[JURIST] Despite France's rejection of the EU constitution in Sunday's national referendum [JURIST report], EU leaders are calling on the 15 European nations that have not yet made a decision on the Constitution to continue with whatever decision-making process was chosen for their nation. The next constitutional referendum is scheduled for the Netherlands [government website in Dutch] on 1 June and recent polls suggest a convincing no-vote [JURIST report] there as well. EU leaders have said that all the remaining nations of the EU must complete the voting process, even though the EU draft constitution [official website] requires that all 25 current EU members approve the draft in order for it to take effect. Opponents in the Netherlands have called Wednesday's vote a 'waste of time,' insisting that the entire EU draft constitution is defunct with France's No. British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that the defeat of the new EU charter in France was cause for "reflection" but told reporters that "If there is a constitutional treaty to vote upon we will have a vote in Britain before ratifying it." JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of the EU constitution [JURIST news archive]. AFP has more.
[JURIST] The Associated Press [media website] reported Monday that a new batch of documents received by the press agency under a Freedom of Information Act suit describe multiple allegations of abuse of Guantanamo prisoners by US personnel and inaction by US military tribunals when abuses were reported to them. In court papers detainees described physical, emotional, and mental abuse and made claims of long-term and even permanent damage caused by their treatment. AP has more. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive].
[JURIST] The State Crimes Prosecutor for Sudan [government website] has ordered the arrest of Paul Foreman, the head of the Dutch wing of Medecins San Frontieres [advocacy website] who published a report in March entitled The Crushing Burden of Rape: Sexual Violence in Darfur [PDF text] which alleged mass rape on the part of the Janjaweed militias, which are reportedly controlled by the Sudanese government. Foreman was arrested and released on bail Monday, charged with the failure to turn over the names of those who gave him the information in the report. Foreman maintains that "medical privilege and patient confidentiality" prevented him from revealing his sources. The lack of reported sources has led the State Crimes Prosecutor to declare the report false and charge Foreman with falsifying the report as well. No date has been set for a trial; if convicted, Foreman could face up to three years imprisonment. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Sudan [JURIST news archive]. Read MSF's official press release expressing its shock at Foreman's arrest. The Sudan Tribune has local coverage. BBC News has more.
[JURIST] Lebanese President Emile Lahoud [official profile] criticized Lebanon's current electoral law Monday, saying that voter turnout of less than 27% in the first stage of parliamentary elections over the weekend was a clear demonstration of the Lebanese people were unhappy with existing electoral system. The present law allows local and national political figures to form alliances ahead of elections, often severely limiting the choices available to voters. Sunday's election results are still being counted, but the anti-Syrian alliance has reportedly made major gains in a poll that has garnered international praise for its extremely low number of violent incidents. Lahoud expressed hope that, free from Syrian influence, Lebanon had chosen to resolve its political differences peaceably. Aljazeera has local coverage. BBC News has more.
[JURIST] US troops detained the leader of Iraq's largest Sunni Muslim political party in a house raid in western Baghdad early Monday, confiscating several items including a computer. Mohsen Abdul Hamid is head of the Iraqi Islamic Party [official website], which called for his immediate release. The Sunni Muslims [Wikipedia backgrounder] lost power after Saddam Hussein's downfall, allowing Iraqs Shiite [Wikipedia backgrounder] community to gain influence, and tensions between the two groups have increased in recent weeks. The US has urged participation from both groups [JURIST report] in the writing of Iraq's new constitution. Hamid was also a member of the now dissolved US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council. AP has more.
[JURIST] The US Justice Department [official website] said Sunday that two US citizens have been arrested and charged with conspiring to provide support to al Qaeda [Wikipedia backgrounder] in several meetings with an undercover FBI agent posing as an al Qaeda recruiter and a confidential source. Tarik Ibn Osman Shah allegedly offered to train al Qaeda members in martial arts and hand-to-hand combat, while Rafik Sabir allegedly agreed to give medical assistance to jihadists wounded in Saudi Arabia. Shah and Sabir are said to have pledged their loyalty to al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden in conversations that were taped with their consent. Both are expected to be arraigned Tuesday. Reuters has more.
[JURIST] US Air Force General Richard Myers [official profile], Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has criticized an Amnesty International report [JURIST report] comparing American treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay to the Soviet gulag [Wikipedia backgrounder] where millions died. Interviewed on Fox News Sunday [transcript], Gen. Myers called the report "absolutely irresponsible" and noted that 100 detainees abused out of 68,000 being held in the war on terror is "very small compared to the population of detainees we've handled." Amnesty has urged that senior US officials should be investigated by foreign governments and that Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and former CIA Director William Tenet be arrested and questioned. Read Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan's foreword to the report. The Washington Times has more.
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