International brief ~ Uganda opposition leader not guilty on rape charges

[JURIST] Leading Tuesday's international brief, Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye [BBC profile] has been found not guilty of rape by a High Court judge who ridiculed the disarray of the prosecutor's office in presenting jumbled and often mislabeled evidence and even implied that the woman accusing Besigye was dishonest, saying that while one might forget the day of a rape, no one would forget the month. Besigye was charged with rape [JURIST report] along with three other allegedly trumped-up criminal offenses shortly after declaring his intent to run against Ugandan incumbent President Yoweri Musevini [BBC profile] in February's elections. Besigye still faces charges on treason, conspiracy, and illegal firearms possession. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Uganda [JURIST news archive]. The Daily Monitor has local coverage. BBC News has more.

In other international legal news ...

  • Zimbabwe's controversial NGO bill [HRW backgrounder] is being "polished up" before being presented to the Zimbabwean Parliament this month, according to Zimbabwean Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa. Chinamasa told reporters that the bill was being fine-tuned before being re-presented to the parliament after Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe [BBC profile] refused to sign the bill [JURIST report] in May 2005 with no explanation. Critics of the bill have accused the government of trying to stamp out all NGOs that seek to promote democratic government, while Mugabe's cabinet continues to claim that certain, unnamed NGOs are actually fronts for western governments seeking to topple the Mugabe administration. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Zimbabwe [JURIST news archive]. ZimOnline has local coverage.

  • A pro-independence group in the Angolan province of Cabinda [government website] has announced that it is filing a request with the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] for the prosecutor's office to conduct an investigation into alleged Angolan war crimes. The statement accused Angolan forces of "rape, summary execution, and genocide" at the direction of the Angolan government [official website] in the province which produces more than 60 percent of Angola's oil export. The statement also claimed that local and international NGOs had helped the group compile monthly reports documenting governmental abuses since 2002. The Rome Statute [PDF text], the ICC's governing document, is silent on whether non-state entities may request an investigation, but gives the prosecutor the power to open an investigation if sufficient evidence of crimes exists. IRIN News has more.

  • UN special rapporteur on Sudan Sima Samar told reporters on Monday after a ten-day visit to Sudan [government website] that the judicial system was incapable of effectively prosecuting those involved in human rights abuses in Darfur [JURIST news archive]. She said that all of the cases she observed at the war crimes tribunal set up by Sudan had only prosecuted pre-Darfur crimes or low-ranking individuals, completely avoiding individuals in positions of military or political power in Darfur. Khartoum has repeatedly stated that it will resist any attempts at international prosecution of alleged war crimes offenders by the ICC [JURIST report]. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Sudan [JURIST news archive]. The Sudan Tribune has local coverage.

 

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