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Modern day slavery: Participants seeks media support on regular sensitisation

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Participants at the just concluded Institute of Social Work of Nigeria (ISOWN) 10th Annual Conference, in Abuja, have called for media support on regular reportage of cases of modern day slavery.

In a communiqué issued on Friday, the participants said that it was important for media organisations to increase the awareness of modern slavery in order to curtail the menace.

The communique was signed by Dr Ottun Kemi, the council’s secretary.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the conference had as theme, “Repositioning Social Work Practice for National Development.”

It also had “Modern-day slavery, rehabilitation and reintegration, community development, boarder control, access to legal aid service as well as social welfare interventions’’ as sub-themes.

The participants said such awareness would help combat human trafficking and forced labour, as well as addressing its root cause.

“This awareness is critical, especially for those in the rural communities.

“Human trafficking is such a dynamic industry of exploitation that law must carefully address and stiffer penalties meted on perpetrators.

“We also resolved that during engagements with the vulnerable, communicating key messages using simple language that best suit the person should be made paramount.

“It is also important that sister agencies collaborate to curb trafficking crimes in Nigeria, as this fight cannot be left in the hands of NAPTIP only.

“There is also a need for social workers to conduct effective inquiries into human trafficking and forced labour issues before attempting to address issues.

“As they may not necessarily be slavery in the real sense when family is the point of focus,” participants said.

Participants also stressed that victims of modern slavery should be treated victims and not criminals.

They also called on the Nigerian Bar Association to support the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria in providing free legal services to victims who need it.

MRO/SH

edited by Sadiya Hamza

Foreign

Finland to modernize northwestern railways to streamline Arctic-Asia goods transport

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Finnish Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka on Wednesday said that modernizing a section of railway in northwestern Finland will facilitate the transport of goods from the Arctic coast to Asia.

His remarks came one day after the Finnish government reconfirmed its commitment to modernize the cross-border rail connection to neighboring Sweden.

Speaking at a press conference, Harakka said that the Europe-Asia connection would be created by bridging the current gap.

“I am sure the modernization of the rail connection will offer major possibilities, when ready, for transportation to and from the Arctic coast,” Harakka said.

He pointed out that there are already container services on the railway that extends from Finland via Kazakhstan to China.

He noted that with the present technology, even cold storage products can be shipped by rail for long distances, and, if the Arctic route could be created, it can be used, for example, for the transport of Norwegian fish to the Chinese market.

Currently, the last 20 kilometers of the cross-border rails on the Finnish side are still not electrified. Harakka said the construction could begin in 2021.

The modernization program and a new cross-border bridge would cost an estimated 40 million euros (45 million U.S. dollars).

(XINHUA)

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WaterAid, others donate ultra modern hand wash facility to Enugu Isolation center

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An NGO, WaterAid, Nigeria, South Sahara Social Development (SSDO), in collaboration with Enugu State Ministry of Water Resources has equipped the state isolation centers with hand washing facilities.

The State Commissioner for Health, Dr Emmanuel Obi while inaugurating the hand washing project on Thursday at the Ultra – modern Diagnostic Center, Enugu (State Isolation Centre) appreciated the gesture.

Obi said that the health sector could not do without water hence the collaboration between Water Resources and health Ministries was very key at this time.

”As we all know, COVID-19 pandemic that we are going through has a lot of issues around water as one of the biggest for its prevention.

”To prevent the spread, we need to wash our hands for 20 seconds under clean running water.

SSDO came up to collaborate with WaterAid in conjunction with the state Ministry for Water Resources to provide washing facilities at the isolation centers and public places,” he said.

Obi said the project was a big contribution to prevention of the pandemic.

”We appreciated it and we call on other organizations to emulate this kind of gesture as nothing given is too big in fighting this pandemic,” he said

The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Water Resources, Mr Anthony Onyia, said that the ultra modern hand washing facility had been installed in the isolation centers.

Onyia said similar equipment were also kept at hospitals and major markets as directed by the Governor to prevent further spread of the pandemic.

”We have the hand washing facility at the Enugu Ultra Modern Diagnostic Centre, Park Lane Hospital, Nsukka isolation centre and Ogbete main market.

”Others are installed at the New market, Garki market, Ogige market at Nsukka, Orie orba market,  9th mile and Nsukka General Hospital.

”I cannot thank WaterAid, Nigeria, SSDO enough for this kind gesture they showed to the state, ” he said.

According to him, the state government has been fighting tirelessly to contain the spread of the pandemic by providing and equipping the isolation centres.

Earlier, Dr Stanley Ilechukwu, the SSDO director, noted that they were happy to be witnessing another intervention from WaterAid in partnership with SSDO and Enugu State Ministry for Water Resources.

”The purpose of this hand washing facility is to help stop the spread of Coronavirus that have been ravaging the country and the World at large.

”We have implemented many projects since our inception in 2001 and this projects includes, Educational projects, Orphans and Vulnerable projects in Enugu State.

SSDO is glad to partner with WaterAid today to commission this laudable project here and other location in the three senatorial zones of the state, ” he said.

The coordinator of the isolation centre, Mr Chikezie Obasi, thanked the donors for coming to their aid.

”We know that hand washing is the first thing that should be observed whenever you come into an environment at this pandemic era,” he said.

Chikezie said that the staff would not forget this gesture and promised that the facility would be judiciously put to use and maintained.

Edited By: Modupe Adeloye/Maureen Atuonwu (NAN)

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Xinhua Special: China adopts world’s first modern-day civil code

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Chinese lawmakers Thursday voted to adopt the country’s long-expected Civil Code at the third session of the 13th National People‘s Congress (NPC), the top legislature.

The law will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

The closing meeting of third session of the 13th National People‘s Congress (NPC) is held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, May 28, 2020. (Xinhua/Ding Haitao)

The closing meeting of third session of the 13th National People‘s Congress (NPC) is held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, May 28, 2020. (Xinhua/Ding Haitao)

The Civil Code is the first law to carry the title ‘code’ for the People’s Republic of China. It lays down the fundamental principles and regulations regarding civil activities and relations. It reflects the will of the people and protect their rights and interests,” said Wang Liming, executive vice president of Renmin University of China and a law professor.

China‘s Civil Code will be the latest civil code born in the 21st century,” said Peng Chengxin, professor and vice dean of Koguan School of Law of Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

China had made four attempts to compile a civil code since 1949 only to stop for various reasons.

Nonetheless, China enacted the General Principles of Civil Law in 1986, and laws covering areas such as property, tort liability, contract, marriage, and inheritance continued to be added or updated. These laid the groundwork for a civil code.

Picture demonstrates a brief compilation process of China‘s draft civil code. (Xinhua/Gao Shan)

Picture demonstrates a brief compilation process of China‘s draft civil code. (Xinhua/Gao Shan)

The decision to compile a civil code was announced in October 2014, and the legislative process started in June 2016.

March 2017 saw the General Provisions of the Civil Law adopted.

By August 2018, six draft parts were ready for review by lawmakers.

Fast-forward to December 2019, following multiple reviews, public solicitations, other appraisal activities, and numerous revisions, a complete 84-chapter draft civil code was unveiled.

According to official statistics, in the course of compiling the draft civil code, 1.02 million pieces of advice had been solicited from around 425,000 people.

“Since we entered the new era, people’s incomes and living standards have seen remarkable improvements. Subsequently, people started to pursue a more vibrant spiritual life and developed higher demand for democracy, the rule of law, fairness, justice, and protection of private property and personal dignity,” said Wang Liming when explaining why China needs a civil code.

In fact, China already has a slew of stand-alone civil laws and regulations in place. But these laws, introduced at different times, sometimes overlap, and occasionally even contradict each other.

“The reason for that is we didn’t have a unified civil code. If we have one, it would be the first and overarching law that lawyers and judges could refer to when resolving civil cases,” said Wang Liming. “So this Civil Code will significantly help judges use law accurately, avoiding contradicting verdicts in similar cases.”

Wang Liming, executive vice president of Renmin University of China and a law professor, is interviewed by Xinhua in Beijing, capital of China, on May 22, 2020. (Xinhua/Tian Chenxu)

Wang Liming, executive vice president of Renmin University of China and a law professor, is interviewed by Xinhua in Beijing, capital of China, on May 22, 2020. (Xinhua/Tian Chenxu)

Li Jing, an NPC deputy and president of the Tianjin High People‘s Court said that the Civil Code will result in a more comprehensive, authoritative and effective rule for judgment, and more sufficient legal bases for courts and judges.

The Civil Code consists of the general provisions, the supplementary provisions, and six parts on property, contracts, personality rights, marriage and family, inheritance, and tort liability. It will serve as a systematic fundamental law in the civil and commercial fields.

It stipulates that all natural persons are equally entitled to civil rights, with unborn children entitled to inheritance and gifts.

It has a section regarding personality rights, which include rights to life, body, health, name, portrait, reputation, honor, privacy, and others.

It also protects information, email addresses and location data.

It states that the property rights of individuals are equally safeguarded to those of the State and collective, and online virtual assets are protected, too.

The code includes a provision requiring the adoption of appropriate measures to prevent sexual harassment in workplace, schools, and other institutions.

Minors who are victims of sexual abuse or assault can still claim through legal channels after they turn 18.

The code is also “green”, with those who harm others due to pollution or environmental damage set to bear tort liability.

The 1,260-article Civil Code also covers rental tenants’ rights, intellectual property protection, property inheritance, regulations on scientific studies related to human genes or embryos, and new rules on handling cyberspace torts, and many more.

Law experts say that the Civil Code highlights the respect and protection of individual’s freedom, dignity, interests and rights. It also responds to new changes and new problems in the modern society.

Li Shigang, professor and vice dean of Fudan University law school, is interviewed by Xinhua in Shanghai, east China, on May 21, 2020. (Xinhua/Sun Qing)

Li Shigang, professor and vice dean of Fudan University law school, is interviewed by Xinhua in Shanghai, east China, on May 21, 2020. (Xinhua/Sun Qing)

“In response to big data and other internet advances, the Civil Code includes new regulations regarding the protection of privacy and personal information. This was an issue that people deeply cared about,” said Li Shigang, professor and vice dean of Fudan University law school.

Peng Chengxin, professor and vice dean of Koguan School of Law of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, is interviewed by Xinhua in Shanghai, east China, on May 20, 2020. (Xinhua/Sun Qing)

Peng Chengxin, professor and vice dean of Koguan School of Law of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, is interviewed by Xinhua in Shanghai, east China, on May 20, 2020. (Xinhua/Sun Qing)

“Placing personality rights as a separate component to highlight the importance of personal freedom and dignity is original and extremely important,” said Peng Chengxin. “Another crucial point is that the value of saving natural resources and protecting the environment is prominent throughout the code.”

According to law professors, this legislation is much more than just a Chinese law for Chinese people.

Ning Hongli, professor at school of law at University of International Business and Economics, is interviewed by Xinhua in Beijing, capital of China, on May 22, 2020. (Xinhua/Tian Chenxu)

Ning Hongli, professor at school of law at University of International Business and Economics, is interviewed by Xinhua in Beijing, capital of China, on May 22, 2020. (Xinhua/Tian Chenxu)

China‘s Civil Code will have a significant impact on foreigners and foreign companies who do business here in China. The law will remarkably improve China‘s business environment, which is an excellent sign,” said Ning Hongli, professor at school of law at University of International Business and Economics.

The Civil Code demonstrates China‘s confidence and resolution to carry out the rule of law further. Foreign enterprises can come to China with their minds at ease as all their rights and interests will be fully protected by law,” said Peng Chengxin.

Whether it’s the right of unborn children or the legality of AI technology, China‘s Civil Code will affect the rights and interests of its people, and all those that call China home.

It also marks a new milestone: the completion of another stage in the modernization of China‘s governance system.

(XINHUA)

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Anniversary: Gov. Sule inaugurates modern market, school in Nasarawa

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Gov. Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State has inaugurated a modern market and a  school in his town as part of activities to mark one year of his administration in office.

 

The governor performed the inauguration on Tuesday in Gudi community of Akwanga Local Government Area (LGA) of the state.

 

He said  that the projects were aimed at boosting economic and educational activities in the area.

 

He said:  “Today is a special day in my life because I am commissioning these two projects in my own town of Gudi.

 

“This market has been here even before we were born without structures, henceforth, the story will change with the commissioning today.”

 

He assured the people of the state that the government would ensure that shops were allocated to traders and not  to middlemen.

 

The governor  also said that the inauguration of a structure at Government Secondary School, Gudi was a dream come true.

 

He explained that he had made efforts in the past to lobby for additional structures and constructing the perimeter fence of  the school but to not avail.

 

“I have lobbied during the previous administrations in the state to build more structures and  the perimeter fence in the school, but it was not possible.

 

“God has destined that I will be a governor of the state and it is under me that the school will get more structures,” the governor added.

 

He,  therefore, assured the people of the state  that the government would continue to prioritise their welfare and security.

 

Earlier, Mr Samuel Meshi, the Chairman of Akwanga Local Government Area,  lauded the governor for his developmental strides in the area.

 

He  promised the supports of the people of the area for the present  administration to succeed.

 

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Peter Dada (NAN)

 

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Gov. Sule inspects Karu Modern Bus Terminal, tasks contractor on pace of work

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Gov. Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State on Monday inspected the ultra-modern Karu Bus Terminal, as part of activities to mark his one year in office.

Sule, who was accompanied by his Deputy, Dr Emmanuel Akabe and other top government functionaries, expressed satisfaction with the quality of work done so far on the project.

Sule, however, charged the contractor to increase the pace of work, to regain the lost ground due to the COVID-19 lockdown in the state.

“The bus terminal building is a prime project for this administration and it is located in a very key area.

“Now, what we have to do is to expedite action to ensure that we regain the lost ground due to COVID-19 lockdown.

“I am more interested in the quality of work at the moment; you know we have set certain standard and I strongly believe that the project is meeting our set standard.

“It is a major project for us, that is the reason we are doing the best we can to ensure that it meets the set standard and quality,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Shehu Turku of Canonic Associates, the consultancy firm handling the project, said that the bus terminal was designed and built with 900-vehicle parking capacity.

Turku stated that the project was done 30 per cent, promising to complete it within the one year stipulated time.

“We are given one year to complete and deliver this project; if there is no another lockdown, we should be able to complete it,” he said.

Edited By: Folorunso Poroye/Felix Ajide (NAN)

 

 

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Foreign

Spotlight: Without improved coronavirus response by gov’t, U.S. to endure “darkest winter in modern history,” whistleblower warns

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A whistleblower from the U.S. government criticized on Thursday the White House’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, warning that the nation could endure the “darkest winter in modern history” if it fails to be more prepared for a resurgence of the virus.

Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), told a House hearing that his warning about the nation’s shortages of masks and other personal protective equipment were ignored multiple times by top officials.

“I was met with indifference, saying they were either too busy, they didn’t have a plan, they didn’t know who was responsible for procuring those,” Bright said in his testimony, adding that there were “a number of excuses, but never any action.”

In a whistleblower complaint filed last week, Bright alleged he was removed in April as the BARDA director, a post key to vaccine development, for opposing the broad use of chloroquine, a drug frequently touted by the White House as a coronavirus treatment.

Speaking to lawmakers on Thursday, Bright, who is working at the National Institutes of Health with a narrower role, said that there wasn’t sufficient data supporting the drug and that he’s concerned about its side effects.

“When I spoke with the government and shared my concerns for the American public, that, I believe, was the straw that broke the camel’s back and escalated my removal,” he said, urging the leadership to allow scientists to “speak without fear of retribution.”

“We need to be truthful with the American people. Americans deserve the truth. The truth must be based on science,” the official said. “We have the world‘s greatest scientists. Let us lead. Let us speak without fear of retribution. We must listen. Each of us can and must do our part now.”

Before leaving the White House for an event in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Trump told reporters that he has watched some of Bright’s testimony. “To me he is nothing more than a really unhappy disgruntled person,” he said.

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, chair of the health subcommittee of the House’s Committee on Energy and Commerce, called the White House’s response an “inept, ineffective and extremely late effort” during Thursday’s hearing.

More than 1.41 million people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus with more than 85,000 deaths as of Thursday afternoon, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University.

For his part, Congressman Michael Burgess, the Republican ranking member of the House’s health subcommittee, acknowledged that Bright “raised serious allegations” and that “they deserve investigation.”

However, Burgess called Bright’s hearing “premature” and said it was a “disservice” to investigations into Bright’s complaint.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which is investigating Bright’s complaint, said on Thursday that it has found a “substantial likelihood of wrongdoing” in the removal of the official. It also said that is not a final determination, while asking the HHS to investigate the matter.

An immunologist and vaccine specialist, Bright said on Thursday that a timeline of 12 to 18 months for the creation of a vaccine against the coronavirus is “an aggressive schedule.”

“A lot of optimism is swirling around a 12- to 18-month time frame,” Bright told a group of U.S. lawmakers in a hearing. “If everything goes perfectly — we’ve never seen everything go perfectly.”

“My concern is if we rush too quickly and consider cutting out critical steps, we may not have a full assessment of the safety of that vaccine, so it’s still going to take some time,” he added.

In addition, Bright pointed out that no company can produce enough doses of vaccine for the United States or for the world at large.

“We need to have a strategy and plan in place now to make sure that we can not only fill that vaccine, make it, distribute it, administer it in a fair and equitable plan,” he said. “We don’t have that yet and it is a significant concern.”

Bright’s remarks came two days after Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a leading expert of the White House coronavirus task force, testified before a Senate panel via teleconference, along with several other health officials.

Fauci warned in his testimony on Tuesday that there could be more infections and deaths if there is not an “adequate” response by the United States in the fall.

“We run the risk of having a resurgence. I would hope by that point in time in the fall that we have more than enough to respond adequately, but if we don’t, there will be problem,” he said.

Bright made similar assessment on Thursday.

“If we fail to improve our response now, based on science, I fear the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged. There will be likely a resurgence of COVID-19 this fall that will be greatly compounded by the challenges of seasonal influenza,” he said. “Without better planning, 2020 could be the darkest winter in modern history.”

(XINHUA)

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Whistleblower warns U.S. to endure “darkest winter in modern history” without better planning against COVID-19

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Rick Bright, a U.S. health official recently ousted from a post key to developing vaccines, on Thursday warned that the United States could endure the “darkest winter in modern history” if it fails to be more prepared for a resurgence of the coronavirus, or COVID-19.

“Our window of opportunity is closing. If we fail to improve our response now, based on science, I fear the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged. There will be likely a resurgence of Covid-19 this fall that will be greatly compounded by the challenges of seasonal influenza,” Bright told U.S. lawmakers in a hearing. “Without better planning, 2020 could be darkest winter in modern history.”

The hearing came after Bright filed a whistleblower complaint last week alleging he was removed in April as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) for opposing the broad use of a drug frequently touted by the White House as a coronavirus treatment.

The official, who is working at the National Institutes of Health with a narrower role, said on Thursday that scientists must be allowed to “speak without fear of retribution.”

“We need to be truthful with the American people. Americans deserve the truth. The truth must be based on science,” he said. “We have the world‘s greatest scientists. Let us lead. Let us speak without fear of retribution. We must listen. Each of us can and must do our part now.”

(XINHUA)

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Support, infrastructure, modernization in focus as Latvia battles against pandemic: PM

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Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said on Wednesday that his government has resolved to focus on three main areas — support, infrastructure and modernization — in the nation’s battle against the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

As for support, the government is working on life-long learning and re-training programs for those who loss their jobs in the pandemic, he said.

On infrastructure, Karins said that his cabinet has already approved a 75-million-euro (81 million U.S. dollars) allocation for road construction and maintenance this year, a measure intended to help fuel economic activity in the Baltic country.

The government is also looking at modernization measures that would help restructure the economy, which includes support for scientific research, the prime minister told reporters following a meeting with Governor Martins Kazaks of the Bank of Latvia.

Kazaks said that the government has chosen a right approach to tackling the economic crisis brought about by the coronavirus.

He stressed four main principles that the government should adhere to when working on economic support measures — consistent and phased decisions, adequate distribution of risks between the public and private sector, common good, and sustainable spending.

The governor also said that the financial resources Latvia has at its disposal to support the economy are sufficient but not perpetual.

(XINHUA)

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Agriculture

Ogbaru council chairman enlightens peasant farmers on modern fish production methods

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Mr Arinze Awogu, the Transition Chairman of Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra, has called on the people of the area to explore modern methods of fish production to improve their yield and economic rewards.

Awogu made the call when he visited Akpanam in Ossomala Town, a major fish producing community on the River Niger, as part of his COVID-19 awareness activities on Thursday.

Ogbaru is an agrarian riverine council area with all its 16 communities on the bank of the River Niger.

The council chairman said fish was a healthy and economical source of animal protein for people of all ages and would continue to be in high demand.

He urged the people to take advantage of the water resource to improve on their production.

Awogu lauded the people for their hard work, saying that Ogbaru could help mitigate the food crisis that might ensue after the Coronavirus lockdown, if the farmers got the needed support.

He said it had become imperative to encourage technology-supported fish production in Ogbaru as the poor farmers who relied on natural sources were becoming vulnerable due to depleting stock.

“There is no gain re-echoing the fact that Ogbaru Local Government Area is the fish net of Anambra State.

“From Odekpe to Ohita, to Atani and down to Ogwu-Ikpele, fish is God’s own gift to us, it is also a source of income.

“Today, fish provides Ogbaru people with most of their daily animal protein as it provides nutrients and micronutrients that are essential to cognitive and physical development, especially in children, and is an important part of a healthy diet.

“I visited Akpanam in Ossomala, a fish hub on the island, to encourage the farmers and explore the possibilities of introducing improved fishing technology that will make fishing in natural waters such as they have in Ogbaru less difficult and with much yield.

“I also informed them about COVID-19 and the steps taken by Gov. Willie Obiano to mitigate the effect of the pandemic and the need for them to stay safe even on the island,” he said.

Awogu decried the lack of processing and storage facilities, which, he said, had led to huge economic loss and called on the state government and private investors to increase the value chain by acting as off-takers.

He called on Anambra residents and other Nigerians to increase their fish intake as it could help boost their immunity and enhance their wellbeing.

“Regrettably, most agricultural produce including crop and aquatic life from Ogbaru perish in the field as a result of lack of off-takers, storage facilities and access roads.

“I want to encourage more consumption of fish because fish is a high-protein, low-fat food that provides a range of health benefits.

“White-fleshed fish variety in particular, is lower in fat than any other source of animal protein.

“Oily fish are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, or the “good” fats, the human body can’t make significant amounts of these essential nutrients, fish should be an important part of the diet,” the council boss said.

Edited By: Oluyinka Fadare/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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