[JURIST] In Tuesday's international brief, a report submitted to the UN Human Rights Commission [official website] by UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene has called on Germany and the EU to increase efforts to ban political groups based on racist, xenophobic, or hate policies. Diene cited the recent increase in popular support in Germany for extremist political parties like the National Democratic Party [official website in German], which advocates racial supremacy. The EU had already been engaged in a debate on neo-Nazi paraphenalia and symbols but recently dropped a proposal for a ban on Nazi symbols after members states could not agree on the exact symbols to be banned [JURIST report]. Concern has been expressed that bans on symbols and political parties would represent infringments on rights to expression and association guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights [official text]. Deutsche-Welle has local coverage.
In other international legal news …
- In a report released Monday, US-based NGO Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] said that Zimbabwe [government website] has failed to meet guidelines set to ensure free and fair elections in the nation's upcoming March 31 natioanl poll. HRW alleged that Zimbabwe has not met the guidelines set out by the South African Development Community [official electoral website] to ensure the validity of the upcoming elections, and challenged the regional organization to take notice of all the activity leading up to the vote, not just the government's presence in the week prior. HRW details specific instances of intimidation and persecution of opposition groups by the government and the ruling Zanu PF [official website] political party. HRW also alleged that the newly established Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was neither independent nor impartial. HRW concluded that the events that already occurred in Zimbabwe create a significant likelihood that the March 31 elections will not be free and fair. Read HRW's official report. ZimOnline has local coverage.
- The Royal Government of Nepal [official website] issued a diplomatic note to foreign missions in Nepal Monday, asking them to abide by the terms and limits of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations [official text]. The note, sent to all foreign missions in Nepal, including the American [embassy website] and Indian [embassy website] diplomatic missions, requested all foreign officials to follow the terms of the treaty, which requires that foreign diplomats inform the central government before meeting with any political party leader. The note is seen as an criticism of many nations' refusal to meet with officials from the Royal government, instead meeting with pro-democracy leaders. The note comes just a few days after the US and India jointly asked Pakistan and China to not respond to a call for military aid [Indian Express report] by Vice-chairman of the Council of Ministers Tulsi Giri. All military supplies to the country were cut off after the February 1 royal assumption of power [JURIST report]. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Nepal [JURIST Country news archive]. Kantipur Online has local coverage.
- A report from the UN Board of Auditors [official website] released Monday detailed a $500,000 abuse of phone privileges by members of the UN peacekeeping force in Eritrea and Ethiopia [UN mission website] during 2003 and 2004. The report identified that over $500,000 (USD) was defrauded from the United Nations by the peacekeepers as they used stolen personal identity codes or abused a grace period to make personal telephone calls. Normally, UN peacekeepers have to pay for personal calls while on mission, the UN used to provide a one minute grace period to ensure that connections were made. Peacekeepers abused the grace period, with phone records showing as many as 100 consecutive phone calls, all under one minute in length. The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations [official website] decided that there would be too much expense in trying to track down the offenders, and has restricted the issuance of personal identity codes capable of making phone calls, and cut the grace period for personal calls to 30 seconds. Reuters has more.