Friday, July 15, 2011
Radio Australia reports that Kamalesh Sharma, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, has said that talks have stagnated on restoring democracy in Fiji. As you might remember, Fiji was suspended from the commonwealth in 2009 following a military coup in that country. The military ruler, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has refused all pressures to hold elections and restore the government to civilian power. Mr. Sharma noted that instead of moving toward democracy, "the abrogation of the constitution, the emergency order, and the decision making format which now avails by decree - all this has actually put the clock back." Mr Sharma was in the Pacific region this week to discuss ways the Commonwealth can strengthen its partnership with the nations of Samoa and Tonga.
Hat tip to the East-West Center and Radio Australia. We extend our continued concern for the lawyers and people of Fiji.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
The General Assembly today admitted the Republic of South Sudan as the 193rd member of the United Nations, welcoming the newly independent country to the community of nations.
South Sudan’s independence from the rest of Sudan is the result of the January 2011 referendum held under the terms of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the decades-long civil war between the North and the South.
“At this moment… in this place… the world gathers to say in one voice: Welcome, South Sudan. Welcome to the community of nations,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said after the Assembly adopted a resolution, by acclamation, to admit Africa’s newest country.
Mr. Ban, who was among the UN dignitaries who attended the independence ceremony in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, last Saturday, pledged the world body’s assistance as the country shapes its future. “The commitment of all Member States will be essential as South Sudan moves forward,” he stated.
“Together, let us say to the citizens of our newest Member State: You now sit with us. We stand with you.”
Assembly President Joseph Deiss said today marks a “historic” moment for Africa and for the world community.
“Today we are firmly entrenching South Sudan in the community of nations in the same way as other Member States with the same rights and responsibilities. The universality of the United Nations and the values that are enshrined in its Charter are thereby enhanced,” he stated.
“I am confident that South Sudan will contribute to promote the objectives of security, peace, prosperity, friendship and cooperation between peoples as they are promoted by the United Nations, and this for the good of the people of South Sudan, for the good of the region and for the entire African continent.”
Speaking on behalf of South Sudan, Vice President Riek Machar said he was “honoured and humbled” to stand before Member States to convey the gratitude of his Government and people to the Assembly for admitting the new nation to membership in the UN.
He paid tribute to all those who participated in the long struggle for South Sudan’s liberation. “That struggle cost our people millions of lives and untold suffering. Their sacrifices will not be forgotten.”
Mr. Machar also pledged that his country will work to foster peace in its region, while building a strong and viable nation at home.
“When we started our journey we could hardly imagine that the road would lead us to this point, however much we may have hoped for it. Now, we must move forward together to fulfil our people’s aspirations.”
As South Sudan’s flag was hoisted at UN Headquarters, Mr. Ban pledged that the world body will work with the country to realize all the hopes and dreams the flag represents. “Like your flag, let us rise. Let us rise, together, to the challenge.”
The latest country to join the world body had until now been Montenegro, which became the 192nd UN Member State on 28 June 2006, just weeks after it gained its independence from Serbia.
(UN Press Release)
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights today welcomed Senegal’s decision not to repatriate former dictator Hissène Habré to Chad, but said that he should not be left to live with impunity in Senegal.
Navi Pillay had called for a stop to his repatriation to Chad over the weekend because she was not satisfied that the conditions for security and fair trial were guaranteed and because there appeared to be a real risk that he would be tortured if he were to be returned, Rupert Colville, the spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told a news briefing in Geneva.
“Nevertheless, the High Commissioner stresses that this should not simply mean a return to the status quo, with Habré continuing to live with impunity in Senegal, as he has done for the past 20 years,” Mr. Colville said. “It is important that rapid and concrete progress is made by Senegal to prosecute or extradite Habré to a country willing to conduct a fair trial.”
“This has been the High Commissioner’s position all along. It is also the position of the African Union (AU), as well of much of the rest of the international community. It is a violation of international law to shelter a person who has committed torture or other crimes against humanity, without prosecuting or extraditing him,” he said.
Mr. Habré ruled Chad from 1982 to 1990, when he was overthrown and went into exile in Senegal. It is alleged that during his rule thousands of Chadians were tortured and unlawful killings and other serious human rights violations took place.
Mr. Colville pointed out that at the recently concluded summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, the AU called on Senegal to prosecute or extradite Habré to any other country willing to try him. So far the only country that has indicated a willingness to put him on trial is Belgium, he added.
(UN Press Release)
The International Law Students Association (ILSA) posted an advertisement for an executive director position. Click here to learn more at http://www.ilsa.org/about/opportunities/EDsearch.php. ILSA is the group that organizes the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition along with many other activities relating to international law.
Monday, July 11, 2011
The Lavender Law Conference and Career Fair being held this year in Los Angeles (from September 8-10) includes this year a Junior Scholar's Forum. For those of you writing on issues relating to sexual orientation (including gender identity) from an international or comparative law perspective, this forum gives you an opportunity to present your work to an audience working in the field. To submit a proposal for consideration, please send it to <<scholars [at] lgbtbar.org>> with a copy to Professor Elizabeth Glazer at Hofstra University <<elizabeth.glazer [at] hofstra.edu>>. In both of those emails, replace the [at] with a @. The deadline for submissions is August 1, 2011.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Friday, July 8, 2011
The International Court of Justice announced that it will deliver its decision on Monday on Cambodia's request for provisional measures in the case concerning the Request for Interpretation of the 1962 Judgment in the Case Concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand).
The Court of Appeal of the Hague ruled on July 5, 2011 that the Netherlands had acted unlawfully and is liable for evicting Bosnian nationals from the compound of Dutchbat in Srebrenica in July 1995. Individuals removed by the Dutch were later killed by Bosnian Serbs, as part of what the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice later found to be acts of genocide.
André Nollkaemper, a professor of public international law at the University of Amsterdam Faculty of Law, has shared with us a link to his analysis of the new judgment on the liability of the Netherlands in connection to events in Srebrenica. His analysis of the case is particularly important as the Dutch court judgment itself is not available in English. He notes that the decision (unless overturned by the Netherlands Supreme Court) will be "a groundbreaking ruling on the possibility of dual attribution of an act (or omission) to the United Nations (UN) and a troop contributing state . . . ." Click here to read the analysis of the new court decision.
Hat tip to Prof. André Nollkaemper
The United Kingdom's Bribery Act enters into effect today. Its provisions are broader than the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. If you teach international law or international business transactions, be sure to update your lecture notes! Click here for more information about the UK Bribery Act.
Egypt Charges Former Mubarak Officials with Crimes Relating to Attacks on Demonstrators in Tahrir Square
The New York Times reports that more than two dozen former officials and allies of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak were charged this week with murder, attempted murder, and terrorism for organizing attacks on demonstrators in Tahrir (Liberation) Square during the 18-day revolution that began on January 25. The New York Times report also noted that public anger has been rising over the slow pace of holding authorities accountable for the killings of more than 840 people during the revolt. Demonstrations have continued in Tahrir Square to press for prosecutions and other demands. (mew)
The New York Times reports that more than two dozen former officials and allies of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak were charged this week with murder, attempted murder, and terrorism for organizing attacks on demonstrators in Tahrir (Liberation) Square during the 18-day revolution that began on January 25. The New York Times report also noted that public anger has been rising over the slow pace of holding authorities accountable for the killings of more than 840 people during the revolt. Demonstrations have continued in Tahrir Square to press for prosecutions and other demands.
U.S. Supreme Court Denies Stay. Mexican National Executed in Texas. Another U.S. Violation of the VCCR
The U.S. Supreme Court denied a request yesterday to stay the execution of Humberto Leal Garcia, a national of Mexico who had been convicted of murder. He had not been advised of his rights under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR), which requires foreign nationals who are arrested to detained to be told that they have the right to inform their consulates of their arrest or detention.
The Governor of Texas ignored pleas from the White House and from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to stay the execution. Humberto Leal Garcia was executed on Thursday afternoon in Texas, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a motion to stay his execution. The decision was 5-4.
The majority decision was unsigned but I suspect it may have been authored by Justice Scalia, to whom the petition for a stay was directed. It essentially held that the man had no enforceable rights under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and that the prospect of pending congressional legislation to enforce the decision of the International Court of Justice in Avena was too remote.
Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the dissenting opinion with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. The dissent noted that Click here to read the majority and dissenting opinions.
Mr. Leal Garcia was represented by Professor Sandra Babcock of the Northwestern University School of Law. Click here for more information about the case.
On Saturday South Sudan will become the world's newest nation and the 54th state in Africa. Click here for some general history and information about the country. Click here for information about some of the challenges it faces.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
President Obama, in accordance with Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. § 1622(d)), extended the national emergency with respect to North Korea for another year. See FR37237 for more information on North Korea. He also continued the national emergency with respect to the Western Balkans. See FR37239 for more information on the Western Balkans.
Hat tip to the ABA Government Affairs Office
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has appealed to the Governor of Texas to commute the death sentence of a Mexican national scheduled to be executed for murder.
The plea from Navi Pillay was also supported by two UN rights experts who have urged the US Government to stop the execution for the same reason: the convicted murderer was not granted access to a Mexican consular official at the time of his arrest.
Ms. Pillay wrote directly to Texas Governor Rick Perry asking him to order a life sentence for Humberto Leal Garcia, who was condemned to death for the 1994 murder of a 16-year-old girl, according to Rupert Colville, a spokesperson for OHCHR.
“Over and above the normal UN position opposing the death penalty, this case raises particular concerns, as Mr. Leal Garcia was not granted consular access, which, as a foreign national, is his right under Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations,” Mr. Colville said.
“The lack of consular assistance and advice raises concerns about whether or not Mr. Leal Garcia’s right to a fair trial was fully upheld,” he said.
“We understand that Mr. Leal Garcia is due to be executed next Thursday, 7 July, but that the Governor of Texas has the power to commute the sentence to life imprisonment. The High Commissioner has written to him directly requesting him to do so.”
The spokesperson said that the case also “raises questions” regarding compliance with a 2004 International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling that the US breached its obligations under an international convention to 51 Mexicans on death row in US jails when it did not inform them of their right to contact their consular representatives “without delay” after their arrests.
In that judgment the ICJ ruled that, as a remedy for the violations of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the US must provide “review and reconsideration” of Mr. Leal Garcia’s conviction and sentence, Mr. Colville said.
Meanwhile, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan Méndez, called on the US Government to cancel the execution.
“If the scheduled execution of Mr. Leal García goes ahead, the United States Government will have implemented a death penalty after a trial that did not comply with due process rights,” Mr. Heyns said. “This will be tantamount to an arbitrary deprivation of life.”
“Conditions in death row during those 17 years are such that they amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment according to well-established standards in international law,” Mr. Méndez said.
Mr. Heyns and Mr. Méndez are independent, non-paid specialist reporting to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
New Law in El Salvador Requires Unanimous Decisions from the Supreme Court -- Threat Seen to Judicial Independence
A new law passed in El Salvador requires the country’s Supreme Court decisions to be unanimous.
Gabriela Knaul, the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, said the legislation could be considered “an affront to the principles of separation of powers and independence of the judiciary, fundamental elements of any democracy and any rule of law.”
“El Salvador, as a country that is consolidating its democracy, should pay particular attention to the full independence of the judiciary and the principle of separation of powers enshrined in international instruments of which it is a party and which are enshrined in the Salvadoran constitution,” said Ms. Knaul.
“The other branches of government can not force the country’s highest court to take judicial decisions unanimously, as the matters that fall within its competence are, by their very nature and complexity, controversial.”
Ms. Knaul said the law, if followed, “would block the activity and the effective functioning of the country’s highest court and therefore substantially limit the rights of Salvadorian citizens to appeal to that court in defence of their fundamental rights.”
The Special Rapporteur urged El Salvador’s Government to repeal the law to prevent the justice system from falling into paralysis.
Ms. Knaul serves in an independent and unpaid capacity and reports to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances is meeting this week and expects to review more than 350 cases from 40 countries. The working group's chair-rapporteur is Jeremy Sarkin of South Africa. The other members are: Ariel Dulitzky (Argentina), Jasminka Dzumhur (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Osman El-Hajjé (Lebanon), and Olivier de Frouville (France).
The former head of the Bosnian Serb armed forces during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s was removed from a hearing yesterday at International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) after he continually interrupted the presiding judge.
Ratko Mladic, who was arrested in Serbia in May after evading capture for 16 years. He is the former general and head of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) Main Staff. He was removed from the courtroom yesterday just over 20 minutes into the hearing after he ignored repeated warnings from Judge Alphons Orie to stop interrupting the proceedings. Judge Orie had also repeatedly rebuked Mr. Mladic for communicating with the public gallery during the hearing.
Mr. Mladic, who had disputed the choice of counsel allocated to him, shou
ted "you're not allowing me to breathe" as he was led out of the court.
The hearing later resumed and Judge Orie entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of Mr. Mladic to all 11 charges, which include genocide, extermination and murder. Mr. Mladic had earlier refused to enter a plea.
The indictment alleges Mr. Mladic is responsible for a series of crimes during the Balkan wars of the 1990s, including the notorious massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys in July 1995 in the supposed "safe haven" of Srebrenica, and the prolonged siege of the city of Sarajevo.
At yesterday's hearing Mr. Mladic was represented by court-appointed counsel, but he has asked for two other lawyers to be appointed.
However, Judge Orie said it is still to be verified whether those two lawyers have the necessary qualifications to appear before the court. He advised Mr. Mladic to discuss the issue with the court's registrar.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)