Archive 2003-2004 -- Click here for current ICP Global Inner Cities Report
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December 27, 2004
In Santiago last week, counsel for Augusto Pinochet argued to the Supreme Court that the 89-year-old retired general's health makes him unfit to stand trial on human rights charges, as Pinochet was released from the hospital after five days recovering from a stroke. After three hours of arguments, the court delayed a decision in the case. The court will now decide on December 27. On December 13 Judge Juan Guzman decided, against the judgment of two of the three court-appointed psychiatrists, that Pinochet should face trial for his role in Operation Condor, an intelligence-sharing network used by the dictatorships of the Southern Cone in the 1970s to eliminate leftwing dissidents. Technically, Pinochet is charged with the murder of one person and the permanent kidnapping of nine others... And the moneys in Riggs, which PNC is trying to buy... Pinochets indictment, to the surprise of many, brought few cries of outrage from the Alianza por Chile (APC), nor from the armed forces. Disclosures about Pinochet's multimillion dollar secret bank accounts in Riggs have silenced even his most vocal supporters...
December 20, 2004
In positive human rights / accountability news, Augusto Pinochet was last week finally charged with kidnapping and murder dating back to his 17-year rule. The charges relate to nine disappearances and one death in the 1970s as part of Operation Condor, an intelligence-sharing network among South American dictators who helped each other to hunt down dissidents. "The decision [to prosecute], when I studied all the statements and elements of the case, was not difficult," said Judge Juan Guzman. Pinochet's lawyers quickly announced that they would lodge an appeal before the Santiago court of appeals and, if necessary, take the case to the Chilean supreme court, which ruled three years ago that Gen Pinochet was mentally and physically unfit to stand trial. In that case, he had also been indicted by Judge Guzman. The judge sought yesterday to cut off that line of defense, citing statements by Gen Pinochet in a television interview in November 2003. "Gen Pinochet has declared himself mentally fit to be the subject of trial," he said. So lets get it on -- including, tangentially, as relates to Riggs Bank and its money laundering...
December 13, 2004
Globalization and banking; predatory lending and human rights. On the latter, Citigroups subprime unit, CitiFinancial, repeatedly charged with predatory lending including even by the Federal Reserve, is now slated to dramatically expand, in the U.S. and beyond. Last week Citigroup announced that CitiFinancial will be opening 400 new branches in North America, will be entering Russia (as it has Australia, Indonesia and Finland, in 2004), and, in Japan, will set up a 100 automatic loan application machines and branch offices in 2005 -- under the trade name CFJ KK. This last was bragged about by Dave Lowman of CitiFinancial International, to the Nikkei Financial Daily. In New York, Citis Kevin Kessinger told an investors conference that even before the 400 new slated branches, CitiFinancial has 2,273 branches in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico; in Mexico, going under the name Credito Familiar, it has 199 branches. Great...
ICP (and its Human Rights Enforcement project) have filed comments with the U.S. Federal Reserve challenging to the application by Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) to acquire Laredo National Bancshares, its banks and its nationwide subprime lender, Homeowners Loan Corp., for over $800 million dollars. ICP's timely comments among other things address managerial issues at BBVA including off-shore banking and political contributions scandals --
The case of Spain's Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria embroiled in Latin American charges of questionable cash transfers, money-laundering and secret political campaign contributions illustrates how the highway to democracy and global commerce is still pocked with holes, some of them deep. BBVA, with US$276 billion in assets, is under investigation for allegations linked to multibillion-dollar bank privatizations in Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia and Peru. It denies wrongdoing but admits one mistake. We acted without transparency, BBVA President Francisco Gonzalez declared in late June... [D]uring its acquisition of privatized Banco Continental de Peru, then-Banco Bilbao Vizcaya is alleged to have shelled out millions of dollars in loans and other payments to former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori and his videophile security chief Montesinos. The accusations, which BBVA says are baseless, range from claims that $112 million in bribes were paid to Fujimori to questions over the sale of Fujimori's $670,000 house. In Colombia, BBVA is fending off money-laundering charges in connection with its successful bid to control Banco Ganadero. BBVA-Ganadero executives vehemently deny the charges. Officials in Mexico, meanwhile, are looking into whether money laundering played a role in BBVA's takeover of financial group Mercantil Probursa and if offshore funds were inappropriately used to buy shares in Bancomer... BBVA had $227 million in a secret account in the British isle of Jersey. (Latin Trade, October, 2002).
And see World Markets Analysis of January 30, 2004:
The Swiss public prosecutor investigating the case against Paraguay's ex-President Luis Gonzalez Macchi (1999-2003) arrived in the Paraguayan capital, Asuncion, yesterday to share information with local authorities. Thomas Wiser is progressing the case after Swiss authorities froze two secret bank accounts of the former leader, who is wanted in his home country for alleged skimming off state funds. Paraguayan District Attorney Oscar Latorre made the decision to open an inquiry after Swiss authorities began their own investigation into Macchi's private accounts held with Spanish bank BBVA in the Swiss city of Geneva.
More of the ICP's comments are here.
December 6, 2004
Last week, Inner City Press submitted the following Freedom of Information Act appeal to the U.S. Department of State (with similar versions to the Department of Defense, and to the Defense Intelligence Agency)
Re: FOIA Request Number 200303863, Segments AF001, EF001, PM001, DRL1
Dear FOIA Appeals Officer, et al.:
On behalf of Inner City Press and the Human Rights Enforcement project (collectively, ICP), this is a timely appeal under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) of the Departments denial of access to records responsive to the above-captioned FOIA request made on October 8, 2003, and further clarified on November 12, 2003 and March 12, 2004 (the Request).
ICP's Request was divided into three parts, the second of which concerns the elections conducted in Rwanda in 2003. Regarding these elections, we were and are still seeking all records reflecting State Department assessment of fairness, freedom, legitimacy and multi-party status of the election and the preparations for the elections, as that related to the Department's removal of the Rwandan government from the arms embargo list (part 3 of ICP's request) and otherwise.
Ms. Grafelds letter (the Denial) cites, FOIA exemptions 1, 2, 5 and 6. From the Bureau of African Affairs (Segment AF001), 15 records have been withheld in their entirety, and 40 have been partially withheld.
From Central Foreign Policy Records (Segment ER001), 15 records have been withheld in their entirety, and 20 have been partially withheld. The Denial states that [e]ight documents originated with another U.S. Government agency and have been sent to that agency to review and direct reply to you. Subsequently, ICP received a letter from the Department of Defense, stating that the State Department referred six pages of responsive documents to the Office of the Secretary of Defense for review. All six pages have been withheld from ICP by the Defense Department -- but six pages does not equal eight records. If the reference (and referral) were to an agency other than the Defense Department, ICP notes that the above-quoted Defense Department denial is the only other response it has received. ICP requests clarification in this regard (and all improperly withheld or referred documents) in response to this timely appeal.
From the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (Segment PM001), four records have been withheld in their entirety, and three have been partially withheld. Regarding the referral of documents from Segment PM001, see above; ICP requests clarification in this regard (and all improperly withheld or referred documents) in response to this timely appeal.
Contesting the invocation of Exemption 1, the information can only be withheld if release reasonably could be expected to cause damage to the national security and the Department is able to identify or describe such damage. EO at Section 1.2. The Denial does not even purport to do that. Nevertheless, Exemption 1 is cited for withholding for example of material in Information Memo labeled A25, after this sentence: The campaign was marred by government harassment and intimidation of opposition candidates and their supporters [REDACTED].
A simply another example, in the documents labeled E45, Exemption 1 is cited for the withholding of material after this sentence: Human rights organizations have publicly called for the GOR to explain a wave of apparently politically motivated disappearances following the Rwandan Governments recent campaign against the MDR [REDACTED].
ICP has submitted similar FOIA appeals to the Department of Defense, and, separately, to the Defense Intelligence Agency...
November 29, 2004
From The Guardian of Nov. 26: There were rumors that 1,000 Rwandan troops entered Congo yesterday and more were massing on the border... Rwanda is exaggerating the threat of ragged Hutu rebels as cover to meddle in Congo's internal affairs and to plunder its mineral wealth. Tons of precious metals mined in eastern Congo are flown to Kigali each week, illicit shipments which would be threatened were Congo to become strong and unified.
In this context, Inner City Press Human Rights Enforcement project is preparing an appeal, under the Freedom of Information Act, for documents about Rwanda which are being withheld by the U.S. Departments of State and Defense. Developing..
Meanwhile, from Inner Asia, over the BBC: An oil spill will cost the PetroKazakhstan Kumkol Resources (formerly Hurricane Kumkol Munay, a subsidiary of Canada's PetroKazakhstan) joint-stock company 268.8m tenge (2.067 million dollars, the current exchange rate is 130 tenge to the dollar), the figure demanded under a lawsuit the Kyzylorda Region environmental protection department has filed against the company. Two more lawsuits have been filed, demanding that a total of 6m (tenge, over 46,153 dollars) be paid. The court has ordered the joint-stock company to pay this money for discharging toxic waste over the limit.
November 22, 2004
The United Nations has declared 2005 as the International Year of Microcredit. On November 16, 2004 at Columbia University, the present and future of microcredit was discussed by a five-person panel which included two representatives from the U.N., and two individuals affiliated with Citigroup. Even beyond these two Citigroupers, the U.N. representatives referred repeatedly to Citigroup vice chairman (and ex-IMF official) Stanley Fisher. Thus it appears that, at least for the U.N. and the self-defined elite of the microcredit industry, the worlds largest bank is the leader of banking for the poor.
Theres a problem, however. Citigroup has been charged with predatory lending to the poor, not only by consumer advocates, but by the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Trade Commission, and other governmental agencies. Citigroups seeming capture of microcredit as-industry does not bode well.
During the November 16 discussion, Citigroups Robert Annibale stated that through time, Citigroup might be the originator or booker of the retail loans made by microfinance institutions. He said that Citigroup might sell micro-insurance through the microfinance industrys distributions network, which digs deeper, he said, into the target population.
Mr. Annibale was asked, by Inner City Press/Fair Finance Watch, to address the incongruity between the activities of CitiFinancial and its predecessors, which have led to governmental charges of predatory lending, and Citigroups claimed role in micro-finance. His response alluded to codes of conduct and legislative change in various countries, but did not address Citigroups predatory lending settlements directly. If anything, letting Citigroup have a hand in designing the legislative proposals put forth by the microcredit industry might explain this industrys elites lobbying against usury caps and other potential consumer protection laws.
A representative from Womens World Banking, Nancy Barry, did distinguish between loans for small business and loans for television sets and the like (and stated that the latter makes up 90% of the purported micro-finance loans in South Africa). In a discussion following the panel, one wag speculated that Citigroup might assist microfinance institutions to make loans to prop up Citis own television and other consumer finance lending. While microfinance certainly has promise for those in need, its capture by the likes of Citigroup is a troubling development...
November 15, 2004
Ah, terror lists... Uganda has been supported by Rwanda and Congo to blacklist a local rebel movement as a terrorist group, placing it in the league of Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda. The three countries have at the same time resolved to fight rebel groups jointly. The People's Redemption Army (PRA), which the government links to former military officers, was the subject of a joint security meeting in Kigali a fortnight ago. It is said to be associated with ex-Uganda People's Defense Forces officials Colonels Samson Mande, Anthony Kyakabale and Edison Muzoora, and is now placed in the same category as the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which has killed thousands of people and abducted many children who are forcefully conscripted into its ranks. The Kigali meeting, attended by Ugandan officials including the Minister for Foreign Affairs Tom Butime, agreed to address the security concerns of each of the three countries, with Rwanda emphasizing the need to disarm the Interahamwe militia... The PRA and the Joseph Kony-led LRA are now on the US government's list of terrorist groups together with Al Qaeda, which was accused of the twin bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998 in which over 250 people died. However, other sources in Kampala questioned the very existence of the RPA because, apart from its commanders, little is known about its soldiers and operations. No one has ever owned up to belonging to the group, even though Kampala has since 2001 said such a group exists in Congo and is bankrolled by a neighboring state. The group has also never made any attacks inside Ugandan territory, and the men the government alleges are its leaders were relocated a year ago from Rwanda to Sweden...
November 1, 2004
From the Economist: among Paul Kagames tools for silencing critics is to accuse them of "divisionism" or of propagating the "ideology of genocide". This month, the European Union complained that these terms were rather vaguely defined. Rwanda's foreign minister retorted that Rwanda has only one native language, and everyone understands very clearly what is meant by the terms "amacakubiri" and "ingengabitekerezo ya jenocide". Well, maybe. But the law is interpreted rather sweepingly. Last month, Reporters sans Frontières appealed for the release of a radio journalist called Dominique Makeli, who has been in jail for ten years because, at the height of the genocide, when covering a "sighting" of the Virgin Mary, he reported that local people had heard her say: "The parent is in heaven." Prosecutors took this to mean that the then recently-murdered president, Juvenal Habyarimana, was in heaven. This, they said, implied that Mr Makeli approved of the genocide that Mr Habyarimana's followers were then carrying out. In June Pasteur Bizimungu, the first president after the genocide, was sentenced to 15 years in jail for inciting civil disobedience. Until 2000 he was part of the ruling party, whose opposition to the genocide is beyond question. But then he quit and started to criticize it. His trial was widely considered a sham. And the list goes on. Several groups, including the Catholic church, are being investigated after a parliamentary report accused them of spreading the "ideology of genocide". Many dissidents have fled the country. In July, the government sacked the entire judiciaryall 503 judgesand appointed new magistrates. Dozens of elected local officials, including 47 of the country's 106 mayors, have also resigned in recent months, to be replaced by state appointees. The government says the changes are necessary to weed out incompetence and corruption. Mr Kagame insists that nobody has the "moral authority" to accuse his government of authoritarianism after the world abandoned Rwanda during the genocide. This argument sways most foreign donors, who continue to pour money into the impoverished country.
from the BBCs listening posts: President Paul Kagame has told those asking his
government to explain the terms "genocide ideology and divisionism" to
understand that the two words are not Kinyarwanda terms. The president was obviously
referring to a recent statement by the European Union, asking the government of Rwanda to
define the two terms which were variously used in a parliamentary report on genocide
tendencies in the country that was presented mid this year. The cabinet subsequently
approved the report and called for further probe over the matter. "I have, and I
believe that many others in the government have been asked many times to explain the words
genocide and divisionism. I wish to say that genocide and divisionism are not Kinyarwanda
words and I don't know what it means in their context. I suggest that they explain it
themselves. What we should be asked is whether what we are doing for the country is good
or not, and we will be ready to explain this. The words (genocide ideology and
divisionism) are theirs and the constitution is ours," the president said.' ICP: Or yours...
October 25, 2004
While Rwandan president Kagame last week presided over the opening of the new $6 million headquarters of Bank of Commerce, Development and Industry in Kigali, in neighboring Burundi, a political opponent faced criminal charges for mere speech. Charles Nditije of the UPRONA political party was charged, in an October 21 press conference held by public prosecutor, Gerard Ngendabanka, who "urged the different political players to weigh their words in this extremely delicate situation when the country was heading for pluralist elections. According to him, political players must guard against making utterances that are likely to disrupt the security despite their having different interests. He stressed those who made such utterances would face the law." Source: ABP news agency, Bujumbura. So in the region: banks but not a modicum of free speech... And can there be democracy without free speech?
October 18, 2004
The U.S. Federal
Reserves Oct. 15 BNP Paribas order reports that ICP
expressed concern that BNPs involvement in financing certain foreign projects or its business relationships with energy companies doing business in a foreign country damaged the environment, caused additional social harm, or raised other unspecified concerns. These contentions contain no allegation of illegality or action that would affect the safety and soundness of the institutions involved in the proposal and are outside the limited statutory factors that the Board is authorized to consider when reviewing an application under the BHC Act. See, e.g., The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc, 90 Federal Bulletin 87, 88 n.16 (2004); Western Bancshares Inc. v. Board of Governors, 480 F.2d 749 (10th Cir. 1973).
First, the unspecified concerns are related to human rights, which the US Federal Reserve apparently believes would never affect the safety and soundness of the institutions involved. But, second and more substantively, what about the treaties requiring all organs of society (like the Fed) to implement their standards?
October 12, 2004
Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch has submitted the following timely comment to the Federal Reserve Board, opposing Barclays applications to acquire Juniper [the FRB has acknowledged receipt]:
October 12, 2004
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Attn: Chairman Alan Greenspan, Governors, Secretary Johnson
20th Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20551
RE: Timely comment opposing, requesting an evidentiary hearing on and a copy of the applications of Barclays PLC and Barclays Group US Inc. to become bank holding companies by proposing to acquire 100% of Juniper Financial Corp. and Juniper Bank
Dear Chairman Greenspan, Governors, Secretary Johnson, others:
On behalf of Inner City Press/Community on the Move and its members and affiliates, including the Fair Finance Watch (collectively, "ICP"), this timely submission opposes, and requests a hearing and an extension of the comment period on, and a copy of, the applications of Barclays PLC and Barclays Group US Inc. ("Barclays") to become bank holding companies by proposing to acquire 100% of Juniper Financial Corp. and Juniper Bank ("Juniper;" the "Applications").
Barclays is an institution which demonstrates, and quite recently, a lack of
standards, including as relates to lower-income communities.
This must be viewed as a predictor of how Barclays would perform, if allowed to
acquire Juniper and its already-lackadaisical Community Reinvestment Act ("CRA")
program. Recently -- earlier this month -- the
Guardian newspaper reported, under the headline "Barclays' role in Indian dam
condemned: Bank admits assisting controversial project," that
Barclays Bank was accused yesterday of playing a vital role in financing an Indian hydroelectric dam which will force up to 50,000 people from their homes. The Omkareshwar dam project, one of a series of large dams on the River Narmada in the state of Madhya Pradesh, will flood 30 villages and 93sq miles of forest and farmland. According to papers seen by the Guardian, no impact study has been done and no resettlement plans have been finalized. The World Bank... [has] refused to finance Omkareshwar and other large dams on the river because of environmental and social concerns... According to documents seen by the Guardian, the Indian government had asked Unit Trust of India and Barclays to help arrange the finance for the dam, to run over 14 years. Yesterday, in a statement, Barclays denied lending any of its own money to the scheme and claimed that its mandate from the Indian government had lapsed. "As Barclays is neither providing finance for the project nor arranging finance we cannot comment further," it said. But the bank did admit "advising and assisting" in the project. A spokesman would not confirm how much it had earned on the deal. Barclays also helped arrange a £28m loan for the corporate expenses of India's National Hydroelectric Power Corporation, the main sponsor of the scheme. It is unknown whether any of this money is being used for the Omkareshwar dam. The dam, which is in the early stages of construction, is intended to provide more than 500MW of electricity and to irrigate 147,000 hectares of land. It is already encountering concerted opposition from villagers. Rallies and demonstrations are expected to increase as construction nears completion in 2008. So far, 350 people from the small village of Panthiaji have been moved... "We had no choice," said one Panthiaji villager, Ramphere Yadav. "We worked all night. We took our belongings, took down our roofs, and broke our homes because the pressure was so much. People were crying. We were in extreme distress. Neelabai, another former resident, said: "In our original village we were happy. Now our life is full of hardships. "We were not given agricultural land and we have no way of earning our living. This place is very remote" ... Yesterday, more than 100 Indian and other pressure groups wrote to Barclays, asking it to clarify its position.
"Barclays' role in Indian dam condemned: Bank admits assisting controversial project," by John Vidal, The Guardian, October 2, 2003, Pg. 19, emphasis added
This is indicative
of a lack of standards at Barclays. Barclays has been on notice: for example, regarding
its enabling of Asian Pulp & Paper, see, e.g., Morning Star of January 10, 2003:
"Barclays Bank tries to promote a friendly image as a High Street bank, but it uses
customers' deposits to finance dodgy deals around the world. Among those it finances is
Asian Pulp and Paper, which cleared over 280,000 hectares of Indonesian rain forest in the
last 10 years. Now, if allowed to go ahead, it plans to double its activities and
clear-cut a similar amount in just five years." And
see, The Guardian, June 26, 2001, "Rainforests in peril: British money fuels circle
of debt and destruction" --
According to Science magazine: 'If the current state of resource anarchy continues, the lowland forests of the Sundra shelf, the richest forests on earth, will be destroyed by 2005 in Sumatra.' Prominent in the destruction is the APP subsidiary In dah Kiat, the vast paper and pulp plant which is accused of getting large quantities of cheap timber supplies by clear cutting tropical rainforest. One Indah Kiat supervisor told the Guardian: 'There's no hurry to use more sustainable wood because that's more expensive to process. So we are using tropical hardwood and not asking too many questions about how legal it is.'"
This is a pattern with Barclays. See, e.g., The Malay Mail of June 14, 2004: "Environmental and human rights groups have urged Barclays Bank to withdraw from the Thai-Malaysian Gas Pipeline (TMGP) Project and Gas Separation Plant.. Barclays, the financial arranger for the project, is to loan US $257 million for the pipeline." See also, The Nation (Thailand), June 12, 2004, "Barclays urged to quit fund" --
A group of 100 protesters, most Muslim villagers from Songkhla province, yesterday rallied in front of a local securities office affiliated with London-based Barclays Bank to demand it drop out of a Bt20-billion loan syndicate funding construction of the planned Thai-Malaysian gas pipeline in Songkhla. The peaceful demonstration took place at the office of Barclays Capital Securities (Thailand) on Bangkok's Wireless Road. Protest organizers took turns attacking the pipeline project, arguing that it had not yet passed an environmental-impact assessment. They claimed the project would endanger eight local communities and deprive them of their right to manage local natural resources... Following the hour-long rally, protesters moved on to the Chularatchamontri's office on Sukhumvit Road. There they submitted a petition calling on the spiritual leader of Thai Muslims to intervene, saying the project would ruin many Muslim communities.
Note, in advance, that other similarly situated applicants have inquired into and publicly responded on such issue, see, e.g., BNP's responses to ICP's comments on similar issues, on file with the Federal Reserve. The comment period should be extended, including to allow reply to Barclay's response to this comment.
Barclay's lack of standards appear systematic. See, e.g., Africa News / The Nation of September 23, 2004 Thursday, "Kenya: Hunt for Goldenberg Loot," regarding the role of Barclays Bank of Kenya (Sh29,919,413) in this scandal involving payments "against false export compensation claims for gold and jewelry allegedly shipped out by Goldenberg International... masterminded by businessman Kamlesh Pattni [which] touched hundreds of individuals and companies and left a huge dent in the economy."
It should also be noted that Barclays, while plotting a future inroad in South Africa, is a defendant in litigation concerning its alleged enabling of apartheid up though the 1980s. See, e.g., "Tutu called as witness in Barclays genocide case," by Conal Walsh, The Observer, August 8, 2004: "Tutu, is being called to give evidence in a lawsuit alleging that Barclays Bank aided and abetted genocide under South Africa's whites-only government. Lawyers for victims of the racist regime are seeking details of an alleged 'deal' in which post-apartheid leaders are said to have agreed not to punish western corporations over their actions in the Seventies and Eighties." See, Khulumani et al v. Barclays National Bank Ltd. et al, U.S. Dist Court, E.D.N.Y. (Brooklyn), Civil Docket # 1-02-05952-NGG; and see The Observer of July 25, 2004: "Barclays, which is already fighting separate claims alleging that it exploited black South African workers, declined to comment on the latest lawsuit." Regarding Barclays' current plans, note that
"Absa holds a strategic 25 percent
stake in CBZ, one of Zimbabwe's biggest and stable banks. Barclays, in turn, operates
Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe Limited, the country's biggest by assets... One banking
executive said Barclays could, on assuming control of Absa, divest from CBZ. 'They cannot
possibly keep mistress and wife in the same town, can they?' he said... Should Barclays go
the whole nine yards towards majority control of Absa, the total investment could be
anything up to a whopping 20 billion rand. Incidentally, Absa is also believed to be on
the verge of taking up a significant 49 percent interest in Zambia's National Commercial
Bank." --Africa News / Financial Gazette,
October 7, 2004
--Africa News / Financial Gazette, October 7, 2004
Juniper is listed as a "limited purpose" bank, and thus has only been examined under CRA's community development test. As of its last exam, Juniper devoted only 0.2% of assets to community development lending. See, FDIC CRA Performance Evaluation dated May 13, 2003 -- this exam is also out-of-date, given that Juniper's receivables have grown by 250% since the completion date, including in partnership with casinos, without concomitant expansion of CRA performance. This lackadaisical performance would foreseeably grow worse under the control of Barclays. ICP is timely requesting a complete copy of the application, extension of the comment period, an updated CRA exam, and evidentiary hearings. On the current record, Barclays' applications should be denied.
Matthew Lee, Esq., Executive Director
To be continued; developing... For or with more information, contact us.
* * *
October 4, 2004
Tax authorities in Chile have filed a formal lawsuit against the former dictator Augusto Pinochet, based on fraud and tax evasion through offshore accounts that came to light in Julys U.S. Senate report. Chile's internal tax service alleges that General Pinochet filed "false or maliciously incomplete tax declarations". If found guilty he could face up to five years in prison. The US senate report said Riggs took pains to hide the money for General Pinochet, especially during the late 1990s when a Spanish judge issued an international warrant for his arrest on human rights charges and tried to freeze his assets.... Last month, Baltasar Garzon, the Spanish judge who tried to have General Pinochet extradited to Spain in 1998, widened his own investigation against the former dictator, adding charges of money-laundering and concealing assets. He said that deposits made by General Pinochet and his wife in their Riggs bank accounts in 2002 violated an international embargo of his funds, decreed by Mr Garzon in October 1998.
Last week, ICP filed related comments on HSBC (click here to view), and on Riggs (and Banco Santanters) money laundering, click here to view... Until next time, for or with more information, contact us.
September 27, 2004
In Chile, ex-General Augusto Pinochet is being questioned about political opponents who were abducted and presumably murdered during his 1973-90 dictatorship. The questioning had originally been set for Sept. 7, but was postponed when Judge Juan Guzman was temporarily removed from the case at the request of Pinochet's lawyers, who claimed he has shown animosity toward the 88-year-old former dictator. Of course, many Chilean feel animosity toward Pinochet. The questioning and an eventual indictment became possible after the Supreme Court last month stripped Pinochet of the immunity enjoyed as a former president. The case being investigated by Guzman traces back to "Operation Condor" - a joint scheme hatched by the South American dictatorships of the 1970s to eliminate leftists and quash dissent. According to court papers, 20 Chileans "disappeared" as a result of that operation, which involved the secret services of Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. Last week, scuba divers working under a court order from Guzman found several pieces of iron railroad track believed to have been used to sink the bodies of dissidents off the coast of Quintero, 180 kilometers northwest of Santiago. Guzman said he ordered the search after receiving "abundant information" indicating that rails had been used to sink bodies in the area. The military admitted in 2000 that some 200 bodies of dissidents killed in the early years of Pinochet's dictatorship were thrown into the ocean and lakes from helicopters in so called "flights of death." So far, only one of those bodies has been found.
Pinochet is being investigated by another judge, the Internal Tax Service and Chile's top prosecutor to determine the source of $4 million to $8 million he secretly deposited at Riggs Bank in Washington DC. The accounts were discovered during U.S. Senate banking committee investigation of Riggs. [Last week, ICP/FFW filed comments based on the Senate reports findings regarding HSBC and Santander, click here for article in the Glasgow Herald, reporting that A US-based human rights group has written to Britain's financial regulator urging it to halt Santander's £8bn acquisition of Abbey National until it fully investigates its part in the alleged "violation" of US money laundering laws. Inner City Press and its Fair Finance Watch, based in New York, has drawn the Financial Services Authority's attention to the US Senate's recent report on Riggs Bank's alleged money laundering for former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and the dictator of Equatorial Guinea; click here for more.]
Also last week, the government of Rwanda asked its attorney general to investigate and prosecute individuals and organizations accused in a parliamentary report of encouraging ethnic divisions. "The government recommends that relevant authorities, especially the prosecution and the courts of law, examine alleged acts by individuals, non-profit making organizations, and the civil society in general, and those found guilty be dealt with according to the law," the statement signed by Information Minister Prof Laurent Nkusi, reads in part. In its June findings, the report by a parliamentary commission accused several civil society organizations, schools and churches of promoting "genocide ideology and ethnic division" among Rwandans. Under Rwandan law, advocating ethnic differences is a crime. A sentence ranging from three to 20 years in prison can be imposed on an individual. Many -- not enough -- have accused the government of hiding behind ethnicity to suppress freedom of expression and political opposition....
September 20, 2004
Rwandan press freedoms? On 18 August 2004, at the information minister's request, Rwanda's High Council of the Press (HCP) called on the magazine Umusesos editor to "acknowledge his mistakes," publish corrections and reveal his sources for a series of controversial articles accusing the national assembly vice-president of plotting to seize power. On September 13, after Umuseso's editorial staff refused to comply, the HCP formally asked the Information Ministry to suspend the newspaper for four months. The ministry has not yet responded. Meanwhile, on 26 August, Umuseso reporter Tharcisse Semana, one of the controversial articles' authors, fled the country after being repeatedly followed and harassed. He told RSF that on the night of 25 August, he was followed by several unidentified persons who threatened him with violence and tried unsuccessfully to steal a document from him that would have been compromising for a senior government official. Semana managed to leave Rwanda the same night and is now in Uganda, where he remains concerned for his safety should he return to his country.
Banking in Rwanda: Actis, a UK-based
private equity company, which manages funds for CDC, an arm of the UK government's
international development department, is set to take an 80 per cent stake in the troubled
Banque Commerciale du Rwanda (BCR), one of the country's leading banks and the largest in
state hands. The deal values the Rwandan bank
at just over Dollars 6m. Actis, which described BCR's current situation as "very
distressed", said it would inject Dollars 4.84m after a government financial
restructuring plan to cancel the bank's negative net worth. This would enable the bank to
meet minimum capital ratio requirements. The deal, due to be signed by Gen Paul Kagame,
Rwanda's president, will be the first privatization to be finalized in the country's
banking sector. Another initial sale has been agreed with Fina Bank of Kenya and
Botswana-based Enterprise Holdings for the smaller Banque Continentale Africaine du
Rwanda. The current biggest bank, Banque de Kigali, is controlled by Fortis, the
Dutch-Belgian financial group...
September 13, 2004
Lesser of two evils? Last week the Dominican supreme court returned ownership of the newspaper Listin Diario to Ramon Baez Figueroa, whose Banco Intercontinental collapsed in May 2003 after losing $2.2 billion through embezzlement and fraud. Since then, the paper has been run by the government, hardly a boost to its journalistic credibility. The Civil and Commercial Court of Appeals had ruled that Listin wasn't implicated in the bank scandal, and so should be returned to Baez; now the Supreme Court has agreed. Property rights and the rule of law! Fraudster or government shill -- take your pick... And RIP to Listins now-defunct sister-publications, Ultima Hora, El Expreso and El Financiero...
August 30, 2004
Hangin' with a bad (Davos) crowd, last week Rwandan president Kagame arrived for a forum in Queensland with a slew of armed guards, in direct contravention of Australian governmental directions... More seriously, Burundi's (rebel) National Liberation Forces, better known by its French acronym FNL or by its former but since 1994 entirely discredited name Palipehutu, has been declared a terrorist group -- another step in a chess game (about the Congo) that remains ongoing...
August 23, 2004
In the aftermath of the massacre in Gatumba, the Economist from London opines that in Rwanda, "the surface calm disguises wild currents below. The government's line is that there are no Hutus or Tutsis, only Rwandans. Its ideologues argue that the Hutu-Tutsi divide was a creation of Rwanda's old colonial masters, the Belgians, and that a Tutsi is simply a Hutu whose ancestors owned cows. Public discussion of ethnic differences is, in effect, banned. Rwandan Hutus can't help noticing that tall, thin people hold a lot of the top jobs, but they risk trouble if they say so. Pasteur Bizimungu, a Hutu who served as a symbolic president of Rwanda between 1994 and 2000 (while Mr Kagame, as vice-president, called the shots), was jailed for 15 years in June for allegedly inciting ethnic hatred. His real crime appears to be simply that he fell out with the regime."
Civil as well as criminal law is used, including on questions of corruption: in Kigali on August 12, the chief editor of a local weekly, appeared before a court of law on defamation charges. Charles Kabonero, Editor-in-Chief of Umuseso newspaper, reportedly appeared before the Kigali City Court in Nyamirambo, to answer to charges leveled against the paper by Vice Speaker of the House of Deputies, Ambassador Dennis Polisi, evidence of whose corruption the paper published two weeks ago...
August 16, 2004
From the Toronto Star of August 8: After he saw his name on a military
intelligence hit list, Alphonse fled Rwanda by slipping across the border into Uganda.
Using false papers and travelling by bus, the Rwandan rights activist left behind a tiny
African country still recovering from the horrors of the 1994 genocide - a slaughter that
began when death squads went door to door with lists of people marked for killing. Now, he
and others say the same government that defeated the forces of genocide in Rwanda is using
the pretext of a campaign against a resurgence in genocidal ideology to
silence its critics. We have a government which is trying to suppress every
divergent opinion, every opposition that exists, Alphonse said in a telephone
interview from Kampala, requesting an alias for fear of retaliation against family members
he left behind.
Activists say the crackdown features arbitrary arrest and detention of government critics, disappearances and unexplained jail terms. When you are labeled a genocide propagandist, well, you know what can happen at the hands of some of these secret services. We know the way they work, Alphonse said. Alphonse fled Rwanda within days of the June 30 publication of a parliamentary commission report calling on the government to dissolve his organization, the Rwandese League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (known by its French acronym, Liprodhor) and arrest its leaders.... He and seven other Liprodhor officials are now in hiding in Kampala. A number of them have applied to Canada's High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya, for asylum, but have had no official reply. Two other Liprodhor officials fled to Burundi and are trying to escape to Europe or North America... Liprodhor came in for increased intimidation, its members routinely detained or harassed. And there were constant rumors of blacklists, naming leaders of the rights group. An infiltrator's memos to military intelligence were found in Liprodhor's computer system, Alphonse said. The rights group insists the commission's allegations are baseless and its officials note that no one from the parliamentary panel bothered to interview them during the investigation"...
August 9, 2004
In continuing Riggs fall-out, last week Judge Sergio Munoz questioned Augusto Pinochet's wife and children about the former dictator's secret bank account in the United States. The investigation conducted by Munoz is one of several opened in the wake of the disclosure by a U.S. Senate investigation that Pinochet kept accounts at Riggs Bank with deposits from $4 million to $8 million. Chile's National Tax Service and the state prosecutor's office are conducting separate probes. Munoz is seeking to determine the source of the money in Pinochet's accounts. Developing [and, on August 16 in ICP's filing, developed.]
July 26, 2004
From the U.N. report: "Rwanda's violations involved direct and indirect support, both in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Rwanda, to the mutinous troops (in Bukavu)." The Kagame regime denied it (then again, they've locked up their opponents and shut down human rights groups, too).. The gangs of "General" Laurent Nkunda remain at large, and there have been reports of clashes between his men and government troops near Goma in recent days. Meanwhile, another of Bukavu's invaders, Col Jules Mutebusi, is said to have retreated back into Rwanda. What should be seen is that internal repression, and shutting down the few quasi-independent voices on the scene, makes many of the regime's claims unverifiable -- and dubious...
July 19, 2004
Ah, press freedom... Cesar Balume Wetemwami, a photojournalist and president of the North Kivu Photographers Association (Association des photographes du Nord Kivu, APHONOKI) in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, was arrested by Rwandan military security agents in the Rwandan city of Gisenyi, which lies on the border with the Congolese city of Goma, on or around July 5... Reportedly, Balume was first detained by customs officers as he was crossing into Gisenyi, then the photojournalist was questioned for over two hours at the border station. He was questioned about his "ethnic origins" and his "relations with the Kinshasa authorities." Customs officers also told JED that he is suspected of being "a spy in the service of Kinshasa and the Interahamwe." Due process?
From last weeks Senate hearings: ExxonMobil, Amerada Hess and Marathon Oil contributed to a culture of corruption in Equatorial Guinea. The report cited millions of dollars of payments that the companies made to Brig. Gen. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and his cronies over the years to lease property and fund the education of the children of the ruling elite. Equatorial Guinea was Riggs Bank's largest client, with deposits reaching as much as $700 million, or more than 10% of the bank's assets. For more, see ICP's money laundering / FinWatch Report.
July 5, 2004
Last week the Rwandan parliament called for the dissolution of the League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights, known by its French acronym LIPRODOR, along with four other local human rights / "civil society" organizations, Forum des ONGs rurales, Bureau d'appui aux initiatives rurales, Souvenir des parents and Service de developpement agricole. The claim is that any criticism of the government constitutes inciting genocide. It's outrageous, and many of the countries which did nothing to stop the killing in 1994 now seem to believe they're setting things right by allowing the Rwandan government to silence all of its critics, whether or not the criticism has any relation to ethnicity. In 2003, Rwanda's main opposition political party, the Democratic Republican Movement, was banned following a recommendation by a parliamentary commission, ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections that were won by President Paul Kagame's Rwanda Patriotic Front...
June 21, 2004
The Kagame regime in Rwanda says it will keep the border with DR of Congo closed, since, they say, genocide is waiting on the other side. On June 15, Rwandan Foreign Minister Charles Muligande said that the ongoing clashes in the DRC is an attempt of staging another genocide in the region. He made the remark when Mame Balla Sy, chairman of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council, met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame at his office. Muligande said that the Rwanda-DRC border will keep closed until the reason that forced Rwanda to close it is resolved.
What's next -- a tall cement wall?
June 14, 2004
Last week in Kigali at the Court of First Instance, judge Fred Mulindwa handed down sentence on Pasteur Bizimungu: 15 years, ten of which are for "fueling ethnic divisionism." Bizimungu had joined the RPF... "Fifteen years in jail is heavy for nothing," the former president said before being driven off.... Here's a Canadian newsletter of Rwandan interest...
June 7, 2004
In Bukavu, renegade army commander Brigadier-General Laurent Nkunda stormed into Bukavu at the head of a 1,000-soldier column last week. Asked if it was at the behest of Rwanda's Kagame regime, Nkunda said, "That is a misunderstanding. Yes, they are our allies. Sometimes we speak by phone. But Rwanda is not behind this operation." Rather, Nkunda says he took over the town to prevent genocide against the Banyamulenge: "The day they began to kill Banyamulenge, I started my march on Bukavu, my war," he said. But most observers find his playing of the genocide card to be spurious. Only time will tell -- for now, the game with the U.N. continues. On June 3, the Swedish military commander, Brig-Gen Jan Isberg, announced that Nkunda had agreed to withdraw his troops "well outside" Bukavu. But on June 4, Nkunda said he was only leaving the city center... As it happens, Nkunda is accused of war crimes: in May 2002 RCD-Goma brutally quelled an attempted coup in the northern diamond trading city of Kisangani. Over 160 suspected mutineers were executed, some of whom had their heads cut off before being thrown into the Tshopo River. Nkunda was commander of the RCD Brigade in Kisangani at the time...
June 1, 2004
In Rwanda last week, the announcement of the verdict on ex-president Bizimungu, jailed for two years, was postponed. He's charged with "ethnic divisionism," for setting up a political party in 2002. His lawyer, Jean-Bosco Kazungu, insists that no proof has been offered to back the charges, " which also include fraud, diverting state resources and illegal possession of a weapon. Bizimungu himself has argued in court that this related to a law covering political parties rather than the penal code used in the prosecution's case.
For now, Bizimungu is one of four former heads of state behind bars. The others are Panama's General Manuel Noriega, arrested during a 1989 US intervention in his country, Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic, currently on trial at UN tribunal in the Hague on 66 counts of crimes against humanity, and the Philippines' Joseph Estrada, ousted amid a corruption scandal in 2001 after just 30 months in office.
In Chile, action continues against Pinochet, so far without success, as he ape Vinny "The Chin" Gigante, who used to walk around Greenwich Village in his bathrobe. Pinochet claims to be unfit for trial, yet grants interviews with Miami journalists, bragging about his past....
May 24, 2004
Gacaca-count: so far 2,793 suspects have confessed to roles in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and have requested to be included in the Gacaca proceedings around the Land of Ten Thousand Hills. Rwanda's National Coordinator for Gacaca Domitila Mukantaganzwa said here Monday that about 376 others have been convicted after the courts found them guilty of committing genocide crimes or threatening witnesses during their trials... Meanwhile, the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo said on 21 April that Rwandan soldiers had once again invaded Congo. Rwanda has denied this. "Fresh fighting broke out in South Kivu in early May and 25,000 people have had to flee due to the fighting," according to NGO 11.11.11...
May 17, 2004
Along the Rwanda-DRC border, intrigue continues. On Radio Bukavu on May 8, the acting governor of Sud-Kivu Province, Jean-Pierre Mazambi Munyatta Ngoy, presented as an agent of the "Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda" one Etienne Usabyumuremyi. A Rwandan national, he came to Bukavu to act as a link between the FDLR command at Kilungutu, in Mwenga District (some 150 km to the west of Bukavu town) and its president, who is based in Germany. Some of the Q & A:
Q: How long have you been in DRCongo and why did you come to Bukavu?
A: I have been in Congo since 1994. I came to Bukavu to liaise with FDLR officials in Germany, and in particular with the president.
Q: Who is the president?
A: His name is Ignace Murwanashaka.
Q: How did you get here and where from?
A: I came on a pick-up truck from Mulambi.
Radio Bukavu voice-over: That was Etienne Usabyumuremyi, who also said that there already were two (FDLR) battalions in Rwanda and that the FDLR had two brigades comprising two 6,000-man battalions....
May 10, 2004
Trouble brewing, short and long term: last week, Rwandan president Kagame warned he will send troops back into neighboring DR Congo if Rwandan insurgents continue to attack his country from bases there. He dismissed U.N. claims that hundreds of Rwandan soldiers were in eastern Congo, thus violating the terms of a peace deal that ended Congo's five-year war. He also insisted that Rwandan soldiers had not entered DR Congo since pulling out in October 2002. Kagame accused the U.N mission in Congo of providing false information. Officials in Kinshasa have called on the international community to put pressure on President Kagame not to carry out his threat....
May 3, 2004
In strangely vague news from Rwanda last week, the Kagame administration bragged on Radio Rwanda that five mayors have "handed in their resignations," and that two of these five were "under investigation. The [Orwellianly named] secretary of state for good governance said that the resignation of the officials was the result of the people losing confidence in them, saying that this was vindication of the government's policy of good governance... Secretary of State Protais Musuni said that the program did not just concern local officials, but would also affect all members of the administration. He said that those found practicing bad governance would be sidelined." Sidelined or imprisoned...
April 26, 2004
At the Tribunal in Arusha, testimony last week closed the noose around le Colonel Theoneste Bagosora. Prosecution witness "KJ" said that the former director of Cabinet signed authorization documents allowing Interahamwe militia to be supplied with weapons and food. The witness told the court that he first encountered the document when he was sent to collect supplies for the camp from Kigali. "On our way, we met an Interahamwe called Abdulrahmani who showed us a piece of paper allowing him to conduct operations throughout the prefecture in Gitarama (central Rwanda). It was signed by Bagosora", the witness told the court. "Many of the authorities came to the camp several times between April and July with similar authorization. It was a typed document from the Ministry of Defense signed by Bagosora"...
April 19, 2004
While the press in Rwanda is muzzled, in bordering countries, questions are asked. In Kenya, Laurent Viguie, the press counselor at the French Embassy in Nairobi, said, "we will not be drawn into any controversy now or in the future. What we want is a constructive relationship with Rwanda devoid of any controversy." Higher up the French food chain, on March 25, the former French foreign affairs minister, Dominique de Villepen, addressed the issue in an article in The Liberation newspaper. The former minister argued that despite having backed the Arusha Agreement's reconciliation process, "confronted with political deadlock and the quickening pace of events on the ground, France opted for a humanitarian intervention, by launching the two-month Operation Turquoise, in accordance with the Security Council mandate and with the participation of several African countries, thereby saving thousands of lives." Just as decimate means killing one in ten, the above means, at most, saving one in ten...
Rwandans in Uganda earlier this month visited the mass graves of over 3,000 genocide victims whose bodies were recovered in Uganda in 1994 by volunteers in Rakai and Kalangala on the shores of Lake Victoria. The Nyabalongo river, whose source is on the outskirts of Kigali, is a tributary of the River Kagera, which drains into Lake Victoria. Ugandans remember that period of 1994 as a time when many people stopped eating fish from Lake Victoria because bodies of genocide victims floating down River Kagera were washed ashore having been fed on by the fish. Never again? We sure hope so...
April 12, 2004
A panel discussions of Rwanda last week, at Northwestern University in Chicago, included sharp exchanges between an Arusha prosecutor and defense attorney John Floyd, loser of the Media Trial. Mr. Floyd complained that "Third World" judges didn't understand the niceties of press freedom, and stated flatly that Paul Kagame was behind the shooting-down of President Habyarimana's plane on April 6, 1994. An audience member demanded to know the basis of his statement; Floyd repeated suggested the Googling of Jean-Pierre Mugabe, and the recently leaked French court finding. A professor from the University of New Mexico at Las Cruces, who's been following press freedom in Rwanda, bemoaned continued censorship, and the manipulation of media at present in the land of 1000 hills. It was a wide-ranging debate of the type that's much needed -- a type, sadly, not possible in Rwanda at present.
April 5, 2004
Less than a week before the tenth anniversary of Habyarimana's plane being shot down, and the slaughter that followed, the television program "Frontline" ran a two hour show called "Ghosts of Rwanda." While most editions of Frontline are investigative, this one was surprisingly limited and uninformative. It began and ended with the talking heads of whites: Dellaire to begin, a Red Cross official at the end, explaining how he and his wife decided to make new life, in honor of Rwanda. That's nice. The show's focus is on why the United States did not act: a story that's been told many times, by Philip Gourevitch then Samantha Powers and now Frontline. The background to the slaughter -- Rwandaese history, that is -- is barely mentioned in the Frontline show. It begins in late 1993, with Dellaire's arrival; it ends in July 1994, with the RPF's arrival in Kigali. It does not cover the mass exodus of two million Hutus to the Congo; it does not mention the recent French court finding that the RPF was behind the plane's shoot down. It does not mention the Belgians' administration of Rwanda, using Tutsi to dominate the Hutu. Thus it implies that Rwanda is savage, ethnic, majority against minority. Even Amy Chua, with her "market-dominant minority" thesis in World on Fire, is more illuminating. Fronting for whom, we ask...
March 29, 2004
In the run up to the ceremonies April 6 and thereafter, President Kagame's advisor Emmanuel Ndahiro had this (strange) advice: "We cannot be diverted by those who want to make this an issue. I don't think it's important for the survivors to find out who shot down the plane. We should be helping the people who are still alive, not worried about something that happened in the past." But the ceremonies are not about congratulating Mr. Kagame, but about worrying about "something the happened in the past," in order to understand it and prevent it in the future...
March 22, 2004
From prison in Bamako, Rwanda's ex-prime minister Jean Kambanda told Mali's Le Republicain newspaper last week that "Not much in terms of arms and ammunition came from France. Rwanda was then under an arms embargo and the weapons were smuggled in from Israel, South Africa and Albania... We think that this tribunal is unfair. It has been prosecuting only one side for the past ten years and not a single Tutsi has been booked so far." From jail he called for Paul Kagame to resign...
March 15, 2004
The discovery last week in a drawer at the United Nations of the flight recorder from President Habyarimana's shot-down plane, combined with the French judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere's investigation's reported conclusion that Paul Kagame was behind the shoot-down, put the recent elections, and lifting of arms-buying sanctions, in a different light. It's not just Le Monde: the newspaper's report was corroborated by a former member of the RPF, who told the BBC on March 11 that he witnessed the incident and that Kagame's group was responsible. "My colleagues used Russian missiles in the attack," Abdul Ruzibiza told BBC radio. "The first one hit the wing but did not bring the plane down, but the second missile hit the target." "I knew the area from where the attack would be executed and the exact time," said Ruzibiza, who claims he was charged with preparing the operation. The Guardian thus puts the shoot-down report in context: "It is a grave allegation, because within hours of the plane being brought down on its approach to the Rwandan capital, Kigali, Hutu soldiers and militias began 100 days of slaughter in which an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus died. At a press conference in Belgium, where he is making a three-day official visit, Mr Kagame denied that he or his former rebel force, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), were responsible. "I keep repeating myself," he said. The RPF and myself have nothing to do with this. That information has no credibility."
Speaking somewhat differently at Kigali airport on March 13, upon returning from Brussels, Kagame said " I don't give a damn that Habyarimana died. I don't give a damn at all so I'm not going to waste a penny finding how, and whether, and by who. Habyarimana died, so I don't give a damn." He also said, " A black box tells you a few things. It cannot tell you the identity of the person who committed the crime. Maybe it will give you some information that, given different circumstances, would lead to finding out the identity, but in this particular case, I think it will just tell you that a plane was shot down, if it was shot down, and maybe some conversations that were going on by the pilots, or by whoever, and so on and so forth, and the time and you know, that sort. What does it tell you? "
What, indeed. According to Le Monde, the case is fraught with diplomatic complications because when Bruguiere presents his conclusions to prosecutors it could lead quickly to international arrest warrants for senior members of Kagame's entourage. Kagame would himself presumably be protected by his presidential immunity. Le Monde also reported that a French police inquiry had concluded that the United Nations had hampered attempts to look into the attack on Habyarimana's plane, by failing to act after it was given the black box from the aircraft. After ridiculing the claim on Tuesday, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard on Thursday admitted that a black box had indeed been received at UN headquarters in 1994 but was locked away in a filing cabinet and then forgotten about. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan insisted on Thursday that no cover-up was intended. "I was a surprised as you were to find out that a black box existed, much less in this building. From what I have picked up, it sounds like a real foul-up, a first-class foul-up," Annan told reporters. "I don't think there has been any attempt to cover up and our legal office has been cooperating, from what I have gathered, very effectively with the judge," he said. The Rwandan genocide has been a black mark on the reputation of the United Nations, whose peacekeepers on the ground failed to prevent the genocide. The embarrassment has been compounded for Annan, who was the head of UN peacekeepers at the time and who was named in a later report as bearing part of the blame for the catastrophe.
Also, Kigali's RNA News Agency of March 12 reported that U.S. "Under secretary of Treasury John Taylor will this Saturday arrive in Kigali leading a delegation of officials from the treasury department and the world bank... The under secretary for international affairs, Taylor, will meet with some top government officials including ministers and President Kagame."
The Minneapolis Star Tribune of March 12, 2004, reported that "Zac Nsenga, the Rwandan ambassador to the United States, was in town this week to help plan an April visit to the Twin Cities by Rwanda President Paul Kagame, who will speak about the plight of refugees to St. Paul eighth-graders." We'll see if developments allow Kagame to travel, as he'd planned, to Minnesota next month....
March 8, 2004
In continuing reaction to the acquittals at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda of Andre Ntagerura and Emmanuel Bagambiki, Rwanda's Minister for Justice Edda Mukabangwiza responded that the acquittals "are a miscarriage of international justice" and "unsatisfactory and shocking." The Tribunal's new Chief Prosecutor, Hassan Jallow visited Kigali and assured that appeals of the acquittals will be filed in The Hague.... In the Netherlands, former army lieutenant Ephrem Setako was arrested last month, for transfer to Arusha for trial...
March 1, 2004
One out of three: last week the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda acquitted two long-held defendants, Andre Ntagerura, former minister of transport and communications, and Emmanuel Bagambiki, former prefect of Cyangugu. The ICTR simultaneously announced the conviction of, and 27 year sentence for, Samuel Imanishimwe, a former military commander of the Rwandan armed forces. It's been a long time coming: Imanishimwe was arrested in Kenya on 11 August 1997 and transferred to the Tribunal's detention facility in Arusha on the same day. Ntagerura was arrested in Cameroon on 27 March 1996 and transferred to Arusha on 23 January 1997. Bagambiki was arrested in Togo on 5 June 1998 and transferred to Arusha on 10 July 1998.... Meanwhile, in the ongoing military trial, the prosecution witness code-named XAQ has told the court that he "saw Bagosora shortly after the crash of the presidential plane talking to Interahamwe in a meeting in a place called Nonko (near Kanombe camp, Kigali Urban)." There, Bagosora told the Interahamwe "to be courageous in their work"....
February 23, 2004
The International Committee of the Red Cross estimates that some 89,000 prisoners are crowded into Rwandan jails. Meanwhile, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda last week mentioned that it might be sending some prisoners back to Rwanda for trail, or to serve out their jail sentences. In Kigali, Rwandan chief prosecutor Jean de Dieu Mucyo told reporters on Feb. 19 that "several tens of thousands" of prisoners have made confessions while in preventative detention but declined to say how many of them would be freed. According to Mucyo, it has yet to be decided if prisoners accused of ethnic "divisionism" and damaging state security, such as former president Pasteur Bizimungu, would be affected by the measure...
February 16, 2004
While anti-predatory lending laws are being preempted and / or abandoned in the continental United States, in Guam an interesting proposal is moving forward: Bill 173, introduced by Sen. Rory Respicio, D-Chalan Pago, would amend and update the property attachment and execution exemption law. It states that a debtor's homestead are exempt from seizure for the claims of creditors. It also lists personal property exemptions, including furniture, tools and books used for work, clothes, two firearms, and motor vehicles for each member of a family. The bill is being opposed by industry, including U.S.-based subprime lender Wells Fargo Financial. It is now pending in the Committee on Judiciary and Transportation... If Wells Fargo (and Citigroup and HSBC) can export predatory lending, consumer protection, too, must be exported...
February 9, 2004
At the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on Feb. 4, Major Brent Beardsley testified that a "third force" planned to "destabilize the Arusha peace accord". Major Beardsley was being cross-examined by Raphael Constant of France, the lead counsel for former Chief of Cabinet in the Ministry of defense, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora. "When UNAMIR went for the tactical mission in August 1993, we only knew of two parties which signed the Arusha peace accord, but in November we realized there was a third force on the side of the Rwandan government which planned to derail the Arusha Peace accord," Beardsley testified. He added that the third group "was determined to discredit UNAMIR, to torpedo the Arusha peace accord. It was prepared to kill." He explained how the UN mission was encouraged by a moderate group which existed on the part of the government, but "the government was split in two, one side complied with the Arusha Peace Accord and the other was undermining the accord. UNAMIR made an effort to find out who the third force were, how many they were, how many weapons they had and where they were," he continued. The defense counsel had asked the accused a question regarding a letter on 3rd December 1993, which had been sent by senior RPF soldiers to UNAMIR informing them that president Habyarimana had a 'Machiavellian plan' to exterminate Tutsis and Belgians. "You said you did not know who carried out the massacres in November but the letter of 3rd December says Habyarimana. You now mention the government's third force. So you knew who killed?," Constant challenged the witness. "Habyarimana seemed to be remote from the whole situation he was not supportive to the mission, the RPF sent us allegations weekly but we did not take all the allegations seriously all the time," Beardsley stated...
February 2, 2004
As we approach the tenth anniversary of the murderous 100 days in which some 800,000 people were killed in Rwanda, last week at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the defense lawyers went on strike, following the testimony of Romeo Dallaire and his assistant, Brent Beardsley. By January 30, the strike was called off; the Military I trial will continue on February 3 (Feb. 2 being a holiday in Tanzania). Before the strike, defense lawyer Peter Erlinder questioned Dallaire about the Quebec conflict:
ERLINDER: The French-speaking Canadians, although they're a majority in Quebec, felt as though they're culture and their very being was being oppressed by the English-speaking Canada.
DALLAIRE: You like to simplify things, but I'll let that go, yes.
ERLINDER: Well, please, general, I don't want to oversimplify. Please tell me.
DALLAIRE: No, we don't have enough time this year to go through that.
THE COURT: Why are you interested in Quebec? We are interested in Rwanda.
So are we. For the first ten chapters of the récit "Faust in Rwanda," click here; with views, complaints or other feedback, contact us.
January 26, 2004
In Romeo Dallaire's testimony last week at the International Criminal Court for Rwanda, Dallaire recounted how defendant Theonaste Bagosora threatened him at their last meeting, in June, 1994. "Col. Bagosora threatened me with his pistol that the next time he saw me he would kill me," Dallaire told the court. But Dallaire seemed baffled on cross-examination when Bagosora's lawyer, Raphael Constant, asked him why he didn't mention the pistol in his book, or in any official report to the U.N., and instead only made reference to the gun during his testimony here in Arusha. "It's not in the book?" Dallaire asked. Then he picked up his copy and slammed the book shut... But he insisted he did record in the original manuscript of his book that Bagosora drew a pistol...
January 20, 2004
In Kenya, the search for Felicien Kabuga, indicted for genocide by the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, is splitting Kenya's intelligence ranks down the middle, it has been reported (by the East African Standard). Lower ranking intelligence officers who did everything to track down the fugitive, almost always found themselves on a collision course with their seniors. "They gathered the intelligence, put it together but each time they planned a raid it was leaked, or the operation was altogether called off at the eleventh hour on orders from this or that place," the Standard quotes a source that served in operations at the height of the search in 2002. "That way Kabuga was able to, and still could just be living around here and doing his thing." Selling curios? In mid June 2002, police confirmed the arrest of a man who closely resembled Kabuga, at the Kenya-Sudan border town of Lokichoggio. The man was allegedly carrying a passport of the Democratic Republic of Congo and was selling curios by the roadside. The circumstances of the man notwithstanding, it would later turn out that he was not Kabuga after all. Kabuga first fled to Switzerland, only to be expelled in 1995. He briefly settled in Kinshasa but fled to Kenya at the end of 1995. More recently, there have been reports that the Rwanda External Security Organization has records of phone calls Kabuga had made from Nairobi to relatives in Brussels...
January 12, 2004
On January 8, the government of the Central African Republic announced it could not pay civil servants on time this month because it does not have the money. "The state does not have the means to pay the salaries on time. There is no point in our compatriots pacing up and down in their bank branches for nothing," said junior finance minister Mohamed Mahadi Marboua. "The state has real problems. With outside help it had earmarked a maximum of resources between the end of April and now for paying salaries, but the problem persists," he said. State prosecutor Firmin Feindiro told a symposium on the fight against corruption that the government's inability to pay the wages of civil servants was one of the factors behind the corruption besetting the country. "Without the regular payment of wages and without an end to the freeze on those wages to enable civil servants to live decently, any fight against corruption is bound to fail," he noted. Yep...
January 5, 2004
In India, one of the counties to which HSBC has said it is taking the business model of confirmed predatory lender Household International, HSBC already has 32 bank branches in 16 cities, and a 14.7 per cent stake in UTI Bank. HSBC India CEO Niall S.K. Booker, who publicly swears by the by-rote management tips in Jim Collin's "Good to Great," is quoted that "It's a foot in the door, as we have done in the case of Bank of Shanghai in China." Predatory lending into China? That's one of the things we'll be watching, in 2004...
December 29, 2003
The world is distracted; the crisis in Sudan's western province of Darfur goes virtually unreported. The English language 'Khartoum Monitor' has been closed since 24 November and the Arabic 'Al-Ayam' since 17 November. the Sudanese government says the papers published "controversial issues that did not promote an atmosphere of peace and concord", 'Al-Ra'y al-Amm' newspaper said. Information Minister Al Zhawi Ibrahim Malik specified that 'Al-Ayam' had published "false information" about the Darfur region. The U.N. knows all about it: With nearly 100,000 refugees from fighting in western Sudan's Darfur region pouring into remote areas of Chad this year the United Nations refugee agency today announced plans to move an initial group of 10,000 from the volatile border to a safer site further inland.... Inches / mentions in the Western media? Sad...
December 22, 2003:
Predatory lending is being expanded, globally, by HSBC (as well as Citigroup). Late on December 19, HSBC submitted what it called a response to ICP's comment opposing its Bermuda proposal. ICP continues to await the documents responsive to its Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to the NY Banking Department, which included documents reflecting whether or not HSBC is complying with consumer protection commitments made in connection with its proposal to acquire Household, announced more than a year ago. We've noted the March 17, 2003, Memo from Ms. Bernstein-Gold to Mr. Damitz (the "NYBD Memo"), which stated among other things, at 10, that HSBC "fell far short of its targets in the Rochester and Capital Districts" and that "HSBC continues to significantly trail the aggregate and the adjusted aggregate."
ICP highlights that quote because it help demonstrate as inadequate -- and arrogant -- HSBC's Dec. 19, 2003, purported response to ICP's timely comments. Contrary to the above quote, HSBC baldly states that it "is in full compliance with the commitments that it made the Department and the FRB in 1999."
Amazingly, HSBC does not address, or even mention, the anti-predatory lending and others commitments it made / was required to make in connection with its proposal to acquire Household, which has just begun to settle the still-largest predatory lending enforcement action, with purported reforms that are limited to only a part of Household's business with the limitations due, according to the Washington Attorney General's web site, to Household's weak financial condition in mid-2002.
Quoting again from the March 17, 2003, NYBD Memo, at 19-20: HSBC "has provided the Department with the following assurances... prime, nonconforming eligible customers will have new and widely expanded products directly through HFC and Beneficial... Near-Prime testing will be complete by the end of the 2nd quarter of 20003, with a nationwide roll-out during the 4th quarter of 2002... For prime loans, testing will be complete at the end of the 4th quarter of 2003... HSBC Bank will report on a quarterly basis to the Department regarding the development and implementation of this program..."
Well, it's almost the end of the 4th quarter of 2003 (see above) -- and yet HSBC, when the issues are timely raised in opposition to yet another proposed acquisition by HSBC, does not even mention or address these commitments... Also amazing, HSBC's response does not address in any way the transaction, regarding which ICP referred the Department (and HSBC) to detailed articles in the Bermuda press questioning and denouncing the proposal... Predatory lending has expanded under HSBC, a company whose arrogance and lack of transparency bring the industry to a new nadir.
December 8, 2003
From the department of talk-is-cheap: last week the State Department's Bureau of International Information Programs put out a Washington File report about Tommy Thompson's visit to Rwanda along with Richard Holbrooke, noting that "the Thompson delegation traveled to the village of Urugwiro, where Secretary Thompson met with President Kagame." For months the State Department has delayed in responding to a simple FOIA request regarding its review of election fairness and arms embargo-life as related to Rwanda. The report also noted that Holbrooke "is now vice chairman of Perseus, a leading private equity firm." More on this in coming editions. Inner City Press's Constitutional challenge to the Delaware Freedom of Information Act's "citizens-only" provision is proceeding, having been assigned to Judge Joseph Farnan, is now described on FirstAmendmentCenter.org (click here to view); a editorial in the Wilmington News-Journal of December 4, 2003, "Our View: Change the State's Open Records Statute So It Applies to All," recounts ICP's "federal lawsuit asserting Delaware's open-records law is unconstitutional because it refuses access to non-residents," then opines that the "exclusion is silly and probably unconstitutional. The General Assembly should attend to this when it returns to session next month." We'll see.
December 1, 2003
On November 27 -- in the United States, Thanksgiving -- defense lawyers at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda formally asked the tribunal to summon Rwandan President Paul Kagame to testify on the assassination of his predecessor Juvenal Habyarimana in April 1994. Kagame and a French anti-terrorist judge who is investigating the assassination, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, "should testify on the assassination of the president," a defense lawyer was quoted by the Hirondelle news agency. "Peace is not possible, reconciliation is not possible if all the truth is not said," he said. We agree -- see the Human Rights Enforcement Project for more (and note that also killed was Burundi's president, Cyprien Ntarymira, an angle rarely explored).
November 24, 2003
Follow-up to a fixed election: on November 20, "Rwandan police seized copies of the country's only independent newspaper and arrested its director and at least two of his journalists on charges of libel and 'divisionism.' Robert Sebufurira, director of the weekly Umuseso, and his two colleagues were arrested for having published 'false rumours, within the framework of the law that prohibits inciting divisionism and libel,' said police spokesman Damas Gatare... A total of five journalists from the weekly were arrested and that the latest edition, due to go on sale Thursday, had been seized at the border with Uganda, where much of Rwanda's press is printed. The edition contained an article on the former head of the Rwanda army Nyamwasa Kayumba and other senior officers that caused offense, according to the police... the edition also contained an article allegedly revealing the salaries of top politicians and officials. The previous director of Umuseso spent a month behind bars early this year on charges of 'inciting divisionism and discrimination' before being released because of procedural errors. The charges came after the weekly published a caricature of Rwandan President Paul Kagame and ran an article judged to be 'divisionist.' Various international rights organizations deem accusations of "ethnic divisionism," in a country still scarred by a 1994 genocide, to be an excuse used by the government to try to silence its opponents."
Great... Meanwhile, as reported below in this Report, the U.S. State Department continues to refuse to release related documents demanded long ago under the Freedom of Information Act. Developing...
November 17, 2003
Inner City Press has now responded to the U.S. State Department's attempt to delay producing documents responsive to ICP's month-old FOIA request regarding Rwanda:
Re: Freedom of Information Act Request Number 200303863
Dear FOIA officers [of the Department of State]
This responds to the Department's / Ms. Allen's October 31, 2003, interim response to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request I made on October 8, 2003, on behalf of Inner City Press and the Human Rights Enforcement project (collectively, ICP). Ms. Allen's letter states that "[t]o process your request, we need: an agreement to pay fees.. and a clarification of your request... Please clarify what type of materials you are seeking concerning the elections."
ICP's Request was divided into three parts, the second of which concerns the elections conducts in Rwanda earlier this year. Regarding these elections, we are seeking all records reflecting State Department assessment of fairness, freedom, legitimacy and multi-party status of the election and the preparations for the elections, as that related
to the Department's removal of the Rwandan government from the arms embargo list (part 3 of ICP's request) and otherwise.
As to fees, Ms. Allen's letter indicates that, as a representative of the news media, Inner City Press will receive 100 pages free, and then pay duplication costs. We note that Inner City Press receives fee waivers in full -- that is, does not pay duplication costs -- at such other Federal agencies as the Federal Reserve Board, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, FDIC and Federal Trade Commission. Evidence of the first and last of these is annexed hereto, to encourage your Department to reconsider the imposition of duplication fees as being contrary to the public interest in this instance. However, I hereby state that Inner City Press is prepared to pay, without prejudice, up to $200, in order to expedite our receipt of the documents we requested more than a month ago.
Finally, in order to ensure receipt of the election-related documents we are requesting, we direct you, for the proposition that the Department has responsive records, to Agence France Presse of August 28, 2003 ("US congratulates Rwanda's Kagame on election victory", which reported that
The White House on Wednesday congratulated Rwandan President Paul Kagame on winning a second term in the nation's first elections since genocidal killings left up to one million people dead in the central African country.
"The Rwandan people have taken an important step forward in the political transition and reconciliation of their nation by holding their first presidential elections since the 1994 genocide," White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said here, near where President George W. Bush is vacationing on his ranch.
"We congratulate President Paul Kagame on his victory, and look forward to building our relationship with the people of Rwanda, who have demonstrated their commitment to democracy by peacefully turning out in large numbers."
"The United States will work cooperatively with the government of Rwanda, all political parties, and civil society to ensure that Rwanda'a political transition occurs peacefully, freely and fairly," she said.
The US State Department has expressed concerns about reports of voter intimidation and harassment of the opposition and called on Rwandan authorities to fully investigate such incidents.
Clearly, records reflecting the above-reported Department "concerns about reports of voter intimidation and harassment of the opposition," and calls for investigations (and outcomes and documentation of investigation, including given the change in arms embargo status) are responsive to ICP's month-old request. If you have any questions, please immediately telephone the undersigned, at (718) 716-3540.
Very Truly Yours,
Matthew Lee, Esq., ICP Human Rights Enforcement project
From Uganda's New Vision of Nov. 12: "the fresh allegations that some Members of Parliament in the sixth Parliament could have received financial inducement during consideration of the Bujagali dam project is a matter that must be thoroughly investigated. This allegation puts the image of Parliament as an institution in jeopardy. According to reports, British investigators have discovered evidence suggesting that in 1998, Amisa Consultants Limited, acting for the Nordic consortium, Norpak Power lobbied the Ugandan Parliament with "promise of financial inducements." At first the company allegedly lobbied the MPs to block the Bujagali project because Norpak was then bidding to build the Karuma Falls dam. But after Veidekke entered into a deal with AES, the company allegedly lobbied the MPs, with promises of financial rewards, to support the Bujagali project. These are extremely serious allegations, which must prompt investigation. The individuals implicated have not yet been named. It is also so far not clear whether there is any evidence that money changed hands. Still the allegation is extremely damaging to Parliament that it merits a probe."
November 10, 2003
The U.S. government at work -- in a response (at last) to Inner City Press' October 8, 2003, Freedom of Information Act request regarding the State Department's decision to lift the arms embargo on the Rwandan government (but no one else in Rwanda), State's "Communication Branch" now asks, "please clarify what type of material you are seeking concerning the elections." We were clear about what we wanted; this is simply delay (the State Department denied a request for expedited treatment, saying ICP could appeal -- except that would toll the time line of the underlying request). ICP will proceed, because we are entitled to these documents and will report on them in this space....
October 27, 2003
In Rwanda on October 19, Paul Kagame named a virtually oppositionless cabinet, despite earlier promises to share power. It violated the spirit of the "new" Constitution, which mandates that half of the seats go to opposition parties. First, the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and Liberal Party (PL) both supported Kagame in the presidential race, so they're hardly opposition (those parties were outlawed and disbanded). Even so, the PSD and PL were given, basically, minor cabinet posts. The executive secretary of the Great Lakes Region Human Rights League said, "We expected a gesture towards the opposition to gauge the opening up of the new government, but we didn't get it." That's putting it mildly...
October 20, 2003
ICP/Fair Finance Watch has today filed comments with Swiss bank regulators, opposing Royal Bank of Scotland's proposal to acquire another "private" bank, Bank Von Ernst. Portions of FFW's comment are in this week's ICP Bank Beat Report, click here to view. Again, to view the Human Rights Enforcement project's recent FOIA request to the U.S. Commerce Department, regarding among other things Gabon, click here.
October 13, 2003
From reporting to reporting-related action: last week, Inner City Press and its related Human Rights Enforcement project filed the following Freedom of Information Act request with the U.S. Department of State:
Dear Ms. Grafeld / FOIA officer:
On behalf of Inner City Press and the Human Rights Enforcement project (collectively, "ICP"), this is a request, including under the under the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA;" 5 U.S.C. § 552) for all records in your agency's possession or control relating to (1) the sale or transfer of defense articles and services to Rwanda, since July 30, 2003; or (2) the presidential and legislative elections conducted in Rwanda (both since July 30, 2003); or (3) any communications involving your agency, inter-agency, intra-agency or from an outside party, from January 1, 2002, forward, related to your agency's decision, published in the Federal Register of July 30, 2003, to "remov[e] Rwanda from the list of embargoed country examples in 22 CFR 126.1(a). " See, 68 FR 44613-44614, also stating that " a policy of denial will remain in place for any new license applications, requests for approval, exports or imports of defense articles or defense services destined for or originating in Rwanda other than by the Government of Rwanda."
To help you identify the responsive records, we note that spokesman Richard Boucher was asked, at the July 30, 2003, press briefing, "Richard, why have you changed the status of Rwanda under the Arms Export Control Act?"
MR. BOUCHER: We have?
QUESTION: It's just above the Chinese sanctions.
MR. BOUCHER: Must not have been in my copy this morning. That's the part that got rained on. I'll check for you and see what we can give you.
The subsequent July 31, 2003, press release stated that "the Department is now prepared to consider on a case-by-case basis, the sale and transfer of defense articles and services to the Government of Rwanda" and that "[t]he Department has determined that it would be appropriate to exercise a partial lifting of the embargo on Rwanda. We will continue to review arms sales to Rwanda on a case-by-case basis." Request (1), above, includes but is not limited to all submissions to the Department since July 30, 2003, and all records reflecting the Department's "case by case" deliberation and decision thereon; request (3) includes but is not limited to all records, including communications to or by the agency, leading to and/or lobbying for or recommending (or opposing or recommending against) the July 30, 2003, "partial lifting of the embargo on Rwanda." Request (2) should be self-explanatory, but if you have any question, please immediately telephone the undersigned, at (718) 716-3540.
Very Truly Yours,
Matthew Lee, Esq.
October 6, 2003
In Rwanda, what a surprise: with almost all opposition parties stricken from the ballot, the RPF last week "won" 73.8% of the vote in the ballot for the Chamber of Deputies, with its candidates taking 40 out of 53 elected seats in the 80-seat parliament. Afterwards, the chief of the EU observers' mission said that all opposition candidates had been "intimidated and harassed." Geerte Bossaert, the Great Lakes region specialist of Belgian development aid organization 11.11.11 , who monitored the election in Gisenyi, said she had witnessed "electoral fraud." "I saw unnumbered ballot boxes. In a polling place in Jenda, I found an unnumbered ballot box containing ballot papers that had been hidden behind a voting booth. All these ballot papers had been folded in an identical way so that only the RPF logo was visible. During the day, however, I had noticed that farmers folded their ballot papers in many different ways or simply crumpled them up, and all at once there was this box with neatly folded papers, which only contained votes for the RPF." She suspects that voting papers had been presented to voters in such a way that only the RPF logo was visible, or that the papers had been "filled out in advance". "One person I know told me that the RPF obtained 100 per cent of the vote in her district, although she had voted for another party." The observers themselves also experienced problems. "In Muramba and Gitega, people were ordered to vote long before the official opening of the polling places so that the observers were too late. In Kanama, the vote count began ahead of the official schedule so as to keep out monitors."
And, as we've previously noted, the irregularities on election day are just the tip of the iceberg -- the real fix is put in during the run-up, as took place in the Presidential election. The countries sending congratulations for such a fair election are ill-informed, or hypocrites, or both....
September 29, 2003
Annals of free speech and free elections: in the run-up to the Rwandese legislative elections Sept. 29 - Oct. 2, yet more political parties were outlawed, and elections workers arrested. The targets this time are supporters of Celestin Kabanda and Jean-Baptiste Sindikubwabo, both of whom have been charged with the vague crimes of "divisionism." Trying to avoid the charge, Kabanda'd said he was not giving any speeches during the legislative campaigning period. When a campaign speech can lead to imprisonment, how can the election be said to be free and fair? It can't. And those countries supporting this mockery will have a lot to answer for -- the non-vague charge of hypocrisy, first of all...
September 22, 2003
Here's a report of a global bank's scheme, to be followed-up including as a human rights issue -- "HSBC may expand Household into India," 9/19:
HSBC Holdings Plc the world's second-biggest bank by market value, said on
Friday it may expand its Household International consumer finance business into Japan,
India and Russia... HSBC made its biggest acquisition when it bought Household, the
second-largest U.S. consumer finance company, for $14.8 billion in March to add consumer
lending to the British bank's traditional deposit-based operations...The bank will first
concentrate on expanding Household in North America and Britain, where the U.S. firm,
which lends to people with patchy credit records, owns HFC Bank, Schoenholz said.
HSBC last year bought Grupo Financiero Bital, Mexico's fifth-biggest bank, where it is seeking business from Mexican migrants in the U.S. who send money home.
The bank will also sell Household products through HSBC branches and offer to move customers whose credit ratings improve from Household to HSBC in the U.S.
HSBC is already targeting Poland for expanding Household's credit card and consumer lending business... HSBC said last month that first-half profits jumped 21 percent to $6.11 billion, beating forecasts, as it benefited from buying Household and Bital. Household contributed $651 million to HSBC's $6.88 billion pre-tax profit before goodwill.
As to why this is so potentially problematic, see ICP/FFW's HSBC Watch, click here.
September 15, 2003
Another indicia of a free and fair election, largely funded from outside: the searching of the main opposition candidate's home by police, weeks after the election. We report it here not because we are supporters of Mr. Twagiramungu, but because it should not be swept under the rug. "On Tuesday, there was a search and a state of siege between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm... The police showed me a warrant signed by Attorney General (Gerard) Gahima, in which they accuse me of undermining state security and associating with criminals," Twagiramungu said. Gahima later confirmed Twagiramungu's assertion but refused to say what prompted the warrant... Gahima said: "I can confirm that the police were looking for evidence in connection with an investigation into a group of around 10 people, including Mr. Twagiramungu."
And now, "campaigning" in the parliamentary elections, slated for 29 - 30 September and 2 October, begins, under this cloud of the arrest of opposition candidates, outlawing of opposition parties, and seizure of campaign materials. But poll observers are intimidated or limit their review to the day of the election itself...
September 8, 2003
Events since the August 25 presidential election in Rwanda have become even more surreal. After a "campaign" in which opposition political parties were outlawed, and the remaining candidates' posters and other materials were impounded, the head of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) , Chrysologue Karangwa, has claimed that the NEC actually favored the opposition, by not entirely "disallowing" candidate Faustin Twagiramungu. "According to articles 37 and 40 of the law governing presidential elections, Twagiramungu should have also been banned due to divisive ideologies in his campaign leaflets," Karangwa bragged to reporters.
The RPF has imposed a "raceless" dictatorship on Rwanda, in which even the mentioning of ethnic groups is grounds for the banning of political parties (and more). But, the RPF uses race / ethnicity to justify its heavy hand: it implies that only it can prevent further chaos and bloodshed, and plays the genocide card at every turn. Anyone who opposes the RPF must have been in favor or, or indifferent to, the slaughter in 1994. Well, no. And why, pray tell, is Pasteur Bizimungu, who the RPF used as a token and/or figure head, still in jail? Because he might form a credible opposition. Pasteur Bizimungu is essentially a political prisoner. He should be released.
September 1, 2003
Let's compare: Saddam Hussein used to hold elections, then brag that he'd won over 95%. The United States and numerous others described these elections as scams, pointing out that with no one else on the ballot, a climate of fear and a lack of free speech, of course Hussein got 95%.
On August 25, RPF candidate Kagame claimed 95% of the Rwandan vote. In the run-up to the election, other political parties were banned, what candidates could say was radically limited, and a rival's field operation, 12 regional observers, were arrested. Why, then, is this not a scam? Clearly, the RPF's regime since 1994, and this most recent election, take place in the aftermath of a stupefying mass mass murder. But why call a scam election legitimate? Why turn a blind eye to RPF abuses, including in the D.R. Congo?
We're reminded of the 1993 electoral loss of Burundi's [Tutsi] president Buyoyo in April 1993, which led him (and, it seems, Mr. Kagame, then in Uganda) to ruminate on the difficulty in winning elections as a representative of a 15% minority. Hence, Kagame in 2003 and the run-up outlawed political parties, and made it illegal to even mention Rwanda history, groups, or anything else. Landslide!
August 25, 2003
As we go to press, voting has started in the Rwandan election. Given events in the run-up to the election, the results will not be credible. Candidate Faustin Twagiramungu had his political party outlawed, and in the final week was harassed for holding "secret" meetings at which, the RPF's Orwellianly-named National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, he spread "hate propaganda." Apparently, for anyone but Paul Kagame to say "vote for me" constitutes hate propaganda. NURC Commissioner Eria Mpayimana fulminated that "Twagiramungu should also know that Rwandans have sacrificed a lot for the sake of reconciliation." Yep -- they sacrificed, or were deprived of, the most basic of free speech rights, for the sake of an easy RPF win. Not credible.
Things because badly when the RPF arrested Pasteur Bizimungu for the crime of... setting up a political party. These type of arrests are indicative of a dictatorship. Those in the human rights community who excuse these type of abuses are not helping the cause of human rights...
We will report on the election results next week. A final note: in the reporting on the bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, widely described as the worst attack ever on the U.N., we couldn't help thinking back to 1994, when at least 12 U.N. peacekeepers were killed in Rwanda: the ten Belgians, one Ghanaian, and a Bangladeshi. In the case of the Belgians, their deaths involved torture as well. We agree with one of the things the RPF says: those event should not be forgotten. But the answer is not to make speech -- and thereby remembering -- illegal...
August 18, 2003
There is an election slated for August 25 in Rwanda, and many well-meaning people want to believe it will be free and fair. But wishing will not make it so. As the currently RPF government had taken to outlawing political parties, and accusing opponents of fomenting ethnic division if they say so much as "the majority will vote for me," it become more implausible that the results of August 25, and of the parliamentary election slated for a month after that, could be legitimate.
The British government has given $1 million toward the election, and the EU nearly half that. Why haven't they spoke up, as political parties have been outlawed? Guilt and wishful thinking. Why have they remained silent about restrictions on speech and campaigning that they would never accept in their country? Paternalism, some say. Anti-hate speech laws should not be used to silence political opponents in the month before an election. In neighboring Burundi not long ago, the coordinator of an independent (that is, non-governmental) web site was arrested for so much as having a link to another web site, which was accused of fomenting racial hatred. Such near-absurd restrictions on free speech should not be accepted. The West, which prizes its own free speech rights, should not give money for fake elections in which candidates are silenced and told what they can and cannot say. Where are the vaunted free speech advocates? Where are those even-handed defenders of human rights and free elections? Rwanda will again be a test case. Last round -- we mean Ninety Four -- the West failed and failed badly. But the reaction of guilt and placating the RPF may be leading to another kind of failure. We want a world of clear good guys and bad guys. But things are rarely so clear, and free speech, fair elections and the like are usually the best policy. One cannot or should not waive these principles out of guilt for past inaction. The ball for now is the count of Britain and the EU. Developing...
August 11, 2003
On the moves afoot to replace Carla Del Ponte as chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, we are of two minds: the Rwanda Tribunal has taken a decidedly back seat to the Former Yugoslavia tribunal at The Hague. But one point is essential: for the ICTR to neglect to bring changes against any RFP member would leave the ICT process a deeply flawed example of victors' justice.
The jurisdiction of the ICTR is limited to 1994; it has de facto become limited to genocide, which is to say, to Hutu-on-Tutsi crime. That was by far the primary dynamic in 1994. But the RPF's killing of civilians is undeniable, for example at the Kibeho refugee camp and in the stadium at Byumba (See, e.g., "Genocide tribunal ready to indict first Tutsis: Rwanda is blocking investigations of former rebels despite pledges, prosecutor says," The Guardian (London), April 5, 2002, Pg. 16 -- never followed-up on).
Nevertheless, only Hutu extremists have been imprisoned and tried at the ICTR in Arusha. There are several explanations for this. The so-called international community felt guilty for its failure to stop the 1994 massacres -- many say, its enabling of, and then fleeing and profiting from, the massacres. Beyond guilt, the UN's credibility has been on the line in Arusha: and if the RPF wouldn't cooperate with the tribunal, it would be viewed as far less legitimate. Therefore, only one type (or direction) of crime is being prosecuted by the ICTR.
The problem with this is not only that it smacks of "victor's justice," but also that it may provide fodder for Hutu extremists in the future. How can it be that in all the indictments and trials of the ICTR to date, only Hutu criminals are being prosecuted?
Few things are more contrary to the rule of law than selective prosecution -- particularly when, as at the ICTR in Arusha, the selectivity falls along ethnic or at least self-perceived-group lines. The killing of civilians is in itself a war crime; said otherwise, mass murder is bad enough.
August 4, 2003
In this week when Rwandan courts convicted more than 100 accused genocidaires, we at the Fair Finance Watch say (also), "follow the money." The beginnings of our inquiry:
. In 1994, near the end of the 100 day period in which nearly a million Rwandans were killed, the extremist Hutu regime went into "exile" in Goma -- where they purported to set up a branch of the National Bank of Rwanda, "which continued to place orders for arms and other supplies, and guarantee payments. A number of foreign banks accepted these orders made by the 'government in exile'... Pierre Galand of Belgium's council of development NGOs (CNCD) cites Citibank, Dresdner Bank (Germany) and Banque Nationale de Paris" (Le Soir, January 27, 1997).
Citibank, now the largest bank in the world, shows up again in the Great Lakes Region, in the 2001 United Nations report on the traffic in conflict diamonds in the Democratic Republic of Congo:
The 56 page report details how transport networks and financial institutions accommodate the exchange of mineral resources for arms, and cash for arms.
"In a letter signed by J.P. Moritz, general manager of Societe miniere de Bakwanga (MIBA), a diamond company, and Ngandu Kamenda, the general manager of MIBA ordered a payment of US $ 3.5 million to la Generale de commerce dimport/export du Congo (COMIEX), a company owned by late President Kabila and some of his close allies, such as Minister Victor Mpoyo, from an account in BCDI through a Citibank account. This amount of money was paid as a contribution from MIBA to the AFDL war effort." Asked about the relationship between BCDI and Citibank in New York, Ba-N'Daw said that Citibank had been the correspondent bank of BCDI
-- "Report Names Culprits in Central Africa's Dirty War," Environment News Service, April 19, 2001
Diamonds, of course, are among the easiest ways to launder money -- click here for ICP/FFW's ongoing report on that topic...
July 28, 2003
Burundi update: following the July 20 talks in Dar Es Salaam, South African deputy president Zuma said that the "FNL attacks were not doing any good to the peace process. We need to defend that process and the people of Burundi. However the context of the Dar es Salaam meeting was to discuss the FDD participation and not the FNL. The FNL cannot be a deciding factor in whether or not the peace process goes forward in Burundi." Back in South Africa, the SAPA news agency, describing the University of Pretoria's Jan van Eck as an expert on Burundi, quoted him that "the countries in the region had their own agendas, and were on the side of either the Hutu or the Tutsi. Some regarded the Tutsi, who originated from the north of Africa, as non-Bantu and thus as foreigners. The conflict would not be resolved if both groups were not recognized as legitimate Africans," Van Eck said. That dubious analysis is not helpful...
July 21, 2003
Human rights in Burundi: in the run-up to the July 20 summit meeting in Dar Es Salaam, Ugandan president Museveni and South African deputy president Zuma took quite different positions -- Museveni went so far as to call for a "military solution." Since the composition of Burundi's army is one of the major issues, whether Mr. Museveni's suggestions make sense is dubious.
Earlier in the week, AFP reported that 40,000 residents of the hills surrounding Bujumbura have fled their homes; MSF reported that 1,900 of the displaced families are in a camp in center-city Bujumbura, while, in a second camp, the distribution of BP5 biscuits ended. According to "a UN spokesman in New York, internally displaced persons (IDPs) in and around Bujumbura will continue to receive food and other assistance provided by the UN through its implementing partners."
On the human rights front "Amnesty International, whose delegates were in Bujumbura last week, has also received credible reports of human rights violations, including extra-judicial executions by government forces, in several of the southern districts. The violations include the reported execution of 10 laborers in Kinindo district on 7 July by government forces. The men were reportedly made to lie on the ground and shot at point blank range. Combatants of the armed political group PALIPEHUTU-FNL (Rwasa) are also reported to have killed unarmed civilians." [For Reuters' AlertNet report on the summit, click here]. Developing...
July 14, 2003
We're certainly glad to see Africa in the (western) news more than usual. But strangely absent from last week's coverage was the ongoing dangerous events in Burundi: death, death and more death click here for more); as a news hook, last week Burundi's National Bank was bombed. Our guess? Burundi has, even more than Rwanda, fallen into a post-1994 blind spot. Some look away due to guilt (click here for one reason why); others want only winning interventions; others still don't want to confront facts that contradict the cartoon-like explanation of events in Rwanda. And the beat (and fighting) goes on -- in Burundi, not only Liberia.
Speaking of Liberia, Pat Robertson -- who raised money in the mid-90s for Rwandan refugees, and used part of it to transport mining equipment to Congo -- came out in favor of Charles Taylor last week. Click here for ICP's last dust-up with Robertson, when he tried to get into banking....
July 7, 2003
Petty but telling entrée to a serious topic: Vermont ex-governor Howard Dean on June 22 compared a question about how many U.S. troops are on active duty to being "like asking me who the ambassador to Rwanda is." Right-wing columnist Bob Novak used this to report on a rift between Dean and African-American politicians. But nowhere mentioned is the fact that Rwanda, less than ten years ago, suffered a genocide, the death of 800,000 people.
On the current situation in Rwanda, see this alert / call to action, to which we'll add that the disappeared man, Doctor Leonard Hitimana, figured in testimony at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha in June 2002. According to witness "GK," former Rwandan Prime Minister Jean Kambanda, former Rwandan information minister Eliezer Niyitegeka and other provincial officials "held a meeting in Kibuye on 3 May 1994. Kibuye hospital director Leonard Hitimana requested the assistance of the officials at the meeting with regard to the refugees, explaining that the hospital had run out of medicine and food. During the meeting, GK claimed, Kambanda and Niyitegeka responded to Hitimana's request by making statements that were understood to mean that the orphans and the other refugees should be killed. Kambanda allegedly told Hitimana that he 'should not support the enemy. The children were killed on the day following the meeting,' GK stated, adding that a group of militiamen and gendarmerie removed the children from the hospital and subsequently killed them....Until next time, for or with more information, contact us.
June 30, 2003
In the DR Congo, there are calls to investigate killings at Tchomia, Katoto and elsewhere in Ituri "so that those responsible could be taken to court." Before the Ugandans withdrew, hundreds of people were killed in the villages of Drodro, in apparent systematic killings, while others were later killed in the areas of Tchomia near the southern peak of Lake Albert that straddles the Uganda-DR Congo border... In Uganda, AFP (via reliefweb.int) reports more hacking deaths... It is important that a spotlight remains on this area.... Until next time, for or with more information, contact us.
June 23, 2003
Ongoing news from the DR Congo: the government in Kinshasa had sent over 100 policemen / soldiers into Bunia; now they're leaving, as the primarily Hema residents state that the government has supported and been allied with the Lendu militia... South African troops, it's reported, will be joining the force in Bunia...
Also this week: a link and a thought. We're much taken by a report issued in London last week, regarding both the environmental and human rights hards caused by prawn (shrimp) farming, worldwide (we were particularly struck by the details from Ecuador [see the Archives of this Global Inner Cities report], that in Muisne up to 80% of the residents have lost their main source of food because of the destruction of the mangroves for prawns). View the full report here. Then, the thought, such as it is: what falls under the rubric of environmental justice in the United States is the U.S. versions of human rights (civil rights, anti-discrimination) as it relates to the environment and health. Also of interest (at least to us) is the United Nations' "Global Compact" having (separate) "Environment" and "Human Right" principles, and primarily-environment organizations reference from time to time to human rights, most recently as the so-called "social" principles included in "Equator Principles" that ten multinational banks recently (and loudly) signed on to. We're skeptical -- click here, Report of June 23 re Royal Bank of Scotland and its Equator Principles claims -- but always looking for connections...
June 16, 2003
We are rooting for the success of peacekeepers in DR Congo, we really are.
While not of the scope of what occurred in Rwanda from April to July 1994, it is important
"international community" (as the saying goes) not once again stand impotently by while slaughter gathers force. But why, one has to ask, is the mission so absurdly limited? It seems like a set-up for failure. In Brussels on June 13, French General Bruno Neveux, asked if the EU force would be able to intervene and stop massacres outside Bunia, told Reuters that: "At this point in time, that is not within our mandate, the mission which has been set for us." "(The mission)...is clearly confined to Bunia city and airport and the two refugee camps near the airport." But slaughters of over 70 civilians have been reported 125 miles northeast of Bunia, in the village of Nkora, near Mahagi town [UN confirms, later June 16], as well as in Tchomia. "We have just got reports that 77 people were killed at Nyoka near Mahagi town when Lendu fighters attacked the area and killed villagers, mainly of the Alur tribe,'' a Ugandan military official, who requested anonymity, said....
June 9, 2003
As a (too-small?) French-led UN force enters Ituri province in the DR Congo, militias armed with assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns attacked Bunia on Saturday. Hundreds fled their homes and at least four people were killed after Lendu fighters launched dawn raids on positions held by the Hema-led Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC). The Lendu militia was attempting to retake areas lost to the UPC about 10 days ago and to gain a foothold before the force that could reach 1,700 troops, code-named Artemis, deploys... Until next time, for or with more information, contact us.
June 2, 2003
While the U.N. Security Council took some action on the DR Congo conflict last week -- a Franch-led peace enforcement team of 1400 slated for Bunia -- it does not seem to be enough. Asked whether the blue helmets would be able to follow the combatants beyond Bunia, the French ambassador to the U.N. was adamant: no. So what's the point? Update of June 3: especially now that it's clear that the slaughter has spread beyond Bunia -- for example, to "the town of Tchomia, 55km east of Bunia, on the shore of Lake Albert" (click here for that).... Until next time, for or with more information, contact us.
May 26, 2003
From the DR Congo, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reports that at least 20,000 people, mainly from the Hema and Alur communities, had been registered since the beginning of May by authorities in villages in the two western Ugandan districts of Nebbi and Bundibugyo "There have been reports of militias attempting to infiltrate sites where internally displaced persons [IDPs] are currently located," the UN's Fred Eckhard said in New York. As a result, Eckhard said, the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) was maintaining tighter surveillance at the campsites. He also described the humanitarian situation in Bunia as "critical", with 4,000 people camped at the MONUC base and another 9,000 at the tiny airport... Until next time, for or with more information, contact us.
May 19, 2003
"Never again" -- what does it mean? In 1994, the international community -- including the United Nations and the United States -- stood by as 800,000 people, mostly Tutsi, were killed in Rwanda in 100 days. While the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda churns on Arusha, Tanzania, in the Eastern Congo in May 2003, Lendus are killing Hemas, with guns and, yes, machetes. And the world community?
BBC on May 15 ran still photos offered up by Oxfam. A Human Right Watch spokeswoman was filmed, speaking, on the steps of a brownstone in an unidentified city. Then, Lendu and Hema footage from three years ago was shown. Apparently there are no cameras in the DR Congo.
But here's a fact we didnt know until May 15 -- the insurance company AIG is still, according to its web site, doing business in Zimbabwe. In fact, AIG is offering "political risk" insurance there... Until next time, for or with more information, contact us.
May 5, 2003
Off the coast of Nigeria, the end of the oil worker hostage crisis on May 1 came as "two plane loads of former British special forces members ha[d] just taken off for an interim destination to...prepare for the operation" -- that is, to raid the oil rigs -- according to the director of "private military company" Northbridge Services Group. Northbridge refused to say who had hired its mercenaries. It was previously report to be involved in Cote d'Ivoire; it proudly announces that it provided security for Who guitarist Pete Townsend earlier this year. What Northbridge calls itself is a "Private Military Company." Somewhere in all this, we smell a lawsuit brewing, under the Alient Tort Claims Act or otherwise; question would turn on "state action."
April 28, 2003
We have a suggestion for Iraq: there's a need for a polling organization, so that the support for such putative returning heroes as Chalabi could be assessed and publicized. If the goal is democracy, let the polling begin! We suggest calling it "Pollsters Without Borders."
Oh, Kalkota -- in India last week, a Supreme Court order to evict squatters on the railway land beside the Rabindra Sarobar lake in south Kolkata was "welcomed" by environmentalist Subhas Dutta. The eviction, he said, would improve the health of the "second largest lung of the city and the only national lake in the state". A division bench of the apex court directed the Calcutta High Court to see that the eviction order passed by competent authorities were carried out. There are about 5,000 squatters in the area. Dutta was the original petitioner of a PIL in the HC on behalf of Howrah Ganatantrik Nagarik Samity, praying for upkeep of the lake and alleging the squatters were polluting the environment. A Kolkata Municipal Corporation official said they were yet to receive a copy of the SC order, but if the apex court directed, the eviction would be carried out. We'd say: there has to be a better way; and, environmentalists calling for evictions, we're not crazy about...
April 21, 2003
From the April 11 speech of Roberto F. de Ocampo at the fifth symposium on Asia-Pacific Architecture, re "the proliferation of informal settlers: While the problem of informal settlers, or squatters, is to be found in many Asian cities, nowhere is the squatter problem as tenacious as it is in major Philippine cities, particularly the greater Manila area. The squatting phenomenon has been a major problem due to the increase in urban population. Urbanization has come at a high cost - urban density has resulted in the Philippines laying claim to one of the largest squatter communities in Asia. Its cities are virtually choking to death - the result of increased congestion, traffic and pollution, deteriorating environmental quality. Coupled with increasing costs of urban services and declining coverage, and the inability of cities to provide employment to an ever- increasing population, the result is a dismal parody of the once-revered economic model of the urban/industrialized sector absorbing the excess labor of a modernized agricultural sector.
"The rapid urbanization of the Philippines is most particularly defined by the emergence of Metro Manila, the premier political, economic, and social center of the country as a new "mega-city." Metro Manila is the 18th largest metropolitan area in the world, and one of the largest in the Asia-Pacific region. With a population of close to 10 million, population density in Metro Manila is over 15,617 persons per square kilometer. In contrast, the national average man-land ratio is 255 persons per square kilometer. It has been estimated that 26% of Metro Manila's 1.6 million households are squatters or migrants....". Until next time, for or with more information, contact us.
April 14, 2003
From the United Nations Commission on Human Rights' recent debate on economic, social and cultural rights, the following: Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka of the U.N. Human Settlements Programme said almost 900 million people in developing countries live in poverty without security of tenure and in conditions that could be described as life and health threatening. Over half of these live in urban slums... Birte Scholz of the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions said 70 per cent of the 1.6 billion persons in the world who were inadequately or not housed were female - that meant that almost one-third of the world's women were living in informal settlements, slums, squatter communities, or on the street. The following examples: in Uganda, women struggled for laws to protect ownership rights; in Nepal, women united to physically block bulldozers coming to destroy their homes; in Peru, women built themselves houses out of self-made bricks.
April 7, 2003
We're back on the loan-sharking beat. In Korea, Samsung Capital is charging customers unreasonably high interest on its loans based on installment financing, according to supervisory bodies. The Samsung Group's money lending unit was found to have extended loans at an annual interest rate of 25 percent to customers who want to buy used cars, the Korean Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) announced last week. If a consumer buys a 9 million won used car by borrowing money from Samsung Capital on an installment basis, the amount to be repaid will be at least 13 million won, including the interest of around 4 million won. As there is no interest rate ceiling, capital service companies jack the interest rates up to 66 percent, the rate at which local private lenders are charging borrowers. Quite a few similar complaints against LG Capital and Daewoo Capital have been filed with the FSS consumer protection center...''Like many loan sharks, employees at LG Capital used threats of violence against our family for overdue payments without revealing their names,'' housewife Park Hyun-ok said... Until next time, for or with more information, contact us.
March 31, 2003
From the Ukrainian newspaper Segodnya of March 19: Kiev Region police in charge of combating economic crimes in Chernobyl's exclusion zone are working on a case that may cause a scandal...'We have had sporadic reports about caesium-contaminated cow carcasses allegedly found in areas bordering on the 30-km compulsory resettlement area,' Volodymyr Zubkov, an investigator of the economic crime directorate said. 'Badly strapped for cash, squatters sold cattle for under 1,000 hryvnyas about 190 dollars per head, half as much as the prices charged on the "mainland". Fattening would involve extra costs and lower profits. People are keen at math in this day and age only when it comes to counting the contents of their own purse. The meat was processed at a factory supplying a wide range of products to shops and supermarkets in Kiev and Bila Tserkva Kiev Region . The cows and bulls saved from slaughter are now gaining fat in a village in Makarivskyy District. They have undergone contamination tests to show a level of 130-190 Bq per kg of live weight. The concentration of radionuclides in meat obtained from such animals was far beyond permissible limits. Industrial processing multiplies the danger. Produce from such meat is not edible. Criminal proceedings have been launched against the procuring company. Investigation is under way.'" Scary, ain't it? Typical, too... Click here for HSBC - Household wrap-up (for now).
March 24, 2003
Kenyan update: last week, more than 2,500 squatters stormed a meeting and pulled out three MPs to help them secure the release of their colleagues arrested at the weekend. Mr Joe Khamisi (Bahari), Mr Morris Dzoro (Kaloleni) and Mr Joseph Kahindi Kingi (Ganze) were pulled out of a Kilifi District Development Committee meeting at the local county council chambers by the irate villagers. The squatters in police custody were arrested on Saturday after invading the 2,700-acre land on the Mombasa-Malindi highway. They were taken to the Kilifi Resident Court cells yesterday. Attempts by their colleagues to storm the cells and set the suspects free were thwarted by heavily armed police who cordoned off the place. The MPs pleaded with the farmers to give them time to discuss the matter with the local security team. But the squatters could hear none of it and booed and heckled the leaders...
March 17, 2003
From an interview with the first chairman of Singapore's Housing and Development Board, Lim Kim San: The HDB's toughest sell was not acquisition of the land, but resettlement of the people evicted from that land. HDB officers often had to push people out of squatter homes they had lived in all their lives, to move them into newly-built, high-rise flats. He recalls that when HDB first relocated about 80 squatter families along Kim Seng Road to brand-new flats in nearby Queenstown, more than half the families moved back in less than six months.' Living in HDB flats, they had to budget for rent, electricity, light and water. As squatters, the rent was only $1 to $2 a month. They could use Stormking gas lamps, get water from a common standpipe for free, and supplement their income by rearing chicken and pigs,' notes Mr Lim....
March 10, 2003
From Korea: Private moneylenders will likely share client information soon. Currently, a major consortium comprised of 32 domestic and 15 Japanese private lenders has stored and swapped information on over 100,000 borrowers. They are now moving to expand the number of borrowers on their information-swapping list. Regulators expected their move to contribute to a reduction of the number of credit defaulters, but are worried over possible misuse of customer information, such as using the details to blackmail delinquent borrowers. ''Though their sharing of customer information may be helpful to the prevention of bad loans, there is a high possibility that some loan sharks will fraudulently use others' client information,'' an official of the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) said. According to the FSS, the five top private lenders in February were all based in Japan, and each of these lenders had extended credit of over 100 billion won ($83.3 billion) to customers. These five lenders, Happy Lady, Partner Credit, Progress, A&O International and Women Credit, were all found to have come under the same flagship company in Japan. An FSS official said the supervisory body is closely monitoring whether these private lenders are distorting income reports in an effort to reduce taxes. According to the official, quite a few companies among some 20,000-30,000 private lenders over the country, identified by the National Tax Service, were reluctant to register their businesses officially. Private moneylenders were required to register with the authorities concerned under a law on usury businesses by Jan. 26. But only two out of every 10 lenders have volunteered to have their business registered.
March 3, 2003
In Kenya, a Feb. 27 meeting of 21 members of Parliament at the Old Chambers of Parliament in Nairobi resulted in calls for the revival of collapsed industries in the Coast Province, including the Ramisi Sugar Factory, Kilifi Cashewnut Factory and Tiwi Bixa Factory. Bahari MP Joe Khamisi said, "It is regrettable that 40 years after Independence, 70 per cent of the local people are still squatters on their land." Dr Karuti Kanyinga, a senior research fellow at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Nairobi and an expert on land matters, points out that trust land has been individualized mostly by provincial administration officials who comprises Provincial Commissioners, respective "District Lords," that is, the District Commissioners and Land officers. "Provincial Commissioners and their fellow District Commissioners and land officers have been grabbing trust lands wherever they are stationed, converting them to be their own in total disregard of the people's right over their communal land," says Dr Kanyinga.
In other Kenyan news, ICP's Fair Finance Watch received the following last week:
Subj: Predatory lending in Kenya via takeover of Equator Bank
Date: 2/28/03 1:40:48 AM Eastern Standard Time
To: [ICP / Fair Finance Watch]
We refer to your email of 23 February 2003 addressed to our Mr. J.K. Murugu on the above subject. We appreciate the trouble you took to put the long dossier together and will take full cognizance of your warning about the practice of predatory lending....Thank you very much for your warning.
Patrick N. Ndwiga, Manager, Bank Supervision
CENTRAL BANK OF KENYA
You're welcome; more such warnings / alerts will be forthcoming. Until next time, for or with more information, contact us.
Click here for 2001-2/2003 Archive of ICP's Global Inner Cities Report
* * *
Inner City Press has launched this project, of and for Global Inner Cities. An incomplete roll call, or itinerary, begins to emerge, in concentric circles that soon run together:
Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. San Pedro Macoris, Dominican Republic. Cite Soleil, Haiti. The shadow towns of la frontera, from which profit is squeezed: Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo, Juarez, Tijuana, Mexicali. Mexico City, Tegucigalpa, Managua. Caracas, Medellin, Sao Paulo, Rio, Bueno Aires. Gaza and Belgrade. Karachi, Calcutta and New Delhi. Soweto and Nairobi. Manila, Jakarta and the capital of post-modernism and disparities of wealth, Hong Kong. Where tenements tilt precariously while the Internet flow, similar to the South Bronx of New York City.
Some common themes emerge. Environmental degradation. Land invasions, spontaneous settlements: homesteading, shantytowns, townships and favelas. The lack of access to credit for individuals, crushing debt on whole nations, Wall Street banks operating as predatory lenders.
Theorists can sketch abstract stages of development, but time has speeded up, and societies are segmented at different stages. England, Canada and South Africa are considering laws like the U.S. Community Reinvestment Act. Meanwhile the most affluent create their own banks, accessible only over the Internet. There is talk of eliminating FDIC insurance on bank deposits, and of signing treaties, like the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, that would outlaw U.S. consumer protection laws, as restraints on trade.
To say that excluded communities oppose globalization misses the point -- they are victims of globalization. But as the Luddites could not stop the factories, this process will not slow. Inner cities must work for accountability, alternative information flows, counter-technologies. Non-Governmental Organizations. Adapt, and make use, or be left further behind. Somehow to balance localism and an effective, outward-looking view. To make connections..
Click here for 2001-2/2003 Archive of ICP's Global Inner Cities Report
Click here to view ICP's Global Inner Cities Archive (2000)
Click here to view ICP's Global Inner Cities Archive (1999)
We welcome your comments, submission, contributions, or critiques. Contact us.
For other global institutions we cover (click to view): Citigroup J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. HSBC
The theoretical pioneer in this field to date: sociologist Manuel Castells. Beginning in 1983 with "The City and the Grassroots," up to his recent trilogy, "The Information Age" (click here for a positive review; click here for a more critical review), Castells has zeroed in on, and documented, exclusion, opposition to globalization, the decline of the nation-state. Nearing the end of his career, Castells' renown with only grow. Click here to view one of Castells' relatively few articles currently available on the Internet: "The Rise of the Fourth World."
Recent books: "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" by Thomas Friedman (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, April 1999). An unabashed proponent of globalization, but at least one also favoring a social safety net. Anecdotal but on point.
"Turbo-Capitalism: Winners and Losers in the Global Economy" by Edward Luttwaf (HarperCollins, 1999).
"Globalization: The Human Consequences by Zygmunt Bauman (Polity Press, U.K., 1998). Emphasizes the dichotomy between the mobile and the immobile, the second intriguingly defined as localities (workforces, cultures, communities) whose engagement is controlled by the elites speedy and weightless business network. Castells-ian, if thats a word yet.
One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism by William Greider (Touchstone, 1998). By the author of one of the better books on the Federal Reserve, Secrets of the Temple, this more recent book, now out in paperback, details the human costs, especially to workers, of globalization. Case in point: the 1993 fire at the Kader Industrial Toy Company in Bangkok, Thailand, which received little attention from the press, buyers, or boycotters. A good starting place, though the elites Economist calls it pop economics.
Jihad versus McWorld by Benjamin Barber (Ballantine Books, 1995). Title (almost) says it all - Jihad as fight for local dignity, often seen as nationalistic or tribalist. Question: who has connected multi-culturalism in the U.S. with more far-flung attempts to assert and defend local identities versus McWorld?
Some articles available on the Web:
Managing Social Transformations in Cities, c/o UNESCO
Article comparing Chicago and Sao Paulo c/o ubc.ca
Article on successful community activism in Brazil
Report on the Right to Housing c/o U.N. Commission on Human Rights
Border Crossings: NAFTA, Regulatory Restructuring, and the Politics of Place, by Ruth Buchanan. Abstract:
Professor Buchanan begins her paper by questioning whether recent economic and political shifts towards notions of "globalization" (e.g., the NAFTA) have failed to consider the politics or economics of change in particular places. Her prime example of a "place" where integration is illogically forced against a background of differentiation is the U.S.-Mexico border region. Through the scope of a "regulatory complex" (a complex of legal, institutional, regulatory, and social orderings), she departs from the common view of the NAFTA as a productive tool of North American integration, and instead views the NAFTA as exacerbating "differences between localities, industries, and labor markets." She argues that the debate over the NAFTA underemphasized its different local, sectoral, and regional impacts. In places such as the U.S.-Mexico border region, the various forces of labor, capital, and regulation interact in complex ways; the complexities (and realities) of these interactions were perhaps overlooked during the NAFTA debates. The author briefly examines this growing region, focusing primarily on the social and economic aspects of the maquiladora industry, including labor migration into the United States and the potential for increased migration because of the NAFTA. She concludes by arguing for a shift in perspective from the outdated, territorial concept of "borders" to the richer, more complex concept of "borderlands."
Homelessness and Urban Restructuring (with example of Berlin)
A few selected news sources:
Brownsville (TX) Herald
Buenos Aires (Argentina) Herald (in English)
China News Digest
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