[JURIST] Israel's coalition government on Sunday approved a draft bill that would require the government to submit any proposed peace deal with Palestinians to voters for approval by referendum. The bill [Times of Israel report] would exist as Basic Law in the country, which preserves basic rights and presides over other laws. Although a similar measure was passed in 2010, it was not a Basic Law and thus did not possess the same weight as the present bill would. A paper from a cabinet briefing expressed the government's intention to prioritize passage of the bill because of its importance and urgency. It is expected to go before the Knesset [official website] on Wednesday for a first reading and that it will be voted on by next week.
Conflicts between Israel and Palestine have repeatedly raised concerns of possible human rights violations. In March a UN rights experts called for Israel to cease all settlement activity and immediately withdraw settlers [JURIST report] from Palestinian territories due to the possibility of human rights abuses. The UN in December called on Israel to implement and support [JURIST report] the conflict-ending cease fire agreement with Palestinians in Gaza. Months earlier, Amnesty International [advocacy website] had urged Israel to investigate [JURIST report] the alleged mistreatment of two Palestinian prisoners currently on hunger strike.
[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called Sunday for an end to the violence [press release] in Egypt. Supporters of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and former president Mohamed Morsi [JURIST news archive] refused to clear the streets on Sunday despite mass killings by Egyptian security forces. Egypt's ambulance service reported that 72 people were killed [Reuters report] during violent outbreaks at a vigil on Saturday that was supported by the Muslim Brotherhood. Members of the Brotherhood claim that the military is committing violent massacres in an attempt to return to the era of the corrupt, murderous security and intelligence state. The country's Interior Ministry, however has denied reports that police opened fire on the crowds and a prosecutor has launched an investigation into the incidents. These increased tensions come just weeks after Egyptian authorities ordered the arrest [JURIST report] of Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Mohammed Badie.
Although Egypt has faced political unrest since the Egyptian Revolution [JURIST backgrounder] began over two years ago, the conflict peaked this month in the wake of new developments. The country's Interior Minister announced on Saturday that supporters of Morsi would be dispersed "as soon as possible." That same day, the UN urged the Egyptian government to ensure the application of law and order and to promote safety and security in dealing with protesters. The country's interim government also caused controversy earlier this month when it shut down [JURIST report] four Islamist-run television stations that it viewed as sympathetic to Morsi and his supporters. The country's government is currently being headed Chairman of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt, Adly Mansour [BBC profile], who took the oath [JURIST report] to become the interim head of state days after the Egyptian military deposed [JURIST report] Morsi and suspended the nation's constitution in early July.
[JURIST] Illinois Governor Pat Quinn [official website] signed a bill [HB 2148 text, PDF] on Saturday making Illinois the eighteenth state to allow online voter registration. The bill, which is set to take effect in July of next year, will allow anyone with a valid driver's license or state identification card to register to vote online. It is an attempt to reduce processing times, save money and appeal to younger voters who are more tech savvy and used to doing everything online. The bill also includes security measures to prevent fraudulent registration [Chicago Tribune report], including requiring each online registrant to enter the date his or her identification card was issued as well as the last four digits of his or her social security number. Supporters of the bill hope that the ease of registering will increase the number of voters and plan to have the system up and running before the March primary election.
Voter registration and prevention of voter fraud has been a controversial issue in recent years. Last month, the US Supreme Court struck down [JURIST report] an Arizona law that required proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. In August of last year the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida [official website] struck down [JURIST report] a portion of a voter registration law that shortened the time allowed for voter registration groups to turn in registration forms to the state. Earlier that month the Texas attorney general also appealed [JURIST report] a ruling from a district court that struck down its law that would have only allowed deputy registrars to register voters in their own counties. Michigan's governor vetoed a law [JURIST report] in July of last year that would have required voters to confirm their citizenship before voting and would have required voter registration groups to undergo specified training.
[JURIST] Following the country's parliamentary elections on Sunday, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) [official website, in Khmer] alleged in an email that an opposing party's claims of victory were incorrect due to poll irregularities. The CNRP claimed in its email [AFP report] that names disappeared from the electoral roll and that some voters were unable to vote because someone had previously used their ballot before they attempted to vote. The CNRP also claimed that suspicions were raised because the ink used for ballots was easily washed off. The long-standing Cambodian People's Party (CPP) won the election, taking 68 of 123 parliamentary seats. The CPP has yet to comment on its victory or respond to the CNRP's allegations.
The Cambodian government has recently come under criticism for its abuse of its political powers. Last month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called on Cambodia's donors to oppose a land titling campaign, alleging [JURIST report] that it lacks accountability and transparency and is prone to abuse. Last year, Dr. Mark Ellis, executive director of the International Bar Association (IBA) [official website], published the second in a series of reports examining the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website] and asserting [JURIST report] that the legitimacy of the ECCC has been undermined and that a criticism of the court's failure to meet international standards must be undertaken to ensure justice. Earlier that year the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also expressed concern [JURIST report] that recent restrictions on non-governmental organizations in the country may fundamentally affect freedoms and human rights.
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