Follow the news on Gabon RSF_en GabonAfrica Organisation Weekly seized from Gabon’s newsstands Reporters Without Borders wrote yesterday to communication minister Laure Olga Gondjout and National Communication Council chairman Emmanuel Ondo Methogo voicing concern about the suspension of two Gabonese newspapers, Ezombolo and Le Nganga, and the warnings issued to Radio France Internationale (RFI) and the Canal Overseas Africa satellite TV service over their coverage of President Omar Bongo’s health.“These actions are incomprehensible and unjustified,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said in his letter. “In our view, there are not sufficient grounds for a president’s health to be declared off-limits for the media. On the contrary, it is in the public’s interest to be informed about his health and the political consequences that would result from his post becoming vacant.”The letter added: “We urge you to guarantee complete transparency in the coverage of current developments and to allow Ezombolo and Le Nganga to resume publishing.”The decision to suspend Ezombolo (which appears irregularly) for six months and Le Nganga, a satirical weekly, for one month was taken at a specially-convened plenary session of the National Communication Council (CNC) on 23 May. It was prompted by their coverage of President Bongo’s hospitalisation in a private clinic near the Spanish city of Barcelona, and their articles speculating about his succession. The CNC is in charge of regulating the media.Reporters Without Borders has a copy of a CNC press release that accuses the two newspapers of “trying to stir up public opinion” and “turning themselves into relays of the foreign press, thereby becoming local vehicles of disinformation.” It also accuses international radio and TV stations such as France 24, RFI, La Chaîne Info and I-Télé of “hounding the president and broadcasting non-official and alarmist reports.”France 24 deputy news editor Albert Ripamonti told Agence France-Presse that the state-owned 24-hour TV news station had “maintained a balance between the reports indicating that President Bongo was in a serious condition and the Gabonese government’s statements that he was just having a checkup.”Two France 24 journalists, Arnaud Zajtman and Marlène Rabaud, were deported from Gabon last night after been forced to wait in Libreville airport’s international arrivals area for 24 hours. They had visas issued by the Gabonese embassy in Kinshasa, where they are based, but did not have the communication ministry’s press accreditation.Zajtman told Reporters Without Borders that officials at the Gabonese embassy did not ask him if he had the ministry’s press accreditation when he told them he was a journalist. Help by sharing this information GabonAfrica November 27, 2020 Find out more Receive email alerts to go further May 27, 2009 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Government imposes news blackout on President Bongo’s health News News January 24, 2020 Find out more The 2020 pandemic has challenged press freedom in Africa News Reports Gabonese journalist could spend New Year’s Eve in prison December 31, 2019 Find out more
Federal security forces in Argentina have a new ally in their fight against drug trafficking: satellite technology. The forces now have access to high-definition images from 15 satellites that scan the country each day, including those from the new Argentine satellite, SAC-D/Aquarius. Argentine authorities have high expectations for the information the satellite images will provide. Security Minister Nilda Garré said satellites can reveal clandestine airstrips and alternate land routes used by drug trafficking, locate illegal crop plantations, and uncover smugglers and even human traffickers. The National Commission on Space Activities (CONAE, for its Spanish acronym) is the state agency in charge of distributing satellite images to security forces. Its secretary-general, Félix Menicocci, told Clarín newspaper in October 2011 that satellites send two types of information: optical images (photographs) and radar images. Experts say the latter allows more efficient tracking of drug trafficking movements because they provide clear vision through thick vegetation or even at night. Over the years, the illegal drug trade in Argentina has grown to worrisome proportions. “Argentina’s capability to implement complex long-term operations against drug trafficking is limited,” said the last detailed report from the U.S. State Department, which parallels reports from the U.N. and indicates a booming drug business in Argentine territory. By Dialogo July 01, 2012 Drug trafficking in Argentina An agreement between the Ministry of Security and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (where CONAE is housed) permits the use of satellite images in the fight against drug trafficking, but work still needs to be done to improve coordination between state agencies. The Ministry of Security understands that this entails a high degree of complexity, so much so that its officials underscored the importance of synergy when they signed the agreement in October 2011. The first approach between CONAE and federal security forces became the “First Joint Course on Image Interpretation.” In it, CONAE experts taught officers from the Gendarmerie, Prefecture and Federal Police how to read the information on satellite images. María José Meincke, an expert in drug trafficking and vice chairman of the Argentine Association of Graduates from the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies in Washington, D.C., said the key goals to the signed agreement are to ensure the agencies involved harmonize their objectives and reach a level of collaboration suitable for exchange and coordination. “In reality, data sensitivity and other matters related to the rivalry existing between agencies results in that, for the time being, information is not shared as it should,” said Meincke, who is well-versed in interagency coordination and fighting transnational organized crime. “Many times, each agency goes its separate way and performs its task separately,” said Sebastián García Díaz, former secretary of Drug Addiction Prevention and the Fight Against Drug Trafficking, a government institution in the province of Cordoba. “It is very important to count on satellite control, but now we have to determine what to do with this information, who will process it and act in real time with resources, regulations and clear procedures?” He explained that these matters will be solved by interagency coordination. In the inherent complexity of the fight against organized crime, which is becoming increasingly transnational and sophisticated, satellite technology will undoubtedly play a fundamental role. The initiative in Argentina started on the right track with the signing of an agreement on cooperation and information exchange. The challenge for disparate state agencies is now to articulate and pool resources to achieve a significant impact against drug trafficking. Interagency coordination The issue of cocaine in Argentina is twofold, according to the 2011 World Report on Drugs produced by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. On one hand, the country is showing positive signs compared to the rest of Latin America in terms of tackling consumption. On the other, it is one of the transit countries through which most of the European-bound cocaine passes. One of many examples was an airplane loaded in Argentina with 940 kilos that was seized by the Spanish Civil Guard in Barcelona in 2011. The sophistication of criminal organizations has been a constant: Besides growing in size, coordinating their interests and expanding their markets, they are rapidly multiplying their resources. For example, hundreds of clandestine airstrips are scattered in northern Argentina. In the province of Chaco, the Argentine nongovernment organization Anti-Drug Association discovered the operation of at least 141 illegal airstrips, largely thanks to satellite information. Facing an increasingly complicated scenario, Argentine authorities have focused their efforts on fighting the sophistication of organized crime with more sophisticated state technology. The satellite images are and will be a fundamental tool to fight off drugs. As we keep using them more and more, they will direct the panchromatic cameras and proper radars towards them. I have no doubt that they will manufacture satellites for these purposes. I took some courses at CONAE, and at the Sat. Technical Lab. with Dr. V. H. Rios, a prestigious researcher at the UNT University. Very good report. Regards.
Image source: USACEThe North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission will meet in Atlantic Beach next week to provide new commissioners with an overview of the state’s coastal program, consider amendments to rules on erosion control and other coastal issues, the NC Department of Environmental Quality said in its release. The commission plans to meet November 7 and 8 at the Hilton Double Tree in Atlantic Beach. The meeting will begin at 1 p.m. and is open to the public, DEQ said.Items on the commission’s agenda include:New commissioner orientation – An orientation session will be provided for new and current commissioners on the operating and variance procedures of the commission as well as an overview of the state’s coastal program.Variances – The commission will hear one request for a variance from its rules;Beach and inlet management – The commission will hear a presentation on Carolina Beach’s inlet maintenance project and consider a development line request by Kure Beach for the siting of oceanfront development;Public access – Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington will present an evaluation of the state’s Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access Program;Land use plans – The commission will consider amendments and updates to land use plans for Swansboro and Ocean Isle Beach;Coastal habitat protection – The commission will consider approval of the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan’s implementation for 2018 through 2020;Rule development – Amendments to rules will be discussed related to temporary erosion control, stormwater, single family residences, free standing moorings, land use planning and development lines;Shellfish aquaculture – The commission will hear an overview of shellfish aquaculture efforts, including the state’s shellfish leasing program and shellfish mariculture plan.The Coastal Resources Advisory Council, a group that advises the state Coastal Resources Commission, will meet at 10 a.m. November 7 at the Hilton Double Tree in Atlantic Beach.[mappress mapid=”24580″]