[JURIST] White House US Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers [JURIST news archive] supported affirmative action programs during her tenure as the president of the State Bar of Texas, according to a report in the Washington Post Saturday. The Post cited an interview [PDF text] Miers gave in June 1992 to the the Texas Bar Journal, as well as a President's Opinion [PDF text] she wrote later that year. In both articles she contended that racial and gender set-asides were justified to encourage the emergence of a legal community that "reflect[s] our population as a whole." The Post quoted a Bush administration spokesman who maintained that Miers' previous position on affirmative action is not an accurate predictor of how she would vote on such issues as a Supreme Court justice. Read the Post article here. Reuters has more.
[JURIST] Amnesty International [official website] said Saturday that Sudan has arrested and mistreated a human rights lawyer documenting the killing of 30 people in refugee camps outside of Khartoum last May. Amnesty considers the lawyer to be a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for his work in defense of human rights. The Sudanese government has denied firing upon refugees during the May incident, through witnesses claim they lost relatives to gunshot wounds. Amnesty claims the lawyer has been charged with waging war against the state, murder and undermining the constitutional system, two of which could incur the death penalty. Sudan previously suspended an independent newspaper for publishing reports on the encounter, and has arrested hundreds for their involvement. Earlier this year, Sudan was sharply criticised by human rights groups [JURIST report] for arresting refugee aid workers associated with Doctors without Borders [official website]. Reuters has more.
[JURIST] A committee of three prominent South African judges published a report [PDF text] Friday calling for voluntary diversity training and the founding of a national body to hear disputes over allegations of racism within the South African judicial system. The committee was formed last April in response to allegations made by the Chief Judge of Capetown accusing white judges in the former apartheid state of insulting black members of the judiciary and excluding them from social functions. The report declares that "because of our history, racism and sexism are attitudes engraved in our society. The judiciary is part of that society...we are determined to confront and deal with issues of racism and sexism that are brought to our attention." Legislative action on the report's recommendations - in particular the creation of a national oversight body - could be taken within the next year. AP has more.
[JURIST] A private bill introduced by former Blair cabinet minister Clare Short [official profile] that would have given British lawmakers veto power over the Prime Minister's prerogative to declare war failed to progress Friday after the House of Commons could not muster the 100 votes required for it to progress. The government did not support the bill. Under the proposed legislation, the Prime Minister would make the case for troop deployment before both Houses, who would then authorize war by a simple majority vote. The PM would still be authorized to send troops in urgent situations, but these troops could then be recalled by a simple majority in Parliament. Historically in the United Kingdom, the decision to declare war has been exclusively the domain of PM and the government. In May 2003, Short resigned from the Blair cabinet in protest over the its decision to go to war in Iraq along with the United States. AP has more.
[JURIST] US Attorney for the Southern District of New York [official website] Michael Garcia has charged and arrested Houston oil tycoon Oscar Wyatt [NYT profile] for his involvement in the Iraq oil-for-food scandal [JURIST news archive]. Garcia also charged two Swiss bank executives as well as several corporations controlled by the defendants for paying kickback money to the Saddam Hussein regime in exchange for the rights to purchase oil through the program. Sealed indictments say [DOJ press release] that the three defendants concealed the kickback payments from the UN by making cash deposits to a bank account located in Jordan that was controlled by the Iraqi government. Wyatt's lawyer has protested his client's innocence. The UN oil-for-food program lifted UN sanctions against Iraq to allow the country to sell a limited amount of oil to pay for food and medicine for its people. The US Senate estimates that the Hussein regime earned around $17.3 billion from the arrangement. Reuters has more.
[JURIST] Iraqi Deputy Interior Minister Hussein Ali Kamal said Saturday that the Iraqi government will step up security measures for the 12 remaining defense lawyers representing Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] and his seven co-defendants. The announcement comes two days after Saadoun Sughaiyer al-Janabi, a defense lawyer for co-defendant Awad Hamed al-Bandar, a former chief judge charged with issuing death sentences for 148 Shiites in Dujail without a hearing, was kidnapped and murdered [JURIST news report] by 10 masked gunmen. Lawyers for Hussein and his associates have voiced skepticism about the Iraqi government's ability to provide adequate security, citing frequent Sunni accusations that the Interior Ministry's security forces have been linked to militias that have carried out killings of Sunni Arabs, and ordered the execution of former Baath party members. Defense counsel Khamees Hamid al-Ubaidi has told reporters that the group is discussing protection with the Americans, and has called for a US investigation of al-Janabi's murder. AP has more.
[JURIST] New York TimesExecutive Editor Bill Keller [NYT profile] sent an e-mail [text] to staff members Friday, expressing regrets about his handling of Times reporter Judith Miller [JURIST archive] and her role in the CIA operative leak case [JURIST news archive]. Keller said he missed "warning signals" about Miller's role in the case, and her "entanglement" with Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby [official profile], signals that might have lead him to seek compromises with Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald [official profile; investigation website]. In the memo, Keller also criticized Miller directly, saying she "seems to have misled" the Times Washington bureau chief by not disclosing that she was one of several reporters that had been told Valerie Plame was a CIA operative. Miller, who is taking time off from the newspaper after her release from jail, disputed Keller's allegations in an interview. The New York Times has more.
12:31 PM ET - An Electoral Commission official said Saturday that thusfar the IECI had found no evidence of serious fraud in the October 15 poll, although its audit of returns was not yet complete. Reuters has more.
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