International brief ~ Turk president vetoes penal code provision on Koran teaching

[JURIST] Leading Friday's international brief, Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer [official profile] Friday vetoed a part of the new penal code {JURIST report] approved by the Turkish Parliament [government website in Turkish] that would have lowered the penalty for anyone caught teaching the Koran outside of approved religious educational institutions. Under old Turkish law, schools and religious educational organizations wishing to teach the Koran must demonstrate that they do not promote "dangerous, fundamentalist" principles in their teachings and that they do not call for the abolition of the Turkish secular state. Anyone caught violating these provisions faces three to six years imprisonment. The new law would have lowered the penalty to three to twelve months. Sezer said that the law would promote illegal hardline schools calling for the creation of an Islamic Turkish government. Parliament can override Sezer's veto by approving the legislation a second time, but Sezer can still challenge the bill in the Turkish Constitutional Court [judicial website in Turkish]. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Turkey. Islam Online has more.

In other international legal news ...

  • Reports out of Burundi [government website in French] say that scattered violence has marred the opening of polls in the African nation as it attempts to hold the first of four national polls [JURIST report] that will ultimately lead to a new independent government. State-owned Radio Burundi said that violence had been reported in the Bubuanza and Bujumbura Rural provinces, and listed nearly 14 polling stations in another province that had yet to be opened. The report also put initial turnout estimates in excess of three million, on track to be one of the highest election turnouts in Burundi history. The UN Mission in Burundi [official website] has deployed both peacekeepers and election observers to monitor the voting process. IRIN News has more.

  • Swaziland [government website], the southern African nation known for its beautiful landscapes and scenery, announced on Friday that it has taken steps to ensure that it maintains those traits by recreating the Swaziland Environmental Authority and expanding its power. Swaziland Minister of Environment and Tourism Thandi Shongwe said the that SEA would move from its past history of merely setting enviornmental policy to a more proactive management function. The agency now has the power to bring legal actions against corporations it believes to be violating Swazilands tough environmental protection laws. IRIN has more.

  • In addition to training special forces soldiers of the Royal Nepalese Army, visiting US military officials will also be conducting a week-long class in international humanitarian law [International Red Cross backgrounder]. The class, which US officials said is ready to begin as early as Monday and is merely waiting approval from Nepalese military officials, will be conducted by the US Defense Institute of International Legal Studies [official website] and will focus on introducing RNA commanders and officers to the basic provisions of international humanitarian law and will use case studies of situations involving crimes against humanity and war crimes to train the officers in how to respond to these situations. The course is designed to train officers about their obligations and abilities under the international law of armed conflict. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Nepal [JURIST news archive]. The Himalayan Times has local coverage.

 

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