[JURIST] Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula said Thursday that Kenya will no longer accept Somalian pirate cases [JURIST news archive] to be tried in its courts. Wetangula stated that the large number of Somalian pirate cases referred to Kenya has overburdened [KBC report] the country's judicial system and noted that the international community has not followed through [BBC report] on its promises to support the country in adjudicating these cases. Additionally, Attorney General Amos Wako [official profile] noted the lack of commitment [Capital News report] by other countries in taking on piracy cases, leaving Kenya largely responsible.
In January, the International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau (IMB) [official website] reported that 2009 marked the worst year for maritime piracy [JURIST report] in six years. The information indicated that the total reported incidents of piracy reached 406, surpassing 400 for the first time since 2003. Earlier that month, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York filed a superseding indictment [JURIST report] against alleged Somali pirate Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, claiming that he led the takeover of two additional ships. Muse pleaded not guilty to the charges. In November, Somali judge Mohamed Abdi Aware, known for jailing suspected pirates, human traffickers, and Islamist insurgents, was shot dead [JURIST report] while leaving a mosque in the Puntland city of Bossaso.
[JURIST] The Obama administration issued new regulations Thursday tightening fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emission standards for new cars starting in 2012. The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) [official websites] issued [press release] a joint rule called the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) [text, PDF], which will require new cars to meet tougher standards by 2016. The CAFE standards will require [fact sheet, PDF] new automobiles to meet an estimated combined average mile per gallon (mpg) of 34.1 mpg and an estimated combined average emissions level of 250 grams of CO2 per mile by 2016. The standards will apply to cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles. The DOT and EPA estimate that over the lives of the 2016 model automobiles, the CAFE standards will save the average customer $3,000, will save the nation about 1.8 billion barrels of oil, and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about a billion tons. The DOT and EPA said the new standards are consistent with President Barack Obama's National Fuel Efficiency Policy [JURIST report] announced last may, "responding to the country's critical need to address global climate change and to reduce oil consumption."
In December, the EPA announced a finding that greenhouse gases threaten [JURIST report] public health and the environment. Those findings enabled the EPA to take steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act [text, PDF], which the Supreme Court ruled in 2007 gives the EPA authority [JURIST report] to regulate the emission of greenhouse gases by automobiles. In June, the EPA granted permission to California to enforce its own greenhouse gas emissions standards. California had been seeking permission [EPA materials] from the EPA to set its own vehicle emission and greenhouse gas standards since 2005. The request was initially denied [letter, PDF] in December 2007, on the grounds that the regulations were aimed at addressing global climate change and that California was limited to "address[ing] pollution problems that are local or regional." The EPA reconsidered [JURIST report] California's request last year after being directed [memorandum; JURIST report] by Obama to do so.
[JURIST] Nigeria authorities on Thursday charged 20 individuals in connection with the recent sectarian violence in Plateau state [official website] involving killing of Christian villagers [AP report] near the city of Jos. All 20 individuals have pleaded not guilty [Reuters report] to five counts of arson, terrorism, killing, maiming, and possession of dangerous weapons. A federal court in Jos ordered the suspects to remain in custody until their trial on April 15. More than 160 suspects have been arrested in connection with the murders and authorities have stated that several are set to face similar charges. Those convicted could face the death penalty.
Last month, 49 people, predominately Muslims, were charged with murder [JURIST report] for the sectarian violence. The attacks were apparently in retaliation for the January violence between Muslims and Christians that left more than 300, mostly Muslims, dead. The city of Jos is located in an area of central Nigeria, which divides the predominately Muslim northern part of the country from the primarily Christian south. Authorities have indicated that the area is being patrolled by security forces to prevent further violence. In February, Human Rights Watch urged [JURIST report] acting President Goodluck Jonathan [BBC profile] to to "tackle the culture of impunity" in Nigeria. While HRW has called on Jonathan directly, other rights groups have petitioned international authorities [JURIST report] to take action to prevent recurring rights abuses.
[JURIST] The UN International Labour Organization (ILO) [official website] on Wednesday reiterated [study, PDF; executive summary, PDF] its call on the international community to take a "rights based approach" to international migration. The group said that 90 percent of the migration that occurs is driven by the search for employment and that countries should seek to provide "conditions of freedom, dignity, equity and security," to migrant workers. It said that under the right conditions migrant workers, could provide benefits to both their countries of employment and origin, but that they currently face low wages, discrimination, and a lack of social or legal protection. The group touts its 2006 Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration [text, PDF] as a set of guidelines that governments should use to draft legislation protecting migrant workers.
[JURIST] Afghan President Hamid Karzai [official profile, JURIST news archive] on Thursday blamed foreign officials for the extensive irregularities that occurred during last year's disputed presidential election [JURIST news archive]. Though admitting that fraud was widespread, Karzai accused [Al Jazeera report] UN and EU representatives, particularly former deputy head of the UN-backed mission Peter Galbraith [official profile], of attempting to influence vote counts and disseminating false information to media outlets in an effort to slander his campaign. He further alleged that electoral officials were offered bribes [AFP report] by embassy representatives, though he did not specify which embassies were involved. Both the UN and EU declined to comment on the accusations.
On Wednesday, the lower house of the Afghan Parliament rejected [press release] Karzai's proposal to require that all appointees to the UN-supported Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) [official website] be of Afghan citizenship. In November, Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC) [official website] declared Karzai the winner [JURIST report] of the election after challenger Abdullah Abdullah [BBC profile] withdrew from the runoff election due to the his belief that the upcoming vote would not be free or fair. Karzai was originally declared to have secured over half the vote, avoiding a runoff, but this was challenged by the EEC in October when it invalidated [JURIST report] a significant portion of Karzai's vote due to findings of fraud at 210 polling stations. Soon after the election was held in August, Abdullah alleged widespread voter fraud [JURIST report], filing more than 100 complaints with the ECC alleging ballot stuffing, inflated vote counts, and intimidation at the polls by Karzai supporters.
[JURIST] International Criminal Court [official website] chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] on Thursday announced his plans [statement] to proceed with the investigation of those responsible for the violence following the 2007 Kenyan presidential election [JURIST new archive]. Moreno-Ocampo previously submitted a list of 20 suspects [JURIST report] to the ICC, including senior political and business leaders, but he stated that this list is "not binding." The prosecutor said he expects there to be two cases, each involving one to three people whom he will determine after reviewing the evidence to be the most responsible. He called upon all Kenyans to assist in the investigation, stating:
I will engage in this process with the Kenyans, with all the communities. This Court is their Court. Kenyan leaders - women, youth, tribal, judicial, political, religious, all have a role to play. I want to understand them and analyze how my office and all Kenyans can work together to prevent of [sic] future violence. The 50th anniversary of Kenya's independence is coming, it will be a historic opportunity to show an example of how one country overcomes violence.
Moreno-Ocampo stated that he plans to travel to Kenya in May to interview witnesses and made assurances that those witnesses will be protected from being exposed. He plans to "finalize the bulk of the investigation" during the remainder of this year.
On Wednesday, the ICC granted [JURIST report] Moreno-Ocampo's request to proceed with a formal investigation of the post-election violence. His request marked the first time Moreno-Ocampo used his proprio motu power, which allows him to initiate formal investigations upon authorization by the Pre-Trial Chamber. The allegations of fraud [JURIST report] following the 2007 elections led to violence that caused the deaths of more than 1,000 people and displacement of 500,000 others.
[JURIST] The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Wednesday denied [judgment, PDF] an appeal by former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic [case materials; JURIST news archive] to postpone his war crimes trial. Karadzic appealed the trial date last month, claiming a February court ruling that increased the remuneration for his defense lawyers also gave him extra time to prepare for his case. Karadzic had claimed that he needed more time to read through more than 400,000 pages of documents turned over by the prosecution. In rejecting his argument, the appeals chamber of the ICTY said:
[We] are satisfied that the trial chamber took into account all the relevant factors including the February 2010 decision on the staffing of Karadzic's defense team and possible remedies for the period when his team was understaffed. As a result, the Trial Chamber made no error in assessing that further postponement of the trial was not justified. Karadzic has failed to demonstrate that the Trial Chambers abused its discretion in reaching this conclusion.
The Appeals Chamber ordered that the trial resume on April 13 [press release], while Karadzic had requested that proceedings be delayed until June 17.
The ICTY recently heard opening statements [JURIST report] in Karadzic's war crimes trial on charges related to crimes committed during the 1992-1995 Bosnian conflict. Karadzic claims that attacks against Bosnian Muslims were "staged," denying [JURIST reports] any involvement in war crimes allegedly committed during the 1992-1995 Bosnian conflict. In February, Karadzic appeared before the ICTY seeking access to documents [JURIST report] he claimed showed evidence of weapons smuggling to Bosnian Muslims. Also in February, the ICTY rejected [JURIST report] Karadzic's imposition of a court-appointed defense lawyer, claiming the right to legal assistance of his own choosing. Karadzic is defending himself against 11 counts [amended indictment, PDF], including genocide and murder.
[JURIST] A judge in the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] granted partial summary judgment [opinion, PDF] Wednesday in favor of an Islamic charity that claimed the federal government illegally wiretapped its conversations without a warrant. In its suit [JURIST report; EFF materials], the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation [JURIST news archive] asked the court to admit a confidential National Security Agency (NSA) [official website] document accidentally sent to its lawyers to show that the government had illegally spied on the group. Judge Vaughn Walker denied this request and ruled instead that non-confidential information established that the government had illegally wiretapped conversations between the group and overseas parties in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) [text; JURIST news archive]. The court held that the government could not use the state secrets privilege [JURIST news archive] to refuse to answer whether it had recorded conversations without a FISA warrant. The court gave the charity until April 16 to decide whether it wants to proceed with or dismiss remaining claims against the government.
Al-Haramain filed a motion [JURIST report] for partial summary judgment on the FISA claim last July. In February 2009, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] affirmed the district court's ruling [JURIST report] denying a government appeal to keep the NSA call log secret, despite its accidental release to Al-Haramain in 2004. The call log had been deemed a state secret [JURIST report], but the decision required the government to allow the foundation to view the document. JURIST contributor Victor Comras said that Walker had done a "truly remarkable job" balancing national security and due process [JURIST comment] in the case. Walker had previously dismissed the suit [JURIST report], finding that Al-Haramain lacked a cause of action because the state secrets privilege trumped procedural requirements under FISA.
I want to emphasize that this announcement is part of a broader strategy that will move us from an economy that runs on fossil fuels and foreign oil to one that relies on homegrown fuels and clean energy. And the only way this transition will succeed is if it strengthens our economy in the short term and the long term. To fail to recognize this reality would be a mistake.
Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA) [official website], Chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, opposed the plan [press release], arguing that "[e]nabling more drilling, when these sources have yet to be exhausted, only feeds our economic dependence on fossil fuels when we should be moving more aggressively to cleaner, sustainable sources of energy."
Last year, a panel for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] vacated [JURIST report] a Bush-era program that would have allowed drilling off the coast of Alaska because the Department of the Interior (DOI) [official website] had failed to carry out required studies. The ruling followed plans [JURIST report] by the Obama administration to reverse offshore drilling policies established by former president George W. Bush [JURIST news archive] at the end of his presidency. The Obama administration planned to extend the public comment period on the proposed five-year plan for offshore oil and gas development by 180 days, assembling a detailed report from DOI agencies on conventional and renewable offshore energy resources, holding four regional conferences to review these findings, and expediting renewable energy rule making.
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