First peaceful transfer of power in DR Congo an extraordinary opportunity for

UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights (OHCHR), Andrew Gilmour, welcomed Mr. Tshisekedi’s inaugural speech in January, in which he made a “clear commitment” to respect citizens’ rights and end discrimination.The president’s recent decree ordering the release of all political prisoners was also to be welcomed, Mr. Gilmour said, in anticipation of their actual release and the closing of all unofficial detention centres. Mr. Tshisekedi’s unexpected election win on 30 December, despite a week’s delay due to logistical concerns, coming on top of a two-year delay due to former President Joseph Kabila’s reluctance to leave office, marked the first peaceful transfer of power in the country of more than 80 million, since independence from Belgium, almost 60 years ago.Mr. Kabila governed DRC for 18 years, before agreeing to step down last year, although his former ruling coalition has a majority in the legislature.In his inaugural speech in late January, according to news reports, the new president said he and his party were committed to building a modern, peaceful, democratic State, and pledged then to release all political detainees. Mr. Gilmour said that “such measures, if fulfilled, would represent an exceptionally positive development towards the opening up of democratic space, which has been increasingly restricted in recent years.” “During the electoral process, such restrictions were obvious. In the weeks just before and after the elections, the Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC documented the killing of at least 36 civilians in elections-related violence” said the OHCHR official, “most killed by security forces using disproportionate use of force, including the use of live ammunition.”The Assistant Secretary-General’s comments coincided with the publication of a report into DRC violence and rights abuses, in 2018.It found that more than 1,100 people were killed in conflict-related violence, almost 900 were subjected to sexual violence in a war-setting, including 279 children.On the continuing inter-communal violence in the province of Mai-Ndombe, around Yumbi town, that left hundreds dead last December following an orchestrated and well-planned massacre, Mr. Gilmour urged the authorities to extend the rule of law throughout the country.There is an urgent need to take measures to defuse tensions and promote reconciliation in the region and avoid further bloodshed, he said, and to ensure that those responsible are prosecuted. In reply, Marie-Ange Mushobekwa, Minister of Human Rights in DRC, said that those responsible for the Mai-Ndombe killings, in the west of the country, on the banks of the Congo River – and earlier massacres in the Kasais – would be prosecuted.And she said convictions had been announced in association with the killing of UN experts, Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan in Kasai on 12 March 2017.The highly-regarded experts on the region, were brutally murdered while investigating reports of mass atrocities in the Kasais, around conflict between the Kamuina Nsapu militia and Government forces. The fallout from the case continues, with a Congolese army colonel, reportedly arrested in connection with the killing of the two UN monitors, early in December. read more

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Pupils increasingly sceptical of importance of university poll finds

Figures published by Ucas in July showed that young people in England are more likely to apply to go to university than ever.More than a third (38.1%) of 18-year-olds across the country have applied this year, up 0.2 percentage points on last year. More than three in four (77%) of those surveyed this year said they were likely to go into higher education.Poorer pupils – those eligible for free school meals – are less likely to say they are planning to go to university than their richer classmates (67% compared with 79%), the Sutton Trust said.Girls are more likely to say they expect to study for a degree than boys (81% compared with 73%), the poll found. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Of the young people who said they they are unlikely to go into higher education, the most common reason was that they do not like the idea or do not enjoy learning and studying (58%), followed by finance (44%).More than a third (35%) said they feel they are not clever enough, while the same proportion said it was not needed for their job plans.Sir Peter Lampl, founder of the Sutton Trust and chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: “It’s no surprise that there has been a fall in the proportion of young people who think it’s important to go into higher education.”Young people face a dilemma. If they go on to university they incur debts of over £50,000 and will be paying back their loans well into middle age. And in a number of cases they end up with degrees that don’t get them into graduate jobs.”On the other hand, degree-level apprenticeships are almost non-existent with less than 10,000 available each year compared with over 300,000 university places. There is effectively no viable alternative to university.” Young people are increasingly less likely to believe that getting a degree is important, according to a poll.It indicates that the proportion of secondary school pupils who think they need to go to university to do well in life has fallen steadily in the last six years.Despite this, the vast majority say they are likely to go into higher education when they are old enough.The findings, published by the Sutton Trust, come as sixth-formers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland receive their A-level results and learn if they have gained a university place.–– ADVERTISEMENT ––The poll, which questioned around 2,300 children aged 11-16 in England and Wales, found that three-quarters (75%) think it is important to go to university, down from 78% last year and a high of 86% in 2013. The Ipsos Mori poll questioned 2,381 schoolchildren aged 11-16 in schools in England and Wales between February 5 and May 25.A Department for Education spokesman said “university isn’t for everyone” and the Government does not want one route to a career “to be considered better than any other”.”That is why we are transforming technical education in this country to put it on a par with our amazing academic system,” he said. read more

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