High Court rules against Australia-Malaysia refugee swap

The Australian High Court deemed the government's plans to ship asylum seekers to Malaysia, to be a violation of Australia's laws and the country's commitments internationally. The ruling centred on Malaysia's inability to guarantee the safety and well-being of asylum seekers in accordance with Australian law. Malaysia is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention. The High Court ruled: [the country accepting Australia's asylum seekers] " must be legally bound by international law or its own domestic law to: provide access for asylum seekers to effective procedures for assessing their need for protection. " " Provide protection for asylum seekers pending determination of their refugee status. " " Provide protection for persons given refugee status pending their voluntary return to their country of origin or their resettlement in another country .”

Bolivia: 5 officers guilty of genocide

Bolivia’s highest court on Tuesday convicted five former top military commanders of genocide for an army crackdown on riots over poverty and political marginalization in October 2003 that killed at least 64 civilians and wounded 400. See AP’s report here . The court, the Supreme Tribunal, also convicted two former cabinet ministers of complicity in the killings and sentenced each to three years. Indicted in the case but not tried was Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, Bolivia's president at the time of the killings and now in exile in the United States. The longest sentences were meted out to Roberto...

Sudan continues indiscriminate bombing despite ceasefire

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said that the Sudanese Air Force has continued to indiscriminately bomb civilians in South Kordofan, in a statement released Tuesday. This is despite a ceasefire declared by Sudanese President Omar al Bashir last week. Amnesty's Donatella Rovera said: " The Sudanese government is literally getting away with murder and trying to keep the outside world from finding out. The international community, and particularly the UN Security Council, must stop looking the other way and act to address the situation." After meeting on August the 19th, the Security Council failed to agree on a statement or action condemning the violence in South Kordofan. This is thought to be largely due to objections from Russia, China and South Africa. Daniel Bekele, Africa Director of Human Rights Watch said, “South Africa’s position is especially troubling. As a leading African state, it should not turn its back on African victims in Southern Kordofan. Instead of blocking action, it should lead the charge in the Security Council .” The report led US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland to comment : “The United States is deeply concerned about reports of continued Sudanese Air Force bombings of civilian areas in Southern Kordofan, despite President Bashir's announcement of a unilateral two-week ceasefire last Tuesday.” Both organisations urged the Security Council to call for an end to the indiscriminate bombings by Sudan and called for “ an independent human rights monitoring presence across Southern Kordofan .” The report by the two groups follows a similar UN report last month, which was dismissed by Sudan. Sudan has since asked the UN Security Council to delay discussion of South Kordofan, whilst the government completes its own investigation. See report by Al Jazeera here:

50,000 killed in Libya during rebellion

An estimated 50,000 people have been killed since the beginning of Libya's uprising to oust Muammar Gaddafi six months ago, a military commander with the country's interim ruling council told Reuters. See Reuters’ report here . The figures included those killed in the fighting between Gaddafi's troops and rebels, and those who have gone missing. "In Misrata and Zlitan between 15,000 and 17,000 were killed and Jebel Nafusa (the Western Mountains) took a lot of casualties. We liberated about 28,000 prisoners. We presume that all those missing are dead," he said. "Then there was Ajdabiyah, Brega...

Remark leads US diplomat to leave Tamil Nadu post

US Vice Consul to Chennai, Maureen Chao, who caused outrage after referring to Tamils as "dirty and dark", has decided to leave her posting 'in the near future'. The decision was announced by the US consulate spokesperson in Chennai on Saturday. The incident occurred during a speech at SRM University in Chennai on 12 August when Chao shared her memories of a train journey she had taken over 20 years ago in India. "I was on a 24-hour train trip from Delhi to Orissa. But, after 72 hours, the train still did not reach the destination.. and my skin became dirty and dark like the Tamilians ." Ms. Chao's comments have been described as a poorly worded attempt at joviality and not racist - her audience was, after all, largely Tamil. But once reported in the press, h er remarks stirred outrage in Tamil Nadu. Chief Minister Jayalalithaa demanded an apology for what she deemed blatant racism.

Iran on Syria's crisis ...

Syria's closest ally, Iran, has called on the government in Damascus to listen to the people's "legitimate demands" as pro-democracy protestors across the country continued to defy a violent crackdown. See the New York Times’ report here . Iran’s foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted by the ISNA news agency as saying: “The government should answer to the demands of its people, be it Syria, Yemen or other countries. “The people of these nations have legitimate demands, and the governments should answer these demands as soon as possible.” It was Iran’s first comment on the crisis that...

Hazare triumphs … for now

India’s anti-corruption hero, Anna Hazare, ended his hunger strike Sunday after the Congress-led government caved in and accepted his key demands on creating an anticorruption ombudsman empowered to scrutinize government officials and bureaucrats. Parliament, meeting on Saturday, the 12th day of Mr. Hazare’s hunger strike, accepted his demands in a resolution. Mr. Hazare’s campaign had to make a little concession for the deal too. They had demanded a public vote on the resolution so as to expose those MPs opposing the proposed powers for the ombudsman. Instead, the resolution was read aloud...

Tripoli massacres unearthed

The charred remains of 53 bodies were discovered in a warehouse in Tripoli on Sunday. Local residents accused Gaddafi's most feared military unit, the Khamis Brigade, loyal to Gaddafi's youngest son, of the massacre. The residents reported hearing shooting several days prior. However, when they demanded answers, Gaddafi's forces threatened to kill them if they did not retreat. The simmering remains were found by residents and rebel forces, once they captured the southern area of the city. One man who claimed to have escaped the massacre said Gaddafi's forces had used the warehouse to execute...

Libyan rebel commander is previous terror suspect

The Libyan rebels' military commander was previously an Islamist terror suspect interrogated by the CIA, according to a claim made in the Independent today. Abdelhain Belhadj, responsible for the military success in Tripoli, had reportedly fought alongside the Taliban and was a former member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) - listed in the UK and US as a terrorist organisation. See full article in Independent here . See extracts below: "The 45-year-old first went to Afghanistan in the late 1980s, where he fought against occupying Soviet forces. Arrested in Malaysia in 2004, he was...

Of two African powers …

Whilst South Africa came into unexpected and ungainly confrontation with Western states over Libya this week, the other African power, Nigeria, has deftly come off the sidelines and joined the international action. Whilst South Africa is baulking at recognising the rebels’ National Transitional Council (NTC) as Libya’s authority, Nigeria moved swiftly to do so on Tuesday – just as the rebels overran Gaddafi’s base-complex in Tripoli.

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