Police in Pakistan have arrested four suspected members of a gang accused of tapping a 17-year-old girl’s spinal fluid without her knowledge and selling it on the black market.
According to police in the city of Hafizabad, the gang members pretended to be government officials carrying out medical research.
They promised the victim’s father a monthly fee in exchange for his consent to a blood test, saying the money could go towards his daughter’s dowry.
“It’s one of the strangest cases of my career,” Afzal Butt of the Hafizabad police department said.
Spinal fluid helps to diagnose diseases such as cancer and meningitis, but police speculated that the liquid, which is extracted by inserting a needle through the vertebrae, could be sold to
desi hakeems , or homeopaths.
The victim’s father noticed something was wrong on Saturday when his daughter came home feeling weak after the procedure.
Local media reported that the gang had extracted her bone marrow, but Dr Rehan Azhar, a medical superintendent at Hafizabad hospital, said an examination carried out by his staff revealed the injection was made for the purposes of spinal fluid removal.
Bone marrow extraction, he said, was a complicated procedure, while the removal of spinal fluid was relatively simple. He did not know why the gang did it, he said.
After the girl’s father registered a formal complaint with police, officers raided a location in the east of the city, finding a bottle and a syringe.
All four members of the gang are under investigation. Because the victim was stripped naked for the procedure, they could also face charges relating to sexual abuse, Butt said.
Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister of Punjab province, has ordered free follow-up medical treatment for the girl and a report on the incident from Hafizabad police.
Hafizabad lies in Punjab’s so-called “kidney fields”, a route between Islamabad and Lahore known for the presence of organ traffickers.
Pakistan outlawed the commercial trade in human body parts in 2010, introducing jail sentence of up to 10 years, but patchy implementation has eroded initial gains against the trade.
Mozambique: Government set to impose license fees for local journalists.
Mozambican government has announced plans to introduce license fees for local and foreign journalists.
Local correspondents will pay $2,500 per trip for media accreditation while foreign correspondents living in Mozambique will be charged $8,300 per year.
Mozambican journalists reporting for foreign news outlets will be required to pay $3,500 for an annual accreditation.
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This is 50 times more than the country’s statutory minimum wage, estimated at around $70 per month.
The plan fees have attracted serious criticism as the move has been viewed as an apparent attempt to discourage reporting from the country.
Mozambique’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) has warned that the imposition of licensing fees on the country’s mass media must not compromise the fundamental right of the public to information.
In a statement, the CNDH, added its voice to the chorus of criticism of the proposed fees.
It conceded that the government has the right to update licensing and accreditation fees, but said such a measure should not undermine the right to information.
The CNDH points out that the current legal framework on access to information “takes as its guidelines the greatest divulging of information and free access to information… In other words, access to information is a matter of public interest and this access should be promoted and facilitated”.
It added: “The legal framework meant that the relevant state bodies must take measures to promote the broadest possible access to information”.
CNDS also warns that the enormous fees imposed by the July decree are not in line with the guidelines contained in the legal instruments on the right to information that are in force in the country.
The justification given for the fees is that they are necessary to ensure the sustainability of the sector – but none of the money raised by the fees will go to the media.
The decree states that 60 percent of the money from the fees will go to the state budget, and the remaining 40 per cent will go to the government’s press office (Gabinfo).
Meanwhile, the government is showing signs of backing down.
On Tuesday, its spokesperson, the Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism, Ana Comoana, said the decree will be discussed with interested parties before its implementation.
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South Africa: Man cleared of rape after 13 years in jail
After 13 years behind bars in Westville Prison, Njabulo Ndlovu will become a free man after being acquitted of rape at the Pietermaritzburg High Court in Durban.
The 35-year-old uMlazi man was sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of the 2002 gang rape of a pregnant woman who knew him as they went to the same school and their fathers had worked together.
He was 19 and a second-year student at the University of Durban-Westville (today the University of KwaZulu-Natal) at the time. He testified during the trial that he had been nowhere near the place where the gang rape took place.
During the trial, three of the five accused were discharged due to lack of evidence, while Ndlovu and another remained in prison. After Monday, only one accused will remain in prison.
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While Ndlovu was in prison for over a decade, he never lost hope, as he continued pursuing law studies and received a law degree from Unisa in May this year.
And on Friday, a full bench of judges upheld the appeal against Ndlovu’s conviction and sentence. He now intends to sue the minister of justice for damages.