[JURIST] In Tuesday's international brief, a UN report not yet released publicly has called for in-country courts martial of UN peacekeepers [official website] who are accused of sexual abuse, according to a UN official. The report, written by Jordanian UN ambassador Prince Zeid al Hussein, suggests that the courts martial occur in the country where the complaints were made. Currently UN peacekeepers are responsible to their home country, and often receive no discipline after a complaint is made. The UN is attempting to pro-actively address the serious problems evidenced by the allegations of sexual abuse against UN peacekeepers [JURIST report] in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. UN undersecretary-general for peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno [official profile] had previously suggested the same idea and had been rebuffed. UN officials believe the proposal's inclusion in Hussein's report show that it is gathering support. South Africa's News 24 has more.
In other international legal news …
- Sudanese Vice-President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha spoke Monday after a meeting with African Union [official website] commission chairman, Alpha Oumar Konare, reaffirming Sudan's committment to withdrawing its troops from Darfur this Friday. The withdraw of Sudan's military presence is one of the conditions to the continuation of talks between Sudan [government website] and the rebel forces in Darfur. The talks will be scheduled during the upcoming mini-summit in Cairo, Egypt on March 5 between the government and the rebels. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuting coverage on Sudan [JURIST Country news archive]. IRIN has the initial report.
- Prosecutor for the Special Court for Sierra Leone David M. Crane [official profile] informed UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan Monday that he will not be seeking reappointment to the office of prosecutor at the end of his current term in July. Crane was appointed in April 2002 and has issued 13 indictments in the worlds first hybrid tribunal. The Special Court for Sierra Leone [official website] is a joint operation between the UN and the national government of Sierra Leone [official website] to try those accused of serious human rights violations and war crimes committed during the country's violent civil war in the 1990's. According to the Statute of the Special Court [official text], only the UN Secretary-General can appoint an individual to the office of Prosecutor. The UN News Centre has more.
- In the country's first democratic vote in 12 years [JURIST report], the citizens of Burundi [government website in French] have approved the proposal for a new constitution that would divide power-sharing in the government between Burundi's two major ethnic groups: the Tutsi and the Hutu. 80% of the votes have been counted, and there is overwhelming approval for the proposed constitution. Initial reports estimate that nearly 88% of the country's 3.1 million voters turned out to vote, and nearly 90% voted 'yes'. Burundian President Domitien Ndayizeye [official profile in French] called the approval of the constitution an opportunity to open an "era of democracy" in the war-torn country. BBC News has more.