March 12, 2011
Violence in Yemen
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed great concern over the deteriorating situation in Yemen. He condemned the excessive use of force by security forces against peaceful demonstrators in the country's capital Sana'a, which left several people dead and many others injured. Media reports said that Yemeni police attacked demonstrators in the centre of Sana'a, killing some six people and injuring many others. Hundreds of police reportedly used tear gas, water cannon and fired live bullets at protesters gathered in a square in the city.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had yesterday expressed concern following allegations that Yemeni Government security forces have in recent weeks used excessive force against demonstrators and opposition figures.
At least 37 protesters and six security officers were reported to have been killed in similar demonstrations before today's violence. Security forces are alleged to have killed two demonstrators at the University of Sana'a on 9 March, a day after dozens of students were injured following a similar protest. Other incidents include the reported killing of inmates at a prison in Sana'a and the slaying of two protesters on 4 March near the town of Harf Sufyan.
(mew) (adapted from a UN press release)
International Organizations Immunities Act
President Obama issued Executive Order 13568 to extend the International Organizations Immunities Act to the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the International Civilian Office in Kosovo. Click here for more information from the Federal Register Notice. FR13497.
March 11, 2011
More than 300 people are reported dead from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan and the other Pacific islands affected by this disaster.
(mew and cgb)
March 10, 2011
Illinois Abolishes the Death Penalty
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed the bill abolishing the death penalty in the State of Illinois.
Comments Sought on More U.S. Flights to Cuba
I've had the pleasure of visiting Cuba as an academic, and I know that many people have a desire to travel to Cuba for any number of reasons. I also know that many people oppose expanding direct air travel between the United States and Cuba. Whatever your view is on the question, you might like to know that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), announced a request for public comment on a proposed information collection, Request for Entry or Departure for Flights To and From Cuba, regarding regulations to allow additional U.S. airports to have flights between the United States and Cuba. Comments are due May 9, 2011. Get more information at FR13204.
Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office.
March 9, 2011
Investigating Crimes from the Elections in Kenya
Six high-ranking Kenyan officials, including a deputy prime minister, two ministers and a police chief, have been summoned to appear before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in connection with possible crimes against humanity committed in post-electoral violence three years ago.
An ICC pre-trial chamber declared yesterday by a majority of two to one that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the six are criminally responsible as either indirect co-perpetrators or contributors to the crimes against humanity of murder, forcible transfer and persecution, and ordered them to appear before the court on 7 April.
The six are William Samoei Ruto, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology; Henry Kiprono Kosgey, Minister of Industrialization; Joshua Arap Sang, Head of Operations for KASS FM radio station; Francis Kirimi Muthaura, Head of the Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet; Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance; and Mohamed Hussein Ali, Police Commissioner at the time of the violence.
More than 1,100 people were killed, 3,500 injured and up to 600,000 forcibly displaced in the violence that followed the December 2007 elections. There were also hundreds of rapes, possibly more, and at least 100,000 properties were destroyed in six of Kenya’s eight provinces, according to ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who had requested the summonses.
The Chamber found reasonable grounds against Mr. Ruto, Mr. Kosgey and Mr. Sang in connection with murder, forcible transfer and persecution, although not for the count of torture. For the three others it also found reasonable grounds relating to the additional crimes of rape and other inhumane acts.
The six were ordered to have no direct or indirect contact with any person who is or is believed to be a victim or witness of the alleged crimes; to “refrain from corruptly influencing a witness, obstructing or interfering with the attendance or testimony of a witness, or tampering with or interfering with” the collection of evidence; and to “refrain from committing crime(s)” set forth in the 1998 Rome Statute that established the ICC.
(UN Press Release)
March 8, 2011
ICC Affirms Charges Against Those Who Attacked UN Peacekeepers
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has confirmed war crimes charges against two rebel leaders accused in the September 2007 attack that resulted in the death of 12 peacekeepers in Darfur, and committed them to trial. The decision concerning Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain (Abdallah Banda) and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus (Saleh Jerbo) was announced yesterday. The Pre-Trial Chamber found “substantial grounds” to believe that both men are criminally responsible as co-perpetrators for three war crimes allegedly committed during the attack on the Haskanita camp in South Darfur state, according to a news release issued by the Court.
The crimes alleged are violence to life and attempted violence to life; intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units and vehicles involved in a peacekeeping mission; and pillaging. The attack resulted in the killing of 12 peacekeepers and the wounding of eight others serving with the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) – a predecessor to the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission, known as UNAMID. It was allegedly carried out by the troops belonging to the Sudanese Liberation Army-Unity (SLA-Unity), which had broken away from the Sudanese Liberation Movement-Army (SLA/M), under the command of Jerbo, jointly with splinter forces of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), under the command of Banda.
An estimated 300,000 people have died and another 3 million have been displaced in Darfur, where rebels have been fighting Government forces and allied Arab militiamen, known as the Janjaweed, since 2003.
The ICC has charged a number of other individuals for alleged crimes committed in Darfur, including Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who in March 2009 became the first sitting head of State to be indicted by the Court, which charged him with two counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity.
(mew) (from a UN Press Release)
ICJ Orders Provisional Measures in Costa Rica v. Nicaragua
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an Order regarding Provisional Measures today in Certain Activities Carried Out by Nicaragua in the Border Area (Costa Rica v. Nicaragua). In its Order, the Court ordered that: "Each party shall refrain from sending to, or maintaining in the disputed territory, . . . any personnel, whether civilian, police or securty." Notwithstanding this order, the Court permitted Costa Rica to dispatch civilian personel charged with protection of the environment to the disputed territory as necessary to avoid "irreparable prejudice" being caused to the wetland area. In doing so, Costa Rica is required to consult with the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention, to give Nicaragua prior notice, and to use its best endeavors to find common solutions with Nicaragua. The Court further ordered the parties to refrain from any action that might aggravate the situation. More details regarding the Court's reasoning may be found on the ICJ website here.
What Do the New Libyan Sanctions Mean for Lawyers and Clients?
For a great reminder of the difficulty of advising clients regarding the practical implications of the new Libyan sanctions, check out Mark Hermann's blog post, "Inside Straight: Oy Libya" on abovethelaw. (Mark Herrmann is the Vice President and Chief Counsel – Litigation at Aon and author of The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law).
International Women's Day 2011
Today, March 8, is International Women's Day, which is intended to mark the economic, social and political achievements of women worldwide. According to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, today marks the 100th anniversary of the first International Women's Day celebrated in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March 1911. The UN has adopted the following theme for 2011: "Equal Access to Education, Training and Science and Technlogy: Pathway to Decent Work for Women." Take a moment to celebrate the achievements of the women in your life and to reflect on the lack of women's rights in some areas where work remains to be done. To learn more about International Women's Day events taking place around the world, click here and here.
March 7, 2011
A Comparative Law Lesson from Sweden: Arrest the Customer, Not the Sex Woker
Sex trafficking of women and children - one of the most urgent human rights violation confronting the world today - incorporates prostitution into its end product. While the world focuses on the nature of prostitution - i.e., forced (trafficked) or voluntary (sex worker) - the author's research indicates that few women in prostitution choose that path.
In 1999, Sweden became the first country in the world to partially decriminalize prostitution by criminalizing only the purchaser. The Swedish approach - known as -The Swedish Model - offers social services to women in prostitution. The Swedish Government chronicled the results of the Swedish Model in a report released in July 2010. While sex workers' rights groups from around the world have attacked The Swedish Model, the Swedish Government claims that it has decreased the incidence of sex trafficking and prostitution in Sweden. Norway and Iceland adopted this approach, and other countries currently consider the model.
The United States' (U.S.) implementation of The Swedish Model would further recent American practices to combat commercial sexual exploitation. The United States should put victims first and import The Swedish Model.
WTO Dispute Settlement Proceedings Heating Up?
There has been more activity at the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) in the first part of 2011 as compared to 2010, perhaps reflecting more protectionist measures by governments in light of the weak economy. In the first two months of 2010, only one dispute settlement matter was formally initiated at the WTO DSB. In the first two months of this year, three cases have already been filed.
The United States continued to be the most frequent user of the WTO dispute settlement process in 2010 with six appearances either as complainant or respondent. China was the second most frequent participant with five appearances; one as complainant and four as respondent. Three of those six cases involved complaints by the U.S. against China (DS413, DS414 and DS 419).
This trend is continuing in 2011, with the U.S. appearing as respondent in two cases, with China as complainant in one and South Korea as a complainant in the second. (The third case was brought by Ukraine against Moldova.) Out of the last ten cases brought at the DSB, four are disputes beween the U.S. and China. The tensions in trade relations between the U.S. and China and the frequency of resort to the WTO DSB by those two states (as well as the rest of the WTO membership) will likely be worth watching this year.