[JURIST] The military trial of 40 senior members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood [party website; FAS backgrounder] resumed in Egypt Sunday despite criticism [press release] from Amnesty International [advocacy website] regarding the country's failure to allow independent observers into the courtroom. Amnesty also questioned the government's use of a military court to try civilians, saying that "Military courts cannot be seen as independent and impartial tribunals."
The 40 defendants, including Khairat al-Shatir [BBC report], deputy guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, have been charged with terrorism and money-laundering. They were initially acquitted of all charges in January in a criminal court in Cairo, but were rearrested shortly after their release. The Muslim Brotherhood holds 88 seats in the 454-seat Egyptian parliament and is the largest opposition party. Its members run officially as independents because the Muslim Brotherhood has been banned in Egypt since 1954. AFP has more.
[JURIST] Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile] said Sunday that he refuses to accept the resignations [JURIST report] submitted by six Cabinet ministers who belong to the country's largest Sunni parliamentary bloc. The Iraqi Accordance Front [BBC backgrounder]. The Accordance Front announced last week that it was leaving the government, in a move said to be a response to al-Maliki's failure to respond to demands [JURIST report] made by the party last month, including pardons for uncharged security detainees, the participation of all government-represented groups in security-related issues, and a commitment to human rights.
The Prime Minister said Sunday that the Iraqi government faces "big challenges" but that a "spirit of cooperation and integration" was necessary for success. Accordance Front leaders, however, said they were committed to their resignations. The Front holds 44 of the 275 total seats in the Iraqi Parliament and was an important partner in al-Maliki's National Reconciliation Plan [text]. AP has more.
[JURIST] Egypt's Judicial Affairs Minister Mufid Shehab said Saturday that the country will lift its 25-year-old state of emergency by June 2008, according to state news agency Mena. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak [official website; BBC profile] promised in 2005 and again 2006 to lift the emergency laws [JURIST report] once a new terrorism law was passed. Shehab said, however, that Egypt will lift the emergency laws even if a new terrorism law is not passed.
The emergency laws [EOHR backgrounder] permit the government to arrest and detain anyone deemed a threat to state security, with detentions renewable every 45 days. The laws also ban public demonstrations and allow military courts to try civilians [JURIST report]. Amnesty International [advocacy website] recently criticized [JURIST report] Egypt for systematic human rights abuses of detainees in its police stations, military camps, and centers run by State Security Investigations. AFP has more.
The Protect America Act establishes legal guidelines on how the United States can conduct surveillance against foreign nationals "reasonably believed to be outside the United States," and requires the director of national intelligence and the attorney general's authorization before surveillance against a specific target can begin. The surveillance will be subject to review by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court [official backgrounder] within 120 days. AP has more.
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