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Musings From Abroad

2022 HPI: South Africa has strongest passport in Africa. See how others fared

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Beyond the advantages of telecommunication and technology in general, one of the realities of the world being a “global village” is that state boundaries are reduced to the minimum, and citizens of different countries are able to move from one “village” to another with fewer hassles. One main factor in achieving that is the strength of one’s national passport.

Thus, the establishment of the Henley Passport Index (HPI). The index is a global ranking of countries according to the travel freedom enjoyed by holders of that country’s ordinary – as opposed to diplomatic – passports. Simply put, the passport index considers what travel benefits accrue to the holder of a particular passport.

The Index compares the visa-free access of 199 different passports to 227 travel destinations. If no visa is required, then a score with a value = 1 is created for that passport. The same applies if you can obtain a visa on arrival, a visitor’s permit, or an electronic travel authority (ETA) when entering the destination.

The Henley Passport Index (HPI) for the year 2022 has been released and African countries have not fared too well.

Japan and Singapore are joint top at number one with 194 Visa-free scores. What that means is that holder of Japanese and Singaporean passports can access 194 countries across the world. Germany and South Korea and joint second with 190 Visa-free scores while Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, and Spain occupy the third position with 189 Visa-free scores.

In Africa, South Africa passport is the strongest in Africa, occupying the 53rd position and 104 Visa-free scores. Botswana is second in Africa with 86 Visa-free scores while Namibia is third in Africa with 78 Visa-free scores.

Lesotho is next with 77 Visa-free scores; Malawi is next with 73 Visa-free scores. Kenya and Tanzania are joint 72 globally with 72 Visa-free scores.

Meanwhile, Nigeria, one of Africa’s biggest economies occupies 40th position in Africa and joint 99 globally with Ethiopia with 45 Visa-free scores just one position above war-ridden South Sudan in 100 on the global index.

 

 

Musings From Abroad

Former China’s Justice Minister gets death sentence commuted to life imprisonment for bribery

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Former China’s Justice Minister, Fu Zhenghua, has been sentenced to life imprisonment after a higher court suspended an earlier death sentence passed on him for taking bribes and “bending the law”.

Zhenghua’s death sentence was commuted to a life imprisinment term by the Intermediate People’s Court in the city of Changchun on Thursday after a two-year reprieve.

According China state media, Zhenghua’s high-profile sentencing is part of a “sweeping anti-graft campaign which is coming three weeks before a key political meeting where President Xi Jinping is expected to secure an unprecedented third term.”

During the sentencing, the Intermediate People’s Court judge said the former Minister had abused his power while in a range of senior positions from 2005 to 2021.

“He is deprived of political rights for life and all personal property should be confiscated,” the judge said.

State prosecutors were able to establish that the 67-year-old Zhenghua had accepted bribes worth over 117 million yuan ($16.5 million) during a 16 year period he served in different capacities.

The State media reports that between 2014 and 2015, when he was head of the Beijing Public Security Bureau, Zhenghua hid evidence of suspected crimes committed by his brother, Fu Weihua, and failed to handle the case in accordance with the law.

“During his tenure as Beijing’s top cop, Fu is thought to have led the corruption investigation into Zhou Yongkang, the former security chief who was jailed in 2015 in one of the anti-graft campaign’s most high-profile cases.:

Zhenghua was a member of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission and the Minister of Justice before entering semi-retirement in May 2020.

He had also served as the Deputy Director of the Social and Legal Affairs Committee on the Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) when anti-graft authorities launched an investigation into his dealings last October.

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Musings From Abroad

Russia/Ukraine War: Putin threatens to use nuclear weapons, mobilises 300,000 reservist soldiers

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Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has threatened to use nuclear weapons and mobilize 300,000 reservists soldiers amidst the ongoing war with Ukraine.

Putin in a pre-recorded video announced that he was calling up reserve soldiers to help in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

He however deferred implementing a nationwide conscription drive for the time being. Reservists with training and experience would be called to join up first, he continued.

Speaking on NATO nuclear threats against Russia and claiming to be at war with the West, which is trying to “weaken, divide and destroy” Russia, Putin boasted of Moscow’s superior nuclear weapons.“To defend Russia and our people, we doubtlessly will use all resources at our disposal,” Putin said.

“This is not a bluff,” he added

Meanwhile, also in the video, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu revealed that 300,000 additional soldiers will be mobilized.

He added that Russia had 25 million men with military experience, saying that the current partial mobilization only covers about 1 percent of that number.

“We are not just fighting with Ukraine, but with the collective West,” Shoigu said. He added that 5,937 Russians had been killed in the war so far. This number is vastly below the country’s estimated losses, and the Ukrainians say they have “eliminated” more than 50,000 Russian personnel. Shoigu claimed that the Russians had killed 61,207 Ukrainian soldiers and wounded 49,368.

In February, Russia invaded Ukraine in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War that began in 2014. The invasion caused Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II with around 7.3 million Ukrainians fleeing the country and a third of the population displaced. It has also caused global food shortages.

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