people who inject drugs.

In the Middle East and North Africa, 96% of new HIV infections occur among key populations, predominantly among people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men and female sex workers and their sexual partners. However, prevention programmes for men who have sex with men and sex workers rarely receive support from domestic resources or through public services.

In western and central Europe and North America, around half of all new HIV infections occur among gay men and other men who have sex with men and while a significant proportion of resources are being invested for this key population group, prevention efforts are failing to have an impact. Between 2010 and 2014, new HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men increased by 17% in western and central Europe, and by 8% in North America.

The report shows the complexity of the AIDS epidemic and how the populations and locations most affected change dramatically across each country and region. It also shows that investments need to be made in effective HIV programmes that are proven to make a significant difference in reducing the number of new HIV infections.

Combination HIV prevention, gaps and opportunities

Compared to 20 years ago when HIV prevention options were limited, there is now a range of options available to suit people’s needs throughout their lives to ensure that they can protect themselves from HIV.

UNAIDS urges countries to take a location and population approach to HIV programming efforts following five prevention pillars, to be delivered comprehensively and in combination:

  • Programmes for young women and adolescent girls and their male partners in high-prevalence locations.
  • Key population services in all countries.
  • Strengthened national condom programmes.
  • Voluntary medical male circumcision in priority countries.
  • PrEP for population groups at higher risk of HIV infection.

Closing the HIV prevention gap

“Science, innovation and research have provided new and effective HIV prevention options, rapid diagnostics and improved treatment for HIV,” said Mr Sidibé. “Investing in innovation is the only way to secure the next big breakthrough—a cure or a vaccine.”

The data in the report, collected from more than 160 countries, demonstrate that enormous gains can be achieved when concerted efforts are made. It outlines that by 2015 some 17 million people had access to antiretroviral therapy, double the number in 2010 and 22 times the number in 2000.

UNAIDS will be calling on implementers, innovators, communities, scientists, donors and others at the 2016 International AIDS Conference, taking place from 18 to 22 July, in Durban, South Africa, to close the prevention gap.

Global summary of the AIDS epidemic in 2015 
Number of people living with HIV Total 36.7 million [34.0 million–39.8 million]
Adults 34.9 million [32.4 million–37.9 million]
Women 17.8 million [16.4 million–19.4 million]
Children (<15 years) 1.8 million [1.5 million–2.0 million]
Number of people newly infected with HIV  Total 2.1 million [1.8 million–2.4 million]
Adults 1.9 million [1.7 million–2.2 million]
Children (<15 years) 150 000 [110 000–190 000]
AIDS-related deaths Total 1.1 million [940 000–1.3 million]
Adults 1.0 million [840 000–1.2 million]
Children (<15 years) 110 000 [84 000–130 000]
Number of people on HIV treatment Total 17 million

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Joint Civil Society Statement: Lesotho Authorities Must Protect the Right to Freedom of Expression

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The undersigned organisations condemn the increasing acts of harassment and intimidation against journalists in Lesotho, exemplified by the recent attack against the editor of the Lesotho Times newspaper and the institution of criminal defamation charges against its publishers. We call on the Lesotho authorities to take effective measures to protect the right to freedom of expression and the physical safety of all journalists in the country. In addition, the authorities must expeditiously and impartially investigate the attack and bring those responsible to justice.

On 9 July 2016, Mr Lloyd Mutungamiri was attacked and shot at his house in Maseru, Lesotho. He was taken to Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital where he remains in a serious condition. This attack comes shortly after the publication of a story in the 23 June 2016 edition of the Lesotho Times which referred to an “exit strategy” for current commander of the Lesotho Defence Force, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli. On the day this article was published, Mr Mutungamiri and the journalist who wrote the story, Miss Keiso Mohloboli, were summoned to the police station, interrogated by police and forced to reveal their sources.

In addition, the publisher of the Lesotho Times, Mr Basildon Peta, has been charged with criminal defamation and crimen injuria in connection with a satirical article about Lt Gen Kamoli which was also published in the 23 June edition of the paper.

The ability of journalists to work safely and without fear of reprisal is paramount to the right to freedom of expression, protected under article 9 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Lesotho is party.  Media freedom is essential to the exercise of this right. The role the media plays in any society is vital in ensuring the free flow of information, including the legitimate criticism of all public figures.

It is deeply concerning that Mr Mutungamiri and Miss Mohloboli were forced to reveal sources for one of their stories. International human rights law recognises the need to protect the confidentiality of journalistic sources because of its importance to the right to freedom of expression. We call on the Lesotho authorities, including law enforcement officials, to desist from using intimidation tactics to force journalists to reveal their sources.

We also note with concern the criminal charges brought against Mr Peta, and condemn the persistent use of criminal defamation laws to stifle, dissent and intimidate journalists in Lesotho. The African Commission and the Human Rights Committee have recognised the disproportionate effect the offence of criminal defamation has on the practice of journalism and have called on states to decriminalise defamation.  The Human Rights Committee has stressed that under no circumstances should a person be subject to imprisonment for defamation. The Lesotho authorities should drop the criminal defamation charges, and if other legitimate charges for an internationally recognised criminal offence are to be brought, must ensure that all fair trial guarantees are respected at all stages of the criminal prosecution.

The authorities have not yet clarified who is responsible for the attack on Mr Mutungamiri. The Lesotho authorities must ensure that a prompt, thorough and independent investigation is carried out and that effective measures are taken to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

These incidents – and particularly the attack on Mr Mutungamiri – constitute serious infringements of the right to freedom of expression in Lesotho. No journalist should operate in fear during the course of their work. We urge the Lesotho authorities to implement effective measures to both protect the safety of journalists and to ensure that there is no impunity for attacks against them. The authorities must send a clear message that such acts are not tolerated.

 Signatories:

amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism

Amnesty International

Freedom of Expression Institute

International Commission of Jurists

Institute for Democracy

Lawyers for Human Rights

Lawyers for Human Rights (Swaziland)

Media Institute for Southern Africa – Zimbabwe Chapter

Media Monitoring Africa

Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa

PEN Afrikaans