International brief ~ UK appeals court overturns Zimbabwe deportation decision D. Wes Rist at 9:58 AM ET
[JURIST] Leading Wednesday's international brief, the UK Court of Appeal has overturned a lower tribunal's decision [JURIST report] to block the removal of failed asylum applicants to Zimbabwe where human rights agencies and NGOs allege that they face torture and inhumane treatment at the hands of Zimbabwe's security forces. The appellate decision held that UK Asylum and Immigration Tribunal [government website] must hear arguments on the danger of returning failed applicants to Zimbabwe on a case-by-case basis. UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke [official profile] praised the decision as an important step in the UK asylum process, noting that the ability to return failed asylum applicants to their country of origin was a key link in Britain's asylum policy. The United Kingdom is prevented from removing individuals to countries where they face a serious risk of inhumane or degrading treatment under the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights [text]. BBC News has local coverage.
In other international legal news...
The UN Security Council issued a strongly-worded statement [text] on Tuesday calling on all parties in the Darfur region [JURIST news archive] of Sudan to ensure a peaceful transition between the current African Union [official website] peacekeeping force and the UN peacekeeping forces, currently scheduled to take over by April 30. The Council also reiterated its position that only the UN was capable of dealing with the massive scale of conflict in Darfur and that the transition could not be delayed past April 30. UN peacekeeping missions require the approval of the combatants involved and the Sudanese government [official website] has repeatedly expressed distrust [JURIST report] of Western military forces being deployed inside its borders. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Sudan [JURIST news archive]. The Sudan Tribune has local coverage.
Journalist and political activist Sondhi Limthongkul has returned to Thailand to face questioning by police on charges of lese majeste [definition] against Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej [official profile]. Sondhi is well known for his outspoken criticism of government corruption and the ruling party in Thailand [JURIST news archive]. Sondhi allegedly insulted the King during a political rally against current Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [official profile] and several Thai newspapers have already published official apologies for carrying the remarks. Sondhi denies the remarks were insulting. Sondhi faces up to 15 years incarceration if tried and convicted. The Bangkok Post has local coverage.
51 protesters from Zimbabwe's National Constitutional Assembly [party website] who were arrested last Friday during protests calling for a new constitution were released from police custody on Monday, but defense lawyers confirmed on Tuesday that they were released only after pleading guilty and paying a fine. Lawyers for the 51 individuals who were held without being arraigned before a court told police on the day of the arrests that sufficient evidence did not exist to arrest the protesters. Zimbabwe's attorney general agreed and ordered their release, but police officials required payment of a fine and a guilty plea before they agreed to follow the order. Defense lawyers said that the poor condition of Zimbabwe's jails required that they seek release for their clients immediately, otherwise they expressed certainty that a court would have found the protesters not guilty. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Zimbabwe [JURIST news archive]. ZimOnline has local coverage.
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