The UN and others have been working around the world to promote gender equality and reproductive health [JURIST backgrounder]. The UN has been particularly concerned with violence against women, and in March more than 130 UN member states agreed to adopt new measures [JURIST report] to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls. Gender inequality has also manifested in countries' criminal justice systems, and in 2011 the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers [official website] Gabriela Knaul [official profile] urged countries to integrate gender perspectives into judicial procedures to allow women's perspectives to challenge the "traditional notions of judging and judicial authority."
[JURIST] Lawyers for Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto [ICC materials; JURIST news archive] on Saturday requested that the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] postpone his trial so he can return to Kenya to deal with a terrorist attack on a Kenyan shopping mall. A hostage situation at a Nariobi mall has left nearly 60 dead and 175 wounded. Gunmen from a Somali Islamist group attacked [AP report] the Westgate mall on Saturday, holding hundreds hostage while battling Kenyan security personnel for over 30 hours. Ruto's lawyers reportedly claimed [Reuters report] that he is needed in Kenya to oversee security and to deal with the social and political repercussions of the attack.
Ruto is on trial for three counts of crimes against humanity for allegedly fomenting violence following the 2007 elections, leading to the deaths of at least 1,100 people and displacement of more than 600,000. Earlier this month Ruto pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to the charges. Also this month, Kenya's National Assembly voted to withdraw from the ICC [JURIST report]. In June the ICC conditionally granted Ruto's request [JURIST report] to be excused from parts of his trial. Ruto is the first senior serving politician to appear in an international court. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta [official website] is also charged with crimes against humanity, but his trial is not set to begin until November 12.
[JURIST] China's former Communist Party leader Bo Xilai [BBC report] was sentenced to life in prison on Sunday for corruption, embezzlement and abuse of power. Bo was convicted for using his position in the Communist Party of China (CPC) to accept bribes [Xinhua report] in the form of property and money for himself and others from 1999 to 2012. The Jinan Intermediate People's Court stripped Bo of all political rights and seized his personal assets. Chinese authorities formally charged [JURIST report] Bo in July. His case has been viewed as a challenge for China's new president Xi Jinping, who has faced pressure from within the CPC to punish Bo lightly and to avoid a public trial.
The Chinese government has worked in recent years to reform its judicial system and combat corruption. In September the Chinese Ministry of Supervision announced plans to investigate [JURIST report] Jiang Jiemin, director of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission. The investigation stemmed from Jiemin's alleged involvement in an undisclosed "serious discipline violation." In March the chief justice of China's Supreme Court urged [JURIST report] the country to continue to implement legal reform to combat corruption and foster social and economic growth. In December 2010 a former Chinese corruption official was executed [JURIST report] for accepting more than USD $4.7 million in bribes. In July of that same year, China executed [JURIST report] its top judicial official for accepting bribes, protecting criminal gangs and rape. In March 2010 a life sentence for former vice president of the Supreme People's Court (SPC) for bribery and embezzlement was upheld [JURIST report]. Earlier that month, SPC president called for increased efforts to fight corruption [JURIST report] in China's court system. In January 2010 the SPC announced a set of new anti-corruption rules [JURIST report] in an efforts to increase public confidence in the rule of law.
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