Monday, April 5, 2010

EU endorses Goldstone, Corruption/ Poverty In Afghanistan,

Corruption Deepens Poverty In Afghanistan - U.N. Report

by Peter Graff in Kabul; Editing by Dominic Evans
Reuters: March 30, 2010

GENEVA (Reuters) - Corruption is entrenched in Afghanistan, leaving the poor
at the mercy of the powerful while security-obsessed international forces
often turn a blind eye to abuses, a United Nations report charged on

Despite $35 billion injected into the economy since 2002, one in three
Afghans, or 9 million people, live in absolute poverty while another third
survive just above the poverty line, it said.

"A key driver of poverty in Afghanistan is the abuse of power. Many Afghan
power-holders use their influence to drive the public agenda for their own
personal or vested interests," said the report issued by the U.N. human
rights office.

As a result, the government of President Hamid Karzai is often unable to
deliver basic services, such as security, food or shelter, or protect
communities from lawlessness, it said.

Karzai says corruption is a problem in Afghanistan, but the West shares much
of the blame for poorly managing billions of dollars in aid programmes,
which dwarf Afghanistan's own budget.

U.S. efforts to sideline his half-brother Ahmad Wali Karzai met resistance
on Tuesday from provincial officials who warned of chaos in the Taliban's
birthplace if he is pushed out.

As head of Kandahar's provincial council, Ahmad Wali Karzai wields
considerable power in the south, but he has been accused of amassing a vast
fortune from the drugs trade, intimidating rivals and having links to the
CIA, charges he strongly denies.

The U.N. report said that political power is exercised on the basis of
personal relationships, leaving Afghans "subject to the fickle and shifting
allegiances of patronage politics."

"Corrupt practices are entrenched and resented but even the poor, where they
can, will provide bribes to get a service, furthering a high level
corruption that, given a weak judiciary and few effective oversight
mechanisms, remain unpunished."

The 26-page report is based on the results of a survey conducted in 14
provinces, interviews with officials and community leaders as well as
research by groups including Oxfam.

Many communities believe, rightly or wrongly, that food aid had been either
embezzled or diverted elsewhere, it found.

"In addition, many Afghans perceive international actors as primarily
interested in short-term objectives rather than challenging entrenched and
abusive power structures," it said.


From: The RAIN Newsletter (10-3-10)

European Parliament endorses Goldstone Gaza report

By Cnaan Liphshiz , Haaretz Correspondent, and The Associated Press
Haaretz Wed., March 10, 2010

The European Parliament on Wednesday urged its 27-member states to monitor
the Israeli and Palestinian probes into alleged war crimes committed during
last year's late-winter conflict in Gaza.

The resolution backed the findings of a UN-appointed expert panel chaired by
South African Judge Richard Goldstone, which concluded that both sides
committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during the war
that began in December 2008 and ended in January 2009.

The parliamentary move, which would give the EU an unprecedented role in
evaluating the progress of Israel's war crimes probe, was sharply criticized
by Israel.
"We find this resolution flawed and counterproductive," said Yoel Mester,
spokesman for Israeli mission to EU. "While other players are striving to
support the peace process and to start the proximity talks between Israel
and Palestinians, it is regrettable that the European Parliament chooses to
concentrate on a highly controversial issue."

In December, the EU accused Israel of trying to divide the bloc to stop it
from passing a resolution calling for Jerusalem to be the shared capital of
Israel and for a future Palestinian state. The measure was adopted despite
Israel's opposition.

The European Union also has criticized Israel over its suspected role in the
slaying of a Hamas militant in Dubai and the killers' alleged use of forged
EU passports.

The European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also recently
asked to be allowed to visit the Gaza Strip, which remains under Hamas

The European Parliament measure, passed by 335-287, said Ashton should
monitor actively the implementation of recommendations included in the
Goldstone report.

In January, the UN General Assembly gave the two sides five more months to
finalize their own investigations into war crimes allegations during the
conflict, in which 13 Israelis and almost 1,400 Palestinians were killed.

On Monday, Israel's Foreign Ministry said it would allow Ashton and UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon into Gaza. Israel has routinely banned foreign
officials from crossing into Gaza since Hamas' violent takeover of the strip
in 2007, maintaining that such visits bolster the Islamic militant group.

The European Parliament also said it was "concerned" about "pressure placed
on NGOs involved in the document's preparation."

Jewish leaders said they were "deeply disappointed" and puzzled by the

"Europe, which preaches to Israel and to the whole world about freedom of
expression, is now calling to stifle criticism ensured by freedom of
expression because it's directed at the Goldstone report," said Arie
Zuckerman, a senior executive of the European Jewish Congress.

The European Parliament's resolution was a softened version of an earlier
draft which called for implementing the Goldstone report. The draft was
scrapped after European Jewish Congress Moshe Kantor warned party leaders
that the resolution would damage EU-Israel relations.

The final resolution said EU member states should "demand the implementation
of the Goldstone report's recommendations and accountability for all
violations of international law."

Kantor told Haaretz last week that if the European Parliament adopts the
Goldstone report, it will be the "strongest endorsement the document has
received so far."

Zuckerman said the European Parliament "gave indirect endorsement to Hamas"
by passing Wednesday's resolution on the Goldstone report, and added it
"damaged the peace process with the Palestinians."

"The fact that over 45 percent of MEPs voted against the resolution is cause
for some satisfaction," Kantor said. "The resolution passed by only a narrow
margin, and not the consensus that was expected."

The European United Left-Nordic Green Left (EUL-NGL) - which has 25 MEPs -
meanwhile, said it welcomed the European Parliament's resolution.

MEP Kyriacos Triantaphyllides from the group said: "For the first time, a
resolution voted in the European Parliament acknowledges Israeli's
violations of international humanitarian law."

The party called "for the immediate adoption of its findings by EU Member
States and the implementation of its recommendations," demanding, "that no
upgrading of EU - Israel Association Agreement is conceded given the
violations committed by Israel.

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