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Author: Thomas Hezel – zazu.berlin
United States Visa Applications , Global Magnisky Act and Social Media Monitoring in Uganda
By Samuel Matsiko
On 27th August 2019,Ismail Ajjawi a palestinian student admitted to Harvard University was detained at Boston International Airport, denied entry into the United States and his visa was cancelled. According to a statement issued to the Harvard Crimson by Ismail Ajjawi the immigration officers deported him after they disapproved of his friends political comments on social media.
In the past few days, several ugandan officials including the permanent secretary to the judiciary Pius Bigirimana, deputy secretary general of the ruling National Resistance Movement party Richard Twondongo, National Resistance Movement deputy treasurer Keneth Omona, Spokesperson of the National Resistance Movement secretariat Rogers Mulindwwa, Army General Peter Elewulu and assistant inspector of police Asuman Mugenyi were denied US visas on allegations of corruption and human rights violations.
This comes weeks after the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned the former inspector general of the Uganda police force General Kale Kayihura under the Global Magnitsky Act.The Department also publicly designated his spouse, Angela Umurisa Gabuka, his daughter, Tesi Uwibambe, and his son, Kale Rudahigwa.
However, we need to look way beyond the allegations of corruption and human rights violations and look at the digital footprint of these individuals and their affiliates. What social media data did some of these individual submit during their visa applications? What is their social media inventory including that of their affiliates and superiors for the last five years? How is social media monitoring shaping domestic and foreign policy? Why we need to pay attention to social media monitoring by Governments.
The United States federal government agencies in particular the Department of Homeland Security and the Customs and Border Protection Agency have expanded their social media monitoring programs. At the beginning of June 2019 the United States State Department issued a social media policy for all visa applications. The policy requires all visa applicants to submit social media accounts they have used in the last five years including emails and accounts with end to end encrypted messaging applications like whatsapp and telegram.
Such social media account information would give the United States government access to photos, locations, dates of birth, IP addresses, religious opinions, political opinions and other personal data commonly shared on social media. This would probably make the United States the social media data capital of the world considering the millions of annual United States visa application
The United States Customs and Border Protection Agency uses social media monitoring software. The most notable software is dunami a product of a silicon valley company PATHAR linked to a CIA venture capital firm called In-Q-Tel. These digital tools were initially designed to determine networks of association and the potential of radicalisation on the war on terror. However the tools can also be used to collect data points on individuals for foreign policy interests .
American soft power is declining in a world where the global agenda is shaped by twitter feeds. Two years ago,President Donald Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, proclaimed a hard power budget that would have slashed funding for the State Department and the US Agency for International Development. Uganda is beginning to experience this american foreign policy hard power through the Global Magnisky Act. The United States to deny several senior ugandan government officials visas after years of mutual coperation is totally unprecedented. I may not have evidence to substantiate my arguments but the United States must have collected a treasure trove of data points on these individuals and their affiliates to have an evidence based reason to deny them visas.
Uganda with a social media tax regime is a very unique country when it comes to social media. Interesting social media cases include but not limited to city lawyer Fred Muwema v Facebook, Havard Student Hillary Seguya’s suit against President Yoweri Museveni for blocking him on twitter and Dr. Stella Nyanzi’s conviction for cyber harassment.
This year the Uganda Communications Commission a regulatory body hired a social media monitoring personnel and issued a policy for social media influencers to register with the commission. A time has come for Ugandans and the world to pay critical attention to their digital footprint. Social media is influencing domestic and foreign policy way beyond our likes and shares.
Samuel Matsiko is a lawyer and research fellow at the Amsterdam Center for International Law
If you ask an artist, a painter, he will tell you immediately that sometimes you have to change perspective. Go far away from your painting, to see it as a distant structure or go very close to see the patterns of the brush in a spot of color on the canvas.
Looking at the development of Africa, you can change your perception and go deep down your own childhood, to the very beginning in the upbringing of you as a child. The upbringing of children in Africa also shapes the development of the continent, as was my upbringing in the late 60s and early 70s in Germany, which was very similar.
If there would be no cane – and all what it stands for – young Africans would be raised in a climate of personal self development, free will and even more important free speech. Just imagine that even in primary school and at home in the family young Africans would speak out freely and openly what they don’t like and what they think should be different in the world they are living in and be responsible for as adults. These young untamed beings would oppose every elderly, boss, superior or politician immediately when they see some wrong behaviour, be it corruption, unfair treatment of subordinates or just being to selfish to see others suffering.
The cane is also preventing that such a habit would flow into daily life, and therefor avoid the steam of anger to rise in the pot until it explodes with the loss of many lives.
At the “International Alumni Conference” in Cape Town (November 2017) I made many film interviews with attending alumni and key speakers of the conference. The conference theme was: “Tackling the root causes of displacement in Sub-Sahara Africa”. But of course the statements covered a wider range of individual perspectives.
Coming home with five hours of film footage, I realised it will be hard to find the “best” statements in each interview and put it down to a less than seven minutes final film. So I started to look for a thematic map in the answers of my interview partners and approached the footage from a qualitative interview perspective 1.
To my surprise I really found a clear structure to which, in a second step, I could edit the film footage:
With this approach I tried to turn the conference of scientists into a source for research about the respective subject. Seeing the alumni of the African Excellence Centres as a resource for data gathering, also closes the circle to a scientific project I worked on at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center in 1984. In the WZB study we looked at implications of psychological mindsets, related to the dying of the German forests, that at that time massively threatened our ecosystem. The question was, while anyone, from the simple citizen to a CEO in the chemical industry, knew that something has to be done, nothing happened2. A situation that seems to be very similar to the African struggles today. What are the motivations, assumptions, interpretations and cognitive subsumptions of the key influencers and also the normal citizens when it comes to solutions for problems in the African context? If it is the cane that keeps African countries from falling apart, then you will have a different approach towards solutions than thinking, that it is the politicians who have a good law but don’t implement it for very personal reasons.
For me, from a psychological perspective, one of the key statements in the interviews was the answer from Dr. Juliet Okoth who said, that it took her until her PhD to develop the freedom to feel that it is okay to have a different opinion than someone else and to express it freely and to reason about it with someone who might have another opinion (video minute 33). Having been raised by the cane left these long-lasting traces in her, she tells us. In another interview a master student told me, that even until today – having a stipend and being one of the heavily selected students of the African Excellence Programme – her father doesn’t talk to her, since she violated the tribal based family expectations for a girl. Many African countries are challenged by high teenage pregnancy rates. In Namibia a high rate of female university students get unwanted pregnant, despite family planning at the hospital being free and the hospital itself being in walking distance from the university. Tribal social rules, family expectations, the church and also the rude behaviour of the nurses in the hospital (assuming that every young girl who asks for family planning is a prostitute) creates a climate of pressure and extrusion.
The hippie generation in Europe had to fight the hardened expectations of their conservative narrow-minded parents. The older post Second World War generation in Europe had a longing for a small nicely ordered social context, but the Vietnam War, the longing for sexual freedom and social justice had been stronger and changed our society in Europe forever.
Now it seems to be the turn of the educated African middle class to create for their youngsters (and themselves), at least at home and in school, an atmosphere in which a free and creative personality can develop and flourish. Assuming that, if the inner attitude of people will change the rest will follow automatically.
Unfortunately there are still no iframes possible on this blog so you can only watch it on the zazu.berlin Website. Choose:
“Alumni Conference Cape Town 2017 – 1 hour – Interviews with Alumni”
This rough and not finalised edit of the footage was not ordered, paid or certificated by the DAAD, it represents my own view and necessity to contribute to the discussion.
Author: Thomas Hezel – zazu.berlin
Berlin, July 2018-2019
Aghamanoukjan A., Buber R., Meyer M. (2009) Qualitative Interviews. In: Buber R., Holzmüller H.H. (eds) Qualitative Marktforschung. Gabler Verlag, Wiesbaden Germany
Fietkau, Hans-Joachim (1984) Bedingungen ökologischen Handelns: Gesellschaftliche Aufgaben der Umweltpsychologie. Beltz Verlag, Weinheim Germany
Please note that there is an updated version of the blog post that shows how to do it:
from 18 to 21 September 2019
at Centre Africain d’Études Supérieures en Gestion (CESAG)
This year’s Annual Network Meeting is entitled “Networks for Sustainable Impacts on African Development” and shall reflect the importance of our internal and external networks to enhance capacities especially trough this networking, not only in higher education and research, but also with regards to policy advice, applied sciences and innovative technologies.
High ranked representatives from relevant sectors of politics, science and public will be invited to the meeting, to provide a platform for discussions and strengthening ties among the network. With a view to international cooperation activities in higher education and research, we also seek to create links with corresponding stakeholders and to identify and maximize synergies. Moreover, we will further elaborate our strategies on how to benefit from recent developments in the context of digitalization, while considering local circumstances of sub Saharan African realities at the same time.
This year´s network meeting will kindly be hosted by the West-African-German Centre of Excellence for Local Governance in Africa (CEGLA). The official opening of CEGLA will be part of the Network Meeting. The inauguration ceremony will take place on 18th September 2019 and will be hosted by CESAG.
Le programme Africain Excellence du DAAD à travers le Centre d’Excellence de Gouvernance Locale en Afrique (CEGLA) finance 4 bourses de doctorat pour des chercheurs souhaitant mener des recherches sur les questions relatives à la décentralisation ou à la gouvernance locale dans les universités suivantes :
Academic Persecution: Independent International Crime or Subject to a Connection Requirement?
Around the world today, Turkey, Hungary , China, Syria, Iran & Uganda, scholars and academics are attacked because of their words, ideas and their place in society. Those seeking power and control work to limit access to information and new ideas by targeting scholars, restricting academic freedom and repressing research, publication, teaching and learning.
Scholars ask difficult questions and that can be threatening to authorities whose power depends on controlling information and what people think. When academics are silenced or subjected to self censorship their communities are disadvantaged. Every year thousands of academics across the world are harassed, censored tortured and killed. The persecution of academics has occurred repeatedly in the course of human civilization. Notable examples are the migration of the Greek scholars from Constantinople to Italy, the expulsion of the Huguenots from France , the intelligenzaktion of scientists and academics in occupied Poland and the arrest of Sudanese biology Professor Farouk Mohammed for teaching evolution.
On 2nd June 2019, I submitted an Article 15 communication to the Office of the Prosecutor(OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The communication calls upon the ICC to conduct a preliminary examination on persecution as a crime against humanity committed against scholars and academics in Uganda. However, the purpose of this article is not to discuss the merits of the communication but rather to moot the conversation on academic persecution and its place in international criminal law as an independent crime. Is persecution an independent international crime or does it require a connection element?
Article 7(1)(h) of ICC Statute ,Connection Requirement and Ambiguities
The crime of persecution has always been subject to debate and raises fundamental questions.
Is persecution an independent international crime ?
Does the crime of persecution require a connection element?
Article 7 of the ICC Statute in the verbatim states that a “crime against humanity” means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population,with knowledge of the attack The ICC statute further describes the crime of persecution in (Article7(1)h) :Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court. The statute goes on to provide that for the purposes of the above : Persecution means the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law by reason of the identity of the group or collectivity.
The ICC elements of crime provides the following constitutive elements for the crime of persecution including the mental element as follows:
The perpetrator severely deprived, contrary to international law, one or more persons of fundamental rights.
The perpetrator targeted such person or persons by reason of the identity of a group or collectivity or targeted the group or collectivity as such.
Such targeting was based on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in article 7, paragraph 3, of the Statute, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law.
The conduct was committed in CONNECTION with any act referred to in article 7, paragraph 1, of the Statute or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia(ICTY) has a measurable body of jurisprudence when it comes to the international crime of persecution. For example, out of the ninety (90) who to date have been convicted by the ICTY, forty(40) had been charged with the crime of persecution. It is important to note that the crime of persecution was hardly applied in international or national law before the start of the ICTY proceedings. The ICTY case law dealing with the crime of persecution is one of the most important contributions of the ICTY to international criminal law. This body of jurisprudence clearly rejects that the crime of persecution needs to be subject to a connection requirement. The (ICTY), in the Kupreškič case, affirmed that:The Trial Chamber rejects the notion that persecution must be linked to crimes found elsewhere in the Statute of the International Tribunal.
The other dilemma that has emerged is the problematic formulation by the International Law Commission (ILC) work on the proposed crimes against humanity convention. The ILC formulation provides for a rather troubling connection requirement for the crime of persecution with specificity to geneocide and war crimes. Article 3(1)(h) of the Draft ILC Articles reads as follows: Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or in connection with the crime of genocide or war crimes. The chairman of the ILC drafting committee Mr. Mathias Forteau stated in his report that the act of persecution defined in sub-paragraph (h) refers to any act “in connection with the crime of genocide or war crimes” while the ICC Statute refers to “any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court”.
I do argue that the use of the terms “in connection with” is vague, problematic and susceptible to many interpretations and misinterpretations. In sum these ambiguities trigger the need to moot a conversation on the international crime of persecution especially the persecution of scholars and academics and its place in international criminal law. Is it an independent international crime without a nexus to other crimes?If i were to give the text of the statute its ordinary meaning or interpretation, persecution as a crime against humanity is an independent international crime without the need for a connection requirement. To my knowledge the connection requirement has no basis in international law and was merely a juridictional filter by the drafters of the text.
Scholars like Professor Gerhard Werle in the second edition of his book principles of international criminal law explained that “The requirement of a connection was intended to take account of the concerns about the breadth of the crime of persecution. With this accessorial design, the ICC Statute lags behind customary international law, since the crime of persecution, like crimes against humanity, has developed into an independent crime”
Academics and scholars do belong to an identifiable group or collectively because of their scholarship. Perpetrators especially repressive and dictatorial regimes target such person or persons by reason of their identity as a group. The perpetrators often severely deprive, contrary to international law, one or more persons of fundamental rights. It is important to note that the crime of persecution as a crime against humanity is not about numbers, the text of the elements of crimes uses the word “person or persons”. In Turkey as of 2016 approximately 23,400 academics were persecuted by the Turkish authorities. In Uganda as of December 2018 Dr. Stella Nyanzi was arrested and 45 academics at Makerere university were sacked without due process. The appaling emergence of academic perseuction across the globe needs to be viewed from an international criminal justice persective.
In sum the travaux preparatoires among government delegates during the negotiations of the ICC Statute clearly illustrates that the connection requirement was simply a compromise clause and merely a jurisdictional filter. I do believe that the requirement of a connection to other crimes was simply used as jurisdictional filter considering the scope of persecution as an international crime. The unsettled field of international criminal law often tends to create new constituencies that ought to be subjected to further academic interrogation. The need to moot a conversation on academic persecution as an international crime is not only neccesary it is timely.
Samuel Matsiko is a research fellow at the Amsterdam Center for War Reparations.He is also an early-career investigator with the EU Cost Action“Justice360– Global Atrocity Justice Constellations” .
July 11, 2019.
Launch ceremony at the University for Development Studies in Wa, Ghana, with more than 100 high-ranking participants, students and researchers from six West African countries and Germany on June 26, 2019.
The West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation will address technological, socio-economic, socio-political, administrative and cultural aspects of sustainable rural transformation. It will do so by conducting interdisciplinary research and developing teaching programs. Research and teaching will bring produce the required knowledge and applicable technological solutions, especially in the fields of renewable energies and agricultural water management. In addition, locally adapted business models and administrative approaches will be generated.
Capacity building at the core
The basic component of the West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation is capacity building. Based on its long-lasting experience ZEF will be leading the collaboration with the University for Development Studies in Ghana and the University Abdou Moumouni in Niger. An additional partner, with whom ZEF has been running successfully Graduate Programs such as the Ghanaian German Center for Development Studies, the Institute for Statistical Social and Economic Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana provides additional expertise and staff capacity training for the other African partners. The project is funded by the German Federal Foreign Ministry through the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Overall funding for the period 2017-2021 is approximately two million Euro.
High-ranking launch event in Ghana
The Centre was official launched on June 26, 2019 by the Upper West Regional Minister, Dr Hafiz Bin Salih in the presence of the Vice Chancellor of the University for Development Studies in Ghana, Professor Gabriel Ayum Teye, and other distinguished guest such as the Head of Local Government Services, Dr. Nana Atto Arthur, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University Abdou Moumouni in Niger, Prof. Dr. Adamou Rabani, the country director of the DAAD, Lena Leumer, as well as the chairman and members of the university council of the University for Development Studies, as well as ZEF project leader Dr. Wolfram Laube. They were joined by more than 100 campus principals, deans, researchers, lecturers and students from Ghana, Niger, Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria, Liberia.
Strengthening African networks
Vice Chancellor of the University for Development Studies in Ghana, Professor Gabriel Ayum Teye explained that postgraduate training across the globe had undergone great transformation which required collaboration among the various institutions in order to provide excellent joint programs, supervision, research and teaching. He said that the West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation had begun to provide scholarships to a number of students within and outside the country to study at the university and had also broadened academic networks among the partners. This is leading to enhanced collaboration in research and academic exchange drawing on the expertise from of various partners for post-graduate teaching and the design of research projects.
Among the speakers were Dr. Derbile, Dean of the Faculty for Planning and Land Management at the University for Development Studies in Wa in Upper West Ghana, host of the opening ceremony and also an alumnus of ZEF’s PhD program, Dr. Wolfram Laube, project leader at ZEF and Prof. Susana Barrera, Director of the Institute for Environmental Studies at the Nacional University in Bogotá. All speakers expressed their enthusiasm about the opportunities for scientific collaboration across borders, language barriers and disciplines provided by this project. Lena Leumer, Director of the DAAD Information Centre in Accra, said in her speech how excited she was that the West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation was part of the DAAD-funded African Excellence Program (the the ZEF-led Ghanaian German Center for Development Studies was also part of the DAAD Excellence Program).
Dr. Michael Ayamga, first Alumnus of the ZEF-led Ghanaian German Center for Development Studies extended his thanks to the participants of whom many had travelled from far distances. Additionally, he reminded the audience of the importance of establishing enduring relations and networks to share experiences and knowledge for mutual benefit. The ceremony closed with the official commissioning of the West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation building on the campus of the University for Development Studies at Wa in Upper West Ghana. The campus is hosting lecture rooms, computer lab, as well as office space for students and lecturers.
First Summer School concluded
The launch ceremony also marked the completion of the first one-month Summer School of the West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation taking place from June 3 to June 30, 2019. The Summer School brought together 39 Students pursuing different master programs at the Faculty for Science and Technology at the University Abdou Moumouni in Niamey, Niger and the Faculties for Agribusiness and Communication Sciences at the University for Development Studies in Tamale (Upper East Ghana) and Wa. The participants of the Summer School were coming from six West African Countries (Ghana, Niger, Benin, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Liberia).
Written by Dr. Wolfram Laube and Alma van der Veen.
Du 27 au 29 novembre 2019 le colloque scientifique sur “La fonction publique territoriale – Dynamiques d’acteurs, enjeux et développement local” aura lieu à Niamey.
Veuillez trouver toutes les informations essentielles par rapport à l’appel à communication dans le document suivant:
Les propositions de communication sont attendues jusqu’au 15 juillet 2019 au secrétariat du comité scientifique du colloque.
THE EAST AND SOUTH AFRICAN-GERMAN CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE FOR EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH METHODOLOGIES AND MANAGEMENT (CERM-ESA) at Moi University announces up to
6 Masters Scholarships for our Master of Education in Research Programme,
funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) starting from the 1st of September 2019
and up to
2 PhD Scholarships in Sociology of Education funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) starting from the 1st of September, 2019