EU bans Syrian oil

European Union members announced a ban on all imports of Syrian oil Friday, as the Assad regime's brutal crackdown on civilian protesters continues. The move comes over one week after EU officials announced sanctions on Syrian businesses and officials but stopped short of imposing a full oil embargo, reportedly due to concerns of the impact on civilians. See ' EU extends sanctions on Syria, mulls oil embargo' Around 90% of Syrian crude oil is exported to the EU.

France extradites Rwandan genocide suspect to Belgium

A Rwandan genocide fugitive, who had an EU arrest warrant issued, has been extradited by French authorities to face trial in Belgium. Fabien Neretse the former head of the Rwanadan Coffee Office and influential figure in the Rwandan government was wanted by Belgium authorities for his role in the 1994 genocide of Tutsis and participation in war crimes. An arrest warrant was issued by a Belgian court earlier this year, after a criminal case was opened against him in 2004. Neretse was alleged to have been instrumental in the killing of a Belgo-Rwandan family and their neighbours, seeking...

Canada seeks to build Holocaust memorial

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is leading efforts to build a National Holocaust Monument near the Canadian capital Ottawa, AFP reported. Baird is setting up a five-member council, for which they are currently seeking nominations, which will oversee the efforts to fund, construct and maintain the monument. "Canada remembers the suffering of the millions of innocent victims of the Holocaust," Baird said. "This monument will not only preserve their memory but will also educate visitors of all faiths and traditions about the causes and risks of hate. Let us use the lessons of the past to...

Khmer Rouge leaders deny charges as donors push for swift trial

Four former officials of the Cambodian Khmer Rouge have denied charges of genocide and war crimes, as ailing health looks set to push back their trials. Japan, France and the US, major supporters of the UN backed tribunal, have been pushing for the trial to go ahead as quickly and fairly as possible. See report by Voice of America here . The tribunal, also known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, was established after an agreement between the Government of Cambodia and the United Nations to try senior members of the Khmer Rouge for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The current judges on the Supreme Court Chamber of the tribunal includes recent Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Chandra Nihal Jayasinghe. Ou Virak, of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said of the tribunal: "[This] will be a cathartic moment for all Cambodians. While the crimes of the Khmer Rouge were committed over a quarter of a century ago, they remain ingrained in Cambodia's collective psyche. I hope that this trial – coming as it does so many years after the crimes alleged against the accused were committed – provides all victims with some sense of justice, however delayed that justice may be." This call was echoed by Andrew Cayley, the international co-prosecutor in the case, who said that the crimes were probably the "most serious crimes committed since the Second World War" and "the Cambodian people still expect answers." He went on to say, "Certainly, the relatives of those who perished and the handful of those survivors who are left are seeking justice."

Russia recognises Libya's NTC

Russia's Foreign Ministry released a statement on its website Thursday, recognising the Libyan rebels' National Transitional Council as legitimate authorities. " The Russian Federation recognises the National Transitional Council (NTC) as the current authorities. " " We proceed from the position that all previously agreed treaties and other mutual obligations ... will be implemented in good faith ." Under Libya's now deposed leader, Muammar Gaddafi, Moscow had established billions of dollars worth of arms, energy and infrastructure deals. Moscow's announcement comes after months of Russian...

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.