Majority of Britons back Scotland’s independence – poll

A majority of British voters outside Scotland back Scottish independence, a poll published Sunday found. The ComRes poll for The Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror newspapers showed that support for Scotland's independence has risen sharply in recent months. Some 39% of adults in England, Wales and Northern Ireland thought Scotland should become an independent state (up six points since May), while 38% disagree (down 4 points). Within Scotland, 49% agree (up 11%), while 37% disagree (down 9%). Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond's Scottish National Party (SNP), which advocates...

Ban Ki-Moon calls for end to violence in Syria

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has called for the violence in Syria to be stopped immediately. Speaking to reporters in Bern he said "There are continuous killings of civilian people. These killings must stop immediately. I told Assad: 'Stop before it is too late.' It is unacceptable that 3,000 people have been killed. The UN is urging him again to take urgent action." His request came as renewed clashes in the city of Homs killed 27 people, mostly civilians. A total of 41 people were killed in the whole of Syria on Monday alone. UN human rights chief Navi Pillay warned during the weekend...

Britain criticises Malawi over Bashir

UK Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham, expressed 'disappointment' at Malawi's refusal to arrest Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, who arrived in the country on Monday. In a statement, Bellingham said, “I am disappointed that Malawi hosted President Bashir of Sudan today [14th October] in defiance of International Criminal Court arrest warrants for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. “ The British government expects the Government of Malawi to stand by its obligations under the Rome Statute, and as a UN member state. "The Government of Malawi has committed itself to full...

UN urge Malawi to arrest Bashir

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, urged Malawi to arrest the Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes and genocide charges by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Speaking at a lecture in Johannesburg, Pillay said, " I call on governments and remind them of their legal obligations, and I am disappointed when they do not keep up their obligations. " An arrest warrant was issued for Bashir, by the ICC, in 2008. See Outrage at Malawi's refusal to arrest Bashir

Britain joins EU and UN in condemning Israeli settlement plans

British Foreign Secretary William Hague has criticised Israel’s plans to expand its settlement in East Jerusalem, just days after both the European Union and United Nations condemned the move. In a statement released Sunday, Hague said he was “dismayed” by Israel’s announcement to build 2,600 new homes in the settlement of Givat Hamatos and to legalise housing in West Bank outposts. “This provocative step, which further encloses East Jerusalem, is particularly disappointing given the international condemnation of the expansion of the Mordot Gilo settlement just a few weeks ago. Settlements...

Arab League decides against Syria suspension

Syria has escaped suspension from the Arab League at an emergency meeting convened to discuss the crisis at its headquarters in Cairo. Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said that the League had decided to work towards national dialogue between the opposing sides. The dialogue, if accepted by both sides, would be held under the auspices of the Arab League and based on the 7-point plan proposed at a League meeting last month. However, both, the Syrian regime and the opposition are said to be unhappy at the proposals. Damascus had already rejected a similar proposal put...

India and Burma strengthen ties

India has praised Burma’s transition to democracy during a visit by Burmese President Thein Sein to New Delhi. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh welcomed recent developments in Burma, including Friday’s release of 200 political prisoners. The neighbours, who share a 1,600 km long border, have agreed deals to expand border trade and cooperation in oil and gas exploration. India extended credit facilities worth £316m for investments in Burmese roads, ports and inland waterways. Indian officials disputed rumours of economic rivalry with China, till date the biggest investor in Burma. "We have...

Former Guatemalan president wanted for genocide

Guatemalan officials ordered the arrest of former president, Oscar Mejia, on Thursday , on charges of genocide. Police, who have raided 4 houses in an attempt to capture 80-year-old Mejia, have deemed him a fugitive. Mejia is charged with ordering the massacres of Mayan leftist guerilla fighters, during 1982 to 1983, when he served as chief of the military. Mejia's military reign are widely asserted to have corresponded to the war's bloodiest years. He later led a military coup agaist then dictator Efrain Rios Montt and appointed himself president from 1983 to 1986. In total, 1960-1996 civil...

Gillard drops controversial Malaysia swap plan

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has dropped controversial plans to implement a refugee swap deal with Malaysia, after facing almost certain defeat in the Australian House of Representatives . The plan which involved sending 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia in return for 4,000 UN approved refugees over a four year period, was deemed illegal by the Australian High Court in September as the safety of the refugees could not be guaranteed in Malaysia. Malaysia is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention. Gillard withdrew the bill after it was staring parliamentary defeat, which would have made it the first bill since 1929 to have been defeated in the lower house. Commenting that Australia would still accept the 4,000 refugees from Malaysia, Gillard said , "It's clear that the migration law of this country will not be amended, and as a result the government is not in a position now... to have asylum-seekers processed in third countries." Graham Thom of Amnesty International, hailed the withdrawal as very significant but warned Australia still has a long way to go. “I think we need to remember that this just brings Australia back into line with most Western democratic countries. So, it’s only a first step; an important step, but a first step that brings us into line with other like-minded countries.” See him talking to Al Jazeera below.

US sends special forces to assist hunt for LRA leaders

US President Barack Obama will be sending 100 “combat-equipped” troops to Uganda, to help defeat the Lord’s Resistance Army, a group accused of gross human rights violations. In a letter to John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House, Obama wrote , "These forces will act as advisors to partner forces that have the goal of removing from the battlefield Joseph Kony and other senior leadership of the LRA." He went on to say that the move was “in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States”. Obama also stressed that they would not be there to lead the effort but would not engage in combat unless “necessary for self-defense”. The LRA leader Joseph Kony is accused of war crimes and wanted by the International Criminal Court, which issued a warrant for his arrest in 2005. US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the move was part of a broader effort in "pursuing the LRA and seeking to bring top commanders to justice ." Obama's decision was commended by human rights groups and anti-genocide groups, against the group he once labeled "affront to human dignity".

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