[JURIST] Leading Monday's international brief, the Nepal Supreme Court [official website] has handed down an historic decision holding that the Royal Commission for Corruption Control (RCCC) [JURIST report], created by King Gyanendra [official profile, BBC profile] following his dismissal of the elected government [JURIST report], is unconstitutional and ordering the body to cease and desist all investigations and prosecutions. The RCCC, which had been given the power to investigate, charge, and prosecute government officials suspected of corruption, had been routinely accused of targeting political opposition leaders such as former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and former minister Prakash Man Singh, who are currently being detained by the RCCC. The court ruled that under Article 127 of the 1990 Constitution [text], the king has no authority to form such a body and ordered the Nepal government to declare the RCCC "null and void;" the court ruling also vacates all decisions made by the body. The ruling is a sharp response to the monarchy of Gyanendra and is seen as a rebuke by the judiciary towards Gyanendra's frequent attempts to guarantee judicial outcomes. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Nepal [JURIST news archive]. BBC News has more. eKantipur.com has local coverage.
In related news, Nepalese Maoist leader Prachanda, in a rare interview [BBC report] with BBC News, has said that allowing the people of Nepal to decide the fate of the country would result in King Gyanendra facing either a trial by a people's court or exile from the nation. Prachanda said that the Maoists were willing to accept any result from a truly democratic election by the people of Nepal. The Maoist rebellion has been challenging the Kathmandu government [official website] for ten years and most external observers believe that neither side has the military might to force a concession from the other. BBC News has more.
In other international legal news ...
- In an unusual twist in the ongoing controversy surrounding the publication of caricatures of Islamic prophet Muhammad [JURIST news archive], the Syrian government has charged a journalist for suggesting peaceful discussion of the issue as opposed to the recent spate of violent protests [JURIST report] taking place around the world. Adel Mahfouz has been charged with insulting public religious sentiment in Syria, a criminal act punishable with up to three years incarceration. Mahfouz was arrested February 7 after he published an article calling for the use of dialogue instead of protests to resolve the cartoon issue and said that protests were reinforcing the incorrect stereotype that Islam and violence are linked. IRIN News has more.