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Thousands protest braving tear gas against new law that trade unions say undermines labour rights and weakens environmental protections.

8 Oct 2020

Nationwide protests and labour strikes against a polarising new jobs law in Indonesia continued across the country for a third straight day on Thursday.

The “omnibus” jobs-creation bill, passed into law on Monday, has seen thousands of people in Southeast Asia’s largest economy take to the streets in protest against legislation they say undermines labour rights and weakens environmental protections.

In the past two days, nearly 600 people have been detained, and two students seriously injured, while police have used tear gas and water cannon to disperse demonstrators.

On Thursday morning, crowds gathered across major cities on the most populous Java island, including Jakarta and Bandung, according to local media and video footage shared by Kahar S Cahyono, a spokesman from the Confederation of Indonesian Workers’ Union (KSPI).

“We ask that the law be repealed immediately,” said Maulana Syarif, 45, who has worked at Astra Honda motors for 25 years, and joined the protests in Jakarta to fight for the rights of future generations.

“This is our struggle for our children and grandchildren and our future generations…If it’s like this (with the new law) our wellbeing will decrease, and we will lack certainty in jobs.”

In conjunction with 32 other trade unions, Said Iqbal, KSPI president, said its strike would continue for a third and final day on Thursday.

The government of President Joko Widodo has championed the flagship legislation as key to boosting Indonesia’s ailing economy by streamlining regulations, cutting red tape and attracting more foreign direct investment.

Met with cautious optimism by some financial analysts, the bill has sparked a significant outcry, with labour unions, students and academics criticising it for a perceived lack of consultation, expedited passage, and problematic clauses they say will harm workers and the environment.

Police officers disperse student protesters in Cikarang, West Java. [AP Photo/Septian]
Police officers disperse student protesters in Cikarang, West Java. [AP Photo/Septian]
Two students have been seriously injured in the past two days of protests. [Dita Alangkara/AP Photo]
Two students have been seriously injured in the past two days of protests. [Dita Alangkara/AP Photo]
Protesters say the “omnibus” jobs creation bill, passed into law on Monday, undermines labour rights and weakens environmental protections. [Willy Kurniawan/Reuters]
Protesters say the “omnibus” jobs creation bill, passed into law on Monday, undermines labour rights and weakens environmental protections. [Willy Kurniawan/Reuters]
The government has championed the flagship legislation as key to boosting Indonesia’s ailing economy. [Fauzan/Antara Foto via Reuters]
The government has championed the flagship legislation as key to boosting Indonesia’s ailing economy. [Fauzan/Antara Foto via Reuters]
The bill has sparked a significant outcry, with labour unions, students and academics criticising it. [Fajrin Raharjo/AFP]
The bill has sparked a significant outcry, with labour unions, students and academics criticising it. [Fajrin Raharjo/AFP]
Plain-clothes police detain a protester in Tangerang. [Fajrin Raharjo/AFP]
Plain-clothes police detain a protester in Tangerang. [Fajrin Raharjo/AFP]
Nearly 600 people have been detained during the protests. [Bay Ismoyo/AFP]
Nearly 600 people have been detained during the protests. [Bay Ismoyo/AFP]
A student holds a sign reading "the motherland is on stand-up comedy" during protests in Tangerang. [Fajrin Raharjo/AFP]
A student holds a sign reading “the motherland is on stand-up comedy” during protests in Tangerang. [Fajrin Raharjo/AFP]

Indonesians rally against ‘omnibus’ jobs law

Thousands protest braving tear gas against new law that trade unions say undermines labour rights and weakens environmental protections. 8 … Read more

Some United Kingdom lawmakers have written the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland QC, over widespread violence in Nigeria.

The lawmakers including Caroline Cox, David Alton, Jin Shannon and Helena Kennedy, said thousands of civilians in the country had been killed and elements of the Nigerian Government may be complicit in the violence.

Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s President.

Others, who signed the letter, are Lord Williams, Lord Carey, Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Phillip Mounstephen, Lord Stoddart, Lord Anderson, Lord Cormack. Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, Ayo Adedoin, Ewelina Ochab, Mervyn Thomas, Dr Khataza Gondwe, Nevile Kyrte-Smith, Dr John Eibiner  and Ann Buwalda.

They sought intervention on the killings in Nigeria, highlighting the helplessness of the current administration.

The letter reads, “We write to highlight urgent concerns about escalating violence in Nigeria where attacks led by Boko Haram, Fulani herders and other Islamic militia continue in Northern and central-belt states with reports of increasing violence in the South-East.

“According to a report by the UK All-Party Parliament Group for international Freedom of Religion or Belief, thousands of civilians have been killed and elements of the Nigeria Government may be complicit in violence.

“The APPG’s concern reflects the findings of a report by Amnesty International, which concludes that the Nigerian armed forces have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during their operations.

“The Nigerian former army Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Theophilus Danjuma, whom some of us have met and spoken to, says the armed forces are “not neutral, they collude” in the “ethnic cleansing” by Fulani herders. He insists that villagers must defend themselves because “depending on the armed forces” will result in them dying” one by one. The ethnic cleansing must stop.

“The state’s failure to protect its citizens is a clear breach of its obligations under the commonwealth charter in respect of human rights. There is now an urgent need (a) to ensure adequate protection and aid for those suffering the loss of family members and destruction of their homes and livelihood and (b) to end impunity by ensuring that complaints related to human rights violations are promptly, inadequate and impartially investigated, and those responsible are held to account after fair trials.

“We write therefore, to ask whether you are able to respond on behalf of The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group.  We should be very willing to meet in person (or perhaps more practically, online via Zoom) to discuss how we might proceed.”

United Kingdom Lawmakers Write Commonwealth Over Bloodshed Under President Buhari, Open Up On Encounter With TY Danjuma

Some United Kingdom lawmakers have written the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland QC, over widespread violence in Nigeria. The lawmakers including … Read more

A 26-year-old from Ivory Coast has won the 2020 Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.

Charlette N’Guessan is the first woman to win the award, which could revolutionize cyber security and help curb identity fraud on the continent. N’Guessan and her team won the £25,000 award (about $33,000) for BACE API, a digital verification system that uses Artificial Intelligence and facial recognition to verify the identities of Africans remotely and in real time.

BACE API works by matching the live photo of a user to the image on their documents such as passports or ID card, N’Guessan said. 

For websites and online applications that have BACE API integrated in them, users will be verified via their webcam to establish their identity. “For the person trying to submit their application, we ask them to switch on their camera to make sure the person behind the camera is real, and not a robot.

 “We are able to capture the face of the person live and match their image with the one on the existing document the person submitted,” she explained. 

BACE API verifies users identities in real time using their phone camera or webcam
BACE API can be integrated into already existing applications and systems for identity verification and is targeted at mostly financial institutions on the continent, N’Guessan told CNN.

 N’Guessan and her team won the Africa Prize for Innovation in a virtual award ceremony on September 3 where the Africa Prize judges and a live audience voted in their favor, the Royal Academy of Engineering said in a statement

“We are very proud to have Charlette N’Guessan and her team win this award,” said Rebecca Enonchong, an entrepreneur from Cameroon entrepreneur and Africa Prize judge in the statement.

 “It is essential to have technologies like facial recognition based on African communities, and we are confident their innovative technology will have far reaching benefits for the continent.”BACE API matches a user's live photo with the image on their official documents to verify their identity. BACE API matches a user’s live photo with the image on their official documents to verify their identity. 

Curbing identity fraud

N’Guessan, who is the CEO and co-founder of Ghana-based software company, BACE Group, told CNN that the idea came about while she was studying at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in Accra, Ghana’s capital city. 

While there, she worked with a team of four and it was during one of their research projects in 2018 they decided to create BACE API, and later a software company. “We … talked to tech entrepreneurs. That’s when we noticed that there is a huge problem with cyber security with online services and businesses,” she said.N’Guessan said their research found that many financial institutions in the west African country deal with identity fraud, estimating that they spend up to $400 million dollars yearly to identify their customers. 

“We decided to make our contribution as software engineers and data scientists by building a solution that can be useful for this market,” N’Guessan added. Before the winner was announced on September 3, N’Guessan and other entrepreneurs shortlisted for the Africa Prize received eight months of training from experts across the world and her team was paired with an AI specialist who helped with improvements to their system. 

An African woman in tech

N’Guessan’s interest in technology started at a young age. Growing up in Ivory Coast, west Africa, she was encouraged to focus on science and technology subjects by her father, a mathematics professor. “He inspired my choice for studying STEM. I was actually really good in science-related courses. After high school, I went on to study software engineering at university,” she said. 

Now running her own technology company, she told CNN that winning the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation has helped to boost her confidence as a CEO leading a technical team of men.

The Academy was founded in 1976 and has been running the award to reward engineering innovation in Africa since 2014. Globally, the technology industry is growing, but women led startups are in short supply with only 22% founded by at least one woman, according to a report in Disrupt Africa.

Data specific to Africa is hard to come by but some studies suggest that only 9% of startups on the continent have women founders. N’Guessan says she hopes that her achievement will motivate more women to consider careers in tech. “I will be happy if people are inspired by my story, being the first woman to win the Africa Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation and by my work as a woman in tech,” she said.

This 9-year-old has built more than 30 mobile games

A 26-year-old from Ivory Coast has won the 2020 Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.

A 26-year-old from Ivory Coast has won the 2020 Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation. Charlette N’Guessan … Read more

Security operatives have arrested two suspects for allegedly defrauding the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia of €2.3 million COVID-19 fund.

In a statement on Sunday, Frank Mba, spokesperson of the Nigeria police, said the fund was meant for the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE).

The suspects, Babatunde Adesanya, 50-year-old master degree holder in cell biology, and Akinpelu Abass, 41-year-old managing director of Musterpoint Investment Nigeria Limited, were arrested by the cybercrime unit of the Nigeria police force and INTERPOL.

The suspects, who are said to be members of a transnational criminal network, were alleged to have cloned the corporate website of ILBN Holdings BV, Holland, to defraud one Freiherr Fredrick Von Hahn, a representative of the German state.

“Discrete investigations by INTERPOL Nigeria revealed that the suspects and their Holland-based cohorts, one Eduardus Boomstra and Geradius Maulder specialized in identity theft, cyber-stalking, cloning of corporate websites amongst other cyber mischiefs to defraud unsuspecting members of the public across the world,” Mba said.

“In this instance, the suspects fraudulently obtained from Mr Freiherr Fredrick Von Hahn the sum of 1.5m Euro and another 880,000 Euro as advanced payment for the supply of COVID-19 PPEs valued at 14.7million Euros. Disturbed by the non-arrival of the PPEs, Mr Freiherr Fredrick Von Hahn eventually visited the corporate office of ILBN Holdings BV in Holland to inquire reasons for the delay in supplying the items only to find out that the company never did business with him and that the transaction was a scam.

“The fraudsters merely cloned the company’s website and falsely presented themselves as representatives of the company before subsequently executing the fraudulent transaction. Consequently, he reported the case of fraud to the Police in Holland and this led to the arrest of Eduardus Boomstra and Geradius Maulder in Holland and investigations extended to Nigeria.

“Investigation by INTERPOL Nigeria further revealed that Babatunde Adesanya received 498,000 Euro from Eduardus Boomstra and Geradius Maulder through his Citibank London account and transferred same to an account number domiciled with a Lagos branch of a leading commercial bank in Nigeria belonging to Musterpoint Investment Nig. Ltd.”

Mba said the suspects will be arraigned in a court as soon as possible.

Two Nigerians Arrested For ‘Defrauding A State In Germany Of €2.3m COVID-19 Fund’

Security operatives have arrested two suspects for allegedly defrauding the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia of €2.3 million COVID-19 fund. … Read more