[JURIST] Brazilian Police announced Friday that they have arrested [BBC report] former Chief Minister of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) Michael Misick, who has been in hiding since fleeing TCI 2009. Misick fled TCI following an inquiry into corruption on the small British territory which implicated him as having been engaged in widespread corruption and having stolen up to USD $180 million from TCI coffers. Misick was arrested in Rio de Janeiro where it is believed by Interpol investigators he had been living for over a year. British authorities are interested in having Misick extradited to TCI where he will be interrogated by the Special Investigation and Prosecution Team appointed by the British government to root out corruption on the islands.
The arrest of Misick comes only a month after TCI returned to self-rule following three years of British direct rule [JURIST report]. The assumption of direct rule was imposed by British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) [official website] following a report [text, PDF; part 2, PDF; part 3, PDF] compiled by the TCI Commission of Inquiry led by Sir Robin Auld [Lamb Chambers profile] documenting widespread corruption among government officials including Misick [BBC report]. The Inquiry Commission was established in July 2008 after media reports [BBC report] of corruption in TCI. TCI have had self-government since 1976, but plans for full independence have been abortive. Island politicians have several times considered and/or proposed a union with Canada [CBC backgrounder]; the east coast province of Nova Scotia [JURIST news archive] most recently floated the idea [CBC report] in 2004.
[JURIST] The Sri Lankan committee appointed to investigate the impeachment charges against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake announced Saturday that they have found her guilty of three charges of misconduct. Bandaranayake was found guilty [Colombo Page report] of three of the five charges against her. The first charge was related to a conflict of interest claim. The fourth charge dealt with claiming of assets for tax purposes. The fifth charge was a claim of bias in dealing with a case against her husband. The second and third charges were dismissed. After this guilty ruling, the committee is allowing a 10-day debate period in parliament to decide if these charges are enough to remove Bandaranayake from her chief justice position. Those in support of Bandaranayake maintain the charges against her are unfair while those in support of the hearings claim the allegations should be enough for impeachment. The debate period will begin when parliament reconvenes January 8.
Earlier this month a group of judges got together to call for impartiality in the impeachment proceedings which began [JURIST reports] last month. The Sri Lankan government has faced various allegations of human rights violations and war crimes by civil rights organizations and the UN since the end of its civil war. In July the government of Sri Lanka said that it may take up to five years to prosecute people accused of war crimes [JURIST report] during the civil war it fought with the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [CFR backgrounder]. Earlier in July Human Rights Watch urged Sri Lanka to stop arresting journalists who criticized the government [JURIST report]. In November the Sri Lankan government was subjected to criticism for its failure to investigate [JURIST report] issues of torture for past human rights violations and to enforce laws against continued torture and ill-treatment by government officials against civilians.
[JURIST] The Emirates Centre for Human Rights (ECHR) [advocacy website] claimed [text, PDF] Thursday that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has arrested an 18-year-old blogger as part of a wider effort to crack down on perceived government opposition. The ECHR claims that UAE security forces searched the home of Mohamed Salem al-Zumer and confiscated several electronics before arresting him and transferring him to an unknown location. The rights group condemned this arrest and the continued practice of arresting peaceful dissenters. In the statement, the ECHR detailed further restrictive practices:
It has emerged that at least nine individuals have been banned from travelling and cannot leave the UAE. These names remained undisclosed due to fears of reprisals in light of the recently passed Cybercrimes Law, which criminalized Emiratis from passing information to both independent journalists and human rights organisations. Those banned from travelling are either relatives of detainees or known to be sympathetic of their plight. They have not been arrested, charged with a crime or given official reasons for the restrictions on their movement.
The ECHR called upon the UAE to end its attacks on free speech.
This is the most recent controversy involving human rights abuses in the UAE. In August a group of lawyers began a hunger strike [JURIST report] to protest their illegal detentions. In July the UAE arrested [JURIST report] a prominent lawyer in a crackdown on Islamist dissidents. Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch in late April called on the UAE to stop the recent crackdown on political activists [JURIST report] by ending arrests and releasing those already in custody, expressing concern that the UAE is threatening to revoke prisoners' citizenship as a way of punishing them for expressing public dissent, an action that the advocacy groups contend violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [text]. AI has previously called on the UAE government [press release] to release such "prisoners of conscience" in compliance with international law. Last November the UAE Federal Supreme Court imprisoned five activists [JURIST report] for participating in a campaign seeking political liberties.
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