Archive | February 2nd, 2016

Latest corruption index does not reveal Britain’s real place in global crime wave

NOVANEWS
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By Graham Vanbergen 

Transparency International (TI) releases its latest report entitled the Corruption Perceptions Index and continues to find that corruption is rife globally and remains a blight around the world. Overall, two-thirds of the 168 countries on the 2015 index did not fair well.

Denmark took the top spot for the 2nd year running for least corrupt, with North Korea and Somalia the worst performers.

TI states on their website that the goals to aim at for a corruption free country has certain characteristics such as; “high levels of press freedom; access to budget information so the public knows where money comes from and how it is spent; high levels of integrity among people in power; and judiciaries that don’t differentiate between rich and poor, and that are truly independent from other parts of government. Conflict and war, poor governance, weak public institutions like police and the judiciary, and a lack of independence in the media characterise the lowest ranked countries.

Notably the five countries with the biggest declines in these characteristics in the past 4 years include Libya, Australia, Brazil, Spain and Turkey. The big improvers in its report include Greece, Senegal and surprisingly, the UK.

As it turns out sixty-eight per cent of countries worldwide have a serious corruption problem. Half of the G20 are among them. The G20 consists of the top 20 economies in the world but ranks the EU as one economy even though it is made up of 28 countries alone.

The research shows that half of all the 34 OECD countries are violating their international obligations to crack down on bribery by their companies abroad.

Britain has entered the top ten for the first time behind Denmark (1st), Finland, Sweden, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Singapore, Canada, Germany and Luxembourg. The US ranks 16th. In the EU, other countries not doing so well are; France which ranks 23rd, Spain 36th, Italy 61st and Bulgaria, the last of EU nations at 69th place.

The truth is that Britain has not done better, don’t forget this is an index of perception, not actual corruption.

In comments from TI, Britain was found to have conducted an “extraordinarily inept” review of freedom of information laws. The government’s review of the Freedom of Information Act threatens to further undermine trust in politicians and damage democracy. If ever there was a demonstration of the governments intention of transparency, look no further than Former home secretary Jack Straw, who previously stated he wants the act to be scrapped and rewritten, and Lord Carlisle who accused the Guardian of a “criminal act” in publishing the Snowden leaks, both are on the commission. TI fails to mention this.

Even TI’s own UK executive director Robert Barrington said there were “good reasons why people are sceptical about whether Britain really merits a top 10 ranking,” proving not even he believes this ranking.

He went further by highlighting; “overseas bribery by UK companies, the laundering of corrupt assets through the City, the lax regulation and lack of transparency in British-controlled tax havens, to say nothing of corruption scandals here in the UK,” and mentions the “dropping of significant proposals putting personal responsibility on bankers for money-laundering failings.” He continues with “The sequence of petty political scandals around lobbying, the revolving door and party funding discredits the UK in the eyes of the world and gives fuel to the critics who want to portray Mr Cameron’s agenda as nothing more than hypocritical and sanctimonious.”

Barrington is rightly angry.

The Independent reported in July that The City of London is the money-laundering centre of the world’s drug trade, according to an internationally acclaimed crime expert. In addition, every financial expert now agrees that due to lax financial laws by government, that the London property market is built largely on laundered money of crime from all over the world involving hidden tax havens, most of which are British.

In March last year, the Financial Conduct Authority (itself replacing the toothless Financial Services Authority that was funded by the very banks it was supposed to oversee) said that it would conduct a review on whether banking culture was changing after a slew of financial scandals that dogged the industry. Martin Wheatley, the CEO was looking into the rigging of bank lending rates amongst the many crimes perpetrated in The City of London. Chancellor George Osborne then sacked Wheatley as it was clear he was going to do his job and then just a few weeks ago had the review dropped after replacing Wheatley with a person ‘more agreeable’ to the banks. This was a cynical move by Osborne to protect the banking industry.

When it comes to press freedom Britain has no bragging rights. Just two years ago the British government’s draconian response to the Guardian’s reporting of Edward Snowden saw the UK drop five places in TI’s report. Shockingly, Britain languishes globally in 36th position behind countries such as Belize for press freedom, a country that is rife with lawlessness, corruption, suffers a lack of public, business and press freedom, is mired in accusations of labour abuse, crime and unemployment.

It doesn’t help that the Serious Fraud Squad who was investigating high-profile cross-border investigations into business practices at some of the UK’s biggest companies had their budget cut so deeply that the FT reported “The scale and pace of budget cuts inflicted on the SFO will make prosecuting its caseload impossible.” It must be clear by now that the government has an agenda to protect these serial corporate offenders.

David Cameron won praise in 2013 after announcing at the Open Government Partnership summit in London that the UK intended to require companies registered in the UK to reveal the identity of their real owners in public filings at Companies House. This was then heavily watered down after the Queen was warned that her British territories were now the world biggest tax havens, harbouring tens of trillions of illegally stashed cash and assets that was described as a “web of secrecy jurisdictions”.  The Tax Justice Network (TJN) said Britain now rules the world of tax havens.

Her Majesty’s British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies make up around 25 percent of the world’s tax havens which are now blacklisted by the European Commission and now ranked as the most important player in the financial secrecy world, hardly a shining example of integrity and morality.

And the extent of these crimes is almost boundless as TJN said “The victims of this secrecy include, among others, 2 billion Commonwealth citizens. A recent study of 33 African countries found that they lost over $1tr in capital flight since the 1970s, of which $640bn came from 16 Commonwealth countries. These losses dwarf the external debts of ‘just’ $190bn for the 33 countries.”

In the meantime, Suspicious Activity Reports dealt with by a British specialist police unit focusing on the proceeds of crime and corruption blocked just seven transactions in an entire year. Transparency International reported that the police unit during the previous year (2014) for seizing corrupt assets was “not fit for purpose”. Given the sheer scale of financial crimes and corruption taking place, this performance can only be seen as suspicious itself. In 2015, this police unit required emergency funding.

So widespread is corruption in Britain that Keith Bristow, director-general of the UK’s National Crime Agency, said in January that the scale of crime and it’s subsequent money laundering operations was “a strategic threat” to the country’s economy and reputation. “Many hundreds of billions of pounds of criminal money is almost certainly laundered through UK banks and their subsidiaries each year.” And yet the government facilitates it by actively doing nothing.

When it comes to conflict and war, Britain’s international performance is dire. Britain, as we now all know, was heavily involved in the fall and subsequent deaths of over a million innocent Iraqis. Its campaign in Libya has turned the wealthiest and healthiest African nation into a lawless cesspool ruled by terrorism and death. Syria is ongoing. This has manifested itself into a refugee crisis the likes of which has not been seen since the last world war and an escalation of terrorism continues.

The granting of licences by government for the sale of spying equipment and armaments to some of the most oppressive regimes in the world is another scandal that further destabilises world peace.

The Corruption Perception Index does not tackle the issues at hand. It confuses by focusing on pubic sector corruption, but private corporations are the worst offenders backed by significant government cooperation. Britain’s banking industry is not effectively cited even though it is mired in scandal, facilitates a huge international crime wave backed by money laundering services on an industrial scale along with the tax havens that supports it.

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Sepur Zarco Trial: Guatemala Women Seek Justice for Sex Slavery

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teleSUR

Fifteen Mayan women who were raped and forced to be sex slaves after their husbands were disappeared are demanding justice 30 years after the abuses.

Guatemala is about to launch a landmark trial against former military officers accused of committing sexual enslavement and forced disappearance during the most brutal years of the country’s 36-year civil war.

Here’s what you need to know about the historic trial that is scheduled to kick off Monday, Feb. 1.

1. Fifteen women were sexual and domestic slaves.

Guatemalan soldiers forcibly disappeared 15 men from an eastern Maya Q’eqchi’ village in 1982. It was one of the bloodiest years of Guatemala’s civil war, when dictator Efrain Rios Montt’s military regime was unleashing a scorched earth campaign targeting rural Mayans. After the army disappeared the men, they came back for their wives.

The women were raped and their belongings destroyed. They were taken captive and forced to live at the Sepur Zarco military base, where they were enslaved as domestic servants for the soldiers and systematically raped. The women were forced to labor in 12 hour “shifts,” an abhorrent system that lasted several months.

Though the enslaved shifts ended at the end of 1983, 11 of the 15 women were forced under military threat to stay at Sepur Zarco doing domestic chores for the soldiers for six years until the base closed in 1988. The other four women managed to flee to the mountains with their children where they endured painful hardship for years, including suffering the deaths of most of their children.

All of the women, now in their 70s and 80s, bear enormous physical and emotional trauma from the experience. They also faced stigma in their communities for the violence they endured, and did not share what had happened to them for 30 years, finally coming forward in 2011 to seek justice.

The trial accuses two defendants, former Sepur Zarco chief Esteelmer Reyes Giron and former regional military commissioner Heriberto Valdez Asij, of committing crimes against humanity, including sexual violence and sexual slavery, domestic violence, murder, and forced disappearance. They have been held in remand since 2014 awaiting the trial.

2. The Sepur Zarco case is an internationally historic trial.

The trial of two former military officers for crimes against humanity marks the first time in history that sexual slavery charges are prosecuted at the national level, in the country where the crimes were committed.

The more internationally high-profile case of sexual slavery during armed conflict, the case of Japan’s “comfort women,” was rejected by a Japanese court. Former comfort women subjected to sexual slavery during World War II put Japan on trial in a mock war crimes tribunal in Tokyo in 2000, but the case never officially went to court in the country.

Guatemala’s Sepur Zarco trial could set a new precedent for prosecuting sexual violence in the context of armed conflict, which rights defenders say is one of the most widespread yet under-recognized violations of human rights.

3. It is also a historic trial for Guatemala.

The Sepur Zarco trial marks the first that that Guatemala will consider a sexual violence case as an international crime, which could set a precedent for future trials.

The crime of sexual slavery has been recognized internationally since the early 1900s, when the 1907 Hague Convention prohibited rape and the use of prisoners of war as slaves. The 1926 Slavery Convention elaborated anti-slavery laws with a definition that applies to sexual slavery. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which came into force in 2002, specifically criminalized sexual slavery.

A standing definition of sexual slavery was detailed in the 1998 U.N. Special Rapporteur’s final report on contemporary forms of slavery, “Systematic Rape, Sexual Slavery, and Slavery-Like Practices During Armed Conflict,” also known as the McDougall Report.

The report defined sexual slavery as “the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised, including sexual access through rape or other forms of sexual violence.” More simply put, the McDougall report explained: “Slavery, when combined with sexual violence, constitutes sexual slavery.”

The trial will consider the crimes committed as war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Rape was widespread during the civil war. The Sepur Zarco case has the potential to be a precedent-setting trial to break the cycle of impunity for sexual violence in Guatemala.

4. Rape was a concerted strategy in the civil war.

In 1999, three years after the peace accords were signed in Guatemala, the U.N.-backed Truth Commission investigating civil war atrocities found that rape was systematic and widespread during the conflict. According to the commission, “the rape of women, during torture or before being murdered, was a common practice aimed at destroying one of the most intimate and vulnerable aspects of the individual’s dignity.”

The Truth Commission also found that violence against women, include rape, torture, and murder, was often motivated by their political affiliations, social participation, and ideals, and often combined with other human rights abuses. The report attributed 93 percent of all recorded human rights violations to the state, 85 percent for which the army was responsible.

Despite the countless cases of sexual violence during the civil war, the Sepur Zarco case is the only one that has gone to trial in the country where impunity for war crimes has long remained the norm.

According to the Guatemalan organization Women Transforming the World, sexual violence continues to be inflicted on women by state security forces in conjunction with other human rights violations, such as forced displacement.

5. The victims in Sepur Zarco were targeted for defending their land.

Maya Q’eqchi’ communities in Guatemala have long suffered deep inequality, poverty, and precarious access to land. Before they were disappeared in 1982, the 15 husbands of the victims in the Sepur Zarco case were fighting for legal titles to defend the land they had lived and worked on for years. Because they were standing up for their land rights, they were despised by local large landowners, labeled as leftist insurgents, and made into targets to be silenced.

Land conflicts and unequal ownership are central to the history of Guatemala’s civil war. In 1954, a CIA-backed coup ousted the democratically elected president and reversed the fledgling agrarian reform program that aimed to expropriate idle lands from elite landowners and redistribute land to campesinos. The coup not only triggered more than three decades of civil war, but also helped to lock in one of the most unequal land distribution patterns in Latin America.

Rios Montt’s U.S.-backed bloodshed was nominally a campaign to crush leftist guerrilla uprisings in Guatemala, but in practice many poor Mayan campesinos were targeted as “insurgents” as the military protected the interests of elite landowners.

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AYESHA GADDAFI AS A NEW LEADER OF RESISTANCE

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AYESHA GADDAFI AS A NEW LEADER OF RESISTANCE AGAINST NATO AND THE LIBYAN TERRORISTS
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POSTED BY: INSPIRE TO CHANGE WORLD FEBRUARY 2, 2016

By Maja Orlic

She is back! The daughter of Muammar Gaddafi will lead the resistance against NATO and the other Libyan terrorists. Ayesha stated that she is now the leader of the resistance and she is about to create a new secret government.

Ayesha Gaddafi become the new leader of the resistance at a crucial moment for the country – on the eve of the new NATO intervention. As a Lieutenant General of the Libyan army she swore loyalty to order her legendary father and urged Libyans to wake up in order to win, to be successful and to “return the Jamahiriya government”.

Ayesha Gaddafi guarantees that in the next few months she will form a “secret government” of “famous Libyans,” who are loyal to Gaddafi and that will act as a mediator in Libya and abroad. Analyzing the current situation she criticized the former army because of “a crazy mix of anarchists” who decided to wage war on a principle “I fight for whoever pays me more.”

Gaddafi´s daughter accused them of using a green flag of Jamahiriya and recruiting their supporters, as well as strengthening tribal governments, under whose shadow they joined the alliance with the Tuareg and Toubou Islamists. She accused the Tuareg and Toubou tribes of separatism and conspiracy with the government in Tobruk.

Ayesha Gaddafi called on the soldiers of the Libyan armed forces to give her the oath as a Supreme Commander, in order to restore the state.

“My name gives me a duty and a right to be at the forefront of this battle.”, said a brave woman who during the war lost her husband and two children. Today she is ready to become a “symbol of the nation” and alongside a portrait of Gaddafi to become a “symbol of the mission to restore national unity.” Speaking of the Libyans as for her children, she compared herself to a mother who will fight for their children.

She also talked about about al-Qaeda terrorists, who overthrew her father Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Ayesha Gaddafi prophetically said that their destruction and death have a breath of madness and that it will fall apart and disappear. She wrote that “We are ready for a deadly battle” in which the terrorists will face one nation. In conclusion, she promised to sign s new agreement.

According to rumors, the printed version of this call is secretly being distributed and shared in the main cities of Libya – Tripoli and Tobruk. And according to given information we can also expect her speech on local television soon.

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