[JURIST] The US ambassador to Norway has told Norwegian Justice Minister Knut Storberget [official profile] that the circulated draft of Norway's new anti-terrorism law is too lenient, Oslo newspaper Aftenposten reported Sunday. Ambassador Benson K. Whitney [official profile] expressed particular concern about the fact that membership of a terrorist organization was not by itself an offense; as it stands, the draft imposes criminal penalties only if a person is concretely connected to the planning of a terrorist attack. Storberget said in the wake of the letter that he had no object to the US government expressing its opinion, but that Norway would make its own decisions.
In October 2005, Norway passed an antiterrorism law that gave the police greater leeway to investigate and prosecute terror suspects. The September 2006 arrest of four individuals suspected of shooting an Oslo synagogue and planning attacks on the U.S. and Israeli embassies was the first test of this law. Some of the new investigative tools were used in the case. However, the prosecution of the case highlighted concerns that the law's definition of a conspiracy to commit a terror act was restrictive and could limit its usefulness. Reported miscommunication among various police offices and mishandling of information and suspects illustrated the need for improvement.
[JURIST] Former Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed [party profile; JURIST news archive] has been charged with another count of corruption relating to a bribe supposedly taken from a Bangladesh power company, Bangladesh police announced Sunday. Hasina is accused by Bangladesh's anti-corruption commission [governing statute, PDF] of taking 30 million taka (435,000 dollars) in 1997 and using the funds to buy land for the Bangabandhu Memorial Trust charity which she heads in honor of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman ("Bangabandhu"), considered the founding father of Bangladesh. Hasina is already charged with five other counts of corruption and murder [JURIST reports], and is among some 150 leading Bangladeshis arrested by the new interim government since emergency rule was declared [JURIST report] in January.
Hasina was prime minister between 1996 and 2001 and is the the leader of the opposition Awami League [party website]. The interim government has also filed corruption charges against Hasina's rival, former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia [UN profile]. Scheduled elections in the country were indefinitely postponed in the wake of the emergency declaration. The country's powerful military backs the interim government. AFP has more.
[JURIST] Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas [BBC profile] announced changes to Palestinian election law Sunday which could reduce the political power of Hamas [CFR backgrounder], the rival to Abbas's Fatah [party website] party that scored major victories in last year's parliamentary elections and led a new Palestinian cabinet before that was dismissed [JURIST report] by Abbas earlier this summer. The changes will end district-based voting, instead substituting general voting for candidates running on party lists. The former electoral structure allowed half the parliamentary seats to be chosen by districts. Hamas dominated many district votes last year while national voting was much closer.
A Hamas spokesman denounced the putative changes as "illegal", but Abbas insists he has power to make the amendments as the Palestinian Legislative Council [official website, in Arabic], which generally has that power, is not sitting and the previous government has been dissolved and an "emergency" government substituted. Hamas does not recognize the new government and continues to exercise de facto power in Gaza [JURIST report] in the face of resistance from the Palestinian Attorney-General [JURIST report] and the local Fatah-appointed judiciary, while the new government named by Abbas controls the West Bank. AP has more.
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