[JURIST] Leading Wednesday's international brief, the Ugandan Constitutional Court [official website] has declared that a military court-martial of Ugandan opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] is illegal and ordered all charges against the defendant dropped. The court held that the concurrent trials of Besigye in the civilian criminal justice system and in the General Court-Martial (GCM) of the Ugandan military on charges arising from the same facts are a violation of double jeopardy principles. The court also held that the charges levied against Besigye of terrorism and illegal firearms violations [JURIST report] were not military in nature and did not allow the GCM to try a civilian. Besigye still faces charges in the civil criminal justice system for rape and treason [JURIST report]. Uganda's Monitor Online has local coverage.
In other international legal news ...
- While Nepalese King Gyanendra [official profile] was giving a nationally televised speech [text] on the anniversary of his dismissal of democratic government and assumption of autocratic rule [JURIST report], hundreds of activists were arrested for protesting Gyanendra's rule and for declaring February 1 a "black day" of mourning for Nepal. Even though recent attempts at municipal elections have had poor response, Gyanendra has promised that all democratic institutions in Nepal will be operating once again within the year. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Nepal [JURIST news archive]. NepalNews.com has local coverage.
- Members of parliament in Chad [government website in French, CIA backgrounder] have voted to extend their own term limits by one year, citing lack of funds for an election as the reason. According to a spokesperson for President Idriss Deby's cabinet, which introduced the bill, the current dispute between Chad and the World Bank [official website] over the allocation of oil income means that the country cannot afford to hold national elections scheduled for mid-2006. Opposition party legislators have accused Deby of using the financial crisis as an excuse to keep parliament stacked with members of his political party. Deby must ratify the bill before it becomes law. IRIN News has more.
- Indonesia's Judicial Commission has announced a plan to pursue reform of the country's Supreme Court through the use of agency regulation instead of formal legislation. The choice was made to allow all 49 current Supreme Court justices to be subjected to the same criteria that future applicants to the bench will have to pass. The reform focuses on rooting out corruption in the judiciary, including judicial support staff, and encouraging justices to work harder to expand their judicial knowledge by covering continuing legal education expenses. The regulation will also increase salaries of Supreme Court justices, as the current salary falls just above the country's poverty level, a fact officials say encourages bribing of top level judges. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Indonesia [JURIST news archive]. The Jakarta Post has local coverage.