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International brief ~ UN nuclear regulators visit Brazil

[JURIST] Inspectors for the UN International Atomic Energy Agency are visiting Brazil (official site in Portuguese) Monday to examine the country's efforts to enrich uranium. The Brazilian government has a nuclear plant in Resende, near Rio de Janeiro, that it claims is being used solely to produce energy. The IAEA mandate requires that any country producing nuclear materials that might be used for nuclear weapons submit to inspections by the Agency to ensure that none of the material is being used for that purpose. Brazil had been stonewalling the Agency, claiming that trade secrets would be violated if it allowed inspectors onto the property. An agreement was apparently reached last month that would keep the inner workings of the plant secret, while allowing the inspectors access to the areas where nuclear material might be appropriated for use in nuclear weapons. JURIST's Paper Chase has background on the tension between the IAEA and Brazil. BBC News has more on the IAEA visit to Brazil here.... Reversing an earlier position, Zimbabwe's Minister of Justice, Patrick Chinamasa, has now said that the Zimbabwe government will accept a court finding that Morgan Tsvangirai (BBC News profile here), leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was not guilty of attempting to assassinate President Robert Mugabe prior to the 2002 elections. Chinamasa had stated Friday that the government was considering an appeal of the court's ruling as an unlawful conviction. Tsvangirai's spokesman has said that Tsvangirai is considering a civil suit against the Zimbabwean government for wrongful detention that occurred prior to the trial. Tsvangirai still faces another trial for treason on charges of calling for street riots in 2003 to oust Mugabe. JURIST's Paper Chase has background on the acquittal here. The Zim Observer has more on the civil suit here. News24 has more on the acceptance of the ruling here.... The UN Human Rights Committee began its eighty-second session Monday in Geneva by reviewing the periodic reports of the governments of Finland, Albania, Benin, Morocco and Poland. The Human Rights Committee is responsible for overseeing countries' compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Committee will meet until 5 November and has the power to consider individual complaints of human rights abuses in nations party to the ICCPR. Read the offical press release from the Office of the UN High Commission on Human Rights here.... On Monday the African Union began its First Conference on African Human Rights Institutions in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The conference is designed to facilitate cooperation between human rights groups currently working in the African continent and to allow nations considering the creation of a governmental human rights monitoring body to gain access to helpful information. The conference will run until 21 October and is being organized by the Commission of the African Union, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Secretariat of the Coordinating Committee of the African National Human Rights Institutions. More information on the conference is available on the AU homepage here.

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