[JURIST] Groups representing key witnesses appearing before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website; JURIST news archive] told Reuters Saturday that they may no longer participate in court trials following the acquittal of two suspects involved in the 1994 Rwandan genocide [HRW backgrounder]. The umbrella organization for the various survivor groups in Rwanda, IBUKA [advocacy website, in French], threatened [Reuters report] that if the ICTR did not reverse its decisions, the relationship between the ICTR and the survivor groups will end. Approximately 200 protesters marched in Kigali in opposition the ICTR's decisions.
The protests are in response to two decisions by the ICTR last week. On Tuesday, the ICTR overturned [JURIST report] the conviction and 20-year prison sentence of Protais Zigiranyirazo [case materials; Trial Watch profile]. The ICTR found that there was not sufficient evidence to convict him. Also on Tuesday, the ICTR acquitted [JURIST report] Catholic priest Hormisdas Nsengimana [case materials; Trial Watch profile] and ordered his immediate release. A three-judge panel concluded there was insufficient factual and legal basis to convict Nsengimana.
[JURIST] The UN Human Rights Committee [official website] Friday passed a resolution criticizing Iran for human rights violations, especially in the aftermath of the controversial reelection [JURIST news archive] earlier this year of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [JURIST news archive]. The committee flagged detentions, arrests and the disappearance of individuals for exercising their freedoms of assembly and expression as areas of particular concern [JURIST report]. The committee resolution, which passed 74-48, will go before the UN General Assembly for approval in December. The Iranian government immediately downplayed the significance of the committee action, insisting that the majority of the General Assembly does not support it.
Last week, an Iranian court sentenced [JURIST report] five people to death for protesting the election result. Iran began trying some of the arrested protesters [JURIST report] in August. In July, Iranian officials announced [JURIST report] a plan to either press charges against or release most of those held after the riots. Also in July, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) [advocacy website] reported that the number of deaths that occurred during the election protests exceeded governments reports [JURIST report].
[JURIST] Canada's Federal Court [official website] Friday ordered a review [judgment, PDF] of a denial of refugee status for a lesbian US soldier who deserted the US Army in 2007 and fled to Canada. The Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) originally rejected Bethany Smith's application in February, finding that she had failed to seek protection within the US and that such protection would have been adequate. Smith claimed that she was severely harassed and discriminated against based on her sexual orientation while stationed in Kentucky and that she faced possible persecution if she returned to the US. Judge Yves de Montigny held that Smith had presented clear and convincing proof that the US was unable to protect her and found that the IRB member who reviewed the application reached an "unreasonable" conclusion.
[JURIST] A federal judge on Friday ordered the release [order, PDF] of Algerian Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Farhi Saeed Bin Mohammed. Judge Gladys Kessler directed the government to "take all necessary and approrpriate steps to facilitate [Fari Saeed's] release forthwith." The order resulted from a civil action brought against the US government for unlawfully detaining [Miami Herald report] Farhi Saeed since 2002. Kessler's opinion remains classified pending review.
Thirty other Guantanamo Bay detainees have been released based on unlawful detention suits since the US Supreme Court's 2008 decision in Boumediene v. Bush [opinion, PDF; JURIST report]. Earlier this month, lawyers for four Uighurs at Guantanamo Bay filed a petition for certiorari [JURIST report] with the Supreme Court, challenging an appellate ruling [JURIST report] which prohibited courts from preventing the transfer of detainees to foreign countries for fear of prosecution or torture.
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