November 2007 Archives


US Senate Judiciary chair urges independent judiciary for Pakistan
Mike Rosen-Molina on November 30, 2007 5:27 PM ET

[JURIST] US Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official website] Friday praised Pakistan's lawyers for standing up for the rule of law and emphasized the county's need for an independent judiciary as a guard against overreaching executive power. In a statement to JURIST, Leahy said:

The protest by Pakistan's lawyers [earlier this month] was an iconic moment about the importance of the rule of law, and the whole world was watching. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee I see every day the importance of an independent judiciary in our own country and in our system of government. We depend on our courts to defend the Constitution and to act as a check on the abuse of executive power. Without an independent judiciary we would not have a democracy. The people of Pakistan need an independent judiciary as much as we do.
Last week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official website] similarly called on Pakistan to reestablish judicial independence [JURIST report], saying that an independent judiciary is just as important as free elections to a democracy.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf dismissed 14 Supreme Court judges, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry [JURIST news archive], in the wake of his November 3 declaration of a state of emergency [JURIST report], replacing them with lower court judges seen by many to be more loyal to the president. On Thursday Musharraf pledged to end emergency rule and reinstate the suspended constitution on December 16, but officials say he will not reinstate the ousted justices [JURIST report]. Legal observers in Pakistan tell JURIST that while the country's main political parties are jockeying for position in the upcoming parliamentary elections, neither one is likely to champion the reinstatement of the deposed judges or the larger judicial independence issue, leaving that in the hands of the lawyers movement.





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Spain arrests at least 40 awaiting sentence in ETA support trial
Eric Firkel on November 30, 2007 3:25 PM ET

[JURIST] Spanish police Friday arrested at least 40 of 56 defendants [JURIST report] accused of supporting Basque separatist group ETA [BBC backgrounder] in 2005, according to a court official cited by AP. Forty-six found guilty of belonging to various organizations are believed to have provided financial, political, media, and international support to ETA. Those arrested have been out on bail since the trial concluded in March. The National Court [Wikipedia backgrounder] will read out the formal verdicts in the case on December 10, and ordered the arrests to stop those convicted from fleeing Spain.

In October, three political leaders in Spain's Basque region, including its president, were ordered to stand trial [PDF text] for meeting publicly with members of the Batasuna party [BBC profile] to negotiate an ETA ceasefire. ETA has been blamed for more than 800 deaths in bombings and attacks since the 1960s. AP has more.






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Denmark rejects US request to take Guantanamo detainees
Josh Camson on November 30, 2007 3:12 PM ET

[JURIST] Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs Per Stig Moeller [official profile] said Friday that Denmark has rejected a US request to accept the transfer of several detainees from Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive]. Moeller said that the detainees could be potential security risks.

Approximately 70 detainees have been cleared for release [DOD press release], but the US has not yet found nations willing to accept the prisoners. In August, US President George W. Bush said that while he hopes that the prison can eventually be closed, other countries have been reluctant to accept the detainees [JURIST report]. Last year UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak [official website] said that European countries could help bring about the closing of Guantanamo Bay by accepting some detainees [JURIST report] into their judicial and penitentiary systems. AP has more.






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Rwanda court orders temporary release of ICTR investigator
Katerina Ossenova on November 30, 2007 2:54 PM ET

[JURIST] A Rwandan court has ordered that a defense investigator for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website; JURIST news archive] be provisionally released from police custody, according to Friday media reports. Leonidas Nshogoza was arrested in June 2007 for allegedly bribing witnesses and "minimizing" the 1994 Rwandan genocide [BBC backgrounder]. Prosecution spokesman Jean Bosco Mutangana said Nshogoza will remain free while his trial remains adjourned so that the prosecution can have more time to study an immunity claim raised by the defense. ICTR defense lawyers have demanded Nshogoza's unconditional release and criticized the charges for undermining the independence of the tribunal.

The ICTR recently announced that it will be unable to complete its work [JURIST report] before its mandate expires in December 2008. The ICTR was established to try genocide suspects for crimes occurring during the 1994 Rwandan conflict between Hutus and Tutsis in which approximately 800,000 people, primarily Tutsis, died. Reuters has more.






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Canada court strikes down refugee agreement with US
Katerina Ossenova on November 30, 2007 2:14 PM ET

[JURIST] The Federal Court of Canada [official website] Thursday struck down a refugee agreement [judgment, PDF] between Canada and the US, noting that the US does not meet international refugee protection requirements or respect international conventions against torture. Justice Michael Phelan [official profile] essentially nullified the 2004 Safe Third Country Agreement [text], which barred foreign refugees who first arrived in the US from seeking refugee status in Canada and vice versa. Phelan noted that the US has not been compliant with the Refugee Convention or the UN Convention Against Torture [texts]. The court also held that the agreement discriminates against refugees based on how they first arrived in Canada and thus violates Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text].

The nullification of the agreement will likely result in Canada processing thousands more refugees each year. The US and Canadian governments have until January 14 to file an appeal. CTV News has more. The Montreal Gazette has additional coverage.






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Tennessee to delay lethal injection review pending Supreme Court decision
Patrick Porter on November 30, 2007 1:58 PM ET

[JURIST] Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen [official website] said Thursday that the state will wait until the US Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of lethal injections before modifying the state's execution protocols in accordance with a September federal court ruling [JURIST report]. Though Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper plans to appeal the September court decision which struck down already revised lethal injection protocols as unconstitutional because they do not ensure that prisoners are properly anesthetized before they receive a lethal injection, Bredesen noted that he expected that the appeals court would likely wait until the Supreme Court hands down a decision in Baze v. Rees (07-5439) [docket] before deciding the Tennessee case. Bredesen said it would be "inappropriate" to try and modify Tennesse's lethal injection procedure while the Supreme Court case is still pending.

The Supreme Court granted certiorari [JURIST report] in the Baze case in September and will consider whether lethal injection [JURIST news archive] constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. At issue is the three-drug mixture [DPIC backgrounder] of an anesthetic, a muscle paralyzer and a substance to stop the heart used in Kentucky and over 30 other states. Opponents of the method claim that it does not contain enough anesthetic to relieve pain. AP has more.






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UK court orders Iran opposition group removed from terror list
Katerina Ossenova on November 30, 2007 1:32 PM ET

[JURIST] Britain's Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission [official website] Friday ruled [judgment, PDF] that the UK should remove the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran (PMOI) [group website] from its list of terrorist organizations. PMOI is Iran's main political opposition organization and part of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) [group website], an umbrella coalition of Iranian opposition groups. The commission ruled there was no evidence that the PMOI had been involved with terrorism since 2003 and so no longer satisfied any of the criteria for appearing on the blacklist. NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi called the six year battle [press release] to remove the organization from the list a "magnificent victory for justice and the Resistance as well as a message of firmness to religious fascism."

UK Minister of State Tony McNulty [official profile] said that the government was disappointed with the decision and intends to appeal. The PMOI was added to Britain's list of proscribed organisations under the Terrorism Act 2000 [text] in March 2001. In December 2006, the European Court of First Instance annulled an asset freeze [JURIST report] on PMOI by the Council of the European Union. The judgment prompted the Council of the European Union to revise [press release, PDF; JURIST report] the procedures used in establishing and maintaining the EU's terror lists. Reuters has more. The Guardian has additional coverage.






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EU lawmakers seek tougher gun control rules
Katerina Ossenova on November 30, 2007 1:07 PM ET

[JURIST] European Union (EU) [official website] lawmakers adopted a legislative report [press release] Thursday to tighten gun control laws and establish an extensive firearms database. The new rules are the result of 18 months of negotiations between the European Parliament [official website], national governments and gun advocates. The rules would prohibit anyone under 18 from buying a gun with the exception of minors involved in hunting or target shooting. Those over 18 will be barred from purchasing guns only if they are deemed a threat to public safety. The rules require that each member state set up a computerized database by 2014 to ensure that all firearms are traceable to their owners. This data will be stored for 20 years and be accessible by police and judicial officials.

A deadly school shooting in Finland [BBC report] earlier this month has made many see a need for increased gun control [JURIST news archive] in the European Union, which does not have consistent gun laws between its 27 members. The new rules still need to be approved by member states and, if passed, would go into effect in January 2008. EU justice ministers are expected to hold discussion about the rules next week in Brussels. Deutsche Welle has more. IHT has additional coverage.






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Israel high court blocks planned Gaza electricity cuts
Patrick Porter on November 30, 2007 1:03 PM ET

[JURIST] The Israeli Supreme Court [official website] ruled Friday that the government cannot proceed with plans to cut electricity to the Gaza Strip [BBC backgrounder] this weekend. The court did allow, however, a continuation of fuel supply cuts to the region, which began last month. According to AP, the three-judge panel wrote that "we were not convinced that the decision by (the state) to limit the amount of fuel transferred to the Gaza Strip harms, at this point, vital humanitarian needs in the strip." The electricity cuts were postponed because the plan lacked details on its extent. The court gave the government 12 days to address those concerns.

Shortly after the plan was announced last month, the electricity cuts were temporarily suspended [JURIST report], pending legal challenges [press release; JURIST report] from several human rights groups. The human rights groups allege that the Israeli government's plan to restrict energy supplies in Gaza constituted collective punishment [backgrounder] and had unsuccessfully sought an injunction against the government policy. Israeli officials say that cutting back energy supplies was the only option the Israeli government has aside from a full-scale military operation against Hamas [BBC backgrounder], which has refused to halt indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israeli positions from Gaza. AP has more.






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Ecuador constitutional assembly suspends national congress
Jaime Jansen on November 30, 2007 11:35 AM ET

[JURIST] The special Constitutional Assembly in Ecuador charged with rewriting Ecuador's constitution [text, in Spanish] suspended Ecuador's congress Thursday pending approval of a new charter in a nation-wide referendum, expected late next year. The special assembly, controlled by leftist President Rafael Correa [official website, in Spanish; personal website], will assume legislative duties until the new constitution is approved and the special assembly calls general elections. Correa pledged [JURIST report] to disband the Ecuadorean Congress and rewrite the country's constitution shortly after his leftist coalition won a landslide victory [JURIST report] in the Constitutional Assembly elections last month. Correa plans to push for a constitution free of foreign influence and to institute reforms to restrain powerful political parties [JURIST report], increase government accountability, and hold regional, rather than national, elections. Also last month, Correa urged the Constitutional Assembly [JURIST report] to consider transforming the current Constitutional Tribunal [official website] into a Constitutional Court insulated from political pressure. AP has more.

Correa proposed convening a constitutional assembly to draft a new constitution after a referendum to rewrite [JURIST report] the current constitution was overwhelmingly passed in April. Critics fear that Correa will follow the lead of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez [BBC profile] in using the assembly to expand presidential power [JURIST report]. In April, the Congress dismissed the prior Constitutional Tribunal judges after they ordered the reinstatement of 50 lawmakers [JURIST report] who were dismissed [JURIST report] in February by the country's electoral tribunal for allegedly interfering in the referendum.






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Philippines police detain 50 after attempted Arroyo ouster
Jaime Jansen on November 30, 2007 11:06 AM ET

[JURIST] Philippine authorities have taken 50 military officers and supporters into custody following Thursday's attempted overthrow [JURIST report] of Philippine President Gloria Arroyo [official website; BBC profile]. About a dozen officers on trial in the Philippines [JURIST news archive] in connection with a failed 2003 mutiny [BBC report] Thursday walked out of court, took control of a Manila hotel, and demanded Arroyo's resignation. Philippine military and police forces subsequently regained control of the hotel after a lengthy confrontation. Authorities arrested about 100 military officers and civilian sympathizers, including former Vice President Teofisto Guingona [official profile], but only 50 remained in custody Friday. Philippine police are still searching for other suspects, including rebel leader Captain Nicanor Faeldon. AP has more. The New York Times has additional coverage.

In April, a Philippine military tribunal sentenced 54 military officers [JURIST report] to seven years and six months in prison for their involvement in the 2003 coup attempt. Charges were later dismissed [JURIST report] in October against four additional military officers connected to the same mutiny.






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Sudan court convicts UK teacher of insulting Islam
Jaime Jansen on November 30, 2007 10:24 AM ET

[JURIST] A Sudanese court Thursday convicted [AFP report] British school teacher Gillian Gibbons of insulting Islam and sentenced her to 15 days in prison for allowing her students to name the class teddy bear Muhammad. Gibbons will serve 10 more days in prison, after having already served five, and will then be deported. Gibbons had originally been charged with inciting religious hatred [Guardian report] and faced six months in prison, 40 lashes, and a fine. She was instead convicted of the lighter charge under Article 125 of the Sudanese criminal code. Gibbons was arrested [BBC report] early this week after several parents complained about the teddy bear.

British Foreign Minister David Miliband [BBC profile] immediately expressed disappointment [press release] with the conviction, saying the charges against Gibbons should have been dismissed because it was "an innocent misunderstanding by a dedicated teacher." Meanwhile, local protesters [Guardian report] in the Sudanese city of Khartoum demanded the execution of Gibbons. The UK Times has more.






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Putin signs measure to suspend Europe arms treaty
Jaime Jansen on November 30, 2007 10:07 AM ET

[JURIST] Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website] on Friday signed into law a measure that will suspend the nation's responsibilities under the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty [text; backgrounder]. The Federation Council of Russia, Russia's upper house, unanimously approved [JURIST report] the measure earlier this month following a unanimous vote in the State Duma [JURIST report] in favor of suspending the CFE. The Russian government first threatened to temporarily withdraw [JURIST report] from the treaty in June, amid tensions between the US and Russia over US plans for an anti-missile defense shield in central Europe, which Russia perceives to be a threat to Russian national security. The measure legislatively reinforces a presidential decree [JURIST report] issued by Putin in July. AFP has more.

In April, Putin told both houses of the Russian parliament that he was suspending Russia's implementation of the CFE Treaty [JURIST report] due to what he called a US-led NATO military "build up" in Europe, and said he would explore the possibility of ending Russia's commitments under the treaty. The CFE Treaty, concluded in 1990 by the 22 members of NATO and the former Warsaw Pact, regulates deployment of non-nuclear forces in Europe. In October, Putin also threatened to withdraw [JURIST report] Russia from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty [US DOS backgrounder] unless that treaty is expanded to include neighboring countries such as China, India, and Pakistan.






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Federal appeals court upholds DNA database for nonviolent felons
Jaime Jansen on November 30, 2007 8:37 AM ET

[JURIST] All convicted federal felons must provide DNA samples to a federal database available to police departments throughout the country, a divided panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled [opinion, PDF] Thursday. Judge Margaret McKeown, writing for the majority, upheld a 2004 amendment [summary] to the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act (DNA Act) [summary], requiring any felon in custody, or on probation, parole, or supervised release to submit DNA samples to the FBI's Combined DNA Indexing System (CODIS) [official website; FBI backgrounder, PDF]. The original act, passed in 2000, only required DNA samples from convicted felons of qualifying offenses, relating mostly to violent and sexual crimes. The 2004 amendment extended the qualifying crimes to cover a nonviolent drug offender convicted in Washington. Thomas Kriesel served his prison sentence, and later refused to submit his DNA sample to the CODIS database while under three additional years of supervised release. The Ninth Circuit upheld the 2004 amendment, writing that:

[T]he DNA Act is constitutional because the government's significant interests in identifying supervised releases, preventing recidivism, and solving past crimes outweigh the diminished privacy interests that may be advanced by a convicted felon currently serving a term of supervised release.
Several other circuits have already upheld the DNA Act on similar grounds. In 2005, the Third Circuit ruled [opinion, PDF] that a convicted bank robber had to submit DNA samples [JURIST report] to the CODIS database. Similarly, a New Jersey state appeals court upheld a comparable state law [JURIST report] in 2005.

The Ninth Circuit ruling does not cover a 2006 amendment [text] to the DNA Act, which calls for DNA collection from arrestees or non-citizens detained by the US. The San Francisco Chronicle has more.





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Iraq PM formally asks US to hand over 'Chemical Ali'
Jaime Jansen on November 30, 2007 7:52 AM ET

[JURIST] Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile] has formally asked US President George Bush to hand over Ali Hassan al-Majid [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], better known in the Western media as "Chemical Ali," and two other former members of Saddam Hussein's former regime, Iraqi officials said Thursday. In a letter to President Bush Tuesday, Maliki demanded that the US hand over the three men immediately. Earlier this month, Maliki accused the US military of thwarting Iraqi attempts to execute the three men [JURIST report], and expressed his "determination to ensure that the sentences are carried out." At that point, US commanders said they would not transfer the men to Iraqi custody until they received an "authoritative" request from the Iraqi government. On Monday, Iraqi Kurdish and Shiite lawmakers criticized the delay [JURIST report] in the executions of the three men, while Sunni leaders have campaigned to commute the death sentence of Sultan Hashim al-Taie, a man many believe Hussein forced to follow orders. AP has more.

The Iraqi High Tribunal sentenced [JURIST report] al-Majid and two co-defendants to death in June on genocide and war crimes charges. The Tribunal's Appeals Chamber upheld the death sentences [JURIST report] in September. Under Iraqi law, the executions were supposed to have taken place 30 days after the men were sentenced, meaning that the men should have been executed no later than October 4. Iraq's Presidency Council, including Kurdish President Jalal Talibani, Shi'ite Vice-President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, and Sunni Vice-President Tareq al-Hashemi, have nonetheless refused to sign any execution order [JURIST report]. An Iraqi judge said in September that presidential approval is not required [JURIST report] to carry out an execution for al-Majid and his co-defendants, but al-Hashemi reasserted in October that the presidency did in fact have the power to block the carrying out of the death sentences [AP report], regardless of their approval by Maliki.






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Venezuela protesters rally against proposed constitutional reforms
Nick Fiske on November 29, 2007 6:02 PM ET

[JURIST] Thousands of protesters filled the streets of Caracas, Venezuela on Thursday to voice their opposition to 69 constitutional amendments [JURIST report] proposed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez [BBC Profile]. The proposed reforms, which will be put to a national referendum on Sunday, would extend the presidential term from six to seven years, eliminate the limit on the number of terms a president may serve, bring the currently independent Central Bank under the control of the government, and give the government greater authority to expropriate private property without court approval. Earlier this month, the Venezuelan National Assembly approved [JURIST report] the reforms by a 160-7 vote, clearing the way for the two-part national referendum on December 2.

Chavez has touted the constitutional changes as necessary to advance Venezuela's socialist revolution, and planned to lead rallies for those in favor of the amendments on Friday. Human Rights Watch has warned that the reforms would violate international law [press release] by allowing the president to suspend due process guarantees during times of emergency. Opposition politicians have accused Chavez[JURIST report] of using the constitutional reforms to consolidate his power over Venezuela. Former Venezuelan Defense Minister Raul Baduel has also spoken out against the constitutional reforms [JURIST report]. AP has more. El Universal has local coverage, in Spanish.

11/30/07 - Human Rights Watch Thursday criticized the proposed constitutional amendments as threatening fundamental human rights. According to the HRW statement:

The proposed changes would eliminate the constitutional prohibition on suspending due process guarantees during states of emergency. They would also eliminate specific time limits on states of emergency, giving the president de facto power to suspend due process and other basic rights indefinitely.

Human Rights Watch is particularly concerned that these provisions could lead to suspension of fundamental rights in violation of international law, as the proposed amendments would also eliminate the requirement that such restrictions "meet the requirements, principles, and guarantees established in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights."





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BP subsidiary pleads guilty to Clean Water Act violation in Alaska oil spill
Steve Czajkowski on November 29, 2007 6:02 PM ET

[JURIST] BP Exploration Alaska (BPXA), a subsidiary of British Petroleum (BP) [corporate website], pleaded guilty Thursday to violating the Clean Water Act [text] in a case stemming from the March 2006 oil spill [JURIST report] at the company's Prudhoe Bay oil field in Alaska. According to a plea agreement [PDF text] reached last month, BPXA will pay $20 million in fines and restitution for the spill of an estimated 134,000 to 267,000 gallons of crude oil, the largest spill ever in Alaskan history [BBC report].

The agreement was one of three separate claims the BP corporation settled [JURIST report] in October. BP agreed to pay just over $300 million as part of an agreement [CFTC press release] to defer the prosecution of a civil lawsuit [JURIST report] filed by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) [official website] in June 2006 alleging that at least six current and former employees of BP North America violated the Commodity Exchange Act [text] by using BP's dominant market position to manipulate propane prices. BP also agreed to pay $50 million and plead guilty to a one-count felony violation of the Clean Air Act [text] for alleged deficiencies at the company's Texas City refinery which resulted in an explosion that killed 15 people and injured hundreds more in 2005. AP has more.






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Thailand anti-corruption commission to investigate former prime minister
Alexis Unkovic on November 29, 2007 5:41 PM ET

[JURIST] Thailand's National Counter-Corruption Commission (NCCC) [official website] has approved the creation of three subcommittees to investigate former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and two of his former senior administration officials, according to an NCCC spokesperson Thursday. The first subcommittee will probe Thaksin's involvement in the bidding for security services at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport while serving on the airport's executive board. The other two subcommittees will investigate allegations against former Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit and former Highway Department chief Srisuk Chanthrangsu in connection with duty-free airport shops and road construction, respectively. Xinhua has more. The Bangkok Post has local coverage.

Thaksin was ousted in a bloodless military coup [JURIST report] in September 2006 while travelling abroad. He and his wife Pojamarn have also been accused of corruption [JURIST report], conflict of interest violations, and dereliction of duty for personal gain in charges stemming from a 2003 land purchase by Pojamarn from the government-directed Financial Institutions Development Fund [official website]. Thaksin has refused to return to Thailand to face charges because he says he does not expect to receive a fair trial [JURIST report].






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Serbia indicts 14 for roles in 1991 massacre of Croats
Alexis Unkovic on November 29, 2007 5:01 PM ET

[JURIST] Serbia's Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor [official website, in English] Thursday indicted 14 former soldiers and paramilitaries on war crimes charges in connection with the October 1991 Lovas Massacre [Wikipedia backgrounder] in Croatia, a spokesperson told Reuters. Half of those charged are in custody while the rest remain free but must report to authorities at regular intervals. In May, the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor had confirmed it was conducting an ongoing investigation [JURIST report] in cooperation with Croatian authorities against 12 former Serb paramilitary members for their alleged role in the "torture, inhuman treatment, and killing of 70 civilians" in the Croatian town of Lovas. The prosecutor's statement followed a report that Serbian police had arrested seven former Serb paramilitaries in connection with the October 1991 massacre. Reuters has more.

Last month, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte [official profile] said Serbia must do more to apprehend fugitive war crimes suspects [JURIST report] before she can give a positive report on the country's work with the ICTY to the European Union.






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UN Hariri probe pursuing new leads: Brammertz
Alexis Unkovic on November 29, 2007 4:12 PM ET

[JURIST] UN International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) [authorizing resolution; UN materials] head Serge Brammertz [ICC profile; JURIST news archive] told the UN Security Council Wednesday that unspecified "persons of interest" have been identified and other progress has been made in the international investigation into the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri [JURIST news archive]. In June, the Security Council expanded [JURIST report] the Hariri probe to include 17 other attempted or successful political assassinations in Lebanon. Brammertz said Wednesday that "operational links may exist" between the perpetrators of each of these attacks.

On Wednesday, the UN Security Council [official website] unanimously approved [press release; JURIST report] Brammertz's appointment to serve as the new chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website]. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon nominated Brammertz [JURIST report] earlier this month to replace outgoing chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte [official profile], who will step down at the end of the year. Former Canadian Deputy Attorney General Daniel Bellemare [Ya Libnan profile; JURIST report ] was selected to replace Brammertz as head of the Hariri investigation earlier this month. AP has more.






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Philippines officers linked to 2003 coup take over hotel, demand Arroyo resignation
Alexis Unkovic on November 29, 2007 3:14 PM ET

[JURIST] About a dozen officers on trial in the Philippines [JURIST news archive] in connection with a failed 2003 mutiny [BBC report] Thursday walked out of court, took control of a Manila hotel, and demanded the resignation of Philippine President Gloria Arroyo [official website; BBC profile]. Philippine military and police forces subsequently regained control of the hotel after a lengthy confrontation. The military officers and several civilian sympathizers, including former Vice President Teofisto Guingona [official profile], were taken into custody. Reports indicate that courtroom security forces did not prevent the officers from leaving the court, and in fact escorted them to the hotel. After the siege, Arroyo announced a 12 to 5 am curfew in the capital city, but said she has no doubts about the loyalty of the army as a whole.

In April, a Philippine military tribunal sentenced 54 military officers [JURIST report] to seven years and six months in prison for their involvement in the 2003 coup attempt. Charges were later dismissed [JURIST report] in October against four additional military officers connected to the same mutiny. AFP has more. AP has additional coverage.






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Russia opposition figure Kasparov released from jail
Kiely Lewandowski on November 29, 2007 2:57 PM ET

[JURIST] Russian opposition leader Garry Kasparov [personal website, in Russian] was released from jail Thursday after serving five days in custody for organizing an unsanctioned protest [JURIST report] against Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website] and resisting arrest. The former chess champion and head of the liberal United Civil Front [party website, in Russian] had challenged his arrest as illegal, but his appeal was denied [JURIST report] earlier this week.

In April, Kasparov accused police of brutality after being arrested [JURIST reports] at a similar rally. Kasparov and fellow opposition leader former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov [BBC profile] have strongly criticized Putin and his allies in the run-up to December parliamentary elections and the March 2008 presidential election. Kasparov has accused Putin of instituting a police state and creating a puppet judiciary [JURIST report] to persecute opposition leaders. RIA Novosti has more.






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Russia court sentences Berezovsky to six years on embezzlement charges
Joshua Pantesco on November 29, 2007 12:46 PM ET

[JURIST] A Russian court Thursday found exiled business tycoon Boris Berezovsky [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] guilty of embezzling 214 million rubles from Russian national airline Aeroflot [official website]. The court sentenced him to six years in prison, though prosecutors had asked for nine years [JURIST report]. Berezovsky was tried in absentia, as he now resides in the UK as a political refugee. He has denied all charges, which he characterizes as politically motivated. Berezovsky has long been a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website] and especially his handling of war in Chechnya [BBC timeline]. AP has more.

Prosecutors have also accused Berezovsky of plotting a coup [JURIST report] against Putin, and in July, prosecutors alleged that he embezzled credit funds [JURIST report] from SBS-Agro Bank [EBRD profile], which he then owned, to purchase real estate in southern France. Berezovsky has denied those charges as well.






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Israel police recommend dropping Bank Leumi corruption case against PM
Gabriel Haboubi on November 29, 2007 12:43 PM ET

[JURIST] Israeli police Thursday concluded a corruption investigation into Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert [official website; JURIST news archive], telling prosecutors at the Ministry of Justice [official website] that they do not believe there is enough evidence to indict Olmert on allegations that he illegally interfered [JURIST report] with the 2005 state sale of Bank Leumi [corporate website]. Olmert, then Minister of Finance, allegedly attempted to use his position to favor two of his associates in the sell-off of the bank's controlling interest. Israeli Attorney General Menahem Mazuz [official profile] will take the police recommendation under advisement before making a final decision on whether to prosecute Olmert.

Police repeatedly interrogated Olmert over his involvement in the bank sale last month, just as new allegations of misconduct broke. Olmert is still facing corruption investigations for allegedly purchasing an apartment at a substantially reduced price in exchange for helping a construction company obtain illegal building permits and for obtaining a government grant for an associate [JURIST reports] while he was Trade Minister. AP has more.






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Leahy rejects White House executive privilege claim in US Attorney firings probe
Joshua Pantesco on November 29, 2007 12:00 PM ET

[JURIST] US Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on Thursday rejected White House assertions of executive privilege in the ongoing congressional investigations into the US Attorneys firing scandal [JURIST news archive]. Leahy issued a ruling [text and press release] in which he directed the White House to comply with formal committee subpoenas [JURIST report] for documents and the testimony of White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, former White House political director Sara M. Taylor, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, and White House deputy political director J. Scott Jennings. The subpoenas were issued over the summer in connection with the committee's investigation into the "politization of the White House, particularly in the hirings and firings of US Attorneys." In response, the Bush Administration has asserted claims of executive privilege [JURIST report] and immunity from the subpoenas. Leahy's ruling said:

That [White House counsel Fred] Fielding asserts executive privilege on behalf of the President is surprising in light of the significant and uncontroverted evidence that the President had no involvement in these firings. To date, the President has not taken responsibility for the firings and his own statements regarding the firings refer to others making the decisions. The Attorney General's former chief of staff, the former political director at the White House and the Attorney General himself have testified under oath that they did not talk to the President about these firings. Courts analyzing executive privilege claims have made clear that the purpose of the privilege is to protect the President's ability to receive candid advice. The President's lack of involvement in these firings - by his own account and that of many others - calls into question any claim of executive privilege.
Leahy also dismissed the Administration's claim of immunity from the subpoenas as unsupported by any judicial precedent.

It is unclear how the Bush Administration will respond to Leahy's ruling. The ruling allows the committee to vote on contempt citations if the Administration continues to stonewall the subpoena. Taylor and Jennings have testified before the Senate committee, but repeatedly refused to answer questions [JURIST report], citing executive privilege. Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers face possible contempt charges [JURIST report] for refusing to testify before the House Judiciary Committee or produce documents relating to the US Attorney firings. The House panel voted [JURIST report] in July to issue contempt of Congress citations [backgrounder; 2 USC Sec. 192] against Bolten and Miers and the full House will soon decide whether to sanction the two for their refusal to comply with the subpoenas.

The House and Senate investigations, according to Leahy's ruling, have accumulated substantial evidence from the Department of Justice showing that "the list for firings was compiled based on input from the highest political ranks in the White House, including Karl Rove. The evidence shows that senior officials were apparently focused on the political impact of federal prosecutions and whether federal prosecutors were doing enough to bring partisan voter fraud and corruption cases. It is now apparent that the reasons given for these firings were contrived as part of a cover up." AP has more.






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Musharraf pledges to lift Pakistan emergency rule December 16
Joshua Pantesco on November 29, 2007 11:27 AM ET

[JURIST] Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf pledged to lift emergency rule in the country on December 16 in a televised speech [unofficial translation] Thursday delivered after he took the presidential oath of office [JURIST report] as a civilian Thursday morning. Pakistani media quoted Musharraf as saying:

It is my intention to lift the state of emergency from the country on Dec 16, withdraw PCO [Provisional Constitution Order] the same day and hold the general elections as per the announced schedule and according to the Constitution.
Parliamentary elections are slated for January 8. Musharraf made no mention of restoring to office the Supreme Court judges he dismissed when implementing emergency rule [JURIST report] earlier this month.

Musharraf has been under considerable international pressure to end the emergency. On Wednesday, US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack noted [press briefing transcript] that:
we have made it quite clear to [President Musharraf], our view that he should lift the state of emergency well in advance of the upcoming elections which he scheduled for January. Our belief is that it's critical to have that state of emergency lifted in order to have the kind of elections that the Pakistani people can have faith in.
AP has more. APP has local coverage.





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UK Enron bankers plead guilty in fraud case
Joshua Pantesco on November 29, 2007 10:52 AM ET

[JURIST] The three British bankers known as the NatWest three [JURIST news archive] pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of wire fraud as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. David Bermingham, Giles Darby and Gary had been indicted on seven counts of wire fraud [indictment, PDF] for allegedly entering into a secret agreement with former Enron Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow [Chronicle profile] to defraud National Westminster Bank of $19 million while keeping $7 million for themselves. The trial was scheduled to begin in January. The judge has discretion to accept or deny the plea deal, under which the three former bankers agreed to serve a 37-month sentence, repay the $7.3 million they are believed to have fraudulently earned from the deal, and subject themselves to a civil suit in Britain brought by their former employer. The Independent has more. AP has additional coverage.

The three were extradited to the US [JURIST report] pursuant to an extradition treaty that subsequently came under heavy criticism [JURIST report] in the UK Parliament as "lopsided." The 2003 US-UK Extradition Treaty [text, PDF; Statewatch backgrounder], incorporated into UK law through the Extradition Act [text], requires only a showing of prima facie evidence by the requesting country, a lower evidentiary standard than probable cause. In July, UK lawmakers also pushed for the treaty to include a presumption that British citizens accused of committing crimes in the UK should be tried there.






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France lawyers, judges protest proposed court cutbacks
Joshua Pantesco on November 29, 2007 10:07 AM ET

[JURIST] Judges, lawyers, and court clerks went on strike in France Thursday to protest a proposal to eliminate 319 French courts. French Justice Minister Rachida Dati [official profile, in French; BBC profile] has proposed the cutbacks, which the Magistrates' Trade Union says has been mishandled by Dati and the Justice Department. DPA has more.

Dati has been involved in several controversies since being appointed [IHT report] to French Prime Minister Nicholas Sarkozy's cabinet in May. A group of judges threatened to revolt [JURIST report] in September over Dati's "authoritarian" management style. Dati also has the dubious distinction of being the first Justice Minister to be called before France's Higher Judicial Council [official website] after she sparred with a prosecutor who publicly criticized her proposal to toughen the French criminal code [official text, in French].






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Civilian Musharraf takes presidential oath as Pakistan lawyers protest
Joshua Pantesco on November 29, 2007 9:00 AM ET

[JURIST] Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf was sworn in to a new five-year term as the country's civilian president Thursday, taking the oath of office [text] under the 1973 Constitution a day after stepping down as chief of the army [JURIST report]. Delivering his inaugural address [APP report], Musharraf defended his decision to declare a state of emergency [PDF text; JURIST news archive] earlier this month, saying it was necessary to preserve democracy in Pakistan: "we want democracy, we want human rights, we want stability, but we will do it in our own way." Musharraf's role as army chief complicated his recent bid for re-election as president, with several legal challenges filed against him in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The court, reconstituted with Musharraf loyalists after the state of emergency was put in place November 3, dismissed all legal challenges [JURIST report] to Musharraf's re-election last week. AP has more.

As Musharraf was being sworn in, several hundred Pakistani lawyers gathered in the streets of Lahore to protest. The local bar association president said that between 12 and 15 lawyers were injured and seven were arrested as police used batons to beat and drive back the protesters. A police spokesperson denied that any arrests had been made and said the crackdown was legal under the declaration of emergency law, which remains in effect. AFP has more.

10:40 AM ET - Musharraf said Thursday evening in an address on state television that emergency rule would be lifted on December 16, several weeks before general elections are scheduled to take place in early January. BBC News has more.

11/30/07 - At least 10 protesters were injured during the demonstration in Lahore and police cited approximately 150 lawyers with violations of Pakistan's anti-terror and public order laws. Dawn has local coverage.






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Rights groups allege violations in run-up to Russia parliamentary elections
Andrew Gilmore on November 28, 2007 7:41 PM ET

[JURIST] Human rights groups have expressed concerns about repression and rights violations in the run-up to Russian parliamentary elections scheduled for Sunday. Amnesty International (AI), [advocacy website] alleged Wednesday that the Russian government has interfered with opposition parties' rights of freedom of expression and free assembly [AI press release]. It characterized opposition candidate and former chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov - arrested [JURIST report] in Moscow Saturday at an anti-Putin rally - as a prisoner of conscience, and called for his immediate release. Russian human rights group Golos [advocacy website, in Russian] has meanwhile said that election observers have been prevented from effectively observing the elections [Moscow Times article] because of a politically-motivated criminal prosecution. AP has more.

United Russia [party website, in Russian] the political party of Russian President Vladimir Putin [JURIST news archive; official website] has launched a massive publicity campaign [NYT report] to win the elections, which it is already expected to dominate.






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Japan upper house passes bill to stop air force mission to Iraq
Deirdre Jurand on November 28, 2007 6:46 PM ET

[JURIST] The Japanese House of Councillors [official website] passed a bill Wednesday to end Japan's air force mission in Iraq, with opposition leaders insisting that Japan should work through the United Nations rather than the United States. Japan withdrew its ground troops from Iraq last July, but a Japanese unit stationed in Kuwait still provides air support for the Multi-National Force-Iraq. The bill, which passed 133-103 [AP report], is supported primarily by the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) [party website]. It is not, however, expected to pass the more powerful House of Representatives, dominated by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party [official website]. The House of Councillors vote comes little more than one week after a Japanese district court dismissed a lawsuit [JURIST report] that claimed the deployment of Japanese troops in Iraq violated Article 9 of the Japanese constitution [text].

The debate over Japan's involvement in military operations abroad recently caused a major rift [JURIST report] between Japan's two major parties, contributing to the September resignation [BBC resignation speech translation; JURIST report] of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The DPJ, which generally opposes Japan's overseas military deployments, blocked the renewal of the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law [text], which allowed Japan to refuel allied ships in the Indian Ocean for operations in Afghanistan until its expiration on November 1. The Japanese House of Representatives passed a bill [JURIST report] earlier this month reauthorizing a limited refueling operation. VOA has more.






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Gaza-based Hamas military court issues first ruling
Andrew Gilmore on November 28, 2007 6:31 PM ET

[JURIST] A military court established in the Gaza Strip [BBC backgrounder] by the Palestinian militant group Hamas [JURIST archive; BBC backgrounder] handed down its first ruling on Wednesday, sentencing three members of rival party Fatah [JURIST archive; BBC backgrounder] to 18 months in prison and fining them $280. A fourth Fatah member was sentenced to one year in prison and a $140 fine. The four men were accused of planting a bomb near the house of a Hamas official, although no one was hurt in the resulting explosion. AP has more.

The Hamas court was established after Hamas' violent June takeover of the Gaza Strip [BBC report]. The judiciary of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the Gaza Strip, under orders from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas [BBC profile], has refused to cooperate with the Hamas government and ceased functioning since the takeover in June. Hamas vowed in September that it would replace PA judges [JURIST report] who refused to cooperate with it. The military court was expected to begin considering criminal cases that ordinarily would have been dealt with by the PA courts.






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ICTY orders former Croatian general to stay in The Hague until trial
Deirdre Jurand on November 28, 2007 6:03 PM ET

[JURIST] The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website; JURIST news archive] ruled Wednesday that former Croatian general Ante Gotovina [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] must remain in detention in The Hague until his trial. The court denied Gotovina's motion for release [decision text, PDF] and dismissed the motion to strike because of the risk he could flee. Gotovina, who has indicted [text] for alleged crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war, filed a motion for provisional release in August to await trial under house arrest in Croatia. The motion also required Croatian officials' assurance that Gotovina would return to The Hague for trial, but the prosecution formally opposed [text, PDF] the request, writing that provisional release would undermine the interests of justice. The ICTY has not yet given a trial date. Reuters has more.

After his 2001 indictment Gotovina became the third most-wanted ICTY war crimes suspect until officials arrested [JURIST report] him in Spain's Canary Islands in 2005. He is charged in connection with the killing of Croatian Serb civilians during the Balkan wars in the 1990s, including failing to prevent the murder of 150 people in Krajina during Operation Storm [BBC report] in 1995. The offensive forced about 150,000 Serbs from their homes.






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Iraq parliament stalls on de-Baathification reform bill
Caitlin Price on November 28, 2007 4:25 PM ET

[JURIST] The Iraqi parliament [official website, English version] met briefly Wednesday to continue debate on a controversial bill [JURIST report] that would allow former Baath Party [party website, in Arabic; BBC backgrounder] members not convicted of any crimes to return to their previously held government positions, participate in the political process, and serve in the civil and military service. Discussion was inconclusive and despite a previous announcement no vote was held due to low turnout; many parliamentarians boycotted the meeting over coalition-imposed security measures at the parliament building. Hardline Shiite allies of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr [BBC profile] called for the law to be redrafted to include compensation for the families of victims of Saddam Hussein's regime, and for former political prisoners to be reinstated to their jobs. AFP has more.

Sunday's first reading [JURIST report] of the draft law in parliament was met with raucous opposition. Supporters of the measure are looking for a way to reinstate [JURIST report] former Baath party members who say they joined the party for professional reasons; Hussein only allowed university enrollment, career progression and specialized medical aid to those who were members of his party. Despite provisions in the proposal that would prevent reemployment of former Baathists who have been charged with, or are sought for, criminal activities, several influential Shiite leaders oppose the draft law [JURIST report] as a "dangerous" undertaking to return former regime members - many of the Sunnis - to leadership positions in the government. Some Kurds, who were also suppressed by Hussein's Baathist regime, oppose the draft law as well.






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ICTR reduces sentences of Rwanda media executives who encouraged genocide
Caitlin Price on November 28, 2007 3:40 PM ET

[JURIST] The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website; JURIST news archive] Wednesday reduced the sentences [press release, in French] of three Rwandan media executives imprisoned for their roles in the 1994 Rwandan genocide [BBC backgrounder]. Ferdinand Nahimana and Hassan Ngeze, sentenced to life in prison [JURIST report] in 2003, were granted sentence reductions to 30 years and 35 years, respectively. The third executive, Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, had his sentence reduced from 35 years to 32 years.

Nahimana and Barayagwiza helped establish Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines [Wikipedia backgrounder], a radio station that broadcast messages encouraging the killing of minority Tutsis; Ngeze was the editor of Kangura [IDRC backgrounder], a magazine that "dehumanized" Tutsis. The five-judge appeals tribunal overturned the trial judge's finding that there was an understanding between the defendants' media outlets to encourage genocide. Approximately 800,000 people, primarily Tutsis, died in three months of the Rwandan genocide. BBC News has more.






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US Supreme Court hears Maine tobacco delivery law case
Caitlin Price on November 28, 2007 2:56 PM ET

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] heard oral arguments [transcript, PDF] Wednesday in Rowe v. New Hampshire Motor Transport [LII case backgrounder; merit briefs], 06-457, where the Court is considering whether a Maine tobacco transport law is preempted by federal law. In 2003, Maine passed a law requiring special inspection of incoming tobacco packages to prevent purchases from unlicensed retailers who might sell to minors. In 2005, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit found [opinion] that the Maine law was preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA) [text], which limits state regulation of interstate air and motor carriers.

The Maine law is targeted at preventing Internet tobacco sales [GAO report] to minors, and lawyers from the Maine attorney general's office argued that the FAAAA was not intended to reach public health issues. Critics of the law say that such regulation must come from Congress. With at least 40 states regulating tobacco delivery from Internet purchases, delivery companies face widely varied state standards. Justice David Souter said that the FAAAA intended to deregulate the shipping industry, and questioned whether the law created any exceptions. AP has more.






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UN Security Council approves Brammertz as ICTY chief prosecutor
Gabriel Haboubi on November 28, 2007 1:46 PM ET

[JURIST] The UN Security Council [official website] on Wednesday unanimously approved [press release] the appointment of Serge Brammertz [ICC profile; JURIST news archive] as the new chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website]. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon [official website] nominated Brammertz [JURIST report] earlier this month to replace outgoing chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte [official profile], who will step down at the end of the year. Although the ICTY chief prosecutor normally serves a four-year term, Brammertz will likely serve for less than that, as the ICTY is scheduled to complete its work in 2010. Brammertz will begin working at the ICTY on January 1.

Brammertz, a lawyer from Belgium, is a former deputy prosecutor in the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website]. Most recently, he was heading the international investigation in to the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri [JURIST news archive]. The ICTY was established in 1993 to prosecute war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia. Xinhua has more.






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EPA sued by 12 states over relaxed toxin disclosure requirements
Gabriel Haboubi on November 28, 2007 12:36 PM ET

[JURIST] Twelve states filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF; press release] against the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) [official website] Wednesday, seeking to invalidate new regulations that relax disclosure requirements [EPA Toxic Release Inventory materials] for companies storing or emitting 500 or more pounds of toxins. The civil case will be led by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo [official website], and was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website]. Joining New York in the suit are Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. Cuomo argues that the new regulations "rob New Yorkers - and people across the country - of their right to know about toxic dangers in their own backyards."

The new EPA regulations require detailed disclosure only whenever companies store or release 5,000 pounds of toxins, while allowing companies to file an abbreviated form when they store or release between 500 and 4,999 pounds of toxins. The old Toxic Release Inventory law, established under the 1986 Emergency Planning & Community Right to Know Act [text], required detailed disclosure from any company dealing with 500 or more pounds of toxic materials, and was signed by President Ronald Reagan after the 1984 Union Carbide chemical disaster in Bhopal, India [Wikipedia backgrounder] caused the deaths of between 2,500 and 5,000 people. The EPA announced last year that it would push for the relaxed reporting requirements [JURIST report] after it abandoned plans to move reporting from an annual basis to every two years. AP has more.






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ICTY witnesses in former Kosovo leader trial too fearful to testify
Brett Murphy on November 28, 2007 11:47 AM ET

[JURIST] The last two witnesses for the prosecution in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia case against former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj [ICTY backgrounder, PDF; BBC profile] and two other members of the Kosovo Liberation Army [FAS backgrounder] failed to testify on Wednesday citing fears that the ICTY would be unable to protect them. One of the scheduled witnesses was charged with contempt of court [press release] after refusing last week to testify against the defendants, saying that he had been threatened after previously testifying in a separate trial. The other witness remains hospitalized in Canada, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Lawyers for the defendants are expected to move for a dismissal of the case for insufficient evidence, a motion rarely granted at the court.

The trial against Haradinaj and his two co-defendants, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj [TrialWatch profiles], began in March [JURIST report] with outgoing chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte labeling Haradinaj a warlord and a mobster in uniform who committed "ugly, cruel and violent crimes." The defendants face 37 counts of war crimes, including murder, persecution, and rape [amended indictment, PDF], but Haradinaj has pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to all charges. Haradinaj was a senior commander of the KLA, the ethnic Albanian guerrilla force that opposed Slobodan Milosevic [advocacy website] during the 1998-1999 Kosovo war. AP has more.






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Musharraf steps down as Pakistan army chief
Mike Rosen-Molina on November 28, 2007 11:32 AM ET

[JURIST] Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf stepped down as head of Pakistan's army Wednesday, the day before he is scheduled to take an oath of office as Pakistan's civilian president. Musharraf's role as army chief complicated his recent bid for re-election as president, with several legal challenges filed against him in the Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website]. The court, reconstituted with Musharaff loyalists after he declared a state of emergency [PDF text; JURIST news archive] earlier this month, dismissed all legal challenges [JURIST report] to Musharaff's re-election last week.

Opposition lawmakers, including former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, welcomed Musharraf's retirement from the military, but renewed calls for the state of emergency to be lifted. AP has more.






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Federal appeals court affirms dismissal of Massachusetts immigration raid lawsuit
Brett Murphy on November 28, 2007 11:06 AM ET

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit on Tuesday upheld [opinion, PDF] a district court's dismissal [order, PDF; JURIST report] of a lawsuit brought by illegal immigrant detainees over their transfer from Massachusetts to Texas holding centers following a March 6 factory raid in which 360 people were arrested. The district court dismissed the lawsuit [ACLU materials] because it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case. The appeals court upheld the dismissal, but on the grounds that the plaintiffs had failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The court wrote:

The common denominator is that none of the claims can proceed in the district court. Thus, while our reasoning differs somewhat from that of the court below — and our opinion should not be read as an unqualified endorsement of the way in which immigration officials handled the matter — we affirm the judgment of dismissal...

We are sensitive to the concerns raised by the petitioners and are conscious that undocumented workers, like all persons who are on American soil, have certain inalienable rights. But in the first instance, it is Congress — not the judiciary — that has the responsibility of prescribing a framework for the vindication of those rights. When Congress speaks clearly and formulates a regime that satisfies constitutional imperatives, the courts must follow Congress's lead. In that sense, it does not matter whether a court approves or disapproves of an agency's modus operandi.
An attorney for the plaintiffs said that they may still appeal the decision or amend their original complaint in the district court.

The US Department of Homeland Security [official website] detained more than 300 people for possible deportation as illegal immigrants after a March 6 raid at Michael Bianco Inc. [corporate website], a leather factory that makes equipment for the US military. Following the raid, the district judge hearing the case ordered US immigration officials [JURIST report] to provide detainees access to lawyers and not to move them out of state. AP has more.





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UK Law Lords dismiss challenge to ban on hunting with hounds
Brett Murphy on November 28, 2007 10:25 AM ET

[JURIST] The judicial panel of the UK House of Lords, also known as the Law Lords, Wednesday upheld [judgment text] a controversial ban on hunting with hounds under the Hunting Act 2004 [text]. The Lords said that overturning the ban, which prohibits fox and deer hunting and rabbit coursing with dogs in England and Wales, would subvert the democratic process as opponents of the ban had not succeeded in Parliament. The Countryside Alliance [advocacy website], which brought the challenge, argued that the ban is in violation of human rights and places thousands of jobs at risk, and said that it plans to appeal the decision to the European Court of Human Rights [press release].

Last year, the Court of Appeal dismissed a challenge [JURIST report] brought by the Countryside Alliance alleging that the fox hunting ban infringed the right to private family life, peaceful assembly and freedom of association. In 2005, the Countryside Alliance lost another challenge [JURIST report] questioning the legality of the 1949 Parliament Act [BBC backgrounder], which was used by the House of Lords to push the Hunting Act through Parliament. The first criminal prosecution under the Hunting Act occurred last year, when a UK court found a man guilty of illegally fox hunting with dogs [JURIST report]. BBC News has more.






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Ousted Pakistan CJ calls for election boycott
Brett Murphy on November 28, 2007 9:56 AM ET

[JURIST] Ousted Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry [JURIST news archive] Tuesday urged Pakistan's political parties and people to boycott parliamentary elections scheduled for January 8, saying that they were comprised by being held under unconstitutional emergency rule and should not proceed because Pakistan was in unusual circumstances with the rights of its judges, lawyers and people restricted or suspended. Lahore High Court Bar Association Secretary Sarfraz Cheema Chaudhry said the chief justice talked to him by telephone from his official residence, which he has not been allowed to leave. Chaudhry's boycott call was echoed by retired Supreme Court Justice Wajihuddin Ahmed [Wikipedia profile], an anti-Musharraf candidate in the presidential election in October and one of 17 retired Pakistani judges who Tuesday issued a joint declaration calling for the reinstatement of the constitution and for an end to emergency rule. Pakistan's Dawn has more. The News has additional coverage.

Pakistan's two main political parties appear somewhat divided over the boycott option. Recently returned ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who has been visiting some of the deposed judges [News report], has said he favors consultation with party members although he party has given him free rein to decide whether to boycott or not. Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister leading the Pakistan People's Party, said [Hindu report] on Wednesday that her party had "finally decided to participate under protest while reserving the right to boycott at a subsequent stage".






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Greece appeals court dismisses case against former Getty curator
Brett Murphy on November 28, 2007 9:05 AM ET

[JURIST] A Greek appeals court Tuesday dismissed criminal charges against former Getty Museum [museum website] curator Marion True for her alleged involvement in the looting of an ancient gold wreath from Greece. The Los Angeles museum acquired the wreath in 1993, and Greek prosecutors brought charges against True alleging that the artifact had been illegally removed from the country. Under Greek law, courts must apply the statute of limitations of the jurisdiction where the acquisition of an artifact was made known, and California law sets a three-year limit on claims for stolen artifacts. True still faces criminal charges in Greece related to unregistered artifacts found in her summer home in Greece.

In September, the Getty Museum signed an agreement [JURIST report] with the Italian ministry of Culture Heritage and Activities [official website] to return 40 allegedly looted Italian artifacts [list of objects, PDF] in exchange for the dropping of a civil lawsuit against True. The agreement was initially announced [JURIST report] in August, after the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities threatened to suspend all Italian collaboration with the Getty. Italy first demanded that the Getty return all antiquities alleged to have been looted [JURIST report] last year, insisting that, pursuant to a 1939 Italian law, all archaeological artifacts excavated in Italy belong to the Italian state, and that many items recovered in international waters were nevertheless exported illegally from Italy. The New York Times has more.






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Human rights group reports increased political arrests in China
Natalie Hrubos on November 28, 2007 8:03 AM ET

[JURIST] Political arrests in China [JURIST news archive] more than doubled in 2006 compared to the previous year, according to a report [press release] Wednesday from human rights group Dui Hua [advocacy website]. The 2007 Chinese Law Yearbook revealed that the state arrested 604 individuals for "endangering state security" in 2006, the highest number since 2002. In 2005, China arrested 296 individuals for "endangering state security," a charge often levied by the Chinese government against dissidents and government critics.

In one high-profile case, Chinese human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng was convicted [JURIST report] by a court in Beijing of inciting subversion of state power [CECC report]. Gao gained international notice by representing controversial clients, including members of the banned sect Falun Gong [group website; BBC backgrounder]. Other high-profile subversion trials in China in 2006 resulted in the jailing of several journalists and a 10-year sentence for a teacher [JURIST reports] who posted pro-democracy essays on the Internet. AP has more.






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Egypt police officers sentenced to 7 years for torture death
Natalie Hrubos on November 28, 2007 7:42 AM ET

[JURIST] An Egyptian court sentenced three police officers to seven years in prison late Tuesday for torturing 38-year-old carpenter Nasr Abdullah to death in July. The sentencing is part of the country's recent crackdown on police brutality. Earlier this month, two police officers were sentenced to three years in prison [JURIST report] for sodomizing and beating Emad el-Kabir in 2006 while videoing the incident on a cell phone. Egyptian bloggers posted the video on the Internet later that year.

Human rights groups have recently expressed concern about the use of torture in Egyptian police stations. In April, Amnesty International released a report [text; JURIST report] criticizing Egypt for systematic human rights abuses of detainees in its police stations, military camps and centers run by State Security Investigations. AP has more.






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ICTR appeals chamber upholds genocide conviction of former Rwanda army officer
Devin Montgomery on November 28, 2007 7:15 AM ET

[JURIST] The appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website] on Tuesday affirmed [PDF text; summary, PDF] the genocide and crime against humanity convictions of former lawmaker and retired colonel Aloys Simba [ICTR case materials; Trial Watch profile]. The appeals chamber also affirmed Simba's 25-year prison sentence [press release]. Simba's defense team challenged his conviction on multiple grounds - including the form of the indictment against him, the court's assessment of evidence, numerous intermediate court decisions, the length of the imposed sentence, and alleged violations of Simba's right to call witnesses - but the appeals chamber dismissed all of his arguments. The ICTR also rejected the prosecution's appeals of Simba's sentence and the dismissal of additional charges against him.

Simba was convicted [JURIST report] in 2005 of genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity for supplying weapons and ammunition to Hutu militias in the massacre of Tutsis at Murambi Technical School and Kaduha Parish in the Gikongoro prefecture of Rwanda during what has been called the 100-day massacre [BBC backgrounder] in which over 800,000 Rwandans were killed. The UN News Centre has more.






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Russia calls for formal arms reduction treaty with US to replace 1991 agreement
Natalie Hrubos on November 28, 2007 7:04 AM ET

[JURIST] Russian officials said Wednesday that leaders in the country want to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) [text] with a formal, binding agreement with the US that will limit the creation of new nuclear weapons. The treaty, which signaled the end of the Cold War [BBC backgrounder], will expire in 2009.

US President George Bush's administration has said that it wants to replace the treaty with an informal agreement that does not include the strict verification requirements of the current treaty. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russian leaders are disappointed with US proposals [RIA Novosti report], and that an informal agreement would be a "failure." AP has more. Kommersant has additional coverage.






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Hunt for Nazi war criminals extended to South America
Lisl Brunner on November 28, 2007 6:42 AM ET

[JURIST] The Simon Wiesenthal Center [advocacy website] announced Tuesday that it will extend its campaign to capture and prosecute suspected Nazi war criminals to four South American countries. In a press conference in Buenos Aires, director Efraim Zuroff outlined the details of Operation Last Chance [project website], which will offer rewards to anyone providing information that leads to the capture of suspected Nazis in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay [JURIST news archives]. According to the Center, between 150 and 300 suspected Nazi war criminals entered Argentina after the end of World War II, and "dozens, if not hundreds" remain in hiding in South America today. Zuroff announced that there is evidence indicating that Aribert Heim [Guardian report], a doctor accused of performing medical experiments on concentration camp detainees, is living in South America. Although Heim's family claims that he died in Argentina in 1993, the Center is offering a reward of 310,000 euros for information leading to his capture. Heim would be in his 90s if still alive.

The Jerusalem-based Center began its campaign in 2002, targeting Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Thus far, it has led to information regarding 488 suspects in 20 countries and has referred 99 cases to local prosecutors. Last week, Italy's high court upheld the life sentences of three former Nazi officials [JURIST report] who were convicted of war crimes. The Wiesenthal Center reports that 21 Nazi war criminals were convicted in 2006, and that 16 were convicted [JURIST report] in the previous year. Deutsche Welle has more. Clarin has local coverage, in Spanish.






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Blackwater guards ignored orders before Iraqi civilian killings: US lawsuit
Melissa Bancroft on November 27, 2007 7:17 PM ET

[JURIST] Blackwater security contractors who were involved in the September 16 shooting [JURIST report] of Iraqi civilians ignored a direct order from Blackwater and US State Department personnel prior to the shooting incident, according to an amended complaint [PDF text; press release] filed in US federal court Monday on behalf of several of the victims. The lawsuit [JURIST report] was brought by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which said Tuesday that the amended complaint alleges that:

Blackwater personnel who fired on the innocent civilians had ignored directives from the Tactical Operations Center ("TOC"), which was manned by both Blackwater and Department of State personnel, to stay in another area with State Department personnel they had dropped off until further instructed to leave the area.
The complaint also alleges that:
Blackwater routinely deploys heavily-armed "shooters" in the streets of Baghdad with the knowledge that up to 25 percent of them are chemically influenced by steroids or other judgment-altering substances, and fails to take effective steps to stop and test for drug use.
The allegations against Blackwater [corporate website; JURIST news archive] have caused domestic outrage in Iraq and have prompted legal controversy in the US.

Iraqi government investigators probing the killings have concluded that the Blackwater security detail's actions were unprovoked, and amounted to "deliberate murder" [JURIST report]. The US Justice Department said earlier this month that it has not yet decided whether it will file criminal charges against the Blackwater guards, though there were reports last week that a federal grand jury has opened an investigation [JURIST reports] into the shootings. The Iraqi cabinet has approved a draft law that would strip foreign security contractors of immunity from Iraqi prosecution and the US House has passed a bill that would expand US jurisdiction over the same private contractors [JURIST reports]. AP has more.





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Pakistan official says only 37 still detained under emergency rule
Melissa Bancroft on November 27, 2007 6:54 PM ET

[JURIST] Only 37 of over 5700 lawyers, rights activists, opposition figures and others arrested after Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf issued a declaration of emergency rule [PDF text] earlier this month still remain in custody, Pakistani Interior Ministry spokesman Brig Javed Iqbal Cheema said Tuesday. Of those 37, 32 were arrested for violent or lawless activities and are facing pending court action. Over 2000 detainees have been released in the past week.

Cheema expressed hope that the release of the detainees would encourage whole-hearted participation in the electoral process. Several prominent lawyers recently filed nomination papers with Pakistan's electoral authorities after being freed from detention. On Sunday, the Pakistani government transferred Supreme Court Bar Association president Aitzaz Ahsan from Rawalpindi's Adiala jail to house arrest in Lahore so he could file as a candidate [Hindu report] for former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party. Also on Tuesday, however, ousted Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry - still under virtual house arrest in Islamabad - was cited in local news reports as urging Pakistani political parties and people to boycott the elections [Nation report] still slated to be held under the umbrella of emergency rule. Xinhua has more.






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Vietnam appeals court cuts jail terms of pro-democracy rights lawyers
Deirdre Jurand on November 27, 2007 6:46 PM ET

[JURIST] A Vietnamese court on Tuesday reduced the prison terms of two human rights lawyers sentenced for spreading propaganda against the state. The lawyers, Nguyen Van Dai, 38, and Le Thi Cong Nhan, 28, were not released from custody, but the court lowered Dai's term from five years to four and Nhan's from four years to three because neither lawyer had a prior criminal record and because their activism had not yet seriously damaged the country. Both lawyers challenged the People's Supreme Court during their appeal hearing, criticizing the government's lack of democracy and human rights.

Vietnamese officials arrested [JURIST report] the two lawyers in February after they hosted discussions on human rights law; they were convicted [JURIST report] in May for violating Article 88 of the Vietnamese criminal code by advocating a multi-party system of government in the now-communist Vietnam [JURIST archive]. Defense lawyers for the activists maintain that they were lawfully exercising the right free speech guaranteed under the Vietnamese constitution [text] and international law. AFP has more.






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Texas oil tycoon sentenced to year in prison for role in oil-for-food scandal
Devin Montgomery on November 27, 2007 6:15 PM ET

[JURIST] Texas oil tycoon Oscar Wyatt Jr. [NYT profile] was sentenced [press release, PDF] Tuesday to one year in prison and ordered to pay over $11 million dollars in restitution for his role in the Iraq Oil-for-Food scandal [JURIST news archive]. Originally accused of paying millions of dollars in illegal kickbacks to members of Saddam Hussein's regime in order to secure oil contracts with Iraq from 2000-2003, Wyatt, the founder of Coastal Corp., pleaded guilty [JURIST report] last month to one count of wire fraud for a payment of $200,000 made in December of 2001. Wyatt had agreed to serve 18 to 24 months in prison after a tape recording of a conversation he had with Hussein was presented at his trial, but US District Judge Denny Chin [official profile] ordered the reduced sentence citing Wyatt's age, military service, and letters of support written to the court. Wyatt has been ordered to begin serving his sentence no later than January 2, 2008.

US Attorney for the Southern District of New York [official website] Michael Garcia charged and arrested Wyatt [JURIST report] and two Swiss bankers in 2005 for their involvement in the scandal. The now-defunct UN Oil-for-Food program [UN materials] allowed the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein, under UN sanctions in the wake of the first Gulf War, to sell limited stocks of oil in return for foodstuffs and other humanitarian supplies. Hussein's regime nonetheless bribed foreign officials and commercial interests so it could sell oil on the black market, embezzling over $1 billion in program funds and perhaps as much another $10 billion from other sources. AP has more.






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Musharraf ready to meet opposition demands except on judges: Pakistan AG
Mike Rosen-Molina on November 27, 2007 5:45 PM ET

[JURIST] Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf [official website] has indicated that he may accept most of the demands put forth by opposition parties in the face of his November 3 declaration of emergency rule but that he will not reinstate ousted Supreme Court justices, Pakistan's News daily reported Tuesday. Attorney General Malik Muhammad Qayyum and former railways minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad also told the newspaper that Musharraf will step down as head of Pakistan's army on Wednesday, a move originally announced [AFP report] by a spokesperson on Monday. The officials said that he may additionally lift the state of emergency [PDF text; JURIST news archive], withdraw his Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) [text as amended] and restore the constitution within a few days. In regard to demands by the opposition Pakistan People's Party [party website] that Musharraf reinstate former Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry and other ousted superior court judges, Qayyum told the News that the recent ruling [judgment text; JURIST report] by the current Supreme Court validating emergency rule had held that all judges who refused to take the oath of allegiance under Musharraf's PCO were no longer judges and could not be reinstated. The News has more.

The Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) meanwhile unanimously voted Monday to cancel Qayyum's membership, blasting Qayyum for his role in promoting an amendment [text] to Pakistan's Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act which the bar association described as unconstitutional. The amendment promulgated by Musharraf Friday enhances the power of superior court judges appointed by the government to discipline and even disbar lawyers for "professional or other misconduct", and many Pakistani lawyers are concerned that it will be used against lawyers boycotting PCO judges. The LHCBA said that a lawyer who did not have the proper respect for the constitution should not be allowed to remain a member. The Daily Times has more. Zeenews has additional coverage.






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Geneva Conventions must be clarified on terrorism: State Dept. legal adviser
Caitlin Price on November 27, 2007 3:55 PM ET

[JURIST] US State Department Legal Adviser John Bellinger III [official profile] Tuesday called [transcript] for the international community to "clarify" Geneva Convention [ICRC materials; JURIST news archive] rules pertaining to treatment of detained terror suspects. Speaking to reporters at an International Committee of the Red Cross meeting, Bellinger said:

Critics have suggested that [...] the United States is backing away from the Geneva Conventions or ignoring them, and I want to be crystal clear, the United States remains absolutely committed to the Geneva Conventions, reaffirms them. We support them, we apply them. But one does have to read what they say. They do not apply to every situation. They in fact apply to conflicts between states. So therefore the Geneva Conventions do not give you the answers about who can be held in a conflict with a non-state actor. They do not tell you how long you can hold someone in a conflict with a non-state actor. They do not tell you what countries to return people to. In a normal conflict where one is fighting one or maybe two countries, at the end of the conflict you return the combatants to those countries. In fighting al-Qaida we've found that we have detained individuals from more than two dozen countries around the world. The Geneva Conventions do not provide answers to those questions so they don't provide sufficient guidance to countries as to what law to apply.

The United States is firmly committed to the law that applies. We're also committed to working with other countries around the world to develop new legal norms in cases where existing law does not give one the answers. But what we do think is problematic is to simply suggest that the Geneva Conventions provide all of the answers in fighting international terrorism, and that countries simply need to follow the Geneva Conventions and that is the end of the matter.
Bellinger also reaffirmed US opposition to torture, citing the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 [JURIST document] and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 [PDF text] as signs of continued evolution of national anti-torture law.

Bellinger also announced plans to work with new Attorney General Michael Mukasey [WH profile; JURIST news archive] on a legal review of interrogation procedures including waterboarding [JURIST news archive]. AP has more.





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Supreme Court considers state water boundary, trust tax cases
Caitlin Price on November 27, 2007 2:57 PM ET

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] heard oral arguments [transcript, PDF] Tuesday in New Jersey v. Delaware [case backgrounder; merit briefs], 134, Orig., to revisit a century-old water boundary dispute between the two states. In 2005, New Jersey filed suit [JURIST report] against Delaware over British Petroleum's (BP) plans to build a liquefied natural gas plant on New Jersey's side of the Delaware River. Delaware refused to approve construction of a 2,000-foot pier that would serve the facility. Under boundary determinations settled by the Supreme Court in 1934 in New Jersey v. Delaware, Delaware controls the river up to the mean low-tide mark on the New Jersey shore, but New Jersey has asked the Court to declare that a 1905 interstate compact gives it the right to control riparian access and structures on its side of the river, even if they extend across the border. Earlier this year, a Court-appointed Special Master found [report, PDF] that Delaware has the authority to block the pier. AP has more.

The Court also heard oral arguments [transcript, PDF] Tuesday in Knight v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue [LII case backgrounder; merit briefs], 06-1286, concerning whether investment-advice fees incurred by a trust may be fully deducted on the trust's income tax return under 26 USC 67 [text].






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Malaysia may invoke indefinite detention law to deter protests: PM
Alexis Unkovic on November 27, 2007 1:48 PM ET

[JURIST] Authorities in Malaysia [JURIST news archive] may rely on the country's controversial Internal Security Act (ISA) [HRW backgrounder] to halt protests, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi [official website; BBC profile] said Tuesday after Sunday demonstrations [TIME report] in Kuala Lumpur by thousands of the nation's ethnic Indians. The ISA is a preventive detention law that allows the Malaysian government to detain suspects for two years without trial and to renew the detention indefinitely.

The Sunday rally was sparked by complaints that the predominantly Malay Muslim government economically discriminates against ethnic Indians and other minorities. Three Hindu activists originally arrested before the protest and charged with sedition have subsequently been released [BBC reports]. Earlier this month, Malaysian police previously cracked down [JURIST report] on demonstrators participating in an unauthorized election reform rally held by the electoral rights group Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections [advocacy website], firing tear gas and water cannons at protesters. AP has more.






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Dutch court allows Srebrenica lawsuit against UN, Netherlands to proceed
Alexis Unkovic on November 27, 2007 1:01 PM ET

[JURIST] A court in the Netherlands ruled Tuesday that the families of approximately 8,000 Bosnian Muslims who were killed in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre [BBC timeline; JURIST news archive] can proceed with their class action lawsuit [JURIST report; case backgrounder] against the United Nations and the Netherlands filed June 4, according to lawyer Marco Gerritsen, who represents approximately 6,000 family members of victims in the lawsuit. Gerritsen said the court ruled the case can proceed in spite of the UN's claim of immunity [JURIST report; press briefing transcript] under Article 2 Section 2 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations [PDF text], which says that the UN's property and assets "shall enjoy immunity from every form of legal process except it has expressly waived its immunity." The thousands of Srebrenica survivors who filed the lawsuit allege that both the Netherlands and the UN are liable for their failure to protect civilians, many of whom were refugees that relocated to the Srebrenica enclave declared [S/Res 819, PDF] to be a "safe area" by the UN Security Council in 1993.

Tom Karremans, commander of the Dutch peacekeepers, testified [JURIST report] in 2005 that Dutch troops could not intervene to protect the refugees because early phases of the massacre had initially been represented as an "evacuation." An independent report [text] by the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation [official website] found that Bosnian Muslims had been mistakenly advised by Dutch troops to depart from the Srebrenica enclave, although it absolved the Dutch troops of blame because the peacekeepers were outnumbered, lightly armed, insufficiently supplied, denied air support, and under rules of engagement that permitted only self-defense. Several of the 161 suspects indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] remain fugitives, including Ratko Mladic [ICTY case backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic [ICTY case backgrounder; BBC profile], both of whom are wanted for their alleged role in the Srebrenica massacre. Reuters has more.






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ECHR rules Belgium police violated rights of journalist investigating EU fraud
James M Yoch Jr on November 27, 2007 11:42 AM ET

[JURIST] The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] Tuesday ruled [DOC text, in French; press release] that Belgian police violated Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights [PDF text] by searching the home and office of German journalist Hans Martin Tillack [Stern blog] in 2004 after he reported on allegations of fraud in the European Union (EU) [official website]. The ECHR found that the searches and seizures violated Tillack's right to freedom of expression because they were meant to uncover confidential sources.

In 2004, Tillack investigated and wrote two articles for the German weekly Stern [media website, in German] based on confidential documents from the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) [official website] alleging fraud involving EU officials. OLAF subsequently investigated Tillack under suspicion that he bribed EU officials for access to the confidential information. The searches and seizures by Belgian police followed the announcement of the inquiry. The magnitude of the seizures, which included 16 crates of paper, two computers and four mobile phones, influenced the ECHR's decision. The court ordered Belgium to pay Tillack 10,000 euro in damages and 30,000 euro for court expenses. Tillack has denied that he bribed any EU officials. AP has more.






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Iraq to join chemical weapons treaty
James M Yoch Jr on November 27, 2007 11:04 AM ET

[JURIST] Iraq will join the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) [materials] and become a member of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) [official website], according to a Monday statement from the office of Iraqi President Jalal Talibani [BBC profile]. According to the statement, the Presidency Council of Iraq Monday agreed to back a law passed by the Iraqi Parliament that would make the country a signatory of the agreement. The CWC prohibits the use or undeclared storage of chemical weapons by member nations. Talabani's office said that joining the convention will allow Iraq to seek help from other members in eradicating environmental problems caused by the use of chemical weapons during the 1988 Anfal campaign [HRW backgrounder] against ethnic Kurds.

The OPCW has 182 members [OPCW list], including Iran, but several Arab countries have so far refused to accede to the CWC because Israel has not signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) [PDF text]. The OPCW was formed by the CWC in 1997. Under the convention, banned weapons, including nerve and mustard gases, must be destroyed by June 2007, though countries may apply for a five-year extension. Six countries [OPCW list] have signed the CWC but have not yet ratified it. AFP has more.






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Iran high court orders new probe into Canadian journalist death
James M Yoch Jr on November 27, 2007 10:41 AM ET

[JURIST] The Iranian Supreme Court [official website] has ordered a new probe in the case of murdered Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi [CBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] on an appeal of a lower court order that the case be reopened, a representative of the court said Tuesday. Kazemi died under suspicious circumstances in 2003 while under the custody of Iranian officials for photographing a demonstration outside a Tehran prison. Her family has repeatedly requested a new investigation into Kazemi's death since evidence surfaced that she may have been tortured and raped [JURIST report] before her death. In November 2005, an Iranian appeals court ordered that the murder investigation be reopened [JURIST report], and upheld the acquittal of the intelligence officer tried for Kazemi's murder, due to the possibility that others may have been involved in her death.

The case has severely strained relations between Iran and Canada. In 2005, Iran denied Canada's demands for her body [JURIST report], saying Canada had no authority since Iran does not recognize dual nationality. In addition, Canadian observers were denied access to the original trial in which the intelligence officer was acquitted [JURIST report] and the court ruled Kazemi's death an accident [JURIST report]. CBC News has more.






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Peru high court sentences former Fujimori ministers for aiding 1992 power grab
Michael Sung on November 27, 2007 10:03 AM ET

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Peru [official website, in Spanish] Monday sentenced 10 former cabinet officials from the government of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] for their involvement in the government's seizure of power from Congress and the judiciary in 1992. The court sentenced former Interior Minister Juan Briones Davila to 10 years in prison, while handing out suspended sentences to nine other former officials. Fujimori suspended the Supreme Court and dissolved Congress in 1992, saying it was necessary to counter the terrorist threat posed by the Shining Path [MIPT backgrounder].

Fujimori was transferred [JURIST report] to Peru for trial after the Supreme Court of Chile allowed the extradition [ruling, PDF; JURIST report] in September. Fujimori is currently awaiting trial on human rights charges for the 1992 murder of 25 people, and faces up to 30 years in prison and a $33 million fine. Fujimori's trial is scheduled to begin on December 10 [JURIST report]. He also faces abuse of power and corruption charges in separate proceedings. Reuters has more. BBC News has additional coverage.






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North Korea increasing public executions: rights group
Michael Sung on November 27, 2007 9:30 AM ET

[JURIST] The North Korean government is stepping up the use of public executions, South Korean aid agency Good Friends [advocacy website, in Korean] said Monday. Good Friends said that the regime is targeting public officials accused of crimes such as drug trafficking or embezzlement. Public executions in North Korea had previously been on the decline since 2000 under pressure from the international community.

The government of North Korea has long been accused of using the death penalty against its political enemies, among other human rights violations. In September, the US State Department designated North Korea amongst a list of "countries of particular concern" for its systematic repression of religious freedom in its annual Report on International Religious Freedom [text; JURIST report]. North Korea has also been accused of human trafficking, press repression, and "actively committing crimes against humanity" [JURIST reports]. AP has more.






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US appeals court upholds border checks of Muslims back from religious conference
Michael Sung on November 27, 2007 8:58 AM ET

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled [PDF text] Monday that the US Bureau of Customs and Border Protection [official website] did not violate the First and Fourth Amendments by subjecting individuals returning from an annual international religious conference [conference website] in Canada to lengthy security checks. The ruling comes in a lawsuit [NYCLU materials] brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union on behalf of several US citizens who were among dozens of people searched, fingerprinted, photographed, and held for hours after attending the conference in 2004. The court also dismissed allegations that the government violated the Administrative Procedure Act and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act [text].

The appeals court upheld the December 2005 district court ruling that the searches were not illegal [JURIST report], though District Court Judge William Skretny wrote that the searches were understandably frustrating. The additional measures were put in place because the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection said it had received intelligence that the conference would serve as a meeting place for terrorists. Although the NYCLU generally expressed disappointment [press release] with Monday's ruling, the advocacy group did note:

In dismissing the case, however, the court rejected the government's contention that American citizens have few if any First Amendment rights at the border. Rather, the court expressly held that border actions targeting First Amendment activity are subject to strict scrutiny, which means the government will have to go to great lengths to justify future border operations that implicate the First Amendment.

"It's deeply disappointing that the court refused to vindicate the rights of innocent Americans treated as terrorists simply because they attended a religious conference," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. "Nonetheless, there is a silver-lining in the court's rejection of the government's claim of unfettered discretion at the border to interfere with the lawful expressive and religious activities of U.S. citizens."
AP has more.





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Sudan suing French charity involved in 'Darfur orphans' airlift
Jaime Jansen on November 27, 2007 7:58 AM ET

[JURIST] The government of Sudan [JURIST news archive] is planning a lawsuit against French charity Zoe's Ark [advocacy website, in French; BBC backgrounder] for its involvement in last month's attempt to airlift 103 children [JURIST news archive] alleged to be Darfur orphans from neighboring Chad to Europe. Sudanese Interior Minister Zubair Bashir Taha also said Monday that the government will sue a French base in Chad for allegedly allowing Zoe's Ark to use its airport for the attempted airlift. Taha said that Zoe's Ark violated international laws, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child [text], by allegedly trying to take children away from their villages and refugee camps.

Earlier this month, Chad released three Spanish air crew and a Belgian pilot [JURIST report] held in Chad in connection with the attempted airlift. Chadian authorities also freed [JURIST report] seven Europeans in early November, including three French journalists and four Spanish flight attendants, after French President Nicolas Sarkozy flew to Chad to personally intervene with the Chadian government over its handling of the case. Six Europeans still remain in Chadian custody. Four Chadian nationals also face criminal charges [JURIST report] over their alleged involvement in the attempted airlift, including the mayor, secretary-general, deputy governor and neighborhood chief of the Chadian border town of Tine. AP has more. SUNA has local coverage.






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Iran ex-nuclear negotiator acquitted of espionage charges
Jaime Jansen on November 27, 2007 7:31 AM ET

[JURIST] An Iranian court has acquitted Hossein Mousavian, a former key nuclear negotiator, of espionage charges [JURIST report] but convicted him of "propagating" against the Islamic government, judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi said Tuesday. Mousavian was arrested in May on suspicions that he passed classified information to the British embassy and other foreigners. While the court suspended Mousavian's sentence, Mousavian could still face prison time if prosecutors object to the suspension. Mousavian is closely allied with former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani [official website, in Persian; BBC profile], a political opponent of current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [official profile, BBC profile].

Mousavian worked for the Foreign Policy Committee of the Supreme Council for National Security in Iran until 2005, under then-top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Larijani resigned [AFP report] in October due to alleged disagreement with Ahmadinejad, a move that many feared would further strengthen the president's control of nuclear policy. AP has more.






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Pakistan minister apologizes for ordering ousted judges to vacate government housing
Jaime Jansen on November 27, 2007 7:00 AM ET

[JURIST] Pakistani Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz apologized Tuesday for demanding [JURIST report] that that all of the Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] judges ousted by President Pervez Musharraf when he declared emergency rule [JURIST report] in early November vacate their government-provided accommodations by Friday and return to their own homes. Nawaz's apology followed comments from Justice Rana Bhagwandas [JURIST news archive], who said the Interior Ministry had "no right" to demand that the deposed judges leave the Judges Enclave in Islamabad and argued that only the Supreme Court can order the deposed judges to leave their official residences. Bhagwandas noted that he has not received any notice from the Supreme Court telling the deposed judges to vacate the Judges Enclave.

Last week, Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Igbal Cheema said that the ousted judges, who had been under virtual house arrest, were "free to move" [JURIST report] and leave their homes. Deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry [JURIST news archive] was, however, prevented from leaving his official residence [JURIST report] Wednesday and Bhagwandas said he and his colleagues still faced heavy restrictions on their mobility. On Friday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour urged Pakistan to reinstate all of the judges [JURIST report] dismissed under Musharraf's declaration of emergency rule before parliamentary elections slated for January. From Pakistan, the News has more.






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UN rights expert says Philippines army deliberately killed left-wing activists
Kiely Lewandowski on November 26, 2007 6:24 PM ET

[JURIST] The Philippines armed forces have followed a "deliberate strategy" of killing left-wing activists, according to a report [DOC text] Monday by UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions [official website] Philip Alston [NYU Law profile]. According to the summary of Alston's report:

Many in the Government have concluded that numerous civil society organizations are "fronts" for the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed group, the New People's Army (NPA). One response has been counter-insurgency operations that result in the extrajudicial execution of leftist activists. In some areas, the leaders of leftist organizations are systematically hunted down by interrogating and torturing those who may know their whereabouts, and they are often killed following a campaign of individual vilification designed to instill fear into the community. The priorities of the criminal justice system have also been distorted, and it has increasingly focused on prosecuting civil society leaders rather than their killers.

The military is in a state of denial concerning the numerous extrajudicial executions in which its soldiers are implicated. Military officers argue that many or all of the extrajudicial executions have actually been committed by the communist insurgents as part of an internal purge. The NPA does commit extrajudicial executions, sometimes dressing them up as "revolutionary justice", but the evidence that it is currently engaged in a large-scale purge is strikingly unconvincing. The military's insistence that the "purge theory" is correct can only be viewed as a cynical attempt to displace responsibility.
Alston called for Philippines President Gloria Arroyo [official website; BBC profile] to "take concrete steps to put an end to those aspects of counterinsurgency operations which have led to the targeting and execution of many individuals working with civil society organizations." In July, Arroyo urged lawmakers [transcript; JURIST report] from both houses of Congress to pass legislation to curb extrajudicial killings and disappearances, but rights groups have said she has not fulfilled her promise to full investigate the killings.

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] sent Alston to investigate claims [JURIST report] by human rights organizations that more than 800 political activists, human-rights workers, trade union officials, lawyers, and judges have been murdered throughout the country since Arroyo came to power in 2001. The Philippines government pledged to cooperate fully [JURIST report] with Alston's investigation into the alleged extra-judicial killings upon his arrival in February. AP has more.





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Senegal probe for Habre crimes against humanity trial to begin within months
Deirdre Jurand on November 26, 2007 3:30 PM ET

[JURIST] Senegalese prosecutors will begin an investigation into former Chadian president Hissene Habre [HRW materials; JURIST news archive] within months so that Habre can face trial for alleged torture and mass killings in Senegal in the 1980s, victims' lawyers said Monday. Senegalese officials said earlier this year that Habre's trial would probably not begin for another three years [JURIST report] in order to give Senegal sufficient time to establish the necessary legal procedures and raise enough funds for the proceeding. In July, the government determined that Habre would stand trial in a criminal court [JURIST report] rather than in front of a special tribunal, possibly hastening the trial. Human rights groups, however, have still criticized Senegal for its lack of progress.

African Union leaders decided last year that Habre would face trial in Senegal [decision, PDF; JURIST report] for committing some 40,000 alleged acts of murder and torture of political opponents during his rule from 1982 to 1990, after which he fled to Senegal. Following an initial attempt to have charges brought against Habre in Senegal failed, victims took their case to Belgium, where prosecutors indicted him on crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture charges in 2005 under Belgium's universal jurisdiction laws. Senegal has since agreed to the AU's determination that Habre should face trial in that country, with Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade saying that his country was "best-placed" to try Habre. Right groups have urged Senegal to build on the work of Belgian investigators to speed up the trial. AFP has more.






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US Supreme Court hears arguments in ERISA retirement plan case
Mike Rosen-Molina on November 26, 2007 3:03 PM ET

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] heard oral arguments Monday in LaRue v. DeWolff, Boberg & Associates [Medill backgrounder; merit briefs], 06-856, a case where the Court considered whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) [text; US DOL backgrounder] allows an employee to sue for losses incurred when administrators of his retirement plan ignore his instructions on how to invest his retirement money. James LaRue says that he lost $150,000 when administrators of his 401(k) retirement plan refused to divest in risky stocks after he had twice instructed them to do so.

In the past, ERISA has been found to only allow recovery when plan administrators have injured all plan participants by malfeasance. The US District Court ruled that LaRue was not entitled to sue for recovery, and the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed [opinion, PDF] the ruling. Lawyers for the plan administrators argued that allowing individuals to sue for recovery of losses would open the floodgates to excessive litigation. LaRue's lawyers argued that ERISA gives individuals the right to sue over losses in federal court. AP has more.






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ICTR prosecutors seek life sentence for Rwandan Catholic priest
Michael Sung on November 26, 2007 2:03 PM ET

[JURIST] Prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda [official website; JURIST news archive] Monday pushed for a life sentence for Father Athanase Seromba [case materials], arguing that Seromba's 15 year prison sentence [JURIST report] for committing genocide and extermination during the 1994 mass killings [HRW backgrounder] of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda was too lenient. Seromba, who was acquitted of lesser charges of complicity and incitement, was in charge of a parish church where some 2000 Tutsis sought refuge from Hutu forces. He was found to have ordered the bulldozing of the church and the shooting of all those who tried to escape. Seromba's lawyers argued that he was powerless to stop the carnage, in which all the sanctuary-seekers died. Seromba, the first priest convicted by the ICTR, surrendered to the tribunal in February 2002 and was convicted in December 2006.

On Sunday, the ICTR announced that it will be unable to complete its work [JURIST report] before its mandate expires in December 2008. ICTR officials plan to transfer uncompleted cases to Rwandan national jurisdiction. Amnesty International has urged the ICTR not to transfer genocide suspects to Rwanda [JURIST report; press release], saying that there are concerns regarding the fairness and impartiality of Rwanda's justice system. AFP has more.






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Russia court denies opposition figure Kasparov's appeal
Michael Sung on November 26, 2007 1:50 PM ET

[JURIST] A Russian court ruled against former chess champion and liberal United Civil Front [party website, in Russian] leader Garry Kasparov [personal website, in Russian] Monday, denying Kasparov's appeal and ordering him to serve a five day jail sentence [JURIST report] for organizing an unsanctioned protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website] and resisting arrest. Kasparov says he complied with police and maintains that his arrest was illegal.

In April, Kasparov accused police of brutality after being arrested [JURIST reports] at a similar rally. Kasparov and fellow opposition leader former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov [BBC profile] have strongly criticized Putin and his allies in the run-up to December parliamentary elections and the March 2008 presidential election. Kasparov has accused Putin of instituting a police state and creating a puppet judiciary [JURIST report] to persecute opposition leaders. AP has more.






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Rights groups argue against extending UK pre-charge terror detentions
Michael Sung on November 26, 2007 1:16 PM ET

[JURIST] Human rights groups Amnesty International and JUSTICE [advocacy websites] Monday argued against the UK government's proposal to extend the pre-charge detention period of suspected terrorists from 28 days to 56 days, saying separately that the extended detention is neither merited by the circumstances nor in keeping with the principals of liberal democracy. Amnesty issued "Ten good reasons why extending pre-charge detention is a bad idea" [press release], saying that extended pre-charge detention:

undermines one of our most basic rights, enshrined in UK law as far back as Magna Carta and now at the heart of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which UK is a signatory: the right for anyone who is detained by the state to be told promptly why they are being held and what they are charged with.
JUSTICE released a report [PDF text] finding that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation has consistently been able to charge suspected terrorists within 48 hours of detention, and questioned whether UK authorities required more than 28 days [press release, PDF] to investigate and charge terrorism suspects.

Last Friday, former UK Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf criticized the proposal [JURIST report], joining criticism put forth by other current and former top legal officials earlier in the week. On Wednesday, UK Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald [official profile] and former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith criticized the plan as unnecessary. AP has more.





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Croatia lawmaker accused of war crimes re-elected to parliament
Brett Murphy on November 26, 2007 1:11 PM ET

[JURIST] Croatian lawmaker Branimir Glavas [personal website; Trial Watch profile], charged with committing war crimes against Serbs during the 1991 Serbo-Croatian war [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], was re-elected to the Croatian parliament in Sunday's legislative elections, according to election results released Monday. Glavas was indicted [JURIST report] in April along with six others on charges of war crimes committed in Osijek, including abduction, torture and murder. Glavas' Croatian Democratic Alliance of Slavonia and Baranja [party website, in Croatian] won three seats in the election. The party has previously said that Glavas would have parliamentary immunity and would have to be released from detention if he won a seat in Sunday's election.

Glavas has maintained his innocence and even staged a 40-day hunger strike last year when he was detained [JURIST report] after the criminal investigation against him initially opened. He also faces another war crimes investigation in Zagreb for the murder of two Serbs in a separate incident in Osijek. Glavas was one of the founding members of the ruling conservative HDZ party [party website, in Croatian], but was ousted in 2005 by Prime Minister Ivo Sanader [SE Times profile]. The Croatian Parliament [official website] granted a request in May 2006 to lift parliamentary immunity for Glavas in order to move forward with criminal proceedings. AFP has more.






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Kenya police kill 8,000 in 5-year crackdown on sect: report
Brett Murphy on November 26, 2007 12:35 PM ET

[JURIST] Some 8,000 Kenyans have been killed over the last five years as a result of a police crackdown on the outlawed Mungiki sect, according to the Oscar Foundation Free Legal Aid Clinic-Kenya (OFFLACK) [advocacy website]. In a report [PDF text] issued over the weekend, OFFLACK said:

The Oscar Foundation has documented eight thousand and forty (8,040) cases of death by executions and torture perpetuated by state security agents and another 4070 cases of disappearance where the victims remain unaccounted for in the period between August 2002 and August 2007.

OFFLACK currently receives daily reports of between 200 to 400 cases of torture, extra-judicial executions, arbitrary arrests, and illegal confinement of young people on the pretext that they belong to the outlawed Mungiki sect. It was noted that most cases of torture occurred when officers attempted to extract confessions by force or while extorting bribes from suspected adherents. Those who refuse to part with bribes were blindfolded and led away to the killing fields where they were summarily executed.
Kenyan police spokesman Eric Kiraithe denied the allegations, questioning OFFLACK's motives in releasing the report.

The Mungiki sect [BBC backgrounder], whose members come from the Kikuyu tribe of Kenya, started in the 1980s as a group advocating for traditional practices of the tribe, including female genital mutilation [WHO backgrounder]. More recently, Mungiki has become involved in gang activity, such as extortion, fraud, robbery, and murder, and is blamed for the May killing of six people believed to have been murdered for disclosing information about the sect. Kenya [JURIST news archive] banned Mungiki in 2002, when Kenyan Security Minister John Michuki ordered a government crackdown on the sect. AFP has more. AP has additional coverage.





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Iraq lawmakers criticize delay in 'Chemical Ali' execution
Brett Murphy on November 26, 2007 12:05 PM ET

[JURIST] Iraqi Kurdish and Shiite lawmakers on Monday criticized the delay in the executions of Ali Hassan al-Majid [JURIST news archive], better known in Western media as "Chemical Ali," and two others, all of whom are currently being held by the US military until a legal debate on the executions is resolved [JURIST report]. Several legal and procedural requirements for the executions have not yet been met, including signatures on the defendants' execution orders, and the US said earlier this month that the prisoners would not be transferred to Iraqi custody for their executions until all unresolved matters are settled. Some lawmakers called the interference a constitutional violation, and urged the government to carry out the executions immediately.

The Iraqi High Tribunal sentenced [JURIST report] al-Majid and two co-defendants to death in June on genocide and war crimes charges. The Tribunal's Appeals Chamber upheld the death sentences [JURIST report] in September. Under Iraqi law, the executions were supposed to have taken place 30 days after the men were sentenced, meaning that the men should have been executed no later than October 4. Iraq's Presidency Council, including Kurdish President Jalal Talibani, Shi'ite Vice-President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, and Sunni Vice-President Tareq al-Hashemi, have nonetheless refused to sign any execution order [JURIST report]. An Iraqi judge said in September that presidential approval is not required [JURIST report] to carry out an execution for al-Majid and his co-defendants, but al-Hashemi reasserted in October that the presidency did in fact have the power to block the carrying out of the death sentences [AP report], regardless of their approval by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. AFP has more.






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Philippines House quashes presidential impeachment bid
Katerina Ossenova on November 26, 2007 10:07 AM ET

[JURIST] The Philippine House of Representatives [official website] Monday defeated [press release] an impeachment bid against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo [BBC profile] for alleged bribery, graft, corruption, and human rights abuses. The impeachment petition, filed by opposition lawmakers [JURIST report] earlier this month, needed approval of one-third of the House before the Philippines Senate could initiate a trial. However, 184 out of 240 lawmakers voted to uphold the decision by the House Justice Committee which dismissed the complaint against Arroyo on a technicality for lack of substance.

Since her election in 2004, Arroyo has overcome multiple impeachment efforts accusing her of rigging the presidential elections [JURIST reports] and corruption. AP has more.






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Pakistan ex-PM Sharif urges return to rule of law
Katerina Ossenova on November 26, 2007 9:33 AM ET

[JURIST] Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif [BBC profile; party profile] on Monday urged the government of Pakistan to return to the rule of law and restore democracy in the country, now under emergency rule [JURIST bews archive]. At a press conference a day after his return from a seven-year exile [JURIST report] in Saudi Arabia, Sharif also called for the restoration of the judiciary, acknowledging superior court judges who have refused to take oaths under President Pervez Musharraf's Provisional Constitution Order [text as amended].

Sharif has filed nomination papers [BBC report] for general elections scheduled for January, but said Monday that unless Musharraf lifts the emergency, he will boycott the vote. Sharif was overthrown by Musharraf in a 1999 military coup; he was later sentenced to 14 years in prison for treason and corruption but was allowed go into exile in in 2000. The News has more. ANI has additional coverage.






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Bangladesh Supreme Court stays bail grant for ex-PM Hasina on corruption charges
Katerina Ossenova on November 26, 2007 9:01 AM ET

[JURIST] The Bangladesh Supreme Court [official website] Monday ordered a stay of the bail granted to former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed [party profile], who has been charged by Bangladesh's anti-corruption commission [governing statute, PDF] with corruption, and most recently, bribery [JURIST reports]. A lower court had granted Hasina bail on November 4 while also staying the case proceedings; the appeals court affirmed the stay of proceedings Monday. In October, Hasina denied accusations [JURIST report] of corruption during questioning by officials that she allegedly extorted approximately $1.16 million from two businessmen. She also faces multiple counts of murder arising from the deaths of four protesters during political turmoil last year.

The new interim government in Bangladesh has arrested over 150 high-profile citizens since the military government declared a state of emergency [JURIST report; advocacy backgrounder] in January due to concerns that fraud would mar national elections scheduled for January 22. Hasina's rival, former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia [UN profile], has also been charged with corruption [JURIST report]. Hasina was prime minister between 1996 and 2001 and is the the leader of the opposition Awami League [party website]. Xinhua has more.






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Pakistan bar leader in critical condition after release
Bernard Hibbitts on November 26, 2007 8:57 AM ET

[JURIST] Munir Malik [JURIST news archive], a former president of Pakistan's Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) who was taken into custody by police in the wake of President Pervez Musharraf's November 3 declaration of emergency [JURIST news archive], was reported to be in critical condition in hospital Monday after his detention order was lifted. On Sunday Malik was transferred from Punjab's Attock Jail where he had been held and taken to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in Islamabad where he was put under guard until the Punjab provincial government authorized his release. Pakistan's Dawn newspaper Sunday quoted Malik as saying that in jail he "was subjected to psychological torture, not physical torture" and that he was given medicine for a kidney problem that apparently worsened his condition, forcing him to undergo dialysis. Dawn has more.

Malik was the president of the SCBA earlier this year when Musharraf suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry [JURIST report] for alleged judicial misconduct; he later represented Chaudhry in a series of legal proceedings protesting his suspension which ultimately led to Chaudhry's reinstatement [JURIST report]. This past October Malik was succeeded at the SCBA by fellow Chaudhry defense lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan [JURIST news archive], who on Sunday was transferred from Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail to Lahore, where he is now under house arrest after filing papers [Post report] to run in Pakistan's parliamentary elections scheduled for January 8.






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China chief justice applauds judicial reform
Jaime Jansen on November 26, 2007 8:22 AM ET

[JURIST] Xiao Yang [official profile], chief justice of China's Supreme People's Court [official website] has said that court reforms over the last 10 years have achieved judicial efficiency and improved the quality of trials and rulings [press release, in Chinese] in China, the China Daily reported Monday. Xiao noted that judicial committees, the highest decision-making bodies at each level of the Chinese judicial system, have been reformed [Xinhua report] so that panel decisions are more fair. Prior to judicial reforms, the judicial committees allowed closed sessions without direct contact with either party to the case, but under new reforms, the panels will take part in the trial process. Xiao added that judicial committees have to "hear cases in person to better understand the facts and reduce the chances of biased rulings" when considering "difficult, complicated or socially important" cases. Judicial committees also now use secret ballots to vote on their rulings to avoid bias on the bench, and the judicial committees have been divided into panels exclusively for criminal cases and other civil or administrative cases to improve accuracy.

Last year, Xiao said that public trust in the Chinese judiciary needs to be restored [JURIST report] in the face of court corruption and systemic failures to implement court orders. A report by Xiao to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress [official websites] said that 800,000 court orders remained unimplemented by the courts due to negligence and bribery. Early this year, the Communist Party of China announced plans to intensify its anti-corruption campaign [JURIST report] following Xiao's complaints. The China Daily has more.






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Pakistan orders ousted judges to vacate government housing
Jaime Jansen on November 26, 2007 7:51 AM ET

[JURIST] The Pakistani government said Sunday that all of the Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] judges ousted by President Pervez Musharraf when he declared emergency rule [JURIST report] in early November must vacate their government-provided accommodations by Friday and return to their own homes. Previously, the Interior Ministry had said the deposed judges were welcome to stay in their official accommodations or return to their hometowns for as long as the law permitted them to do so. The ousted judges, however, expressed skepticism about returning to their own homes, fearing they may be placed under house arrest.

Last week, Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Igbal Cheema said that the ousted judges, who had been under virtual house arrest, were "free to move" [JURIST report] and leave their homes. Deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry [JURIST news archive] was, however, prevented from leaving his official residence [JURIST report] Wednesday and fellow Justice Rana Bhagwandas said he and his colleagues still faced heavy restrictions on their mobility. On Friday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour urged Pakistan to reinstate all of the judges [JURIST report] dismissed under Musharraf's declaration of emergency rule before parliamentary elections slated for January. Dawn has more.








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Canada ex-Chief Justice Lamer dies
Jaime Jansen on November 26, 2007 7:06 AM ET

[JURIST] Former Canadian Chief Justice Antonio Lamer [official profile], 74, passed away on Saturday of natural causes, the Globe & Mail reported Sunday. Lamer led the Supreme Court of Canada [official website] from 1990-2000, and served on the high court for a total of two decades. On the bench, Lamer vigorously promoted the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text], using the document to strike down and reform several controversial pieces of legislation. He later claimed his greatest case was his 1998 opinion [text] for a unanimous court in which he said that the predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec had no legal power to unilaterally separate from Canada. Before being named to the high court by then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1980, Lamer was a leading criminal lawyer in Montreal, and served as the chairman of the Law Reform Commission of Canada [backgrounder] in the 1970s. After retirement, Lamer produced a major inquiry report on three wrongful convictions, wrote a report on military justice, and acted as independent commissioner of the Communications Security Establishment [official website].

Earlier this year, Lamer warned Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper [official profile] against influencing the judiciary to carry out his legislative agenda [JURIST report]. Lamer said Harper was compromising the independence of the judiciary by encouraging harsher sentences and interfering with the sentencing process. Although Lamer acknowledged that some judges are too lenient, he characterized Harper's demands on the judiciary as contrary to judges' duty to be impartial and hand out sentences they deem appropriate. Lamer also criticized the Canadian system of appointing judges to the 1,100-member federal bench as flawed and denounced new involvement of police and members of the community in the judicial selection process [JURIST report]. The Globe & Mail has more. AP has additional coverage.






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Ex-Pakistan PM Sharif returns from exile to contest elections under emergency
Benjamin Klein on November 25, 2007 4:54 PM ET

[JURIST] Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif [BBC profile; party profile] successfully returned to Pakistan after seven years in exile Sunday to lead his party [Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) website] in the upcoming parliamentary elections. He flew from Saudi Arabia into the international airport in Lahore, his hometown and traditional power base. A spokesman for Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf insisted prior to Sharif's arrival [Bloomberg report] that he would "be treated very well and will not be arrested or placed under house arrest,” and that ”he will be a free man." In early September Sharif was arrested on outstanding corruption and money laundering charges [JURIST report] shortly after landing in the country on a flight from London. He was later put on a plane back to exile in Saudi Arabia despite his wishes and notwithstanding an August ruling [JURIST report] by the Supreme Court of Pakistan that he could return to the country. Sharif was overthrown by Musharraf in a 1999 military coup; he was later sentenced to 14 years in prison for treason and corruption but was allowed go into exile in Saudi Arabia in 2000.

Media reports Sunday suggested that Musharraf had allowed Sharif to return this time because the Saudi government was no longer willing to support his exile on their territory. Allowing Sharif to return and run in the upcoming parliamentary elections may, however, lend a measure of political legitimacy to Musharraf's November 3 declaration of emergency rule [JURIST news archive], expected to remain in place until the elections are over. Sharif's erstwhile opposition rival Benazir Bhutto, another former prime minister allowed to return from exile [JURIST report] last month under an amnesty deal which may now be in jeopardy [JURIST report], filed her own nomination papers for the elections Friday. AP has more.






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New Poland PM pledges to opt out of EU rights charter
Benjamin Klein on November 25, 2007 4:21 PM ET

[JURIST] New Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk [BBC profile] has told the Polish Parliament [official website] that his government will refuse to sign the European Charter of Fundamental Rights [European Parliament materials], part of the new EU Reform Treaty [JURIST news archive]. Tusk said the decision, which follows a similar statement made earlier this month [JURIST report] by the country's foreign minister, was taken out of respect for a deal negotiated by the previous conservative government led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who expressed concern over the charter's supposed liberal stance on "moral issues." The opt-out would remain, according to the Prime Minister, because he needed the support of the Kaczynski's Law and Justice Party [party website, in Polish] in order to reach the two-thirds parliamentary majority required to ratify the Reform Treaty as a whole. The United Kingdom has also said it will opt out [Sky report] of the new pan-European rights charter.

The Reform Treaty, essentially a cut-down version of the stalled European constitution [JURIST news archive], has generated much debate among EU members. EU leaders only reached agreement on the final text of the treaty [JURIST report] at a summit in Lisbon last month, working through last minute objections by Poland and Italy. BBC News has more.






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Rwanda genocide tribunal to miss 2008 trials completion deadline: spokesman
Benjamin Klein on November 25, 2007 3:24 PM ET

[JURIST] The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website] has officially indicated that it will be unable to complete its work before the expiration of its December 2008 mandate. ICTR spokesman Roland Amoussouga made the announcement at a press conference Saturday during the second day of the Commonwealth summit in Uganda, saying that there would be "at least one case" left unfinished at the scheduled closure of the tribunal. The formal completion strategy for the UN-backed Rwanda genocide court, as outlined in UN Resolutions 1503 and 1534 [PDF texts], calls for the closure of all investigations by 2004, trials by 2008 and appeals by 2010. Rather than extending its timeframe, Amoussouga and other ICTR officials have insisted that the Tribunal will adhere to its original mandate and transfer backlogged cases to Rwandan national jurisdiction.

As of June 2007, the Office of the Prosecutor for the ICTR intended to refer 15 cases from the Tribunal to Rwandan jurisdiction, including three detainees and 12 fugitives. That month, Prosecutor Hassan Jallow [ICTR profile] requested the first transfer [press release] of an ICTR case – that of Fulgence Kayishema – to Rwandan national jurisdiction. That transfer request, which is still pending decision, is opposed by Amnesty International [JURIST report], which petitioned the ICTR [press release] earlier this month to prevent it from extraditing suspects to Rwanda due to fairness and victim and witness protection concerns. Reuters has more.






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Bolivia constitutional assembly approves draft constitution
Alexis Unkovic on November 25, 2007 11:41 AM ET

[JURIST] The Bolivian Constitutional Assembly [official website, in Spanish] approved the text of a new draft constitution for the country Saturday, according to Constitutional Assembly President Silvia Lazarte. Bolivian President Evo Morales [official website, Spanish; BBC profile] has sought a full rewrite of the country's constitution [text as amended] to facilitate widespread social change since his election [JURIST report] as Bolivia's first indigenous president in 2005. The Constitutional Assembly, dominated by members of Morales' Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) [Wikipedia backgrounder], approved the draft text as many members of opposition factions boycotted the vote in protest over moving the assembly's governing body to an army compound on Friday and over the proposed relocation of the nation's capital from La Paz to Sucre [LA Times report]. Reuters cited local radio broadcasts as reporting that one individual was killed and several others sustained injuries in the protests.

Lazarte previously suspended [JURIST report] constitutional reform talks in September after days of violent protests by university students and other opposition members. Reuters has more.






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Iraq parliament undertakes raucous first reading of de-Baathification reform bill
Alexis Unkovic on November 25, 2007 11:01 AM ET

[JURIST] The Iraqi parliament Sunday conducted a preliminary reading of a proposed law [JURIST report] that would allow former Baath Party [party website, in Arabic; BBC backgrounder] members not convicted of any crimes to return to their previously held government positions, participate in the political process, and serve in the civil and military service. Hardline Shiite lawmakers allied with cleric Moqtada al-Sadr noisily rejected the law, however, deriding it as unconstitutional. Legislators originally introduced the Justice and Accountability Law in March, and it had been scheduled for a vote before the Iraqi National Assembly [official website] Wednesday following an additional reading, although it is not now clear if that will still take place. The White House's most recent Benchmark Assessment Report [PDF text; JURIST report] in September found satisfactory progress on reforming the de-Baathification process in Iraq, while conceding little progress had been made by the Iraqi government toward accomplishing the rest of the 18 "benchmarks" thought to be essential to Iraq's stability. Reuters has more. AFP has additional coverage and an update.

Supporters of the draft measure are looking for a way to reinstate [JURIST report] former Baath party members who say they joined the party for professional reasons; Hussein only allowed university enrollment, career progression and specialized medical aid to those who were members of his party. Despite provisions in the proposal that would prevent reemployment of former Baathists who have been charged with, or are sought for, criminal activities, several Shiite leaders oppose the draft law [JURIST report] as a "dangerous" undertaking to return former regime members - many of the Sunnis - to leadership positions in the government. Without approval by Shiite religious leaders, the proposed law has little chance of being passed by the Iraqi National Assembly since Shiites currently hold the majority of the parliamentary seats and often vote according to the advice of their religious leaders. Some Kurds, who were also suppressed by Hussein's Baathist regime, oppose the draft law as well.






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Judge stays challenge to new illegal immigrant employment rules pending revision
Alexis Unkovic on November 25, 2007 10:03 AM ET

[JURIST] US District Judge Charles R. Breyer of the Northern District of California Friday stayed [order text, PDF] until March 24 a challenge to the implementation of new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) [official website] regulations [PDF text] intended to make it more difficult for illegal immigrants to obtain US employment. Breyer granted a government motion [PDF text] seeking to halt the court proceedings while DHS revises and rewrites the regulations. Breyer granted a preliminary injunction [PDF text; JURIST report] against implementation of the regulations on October 10 after finding that there was an immediate threat of harm to the plaintiffs, a coalition of labor and business groups, that would result from the application of the new rules, which warranted blocking DHS from implementing the rules until the case has been decided. The stricter rules, announced [JURIST report; DHS transcript] in August and originally slated to take effect in September, require employers who receive notices from the Social Security Administration (SSA) [official website] informing them of non-matching records between an employee's name and Social Security number to resolve any discrepancy within 90 days, dismiss the employee, or face up to $10,000 in fines for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.

The lawsuit [ACLU materials] challenging the new regulations, brought by employers, unions, and the American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website], argues that errors in the SSA's database may cause legally employed persons to lose their jobs and that the rules impose a substantial burden on employers. In August, US District Judge Maxine M. Chesney said that the lawsuit highlighted the fact that there was "serious question" about whether DHS overreached in making the rules, and directed the SSA not to send out a mailing to approximately 140,000 employers advising them that there were discrepancies in their particular employment records. The ACLU issued a statement [press release, text] Saturday arguing that revised DHS rules which still rely on an allegedly flawed SSA database will pose additional concerns. AP has more. The New York Times has additional coverage.






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Russia opposition figure Kasparov arrested at anti-Putin rally
Patrick Porter on November 24, 2007 4:43 PM ET

[JURIST] Former chess champion and liberal United Civil Front [party website, in Russian] leader Garry Kasparov [personal website, in Russian] was arrested Saturday at a demonstration in Moscow against President Vladimir Putin [official website], two weeks before parliamentary elections. AP reports that Kasparov was sentenced to five days in jail for organizing an unsanctioned protest. He was also charged with resisting arrest, which he denied. Two riot police testified that they were given orders prior to the protest to arrest Kasparov; an assistant told AP he was forced to the ground and beaten before being taken away on a police bus. AP has more.

This is not the first time Kasparov has been arrested at protests against Putin's alleged infringements of rights and constitutional freedoms in the country. He accused police of brutality after being arrested [JURIST reports] at a similar rally in April. Kasparov and fellow opposition leader former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov [BBC profile] have strongly criticized Putin and his allies in the run-up to December parliamentary elections and March 2008 presidential election. Kasparov has accused Putin of instituting a police state and creating a puppet judiciary [JURIST report] to persecute opposition leaders.






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Pakistan lawyers continue strike action to protest emergency
Patrick Porter on November 24, 2007 4:09 PM ET

[JURIST] Lawyers across Pakistan's populous Sindh province went on strike Friday to protest President Pervez Musharraf's emergency rule. Lawyers observed a strike call from the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) [official website] at the Sindh High Court [official website] in Karachi, causing cases to be rescheduled. Sindh lawyers had previously engaged in a token one-hour boycott of lower courts. Pakistan's News daily has more. Dawn has additional coverage.

The protest came despite the widely-publicized release of thousands of lawyers and activists [JURIST report] taken into custody earlier this month for protesting the suspension of Pakistan's constitution and Musharraf's effective dismissal of the country's Supreme Court justices.






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UN torture committee concerned over Uzbek law enforcement practices
Patrick Porter on November 24, 2007 2:51 PM ET

[JURIST] The UN Committee against Torture [official website] said Friday it was concerned about ill-treatment and torture of detainees by Uzbekistan law enforcement officials. The committee issued a report [text] concluding a three-week meeting in Geneva where it reviewed the compliance of six countries with the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment [text]. It commended Uzbekistan's plan to abolish the death penalty, to prohibit introduction into evidence of testimony obtained under torture, and to distribute to all detainees a pamphlet prepared in collaboration with the American Bar Association (ABA) [profession website] explaining detainee rights. The committee nonetheless said it was "concerned at the numerous, ongoing and consistent allegations concerning routine use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment committed by law enforcement and investigative personnel." The report called for Uzbekistan to adopt an official definition of torture, to directly prosecute all individuals involved in such practices, and to ensure independent monitoring of detention and custodial facilities. BBC News has more.

The report comes as Uzbek President Islam Karimov [official profile; BBC profile] has recently registered to run for a third term despite a constitutional bar [JURIST report]. Karimov, who has been president of the former Soviet republic since before independence, has come under international fire for his crackdown against anti-government elements since the May 2005 uprising in Andijan [JURIST news archive] that resulted in the massacre of unarmed Uzbek civilians [JURIST report]. The country's cooperation with the ABA is noteworthy considering its 2006 closing of a local ABA liaison office [JURIST report].






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Russia deputy finance minister charged with fraud, embezzlement
Steve Czajkowski on November 24, 2007 11:18 AM ET

[JURIST] Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak was charged Friday with fraud and attempting to embezzle $43.3 million in state funds, according to his lawyer. After an initial investigation [JURIST report] the Russian Prosecutor General's Office [official website, in Russian] accused Storchak of working with Sodexim [corporate website] head Viktor Zakharov and Interregional Investment Bank [bank website] chairman Vadim Volkov to take funds from a Russian bank for Sodexim business expenses. Storchak was arrested November 15, just before his scheduled departure to South Africa with Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin. Kudrin has insisted on Storchak's innocence [St. Petersburg Times report], and has petitioned the court to release Storchak on his personal guarantee. Storchak has been denied bail and Russian prosecutors have said his confinement is necessary to prevent him from leaving the country, destroying evidence, or intimidating witnesses.

Storchak previously oversaw Russia's oil windfall fund and served as Russia's chief liaison to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank [official websites]. He was also instrumental in negotiations which paid off billions in Soviet-era debt. Russian media sources see the arrest as an effort by elements in the Kremlin to control Kudrin's economic policies, particularly those dealing with Russia's oil wealth. AP has more.






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French prosecutor rejects war crimes lawsuit against Rumsfeld
Steve Czajkowski on November 24, 2007 9:44 AM ET

[JURIST] French prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin has dismissed a war crimes claim against former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld [official profile] alleging that Rumsfeld authorized US personnel to torture prisoners in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, according to a lawyer for the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) [advocacy website] on Friday. The complaint [PDF text; additional materials] was filed [JURIST report] in October on behalf of the FIDH, the US-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), and the French League for Human Rights (LDH) [advocacy websites]. A letter [PDF text] by Morin obtained by AP indicates that the French Foreign Ministry advised him to reject the suit because Rumsfeld is covered by immunity given to government officials during their service.

The rejection follows the path of other recent war crimes cases against Rumsfeld. In March of this year, a federal judge for the District of Columbia dismissed an ACLU complaint [JURIST report] against Rumsfeld in connection with alleged torture and abuse of detainees. The FIDH and CCR previously filed two similar suits [JURIST report] against Rumsfeld in Germany seeking accountability for acts of torture. In April, the office of the German Federal Prosecutor [official website, in German] declined to investigate the latest war crimes claim [ASIL backgrounder; PDF introduction, in English] against Rumsfeld and other high-ranking US officials. The German lawyers subsequently said they would take their case to Spain [JURIST report]. Other complaints were filed against Rumsfeld in Argentina in 2005 and Sweden in 2007. AP has more.






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Lebanon slides into constitutional crisis as president ends term without successor
Bernard Hibbitts on November 23, 2007 5:01 PM ET

[JURIST] Lebanon slid into constitutional crisis Friday as pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud [official website] purported to declare a "state of emergency" and hand security responsibility to the army in a vaguely worded statement issued just before leaving office midnight at the end of his term without an elected successor in place. Earlier Friday, anti-Syrian and pro-Syrian factions in Lebanon's parliament failed in a last-ditch effort to agree on a new president and postponed for a fifth time a planned session to formally elect a candidate, who under Lebanon's constitution [text, in French] must be a Maronite Christian.

Lahoud's emergency was immediately rejected by the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who noted through a spokesman that Lebanon's constitution did not permit the president to declare a state of emergency without obtaining the approval of the government under Article 65 [text]. Its Article 62 [text] moreover provides that presidential powers revert to the government if the office of president falls vacant. Lahoud, however, has long considered the Senoria government itself unconstitutional [JURIST report] after six pro-Syrian Shiite ministers quit the cabinet late last year. AFP has more.






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Top UK law officials denounce proposed detention without charge extension
Patrick Porter on November 23, 2007 3:09 PM ET

[JURIST] Former Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf [BBC profile] Friday denounced the UK government's latest proposal to extend beyond 28 days the time that terror suspects can be held without charge, supporting positions taken by other current and former top legal officials earlier in the week. On Wednesday current Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald [official profile] and former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith criticized the plan. Goldsmith, who resigned [JURIST report] earlier this year when Gordon Brown took over as prime minister, said he sees no need to extend the current limit. "The reasons for making proposals are based on a genuine belief that it is the right thing to do in protecting the country," he told the parliamentary Home Affairs Committee, but added that extending the limit to the proposed 56 days is not merited. He pointed out that post-charge questioning can help address such concerns, suggesting that holding suspects too long without charge can lead to "browbeating" and "continually questioning them when there isn't any new material at all."

Goldsmith opposed [JURIST report] former prime minister Tony Blair's attempts to increase the limit to 90 days and said he would have resigned then if MPs had not whittled that proposal down to 28 days. In July, current PM Gordon Brown renewed the initiative to extend the timeframe [JURIST report]. Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights promptly rejected the proposal [JURIST report]. BBC News has more. The Guardian has local coverage.






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ICC rejects withdrawing Ugandan rebel indictments
Patrick Porter on November 23, 2007 1:59 PM ET

[JURIST] An International Criminal Court [official website] prosecutor said Thursday that the court would not withdraw controversial indictments against leaders of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) [MIPT backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Alluding to a call for a review of the charges [JURIST report] by the Ugandan government, ICC Deputy Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda was quoted by AFP as saying that "this idea of 'because we are talking peace therefore justice should be thrown out of the window' is not the correct position that has to be taken." She added "the warrants that have been issued by the ICC have contributed tremendously to making the perpetrators of these crimes come to, even negotiate with the government." At a Wednesday briefing [press release] at United Nations headquarters in New York, Bensouda called on governments to back the court's efforts, saying "the interests of peace and justice demand that States take assertive action." AFP has more.

In 2005 the ICC indicted [ICC materials; JURIST report] five leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army, including LRA leader Joseph Kony [BBC profile], for orchestrating the killing of thousands of civilians and the enslavement of thousands more children over two decades of conflict. The Ugandan government is trying to negotiate a peace deal with the rebels, though they say they will refuse to sign any agreement unless the ICC withdraws its indictments. The government has also said that Kony is willing to face trial at home [JURIST report], but not at the ICC.






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UN expert calls on Indonesia to stop ill-treatment, torture of prisoners
Patrick Porter on November 23, 2007 1:12 PM ET

[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak [official website] Friday called on the government of Indonesia [JURIST news archive] to step up efforts at stopping ill-treatment and torture of individuals under police detention. Nowak concluded a two-week visit to the country where he toured various correctional facilities, meeting with government officials and NGOs to make recommendations regarding the legal system's administration of justice. In a press release [text], he acknowledged that Indonesia has made progress since the 1998 ouster of former president Suharto [BBC backgrounder] but said "shortcomings" still exist. Nowak said legal safeguards are "virtually non-existent," especially at the pre-trial stage. He also said that abuse and intimidation at police stations were widespread, indicating that in several instances observers arrived at stations while beatings were in progress. Abuses and poor conditions at detention facilities were more isolated but still a cause for significant concern. Nowak's urged the government to publicly condemn, criminalize, and prosecute instances of torture and ill-treatment. He also called for better access to "courts, lawyers, and independent medical examinations [by] all persons in detention, whether under the penal law or not." Reuters has more.

Indonesia has recently made efforts to improve conditions for prisoners. In August the government reduced sentences [JURIST report] for several of the Bali bombing convicts despite criticism by victims and survivors. Officials said the reduction is a constitutional right afforded to all criminals regardless of their crimes, as part of Indonesia's prisoner remission program conducted annually to mark the country's independence from Dutch colonial rule. Prisoners in good standing typically receive a remission, unless they are death row inmates or serving life sentences.






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India courthouse bombings kill at least 13 lawyers
Eric Firkel on November 23, 2007 11:31 AM ET

[JURIST] Courthouses in the northern Indian cities of Lucknow, Varanasi, and Faizabad [official websites] were hit Friday with bombings that killed at least 13 lawyers and injured over 50 other people. The blasts occurred in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh [official website], where lawyers decided earlier this year not to defend terrorist suspects. Indian authorities say they suspect militant groups trying to spark conflict between the Hindu majority and the Muslim minority in the country.

Varanasi is one of Hinduism's holiest cities and Faizabad is near the site of the Babri Mosque bombing in 1992, which sparked widespread Hindu-Muslim riots. India [JURIST news archive] has been rocked by a series of terrorist bombings over the past two years. In August, a pair of explosions in the southern city of Hyderabad killed 43 and in July 2006, the Mumbai commuter train bombings [JURIST news archive] killed more than 200 people. AP has more. The Times of India has local coverage.






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Pakistan Supreme Court upholds emergency rule, dismissal of judges
Eric Firkel on November 23, 2007 10:14 AM ET

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] Friday upheld [judgment text] President Pervez Musharraf's November 3 Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) [text] and accompanying proclamation of emergency. The seven member bench of the court ruling on the issue - made up entirely of judges named to their posts after the emergency decree - additionally condemned the "judicial activism" of the superior courts prior to the emergency for making the machinery of government "paralyzed and nugatory" and declared officially dismissed all the judges who had refused to swear an oath to the government under the PCO.

The court wrote:

In the recent past the whole of Pakistan was afflicted with extremism, terrorism and suicide attacks using bombs, hand grenades, missiles, mines, including similar attacks on the armed forces and law enforcing agencies, which reached climax on 18th of October 2007 when in a similar attack on a public rally, at least 150 people were killed and more than 500 seriously injured. The extremists/terrorists resorted to abduction of foreigners, which badly impaired the image of Pakistan in the comity of nations, and adversely affected its economic growth. The situation in Islamabad and various places in NWFP, Balochistan and tribal areas was analogous to “a state within the state”. Unfortunately, no effort by the government succeeded in curbing extremism, terrorism and suicide attacks. The Prime Minister apprised the President of the situation through his letter of the 3rd of November 2007;

(ii) The Constitution of Pakistan is based on the principle of trichotomy of powers. All the three organs of the State, namely, the legislature, the executive and the judiciary are required to perform their functions and exercise their powers within their specified sphere. Unfortunately, some members of the superior judiciary by way of judicial activism transgressed the constitutional limits and ignored the well-entrenched principle of judicial restraint. Thousands of applications involving individual grievances were being processed as suo motu cases ostensibly in the exercise of power under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, which provision is resorted to the enforcement of fundamental rights involving questions of law of general public importance. Instances of transgression of judicial authority at large scale may be found in the cases of determination of prices of fruits, vegetables and other edibles, suspension and transfers of government officials, frequent directions to enact particular laws, stoppage of various development projects, such as New Murree City, Islamabad Chalets, Lahore Canal Road and many more. They rendered the state machinery, particularly legislative and executive branches of the government paralyzed and nugatory. They made ineffective the institution of the Supreme Judicial Council set up under the Constitution for the accountability of the members of the superior judiciary;

(iii) The sum total of the circumstances led to a situation where the running of the government in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution became impossible for which the Constitution provided no remedy or satisfactory solution. There was a strong apprehension of disastrous consequences that would have followed in case the action of the 3rd day of November 2007 was not taken by the Chief of Army Staff/President...

The extra-constitutional steps of Proclamation of Emergency of the 3rd day of November, 2007, the Provisional Constitution Order No.1 of 2007, the Provisional Constitution (Amendment) Order, 2007, the Oath of Office (Judges) Order, 2007 and the President’s Order No. 5 of 2007 are hereby declared to have been validly made by the Chief of Army Staff/President subject to the condition that the country shall be governed, as nearly as may be, in accordance with the Constitution. All acts and actions taken for the orderly running of the State and for the advancement and good of the people are also validated.

We further hold and direct [that]...

The learned Chief Justices and Judges of the superior courts, (Supreme Court of Pakistan, Federal Shariat Court and the High Courts), who have not been given, and who have not made, oath under the Oath of Office (Judges) Order, 2007 have ceased to hold their respective offices on the 3rd of November 2007. Their cases cannot be re-opened being hit by the doctrine of past and closed transaction; and...

The Proclamation of Emergency of the 3rd day of November, 2007 shall be revoked by the President and/or the Chief of Army Staff at the earliest so that the period of constitutional deviation is brought to an end. However, this Court may, at any stage, re-examine the continuation of the Proclamation of Emergency if the circumstances so warrant.
The ruling was not unexpected by lawyers opposed to emergency rule, who told JURIST earlier this month that the petition [JURIST reports] ruled on Friday was being filed to put a "stamp of legitimacy to the illegal acts of this government." The News has more. PTI has additional coverage.





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UN rights chief urges Pakistan to reinstate ousted judges before holding elections
Eric Firkel on November 23, 2007 9:55 AM ET

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official website] Thursday urged Pakistan to reinstate all of the judges dismissed under President Pervez Musharraf's November 3 declaration of emergency rule before parliamentary elections slated for January. In Dublin to attend a human rights conference, Arbour told reporters that it is not enough to hold free and fair elections lest the judicial branch become totally subservient to the executive branch in what the former Canadian Supreme Court justice called a "very twisted form of democracy". Musharraf effectively dismissed all Pakistan's Supreme Court judges, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry [JURIST news archive], at the same time as he suspended the country's constitution and issued a Provisional Constitution Order. Musharraf has since replaced the original top court bench with mostly lower court judges seen by many to be more loyal to the president.

Earlier this month, Arbour expressed alarm [JURIST report] at the suspension of fundamental rights during Musharraf's emergency, saying that a state of emergency "should only be used to deal with a dire security threat to the nation, not to undermine the integrity and independence of the judiciary." AP has more.






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Commonwealth suspends Pakistan pending rule of law restoration
Bernard Hibbitts on November 22, 2007 4:26 PM ET

[JURIST] Commonwealth foreign ministers meeting in Uganda [meeting website] announced Thursday that they had agreed to suspend Pakistan from the group of 53 nations "pending the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in that country." A statement [text] issued by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group [official website] (CMAG) said that despite progress in Pakistan since President Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule on November 3, the conditions it had set out [JURIST report] earlier in the month for avoiding the country's suspension had not been met: the state of emergency had not been lifted, the Constitution and independence of the judiciary had not been restored, and "fundamental rights and rule of law remain curtailed." CMAG concluded that Pakistan therefore continued to represent a serious violation of the Commonwealth’s fundamental political values set out under its Harare Declaration [text] and would be excluded from participation at all inter-governmental Commonwealth meetings and activities. The Telegraph has more.

This is the second time Pakistan has been suspended from the Commonwealth in recent years. It was last excluded in 1999 immediately after Musharraf led a military coup against a civilian government. That exclusion lasted until 2004.






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Chile high court affirms Pinochet family embezzlement indictment dismissal
Leslie Schulman on November 22, 2007 4:05 PM ET

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Chile [official website] on Wednesday upheld an appeals court decision to drop embezzlement charges [JURIST report] brought against the widow and five sons of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet [JURIST news archive; BBC profile]. The six were originally indicted [PDF text, in Spanish; JURIST report] along with 17 others [full list, in Spanish] on October 4 in connection with allegations that Pinochet had embezzled $25 million in government funds. The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed with the lower court's decision that since the accused were not government employees, they could not be charged with embezzling government funds. Charges against a spokesman and several advisers to Pinochet were also dropped.

Pinochet died of a heart attack [JURIST report] in December 2006 without ever facing trial on multiple charges of tax evasion and human rights violations. Last week, the Supreme Court affirmed seven convictions and overturned one [JURIST report] in cases involving murders committed by state agents during Pinochet's 1973-90 regime. The court based its decision on the Geneva Conventions [ICRC materials], finding that Chile was in a state of internal armed conflict when the murder occurred. AP has more.






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UN committee concerned about Belarus rights violations
Leslie Schulman on November 22, 2007 3:05 PM ET

[JURIST] The UN General Assembly Third Committee Wednesday approved [press release] a draft resolution [PDF text] imploring the government of Belarus [JURIST news archive] to uphold its "obligation to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms and to fulfil [its] international obligations." The draft expressed concern about ongoing human rights violations in Belarus, including the continued detention and harassment of political dissenters and independent journalists, flawed election measures that do not meet international standards, and the prevalent use of arbitrary application measures that impede the operations of non-government organizations in the country. The draft calls on the Belarus government:

(a) To release immediately and unconditionally all individuals detained for politically motivated reasons and other individuals detained for exercising or promoting human rights;
(b) To cease politically motivated prosecution, harassment and intimidation of political opponents, pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders, independent media, national minority activists, religious organizations, educational institutions and civil society actors, and to cease the harassment of students;
(c) To bring the electoral process and legislative framework into line with international standards . . . and to rectify the shortcomings of the electoral process;
(d) To respect the rights to freedom of speech, assembly and association;
(e) To suspend from their duties officials implicated in any case of enforced disappearance, summary execution and torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment . . . and, if [they are] found guilty, to ensure that they are punished in accordance with the international human rights obligations of Belarus;
(f) To uphold the right to freedom of religion or belief; [and]
(g) To investigate and hold accountable those responsible for the mistreatment, arbitrary arrest and incarceration of human rights defenders and members of the political opposition [...]
The committee passed the resolution with a vote of 68-32, with 76 abstentions. Belarus' UN ambassador rejected the draft, calling it "unfounded" and without legal force. The resolution now moves to a vote in the General Assembly.

The General Assembly in March passed a resolution on Belarus human rights violations [PDF text], but it has been largely disregarded. Wednesday's draft encouraged Belarus to fully execute the March resolution. AP has more.





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Hamas financing suspect sentenced to prison for refusing to testify
Leslie Schulman on November 22, 2007 2:40 PM ET

[JURIST] Abdelhaleem Ashqar, a former associate professor of business at Howard University in Washington DC who was one of three men indicted [press release] in 2004 by a US federal grand jury on charges of engaging in a 15-year conspiracy of providing funds to Hamas [JURIST news archive], was sentenced Wednesday to eleven years in prison for his refusal to testify before a federal grand jury earlier this year. In February, Ashqar was found not guilty of racketeering [JURIST report], but was convicted of obstruction of justice and criminal contempt. He refused to testify before a grand jury after receiving immunity from prosecutors.

US District Judge Amy J. St. Eve [official profile] said in her Wednesday ruling that he refused to testify because he wanted to "promote terrorism," and agreed with federal prosecutors who argued that without his testimony it was difficult to complete their investigations into crimes committed by Hamas, including deciphering coded messages. AP has more.






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Yukos legally ceases to exist after Moscow court action
Dennis Zawacki II on November 22, 2007 10:28 AM ET

[JURIST] The bankruptcy administrator for the embattled Russian oil company Yukos [corporate website; JURIST news archive] announced Thursday that the company no longer legally exists. The Moscow Arbitration Court completed Yukos' liquidation this month and removed it as a legal entity Wednesday. Once Russia's largest oil company, Yukos was forced to declare bankruptcy [JURIST report] in August 2006 when it could not pay claimed back taxes. Yukos' remaining assets have been acquired by state-run Rosneft [corporate website], currently Russia's largest oil producer.

Former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky [defense website; JURIST news archive] was convicted of tax evasion [JURIST report] in 2005 and is currently imprisoned in Siberia; he has two appeals pending before the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights. Russian prosecutors indicted Khordorkovsky on new money laundering charges [JURIST report] in early 2007. Khodorkovsky, an opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has always insisted that the charges against him have been politically motivated, although Russian prosecutors say otherwise [JURIST report]. RIA Novosti has more.






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Pakistan Supreme Court rejects last challenge to Musharraf re-election
Dennis Zawacki II on November 22, 2007 9:04 AM ET

[JURIST] The reconstituted Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] Thursday dismissed the final outstanding legal challenge to General Pervez Musharraf's October legislative re-election to the post of president of Pakistan. Rival candidate Zahoor Mehdi had argued that the Pakistan election commission [official website] should not have denied Mehdi a slot on the October ballot. The Supreme Court ruled that Mehdi's nomination papers were not valid. Earlier this week the court dismissed five similar claims [JURIST report] disputing Musharraf's eligibility to run for the presidency while still Army chief.

Pakistani Attorney General Malik Muhammad Qayyum says that Musharraf plans on stepping down as head of the army later this week and will hold the presidency for another five year term. It is still unclear when Musharraf will lift his emergency rule [JURIST report], imposed November 3 when he suspended the country's constitution and effectively dismissed the country's then-sitting Supreme Court, citing growing danger from extremists and judicial interference in executive affairs. AP has more.






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Musharraf amends Pakistan constitution to bar legal challenges to emergency
Bernard Hibbitts on November 21, 2007 7:47 PM ET

[JURIST] Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf promulgated an ordinance Wednesday invoking his power to unilaterally amend the country's constitution under Article 2(1) of the current Provisional Constitution Order [text as amended] and making the November 3 declaration of emergency and accompanying orders immune from any legal challenge by deeming them always to have been validly made. The Constitution (Amendment) Order, 2007 [text] provides that Article 270 of the now-suspended Pakistani constitution is amended to include the following provision:

270AAA. Validation and affirmation of laws etc.-

(1) The proclamation of Emergency of 3rd November, 2007, all President's Orders, Ordinances, Chief of Army Staff Orders, including the Provisional Constitution order No.1 2007, the Oath of Office (Judges) Order, 2007, the amendments made in the constitution through the Constitution (Amendment) Order, 2007 and all other laws made between the 3rd day of November, 2007 and the date on which the Proclamation of Emergency of the 3rd Day of November, 2007, is revoked (both days inclusive), are accordingly affirmed, adopted and declared to have been validly made by the competent authority and notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution shall not be called in question in any court or forum on any ground whatsoever.

(2) All orders made, proceedings taken, appointments made, including secondments and deputations, and acts done by any authority, or by any person, which were made, taken or done, or purported to have been made, taken or done, on or after the 3rd day of November, 2007 in exercise of the powers derived from any Proclamation, Provisional Constitution Order No. 1 of 2007, President's orders, ordinances, enactments, including amendments in the Constitution, notifications, rules, orders, bye-laws, or in execution of or in compliance with any orders made or sentences passed by any authority in the exercise or purported exercise of powers as aforesaid, shall, notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution or any judgment of any court, be deemed to be and always to have been validly made, taken or done and shall not be called in question in any court or forum on any ground whatsoever.

(3) All proclamations, President's orders, ordinances, Chief of Army Staff Orders, laws, regulations, enactments, including amendments in the Constitution, notifications, rules, orders or bye-laws in force immediately before the date on which the Proclamation of Emergency of the 3rd day of November, 2007 is revoked, shall continue in force until altered, repealed or amended by the competent authority.

Explanation.- In this clause, "competent authority" means,- (a) in respect of President's orders, ordinances, Chief of Army Staff Orders and enactments, including amendments in the Constitution, the appropriate Legislature; and
(b) in respect of notifications, rules, orders and bye-laws, the authority in which the power to make, alter, repeal or amend the same vests under the law.

(4) No prosecution or any other legal proceedings, including but not limited to suits, constitutional petitions or complaints, shall, notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution or any other law for the time being in force, lie in any court, forum or authority against any person or authority on account of or in respect of issuance of the legal instruments referred to in clause (1) and on account of or in respect of any action taken by the Chief of Army Staff, the President or any other in exercise or purported exercise of the powers referred to in clause (2).

(5) For purpose of clauses (1), (2) and (4) all orders made, proceeding taken, appointments made, including secondments and deputation, acts done or purporting to be made, taken or done by any authority or person shall be deemed to have been made, taken in good faith and for the purpose intended to be served thereby.
The Order appears to have been issued in contemplation of the eventual reinstatement of Pakistan's constitution after the current proclamation of emergency is revoked and would effectively hold harmless the proclamation's authors and enforcers. The News has local coverage.





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UN rights chief urges Pakistan to restore judicial independence
Caitlin Price on November 21, 2007 4:49 PM ET

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official website] called on Pakistan to restore judicial independence in comments to AFP Wednesday, saying that an independent judiciary is just as important as free elections to a democracy. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf dismissed 14 Supreme Court judges, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry [JURIST news archive], in the wake of his November 3 declaration of a state of emergency [JURIST report], replacing them with lower court judges seen by many to be more loyal to the president. The ousted judges say they still face heavy restrictions on their movement [JURIST report], despite government assurances to the contrary. Arbour said that:

the main target of this entire enterprise was a frontal attack on the judicial branch of government and that is an enormous setback for democracy and constitutionalism.
Arbour also said the that emergency rule hampered protests supporting the reinstatement of judicial independence.

Earlier this month, Arbour expressed alarm [JURIST report] at the suspension of fundamental rights under Musharraf's emergency rule, saying that a state of emergency "should only be used to deal with a dire security threat to the nation, not to undermine the integrity and independence of the judiciary." AFP has more.





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Prosecutors argue against bail in Khmer Rouge genocide tribunal hearing
Caitlin Price on November 21, 2007 4:08 PM ET

[JURIST] Prosecutors argued before a hearing of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive] Wednesday that former Khmer Rouge official Kaing Guek Eav [TrialWatch profile] should be denied bail to prevent violence that could threaten public order. Lawyers said that Kaing Guek Eav, better known as "Duch," is a flight risk and, if released, could be targeted for a revenge killing by relatives of Khmer Rouge genocide victims. Duch has contested his eight-year pre-trial detention [JURIST report] as a violation of international law, and has requested to be released on bail in the months before his as-yet unscheduled trial. A decision is not expected for several days, but ECCC judges have indicated that they do not have jurisdiction to determine the legality of Duch's detention.

Duch, who was in charge of the notorious S-21 prison [Wikipedia backgrounder] in Phnom Penh, is one of five top leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime [JURIST news archive; BBC backgrounder] currently in ECCC custody. Duch was arrested in 1999 on genocide charges; he was subsequently charged with war crimes by a military court in March and with crimes against humanity [JURIST reports] by the ECCC in July. Those charges were primarily brought to keep Duch in custody while the ECCC started operations. Also Wednesday, the tribunal expressed concern for the safety of former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan [JURIST report] if released. AP has more. AFP has additional coverage.






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Georgia high court rejects sex offender residence law
Mike Rosen-Molina on November 21, 2007 3:36 PM ET

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Georgia [official website] Wednesday unanimously overturned [opinion, PDF; summary, PDF] a state law that prohibited registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds and other areas where children gather. Civil rights groups had criticized the law [legislative materials] as overly strict, saying that the state's roughly 11,000 registered sex offenders would have been barred from living in almost any residential area. State Rep. Jerry Keen (R) [official profile], who sponsored the law, expressed disappointment in the court's ruling and said that state lawmakers may readdress the issue in January.

The Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) [advocacy website], which represented the plaintiffs in a federal class-action lawsuit [complaint, PDF; SCHR materials] against the law, had argued that the law violated several constitutional provisions and at least one federal statute. The law was passed last year and went into effect on July 1, 2006, but in June 2006 US District Judge Clarence Cooper [official profile] issued a temporary restraining order [brief in support, PDF; JURIST report] that prevented the state from enforcing the law against eight plaintiffs, and then later extended the restraining order to all registered sex offenders in the state [JURIST report]. AP has more.






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UN committee urges Iran to respect rights obligations
Caitlin Price on November 21, 2007 2:59 PM ET

[JURIST] The UN General Assembly Third Committee Tuesday approved [UN press release] a draft resolution [PDF text] imploring Iran [JURIST news archive] to "respect fully its human rights obligations." The draft expressed concern about ongoing human rights violations in Iran despite previous resolutions condemning acts including torture, public executions, and discrimination against minorities and women. The draft calls on the Iranian government:

a) To eliminate, in law and in practice, amputations and flogging and other forms of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
(b) To abolish, in law and in practice, public executions and other executions carried out in the absence of respect for internationally recognized safeguards;
(c) To abolish, in law and in practice, the use of stoning as a method of execution;
(d) To abolish [...] executions of persons who at the time of their offence were under the age of 18;
(e) To eliminate, in law and in practice, all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls;
(f) To eliminate, in law and in practice, all forms of discrimination and other human rights violations against persons belonging to religious, ethnic, linguistic or other minorities, recognized or otherwise, to refrain from monitoring individuals on the basis of their religious beliefs, and to ensure that access of minorities to education and employment is on par with that of all Iranians;
(g) To implement, inter alia, the 1996 report of the Special Rapporteur on religious intolerance,6 which recommended ways in which the Islamic Republic of Iran could emancipate the Baha'i community;
(h) To end the harassment, intimidation and persecution of political opponents and human rights defenders, including by releasing persons imprisoned arbitrarily or on the basis of their political views; [and]
(i) To uphold due process of law rights, and to end impunity for human rights violations.
The committee passed the resolution with a vote of 72-50, with 55 abstentions. Iranian UN Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee [official website] criticized main resolution sponsor Canada - with which Iran has recently had a rocky relationship [JURIST news archive] on rights matters - for relying on "illusionary and nonexisting claims and allegations" to garner support. The resolution now moves to a vote in the General Assembly.

The General Assembly passed its most recent resolution addressing Iranian human rights violations [PDF text] in December 2006; it was widely believed to be ineffective. Tuesday's draft resolution encouraged Iran to allow visits of Human Rights Council special procedures [official website], who have been excluded since July 2005. AP has more.





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Khadr trial could set precedent for prosecution of minors: UN representative
Mike Rosen-Molina on November 21, 2007 2:28 PM ET

[JURIST] UN Special Representative for the Children and Armed Conflict Unit Radhika Coomaraswamy [official profile] Tuesday expressed concern about the prosecution of Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr [JURIST news archive], saying that prosecuting Khadr for alleged war crimes committed while he was a minor could set a dangerous precedent. Coomaraswamy made the comments to US State Department legal adviser John Bellinger [official profile], but no word is available on Bellinger's response. Human rights groups have criticized the US for proceeding with the trial, saying that it violates the Optional Protocol of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child [text], which gives special protection to children under 18 involved in armed conflicts.

A spokesperson said that Coomaraswamy has also had discussions with officials in Canada, Khadr's home nation, which has so far declined to intervene on Khadr's behalf. Khadr military defense lawyer Lt.-Cmdr. William Kuebler is currently in London asking MPs and human rights activists to push the Canadian government to call for Khadr's extradition [Globe and Mail report]. CBC News has more.

On Wednesday, five news organizations - the Associated Press, the New York Times Co., Dow Jones & Company Inc., the Hearst Corp. and the McClatchy Company [corporate websites] - said they were being blocked from substantial portions of the military commission proceeding against Khadr. In a court filing, the news groups said that many of the motions and arguments in Khadr's case are being made via e-mail or in closed sessions, meaning that there are no public records of what is discussed. AP has more.






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France judge opens formal probe into Chirac corruption allegations
Mike Rosen-Molina on November 21, 2007 1:36 PM ET

[JURIST] A French judge Wednesday opened a formal investigation into former French President Jacques Chirac [official profile; BBC profile] for his alleged involvement in a corruption scheme [JURIST report] during his tenure as the mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995. Chirac allegedly financed the Rally for the Republic (RPR) [Wikipedia backgrounder], now renamed as the Union for a Popular Movement [party website, in French], by illegally establishing fake city positions for party members to collect salaries totaling several million dollars. AP has more.

In June, Chirac lawyer Jean Veil indicated that judges would likely question Chirac [JURIST report], but emphasized that the Chirac would not answer questions concerning scandals that allegedly occurred during Chirac's tenure as president of France [JURIST news archive] because the French constitution grants judicial immunity to the president. In July, French investigating magistrates questioned Chirac as a material witness [JURIST report] in their probe of the scheme.






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US judge mulls new terror trial for Muslim cleric after Moussaoui evidence revelations
Mike Rosen-Molina on November 21, 2007 12:38 PM ET

[JURIST] The US federal judge who presided over the Zacarias Moussaoui [JURIST news archive] terrorism conspiracy case suggested from the bench Tuesday that she might order a new trial for a Muslim cleric convicted of soliciting treason, saying that she could no longer trust representations made by the US government in light of recent revelations that it had withheld evidence [JURIST report] during the Moussaoui proceeding. At a post-trial hearing for Muslim cleric Ali al-Timimi [WP profile; JURIST news archive], US District Judge Leonie Brinkema said she felt she could no longer count on the CIA and other government agencies to accurately disclose classified evidence in terror cases. Al-Timimi, an Islamic scholar from Fairfax, Virginia, was sentenced to life in prison [JURIST report] in July 2005 after he was convicted of soliciting others to levy war against the US, inducing others to aid the Taliban, and inducing others to use firearms in violation of federal law.

Last week, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] admitted in a letter [PDF text] that it has several recorded interrogations of suspected "enemy combatants", contrary to its denial of assertions in the Moussaoui case that it possessed one audio and two video interrogation tapes. Moussaoui had sought the testimony of several al Qaeda witnesses as part of his defense. Prosecutors said that they learned of the tapes only recently, but insisted that their absence did not affect Moussaoui's trial, as they did not mention either him or the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks [JURIST news archive]. AP has more.

Moussaoui pleaded guilty [JURIST report] in April 2005 to six conspiracy charges [indictment] in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks, including conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, conspiracy to destroy aircraft and conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. He received a life sentence [JURIST report] last year after one juror refused to agree to the death penalty [JURIST report].






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UN rights panel condemns Myanmar crackdown
Mike Rosen-Molina on November 21, 2007 12:34 PM ET

[JURIST] The UN General Assembly Third Committee Tuesday passed a draft resolution [press release] condemning the recent crackdown against political dissidents in Myanmar, calling on the country's military government to release all political prisoners and to cooperate with UN special envoy to Myanmar Ibrahim Gambari [official profile]. The resolution passed 88-24, with 66 abstentions, and now goes to the General Assembly itself. Myanmar's UN Ambassador U Kyaw Tint Swe criticized the resolution as an attempt to meddle in Myanmar's internal affairs and said it could hinder the country's efforts toward democracy. AP has more.

Gambari visited Myanmar [JURIST report] last month and returned in November to continue efforts to encourage the country's military junta to move toward democratization and reconciliation in the wake of the government crackdown against protesters which began in August. The crackdown started when Myanmar [JURIST news archive] security officers arrested hundreds of Buddhist monks demonstrating against rising fuel prices and human rights abuses by the military regime. Protests only subsided when junta troops effectively locked down Myanmar's major cities. At least 10 people were killed when government soldiers shot into protesting crowds [JURIST report] and the government has said that some 3,000 people were arrested for participating in the protests.






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Ousted Pakistan CJ blocked from leaving residence despite government pledge
Bernard Hibbitts on November 21, 2007 11:52 AM ET

[JURIST] Pakistani police Wednesday stopped ousted Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry [JURIST news archive] from leaving his official residence in Islamabad notwithstanding a statement by an Interior Ministry spokesman Tuesday that he and other deposed Supreme Court of Pakistan judges were "free to move" [JURIST report] after being under virtual house arrest. Justice Rana Bhagwandas, also dismissed from the high court bench after President Pervez Musharraf's November 3 declaration of emergency rule, told AFP that there was a "massive police presence" in the official judges compound early Wednesday morning when Chaudhry tried to come out and he was not allowed to do so. Police also mounted barricades to prevent other people approaching. AFP quoted Bhagwandas as saying "We have never seen this kind of method being used on senior judiciary in the history of the country." BBC News has more. Dawn has local coverage. INN has more local coverage.

Pakistan's News daily meanwhile reported Wednesday that several lawyers who attempted to came to see Chaudhry, including retired Supreme Court Justice Wajihuddin Ahmed who ran against Musharraf unsuccessfully in the recent legislative elections for the Pakistani presidency, had been arrested. They were stopped by a magistrate and warned away and were later detained near an Islamabad hotel and taken to an undisclosed location. The News has more.






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Pakistan officials say over 5000 emergency detainees freed
Bernard Hibbitts on November 21, 2007 11:46 AM ET

[JURIST] Pakistani officials said Wednesday that upwards of 5000 lawyers, activists and others detained in the aftermath of President Pervez Musharraf's November 3 declaration of emergency rule [JURIST report] have been released. Government Law Minister Afzal Hayder said on state television that the government had freed 5,634 detainees, and that 600 others still in custody were to be released soon. An aide was quoted by news agencies as saying that the total number of detainees was 5,757, of whom 5,134 had been released up to 19:00 local time Wednesday. The remaining 623 included 202 lawyers and 421 students or political workers; the aide said their release was expected in a few days.

The pace of releases has accelerated since an Interior Ministry spokesman said Tuesday that more that 3400 lawyers and political activists had been freed [JURIST report]. Pakistan has been under considerable international pressure to free persons arrested for protesting the declaration of emergency and suspension of the country's constitution, condemned by many as tantamount to martial law. The New York Daily News has more. Xinhua has additional coverage.






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US prison population up eight-fold since 1970: report
Mike Rosen-Molina on November 20, 2007 7:06 PM ET

[JURIST] The US prison population is currently eight times as high as it was in 1970, but zealous prosecution and tough sentencing guidelines have done little to curb crime, according to a report [PDF text] released Monday by the JFA Institute [advocacy website], a Washington criminal justice research group. The report said:

Proponents of prison expansion have heralded this growth as a smashing success. But a large number of studies contradict that claim. Most scientific evidence suggests that there is little if any relationship between fluctuations in crime rates and incarceration rates. In many cases, crime rates have risen or declined independent of imprisonment rates. New York City, for example, has produced one of the nation’s largest declines in crime in the nation while significantly reducing its jail and prison populations. Connecticut, New Jersey, Ohio, and Massachusetts have also reduced their prison populations during the same time that crime rates were declining.
The report called for a major retooling of the US criminal justice system and recommended implementing new policies to reduce the prison population, including shorter sentences and the decriminalization of certain recreational drugs, arguing that these measures would "save $20 billion a year and ease social inequality without endangering the public." According to Reuters, a US Justice Department [official website] spokesman disputed the report's findings and argued that tough-on-crime tactics were responsible for a 25 percent drop in violent crime in the 1990s. Reuters has more.

Rising numbers of inmates in US prisons has been a concern for years. The US prison and jail population added prisoners [press release; JURIST report] from mid-2004 to mid-2005 at a rate of 2.6 percent and more than 1,000 new inmates a week, reaching a total of 2,186,230 inmates behind bars according to a Justice Department Bureau of Justice Statistics [official website] report [summary; PDF text] released last year. The racial makeup of the prison population remained steady, but the number of women incarcerated in the US for a period of over a year saw a large upswing, growing 757 percent between 1997 and 2004 [JURIST report], according to a report [text] released by the Women’s Prison Association [advocacy website].





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Commonwealth rights group joins call for Pakistan suspension
Caitlin Price on November 20, 2007 4:10 PM ET

[JURIST] The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) [official website; official backgrounder] Tuesday joined calls to suspend Pakistan from the Commonwealth in light of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's imposition of emergency rule [JURIST report], suspension of the constitution and effective dismissal of the country's top judges. CHRI, which monitors human rights in the 53 Commonwealth nations and promotes adherence to the Harare Declaration [text], said that Commonwealth foreign ministers gathering Wednesday in Kampala, Uganda should bar Pakistan from the association of nations. Earlier this month, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) threatened to suspend Pakistan [JURIST report] if emergency rule was not ended by November 22.

In 1999, Pakistan was suspended from the Commonwealth for five years after Musharraf assumed power in a military coup. AFP has more.






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Ousted Pakistan judges now 'free to move' but still face restrictions
Alexis Unkovic on November 20, 2007 3:37 PM ET

[JURIST] Judges dismissed from the Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] and held under virtual house arrest in the wake of President Pervez Musharraf's November 3 declaration of emergency rule [JURIST report] are now "free to move" and leave their homes, Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Igbal Cheema said Tuesday. Justice Rana Bhagwandas [JURIST news archive] nonetheless told AFP that the ousted judges, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry [JURIST news archive], still face heavy restrictions on their mobility. He said Chaudhry still could not leave his police-encircled residence and that while other judges could leave their homes and move around the judges' compound in Islamabad they had to seek government permission to leave, a situation he described as "cumbersome". AFP has more.

Earlier Tuesday, Pakistani authorities said they had released more than 3400 lawyers and political activists [JURIST report] detained in the aftermath of the November 3 declaration. Cheema told AFP Tuesday that some 2000 others still in custody would be released "soon," although the release of people facing criminal charges would take longer.






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Ousted Pakistan judges rule against Musharraf in election eligibility case
Bernard Hibbitts on November 20, 2007 3:27 PM ET

[JURIST] Three Pakistan Supreme Court judges removed from their positions after President Pervez Musharraf issued his declaration of emergency rule early this month have ruled against his eligibility to run for re-election as president while still Army chief of staff, according to a report Tuesday in Pakistan's News daily. A panel headed by Justice Rana Bhagwandas [Wikipedia profile] and including Justices Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan and Mian Shakirullah Jan - all currently under virtual house arrest in Islamabad after refusing to take oaths under the Provisional Constitution Order [text as amended] - filed a 58-page judgment with the Supreme Court registrar on Friday, but it was rejected and not issued publicly. On Monday, the reconstituted Supreme Court dismissed five out of six challenges [JURIST report] to Musharraf's re-election; the final challenge is expected to be disposed of later this week.

The News quotes the Bhagwandas panel judgment as concluding that Musharraf's tenure as head of the Army beyond December 31, 2004 was "illegal and unlawful". Addressing the current situation in Pakistan under emergency, the ousted judges wrote:

we earnestly feel that this country no longer can afford the luxury of resorting to circumvent the law and the constitutional mandate by upholding and affirming the draconian doctrine of necessity...

Indeed, the judges of this court are under an oath to uphold, preserve and defend the constitution of Pakistan, which must be strictly adhered to in letter and spirit without any fear or favour, or ill will.

Any endeavor to continue and affirm the present system of governance, which has transformed parliamentary system of governance into presidential form of government is bound to damage the dignity, respect and honour of the citizen of this country in the comity of the nations and bring a bad name to it, which can hardly be appreciated.

Independence of judiciary, stability of the democratic system, regular conduct of the general election process, allowing the institutions to serve freely within the sphere of their scope and without involvement of the armed would always be in the supreme interests of the nation...

Needless to emphasis, frequent military interventions and destabilization of elected governments have always given rise to indiscipline, disorder, conflict of interests, inflation, unemployment, massive corruption, intolerance and extremism in the country which must be eradicated and eliminated with iron hand and strengthen in accordance with the law.
On the narrow question of Musharraf's eligibility for re-election the panel wrote:
we earnestly feel, there appears to be enough substance and force in the submission of the petitioners that General Musharraf could not contest elections from the current assemblies as outgoing assemblies can not be allowed to bind the successor assemblies to be elected as a result of popular mandate. Further more, members of present electoral college, who have already expressed their opinion by expressing a vote of confidence immediately after their assumption of office, may not be in a position to exercise their right of franchise freely and independently. They would naturally be influenced and swayed by their earlier decision.

Since the term of the office of President as well the present assembly expires simultaneously on November 15, 2007, it would be in the fitness of the things and in consonance with the democratic norms and intentions of the framers of the constitution if the new assemblies and the electoral college are allowed to exercise their right to elect a president of their choice during the term of electoral college under the constitution.

An exceptional situation which can be conceived may be where the incumbent president, before expiration of his term of office, is removed from his office on the ground of physical or mental incapacity, is impeached on a charge of violating the constitution or the gross misconduct; resignation or death when the office of president falls vacant, the existing electoral college would be constitutionally authorized to elect another president for the unexpired term of office.

Indeed, General Musharraf, was fully alive to this situation, therefore while promulgating LFO 2002, he introduced meaningful amendments in the Chief Executive order, he introduced meaningful amendments in article 224 of the constitution, providing for time for election bye election. While the original text provided that a general election to the national assembly or a provincial assembly shall be held within a period of 60 days immediately “preceding” the day on which the term of assembly is due to expire, the expression “preceding” was intentionally substituted by the term “following”.

This amendment was intentionally and deliberately made with a view to make a room for a seeking election to the office of the president from the outgoing assemblies in conformity with clause (4) of article 41 of the constitution stipulating that election to the office shall be held not earlier than 60 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of the president in office. The draftsmanship and ingenuity of those who suggested the above said amendment in the constitutional provisions can only cause dismay may be looked upon with sorrow and grief.

Since the purpose and object of the amendments never saw the light of the day, it is hard to appreciate the ground realities providing the forum to present electoral college for election of the same person to the office president for another term for which new assemblies have to be elected a as a result of popular vote based upon election manifestos of various political parties.

It may be further observed that the president being an integral part of the parliament, it would be quite inconceivable and unusual that the parliament with whom a president has to work in total cordiality and harmony should not be elected by such parliament.

At the cost of repetition, it may be noted that a parliament having outlived its tenure should not be allowed to bind the successor parliament with its choice as it is well settled that a parliament may do anything but bind the successor parliament. The present parliament having outlived its life, in our view, does not have a democratic mandate of the people to elect the same person as president for another term of five years, which would militate against the well entrenched principles of democratic value.

For the aforesaid facts, circumstances and reasons these petitions are allowed and General Pervez Musharraf declared to be disqualified to contest for the presidential election.
Bhagwandas - a former Acting Chief Justice named to replace Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry [JURIST report] after he was suspended by Musharraf earlier this year for alleged misconduct - told the News that the judges had put a lot of time and effort into their ruling and that it should have been released. The News has more.





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Pennsylvania lethal injection procedure violates Eighth Amendment: lawyer
Caitlin Price on November 20, 2007 3:18 PM ET

[JURIST] Pennsylvania's lethal injection protocol [JURIST news archive] creates an "unnecessary risk of pain and suffering" in violation of the Eighth Amendment, a lawyer for three death row convicts challenging the procedure said Tuesday. On November 9, lawyer David Rudovsky filed suit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania [official website] on behalf of the plaintiff inmates, alleging that the commonwealth failed to adequately train executioners or assure that condemned inmates received the proper dosage of sodium pentothal anesthetic [DPIC backgrounder] to prevent extreme pain during execution. The plaintiffs seek class action certification for Pennsylvania's 228 death row inmates. AP has more.

Last month, the American Bar Association death penalty assessment team [ABA materials], of which Rudovsky is a member, said that Pennsylvania's death penalty system is so flawed [JURIST report] that it has denied defendants due process and could result in wrongful executions. Based on case studies in eight states, the ABA called for a nationwide moratorium on executions [JURIST report], though the studies did not examine whether lethal injections constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Several states have placed a moratorium on lethal injections pending US Supreme Court review of the issue in Baze v. Rees (07-5439) [docket; cert. petition]. Several constitutional challenges to the procedure have arisen across the country, arguing that the sodium pentothal anesthetic fails to make the inmate fully unconscious, thereby making the inmate suffer excruciating pain when the heart-stopping drug is injected.






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US Supreme Court agrees to hear DC handgun ban and California labor cases
Alexis Unkovic on November 20, 2007 2:10 PM ET

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday granted certiorari in two cases [order list, PDF] and postponed jurisdiction in a third case. In District of Columbia v. Heller (07-290) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the Supreme Court will consider whether the Second Amendment [text] to the US Constitution prohibits the District of Columbia from banning private handgun ownership, setting the stage for what could be the biggest Second Amendment challenge in almost 70 years. The Supreme Court last directly addressed the Second Amendment in 1939's US v. Miller [case materials]. In September, Washington DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and DC Attorney General Linda Singer [official profiles] formally appealed [JURIST report] a March federal court ruling invalidating the District of Columbia's handgun ban [JURIST report] to the Supreme Court. In March, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit held [opinion, PDF] that the city's 30-year-old ban on private possession of handguns was unconstitutionally broad. City lawyers have warned that the ruling "severely limits" the ability of local and federal legislatures to regulate firearms to protect citizens and law-enforcement officers. AP has more. SCOTUSBLOG has additional coverage.

In Chamber of Commerce v. Brown (06-939) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of a California law [Assembly Bill 1889] passed in 2000 that prohibits employers from using certain funds they receive from the state to influence union elections. In 2006, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal upheld [text, PDF] the California law, ruling that it was neither preempted by the National Labor Relations Act [text] nor rendered unenforceable by the US Constitution's Supremacy Clause. AP has more. SCOTUSBLOG has additional coverage.

In Riley v. Kennedy (07-77) [docket; motion to dismiss or affirm, PDF], the Supreme Court agreed to postpone further consideration of whether the court has jurisdiction over the case until a hearing of the case on the merits. The appeal concerns a move by Alabama's Republican governor to appoint a Republican county commissioner to a heavily Democratic district; a federal court found the appointment to violate the Voting Rights Act [DOJ backgrounder]. AP has more.






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Failed London bomber sentenced to 33 years in prison
James M Yoch Jr on November 20, 2007 12:07 PM ET

[JURIST] A UK judge Tuesday sentenced Manfo Kwaku Asiedu [BBC profile] to 33 years' imprisonment for his role in the July 21, 2005 failed bomb attacks on London's transit systems [JURIST news archive]. Earlier this month, Asiedu pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to a charge of conspiracy to cause explosions and the prosecution agreed to drop the charge of conspiracy to murder. In a 2006 trial, the jury failed to reach a verdict against Asiedu, although defendants Hussein Osman, Muktar Said Ibrahim, Yassin Omar, and Ramzi Mohamed were all found guilty [JURIST reports] of conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. The judge held that although Asiedu did lie to investigators about his involvement in the plot, he did not deserve the maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Asiedu purchased 110 gallons of hydrogen peroxide for use in the bombs, but said he was an unwilling and ignorant participant in the plot.

The attempted attacks came two weeks after similar suicide bombings [BBC timeline; JURIST news archive] killed 52 people on three underground trains and a bus in London. During the trial, Asiedu testified against his co-conspirators, undermining their defense that the plot was a hoax. BBC has more.






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Japan begins fingerprinting foreign visitors
James M Yoch Jr on November 20, 2007 11:37 AM ET

[JURIST] The Japanese government on Tuesday began fingerprinting and photographing foreign visitors, pursuant to an anti-terror bill [BBC report] that was approved by Japan's upper house of parliament [JURIST report] in May. If the government determines that a visitor poses a terrorist threat or if they refuse to comply with the identification procedures [Bureau of Immigration outline], they will be denied entry into Japan and returned to their port of origin. Several human rights groups have criticized the new policy, and opponents staged a protest outside the Justice Ministry in Tokyo on Tuesday. The bill's detractors say the policy violates the human rights of foreign visitors because the fingerprints and photographs are retained after foreigners are confirmed as non-terrorists. In an October letter [text, PDF] to the Justice Ministry, the European Business Council in Japan and the Australian and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan [group websites] said that the policy will hinder tourism and frustrate business travelers.

The process entails a separate line for foreigners, including business travelers, tourists, and some foreign-born residents, at airports. Some groups have been exempted from the requirement, such as diplomats, children under 16, and residents of Korean or Chinese origin who are descended from forced laborers during World War II [JURIST news archive]. The opposition Democratic Party of Japan [party website] and the Japan Federation of Bar Associations [group website; opinion paper] have warned that gathering the data and storing it in a database would violate foreigners' privacy. Reuters has more.






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Russian prosecutors investigating deputy finance minister for alleged embezzlement
Michael Sung on November 20, 2007 9:29 AM ET

[JURIST] The Russian Prosecutor General's Office [official website, in Russian] said Monday that Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak is being investigated for allegedly attempting to embezzle $43.3 million in state funds. Storchak has been detained to prevent him from destroying evidence or intimidating witnesses, according to prosecutors.

Storchak was initially detained on November 15, along with Sodexim [corporate website] head Viktor Zakharov and Interregional Investment Bank [bank website] chairman Vadim Volkov. The three men allegedly misappropriated government money, which they said was to cover Sodexim business expenses. Reuters has more. Interfax has local coverage.






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Peru high court delays ex-president Fujimori trial until mid-December
Michael Sung on November 20, 2007 9:16 AM ET

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Peru [official website, in Spanish] delayed the trial of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] Monday, granting a request by Fujimori's lawyers for additional preparation time and setting the new trial date for December 10. Fujimori is facing human rights charges for the 1992 murder of 25 people, and if convicted, could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison and be subjected to a fine of $33 million.

In September, Chilean authorities transferred Fujimori [JURIST report] to Peru after the Supreme Court of Chile allowed the extradition [ruling, PDF; JURIST report]. Fujimori will face four separate proceedings [JURIST report] in Peruvian courts, and in addition to the human rights charges, he will be tried on abuse of power and corruption charges for allegedly misusing government funds during his tenure as President from 1990-2000. AFP has more.






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ASEAN leaders adopt criticized charter, establish human rights body
Michael Sung on November 20, 2007 8:57 AM ET

[JURIST] Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) [official website] agreed Tuesday to a new charter that will unite members into an economic bloc similar to the European Union, but faced criticism for the charter's weak stance on human rights. Article 14 of the charter [PDF text] establishes a body to monitor human rights in the region, but human rights advocates have noted that the body will not have authority to issue sanctions against member states found to have violated human rights. Critics have also been skeptical of allowing military-ruled Myanmar to join the charter [JURIST report], citing the country's poor human rights record.

In July, ASEAN leaders agreed in principle to establish a human rights body, a move initially opposed by Myanmar. Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam had also sought to delay the creation of the human rights body. Last March, ASEAN officials acknowledged that there had been little progress in efforts [JURIST report] to establish a human rights body within the organization. In December 2005, members agreed [declaration] to draft the group's first charter. AP has more.






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Khmer Rouge genocide tribunal holds first public hearing
Jaime Jansen on November 20, 2007 8:13 AM ET

[JURIST] The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday held its first public hearing, considering the appeal of Kaing Guek Eav [TrialWatch profile], better known as "Duch," against his eight-year pre-trial detention. Duch argued that the tribunal risked violating international law if it continued to detain him. Though a decision is not expected for several days, the ECCC judges indicated that they did not have jurisdiction to determine the legality of Duch's detention. Duch was arrested in 1999 on genocide charges and was subsequently charged by a military court with crimes against humanity in 2002 and war crimes [JURIST report] in March. Those charges were primarily brought to keep Duch in custody while the ECCC started operations. Duch, who was in charge of the notorious S-21 prison [backgrounder] in Phnom Penh, was charged [JURIST report] with crimes against humanity by the ECCC in July.

Duch is one of five top leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime [JURIST news archive; BBC backgrounder] currently in ECCC custody. ECCC authorities arrested [JURIST report] former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan Monday following his release from a hospital, and later charged him with war crimes and crimes against humanity. Last week, the ECCC announced formal charges [JURIST report] against former Cambodian Foreign Minister Ieng Sary and his wife Ieng Thirith, who served as minister of social affairs. Former Khmer Rouge official Nuon Chea is awaiting trial [JURIST report] for charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Their trials are expected to begin next year. AP has more. AFP has additional coverage.






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Pakistan releases thousands of detained lawyers, activists
Jaime Jansen on November 20, 2007 7:45 AM ET

[JURIST] Pakistani authorities have released more than 3400 lawyers and political activists [AFP report] detained in the aftermath of President Pervez Musharraf's November 3 declaration of emergency rule [JURIST report], Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Igbal Cheema told AFP Tuesday, adding that some 2000 others still in custody would be released "soon" although the release of people facing criminal charges would take longer. Limited releases of detainees have been going on for over a week now; on November 10, the government freed some 350 Lahore lawyers [News report] detained after a massive lawyers' protest on November 5. An additional 42 Lahore lawyers were granted bail [JURIST report] by an anti-terrorism judge Monday, the same day that the incoming governor of Balochistan province promised that all lawyers, politicians and activists held there would be released a goodwill gesture.

The Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission [advocacy website] circulated what it termed an "incomplete" list early Tuesday of more than 500 Pakistani lawyers - including judges and bar officials - it says have been detained, jailed or held under house arrest. It is not yet clear how many of those on the list are included in the most recent releases, although UN officials reported Friday that chairwoman of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Asma Jahangir (#419) had been freed [JURIST report] from her two-week house arrest:

Judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan that have been brought under house arrest

1. Mr. Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, chief justice of Pakistan
2. Mr. Justice Rana Bhagwandas,
3. Mr. Justice Ghulam Rabbani,
4. Mr. Justice Naseer-ul-Mulk,
5. Mr. Justice Shakir-ullah Jan
6. Mr. Justice Khalil Ramday,
7. Mr. Justice Sardar Ahmed Raza,
8. Mr. Justice Falak Sher
9. Mr. Tassudaq Husain Jillani
10. Mr. Justice Raja Fayyaz,
11. Mr. Justice Syed Jamshed Ali

Judges of the Sindh High Court that have been brought under house arrested

1. Mr. Justice Sabih Uddin Ahemd, Chief Justice of Sindh
2. Mr. Justice Shahani
3. Mr. Justice Musheer Alam
4. Ms. Noor Naz Agha

Other Lawyers and prominent members of the judiciary

1. Mr. Syed Hassan Tariq advocate, tortured in custody; a prominent human rights lawyer and member of executive committee of district bar association in Nawabshah, Sindh Province. He is now presently admitted at the National Medical College and Hospital in Nawabshah, Sindh. He was arrested and tortured by Police officer Mr. Ghulam Nabi Kharal, Station House Officer (SHO) of A Section police station in Nawabshah; Dr. Arbab Rahim, chief provincial minister of Sindh on 8 to 12 November 2007

2. Mr. Ali Ahmed Kurd, former vice president of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), the supreme body of lawyers. He was last seen on November 5, while being taken away by agents attached to the Inter Services Intelligence (I.S.I.) from Adiala Jail where he was detained, he was taken away by the intelligence agencies and was tortured. Now he is shifted to Gujranwala jail, Punjab province.

3. Mr. Munir A. Malik, former President of Supreme Court bar association, arrested on November 3, he was tortured in Attock Jail, North Western Province, he is admitted in government hospital after having blood from his urine

4. Retired Justice Tariq Mahmood, he is isolated ward of in Adiala Jail Rawlpindi, Punjab province.

5. Mr. Jawed Iqbal Burqi, a prominent lawyer in Karachi, arrested on November 4, presently in Central Jail, Karachi

6. Mr. Abrar Hassan, president of Sindh high court bar association, no medicine is allowed

7. Mr. Imdad Awan, president of Sukkur high court bar association, arrested on November 4, not provided medicines for his blood pressure and diabetes

8. Ms. Noor Naz Agha, a leading lawyer in Karachi, arrested on November 3, presently in Karachi prison, she was kept for many days in male lockup in Karachi

9. Ms. Jameela Manzoor, arrested on November 5, she was charged with high treason

10. Mr. Ahsan Bhoon, president of Lahore high court Bar association,he was beaten at the time of his arrest.

11. Retired Justice Mr. Rasheed Razvi, arrested from Sindh high court and kept in Karachi jail, Sindh

12. Mr. Justice (retired) Abul Inam was arrested from Sindh high court and kept in Karachi jail.

13. Mr Abdul Hafeez Lakho, former law minister, was arrested from sindh high court and kept in Karachi jai.

14. Mr. Akhtar Hussain advocate, former president of Sindh high court bar association, arrested from Sindh high court building and kept in Karachi Jail.

15. Mr. Muneer- ur Rehman, general secretary Sindh High court bar association, arrested from court building and kept in Karachi Jail.

16. Mr. Naeem Querashi, general secretary, Karachi Bar association, taken to unknown place.

List of Lawyer activists that have been arrested

1. A.R. Arshad
2. Aathr Mehmood
3. Abdul Aziz
4. Abdul Hameed
5. Abdul Hameed
6. Abdul Majid
7. Abdul Munaf
8. Abdul Qadoos
9. Abdul Rasheed Qureshi
10. Abdul Sami
11. Abdul Shakoor
12. Abdullah Aslam
13. Abid Hussain
14. Abid Hussain
15. Abid Masood
16. Abid Minhas
17. Abid Nazir
18. Abida Choudhry
19. Abu Abaida
20. Adeel Hussain
21. Adnan Ahmed
22. Aftab Rahim
23. Aftab Sherazi
24. Afzal
25. Afzal Ali
26. Ahmed / Zameer Ahmed
27. Ahmed Ali Faisal
28. Ahmed Bilal Faisal
29. Ahmed Raza
30. Ahsan Bhon
31. Alamdar Hussain
32. Ali Ajmal
33. Ali Athar
34. Ali Nawaz
35. Allah Buksh
36. Altaf Hussain
37. Amar Majeed
38. Amen Arshad
39. Amin Shehzad
40. Amir Hassan
41. Amir Latif Kashif
42. Amir Sanaullah
43. Amir Suhail
44. Amjad Ali
45. Amjad Mehmood
46. Ammer Hamza Khan
47. Anees
48. Anees Ali Hashmi
49. Anees Arshad
50. Anwar Ismail Khan
51. Anwar Kamal
52. Arshad Ali Rashid
53. Arshad Farooq
54. Arshad Javed
55. Arshad Naqvi
56. Asghar Khan Niazi
57. Ashraf Bhatti
58. Ashtar Ausaf Ali
59. Asif Ahmed Niswana
60. Asif Choudhry
61. Asim Farooq
62. Asim Mehmood
63. Asma Jahangir
64. Atif Choudhry
65. Atif Mustaqeem
66. Atta ur Rehman
67. Attif Mehmood
68. Attif Pervaiz
69. Ayub Shehzad
70. Ayyaz Mehroz Sandhoo
71. Azam Chohan
72. Azhar Aqeel
73. Azhar Hameed
74. Azhar Hameed
75. Azhar Majeed
76. Aziz ur Rehman
77. Azmat Ali
78. Babar Irshad
79. Bashir / Shabbir A. Choudhry
80. Bashrat Ali
81. Beenish Choudhry
82. Bilal Hassan Minto
83. Ehsan Aziz
84. Ehsan Qadir
85. Fahimudin
86. Faisal Afzal Awan
87. Faisal Chaudhry
88. Faisal Hafeez
89. Faisal Mahmood
90. Farooq Ali Bajwa
91. Fatima
92. Fatima Najeeb
93. Fayyaz Ahmed
94. Fida Abbas
95. Firdous Butt
96. Firdous Imtiaz
97. G.A. Khan
98. Ghulam Ahmed Khan
99. Ghulam Ali Khan
100. Ghulam Hussain
101. Ghulam Muhammad Sarfraz
102. Ghulam Mustafa
103. Ghulam Rasool Shahid
104. Hafiz Abdul Rehman Ansari
105. Hafiz Muhammad Tahir
106. Hafiz Saif ur Rehman
107. Hafiz Tariq Mehmood
108. Hakumat Ali
109. Hameed Chaudhry
110. Hamid Raza Bukhari
111. Haroon Ahmed
112. Hashmat
113. Hashmat
114. Hassan Islam
115. Hassnain Abbas
116. Hifza Aziz
117. Huma Shah
118. Hummayon Pervaiz
119. Iffat Saeed Choudhry
120. Iftikhar Ahmed Bhatti
121. Iftikhar Iqbal
122. Ijaz
123. Ijaz Ahmed Khan
124. Imran Akram
125. Imran Ameer
126. Imran Haider
127. Imran Masood
128. Imran Mushtaq
129. Imran Qureshi
130. Iram Waris
131. Irfan Ahmed
132. Irfan Ahmed
133. Irfan Akram
134. Irfan Asghar
135. Irfan Gaos
136. Irfan Gill
137. Irfan ul Haq
138. Izaat Nageen
139. Izhar Ahmed
140. Jahangir Bhatti
141. Jamshed
142. Jamshed Alam
143. Javed Iqbal
144. Javed Rasool
145. Javed Shabbir Khan
146. Kafeel Ahmed
147. Kaleem Ahmed Khurshid
148. Kamran
149. Karamat Ali
150. Kashif
151. Kashif Javaid
152. Khalid Akmal
153. Khalid Awan
154. Khalid Dogar
155. Khalid Dogar
156. Khalid Jameel Affaq
157. Khalid Majeed Afaq
158. Khalid Mehmood
159. Khalifa Saeed Ali Raza Shah
160. Khaliq ur Rehman
161. Khawaja Ziaullah
162. Khawaja Ziaullah
163. Khawaja Ziaullah
164. Khawar Hussain
165. Khurram Tahseer
166. Liaqat Naseer
167. M. Irshad Choudhry
168. M.Ayaz Butt
169. M.D. Chaudhry
170. Mahboob Ahmed Khan
171. Mahboob ul Hassan
172. Mahmood Ahmed
173. Mahmood Hussain
174. Malik Muhammad Basheer Awan
175. Malik Muhammad Fareed
176. Malik Muhammad Nadeem
177. Malik Shehzad
178. Manawar Hussain
179. Mansoor Ali Shah
180. Maqsood Ahmed
181. Mashhood Hussain
182. Masood Ahmed Zafar
183. Mazhar Farooq
184. Mazhar Hayyat
185. Mehmood Ahmed Awan
186. Mian Irfan
187. Mian Khalid Rashid
188. Mian Shahzad Khadim
189. Mian Shaukat Ali
190. Mian Suhail Ahmed
191. Moaazam Ali
192. Mubashir Rehman
193. Mudassar Imran
194. Muhammad Abdullah
195. Muhammad Affaq
196. Muhammad Aftab Alam
197. Muhammad Afzaal
198. Muhammad Afzaal
199. Muhammad Afzal
200. Muhammad Afzal
201. Muhammad Afzal Javed
202. Muhammad Afzal Khurram
203. Muhammad Afzal Loan
204. Muhammad Afzal Nazir
205. Muhammad Ahsan
206. Muhammad Ajmal
207. Muhammad Akhtar
208. Muhammad Akram
209. Muhammad Akram
210. Muhammad Akram
211. Muhammad Alamgir
212. Muhammad Alyas Khan Awan
213. Muhammad Amar
214. Muhammad Anwar
215. Muhammad Arif Siddique
216. Muhammad Arshad
217. Muhammad Ashiq Iqbal
218. Muhammad Ashraf
219. Muhammad Ashraf
220. Muhammad Asif
221. Muhammad Asif Iqbal
222. Muhammad Aslam
223. Muhammad Aslam
224. Muhammad Aslam Gondal
225. Muhammad Azam
226. Muhammad Azeem
227. Muhammad Azhar Siddiq
228. Muhammad Faisal
229. Muhammad Farid ul Hassan
230. Muhammad Farooq
231. Muhammad Faryad Khan
232. Muhammad Fayyaz
233. Muhammad Fayyaz
234. Muhammad Hafeez
235. Muhammad Hanif
236. Muhammad Hasham
237. Muhammad Ilyas Mughal
238. Muhammad Imran
239. Muhammad Imran
240. Muhammad Iqbal
241. Muhammad Iqbal Ghani
242. Muhammad Irfan
243. Muhammad Irfan Khalil
244. Muhammad Jaffar Tarrar
245. Muhammad Javaid
246. Muhammad Javaid Iqbal Bhatti
247. Muhammad Javed
248. Muhammad Latif Sara
249. Muhammad Maqsood /Masood
250. Muhammad Munir Farid
251. Muhammad Naeem Hanif
252. Muhammad Nasir
253. Muhammad Nazeer
254. Muhammad Pervez
255. Muhammad Ramzan
256. Muhammad Rashid
257. Muhammad Saeed
258. Muhammad Sajjad Muneer
259. Muhammad Sajjad Qaisar
260. Muhammad Salman
261. Muhammad Sarfraz
262. Muhammad Shafiq Anjum
263. Muhammad Shuja
264. Muhammad Tahir
265. Muhammad Tahir
266. Muhammad Unas
267. Muhammad Usman
268. Muhammad Waqas
269. Muhammad Yaqoob
270. Muhammad Younas Choudhry
271. Muhammad Zahid
272. Muhammad Zahid
273. Muhammad Zaman
274. Muhammad Zeeshan
275. Muhammad Zubair
276. Mushtaq
277. Nadeem Ahmed
278. Nadeem Ansari
279. Nadeem Qadir Bhider
280. Nadeem Qadir Bhinder
281. Najam Sarfraz
282. Najeebullah
283. Nasir Khan
284. Naveed
285. Naveed Ahmed
286. Naveed Inayat Malik
287. Nazeer Hussain
288. Nisar ul Haq
289. Pervaiz Aslam Choudhary
290. Pervaiz Siddique
291. Qadeer Hussain
292. Qaisar Mehmood
293. Qaisar Mustafa
294. Qalib E Abbas
295. Qamar Shahid
296. Rabia Bajwa
297. Rai Basheer
298. Rai Muhammad Hussain
299. Rai Muhammad Nawaz
300. Rai Muhammad Nawaz
301. Rai Usman Ahmed
302. Ramzan Choudhry
303. Rana / Raja Zulfiqar Ali
304. Rana Faisal
305. Rana Rashid Akram
306. Rana Suffyan
307. Rao Tanveer Ahmed
308. Rao Wali Muhammad
309. Rashid Lodhi
310. Razaq Mehmood
311. Rehman Illahi
312. Rizwan Anwar
313. Rubi Hayat Awan
314. S.M. Shah
315. Saeed Ahmed
316. Saeed Khokhar
317. Sahir Sajjid Mehmood
318. Saifullah
319. Sajjid Ali
320. Sakhawat Ali
321. Salah ud Din
322. Salman Akram Raja
323. Saqlain Rizvi
324. Saqlain Rizvi
325. Sarfdar Ali
326. Sarfraz Ahmed
327. Sarfraz Ahmed Cheema
328. Sarfraz Ali
329. Sarfraz Ali
330. Sarfraz Gondal
331. Sarfraz Zulfiqar
332. Shabana Nadeem
333. Shabbir Hussain
334. Shabbir Hussain
335. Shafqat Qadeer
336. Shahbaz
337. Shahbaz Anwar Ghuman
338. Shahid Anwar Shehzad
339. Shahid Aziz
340. Shahid Bilal Hassan
341. Shahid Hussain
342. Shahid Iqbal
343. Shahid Iqbal
344. Shahid Mahmood
345. Shahid Mehmood
346. Shahid Mehmood
347. Shahid Mubeen
348. Shahzad Mazar
349. Shahzad Sarwar
350. Shahzeb Masood
351. Shakoor Malik
352. Shams Mahmood
353. Shamsa Ali
354. Shaukat Ali
355. Shaukat Ali Javaid
356. Shehzad Bashir
357. Shehzada Jahandad
358. Sohail Anwar
359. Subah Sadiq
360. Sultan Ahmed
361. Sultan Tanveer Ahmed
362. Suqrat
363. Tahir Mahmood Kisana
364. Tahir Qayyum
365. Tahir Zaidi
366. Tajmal Hussain Butt
367. Talib Chaudhary
368. Tariq Ahmed
369. Tariq Hanif
370. Tariq Javaid
371. Tariq Mehmood Bajwa
372. Tariq Waheed
373. Tayyabia Zameer
374. Umar Shehzad
375. Umer Din Akbar
376. Umer Hayyat
377. Umer Khan
378. Umer Rasheed
379. Umer Waqas
380. Usman Khalid
381. Waheed Ahmed
382. Wali Saqlain
383. Waqar Hassan
384. Waris Ali
385. Waseem Ahmed
386. Waseem Ahmed
387. Waseem Ahsan
388. Waseem Karim Mumtaz
389. Waseem Shahabi
390. Wasif
391. Wazir Muhammad
392. Yasir / Yasin Mehmood
393. Zabee ullah Nagra
394. Zafar Hussain
395. Zafar Iqbal
396. Zafar Iqbal
397. Zafar Iqbal
398. Zaheer Mirza
399. Zaheer Zulfiqar
400. Zahid / Zair Siqandar Barki
401. Zahid Ali
402. Zahid Ali Zaheer
403. Zahid Hussain Zaheer
404. Zahid Munir
405. Zahid Sultan
406. Zeeshan
407. Zia Abdul Rehman
408. Zia ur Rehman Tarar
409. Zohaib Imran
410. Zubair Ali
411. Zulfiqar Ahmed
412. Zulfiqar Ahmed Gill
413. Zulfiqar Ali
414. Zulfiqar Ali
415. Zulfiqar Ali
416. Zulfiqar Hussain Gill
417. Zulfiqar Shabbir
418. Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan, President Supreme Court Bar Association
419. Ms. Asma Jehangir, Lawyer and Chairperson of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan
420. Mr.Iftekhar Javed Qazi, President Karachi Bar Association
421. Mr. Zahoor Mehar, President Malir Bar Association
422. Mr. Shabbir Sharr, General Secretaty, High Court Bar Association, Sukkur Bench
423. Mr. Ikram Chaudhary
424. Mr. Salah Uddin Ahmed
425. Mr. Shoukat Ali
426. Mr. Mahmood Ul Hassan
427. Mr. Naheed Afzal
428. Ijaz Bajwa
429. Naseer Bhutta
430. Iftikhar Ali Bhatti
431. Faiz Rasool
432. Khalid Hussain
433. Assad Abbas
434. Khurram Zaman
435. Nadeem Akhtar
436. Sajjad Butt
437. Rashid Gull
438. Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmad
439. Kamran Ashraf
440. Malik Pervaiz Iqbal
441. Muhammad Jehangir
442. Malik Abdur Rehman
443. Naqi Haider
444. Zulfiqar Haider Naqi
445. Naveed Inayat Malik
446. Muhammad Ashraf
447. Rasheed Warsi
448. Rehman Jamil
449. Alam Shahbaz Mughal
450. Syed Shahzad Masti
451. Khurram Mehmood
452. Sahiwal and DG Khan
453. Lateef ullah Azad
454. Ejaz Gohar Khan
455. Manzoor Khan
456. Rasheed Khan
457. Muhammad Aslam Shahbaz
458. Shamsher Joya
459. Aslam Khan (Sahiwal Jail)
460. Abdul Shakoor Sehwag (T.T.Singh Jail)
461. Mahar Ejaz Ahmed (Faisalabad jail)
462. Hashim Sahoo(Sahiwal Jail)
463. Muhammad Ashraf Khan(Sahiwal Jail)
464. Akram Zahid (TT Singh Jail)
465. Ch. Muneer Azhar(Sahiwal Jail)
466. Mahar Abdul Razzaq Sayal(Sahiwal Jail)
467. Rashid Saeed Bhular(Sahiwal Jail)
468. Rana Tanveer(Sahiwal jail)
469. Mian Khalid Shaukat (Kot Lakhapt Jail Lahore)
470. Abdulmateen Ch. (Kot Lakhapt Jail Lahore)
471. Tariq Afzal Khaga (Kot Lakhapt Jail Lahore)
472. Aziz-ur-Rehman Butt (Kot Lakhpat Jail Lahore)
473. Shahid Posowal (Jhelum Jail)
474. Ch. Talib Hussain Chatta
475. Ch.Khali-ur-Rehman
476. Mian Muhammad Sohail Amir
477. Muzammal raza Sheikh
478. Changez Khan Kakar
479. Shah Nawaz Wasair
480. Amir Cheema
481. Khawja Tauqeer
482. Rana Faheem
483. Ch. Tanveer Randhawa president district bar Faisalabad
484. Ch. Muhammad Akram Khaksar member Punjab Bar council
485. Ch. Saleem Jhangir Chatta ex president district Bar Faisalabad
486. Zahid Mahmood
487. Mr. Muhammad Yayha Khan president district Bar Bahawalpur House arrest
488. Mr. Imtiaz Awan Secretary district Bar Bahawalpur House arrest
489. Khalid Mehmood (Sheikhupura Jail)
490. Abdul Hameed (Sheikhupura Jail)
491. Malik Khushi Muhammad (Sheikhupura Jail)
492. Abdul Rashid Gondal (Gujranwala Jail)
493. Arshad Jaral (Sahiwal Jail)
494. Anwar Afridi (Sahiwal Jail)
495. Pervez Minhas (Jhelum Jail)
496. Mr. Sheraz ahmed khan
497. Mr. Malik ghulam yahya
498. MR. Akhtar nawaz khan
499. Mr. Malik adil
500. Mr. Mohammad ibrahim qureshi
501. Mr. Masood ur rehman
502. Mr. Mohd umer sajid
503. Mr. Aftab ahmed awan
504. Mr. Shoukat zaman khan
505. Mr. Mohammad Niaz
506. Mr. Mohd sabir
507. Mr. Malik mohd Aslam
508. Mr. Mohd Azam khan
509. Mr. Atif raza
510. Mr. Wasif khan
511. Mr. Abdul salam
512. Mr. Pervaiz akhtar rana
513. Mr. Syed mehmood shah
514. Mr. Mirza akif
515. Mr. Mian Tahir hussain
516. Mr. Tahir Qureshi
517. Mr. Khan afsar
518. Mr.Sultan Khalid Khan
Meanwhile Tuesday, Pakistani police detained some 100 journalists [UPI report] after they tried to hold a rally in Karachi to protest press restrictions and the shutdown of independent Pakistani TV stations [JURIST report]. AP has more.

12:47 PM ET - Pakistani media are reporting that the journalists arrested at the Karachi rally have now been released on orders of the Sindh province governor. From Karachi, the News has more.





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US federal grand jury probing Blackwater Iraqi civilian shootings: ABC
Jaime Jansen on November 20, 2007 7:04 AM ET

[JURIST] A US federal grand jury has opened an investigation into Blackwater USA [corporate website] employees involved in the killings of 14 Iraqi civilians during a September 16 incident [JURIST report] that took place in West Baghdad, ABC News reported Monday. Several Blackwater guards have been subpoenaed to testify, though none of those called to testify were the guards who allegedly fired on civilians. Five Blackwater employees have reportedly admitted firing their weapons, while 12 others said they only witnessed events on September 16. The investigation is reportedly focused on a turret gunner who said he fired in response to small arms fire from a nearby vehicle. Last week, the US Justice Department said it had not yet decided whether it will file criminal charges [JURIST report] against the Blackwater guards involved in the incident following reports by the New York Times and the Washington Post that an FBI investigation had concluded and determined that the shootings were unjustified [JURIST report]. In an interview last month, Blackwater's owner said that he had not seen evidence to support that his employees acted improperly [JURIST report].

The Blackwater allegations have caused domestic outrage in Iraq and have prompted legal controversy in the US. Iraqi government investigators probing the killings have concluded that the Blackwater security detail's actions were unprovoked, and amounted to "deliberate murder" [JURIST report]. Last month, the Iraqi cabinet approved a draft law [JURIST reports] that would strip foreign security contractors of immunity from Iraqi prosecution. The US House has passed a bill that would expand US jurisdiction over the same private contractors [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.






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DOD to push for Iraqi terror charges against AP photographer
Mike Rosen-Molina on November 19, 2007 6:25 PM ET

[JURIST] The US military will recommend that an Associated Press (AP) photographer accused of collaborating with Iraqi insurgents be charged in Iraqi courts, a Department of Defense [official website] spokesperson said Monday. AP photographer Bilal Hussein [AP materials] has been in US military custody since April 2006, detained for allegedly possessing equipment to construct roadside bombs. Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said Monday that additional evidence uncovered since Hussein's arrest further indicates that he is a terrorist agent; evidence will be turned over to Iraq's Central Criminal Court later this month. AP called for Hussein's release and accused the military of denying Hussein his due process rights. AP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

In December 2006, the Committee to Protect Journalists released a report [text; JURIST report] in which it noted that the US is currently detaining three journalists, Hussein and al-Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Haj [CPJ report].






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California high court urges constitutional amendment to fix capital appeals backlog
Kiely Lewandowski on November 19, 2007 5:41 PM ET

[JURIST] California Supreme Court [official website] Chief Justice Ronald George [official profile] proposed a constitutional amendment [PDF text] Monday designed to expedite death penalty appeals by shifting the locus of review from the state supreme court to state appeals courts. The California Supreme Court currently has the authority to transfer any matter to the appellate courts, excepting appeals from judgments imposing the death penalty. George said that he has had "positive discussions" about the proposed amendment with the presiding justices of the appellate courts; they will meet for further discussions in early December. The California Supreme Court justices hope the proposed amendment will be on the November 2008 general election ballot.

The growing number of defendants sentenced to death in California has created a significant backlog problem in recent years, making California's the nation's largest death row at 667 prisoners. To clear it, five prisoners would have to be executed per month for the next 11 years. Since capital punishment was reinstated in California in 1978, only 13 prisoners have been executed. The Los Angeles Times has more.






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Uzbekistan president registers to run for third term despite constitutional bar
Mike Rosen-Molina on November 19, 2007 5:26 PM ET

[JURIST] Uzbek President Islam Karimov [official profile; BBC profile] has registered to run for a third term in office, despite an amendment to the Uzbek constitution [text] limiting presidents to two consecutive terms. Karimov accepted a nomination to run for president earlier this month, but has given no official explanation for how his decision comports with the constitution. The election is scheduled for Dec. 23. Five opposition candidates have been blocked from registering, and three others that have registered are members of pro-government parties and are considered by observers to be fig leaf competition. AP has more.

Karimov, who has been president of the former Soviet republic since before independence, has come under international fire for his crackdown against anti-government elements since the May 2005 uprising in Andijan [JURIST news archive] that resulted in the massacre of unarmed Uzbek civilians [JURIST report]. Among those who have been arrested and tried include the Uzbek rights activists Saidzhakhon Zainabitdinov and Nodira Khidayatova, as well as opposition leader and businessman Sandjar Umarov [JURIST reports].






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Indonesia prosecutors bring civil lawsuit against Tommy Suharto
Howard Kline on November 19, 2007 5:24 PM ET

[JURIST] Indonesian prosecutors Monday went to court in a civil lawsuit against Tommy Suharto [BBC report], the youngest son of former President Haji Mohammed Suharto [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], in order to recover an alleged $55 million in losses related to a land exchange scam from the mid-1990s. After failing to reach a settlement [Reuters report] in the suit last week, prosecutors are trying to prove that Tommy Suharto traded inexpensive swamp land to Bulog, Indonesia's national logistics agency, in return for high value real estate in Jakarta. Six years ago, when Suharto was in hiding [BBC report], the Supreme Court overturned a criminal corruption conviction in connection with the scheme. Suharto's lawyer argues that the lawsuit has no merit since the Supreme Court already ruled that Suharto was not guilty [CNN report].

Last October, Tommy Suharto was released from prison by court order [JURIST report] after serving a 10-year sentence for hiring a hitman to kill the Supreme Court judge [BBC report] who had initially found him guilty. In September, Indonesian prosecutors began court proceedings [JURIST report] against the elder Suharto in a civil action alleging that he embezzled $440 million from the Yayasan Supersemar, a state-funded scholarship fund, between 1974 and 1998. DPA has more.






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Taiwan VP pleads not guilty to corruption, forgery
Kiely Lewandowski on November 19, 2007 5:17 PM ET

[JURIST] Taiwanese Vice President Annette Lu [official profile] pleaded not guilty Monday as her trial on corruption and forgery charges began in Taipei. The charges [JURIST report] against Lu stem from allegations that she claimed 5.6 million Taiwan dollars in special expenses using more than 1,000 false receipts from December 2000 to May 2006 in her capacity as vice president. After Monday's court session, Lu complained about the "double standard" she believes prosecutors used when indicting her; she maintains the judicial system "remains divided" on how expenses of public officials should be handled.

Lu's trial is the latest in a string of high-profile corruption cases that have dominated Taiwanese politics in recent months. The trials of the two public officials who were indicted with Lu, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) [party website] Chairman Yu Shyi-kun and former foreign minister Chen Tan-sun, are yet to be scheduled. Former Taiwanese opposition party leader Ma Ying-jeou [personal website, in Chinese] was acquitted [JURIST report] of corruption and accounting fraud charges by the Taipei District Court in August. The highest-profile allegations of emerged in August against Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian [official website; BBC profile] and several relatives. In June, a high court affirmed the conviction [JURIST report] of Chen's son-in-law on insider trading charges. Chen's wife, Wu Shu-chen, was indicted [JURIST report] last year for embezzlement and falsifying documents. Prosecutors have indicated that they have enough evidence to also indict Chen, but Chen enjoys Article 52 [text] constitutional immunity from most criminal charges while he remains in office. AP has more. The China Post has local coverage.






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Italy court dismisses tax fraud charges against ex-PM Berlusconi
Michael Sung on November 19, 2007 2:33 PM ET

[JURIST] An Italian court Monday dismissed false accounting charges [JURIST report] against former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], ruling that the statute of limitations had expired. Prosecutors alleged that Berlusconi's broadcasting company, Mediaset [corporate website, in Italian], incorrectly reported its costs in purchasing television rights to US films in a ploy to avoid paying higher taxes in 2000. Berlusconi still faces a charge of tax fraud, and his trial is scheduled to resume in January.

Berlusconi, a media mogul and Italy's richest man, has faced trial on at least six occasions involving charges of false accounting, tax fraud, money laundering, embezzlement, and giving false testimony [JURIST reports]. In October, Italy's highest court of appeal upheld Berlusconi's April acquittal [JURIST reports] on bribery charges. That trial was initially blocked in 2004 by a bill drafted by Berlusconi ally and later defense lawyer Gaetano Pecorella but went ahead after the bill was struck down as unconstitutional. Berlusconi has continually maintained his innocence, accusing prosecutors of conducting a political vendetta against him. AP has more.






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Top Iraq officials to stand trial within days for allegedly aiding Shia militia: prosecutor
Michael Sung on November 19, 2007 1:49 PM ET

[JURIST] Former Iraqi Deputy Health Minister Hakim al-Zamili and Brigadier General Hameed al-Shimmari will go to trial within days for allegedly channeling millions in government money to the Mehdi Army militia [BBC backgrounder], Iraqi chief prosecutor Ghadanfar Mahmoud told AP Monday. The two high-level officials also allegedly allowed Shiite death squads to use Health Ministry facilities and ambulances to target Sunnis.

On Saturday, an Iraqi government spokesperson said that the upcoming trial indicated that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile] was serious about enforcing the rule of law [JURIST report]. Zamili was arrested [DOD statement] in February during a security crackdown in Baghdad. The Mahdi Army is loyal to radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr [BBC profile]. AP has more.






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Hate crime reports up nearly 8 percent in 2006: FBI
Michael Sung on November 19, 2007 12:55 PM ET

[JURIST] Almost eight percent more hate crimes were reported in 2006 than the previous year, according to the 2006 Hate Crime Statistics [report; press release] released by the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) [official website] Monday. Participating local law enforcement agencies reported a total of 7,722 incidents in 2006, up from 7,163 reported incidents in 2005. The report listed 5,449 instances of crimes against persons, mostly intimidation and simple assaults. Law enforcement agencies also documented 3,593 instances of crimes against property, of which 81 percent were acts of vandalism and destruction of property. The report says that racial discrimination accounted for 51.8 percent of all reported hate crimes, while religious bias followed with 18.9 percent. The increase in reported incidents does not necessarily represent an increase in actual hate crimes, as increased reporting could be due to greater prioritization by local agencies. Over 25 percent of local law enforcement agencies also do not report incidents to the FBI.

In September, the US Senate approved an amendment to the 2008 Senate Defense Reauthorization Bill [HR 1585 materials] that would expand federal hate crimes legislation to include violent attacks against people based on their gender or sexuality. The White House has repeatedly threatened to veto [policy statement, PDF] the hate crimes legislation. In 2006, the FBI reported that the number of reported hate crimes fell by six percent in 2005 [JURIST report] from the previous year. In 2004, the FBI reported an increase in racially motivated hate crimes [JURIST report] over those committed in 2003. AP has more.






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More Pakistan lawyers ordered released from jail
Bernard Hibbitts on November 19, 2007 11:20 AM ET

[JURIST] Pakistani authorities in Lahore and Balochistan Monday ordered the release of a number of lawyers arrested earlier this month for protesting [JURIST report] President Pervez Musharraf's November 3 declaration of emergency rule. In Lahore, an anti-terrorism court judge granted bail to 42 lawyers held in various jails, according to a report by the Associated Press of Pakistan. A legal source in Lahore told JURIST, however, that those lawyers had not actually been released [JURIST comment] because the bail orders had "not yet reached destinations." One of the lawyers granted bail Monday was the general secretary of the Lahore High Court Bar Association. The latest bail grants follow the bail of some 350 other Lahore lawyers [News report] on November 10. In Balochistan, meanwhile, the head of the new caretaker regional government announced that all lawyers, politicians and workers who had been arrested in the city of Quetta and elsewhere in that province would be released as a sign of goodwill. Dawn has more.

On Friday, UN officials reported that chairwoman of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Asma Jahangir had been released from her two-week house arrest [JURIST report]. Human rights groups still claim that there are over 3000 lawyers being held [AHRC press release] in the country in the aftermath of the emergency declaration and that "many of the best known" Pakistani lawyers are in hiding.






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Israel OKs release of 441 Palestinian detainees ahead of peace talks
Katerina Ossenova on November 19, 2007 9:40 AM ET

[JURIST] The Israeli cabinet on Monday approved the release of 441 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture of good will toward Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas [BBC profile] in preparation for a US-sponsored peace conference [NPR report], scheduled to begin at the end of the month. The release [JURIST report] approved fell short of the demand for the release of 2,000 prisoners by Abbas and other Palestinian leaders who will participate in the peace talks.

Israel released 86 Palestinian prisoners [JURIST report] in October and another 255 prisoners [JURIST report] in July after the government determined that they were not directly involved [press release] in the killing or wounding of Israelis. Some 9,000 Palestinians remain in Israeli prisons. AP has more.






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Japan court dismisses suit challenging military involvement in Iraq
Katerina Ossenova on November 19, 2007 9:09 AM ET

[JURIST] The Sapporo District Court in Japan dismissed a lawsuit Monday filed by 33 people who claimed that the deployment of Japanese troops in Iraq was unconstitutional. According to the Kyodo news agency, the group, which included the late former Deputy Minister of Defense Noboru Minowa, requested that Japan [JURIST news archive] end its mission in Iraq and compensate each person 10,000 yen for causing anguish. The lawsuit was based on Article 9 of the Japanese constitution [text], under which "the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign nation and the threat of force as means of settling international disputes." Similar lawsuits have been filed in district courts in 10 other regions, with most courts ruling in favor of the government. While Japan withdrew its troops from Iraq last July, the a Japanese unit based in Kuwait continues to provide airlift support for the Multi-National Force-Iraq.

The debate over Japan's involvement military operations abroad recently caused a major rift [JURIST report] between Japan's two major parties, contributing to the September resignation [BBC English translation; JURIST report] of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The opposition Democratic Party of Japan [party websites], which opposes Japan's involvement in operations abroad, blocked the renewal of the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law [text], which expired on November 1 and allowed Japan to refuel allied ships in the Indian Ocean for operations in Afghanistan. A bill re-authorizing the mission was passed [JURIST reports] by the Japanese House of Representatives last week. Bernama has more.






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Jesuits to settle Alaska clergy abuse claims for $50M
Katerina Ossenova on November 19, 2007 8:50 AM ET

[JURIST] The Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus [official website] has agreed to pay $50 million to settle more than 100 claims of sexual abuse by its Jesuit priests in Alaska. The claims involved 13 or 14 priests and spanned nearly 30 years. As part of the settlement, which has not yet received final approval, the Roman Catholic religious order will not admit fault in the cases. None of the priests involved have been criminally charged. AP has more. The Anchorage Daily News has local coverage.

Other religious orders across the country have reached similar settlements. In September, the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh [diocesan website] announced the creation of a $1.25 million fund to settle 32 lawsuits [JURIST report] alleging abuse or injury by priests. The Catholic Diocese of San Diego [diocesan website] also announced an agreement [JURIST report] that month to pay $198.1 million to settle 144 claims of sexual abuse by its clergy. A Los Angeles Superior Court in July approved a $660 million settlement [JURIST report] between the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles [diocesan website] and plaintiffs in 508 outstanding clergy sex abuse lawsuits. In January 2007, the Catholic Diocese of Spokane [diocesan website] agreed to settle molestation claims [JURIST report] against its own priests for $48 million as part of its Chapter 11 reorganization plan. The total settlements of all Catholic clergy abuse claims [JURIST news archive] have cost the US church at least $2.3 billion since 1950.






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ECCC arrests ex-Khmer Rouge head of state
Jaime Jansen on November 19, 2007 8:17 AM ET

[JURIST] The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive] on Monday arrested [press release] former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan following his release from a hospital. Khieu Samphan, who suffered a stroke [NYT report] last week, will appear before investigating judges later Monday to determine what charges he will face. Khieu Samphan has defended the late Khmer Rouge dictator Pol Pot [JURIST report] in a newly released book, denying that he was responsible for genocide. In his Reflection on Cambodian History Up to the Era of Democratic Kampuchea (Cambodia), Khieu Samphan called Pol Pot a patriot [BBC report] insisting that in his government "[t]here was no policy of starving people. Nor was there any direction set out for carrying out mass killings." The Khmer Rouge [JURIST news archive; BBC backgrounder] has been blamed for the deaths of some 1.7 million people [PPU backgrounder] from starvation, disease, overwork and execution between 1975 and 1979.

Khieu Samphan is the fifth senior Khmer Rouge leader to be detained by the ECCC, though no top Khmer Rouge official has faced trial to date. Last week, the ECCC announced formal charges [JURIST report] against former Cambodian Foreign Minister Ieng Sary and his wife Ieng Thirith, who served as minister of social affairs. In August, the ECCC brought its first charges against Kaing Khek Iev [JURIST report], better known as "Duch", who was in charge of the notorious S-21 prison in Phnom Penh. Former Khmer Rouge official Nuon Chea is awaiting trial [JURIST report] for charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. ECCC trials are expected to begin next year. AP has more.

5:16 GMT - Khieu Samphan has been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. BBC News has more.






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ICTR sentences former Rwandan mayor to 11 years for crime against humanity
Jaime Jansen on November 19, 2007 7:50 AM ET

[JURIST] The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website] has sentenced [press release] former Rwandan mayor Juvenal Rugambarara [TrialWatch profile] to 11 years in prison. Rugambarara pleaded guilty [JURIST report] in July to a single count of extermination, a crime against humanity, as part of a plea deal that eliminated eight other charges including genocide, torture and rape. The extermination charge stems from his failure as mayor to adequately investigate abuses or punish perpetrators during the 1994 Rwandan genocide [BBC backgrounder]. The judges who sentenced Rugambarara Friday considered the sincerity of remorse Rugambarara displayed, his assistance to Tutsis during the genocide, and his good behavior while in ICTR custody when determining his sentence.

Rugambarara was mayor of Bicumbi commune from 1993 until 1994. His trial began in 2003 after he was arrested in Uganda. It took two years for the plea deal to be negotiated with prosecutors. Rugambarara is one of several local Rwandan leaders who have pleaded guilty or have been found guilty [JURIST news archive] by the tribunal for their roles in the mass killings. The Hirondelle News Agency has more.






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Pakistan high court dismisses most challenges to Musharraf re-election bid
Jaime Jansen on November 19, 2007 6:59 AM ET

[JURIST] The reconstituted Pakistan Supreme Court [official website] Monday dismissed five out of six challenges to the October re-election [JURIST reports] of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf [official website; JURIST news archive] while still serving as chief of Pakistan's army. The court will hear the sixth petition later this week. Among the rejected petitions was that of former Chief Justice Wajihuddin Ahmad [Wikipedia profile], who had argued [JURIST report] that the new Supreme Court bench, staffed by judges who have sworn an oath [text] under Musharraf's Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) [text, as amended] "is in no legal position to rehear the case, as the Constitution does not recognise it." On Monday, however, Justice Nawaz Abbasi told Ahmad's lawyer that he risked contempt charges and the cancellation of his license if he kept challenging the reconstituted court's legitimacy. Presidential candidate Makhdoom Amin Fahim, the vice chairman of Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party [party website], also had his challenge to Musharraf's re-election dismissed Monday.

Musharraf has vowed to step down as chief of Pakistan's army [JURIST report] once the high court clears his October re-election, but he now must wait until the high court rules on the sixth challenge. Under Musharraf's imposition of emergency rule [JURIST report], the government has cracked down on its critics, detaining thousands of lawyers, rights activists and opposition politicians. The declaration of emergency rule also effectively dismissed the 19 judges of Pakistan's Supreme Court, which Musharraf has been gradually reconstituting [JURIST report] by appointees hand selected by him. Bloomberg has more. Reuters has additional coverage.








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Pakistan lawyers slam independent TV shutdown as assault on free speech
Benjamin Klein on November 18, 2007 4:48 PM ET

[JURIST] Pakistani bar leaders have expressed dismay at the shutdown [Geo report] of Geo-TV [media website] and another independent Pakistani television channel, declaring the closures an unconstitutional violation of free speech contrary to Article 19 of the now-suspended national charter [text]. Geo and ARY Television [media website], which have been beaming their news programs from ground stations in Dubai since local broadcast was blocked in Pakistan after President Pervez Musharraf's November 3 declaration of emergency rule, were asked by the UAE government to suspend their transmissions and did so early Saturday morning. Geo announced on its website that the channel was shut down “after President Pervez Musharraf put tremendous pressure [on Dubai] to silence a media outlet which had refused to bow down to his dictates.” Reporters Without Borders [advocacy website] condemned the closure of the stations and urged Dubai authorities to allow the news channels to resume broadcasting. In a statement [press release] Saturday, it called Musharraf's pressure against Dubai authorities "outrageous interference.”

Geo risked the wrath of the Musharraf regime earlier this year when it provided extensive coverage of events surrounding the suspension and eventual reinstatement of now-ousted Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. The News has local coverage.

11/19/07 - Chaudhry told the News in an interview late Saturday that "In the presence of a strong judiciary, no such curbs on the media are possible." The News has more.






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ASEAN urged to put rights component of new charter in separate treaty
Benjamin Klein on November 18, 2007 3:26 PM ET

[JURIST] Singaporean human rights group SG Human Rights [advocacy website] called Sunday for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) [official website] to split off the human rights section of its proposed new charter into a separate treaty. Chapter 14 of the draft Charter, which is to be signed early this coming week, aims to deepen the integration of member-states and promote human rights and democracy within the region. A "confidential" copy [PDF text] leaked onto the Internet reads in part:

ASEAN Charter, Article 14
ASEAN HUMAN RIGHTS BODY

1. In conformity with the purposes and principles of the ASEAN Charter relating to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, ASEAN shall establish an ASEAN human rights body.

2. This ASEAN human rights body shall operate in accordance with the terms of reference to be determined by the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting.
ASEAN is facing criticism for allowing military-ruled Myanmar to sign the Charter, but a split such as described might save face by allowing Myanmar to limit its signature to the Charter's governance provisions. Last Friday, the US Senate voted unanimously [AFP article] to urge ASEAN to suspend Myanmar until the regime showed respect for human rights. Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo expressed skepticism [Inquirer article] Saturday about Myanmar's ability to commit to the goals of the Charter. Channel NewsAsia has more.





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Cambodia ex-president Samphan denies Khmer Rouge genocide policy in new book
Andrew Gilmore on November 18, 2007 3:03 PM ET

[JURIST] Khieu Samphan, the president of Democratic Kampuchea (Cambodia) from 1976 to 1979 during the communist Khmer Rouge regime [JURIST news archive; BBC backgrounder] has defended the late Khmer Rouge dictator Pol Pot in a new book, denying that he was responsible for genocide. In his Reflection on Cambodian History Up to the Era of Democratic Kampuchea, Samphan called Pot a patriot [BBC report] insisting that in his government "[t]here was no policy of starving people. Nor was there any direction set out for carrying out mass killings." The Khmer Rouge regime has been blamed for the deaths of some 1.7 million people from starvation, disease, overwork and execution between 1975 and 1979.

Samphan is expected to be arrested [Reuters report] by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive] for crimes against humanity committed during the Khmer Rouge regime. On Tuesday, Samphan was hospitalized in the Cambodian capital Phnom Phen after he reportedly suffered a stroke [NYT report]. AP has more. The Los Angeles Times has additional coverage.






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Iraq parliament orders inquiry into delay in Kirkuk status referendum
Eric Firkel on November 18, 2007 10:16 AM ET

[JURIST] The Iraqi parliament Saturday ordered an investigation into the delay of a referendum on the future of the Iraqi city of Kirkuk [Global Security Backgrounder] after Kurdish leaders accused the Arab-dominated Iraqi central government [official website, in Arabic] of blocking the vote, which could result in the city joining the Kurdish-controlled semiautonomous region [official website] in the north of the country, or even declaring its independence. The Iraqi Constitution [text] requires a referendum on Kirkuk's status before the end of the year. The city is highly coveted because of its vast oil wealth. Kurds claim a strong cultural connection with the location, while Arabs and Turkomen in the city are generally united in favor of Baghdad retaining control.

Two years ago leaders of the Kurdish Alliance accused [JURIST report] then-Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari of "violating the laws" by breaking promises allowing Kurdish resettlement around Kirkuk. Many Arabs were brought into the city during the Saddam Hussein era, and many Kurds were driven out. AP has more.






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Pakistan AG says high court likely to overturn amnesty for ex-PM Bhutto
Josh Camson on November 18, 2007 10:07 AM ET

[JURIST] Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto [personal website; BBC profile] is likely to face 8 1/2-year old corruption charges again in the likely event that an amnesty ordinance [text] issued [JURIST report] by President Pervez Musharraf is thrown out by the country's Supreme Court, according to Pakistani Attorney General Malik Muhammad Qayyum as quoted Sunday in an interview with the London Sunday Times. Qayyum said that he had defended the amnesty after it was issued and before Bhutto returned to the country from exile, but that it was "not happily worded" and would probably be rejected in a number of legal challenges now pending [JURIST report] since only the courts can throw out charges.

Qayyum's comment came soon after Bhutto was released from house arrest [JURIST report] for trying to organize a mass march protesting President Pervez Musharraf's imposition of emergency rule earlier this month [PDF text; JURIST news archive]. The Hindustan Times has more.






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Pakistan rights chief released from house arrest
Dennis Zawacki II on November 18, 2007 9:09 AM ET

[JURIST] UN officials reported Friday that chairwoman of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan [advocacy website] and UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Asma Jahangir [official profile, PDF] has been released from her two-week house arrest [order] in Pakistan. Jahangir has been detained at her home in Lahore since November 3, when Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf [BBC profile] imposed emergency rule [PDF text] on the country. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had urged her release [statement].

Upon release, Jahangir issued a statement [text] calling on all political parties to join together to reinstate the rule of law in Pakistan. Jahangir also called for free and transparent elections and emphasized the need for an independent judiciary. Reuters has more.






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Canadian MPs call for ending detainee transfers to Afghan authorities
Devin Montgomery on November 17, 2007 2:58 PM ET

[JURIST] Canadian opposition parliamentarians Dennis Coderre (Liberal) and Paul Dewar (NDP) [official websites] Friday called for Canada's government to stop allowing detainees captured by Canadian forces in Afghanistan to be transferred to Afghan custody, alleging that once transferred, suspects are subjected to conditions that violate the Geneva Convention. Heavily redacted documents [text] released by the government earlier this week under a court order appear to show that even before press reports this spring Canadian officials had significant evidence that transferred suspects had been abused and that some had disappeared altogether. During question period [official transcript] in the House of Commons Friday, Dewar and Coderre engaged in a heated debate with government MP Laurie Hawn [official website], Parliamentary Secretary to Canada's Minister of National Defence:

Dewar: Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government has been forced by a judge to release documents the NDP has been demanding for months. In the heavily censored documents, we have confirmed three key facts. One: the government was aware of conditions in Afghan prisons at the same time ministers claimed they knew nothing. Two: Canada is incapable of tracking all of its prisoners in over 600 Afghan prisons. Three: the detainee agreement is not being respected.... Is the government finally willing to admit it has been caught? Is it willing to admit that it is in violation of the Geneva Convention or do the Conservatives believe the Geneva Conventions are simply a suggestion list?

Hawn: Mr. Speaker, that question is ridiculous. Canada abides by the Geneva Convention. The primary responsibility rests with the democratically elected government of Afghanistan. It is obliged to abide by the Geneva Convention. We brought forward an arrangement in May of last year that is superior to the one that was in place previous to that. We are abiding by all measures. We are abiding by all requirements....

Coderre: Mr. Speaker, Canada violated the Geneva Convention in Afghanistan. Even worse, by setting out to hide the truth that it has known since the start, this Conservative government has deliberately violated the convention. It must immediately stop the transfers and repatriate the prisoners who have already been transferred....

Hawn: Mr. Speaker, and that is more of the same. The challenges highlighted in the recent reports just indicate that Canada is required to be there to continue helping the Afghan authorities to build their judicial system, to build their prison system, to build their governance systems, to rebuild their country and give them back the country that was stolen from them, and to give Afghan women, children and men back their lives. We are not abusing anybody's rights. We are working together with the Afghan authorities to ensure that those rights are sustained under the Geneva Convention and every other agreement we have entered into.
The Globe and Mail has more.

Last month, Amnesty International accused [JURIST report] the Canadian government of trying to derail a lawsuit over whether the Canadian Army [official website] in Afghanistan was transferring custody of detainees to Afghan forces to face torture by bogging down the lawsuit with a flurry of technical arguments. Amnesty International Canada and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association [advocacy websites] brought complaints against the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal [official website] in Canada's Federal Court in February, alleging complicity in torture by Canadian personnel serving in Afghanistan as part of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) [official website]. In September, the Canadian Army said that independent investigators found no evidence to support allegations [JURIST reports] that the Army "may have aided or abetted the torture of detainees" by transferring them to Afghan custody. The Federal Court ruled earlier this month that the two advocacy groups should be granted public interest standing [JURIST report] to seek judicial review of the Canadian military's actions.





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Top Iraqi officials facing trial for helping sectarian militia
Howard Kline on November 17, 2007 2:21 PM ET

[JURIST] Former Iraq Deputy Health Minister Hakim Zamili [Iraq Ministry of Health website] and another top ministry official will be put on trial for allegedly assisting Shi'ite militias, the Iraqi government said Saturday. A spokesman said that the trial shows that the government Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile] is serious about enforcing the rule of law. In February, US and Iraqi forces arrested [BBC report] Zamili, who allegedly channeled government funds to Shi'ite militiamen. A trial date has not yet been set.

Zamili was arrested in February in a security crackdown in Baghdad, according to a statement [text] by the US military. According to military officials, Zamili had been infiltrating members of the Mehdi Army militia [BBC backgrounder], headed by militant Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr [BBC profile], into the Iraq ministry. Zamili's brother, another Health Ministry employee, has denied the allegations. Reuters has more.






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Lawyers in Pakistan's largest city strike to protest emergency rule
Steve Czajkowski on November 17, 2007 11:10 AM ET

[JURIST] Lawyers in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, went on strike Saturday in protest at President Pervez Musharraf's emergency rule. Members of the Karachi Bar Association and other local bar associations followed an earlier strike call from the Pakistan Bar Council [official website] (PBC) and the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA). Over 350 prisoners from all around the city could not have their cases heard due to the absence of lawyers. Pakistan's News daily has local coverage.

Pakistani lawyers kept up intermittent protests and strike action this week after the PBC urged them to return to the lower courts while maintaining their boycott [JURIST reports] of superior courts staffed by judges appointed under Musharraf's Provisional Constitution Order [text]. Hundreds of lawyers - including many bar association leaders [Daily Times report] - have been been detained by the authorities [JURIST report] and jailed in Karachi [HRCP list] and elsewhere for protesting the emergency, the suspension of the Pakistan's constitution, and the effective removal of the country's Supreme Court justices.






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Zimbabwe publishes electoral reform bill
Nick Fiske on November 17, 2007 11:08 AM ET

[JURIST] The Zimbabwean government has introduced a draft bill meant to reform the country's election procedures, the state owned Harare Herald [media website] reported Saturday. The Electoral Laws Amendment Bill 2007 would combine presidential and legislative elections and allow candidates to demand vote recounts. The bill would also prohibit the military, police, and prison officers, from interfering with elections, require that public broadcasters allow equal airtime to all candidates and report impartiality issues, and compel the state-run electoral commission to confer with parties before drawing constituency and ward boundaries. The bill is the result of an agreement [Dzimba report] reached in September by President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF [Wikipedia backgrounder] party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) [Party website] and is expected to be submitted to parliament within 30 days.

Election procedures in Zimbabwe [JURIST archive] have been harshly criticized over the years by both the MDC and Western governments, largely stemming from the circumstances surrounding Mugabe's re-election in 2002. The European Union contended that the election was rigged in order to ensure Mugabe's victory and imposed sanctions [JURIST report] on Zimbabwe's senior officials in 2005 as retaliation. The US took similar steps in 2003 [State Department press release]. AFP has more.






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Russia upper house votes to suspend Europe arms treaty
Nick Fiske on November 17, 2007 10:09 AM ET

[JURIST] The Federation Council of Russia voted unanimously on Friday in favor of a measure that would suspend the nation's responsibilities under the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty [text; backgrounder]. The Russian upper house's vote follows a unanimous vote in favor of suspending the CFE that occurred in the State Duma last week. The Russian government first threatened to temporarily withdraw [JURIST report] from the treaty in June, amid tensions between the US and Russia over US plans for an anti-missile defense shield in central Europe, which Russia perceives to be a threat to Russian national security. The measure legislatively reinforces a presidential decree [JURIST report] issued by Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website] in July. The bill must still be signed by Putin in order to take effect and Russia could return to the CFE if the president reverses parliament's decision. RIA Novosti has local coverage.

The CFE Treaty, concluded in 1990 by the 22 members of NATO and the former Warsaw Pact, regulates deployment of non-nuclear forces in Europe. In October, Putin also threatened to withdraw [JURIST report] Russia from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty [US DOS backgrounder] unless that treaty is expanded to include neighboring countries such as China, India, and Pakistan. AFP has more.






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Protesters at DOJ march decry alleged lack of hate crimes prosecutions
Steve Czajkowski on November 17, 2007 10:03 AM ET

[JURIST] Over 10,000 protesters, most of them African-American, marched in front of the US Department of Justice [official website] building Friday to highlight what they claim are inadequate efforts to prosecute a spate of recent race-related crimes across the country. A focal point of the march was the prosecution of six black teenagers in Jena, Louisiana [DN backgrounder] for beating a white teen in December 2006 after white students hung nooses from a tree where black students congregated. No white students have been prosecuted in connection with the incident.

The Justice Department responded that it is actively investigating incidents of noose hangings. New Attorney General Michael Muskasey [DOJ profile] said in a statement [text]:

The Justice Department shares with those who demonstrate today their objective of bringing to justice those who commit criminal acts of hate; it shares their vision of eradicating hate in our society. At the same time, the Department must follow the law and the principles of federal prosecution in every case it investigates and prosecutes. Although there are limitations and challenges in bringing successful hate crimes prosecutions, the Department takes each case seriously, and is prepared to vindicate the rights of the victims when prosecution is warranted by the facts and by federal law.
Reuters has more.





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US Marine defers plea at Haditha killings arraignment
Mike Rosen-Molina on November 16, 2007 8:01 PM ET

[JURIST] A US Marine invoked his right to defer his plea at his Friday military arraignment [USMC press release] on charges stemming from the killings of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha [USMC timeline; JURIST news archive] in November 2005. A lawyer for Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani [JURIST news archive] did say that he planned to plead not guilty. Trial has been scheduled for April 28. Chessani faces court-martial for dereliction of duty and violation of a lawful order based on the allegations that he failed to properly investigate shootings, and could serve three years in prison if convicted on all counts. AP has more.

Chessani, the former commander of the Third Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment [official website], did not order an immediate investigation into the deaths because he did not suspect any wrongdoing. In a sworn statement made to military investigators, Chessani said that he did not see any cause for alarm and that he believed at the time that killings followed a complex attack by insurgents attempting to lure Marines into shooting into homes where civilians were located. It has been alleged that the civilians were murdered in cold blood [JURIST report], but Chessani said that when he first learned of allegations that the civilians were killed intentionally he thought that the claims were baseless. On Tuesday, Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum [advocacy profile], who served under Chessani, also declined to enter a plea [JURIST report] during his arraignment. Tatum faces a maximum of 19 years in prison if found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, and aggravated assault charges. Related charges [text] against four servicemen have been dropped.






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Georgian Republic lifts state of emergency
Mike Rosen-Molina on November 16, 2007 5:41 PM ET

[JURIST] The Georgian Republic ended its national state of emergency [JURIST report] Friday, as promised earlier this week. On Wednesday, Georgian Speaker of Parliament Nino Burdzhanadze [BBC profile] had announced in a televised statement on behalf of the government that emergency rule would be lifted Friday. A government spokesperson also announced Friday that Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli has resigned; Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili [official website] has appointed banker Lado Gurgenidze [Goizueta profile] as his successor.

After several days of protests, Nogaideli announced a presidential decree last week temporarily banning demonstrations and public calls for violence or government overthrow. Saakashvili has blamed Russian spy agencies for instigating the protests [speech], though the Russian Foreign Ministry has dismissed those claims [statement]. In August, a Georgian court sentenced 12 opposition activists [JURIST report] to prison terms of up to eight-and-a-half years for participating in a coup plot that Saakashvili alleged was backed by Russia. Saakashvili has allied himself closely with the US and NATO since taking office in 2004, and Georgian authorities alleged that the convicted opposition activists had been supported by the Russian security services. Georgian-Russian relations have deteriorated markedly [JURIST report] in the last year. AP has more.






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Federal appeals court rules against Islamic charity in NSA wiretapping lawsuit
Mike Rosen-Molina on November 16, 2007 4:48 PM ET

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] Friday ruled [PDF text] that a defunct Muslim charity cannot use a document turned over to it by the US government as evidence that it was the subject of an illegal wiretap. The court held that a secret call log accidentally given to lawyers for the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation by the US Treasury Department qualifies as a state secret [SourceWatch backgrounder] and cannot be entered into evidence in the foundation's lawsuit against the government because of national security interests. The court sent the lawsuit back to the trial court, but the case is not expected to survive if the foundation cannot rely on the call log.

The Oregon lawsuit, filed [JURIST report] by the now-defunct foundation in February 2006, claims that the National Security Agency illegally wiretapped several conversations between the charity and its attorneys, having failed to get a court order as required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) [text; JURIST news archive]. In September 2006, lawyers for the US Department of Justice asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a district court ruling [JURIST report] allowing the charity's lawsuit to proceed. Earlier that month, the lower court judge denied the government's motion to dismiss [opinion, PDF], rejecting contentions [JURIST report] that the proceeding would reveal state secrets. AP has more. Wired has additional coverage.






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Turkish prosecutor moves to ban Kurdish party
Mike Rosen-Molina on November 16, 2007 4:05 PM ET

[JURIST] Turkish lawmakers Friday moved to disband the country's leading pro-Kurdish political party and boot its representatives from parliament. Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya charged the Democratic Society Party [party website] with separatism after members gave speeches last week in support of autonomy for Kurds living in the country's southeast. The prosecutor's office will send an indictment to the Constitutional Court of Turkey [official website]. Turkish politicians have also accused the the Democratic Society Party of links to the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party [BBC backgrounder], which has been designated as a terrorist organization by both the United States and the European Union. AP has more.

In February, Turkish authorities charged [JURIST report] Democratic Society Party leader Hilmi Aydogdu with inciting hatred after stating that any Turkish attack on Kirkuk [Global Security backgrounder], a city in northern Iraq with a large Kurdish population, would be comparable to an attack on all Kurds. Growing hostility between Kurds, Arabs, and Turks in Kirkuk, as well as suspicions that Iraqi Kurds seek to create an independent state with Kirkuk as its capital, has made Turkey wary. The country has suggested that it might protect its interests in the oil-rich city with military force.






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Pakistan PCO amended to allow presidential revocation of emergency
Katerina Ossenova on November 16, 2007 1:15 PM ET

[JURIST] General Pervez Musharraf [official website; JURIST news archive] Thursday amended [amendment text] the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) [text] issued under the country's declaration of emergency rule on November 3 to allow the country's president to revoke the state of emergency. The original PCO was issued by Musharraf in capacity as head of the military, but Musharraf said earlier this week that he expected to resign that position [JURIST report] by the end of the month, retaining his presidential post. On Friday Pakistani Attorney General Malik Qayyum said that Musharraf wanted to reserve the power of lifting the state of emergency since he was the one to impose it. Qayyum also said he expected the state of emergency would be lifted within two months, which would carry it beyond the anticipated date of parliamentary elections. Dawn has more.

Former Pakistani prime ministers Benazir Bhutto [personal website] and Nawaz Sharif [BBC profile] both slammed the amendment as portending a lengthy period of emergency. Dawn has more.






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Rwanda investigators wrap up probe into alleged French role in Rwandan genocide
Patrick Porter on November 16, 2007 1:05 PM ET

[JURIST] Rwandan investigators delivered a report Friday to Rwandan President Paul Kagame [official website; BBC profile] on alleged French involvement in the 1994 genocide [HRW backgrounder; BBC backgrounder] in the African nation. Specific details have not yet been disclosed, but Rwandan Attorney General Tharcisse Karugarama told Reuters that "the report does implicate very heavily different key players in the Rwandan genocide." He added that the report will not be made public until authorities "analyze it and take necessary action in regard to the recommendations." France has denied allegations that its forces trained militias responsible for the genocide. Reuters has more.

Rwanda began the probe [JURIST report] into France's alleged role in the genocide late last year after Kagame publicly accused [JURIST report] France of supporting the 1994 genocide by providing Hutu militias with training and weapons. The African nation severed diplomatic ties [JURIST report] with France last year after a report filed by French anti-terrorism judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere [BBC profile] implicated Kagame in the 1994 killing of then-Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana [Britannica profile]. The downing of the plane carrying the Hutu leader sparked the genocide in which more than 800,000 people were killed in the span of 100 days. Kagame has denied any involvement in the downing of his predecessor's plane. In October, the Rwandan government established a commission [JURIST report] to investigate the circumstances surrounding the 1994 assassination.






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UN committee approves death penalty moratorium
Jaime Jansen on November 16, 2007 11:50 AM ET

[JURIST] The UN General Assembly's Third Committee [official website] on Thursday voted 99-52 to place a worldwide moratorium [press release] on the death penalty [JURIST news archive]. Thirty-three countries abstained from the vote. Opponents of the resolution [text; JURIST report], including Singapore, Egypt, and Botswana, argued [JURIST report] before the committee Wednesday that it would infringe on nations' sovereignty, and presented a list of 14 last-minute amendments emphasizing nations' right to set criminal punishments. The amendments were all ultimately rejected. The US voted against the resolution, which will go to the UN General Assembly [official website] later this year. Though non-binding, supporters of the resolution believe international opinion against capital punishment is growing.

The resolution states that capital punishment "undermines human dignity," that "there is no conclusive evidence of the death penalty's deterrent value" and that "any miscarriage or failure of justice in [its] implementation is irreversible and irreparable." Two previous attempts to abolish the death penalty failed to win a majority in the 192-member assembly. This time, however, the resolution calls for a suspension, rather than a complete abolition, of capital punishment. BBC News has more. The UN News Centre has additional coverage.






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Over 1000 foreign rights abusers living in US: DHS
Jaime Jansen on November 16, 2007 11:19 AM ET

[JURIST] More than 1,000 suspected human rights abusers from 85 countries are currently living in the United States, according to to a statement [text] delivered by Marcy Forman, director of the Investigations Office of the US Department of Homeland Security [official website], to the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law. Forman noted that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website] has over 140 pending investigations of 800 leads on rights violations committed predominantly in Central and South America, Haiti, the Balkans, and Africa by people now residing in the United States, but added that the US often cannot assert jurisdiction over crimes committed in foreign countries. According to Forman, ICE has since 2003 arrested more than 100 and deported 238 suspected human rights abusers.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) [official website] chaired the Wednesday hearing [press release] examining rights violations committed abroad by people now living in the US. He noted that "America has become a safe haven for the perpetrators of some of the world's most notorious war crimes" and urged lawmakers to make identification and prosecution of rights violators a priority. AFP has more.






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New York appeals court upholds Kozlowski grand larceny conviction
Jaime Jansen on November 16, 2007 10:53 AM ET

[JURIST] A New York appellate court unanimously upheld [opinion] the convictions of former Tyco International [corporate website] CEO L. Dennis Kozlowski [JURIST news archive] and former CFO Mark Swartz Thursday, rejecting arguments that the pair had been convicted of grand larceny, securities fraud and falsifying business records [JURIST report] on insufficient evidence. The court affirmed their eight to 25-year prison sentences [JURIST report] and fines of $70 million for Kozlowski and $35 million for Swartz. Lawyers for the two said they would try to appeal to the New York Court of Appeals [official website], New York's top court. Last month, Corporate Officers & Directors Insurance (CODA), a subsidiary of ACE Bermuda, filed a petition [JURIST report] in a New York trial court requesting an order compelling Kozlowski to pay the insurer approximately $1.97 million. CODA provided directors and officers liability insurance to Kozlowski, and won an arbitration award in the UK for recovery of money paid in legal fees to the former executive.

Tyco suffered one of the most infamous corporate fraud scandals [JURIST news archive] in modern times when Kozlowski and Swartz were found guilty of looting the company and defrauding its shareholders out of more than $150 million in unauthorized personal compensation. Tyco settled SEC charges [JURIST report] of fraudulent accounting in April 2006 for $50 million. In July, a federal judge gave preliminary approval [JURIST report] to a $3.2 billion settlement agreement [JURIST report] between Tyco International, Tyco's former auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers [corporate website], and investors who were harmed by fraudulent accounting practices orchestrated by Tyco's former top executives. Bloomberg has more.






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Bush nominates 5 to top DOJ posts
Jaime Jansen on November 16, 2007 9:38 AM ET

[JURIST] US President George W. Bush Thursday announced five nominations [WH press release] for top posts in the US Department of Justice (DOJ), including a federal judge sitting in Chicago for the number two spot. Bush's nominations include:

  • US District Judge Mark Filip [UChicago profile] for deputy attorney general;
  • US Attorney Kevin O'Connor [official profile] for associate attorney general;
  • Acting Associate General Attorney Gregory G. Katsas [official profile] for assistant attorney general of the civil division;
  • Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division Grace Chung Becker [ICAS profile] for assistant attorney general of the civil rights division; and
  • private attorney Nathan Hochman [firm profile] for assistant attorney general of the tax division.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) Thursday declined to set a time table for Senate confirmation of the nominations, saying that he wants to ensure the nominees "are committed to restoring the independence and mission of the Justice Department."

Bush had previously decided on all five nominations, but waited for Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey to be sworn in [JURIST report] and approve the list. Mukasey succeeds former US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [JURIST news archive], whose resignation [JURIST report] took effect in September. Gonzales resigned from his post after months of controversy over the Justice Department's handling of the firings of eight US Attorneys [JURIST news archive] and subsequent allegations that he may have perjured himself [JURIST report] in testimony before Congress. Leahy expressed hope Thursday that Mukasey and whomever fills the vacant DOJ spots will restore the department's integrity. The New York Times has more. AP has additional coverage.





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UN rights envoy compiling report on Myanmar crackdown on dissidents
Jaime Jansen on November 16, 2007 9:12 AM ET

[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Paulo Sergio Pinheiro [official profile] said Friday that he obtained enough information from a five-day visit [JURIST report] to Myanmar to determine the number of people killed during September's crackdown on pro-democracy protests [JURIST report]. Pinheiro said he will compile his findings and report them to the UN Human Rights Council in December. Pinheiro was in Myanmar to investigate allegations of abuse related to the military junta crackdown on dissent, where the government has to-date reported that 10 people died and 3,000 activists were detained [JURIST report]. Pinheiro said Friday that the government has now acknowledged 15 deaths [Reuters report] during the crackdown on protests. Dissident groups say that the death doll was much higher [CBC report].

Pinheiro met with several prominent political prisoners during his visit to Myanmar, but his request to see opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi [JURIST news archive] was denied by the ruling junta. Among the detainees Pinheiro was able to speak with was prominent labor activist Su Su Nwe [AHRC materials], who was arrested Tuesday [JURIST report] while posting a leaflet outside of Pinheiro's hotel. AP has more.






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US House approves surveillance bill without telecom immunity
Jaime Jansen on November 16, 2007 8:02 AM ET

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives passed the RESTORE Act of 2007 ("Responsible Electronic Surveillance That is Overseen, Reviewed and Effective Act of 2007") [HR 3773 materials] by a margin of 227-187 [roll call] late Thursday without including a provision that would grant immunity to telecommunication companies [JURIST report] that aided the US government in its domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive]. The House Judiciary and Intelligence committees advanced [JURIST report] the bill to the House floor last month. If the legislation passes in the Senate, the RESTORE Act would replace the temporary Protect America Act [S 1927 materials], signed [JURIST report] in August, as the law governing foreign surveillance. It permits eavesdropping on foreign targets operating outside the US, but if the surveillance targets are thought to be communicating with Americans, the government must apply for an "umbrella" court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) [official backgrounder] to conduct surveillance for up to one year. In an emergency, the government may begin surveillance immediately and apply for a FISC court order within seven days.

The White House on Thursday confirmed President George Bush's intent to veto the bill [SAP, PDF] without an immunity provision for telecommunications companies:

H.R. 3773 is deficient in several particular aspects:...

Fails to Provide Retroactive Liability Protection for Companies Alleged to Have Assisted the Government in the Wake of the September 11 Terrorist Attacks. The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 3773 because it fails to grant liability protection to companies alleged to have assisted the Government's counterterrorism efforts in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. It is a matter of basic fairness that providers who are alleged to have provided assistance to the Government in the wake of these terrorist attacks should not face liability claims. It also is critical to our national security that such companies be protected from litigation, since companies that face lawsuits for allegedly assisting the Government may be unwilling to provide assistance if and when it is needed to prevent future terrorist attacks.
Other criticisms the White House had of HR 3773 were that it limits the type of foreign intelligence information that can be acquired, "creates unnecessary obstacles to collection against foreign intelligence target located outside" the US, "does not provide certainty" for US intelligence agents, "imposes inappropriate and burdensome oversight provisions," and that it "unnecessarily raises highly complex legal questions."

The Senate Judiciary Committee this week considered whether to include the immunity provision [JURIST report] in the Senate version of the bill, and ultimately decided to leave the immunity language in the Senate bill [S 2248 materials], allowing the full Senate to debate the provision. Earlier this month, former US Attorney General John Ashcroft urged Congress [JURIST report] to include the blanket immunity provision in the RESTORE Act in a New York Times op-ed. AP has more.





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Bush slams unfair Senate review of judicial nominees
Alexis Unkovic on November 15, 2007 9:44 PM ET

[JURIST] US President George W. Bush on Thursday criticized the Senate's judicial confirmation process as overzealous and said the legislature's constitutional mandate to "advise and consent" can be turned into a method by which to "search and destroy" a nominee's reputation. In a speech [text] Thursday evening at the 2007 National Lawyers Convention [event information] hosted by the Federalist Society [website], Bush said:

Unfortunately, the Senate has failed to act on many of my other nominees. At times it has imposed a new and extra-constitutional standard, where nominees who have the support of the majority of the Senate can be blocked by a minority of obstructionists. As a result, some judgeships go unfulfilled for years. This leads to what are called "judicial emergencies" -- vacancies that cause justice to be degraded or delayed. When Americans goes to court, they deserve swift and fair answers -- and the United States Senate should not stand in their way.

Three of my nominees to the Courts of Appeals have been waiting for a vote for more than a year. ... These delays are wrong. It is an abdication of the Senate's responsibilities under our Constitution. And I call on Senate leaders to give these nominees, and all my nominees, the up and down vote they deserve on the floor of the United States Senate.

Senate confirmation is a part of the Constitution's systems of checks and balances. But it was never intended to be a license to ruin the good name that a nominee has worked a lifetime to build. Today, good men and women nominated to the federal bench are finding that inside the Beltway, too many interpret "advise and consent" to mean "search and destroy."

As a result, the Senate is no longer asking the right question -- whether a nominee is someone who will uphold our Constitution and laws. Instead, nominees are asked to guarantee specific outcomes of cases that might come before the court. If they refuse -- as they should -- they often find their nomination ends up in limbo instead of on the Senate floor. This is a terrible way to treat people who have agreed to serve their nation. It's a sad commentary on the United States Senate. And every time it happens, we lose something as a constitutional democracy.
AP has more.





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Pakistan police release ex-PM Bhutto from house arrest
Mike Rosen-Molina on November 15, 2007 6:45 PM ET

[JURIST] The house arrest order against former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto [personal website] has been lifted, Pakistani police said Thursday. Bhutto was placed under house arrest [JURIST report] for seven days early Tuesday in an effort to block her from leading a planned 160-mile march [JURIST report] from Lahore to Islamabad protesting President Pervez Musharraf's imposition of emergency rule [PDF text; JURIST news archive]. Police also arrested members of Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party [party website] who tried to cross a police barricade to reach Bhutto, as well as hundreds of party members throughout Lahore. While under house arrest, Bhutto confirmed with reporters that she is no longer speaking with Musharraf, either directly or indirectly, and that her party may boycott the January parliamentary elections [CBC report] if Pakistan is still under the emergency decree. Reuters has more.

The government of Pakistan said Monday that the planned march violated the proclamation of emergency rule [JURIST report]. Musharraf said Sunday that parliamentary elections will take place in January, but set no time limit to the emergency [JURIST report].







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Canada Supreme Court refuses to hear asylum appeals of US Army deserters
Nick Fiske on November 15, 2007 6:03 PM ET

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Canada [official website] declined on Thursday to hear the appeals of two US military deserters who sought refugee status within the country. Jeremy Hinzman [JURIST news archive] and Brandon Hughey, both soldiers in the US Army, fled to Canada in 2004 to avoid deployment in Iraq and applied for asylum [JURIST report] before the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board [official website] in 2005. Both applications were denied, as were their subsequent appeal requests to Canada's Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court denied leave to appeal in both cases without comment. After the high court ruling was announced, Jeffry House, a lawyer for the two men, said he would ask the Canadian government to create a program that would grant protection to deserters of the Iraq war.

Both Hinzman and Hughey cited moral objections to the war in Iraq and the punishment they would likely face if they returned to the US as grounds for asylum. The Immigration and Refugee Board had concluded [decision text; JURIST report] that the two men would receive a fair trial if they were returned to the US and that they would not face persecution or cruel and unusual punishment. It is estimated that up to 200 former US military personnel are in Canada avoiding war service [WRSC selected profiles] and that roughly 20 of them have applied for refugee status. CBC News has more.






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Georgian Republic parliament votes to lift emergency rule
Benjamin Klein on November 15, 2007 5:58 PM ET

[JURIST] The Parliament of the Georgian Republic [official website] approved a presidential decree on Thursday bringing an end to the country's national state of emergency [JURIST report] effective Friday. Chairwoman of the Parliament Nino Burjanadze [BBC profile] announced the decision following calls by both the US and EU to end emergency rule. US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack welcomed the Georgian parliament's decision [press briefing transcript], saying that it's important that "independent media be allowed to operate and to do their job."

After several days of protests, Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli announced a presidential decree last week temporarily banning demonstrations and public calls for violence or government overthrow. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili [official website] has blamed Russian spy agencies for instigating the protests [speech], though the Russian Foreign Ministry has dismissed those claims [statement]. In August, a Georgian court sentenced 12 opposition activists [JURIST report] to prison terms of up to eight-and-a-half years for participating in a coup plot that Saakashvili alleged was backed by Russia. Saakashvili has allied himself closely with the US and NATO since taking office in 2004, and Georgian authorities alleged that the convicted opposition activists had been supported by the Russian security services. Georgian-Russian relations have deteriorated markedly [JURIST report] in the last year. Reuters has more.






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France Constitutional Council approves DNA testing for immigrants
Mike Rosen-Molina on November 15, 2007 5:56 PM ET

[JURIST] The Constitutional Council of France [official website] Thursday approved a controversial amendment to an immigration law [text; dossier, both in French] that would allow voluntary DNA testing to establish family ties between recent immigrants and relatives already living in France. The Council also rejected an amendment that would have allowed for the collection of ethnic data to promote diversity. The French Parliament passed [JURIST report] the immigration bill in October, and it will take effect after French President Nicolas Sarkozy [official website, in French] signs it and it is published in the official register.

The bill was passed by French Senate [official website] in a 185-136 vote last month after French Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux [official profile, in French] made last-minute changes [Reuters report] to the DNA test section and the lower parliamentary house, the National Assembly [official website], passed the bill 282-235. Under the version adopted, the tests will be optional, sponsored by the state, will test only an applicant's maternal side so as to avoid potential disputes over paternity and will require the approval of a magistrate. Earlier versions of the bill [JURIST report] provided for mandatory testing. The DNA tests are meant primarily to verify family ties to French residents for potential immigrants who lack family records and to speed up the immigration process, but that provision has proved highly controversial. Critics argue that genetics should not be used to determine citizenship eligibility and opposition lawmakers have promised to challenge the law before France's Constitutional Court. AP has more.






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Russia opposition party files lawsuit to block Putin parliamentary candidacy
Alexis Unkovic on November 15, 2007 5:31 PM ET

[JURIST] An official with Russia's Union of Right Forces (SPS) [party website, in Russian] told a news conference Thursday that the opposition political party had filed a lawsuit with the country's Supreme Court [official website, in Russian] requesting that Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website] not be allowed to run as a candidate in the country's upcoming parliamentary elections. Putin currently appears at the top of the list of candidates submitted by United Russia [party website, in Russian] for the December 2 election. If elected, Putin would be forced to turn down the post after the election, leading to SPS's allegation that the Putin's candidacy provides United Russia with an unfair advantage.

Putin's second term as president ends next year with a presidential election scheduled for March 2008. He previously ruled out a constitutional amendment [JURIST report] that would allow him to pursue a third term in office. Reuters has more.






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US appeals court throws out proposed fuel emissions standards for light trucks, SUVs
Kiely Lewandowski on November 15, 2007 4:09 PM ET

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] threw out planned federal fuel economy standards [NHTSA materials] for light trucks and SUVs Thursday, ruling that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) [official website] did not adequately consider the environmental impact of the proposed standards. The ruling came in a lawsuit [JURIST report] brought by several states and environmental groups, which argued that the NHTSA ignored the effects of carbon dioxide emissions and certain SUV and truck classes when calculating the new fuel emissions standards. The new standards were due to go into effect next year and require an increase in the average fuel economy for all US passenger trucks from 22.2 miles per gallon to 23.5 miles per gallon by 2010.

In its opinion [PDF text], the Ninth Circuit wrote:

We hold that the Final Rule is arbitrary and capricious, contrary to the [Energy Policy and Conservation Act] in its failure to monetize the value of carbon emissions, failure to set a backstop, failure to close the SUV loophole, and failure to set fuel economy standards for all vehicles in the 8,500 to 10,000 gross vehicle weight rating ("GVWR") class. We also hold that the Environmental Assessment was inadequate and that Petitioners have raised a substantial question as to whether the Final Rule may have a significant impact on the environment. Therefore, we remand to NHTSA to promulgate new standards as expeditiously as possible and to prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement.
AP has more.





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China court sentences dissident lawyer to five years in prison
Alexis Unkovic on November 15, 2007 3:49 PM ET

[JURIST] The Tianhe District Court in China [JURIST news archive] convicted lawyer and dissident writer Yang Maodong [Amnesty report] of conducting "illegal business activity" and sentenced him to serve five years in prison and pay more than $5,000 in fines, according to his lawyer. Yang's trial began [HRIC report] in July on charges stemming from his publication of a book concerning a political scandal in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province. Yang's lawyer said that he confessed to the charges after being tortured. Reporters Without Borders [advocacy website] Thursday denounced [press release] Yang's Wednesday sentence as "harsh and unjustified" and reiterated its call [PDF text] for China to release Yang and other detained dissidents before the Beijing Olympic Games. Human Rights in China [advocacy website] similarly criticized [press release] the district court's ruling. AP has more.

Yang was arrested in September 2006, along with two other Internet authors, Chen Shuqing and Zhang Jianhong [Independent Chinese PEN Center report]. A court sentenced [JURIST report] Zhang to six years in prison in March for defaming the government by editing a website in China that called for political reform.






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US Supreme Court stays execution of Florida death row inmate
Alexis Unkovic on November 15, 2007 3:10 PM ET

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Thursday stayed the execution [order, PDF] of Florida death row inmate Mark Dean Schwab [FCCD profile, DOC] "pending the timely filing and disposition of a petition for a writ of certiorari." Schwab was scheduled to be executed at 6 PM ET on Thursday. The stay will terminate automatically if Schwab's petition for certiorari is denied. AP has more.

Earlier Thursday, the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued [JURIST report] a per curiam opinion [PDF text] overturning a district court order to stay Schwab's execution. The federal district court blocked Schwab's execution [AFP report] on Wednesday pending the US Supreme Court's decision in Baze v. Rees [cert. petition, PDF; JURIST report] (07-5439), where the court will rule on the constitutionality of lethal injections.






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UN rights envoy ends visit to Myanmar
Gabriel Haboubi on November 15, 2007 2:11 PM ET

[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Paulo Sergio Pinheiro [official profile] told reporters at the end of a five-day visit [JURIST report] to Myanmar [JURIST news archive] Thursday that he was able to meet with a number of prominent political prisoners, but that his request to meet with opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi [JURIST news archive] was denied by the ruling junta. Pinheiro was in Myanmar to investigate allegations of abuse related to September's crackdown on pro-democracy protests [JURIST report], which resulted in at least 10 deaths and the detention of at least 3,000 activists [JURIST report]. Among the detainees Pinheiro was able to speak with was prominent labor activist Su Su Nwe [AHRC materials], who was arrested Tuesday [JURIST report] while posting a leaflet outside of Pinheiro's hotel.

Pinheiro said was satisfied with the level of cooperation he was afforded by the junta, but AP reported that he privately told diplomats that he was unable to accurately determine the number of people detained and killed during the recent uprising. The junta says that only 10 deaths occurred during the protests, but dissident groups say the number is really in the hundreds or perhaps thousands [CBC report]. AP has more.






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UK court approves extradition of jailed Muslim cleric to US for terror charges
Gabriel Haboubi on November 15, 2007 1:22 PM ET

[JURIST] A British court ruled Thursday that the radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] can be extradited to the United States on charges of supporting terrorism. Abu Hamza, who is currently serving a seven-year sentence in the UK [JURIST report] for urging his followers to kill Jews and other non-Muslims, faces US charges [PDF text] of attempting to establish terrorist training camps in Oregon, conspiring to take hostages in Yemen, and helping terror training in Afghanistan. With extradition approved by London's City of Westminster Magistrates Court, UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith [official profile] is free to render a final decision in the case.

The US initially sought extradition [BBC report] in February 2006, but hearings were delayed while Abu Hamza appealed his UK conviction. The US renewed its extradition efforts [JURIST report] earlier this year, after the House of Lords denied Abu Hamza's request to continue his appeals. AP has more.






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DOJ still considering criminal charges in Blackwater Iraqi civilian shooting case
Steve Czajkowski on November 15, 2007 12:01 PM ET

[JURIST] The US Justice Department has not yet made a decision on whether it will file criminal charges against Blackwater USA [corporate website] employees involved in the killings of 14 Iraqi civilians during a September 16 incident [JURIST report] that took place in West Baghdad, a DOJ spokesperson said Wednesday. The comments came in response to reports from the New York Times and the Washington Post [texts] that an FBI investigation into the incident that has concluded that the shootings were unjustified [JURIST report]. DOJ spokesman Dean Boyd told AP that the investigation is still ongoing.

The Blackwater allegations have caused domestic outrage in Iraq and have prompted legal controversy in the US. Iraqi government investigators probing the killings have concluded that the Blackwater security detail's actions were unprovoked, and amounted to "deliberate murder" [JURIST report]. Last month, The Iraqi cabinet approved a draft law [JURIST report] that would strip foreign security contractors of immunity from Iraqi prosecution. The US House has passed a bill that would expand US jurisdiction over the same private contractors [JURIST report]. AP has more.






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Eleventh Circuit lifts stay of execution for Florida death row inmate
Joshua Pantesco on November 15, 2007 10:56 AM ET

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued a per curiam opinion [PDF text] on Thursday overturning a district court order to stay the execution of Florida death row inmate Mark Dean Schwab [FCCD profile, DOC]. The federal district court blocked Schwab's execution [AFP report] on Wednesday pending the US Supreme Court's decision in Baze v. Rees (07-5439) [docket; cert. petition, PDF; JURIST report], where the court has been asked to rule on the constitutionality of lethal injections. The Eleventh Circuit reversed:

The district court's action in granting the stay is contrary to the unequivocal law of this circuit that because grants of certiorari do not themselves change the law, they must not be used by courts of this circuit as a basis for granting a stay of execution that would otherwise be denied. ...

The grant of certiorari on an issue does not suggest a view on the merits. We don't know how the Supreme Court is going to decide the issues on which it has granted review in the Baze case, and the Supreme Court itself probably does not know given the fact that briefing has not even been completed in that case.
Schwab is scheduled to be executed at 6 PM ET on Thursday. AP has more.

The Florida Supreme Court last week denied a motion to stay Schwab's execution, consistent with the court's recent ruling [JURIST reports] that Florida's revised lethal injection protocol does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Florida Governor Jeb Bush suspended all executions in the state [JURIST report] last December after a medical examiner said that the execution earlier that month of Angel Diaz was botched. Diaz endured a 34-minute-long execution as a result of the improper insertion of needles during the first injection. The ban was lifted [JURIST report] in July after a review of lethal injection procedures.

Lawyers for the inmate in Baze v. Rees have argued that the three-drug mixture [DIPC backgrounder] used in Kentucky, and several other states, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment because the first drug fails to make the inmate fully unconscious, thereby making the inmate suffer excruciating pain when the heart-stopping drug is injected. Since the US Supreme Court accepted the Baze case in September, courts have stayed executions in Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Virginia, Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama [JURIST reports].

1:56 PM ET - The US Supreme Court has now stayed Schwab's execution. AP has more.






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Poland charges 6 soldiers with murdering civilians in Afghanistan
Joshua Pantesco on November 15, 2007 10:23 AM ET

[JURIST] Polish prosecutors have charged six Polish soldiers with murder and violations of the Geneva Conventions [ICRC materials] in connection with an August 16 incident in Afghanistan in which the soldiers allegedly fired into a crowd of civilians who posed no threat of harm to the soldiers. Six people, including three children, were killed by the Polish soldiers, and three women suffered severe injuries resulting in amputated limbs. Prosecutors said the soldiers had been sent to the village of Nangarkhel several hours after another group of Polish soldiers had encountered a roadside bomb outside the village. The soldiers allegedly found no Taliban troops hiding in the village, but opened fire on a group of civilians.

A seventh soldier was charged with lesser offenses in connection with the incident. AP has more.






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Iraqi lawyers urge US lawmakers to ensure rule of law in Iraq
Joshua Pantesco on November 15, 2007 9:57 AM ET

[JURIST] A delegation of lawyers from the Iraqi bar association Wednesday hand-delivered a four-page letter to several US lawmakers that criticizes the US government for not devoting adequate financial resources to ensure the rule of law in Iraq, according to the Hill. The Iraqi lawyers, led by Iraqi bar association president Aswad al-Minshidi, delivered the letter to House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Senate Judiciary Committee member Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official websites]; a copy was also sent to US President George W. Bush. The letter also raised due process concerns over the long delays before detainees are given an opportunity to plead their case before a tribunal.

The Iraqi delegation met Tuesday with Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts [OYEZ profile] and with White House special counsel Emmet Flood [SourceWatch profile]. The delegation also spoke with columnist Robert Novak, who wrote a column [text] on Thursday criticizing the Bush Administration for focusing their rebuilding efforts on "arrest and detention" rather than on the rule of law. The Hill has more.






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Former Pakistan Supreme Court judge challenging new bench as unconstitutional
Bernard Hibbitts on November 15, 2007 9:43 AM ET

[JURIST] The retired Supreme Court of Pakistan judge who unsuccessfully challenged General Pervez Musharraf in his recent bid for legislative re-election as president of Pakistan is bringing an application before the current high court challenging its constitutional status to rule on the pending case concerning Musharraf's eligibility for re-election [JURIST report] while still Army chief of staff. Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmad [Wikipedia profile] left the court in 1999 after refusing to swear an oath under the Provisional Constitution Order imposed when Musharraf initially seized power in a military coup. He originally filed his application over the weekend, but it was rejected by the new Supreme Court registrar as "non-maintainable". Ahmad insists it will be reintroduced, however. Pakistani legal experts cited by Pakistan's News daily say that the application cannot be preemptively rejected and requires a court ruling. According to the petition quoted by the News, Ahmad contends that that the new Supreme Court bench staffed by judges who have sworn oaths under Musharraf's Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) [text] “is in no legal position to rehear the case, as the Constitution doesn’t recognise it” and argues in the alternative that "If this court has the same legal status [as its predecessor led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry], no more arguments are required as the SC bench has already heard the parties and completed the process up to Nov 3, 2007.”

Admad told the News:

exposing the existing judiciary is important. We might be losing something by not pursuing the case, that is, throwing away an opportunity to expose the black sheep amongst us, but we will be losing all if we plead the case before these judges who have no legal and constitutional status.
The politics of Admad's application are not clear-cut, however, as some critics of emergency rule would actually prefer to have the new high court rule on the eligibility case in favor of Musharraf as now anticipated, hoping that that will make its bias transparent and completely undermine any appearance of legitimacy. The News has more.

The reconstituted court has meanwhile adjourned further arguments in the case [APP report] until Friday.





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US military says leaked Guantanamo operations manual out-of-date
Joshua Pantesco on November 15, 2007 9:16 AM ET

[JURIST] A US military spokesperson on Wednesday acknowledged that a 238-page operating manual for the US facility at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] was leaked on the Internet, but said the document is out-of-date and does not reflect current procedures. The manual, titled Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) [PDF text], is dated March 28, 2003, and is labeled "Unclassified/for official use only."

According to a report [text] in WIRED.com, the manual was leaked on wikileaks.org, a site established in January 2007 to encourage government whistleblowers to release and verify documents. ACLU lawyer Jamil Dakwar said two passages in the manual were of particular concern from a human rights standpoint: one section concerning the use of dogs to "enhance physical security and as a psychological deterrent," and another section regulating the amount of contact different prisoners are permitted to have with representatives from the International Committee of the Red Cross. The US military spokesperson said dogs are no longer used at Guantanamo, and that many other procedures have changed since 2003. AP has more.






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Ousted Pakistan CJ says removing him from Islamabad would be kidnapping
Bernard Hibbitts on November 15, 2007 9:00 AM ET

[JURIST] Dismissed Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry [JURIST news archive] warned the registrar of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in a letter Wednesday that any effort by the government to remove him from his official residence in the capital, Islamabad, would amount to kidnapping. Chaudhry was responding to indications that he might be taken by police from Chief Justice House [file photo] to the southern city of Quetta. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf installed Abdul Hameed Dogar as the new Chief Justice of Pakistan [JURIST report] after his declaration of emergency rule on November 3, but Chaudhry has insisted that his appointment and those of other new Supreme Court justices under Musharraf's Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) are illegal. Pakistan's Dawn newspaper quoted Chaudhry as saying:

I am not interested in going to Quetta or elsewhere and it will be an act of abduction and forcible detention for which the secretary for interior, Islamabad’s commissioner [of police], deputy commissioner and assistant commissioner on duty shall be responsible along with law-enforcement agencies...Presently, I am holding the post of Chief Justice of Pakistan under Constitution and I am occupying the official accommodation.
Chaudhry is not formally under house arrest but did say that he was not allowed to leave his house and his children were being prevented from attending school and university. Dawn has more.

In a separate statement to the Northwest Frontier Province Bar Association Wednesday Chaudhry said that he was one of over 60 superior court judges who had refused to take PCO oaths [JURIST report] and still legally held office.





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EU to reopen probe of secret CIA prisons after evidence of Ukraine involvement
Gabriel Haboubi on November 15, 2007 8:19 AM ET

[JURIST] The European Parliament committee on CIA activities in Europe (TDIP) [official website] will reopen its investigation into the alleged operation of secret CIA prisons [JURIST news archive] in Europe, two committee members said Wednesday. Giulietto Chiesa and Claudio Fava [official profiles] said that new evidence of secret prisons and rendition flights in Ukraine prompted the TDIP to reopen the investigation. Fava told reporters Wednesday that the "strong and very specific evidence" includes a document, which was featured on a Russian TV documentary, indicating that the country issued landing authorizations for CIA operated flights in 2005. There are also reports that a prison was built on a Ukrainian military base, which was used for 10 prisoners with 10 guards. Ukrainian officials have denied the allegations.

Fava headed the European Parliament's investigation into reports of secret CIA facilities in Europe, which was initially closed when the European Parliament approved [JURIST report] Fava's report [adopted text, DOC] in February. The report condemned EU member states for cooperating with the CIA in operating secret prisons and extraordinary rendition flights and criticized several countries for their "reluctance to cooperate" with the TDIP investigation. The report also noted that reports of secret prisons in Poland could be proved only by circumstantial evidence, and therefore could "neither be confirmed nor denied." AP has additional coverage. EUobserver has additional coverage.






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Opponents argue against UN death penalty moratorium
Mike Rosen-Molina on November 14, 2007 8:38 PM ET

[JURIST] Nations that support the use of the death penalty [JURIST news archive] Wednesday criticized a UN draft resolution [text; JURIST report] to impose a world-wide moratorium on the capital punishment. The UN Human Rights Committee [official website] is scheduled to vote on the resolution Thursday; if it passes, it will go to the full General Assembly later this year. Opponents of the resolution, including Singapore, Egypt, and Botswana, argued before the Committee Wednesday that it would infringe on nations' sovereignty, and presented a list of 14 last-minute amendments emphasizing nations' right to set criminal punishments. Reuters has more. The Independent has additional coverage.

Over 70 states [co-sponsor list, XLS] have backed the proposal. The draft resolution states that capital punishment "undermines human dignity," that "there is no conclusive evidence of the death penalty's deterrent value" and that "any miscarriage or failure of justice in [its] implementation is irreversible and irreparable." Two previous attempts to abolish the death penalty failed to win a majority in the 192-member assembly. This time, however, the resolution calls for a suspension, rather than a complete abolition, of capital punishment.






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Wal-Mart ordered to pay attorney fees in Pennsylvania class action
Mike Rosen-Molina on November 14, 2007 8:13 PM ET

[JURIST] A Philadelphia judge ruled that Wednesday that Wal-mart Inc. [corporate website; JURIST news archive] must pay attorney fees and other costs for a class of Wal-Mart employees that had brought suit against the retail giant for denying them payment for work done during rest breaks. Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas [official website] Judge Mark I. Bernstein awarded the employees $46.7 million in costs. Wal-Mart has said it will appeal the decision.

The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas ruled in favor of the Pennsylvania Wal-mart workers [JURIST report] last month, awarding the employees an additional $62.3 million under a state law which demands that pay not be withheld for over 30 days. Last year, the class won a $78.47 million verdict [JURIST report] against Wal-Mart that awarded damages for work during rest breaks and off-the-clock labor. In holding for the plaintiffs, the judge said that the fringe benefits and wage supplements of all employees, whether top executives or hourly workers, are protected under the law. With Wednesday's ruling, Wal-Mart has been ordered to pay the Pennsylvania class $187.6 million total. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.






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Musharraf lawyers urge new Pakistan Supreme Court to endorse emergency
Bernard Hibbitts on November 14, 2007 7:17 PM ET

[JURIST] Lawyers for the Pakistani government Wednesday urged the reconstituted Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] to validate General Pervez Musharraf's declaration of emergency. In court papers filed in response to a challenge petition [JURIST report] brought earlier this week, counsel for Musharraf argued that the petition was itself illegal under the Provisional Constitution Order [text] of November 3 which provided in its Article 3 that:

No court including the Supreme Court, the Federal Shariat Court, the High Courts and any Tribunal or other authority shall call in question the PCO, the Oath of Office (Judges) Order 2007 or any order made in pursuance thereof.
The reply brief also asserted that the challenge could not be sustained under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution [text] - empowering the Supreme Court to act on a question of public importance with regard to fundamental rights - as the fundamental rights protected under Articles 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 19 and 25 of the Constitution had been suspended under the PCO. Counsel additionally rejected the contention that the declaration of emergency had been made in bad faith:
The allegation of malafide is baseless. Every thing has been done bonafide and in the interest of the State. It is also denied that the action has been taken to crush the judiciary and to make it subservient to the wishes of the respondent and the executive...For any State to function, all the three pillars of the State must act in harmony in the best national interest.
A hearing of the case before the full bench of the reconstituted court is scheduled for Thursday. Most members of the pre-emergency court led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry were effectively dismissed by the declaration of emergency rule; Chaudhry and most of his colleagues are still under virtual house arrest at their residences in Islamabad. APP has more.

Top Pakistani bar sources told JURIST over the weekend that the original challenge filed by former provincial minister Tikka Iqbal was a "decoy petition...filed to wangle a stamp of legitimacy to the illegal acts of this government" and that the case was actually designed to elicit a high court ruling endorsing the emergency decree [JURIST report].





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France appeals court approves transfer of Rwanda war crimes suspect to ICTR
Caitlin Price on November 14, 2007 4:27 PM ET

[JURIST] The Court of Appeal of Paris Wednesday approved the transfer of Rwandan genocide suspect Dominique Ntawukuriryayo [ICTR case materials] to the custody of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda [official website]. The former public official was arrested in France [JURIST report] last month. He has been charged [indictment, PDF] with genocide, complicity in genocide and direct and public incitement to genocide. The handover will be delayed as Ntawukuriryayo's appeal of the decision is pending. Reuters has more.

The charges against Ntawukuriryayo stem principally from his alleged involvement in the Kabuye Hill massacre that occurred over five days in late April 1994, during which as many as 25,000 Tutsi refugees were killed. Then sub-prefect for the Gisagara region, Ntawukuriryayo allegedly promised protection to Tutsis and ordered them to move to Kabuye Hill; instead they were surrounded and shot by gendarmes and communal policemen. Approximately 800,000 people died in the following three months of the Rwandan genocide [BBC backgrounder].






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Tunisia court convicts former Guantanamo Bay detainee on terror charges
Caitlin Price on November 14, 2007 4:02 PM ET

[JURIST] A former Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee was convicted by a Tunisian court Wednesday on charges of belonging to a terrorist organization. Abdullah al-Hajji Ben Amor [HRW profile] was sentenced to seven years in prison. He was convicted in absentia on the same charges in Tunisia in 1995, five years after he had left the country, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

In June, Al-Hajji was transferred to Tunisian custody [JURIST report] after five years at Guantanamo Bay. In September, HRW released a report [text; press release] accusing Tunisian officials of mistreating Al-Hajji [JURIST report] and fellow Guantanamo transferee Lotfi Lagha [HRW backgrounder]. Last month, a Tunisian court sentenced Lagha to three years in prison [JURIST report] on criminal association charges. Since 2002, approximately 470 detainees have been transferred out of Guantanamo and approximately 305 remain [press release], 10 of whom are Tunisian. Reuters has more.






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Chevron settles SEC charges in oil-for-food scandal
James M Yoch Jr on November 14, 2007 3:58 PM ET

[JURIST] The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) [official website] on Wednesday agreed to a $30 million settlement of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act [materials; DOJ backgrounder] charges against Chevron [corporate website] in connection with the oil company's alleged involvement in a scheme to exchange illegal payments to Iraqi officials under the now-defunct UN Oil-for-Food program [official website; JURIST news archive]. The settlement [press release] requires Chevron to disgorge $25 million in profits, including $20 million by agreement with the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and $5 million by agreement with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. Chevron must also pay penalties of $3 million to the SEC and $2 million to the Office of Foreign Asset Controls [official website] of the US Treasury Department. According to the SEC complaint [PDF text], Chevron paid more than $20 million in kickbacks taking the form of surcharges from third-party oil sellers that were exchanged for inflated premiums on future oil purchases during the period from April 2001 to May 2002. The complaint [litigation release] alleges that Chevron knew or should have known that the surcharges were being paid directly to Iraqi bank accounts in Lebanon and Jordan. Chevron instituted a ban on paying surcharges and implemented several management checks on oil purchases, but the SEC claims that the measures were ineffective due to management's reliance on the misrepresentations of the company's purchasers. Chevron has neither denied nor admitted wrongdoing in the settlement agreement.

The UN Oil-for-Food program allowed the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive], under UN sanctions in the wake of the first Gulf War, to sell limited stocks of oil in return for foodstuffs and other humanitarian supplies. Hussein's regime nonetheless bribed foreign officials and commercial interests so it could sell oil on the black market, embezzling over $1 billion in program funds and perhaps as much another $10 billion from other sources. In August, David Chalmers, owner of Bayoil USA Inc and Bayoil Supply and Trading Ltd, pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to charges that he bribed Iraqi officials in connection with the scandal, while Ludmil Dionissiev, a Bulgarian oil trader who helped Chalmers buy Iraqi oil, pleaded guilty to smuggling. AP has more.






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Pakistan to pension dismissed judges but Chaudhry threatens treason trials
Bernard Hibbitts on November 14, 2007 3:09 PM ET

[JURIST] The Pakistani government will provide pension and other benefits to Supreme Court and High Court judges dismissed from their positions in the wake of the November 3 declaration of emergency rule, independent station Geo-TV reported on its website Wednesday. Officials have decided that the judges who refused to take an oath under the new Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) [text] will be treated in the same way as retired judges. The announced policy is similar to that followed in 1999 when six then-sitting Supreme Court judges refused to swear an oath under the PCO issued by General Pervez Musharraf when he initially seized power from then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Geo-TV has more.

Meanwhile Wednesday, deposed Supreme Court of Pakistan Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry [JURIST news archive] told members of the Northwest Frontier Province Bar Association in a read statement reported by PPI that he and over 60 other superior court judges who have refused to take PCO oaths still hold office under Pakistan's constitution, and that those who had suspended the constitution illegally could be tried under its Article 6, section 1 of which reads: "Any person who abrogates or attempts or conspires to abrogate, subverts or attempts or conspires to subvert the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason." Chaudhry said the state of emergency had been imposed illegally but that those who resisted it would succeed. PPI has more.






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Iran charges former nuclear negotiator with spying
Caitlin Price on November 14, 2007 3:05 PM ET

[JURIST] The government of Iran [JURIST news archive] has charged a former key nuclear negotiator with espionage, the state news agency IRNA [official website] reported Wednesday. Hossein Mousavian was arrested [Al Jazeera report] in May on suspicions that he passed classified information to the British embassy and other foreigners. Mousavian is closely allied with former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani [official website, in Persian; BBC profile], a political opponent of current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [official profile, BBC profile]. A trial date has not been announced.

Mousavian worked for the Foreign Policy Committee of the Supreme Council for National Security in Iran until 2005, under then-top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Larijani resigned [AFP report] in October due to alleged disagreement with Ahmadinejad, a move that many feared would further strengthen the president's control of nuclear policy. On Monday, Ahmadinejad called critics of his nuclear policy "traitors" [Al Jazeera report]. BBC News has more.






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Federal appeals court orders Navy to limit use of high-powered sonar
Andrew Gilmore on November 14, 2007 2:26 PM ET

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled [PDF text; NRDC press release] Tuesday that the US Navy's use of high-powered sonar should be limited during training exercises in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California. The Court vacated its earlier stay on a temporary injunction [JURIST report] preventing the Navy's use of the high-powered sonar technology effective as of the end of the Navy's current training exercise in that area or November 23, 10 days from the date of the ruling, which ever occurs first. The case was remanded to a Los Angeles district court for modification of the temporary injunction pursuant to the appeals court's ruling.

The ruling comes in a lawsuit brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council [advocacy website] against the Navy. The NRDC has argued that the Navy's decision to use "medium frequency active sonar" without preparing a full environmental impact statement violates several federal laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act [EPA materials], the Endangered Species Act [PDF text], the Administrative Procedures Act [text] and the Coastal Zone Management Act [text]. AP has more. The Los Angeles Times has local coverage.






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Chile high court upholds convictions of 7 former Pinochet officials, acquits 1
Lisl Brunner on November 14, 2007 1:58 PM ET

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Chile [official website] affirmed seven convictions and overturned one on Tuesday in cases involving murders committed by state agents during the 1973-90 regime of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Former Air Force General Freddy Ruiz Bunger and six former members of the Joint Command, a special police force, received suspended sentences of three years and one day imprisonment for the 1976 murder of Communist Party official Carlos Humberto Contreras. Several of the men sentenced are currently serving sentences for other human rights abuses committed during the 1970s. The court based its decision on the Geneva Conventions [ICRC materials], finding that Chile was in a state of internal armed conflict when the murder occurred.

The court also reversed the conviction of former Army official Claudio Lecaros Carrasco for the murders of three individuals in 1973, determining that the general 15-year statute of limitations had expired. The court held that the limitation was applicable to Carrasco's case because no state of armed conflict existed in 1973 to justify the application of the Geneva Conventions. Human rights lawyer Boris Paredes claimed that the ruling is inconsistent with Chile's responsibility under international law to prosecute and punish those responsible for crimes against humanity, and he announced that a petition would be brought before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights [official website]. El Pais has more. El Mercurio has local coverage.






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State Department inspector general denies interfering with investigations
Gabriel Haboubi on November 14, 2007 1:09 PM ET

[JURIST] US State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard [official profile] Wednesday testified before the US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee [official website] and denied allegations [opening statement, PDF] that he politicized the Inspector General's Office by obstructing inquiries that could harm the Bush administration. The allegations brought against Krongard [Oversight Committee report, PDF] include claims that he blocked investigations of fraud and mismanaged spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, and interfered with a Justice Department investigation into whether Blackwater USA [corporate website; JURIST news archive] was smuggling weapons into Iraq. The committee also raised concerns that Krongard had a conflict of interest in the Blackwater case, as his brother serves on Blackwater's advisory board [invitation, PDF].

The investigation into Krongard was announced in September [JURIST report]. At that time Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) [official profile] sent notice to Krongard asking for his cooperation, but the committee report notes that Krongard has refused to provide requested documents, even after the committee issued a subpoena for them. In addition, employees of the Inspector General's Office have said that Krongard's congressional liaison Terry Heide told them that they could lose their jobs [Post report] if they cooperated with the committee's investigation. Heide admitted to the committee that she had made statements to that effect, but denied they were meant to intimidate witnesses. Krongard said Wednesday that he has been working to "restore the capabilities of an [Inspector General] office that had fallen into disrepair," but has been hindered by lack of funding. AP has more.

6:55 PM ET - Krongard said Wednesday that he would not participate in any State Department decisions concerning Blackwater in light of his brother's attendance at a Blackwater advisory board meeting. Krongard said he was not previously aware of his brother's connection to the company. CNN has more.






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Georgian Republic lifting state of emergency this week
Brett Murphy on November 14, 2007 12:25 PM ET

[JURIST] The Georgian Republic will end its national state of emergency [JURIST report] this Friday, Georgian Speaker of Parliament Nino Burdzhanadze [BBC profile] said Wednesday. Burdzhanadze made the announcement on behalf of the government in a televised statement after the US called on Georgia to end emergency rule.

After several days of protests, Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli announced a presidential decree last week temporarily banning demonstrations and public calls for violence or government overthrow. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili [official website] has blamed Russian spy agencies for instigating the protests [speech], though the Russian Foreign Ministry has dismissed those claims [statement]. In August, a Georgian court sentenced 12 opposition activists [JURIST report] to prison terms of up to eight-and-a-half years for participating in a coup plot that Saakashvili alleged was backed by Russia. Saakashvili has allied himself closely with the US and NATO since taking office in 2004, and Georgian authorities alleged that the convicted opposition activists had been supported by the Russian security services. Georgian-Russian relations have deteriorated markedly [JURIST report] in the last year. AP has more.






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US House passes bill to protect corporate attorney-client privilege
Mike Rosen-Molina on November 14, 2007 12:09 PM ET

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives [official website] passed legislation by voice vote Tuesday that would ban federal prosecutors from threatening to prosecute corporations for refusing to turn over information protected by attorney-client privilege [ABA backgrounder]. The Attorney-Client Privilege Act of 2007 [HR 3013 materials] would bar prosecutors from demanding that a corporation waive its attorney-client privilege and from considering a corporation's cooperation with that demand in deciding whether to prosecute. Rep. Robert Scott (D-VA) [official website] said the bill was necessary to stop over-zealous US attorneys from intimidating corporations from protecting their rights. AP has more.

In 2006, former US Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty [official profile] announced that the Department of Justice would no longer encourage corporations to turn over confidential records [JURIST report] to officials investigating corporate fraud. The McNulty Memorandum [PDF text] revised portions of the 2003 Thompson Memorandum [PDF text], which included business record turnover as a factor prosecutors could use in determining whether corporations were cooperating with investigations, by requiring prosecutors to receive McNulty's approval before seeking investigative facts gathered by corporate counsel and protected by attorney-client privilege.






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Musharraf expects to resign as Pakistan army chief by end November: AP
Brett Murphy on November 14, 2007 11:45 AM ET

[JURIST] Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf [official website] told AP Wednesday that he expects to give up his position as army chief by the end of the month. Opposition groups had challenged Musharraf's eligibility to run for re-election as president while he still served as head of the army. The Supreme Court of Pakistan was on the brink of deciding the case when Musharraf declared a state of emergency [JURIST reports] in early November and issued a Provisional Constitution Order [text] barring the courts from making "any order against the President." In an AP interview, Musharraf also said that emergency rule is likely to continue until at least the upcoming parliamentary elections in January, and criticized former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto [personal website] - currently under house arrest - for allegedly inciting turmoil [JURIST report]. Musharraf told AP that he will not resign as president, saying that doing so would risk chaos in Pakistan.

Under the state of emergency, the government has cracked down on its critics, detaining thousands of lawyers, rights activists and opposition politicians. The declaration of emergency rule also effectively dismissed the 19 judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which is being gradually reconstituted [JURIST report] by appointees sanctioned by Musharraf. AP has more.






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Iran court summons Argentina officials over accusations on 1994 bombing
Brett Murphy on November 14, 2007 11:22 AM ET

[JURIST] Iranian prosecutors issued court summonses Tuesday for five Argentinians accused of falsely implicating an Iranian group with masterminding the 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish Community Center [Wikipedia backgrounder]. The five accused - former Interior Minister Carlos Corach, president of the bombed community center Ruben Beraja, judge Juan Jose Galeano, and prosecutors Eamon Mullen and Jose Barbaccia - have rejected the summonses. The call for the five to appear in Iranian court comes after the Interpol General Assembly [official website] last week voted to issue arrest notices [press release; JURIST report] for five Iranians and one Lebanese man wanted in connection with the bombing.

Argentinian prosecutors have alleged that the bombing was planned by Iranian officials, and carried out by the Lebanese group Hezbollah [BBC backgrounder]. The country originally sought the arrests of high-ranking members of the Iranian government, including former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani [official website, in Farsi; JURIST report], but Interpol's Executive Committee [official website] denied the request and granted only six of the nine Red Notices requested by Argentina. The authorization of the notices went before the General Assembly following an Iranian appeal of the Executive Committee decision. AP has more. IRNA has local coverage.






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Mukasey installed as US AG at DOJ ceremony
Brett Murphy on November 14, 2007 10:45 AM ET

[JURIST] New US Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey [official profile; JURIST news archive] was installed during a ceremony at the Justice Department Wednesday in front of hundreds of officials and DOJ lawyers. Although officially sworn-in [JURIST report] last Friday, Mukasey again took the oath of office in an installation ceremony led by US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Addressing DOJ employees for the first time, Mukasey said [text]:

I have said previously that much has changed since 1972, when I took the same oath I took today to serve in the United States attorney's office, and indeed it has. There are laws on the books today that did not exist when I was sworn in then, and there are problems that confront us now that did not confront us then, mainly but not entirely involving the threat to our security from those who believe it is their religious duty to make war on us.

But the oath, of course, has stayed the same. And so in many ways has the nature of the work — the work that I did then and that you have been doing before I arrived here. You are, all of you, involved, day to day, in applying regulations or rules or laws or provisions of the constitution you have all sworn to protect, a sworn promise in which I joined this morning.

What each person here does, on a day to day basis, is law. If that sounds prosaic and rather limited, try thinking for a moment about the alternative, where the results depends on the opinion of one person or a group of people as to what they feel is right. We don't do simply what seems fair and right according to our own tastes and standards.

But when you step back and look at the thousands of decisions that are made every day under those rules and regulations and laws and Constitutional provisions that this Department enforces — the cases you handle, the prisoners in your care, the investigations you pursue — when you look at that, the result is something glorious. The result is what gives this Department its name. We do law, but the result is justice. And that is why our ultimate client — the people of this country — can and do rest secure in the knowledge that our unswerving allegiance is to the law and the Constitution, and that the result of faithful performance of our duty is justice.

That is the great work that each of you and all of you were doing before I showed up here this morning and took the same oath that you had already taken. But the reason why I believe that I was not in any meaningful sense the Attorney General until I came before you here is that my job involves not only an oath, but also a pledge, which I now give you.

And that is to use all of the strength of mind and body that I have to help you to continue to protect the freedom and the security of the people of this country — and their civil rights and liberties — through the neutral and even-handed application of the constitution and the laws enacted under it; to ask myself in every decision I make whether it helps you to do that; to take the counsel not only of my own insights but also of yours, and to pray that I can help give you the leadership you deserve.
President George W. Bush also spoke at the ceremony, and in his remarks [text], said:
The job of the Attorney General is one of the most important in our nation's government. The Attorney General must run the world's largest law firm, and the central agency for enforcement of our federal laws. He must aggressively prosecute gun criminals and drug dealers, hold corporate wrongdoers to account, protect victims of child abuse and domestic violence, and uphold the civil rights of every American.

In this time of war, the job of the Attorney General is also vital to America's national security. The Attorney General is responsible for our law enforcement community's efforts to detect, prevent, and disrupt terrorist attacks here at home. He must make certain that our intelligence and law enforcement communities work hand-in-hand to protect the American people from terrorist threats. He must ensure that we do everything within the law to defend the security of all Americans -- while at the same time protecting the liberty of all Americans.

Judge Michael Mukasey is the right man to take on these vital challenges. Michael understands the law from both sides of the bench. He served for more than 18 years as a U.S. District Court Judge in New York, including six years as the Chief Judge. He was a lawyer in private practice. He has served an Assistant United States Attorney in Manhattan, where he headed the Official Corruption Unit.

Judge Mukasey also understands the challenges facing our nation in this time of war. He has written wisely on matters of constitutional law and national security. He knows what it takes to fight the war on terror effectively. And he knows how to do it in a matter that is consistent with our laws and our Constitution. He will bring clear purpose and resolve to the job of Attorney General. I look forward to working with him as a member of my Cabinet, and a key player on our national security team.
The US Senate voted 53-40 [JURIST report] last week to confirm Mukasey's nomination. Mukasey succeeds former US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [JURIST news archive] whose resignation [JURIST report] took effect in September. Gonzales resigned from his post after months of controversy over the Justice Department's handling of the firings of eight US Attorneys [JURIST news archive] and subsequent allegations that he may have perjured himself [JURIST report] in testimony before Congress. AP has more.







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ECHR rules against separate schooling for Roma children in Czech Republic
Brett Murphy on November 14, 2007 10:13 AM ET

[JURIST] The European Court of Human Rights ruled [opinion text] Tuesday that the educational separation of Roma children in the Czech Republic violates principles of human rights. By a vote of 13-4, the court held that the separation amounts to racial discrimination [ECHR press release] in violation of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights [PDF text], finding that the schools for Roma children offered sub-standard education. The court said that:

the schooling arrangements for Roma children were not attended by safeguards [citations omitted] that would ensure that, in the exercise of its margin of appreciation in the education sphere, the State took into account their special needs as members of a disadvantaged class [citations omitted]. Furthermore, as a result of the arrangements the applicants were placed in schools for children with mental disabilities where a more basic curriculum was followed than in ordinary schools and where they were isolated from pupils from the wider population. As a result, they received an education which compounded their difficulties and compromised their subsequent personal development instead of tackling their real problems or helping them to integrate into the ordinary schools and develop the skills that would facilitate life among the majority population.
The Czech Republic was ordered to pay 4,000 euro to each child, and the ruling could potentially speed educational integration throughout the European Union.

Roma children first complained of the lack of equal education in 2000, at which time the Czech Republic began to implement changes to the system. In 2005, special schools for Roma children were officially abolished, however, some observers maintain that the schools still operate with the same sub-par education under new names. Last year, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia reported that Roma gypsies, Jews and Muslims continue to experience significant racial and ethnic discrimination and violence [JURIST report] in EU countries. BBC News has more. The EUobserver has additional coverage.





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DOJ reopens internal probe into domestic spying role
Brett Murphy on November 14, 2007 9:10 AM ET

[JURIST] The US Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility [official website] has reopened an investigation into the administration's domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive] after recently being granted the necessary security clearances previously denied to DOJ investigators, OPR chief H. Marshall Jarrett said in a Tuesday letter to US Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) [press release]. The internal investigation into the role DOJ lawyers played in designing the National Security Agency's domestic spying program was originally closed just months after it began in February 2006 when security clearances were denied [JURIST reports] by the NSA, with then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales saying that President Bush had blocked the investigation [JURIST report]. Hinchey has praised the reopening of the probe, saying that it indicates that newly appointed US Attorney General Michael Mukasey [official profile] understands his role as attorney general better than his predecessor.

Mukasey said in October that the Constitution does not preclude the president from wiretapping terrorism suspects without a warrant [JURIST report]. He went on to say, however, that surveillance of those within the United States required a more complex analysis of privacy interests, as recognized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [text] and Protect America Act [text], but that ultimately, executive authority with regard to foreign surveillance was subject to "regulation" rather than "preemption" by the legislature. AP has more.






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Colorado high court OKs ballot initiative language on protections for fertilized eggs
Natalie Hrubos on November 14, 2007 8:47 AM ET

[JURIST] The Colorado Supreme Court [official website] on Tuesday approved [PDF text] the language of an anti-abortion group's proposed ballot initiative [PDF text] that would amend the Colorado constitution to define a fertilized egg as a "person" entitled to "inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law" under the state constitution. The group, Colorado for Equal Rights for Human Life, must collect 76,000 signatures in six months in order to place the measure on the 2008 ballot. Critics argue that the measure is misleading [NARAL Colorado press release] as its supporters have said their goal is to outlaw abortion, which is not specifically mentioned in the language of the ballot initiative. Critical have also said the proposed changes could also regulate in-vitro fertilization, stem cell research, and birth control.

According to anti-abortion activists, similar ballot initiatives are under way in Montana, Georgia, Oregon, Michigan and South Carolina. AP has more.






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FBI investigators say Blackwater Iraqi civilian killings unjustified: NYT
Natalie Hrubos on November 14, 2007 7:54 AM ET

[JURIST] An FBI investigation [JURIST report] has concluded that private security personnel in Iraq shot and killed 14 Iraqi civilians without justification during a September 16 incident [JURIST report] in Baghdad, the New York Times reported Wednesday. The investigators found that many as five Blackwater USA [corporate website; JURIST news archive] guards fired on civilians during the shootings, which killed 17 Iraqi civilians and prompted the Iraqi government to withdraw the company's operating license [JURIST report]. The FBI said that three of the killings may have been justified, including that of a physician and her son, though relatives say they were on a family errand at the time the guards opened fire. Under US State Department [official website] policy as quoted by the New York Times, lethal force is justified "only in response to an imminent threat of deadly force or serious physical injury against the individual, those under the protection of the individual or other individuals."

The Blackwater allegations have caused domestic outrage in Iraq and have prompted legal controversy in the US. Iraqi government investigators probing the killings have concluded that the Blackwater security detail's actions were unprovoked, and amounted to "deliberate murder" [JURIST report]. Last month, The Iraqi cabinet approved [JURIST report] a draft law [JURIST report] that would strip foreign security contractors of immunity from Iraqi prosecution. The US House has passed a bill that would expand US jurisdiction over the same private contractors [JURIST report]. AP has more.






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CIA admits error in withholding interrogation tapes during Moussaoui trial
Mike Rosen-Molina on November 13, 2007 7:55 PM ET

[JURIST] The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] has admitted that it has several recorded interrogations of suspected "enemy combatants," contrary to previous assertions. According to a letter [PDF text] released Tuesday, the agency mistakenly denied in court declarations that it possessed one audio and two video tapes during the trial of Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui [JURIST news archive]. Moussaoui had sought the testimony of several al Qaeda witnesses as part of his defense. Prosecutors said that they learned of the tapes only recently, but insisted that their absence did not affect Moussaoui's trial, as they did not mention either him or the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks [JURIST news archive].

Moussaoui pleaded guilty [JURIST report] in April 2005 to conspiracy charges [indictment] in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks, including conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, conspiracy to destroy aircraft and conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. He received a life sentence [JURIST report] last year after one juror refused to agree to the death penalty [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.






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Canada government reintroduces Senate reform bills
Melissa Bancroft on November 13, 2007 7:08 PM ET

[JURIST] Canada's ruling Conservative Party [party website] government Tuesday reintroduced two Senate [official website] reform bills that would abolish government-appointed senators and limit the number of terms a senator could serve. The first bill [C-56 text] would allow each province to vote to fill vacancies in the Senate. The federal prime minister would then rely on the results to appoint the preferred candidates. Only two provinces, Alberta and British Columbia, currently hold elections for senators and the results are purely advisory in nature. The second bill [S-4 text] would limit terms in the country's unelected Senate to eight years. Currently, senators appointed on a regional basis can retain their seats until the age of 75. The bills were first introduced during Parliament's last legislative session, when Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper urged [JURIST report] members of the Canadian Senate's Special Committee on Senate Reform [official website] to support the legislation.

Although the Conservative Party has threatened to constitutionally abolish the Senate if the bills do not pass, the bills were first introduced in the House of Commons [official website] with the hope that opposition party support would influence the Senate to approve the reforms. CBC News has more.






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Massachusetts governor signs bill extending protection of abortion clinics
Deirdre Jurand on November 13, 2007 6:19 PM ET

[JURIST] Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick [official profile] on Tuesday signed a bill [press release] which mandates that abortion clinic protesters stand no closer than 35 feet from entrances of reproductive health care facilities. The new law [SB 1353 text], now one of the nation's strictest on clinic protesters, amends Massachusetts' 2000 floating buffer-zone law [text], which established specific restrictions in the 18-foot radius around reproductive health care facility entrances. The restrictions within that zone disallowed people from knowingly coming within six feet of other people without their consent. Protesters reportedly violated the law frequently, but the difficulty of proving consent consistently prevented successful prosecution. The state legislature designed the new fixed-zone law, which passed through the House 122-28 and through the Senate unanimously, to protect both the safety of patients and health care providers and the protesters' freedom of expression.

The nation's only tougher fixed-zone bill is the 36-foot buffer zone around a single clinic in Melbourne, Fla. A handful of other clinics and cities, as well as Montana and Colorado, also have buffer-zone laws, but Massachusetts' move to the 35-foot fixed zone still gives the state one of the nation's strongest buffer-zone laws. State lawmakers began campaigning [Globe report] for clinic zone laws in 1994 after a man killed two people and wounded five after opening fire in reproductive health clinics outside Boston. The state passed the floating buffer zone law in 2000, and the law was challenged the next year. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court [official website] ruled that buffer zones did not violate the First Amendment right to free speech and peaceful assembly. Reuters has more.






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UN SG nominating Brammertz as next ICTY prosecutor
Devin Montgomery on November 13, 2007 6:05 PM ET

[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has told the UN Security Council that he is nominating Serge Brammertz to replace Carla Del Ponte [official profiles] as the next chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website]. Brammertz is currently serving as the head of a UN probe into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri [JURIST news archive] and formerly served as the deputy prosecutor of the International Criminal Court before resigning [JURIST report] in June. Ban's letter to the Security Council, made public Tuesday, confirms expectations that Brammertz would take over at the end of Del Ponte's term, though several ICTY lawyers had urged Ban [JURIST reports] to promote current ICTY deputy prosecutor David Tolbert to the position. Reuters has more.

Del Ponte, a former Swiss attorney general, has served two four-year terms as the ICTY chief prosecutor. The United Nations Security Council has extended [press release] her term until December 31. Del Ponte was initially expected to step down in September [JURIST report], but in June she said she would stay until the end of the year while the UN chooses her replacement. Established in 1993 to as an ad hoc court to prosecute war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia, the ICTY [JURIST news archive] is currently scheduled to complete its work by 2010.






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Cluster munitions conference ends without agreement on binding ban
Caitlin Price on November 13, 2007 4:53 PM ET

[JURIST] A week-long meeting of parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) [PDF text] concluded Tuesday without delegates reaching an agreement on a legally binding ban on cluster munitions [FAS backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Representatives from 102 nations did agree to negotiate a new pact regarding "the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions," but failed to agree on a complete ban. Frustrated by the "weak" conclusion, Human Rights Watch official Steve Goose said that support for the so-called "Oslo Process" [conference materials; JURIST report] is the best hope for a ban on cluster munitions in 2008. AP has more.

Cluster munitions have been used by at least 23 countries; at least 34 nations have produced more than 200 different types of cluster munitions. In June, the US said it will not support a cluster munitions ban [JURIST report] but that it is open to negotiations to reduce the humanitarian impact by requiring the increased reliability, accuracy and visibility of unexploded munitions. In February, 46 of 49 countries participating in the two-day Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions agreed to an action plan to develop a new international treaty [press release] to ban the use of cluster munitions by 2008. Romania, Poland and Japan refused to sign the Oslo Declaration [PDF text]. The United States, Russia, Israel, and China chose not to attend the conference. Cluster munitions are considered by many to be inaccurate weapons designed to spread damage indiscriminately and could therefore be considered illegal [CMC backgrounder] under multiple provisions of Protocol I [text] of the Geneva Conventions [ICRC materials].






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US Army memo reconfirms ban on waterboarding as interrogation technique
Caitlin Price on November 13, 2007 3:57 PM ET

[JURIST] The US Army [official website] has issued a statement to top personnel reiterating the Army's ban on waterboarding [JURIST news archive] as an interrogation technique, AP reported Tuesday. The Army officially banned the use of waterboarding in September 2006 with the release of the interrogation guide Field Manual 2-22.3 [PDF text; press release], which deemed it a "prohibited action." The November 6 "strategic communication hot topic" was released to top Army officers "to eliminate any confusion that may have arisen as a result of recent public discourse on the subject" and to ensure that the army's stance against waterboarding was clear. AP has more.

Waterboarding became a key issue in the confirmation of newly appointed US Attorney General Michael Mukasey [WH profile; JURIST news archive] when he refused to say that the practice constitutes torture. Much of the opposition to Mukasey's nomination [JURIST report] centered on this stance. Last week, a former Navy interrogation instructor and counter-terrorism intelligence specialist told a US House of Representatives subcommittee that waterboarding "is torture and should be banned" [JURIST report].






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No plea from US Marine at Haditha killings arraignment
Caitlin Price on November 13, 2007 3:10 PM ET

[JURIST] A US Marine declined to enter a plea at his Tuesday arraignment [USMC press release] on charges stemming from the killings of 24 Iraqi citizens in Haditha [USMC timeline; JURIST news archive] in November 2005. Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum [advocacy profile] faces a maximum of 19 years in prison if found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, and aggravated assault charges. Lt. Gen. James Mattis decided not to charge Tatum with murder in October following a recommendation [JURIST reports] by investigating officer Lt. Col. Paul Ware, who said that that Tatum fired on civilians "not to exact revenge and commit murder" but "because of his training and the circumstances he was placed in." Tatum's lawyers said he will plead not guilty at his March 28 trial. Reuters has more.

Tatum served in Haditha under Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani [JURIST news archive], who faces court-martial for dereliction of duty and violation of a lawful order based on the allegations that he failed to properly investigate shootings; he will be arraigned [USMC press release] on Friday. Chessani, the former commander of the Third Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment [official website], did not order an immediate investigation into the deaths because he did not suspect any wrongdoing. In a sworn statement made to military investigators, Chessani said that he did not see any cause for alarm and that he believed at the time that killings followed a complex attack by insurgents attempting to lure Marines into shooting into homes where civilians were located. It has been alleged that the civilians were murdered in cold blood [JURIST report], but Chessani said that when he first learned of allegations that the civilians were killed intentionally he thought that the claims were baseless. Related charges [text] against four servicemen have been dropped.






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Former Canada prosecutor tapped to head UN Hariri investigation
Alexis Unkovic on November 13, 2007 2:49 PM ET

[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] has nominated former Canadian Deputy Attorney General Daniel Bellemare [Ya Libnan profile] to serve as the commissioner of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) [authorizing resolution; UN materials], a UN spokesperson said Tuesday. If approved, Bellemare will head the UN investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri [JURIST news archive]. He will replace Serge Brammertz [official profile], whom Ban nominated Tuesday to replace Carla Del Ponte [official profile] as the next chief prosecutor [JURIST report] for the International Criminal Tribunal of the former Yugoslavia. Reuters has more. The UN News Centre has additional coverage.

The UN Security Council unilaterally established a tribunal [JURIST report] in May to investigate and try suspects in the Hariri case as well as in 17 other attempted and successful political assassinations in Lebanon. The tribunal will eventually take over the commission's work.






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Two leading Myanmar dissidents taken into custody: opposition groups
Alexis Unkovic on November 13, 2007 2:01 PM ET

[JURIST] Officials in Myanmar [JURIST news archive] arrested prominent labor rights activist Suu Suu Nway [AHRC materials] Tuesday, according to a representative for the National League for Democracy-Liberated Area Myanmar in Thailand. An official speaking on condition of anonymity told AP that Nway was detained Tuesday when she attempted to post a leaflet near the hotel of visiting UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Paulo Sergio Pinheiro [official profile]. Pinheiro began his investigation Monday into the Myanmar military government's crackdown on protesters [JURIST reports].

Also Tuesday, dissidents reported that Myanmar officials have arrested protester U Gambria, the pseudonym for one of the leaders of the All Burma Monks Alliance, who authored an article [text] published in the Washington Post November 4. It is unclear when exactly U Gambria was detained. The military crackdown on protests started in September when Myanmar security officers arrested hundreds of Buddhist monks demonstrating against rising fuel prices and human rights abuses by the military regime. Protests only subsided when junta troops effectively locked down Myanmar's major cities. According to government reports, at least 10 people were killed when government soldiers shot into protesting crowds [JURIST report]. The government has said that some 3,000 people were arrested for participating in the protests. AP has more.






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Yahoo! settles lawsuit brought by China journalists for abetting torture
Alexis Unkovic on November 13, 2007 1:14 PM ET

[JURIST] Yahoo! Inc. [corporate website] agreed Tuesday to settle a lawsuit [case materials; JURIST report] filed in US federal court alleging that the Internet giant aided and abetted human rights violations committed by the Chinese government by providing Chinese officials with information, including e-mail records and user ID numbers, that helped them to identify pro-democracy activists in violation of the Torture Victim Protection Act and the Alien Tort Statute [texts]. The World Organization for Human Rights USA [advocacy website] filed the lawsuit on behalf of imprisoned Internet activists Wang Xiaoning [HRIC profile, PDF], Wang's wife Yu Ling, and journalist Shi Tao [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the Northern District of California in April 2007. The parties did not disclose the terms of the settlement, but the advocacy group indicated [press release] Tuesday that some of the key issues in the settlement discussions included "Yahoo's efforts to secure the release of Shi Tao and Wang Xiaoning from prison, considerations regarding future law enforcement requests for identifying Internet user information, and efforts to meet the humanitarian needs of those who have been unlawfully detained as a result of Yahoo's actions."

Last week, Yahoo Chief Executive Jerry Yang and General Counsel Michael Callahan [written testimonies, PDF] defended [JURIST report] Yahoo's behavior in providing information to the Chinese government at a hearing [HCFA materials; JURIST report] before the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs [official website], saying that the company could not ask local employees in China to refuse to comply with lawful government demands even if Yahoo disagreed with the Chinese action. AP has more.






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Supreme Court agrees to hear paralegal fees case
James M Yoch Jr on November 13, 2007 12:02 PM ET

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday granted certiorari in Richlin Security Service v. Chertoff (06-1717) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], a case where the Court will consider whether paralegal services can be recovered at the market rate when determining the payment of attorneys' fees. The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled [opinion, PDF] that the Equal Access to Justice Act [text] permits only the reimbursement of paralegal services as the cost of the expense to the attorneys rather than as fees at the market rate. A decision in this case would resolve a split among the circuit courts of appeal. SCOTUSblog has more.

Among the cases denied certiorari by the Supreme Court on Tuesday is Belbacha v. Bush (07-173) [docket], in which the petitioner, an Algerian citizen and Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee, requested emergency relief to block his transfer by the US government to Algeria. Ahmed Belbacha [BBC profile] fears torture by Algerian officials and retribution by terrorists if he is returned to his home country. The Court, however, refused to hear his appeal, which would have come directly from the US District Court for the District of Columbia. In August, the Supreme Court also denied [JURIST report] Belbacha's emergency application for a stay [PDF text; SCOTUSblog report] after the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit lifted its stay [order, PDF] on Belbacha's transfer. Belbacha's request for an original writ of habeas corpus has also been rejected by the Supreme Court. AP has