US opposed Bashir’s Libya trip

The United States confirmed that they were opposed to Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir travelling to Libya, as he is wanted on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. Speaking to reporters on Monday, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland acknowledged that the issue was raised with Libyan officials, but the US only learnt about the trip relatively late. She told reporters, “The Libyan Government knows our view that we oppose invitations, facilitation, or support for travel by President Bashir because he’s a subject of an ICC arrest warrant...

Scotland's independence referendum plans afoot

Bannockburn, Scotland. Photograph Getty The UK government has published a draft order that would give the Scottish parliament the power to call for a referendum on the sole question of whether Scotland should remain part of the UK or not. Writing in the foreword of the draft order, British prime minister, David Cameron, and deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, acknowledged the overwhelming success of the Scottish National Party at last year's elections, having campaigned on a manifesto that promised a referendum on independence before the next term. They wrote, "They [the SNP] have campaigned...

2 more Tibetans self immolate in China

A Tibetan man has died and another been taken away by Chinese authorities, after both men set themselves on fire, in South-Western China, days before the Britain and China meet to discuss human rights. The cases now raise the number to at least 14 monks, nuns and former monks, who are believed to have self immolated since March. The first man was reported to have called for the return of the Dalai Lama, before setting himself alight. Soldiers managed to extinguish the flames and have now detained the man in hospital. A second man reported to be a 42-year-old monk named Sopa, then self immolated, burning himself to death. Reports indicate that after the incident, hundreds of angry demonstrators marched to the local police station and demanded they hand over the body of the deceased monk. Radio Free Asia, a US broadcaster, said police first refused to give up the body but relented after "the protesters smashed windows and doors of the local police station." Free Tibet director Stephanie Brigden commented , "These latest self-immolations confirm that what we are currently witnessing in Tibet is a sustained and profound rejection of the Chinese occupation. It is a damning indictment of the international community that 14 people, in different parts of Tibet, have now chosen to set themselves on fire and the international community has failed to respond. "

Kim Jong-un - 'genius among the geniuses'

Images of North Korea's new leader, Kim Jong-un, driving military tanks, in the cockpit of a war plane and riding a white horse have been broadcast across state television. During the footage, Jong-un claims to have overseen the test launch of the state's long-range rocket. He is quoted as saying, “I had determined to enter a war if the enemies dared to intercept [the rocket]."

Sudan’s Bashir visits Libya

Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir, wanted for war crimes and genocide, gave a speech in Libya for the first time since the fall of the Gaddafi regime on Saturday, drawing criticism from human rights groups. Bashir, who claimed Gaddafi provided weapons to South Sudanese rebels, criticised the fallen regime, stating , “We (the Sudanese) were the second to have suffered the most, after the Libyan people." The Sudanese president is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, having issued two arrests warrants for him. The ICC also issued warrants for deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi for crimes against humanity committed during the country’s uprising in February. Richard Dicker from Human Rights Watch strongly criticised the visit, saying , "Omar al-Bashir is an international fugitive from an arrest warrant for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes." "Many governments have refused him entry into their countries. His arrival in Tripoli sends a disturbing signal about NTC's commitment to human rights and the rule of law." "Following the end of decades of brutal rule in Libya, it is disturbing if Tripoli hosts a head of state on the run from international arrest warrants for grave human rights violations. " "Whatever the political history and ties between the NTC and Omar al-Bashir in the past, respect for human rights, not to mention concerns for hundreds of thousands of Darfur victims, takes priority. " " This is what adhering to the rule of law is all about. " Several other African states have comes been condemned for their failure to arrest Bashir on visits, with both Chad and Malawi having been referred to the UN Security Council for failing to have done so.

Canada to deport Rwandan genocide suspect

A man accused of playing a role in inciting the Rwandan genocide of 1994 looks set to be sent back to the country, after Canadian authorities issued court documents set his deportation for the 12th of January. 59-year old Leon Mugesera has lived in Quebec since fleeing Rwanda in 1993 and was granted permanent resident status. However, just two years later, Canadian authorities learnt of his complicity in the genocide and began deportation proceedings against him, believing there were reasonable grounds to suspect that he had committed crimes against humanity. Mugusera is accused of delivering...

Amnesty for Yemeni war criminals against international law - Navi Pillay

Granting amnesty to individuals responsible for war crimes and human rights abuses in Yemen, as part of the peace agreement, would be against international law, warned the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Navi Pillay. In a statement, Pillay said, "I have been closely following the events in Yemen, particularly the very contentious debate about an amnesty law to be presented to Parliament shortly," " International law and the U.N. policy are clear on the matter: amnesties are not permissible if they prevent the prosecution of individuals who may be criminally responsible for international crimes including war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and gross violations of human rights."

UK Foreign Secretary visits Burma

For the first time since 1955, a UK foreign secretary visited Burma. Following on from a visit by the US Secretary of State , Hillary Clinton, the UK foreign secretary, William Hague, visited Burma on Thursday, holding talks with both the government and the opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. Stressing the importance of taking concrete steps towards reform, to his counterpart, Wunna Maung Lwi, Hague urged the release of political prisoners. Hague said, "My message is, if you want those sanctions - those restrictive measures as we call them - lifted, then it is very important to show that you...

US State Dept seeks to engage with non-state actors

The US state Department inaugurated the newly formed Office of Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights on Thursday. The office, formed in line with changes announced last year by the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is intended to enhance engagement with civil society and other non-state actors in other countries, in order to protect civilians. In an interview with The Cable, Maria Otero, the head of the new office, said , "As we are seeing the increasing importance of using non-military tools to address transnational threats , it is very important for the State Department to develop its own capacity to address civilian security," "This piece focuses on protecting individuals." "It focuses not just engaging state to state, but taking on the bold foreign policy statement that we need to engage also with players and actors outside of the traditional ones we've engaged in ."

US Marine faces trial over 2005 Iraq deaths

The last US marine to be charged in connection with the killings of 24 Iraqis in 2005, is to face trial in California this week. Marine staff sergeant Frank Wuterich, the squadron leader in charge will faces charges of voluntary manslaughter, after out of the eight other marines charged over the incident, six had their charges dismissed and one acquitted. The incident in question occurred in November 2005, in the village of Haditha. After the explosion of a roadside bomb attacked an envoy and killed a US soldier, a car was pulled up by the marines. According to the defence, the inhabitants of the car, “five military aged males” began to run, and which was considered hostile by the marines. All five were shot dead by Wuterich and another marine. Wuterich then maintains that his squadron came under fire and proceeded to search the surrounding buildings, and opening fire on the inhabitants. The episode left 24 people dead, 11 of whom were women and children. The length of the time it has taken for the case to come to courts has been sharply criticised with Eugene Fidell, who teaches military law at Yale Law School, saying “I don’t think it’s been an impressive performance for the military justice system. It shouldn’t take this long. ” “You would be hard-pressed to find an Iraqi who was willing to say anything positive about the administration of justice in these cases.” Gary Solis, a law professor and former marine corp prosecutor, also spoke out at the case, saying , "After six years memories fade, and the relevance of evidence may even fade — certainly evidence may be lost." Solis called the case "very significant" and went on to say, "It's important because 24 people are dead. It's the greatest number of non-combat victims in a single incident that wasn't a bomb. All armed forces look to their officers to be the adults in the group. We look to them to make sure that things like Haditha don't happen."

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