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International brief ~ Mugabe orders halt to mass evictions and arrests

[JURIST] Leading Thursday's international brief, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe [Wikipedia profile] has announced a halt to the current nationwide police crackdown against illegal and black market merchants and unauthorized dwellings [JURIST reports] that has allegedly resulted in the eviction and/or detention of tens of thousands of citiziens. Mugabe called in Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and senior police commanders for the cities affected and ordered them to stay the program while a policy review is implemented. The crackdown, touted as necessary by Mugabe for cleaning up 'crime-ridden' cities, has been roundly condemned and attacked [JURIST report] by several Zimbabwe-based human rights groups. Mugabe reportedly still wants the operations to continue, despite pressure from senior lieutenants in the ruling Zanu PF [official website] party who worry about anti-government sentiment, but is concerned about the negative local and international publicity that has been focused on the initiative. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Zimbabwe [JURIST news archive]. ZimOnline has local coverage.

In other international legal news ...

  • UN Special Representative to Sudan Jan Pronk [Wikipedia profile] has counseled the now-autonomous southern region of Sudan against seeking independence in six years, a right granted by the January peace accords [JURIST report]. Pronk, speaking at a forum at Khartoum University, said that any secession of South Sudan would "pose a threat to the region and to international peace and security." South Sudan was granted autonomy under the Comprehensive Peace Agreements [official text] and will conduct a popular referendum in 2011 to determine whether it will remain a part of Sudan or will become an independent nation. Pronk said that "the maintenance of peace, respect for the rights of the minorities, states and women and equality in revenue and power sharing" were all necessary steps by the Sudan government [official website] to make unity an attractive option to South Sudan. John Garang [Wikipedia profile], leader of the South Sudan ruling party, Sudan People's Liberation Movement [official website] agreed that unity would be preferable, saying that he hoped that six years would be enough time to make remaining in Sudan a viable option to the largely Christian and Animist southern population. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Sudan [JURIST news archive]. The Sudan Tribune has local coverage.

  • Kenyan Government spokesperson Alfred Mutua has announced that the Kenyan Cabinet will study a request from the US that Kenya [government website] sign an Article 98 "no-surrender" agreement that would protect US service personnel from prosecution in the International Criminal Court [official website]. The request has been pending for nearly two years, but has taken on greater urgency since the passage of the Nethercutt Amendment to the American Service Members' Protection Act [official text] last December, which prohibits the distribution of military aid and support to countries that have signed the ICC's Rome Statute [official PDF text] but have not made a bilateral non-surrender agreement as authorized by Article 98. If it does not sign, Kenya stands to lose over $15.6 million (USD) in military aid and US education of its military forces. Kenya will still receive the remainder of the $200 million (USD) currently budgeted for economic, social, and educational aid. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Kenya [JURIST news archive]. Kenya's Daily Nation has local coverage.

  • 398 Palestinian prisoners were released Thursday in accordance with talks held between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon [official profile] and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas [Wikipedia profile] at the Sharm e-Sheikh summit in February [JURIST report]. The released prisoners are a sign of support and cooperation between the Israel and the Palestinian National Authority as they work to ease tensions in the area. Palestinian officials have expressed dissatisfaction with the prisoner releases, now totalling nearly 1,000 prisoners since February, arguing that those held are political prisoners and should be released en masse. Israel maintains that the majority of all incarcerated Palestinians are being held for security and terrorism violations. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Israel [JURIST news archive]. The Jerusalem Post has local coverage.

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