[JURIST] Delegates from around the world will meet Monday in New York in a bid to resolve differences left after a drafting session [JURIST report] earlier this year to frame a 33-article draft convention [text] designed to protect the rights of persons with disabilities. If negotiations are successful, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will be sent to the General Assembly [official website] at its next session and then opened for signature and ratification.
Currently, only 45 countries have laws that govern disability rights. The new convention would mandate gradual incorporation of disability-friendly features into the construction of new buildings, as well as eliminate disability discrimination and promote education and disability information. UN News Centre has more.
[JURIST] Australian Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee David Hicks [JURIST news archive] may serve up to seven more years in US military custody before facing trial under a new military tribunal system, his military lawyer Major Michael Mori said Sunday. Since the US Supreme Court's decision [JURIST report] in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld [opinion text] found US military commissions as constituted illegal under military law and the Geneva Conventions, a new commission or process will have be established to try Hicks.
Mori said delay is inevitable as lawyers for other detainees would challenge the establishment of whatever new tribunal is established, leaving Hicks' future uncertain until the disputes are resolved and the new tribunal is in place. Mori again called upon the Australian government to help Hicks, saying "my country won't tolerate the military commissions for our own citizens and it's odd to see a country (whose) government will go along with it." Despite Mori's previous requests, Australia has refused to extradite Hicks [JURIST report] or otherwise assert its own jurisdiction, although it has suggested that if convicted he would be imprisoned in Australia [JURIST report] after trial. The Sydney Morning Herald has local coverage.
[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [official website; JURIST news archive] has called on the US to deny a request from Israel to provide cluster munitions for use against targets in Lebanon. HRW wrote a letter [text] to National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley Friday in response to a New York Timesreport that revealed Israel had requested expedited delivery of short range M-26 artillery rockets. The US approved the sale of the rockets in 2005, before the current Middle East crisis [JURIST news archive] erupted.
HRW opposes the use of M-26 rockets because they scatter and explode over a broad area, making it difficult to eliminate civilian casualties. Additionally, the rockets have a high failure rate, leaving behind "duds" that could explode at any time, creating danger long after the initial attack. Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch said:
the M-26 rocket epitomizes a retreat from precision targeting. It kills civilians across wide areas and leaves volatile submunitions scattered across the countryside that can kill civilians for years to come. This deadly weapon should never be used anywhere near civilians.
[JURIST] Ali al-Shemri, head of Iraq's Ministry of Health [official website], alleged Sunday that US troops wrongfully detained five members of his personal security force and stole their salaries during an early morning raid of the Health Ministry Building. An anonymous coalition official said the raid was conducted following a tip related to a kidnapping. Al-Shemri denied allegations that the ministry has sheltered militant Shiites loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr [CFR profile].
Al-Shemri said that breaches like Sunday's raid "take place on a nearly daily basis" and the Ministry of Health would cease all cooperation with US forces and would request assistance from humanitarian organizations to protect medical institutions from "the US army's violations." Al-Shemri also demanded an apology, the release of the arrested guards, an investigation into the raid, and that the US cease all raids of health facilities. Senior Iraqi officials have objected to aggressive American search tactics on prior occasions. AFP has more.
[JURIST] The Australian government's proposed Migration Amendment (Designated Unauthorised Arrivals) Bill [PDF text] that would require asylum seekers arriving by boat to be processed at offshore camps faces a close vote in the Senate [official website] this week, Australian media reported Sunday. The bill passed [JURIST report] the Australian House of Representatives [official website] on Thursday by a margin of 78-62. The Liberal party government of Prime Minister John Howard [official website] only holds a one-vote majority in the Senate, however, meaning that if one government senator opposes the bill, or if two abstain from the vote, the proposal will fail. Family First [party website] Senator Steve Fielding [official profile] indicated that he will vote against the bill, while it remains unclear how three key Liberal Party [official website] Senators will vote. Opponents of the bill condemn Howard for catering to Indonesia in order resolve a diplomatic discord between the two countries that arose after Australia granted visas to more than 40 Indonesian asylum seekers [BBC report] from Indonesia's Papua province earlier this year.
Under current law, asylum cases are handled within mainland Australia, but the new law will divert most asylum seekers to a processing facility on the small island nation of Nauru [Wikipedia backgrounder]. AFX has more. The Melbourne Agelocal coverage.
[JURIST] Federal prosecutors have asked US District Court Judge Sim Lake to order former Enron Corp. [JURIST news archive] CEO Jeffrey Skilling [Houston Chronicle profile] to pay $182.2 million for his part in the conspiracy with Kenneth Lay [Houston Chronicle profile] on counts of fraud, conspiracy, and insider trading. Originally the government had split the amount between the two - $139.3 million from Skilling and $43.5 million from Lay. However, after Lay's death [JURIST report] in early July, his lawyers filed court papers asking for Lay's record to be cleared [JURIST report] because he had not yet been sentenced or had the chance to appeal his conviction. Prosecutors on Friday asked Lake to make Skilling responsible for the entire amount, however, stating that Skilling is "liable for all the proceeds attributable to all co-conspirators, indicted or unindicted, including Lay."
Lake has not indicated when he will rule on the prosecutors' motion. AP has more.
[JURIST] The speaker of Iran's parliament indicated Sunday that the country would pull out of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) [official website] if what he called its "inalienable rights" to uranium enrichment were taken away. Gholam-Ali Hadad-Adel [Wikipedia profile] stated that such a withdrawal "is well justified." Referring to the UN Security Council resolution [JURIST report] passed last month calling for Iran to suspend its nuclear program, Hadad-Adel said that "there is no single reason to justify their (the UN Security Council) decision for depriving a country of its rights and peaceful activities." Hadad-Adel nonetheless added that Iran is "still keen to resolve the issue through talks because we believe that our view points and stances are logical."
[JURIST] Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert [official website] has told the parents of two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah in a July 12 raid that Israel is willing to negotiate with Hezbollah for their release, Haaretz newspaper reported Sunday. Olmert said before that he would not negotiate to free the soldiers, but Israel has previously traded prisoners for its own personnel and Olmert reportedly told his cabinet on Sunday that "Israel has done, is doing and will do all it is able to do in order to effect the return home of the sons."
The UN resolution [text] for a Mideast ceasefire adopted by the UN Security Council [JURIST report] Friday and since accepted by Israel, Hezbollah and Lebanon includes a non-binding section calling for the unconditional release of the soldiers. While Israel did not condition a ceasefire on their release, Olmert has told Israel Radio that "a tremendous struggle is being waged to free them." Reuters has more.
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