[JURIST] Leading Tuesday's international brief, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak [official profile] admitted for the first time Tuesday that the recent month-long process of national voting for parliament seats and the Presidential office was flawed and should serve as a lesson to all of Egypt on what needs to be improved for the next national election. Mubarak denied that his election to a fifth term with 88 per cent of the vote was due to these flaws and said that despite them, the elections marked a key step forward for Egyptian democracy. Independent observers and Egypt's own judges criticized the election process [JURIST report] as suffering from bribery, coercion, violence, and forgery. Mubarak changed constitutional and legal limits on the Egyptian presidency to allow himself to run for a fifth six-year presidential term. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Egypt [JURIST news archive]. The Gulf Times has local coverage.
In other international legal news ...
- The South African National Assembly [government website] debates the Childrens Bill [official PDF text] this week which, among other reforms, is set to create a legal ban on the centuries-old Zulu cultural practice of performing virginity checks on young girls. The legislation, originally approved in June, has been sent back and forth between the two houses of parliament for several rounds of amendments. The South African Commission on Gender Equality has recommended the complete abolition of the practice of virginity testing as "an invasion of bodily and physical integrity, and an invasion of privacy". The bill has already been amended to impose the ban on only girls under the age of 16 and to require consent for 16 to 18 year olds. Zulu leaders have protested the ban however, saying that the practice represents important cultural values in the Zulu tribe and that it is also a part of sex education in the community, helping teach girls about HIV/Aids and detect signs of sex abuse. If approved by parliament, the legislation must still be signed into law by South African President Thabo Mbeki [official profile]. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of South Africa [JURIST news archive]. South Africa's Mail and Guardian Online has local coverage.
- The Sixth WTO Ministerial Conference [official website], which opened Tuesday, has already run into a severe disagreement between the US and the EU concerning the use of food aid as part of the proposed treaty on economic equality between developed and developing nations. The treaty proposes a series of methods, most spelled out in the WTO Doha Declaration [WTO backgrounder], that are aimed at elminating poverty and hunger among the world's poorest countries. The current dispute, which also caused the collapse of the previous treaty talks in Cancun in 2003, centers on farming and agricultural subsidies, which developing nations allege prevent them from competing with developed countries' food markets. The EU has alleged that the US practice of sending grain and food to developing countries in need instead of cash, a move the US claims ensures that aid is given where it is needed, is simply a means for allowing subsidies of US agricultural not expressly prohibited by the Doha Declaration. The EU contains the nations with the highest level of agricultural subsidies on the planet. Reuters has more.
- The UN probe into the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minster Rafic Hariri [advocacy website] presented a report Tuesday that alleges that at least 5 senior Syrian government official were involved at some level in the plot to kill the anti-Syrian official. Fourteen other individuals were also included on the list of suspects, whose names have not been made public, as having played a part in the assassination. Probe chairman Detlev Mehlis, due to report to the UN Security Council [official website] on Tuesday, has met with significant resistance from Syrian officials and has repeatedly alleged that the Syrian government is putting obstacles in the way of the investigation. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of the Hariri Assassination Probe [JURIST news archive]. AP has more.