[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Sunday urged Sudan [press release] to end its crackdown against political and cultural groups. In December Sudanese authorities shut down four organizations in Khartoum that promoted cultural diversity, democracy and human rights. The government shut down these groups based on alleged national security concerns. In the press release, HRW's Africa director Daniel Bekele [official profile] declared that the crackdown is detrimental to human rights and does not advance any legitimate governmental purpose:
Sudan should reverse its draconian steps against civil society groups, and international actors should publicly condemn such measures. The government-led campaign against Sudanese civil society organizations seems designed to stifle diversity, human rights, and dialogue on issues of critical importance, rather than to serve any legitimate purpose.
HRW also accused Sudan's government of intimidating protesters and stifling freedom of the press.
[JURIST] Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Sunday signed an order to remove Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake [official profile] from office for alleged corruption and bribery. The president's action comes just two days after the Sri Lankan Parliament [official website] voted [JURIST report] with an overwhelming majority to impeach the chief justice and drafted an official motion [materials] urging the president to remove the Chief Justice. The president said in his order that he was in agreement with the parliament's request for Bandaranayake's removal, despite a recent Supreme Court ruling [JURIST report] that said impeachment would be illegal because parliament does not have the authority to investigate or impeach a senior judge. The removal order was delivered to Bandaranayake's residence on Sunday morning.
The parliament's investigation into the chief justice has been the center of controversy in Sri Lanka and has been criticized by rights groups. Earlier this month, the UN expressed concern [JURIST report] over the chief justice's impeachment proceedings, saying they were "extremely politicized and characterized by lack of transparency, lack of clarity in the proceedings, as well as lack of respect for the fundamental guarantees of due process and fair trial." In December, Bandaranayake appealed a guilty verdict [JURIST reports] made against her earlier that month by a parliamentary committee on three charges of misconduct. The charges she was found guilty of dealt with conflict of interest, claiming of assets for tax assessment purposes and bias in handling a case against her husband.
[JURIST] An Egyptian appeals judge on Sunday overturned former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] conviction and life sentence and ordered a retrial for the former president on the charge of failure to prevent the killing of more than 800 protestors last year. The judge did not give his reasons [AP report] for ordering the new trial, but the reasons are expected to be released later. A retrial was anticipated after the trial judge made it clear during the trial in June that the prosecution lacked hard evidence to support the conviction. Sunday's order also overturned the conviction of former Security Chief Habib el-Adli for the same charges and ordered a retrial for him as well. It also demanded a re-trial of six of Mubarak's aides who were acquitted on charges relating to the same incident and overturned a not-guilty verdict for Mubarak's two sons and his associate Hussein Salem for corruption charges. The dates for the retrials have not been determined yet.
Egyptian prosecutors in June revealed plans to appeal the verdict [JURIST report] in Mubarak's trial because they wanted to overturn the acquittals of his sons and associates. Under Egyptian law, they were forced to appeal the entire verdict [AP report] in order to appeal any part of it. The original verdict [JURIST report] was announced in June after a 10 month trial, and gave a life sentence to both Mubarak and el-Adli. The June verdict marked the first time a former Arab leader had been held accountable for his actions in a court of law. The lead prosecutor in the case had asked for the death penalty [JURIST report] for Mubarak at the conclusion of his trial in February.
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