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International brief ~ Zimbabwe Supreme Court says voting not 'fundamental right'

[JURIST] In Thursday's international brief, the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe held Wednesday that while voting was constitutionally protected in the country, it was not a "fundamental right." The ruling was made at a hearing for Zimbabweans who are petitioning the government to allow them to vote, even though they live outside of Zimbabwe. Counsel for the exiled Zimbabweans argued that voting was an exercise of freedom of expression, choice, association and movement, all rights protected by the Zimbabwean Constitution. The Court disagreed, however, and stated that even if voting was an exercise of those rights, it did not automatically follow that those rights were assertable regardless of geographical location. The Zimbabwean Government [official website] has said it will not allow an estimated 3 million Zimbabweans, nearly a quarter of the country's population, vote because officials in ruling political party Zanu PF [official website], including President Robert Mugabe, are banned from traveling to numerous countries due to a poor human rights record, and are therefore incapable of campaigning to the potential voters. Zim Online has local coverage.

In other international legal news ...

  • Talks began Thursday between President Bush [official bio] and Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website] at the 2005 Slovakia Summit [official website]. Bush arrived in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Wednesday and attended welcoming ceremnonies, and he was joined by Putin Thursday morning. Today's schedule includes a meeting between Bush and Slovakian Prime Minister Mikula Dzurinda [official bio] which included discussions of Slovakian policy and visas for Slovakian nationals visiting the US. Read the official press statement. Putin and Bush are scheduled to meet later today and Friday and have already addressed Iran's nuclear situation [JURIST report]. The Slovakia Summit website has developing information. BBC News has more.

  • The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights [official website] opened Thursday its first session of 2005 in Washington, DC. The Commission is composed of seven independent experts on human rights and receives petitions and reports on human rights situations in the Americas. The Commission can recommend that a particular complaint or report be forwarded to the Inter-American Court on Human Rights [official website]. Listen to the opening remarks [audio; official transcript].

  • The trial of 18-year-old Samir Azzouz for charges of planning terror attacks began Thursday in the Netherlands. Azzouz was arrested last year when a raid on his house produced weapons and maps of allegedly targeted buildings. Specific charges include attempted murder, manslaughter, arson and illegal possession of a firearm. Azzouz is also suspected of being involved with the Muslim extremist group that was allegedly responsible for the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh [official website in Dutch] in 2004. Reuters has more.

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