International brief ~ Argentine high court holds amnesty laws unconstitutional
D. Wes Rist at 2:24 PM ET
[JURIST] Leading Tuesday's international brief, the Argentine Supreme Court [judicial website in Spanish] has struck down the nation's two amnesty laws preventing former military and government officials from being investigated and prosecuted for alleged crimes and human rights abuses during the 1970s and '80s military dictatorship and the anti-leftist campaign called the Dirty War [Wikipedia backgrounder]. By a 7-1 margin with one judge abstaining, the Supreme Court ruled that the amnesty laws violated Argentina's constitution and allowed the continued prosecution of former police officer Julio Simon, the first individual tried that would normally have amnesty since the Argentine Congress [official website in Spanish] decided to scrap the laws in 2003. Under Argentine jurisprudence, the decision will serve as precedent for all future cases involving Dirty War defendents. AP is reporting that more than 3,000 current military officers could be implicated in the decision. Human rights groups are already hailing the decision [HRW press release]. Argentina's La Nacion has local coverage in Spanish.
In other international legal news ...
- Less than two hours after their release from government detention, 48 Nepalese journalists staged a sit-in protest at the Kathmandu District Administration Office to reiterate their call for a removal of the severe press restrictions in place in Nepal [government website] since King Gyanendra [official profile] issued a state of emergency declaration [JURIST report] on 1 February. The 48 journalists had been arrested and detained Monday during a peacefull demonstration that police officials claimed was in an area of the capital city that had been designated off-limits for protests. Nearly two hundred journalists have been arrested and released in a series of protests over free speech rights in the past month. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Nepal [JURIST news archive]. Kantipur Online has local coverage.
- A new provision of the South Korean Nationality Law [South Korean National Assembly backgrounder] approved Tuesday by the Legislation and Judiciary Committee of the South Korean National Assembly [government website] will "restrict economic activity" of any Korean that gave up their passport ahead of the Nationality Law, will ban the surrender of a Korean passport until the completion of mandatory military service, and will lower the level of national health care a surrenderer is entitled to. Over 20,000 Koreans have given up their passports since the Nationality act was introduced. Representative Choi Jae-cheon of the ruling Uri Party [official website] expressed concern that the amendment to the Nationality Law, backed by the opposition alliance in the Korean National Assembly, is unconstitutional on grounds of inequality and excessive restriction, but said that the South Korean Constitution [official text] did allow for 'rational punishment.' JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of South Korea [JURIST news archive]. Chosun Ilbo has local coverage.
- Newly-reelected Director General Mohamed ElBaradei [official profile] of the International Atomic Energy Agency [official website] has urged Iranian officials to allow UN nuclear inspectors to return to the nuclear facility at Parchin. Speaking to the IAEA Board of Directors, ElBaradei expressed concern that during their first and only visit to Parchin, IAEA inspectors were denied access to key areas of the facility and has called on Iran to allow inspectors to return to check for compliance with the UN mandate to refrain from the production of nuclear weapons materials. The United States has alleged repeatedly that Iran is conducting a covert nuclear weapons program, a charge that Iran has continually and vehemently denied. IAEA resolutions and statements are non-binding and can only be given enforcement power through the UN Security Council. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Iran [JURIST news archive].
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