Female Suicide Bombers Kill 57 in Iraq; No Charges to be Brought For Reporter’s Death; Egyptian Ferry Owner Acquitted

By Ben Turner
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

BAGHDAD, Iraq – On July 28, four female suicide bombers attacked a Shiite pilgrimage in Baghdad and a Kuridsh protest rally in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.  57 people were killed and nearly 300 other were injured as a result of the blasts.

In Baghdad, three of the suicide bombers detonated their explosives in three different locations within 30 minutes of each other.  The Baghdad attacks left 32 dead and wounded 102 others.  The attackers targeted Shiite pilgrims taking part in an annual march to one of their holiest shrines.

In Kirkuk, another suicide bomber detonated her explosives in the middle of a crowd attending a Kurdish political protest.  After the explosion, gunmen fired into the crowd.  The attack killed 25 people and wounded 185 others.

For more information, please see:

Associated Press – 4 Female Bombers Strike in Iraq, Killing 57 – 28 July 2008

CNN – Female Suicide Bombers Target Pilgrims, Rally – 28 July 2008

Los Angeles Times – Female Suicide Bombers in Baghdad and Kirkuk Kill 57, Injure 280 – 28 July 2008

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LONDON, England – On July 28, the Crown Prosecution Service has said that there is insufficient evidence to charge anyone in the death of Terry Lloyd, a British journalist who was killed in Iraq in 2003.

Lloyd, who was working for Britain’s Independent Television News, was shot by an American weapon when his four-man team was caught in crossfire between U.S. and Iraqi forces on the outskirts of Basra.
A 2006 British inquest ruled that U.S. forces unlawfully killed Lloyd while he lay in the back of an ambulance.  The Crown Prosecution Service said it was impossible to determine who fired the bullet that killed Lloyd.

The Pentagon completed an investigation into Lloyd’s death in May of 2003 and “determined that U.S. forces followed the applicable rules of engagement.”  ITN said it was disappointed by the decision and accused U.S. authorities of being uncooperative.

For more information, please see:

Associated Press – UK: No Prosecution Over Journalist Death in Iraq – 28 July 2008

BBC – No Charges Over Reporter’s Death – 28 July 2008

Telegraph – No-One to be Charged Over Shooting of ITN Reporter Terry Lloyd in Iraq – 28 July 2008

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CAIRO, Egypt – An Egyptian court acquitted the owner of a ferry that sank in the Red Sea two years ago, killing more than 1000 people.  The ship’s owner, Mamdouh Ismail, and his son, Amr Ismail, were cleared of negligence and corruption charges.

Mamdouh is a member of the Egyptian parliament’s upper house and Amr was a top executive in the ferry company.  The two fled Egypt after the sinking and opposition papers accused government officials of helping them escape.  They were tried absentia in Egypt.

The ferry sank in February 2006 after a fire broke out on board.  The ship was traveling from Saudi Arabia to Egypt and most of the victims were Egyptian workers returning home.  The slow rescue operation by the Egyptian government led many of the victims’ families to openly criticize Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.  The ferry incident is only the latest example in long standing charges that the Mubarak government has abetted corruption by wealthy businessmen close to the regime.

For more information, please see:
AFP – Outrage over 2006 Egyptian Ferry Disaster Acquittals – 27 July 2008

Associated Press – Owner of Sunken Egyptian Ferry Acquitted – 27 July 2008

BBC – Anger at Egyptian Ferry Verdict – 27 July 2008

UPDATE: Chaudhry’s Future in Interim Government Uncertain; Winters Proposes Pacific Court ; Fiji Law Society President Wants New Leaders

By Ryan L. Maness
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Oceania

SUVA, Fiji — The Fiji military council is reported to be once again calling for the ouster of Fiji’s interim finance minister Mahendra Chaudhry, but no official comment has been released by either the military or the interim government concerning the reasoning.  The speculation rose to the point where rumors were circulated among Fiji’s political circles that Chaudhry had been sacked.  Interim prime minister Frank Bainimarama, however, was clear that the finance minister had not been asked to resign.

Previously Chaudhry was under pressure to leave government due to allegations from the Fiji Times of inconsistencies in his taxes (an interim government investigation cleared him of any wrong doing).  The current tensions are reported to arise regarding differences of opinion regarding a proposed taxation on bottled water.

For more information, please see:

Fiji Times — Military keeps cards close to chest — 26 July 2008

Radio New Zealand International — Speculation in Fiji over Chaudhry’s continued role as interim finance minister — 24 July 2008

Radio New Zealand International — Fiji interim PM says Chaudhry stays despite differences over tax — 24 July 2008

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NADI, Fiji — Addressing the Fiji Law Society, former Fiji High Court justice Gerard Winters said that the Pacific should consider creating a Pacific Court to offer legal analysis and hear certain cases.  He said that such a court, which could be based in Vanuatu, would serve as the paramount court for hearing cases arising out of Fiji.  Such a court, he explained, such a court is workable because of the close bonds that exist among Pacific nations.

Professor Brian Opeskin, of the University of the South Pacific, thought that the idea should be encouraged.  “I think this is just another mechanism that can be considered in order to try and make the region a strong one that can ensure the rule of law across the region and to avoid problems of political instability and problems with law and order that we have seen arise from time to time across the region,” he said.  “So the idea of strengthening judicial services including through the court is certainly a good one that needs to be explored.”

Dr. Shaista Shameem, chairperson of the Fiji Human Rights Commission, is not as optimistic that the planned court is workable.  Noting that the idea is about 30 years old, she said that Pacific countries are too legally and socially diverse for such a court to function.  “It [would require] acceptance by member states and at present this seems somewhat remote since there is no common human rights or legal identity or mechanism that everyone can agree with, beyond just New Zealand and its dependencies in the Pacific.”

For more information, please see:
Radio New Zealand International — Academic backs call for Pacific Court — 21 July 2008

Fiji Times — Legal plan ‘now new’ — 20 July 2008

Fijilive — Pacific Court notion revisited — 19 July 2008
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SUVA, Fiji — Fiji’s interim Prime Minister has said in recent weeks that the electoral and social reforms needed in Fiji are unlikely to be realized before next March’s election deadline and as such democratic elections will probably not be held as promised.  These comments have sparked controversy from multiple corners, among them the president of the Fiji Law Society, Isireli Fa.  Fa told the Fiji Times that it was “misguided” that electoral reforms were needed before elections could take place.  He went on to stress that any proposed reforms must be imposed by Parliament, not the ruling party, or else any reform would be “illegitimate and [would] bring more problems than it solves.”

Fa also expressed his belief that the Fiji Law Society needs to ensure that the country is governed by the rule of law.  To this end, he wants to see a new cadre of leaders emerge from the next election.  Radio New Zealand International reports that according to Fa the current government is weighed down by the baggage of the colonial period.  He believes that the way forward is for both current groups to refrain from contesting the results of the next election.  “What we should see is new leaders from within the party who could carry the party forward into policies and thinking that’s in line with a multi-racial government and a multi-racial constitution, as opposed to leaders who still hang on to nationalistic principles.”

Fa’s comments have not been well received by the sitting political leaders.  The national leader of the deposed SDL party, Peceli Kinivuwai, said that the rules of citizenship are very clear in the Constitution and that anyone of voting age should be allowed to stand for elections.

For more information, please see
:
Radio New Zealand International — Fiji Law Society calls for new leaders to emerge — 21 July 2008

Fijilive — Anyone can stand for elections: SDL — 20 July 2008

Fiji Times — Law society pushes for rule of law — 17 July 2008

Israel Approves West Bank Settlements; Poverty Rates Increase in Gaza, Despite Truce; HRW: Syria Needs to Investigate Prison Deaths

By Laura Zuber
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Middle East

JERUSALEM – On July 24, Israeli officials revived plans to construct a new settlement in the occupied West Bank.  Two years ago, Israel was prevented from constructing a new settlement, Maskiyot, in the Jordan Valley, due to US pressure.  The decision to begin construction is significant because of the promises made by Israel in the Annapolis conference late last year.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Israel of undermining US-backed peace talks with the latest settlement plan.  “This is destroying the process of a two-state solution,” Erekat said. “I hope the Americans will make the Israelis revoke the decision. I think they can make the Israelis do this.”

The new settlement would be the first in a decade and would contribute to a wave of building going on across the West Bank, as Israel adds thousands of new homes to existing settlements despite international calls to halt construction.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said that he was “deeply concerned” about the construction plan, adding that it would violate international law.  Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the transfer of civilians to occupied lands.

For more information, please see:

The Daily Star – Israel Set to Build More Illegal Settlements in Occupied West Bank – 25 July 2008

Independent – Israel Relaunches Plan for West Bank Settlement in Snub to US – 25 July 2008

Washington Post – Revived Israeli Plan for New Homes in West Bank Sparks Outcry – 25 July 2008

International Herald Tribune – West Bank Construction Wins Approval in Israel – 24 July 2008

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GAZA CITY, Gaza – On July 23, UN Relief Works Agency released a report stating that over half of the population in Gaza from falling below the poverty line.  “The number of households in Gaza below the consumption poverty line [has] continued to grow, reaching 51.8 per cent in 2007 despite significant amounts of emergency and humanitarian assistance,” the report said.

Salem Ajluni, an economist with UNRWA and author of the report, stated that Gaza has historically been more vulnerable to difficult economic conditions for a number of reasons, especially due to the fact that two thirds of the territory are refugees and dispossessed of their property.  He also stated that the economic conditions were worsened because of the economic blockade imposed on the territory.

The report stated, “Israeli imposed movement restrictions in the occupied Palestinian territory, whose population is estimated to have grown by about one third since 1999, have resulted in considerable regression over the past eight years and remain the main barrier to economic recovery and development.”

In addition, the report noted that economic conditions continue to decline, despite the truce declared one month ago.

For more information, please see:

Al Jazeera – UN: Poverty Worsening in Gaza – 24 July 2008

ReliefWeb – OPT: More than Half of Gaza Households Slump Below the Poverty Line: Youth Hardest Hit by Unemployment – 24 July 2008

UNRWA – Prolonged Crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: Socio-Economic Developments in 2007 – 23 July 2008

Xinhua – Gaza Poverty Mounts Despite Hamas-Israel Truce – 23 July 2008

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NEW YORK CITY, United States – Human Rights Watch called on Syria to investigate the deadly shooting of inmates by military police at Sednaya prison.  According to reports from inmates, the riot occurred when Islamists protested against an “aggressive search” by prison guards.  In the process of quelling the riot, prison guards fired on the inmates killing an unknown number.

HRW called on Syria to investigate the July 5 riot and to publish the findings.  HRW also called on the government to immediately publish the names of those killed and injured in the incident.  “We still don’t know how the prison standoff ended, or the number and names of those killed and wounded,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW Middle East Director.

Even two weeks after the incident, the Syrian government has not released an official statement.  The official state news agency, SNA, printed a short statement on July 6, which stated “a number of prisoners…incited chaos and breached public order in the prison and attacked other fellow prisoners…during an inspection by the prison administration.”

For more information, please see:

Associated Press – Syria Urged to Probe Prison Riot Deaths – 22 July 2008

Human Rights Watch – Syria: Investigate Sednaya Prison Deaths – 22 July 2008

Reuters – Rights Group Calls for Syria Prison Riot Inquiry – 22 July 2008

French Minister Blames Political Process for French Polanisia Instability; Tonga Passes Legislation to Encourage Reforms; Outgoing Vanuatu MP Challenges Constitutionality of Electoral Law

By Hayley J. Campbell
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania

PAPEETE, Tahiti —  Despite political elections in March, a junior French oversea territories minister is attributing political instability in French Polynesia to the “quarrels and personal ambitions among local leaders” reports Radio New Zealand International.

Jego Yves, the junior French oversea territories minister, says that for the political system to change reforms must start with politicians in Papeete. According to Yves, the key politicians in the capital city are responsible for destabilizing the political system largely because they force local mayors into making deals.

In addition, Yves criticizes the electoral process because he feels the system is corrupt from within. If the two past two elections have not produced better results, says Yves, then new elections are not the answer.

For more information, please see:
Radio New Zealand International — French minister blames Tahiti politics for instability — 24 July 2008

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NUKU’ALOFA, TONGA — Tonga’s Parliament has passed new legislation which seeks to promote greater reforms within the executive and legislature.

The new bill sets up a nine member Commission. Five of those members will be appointed by cabinet including one from the Nobles and People’s Representatives, and the remaining two from the Judicial Services Commission.

The Commission’s job will be to recommend reforms and changes to help facilitate the relationship between the executive and legislature. The Commission will have ten months in order to submit their recommendations to the Privy Council and Legislative Assembly. Among its appointed powers, the Commission can call a national Constitution Convention within seven months of appointment.

As a separation of powers measure, the bill has stipulated that a member of the Commission will not be allowed to serve in the Legislative Assembly or cabinet.

For more information, please see:
Pacific News – New Constitution bill in Tonga paves the way for political reforms – 24 July 2008

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PORT VILA, Vanuatu — Outgoing Vanuatu member of Parliament and Chairman to the Melanesian Progressive Party, Barak Sope, is claiming that an electoral law gives certain politicians an unfair advantage.

Sobe is challenging the constitutionality of Peoples Representation Act No. 33 or 2007. The Act, Sobe says, allows people not within the constituencies of Port Vila and Luganville to vote in two municipal constituencies.

In addition, Sobe claims the legislation allows chiefs and landowners to decide where people residing on their property can vote. Sobe has secured legal representation, and maintains that if his constitutional challenge is successful, a restraining order against the electoral office will ensue, effectively delaying elections until the matter is resolved.

The elections are scheduled for September 2, but may be delayed if Sobe’s constitutional challenge is successful.

For more information, please see:
Radio New Zealand International — Vanuatu elections could be delayed by constitutional challenge — 24 July 2008

Albany Student Detained in Iran; Five Injured Near Obama’s Jerusalem Hotel; Nine Face Stoning in Iran

By Ben Turner
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

TEHRAN, Iran – A University of Albany public health student and as his brother have been arrested by Iranian security.  Kamiar Alaei is enrolled in Albany’s doctorate public health program and is known internationally for his work with HIV/AIDS prevention.

On June 22, security forces detained Kamiar’s brother, Arash Alaei, and held him overnight at an undisclosed location.  The next morning, the security forces escorted him to his home where they arrested Kamiar and seized documents and materials belonging to the brothers.

The Iranian government has yet to announce why the brothers were detained or whether any charges will be brought against them.  According to Human Rights Watch, the authorities have also not provided the brothers with access to counsel.

The brothers are credited with convincing the Iranian government of confronting HIV/AIDS prevention.  The accomplishment is that much more remarkable given Iran’s reputation for considering such topics as sex, drugs and the HIV/AIDS disease as taboo subjects.

For more information, please see:

BBC – Iran Urged to Free HIV Pioneers – 22 July 2008

Times Union – UAlbany Student Detained in Iran – 22 July 2008

Human Rights News – Iran: Release Detained HIV/AIDS Experts – 21 July 2008

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JERUSALEM, Israel – In July 22, a man driving a bulldozer went on a rampage, ramming his construction vehicle into several cars and buses near the hotel where U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama is scheduled to stay later that day.

Eleven people were injured in the attack, including one serious injury.  The man, whom police have identified as a 22-year-old Palestinian with a criminal record, smashed into cars until a civilian witness and police shot and killed the bulldozer driver.  Police described the incident as a terrorist attack.

This is the second bulldozer attack in Jerusalem this month.  On July 2, a Palestinian construction worker rammed his vehicle into several cars.  Three people were killed before police shot and killed him.

Obama, who is scheduled to stay at the hotel tonight, strongly condemned the attack.

For more information, please see:
CNN – Attack Injures 5 Near Obama’s Jerusalem Hotel – 22 July 2008

Reuters – Bulldozer Attack Driver Shot Dead in Jerusalem – 22 July 2008

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TEHRAN, Iran – Iranian courts have sentenced eight woman and one man to death by stoning for adultery and other sexual offenses, including prostitution, incest and illegal sex with a student.  Now that the verdict has been rendered, the group can be executed at any time.

Six of the nine were convicted without any witnesses testifying against them and without the presence of lawyers during their confessions.  The group’s lawyers have called on Iran’s judiciary to prevent the stonings from being carried out.

In 2002, Iranian judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi imposed a moratorium on stoning.  However, at least three executions by stoning have been reported since the moratorium has been in place.

Under Iran’s strict penal code, men convicted of adultery should be buried up to their waists and women up to their chests for stoning. Those carrying out the verdict then throw stones until the condemned dies.  Iran’s penal law dictates that the stones used not be large enough to kill the person immediately.

For more information, please see:
Guardian – Eight Women and a Man Face Stoning in Iran for Adultery – 21 July 2008

Associated Press – Activists: Iranians to be Stoned to Death – 20 July 2008

BBC – Nine Face Stoning Death in Iran – 20 July 2008

Smith Says Way is Clear for Fiji Elections; Media Shocked at Creation of Media Tribunal; People’s Charter Draft Ready End of July, Samy Says

By Ryan L. Maness
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Oceania

SYDNEY, Australia — Fiji’s Interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has been consistent in the past months in his view that social and political reforms were needed before any democratic elections can take place.  This view was directly challenged this week as the Pacific Island Forum concluded talks with Fiji’s leaders and Stephen Smith, Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, said that there is no justification for any delay in Fiji’s people going to the polls next March.

According to Smith, Bainimarama has gone back on the promise election promise that he made to the Pacific Island Forum last year.  With ample time and a stable environment, there is no reason to postpone elections, Smith said.  “There is nothing that we have seen or heard which would stand in the way of that occurring, provided that there is the political will. The political will in the first instance, primarily if not exclusively from the interim government, but also the political dialogue which ensues between the political players in Fiji which we both encourage and welcome.”

For more information, please see:
Fiji Broadcasting Corporation Limited — Smith criticized delay in Fiji elections — 20 July 2008

Fiji Times — No justification for poll postponement: Smith — 20 July 2008

Radio New Zealand International — Forum ministers see no impediment to March elections in Fiji — 16 July 2008

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SUVA, Fiji –– The interim government of Fiji’s stance towards the media has sparked the ire of the country’s Media Council and particularly its chairman, Daryl Tarte.  Tarte is concerned about the perceived differences between what the Council was told by interim Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and what the interim government has actually done.  Addressing the Council, the interim AG said that existing media lalws would be consolidated into one piece of overarching legislation, but a day later the interim government announced that it would create a tribunal to hear appeals on grievances lodged with the Media Council.

The interim government defends its action, saying that there is nothing new in the consolidation of laws.  He also reiterated the government’s previously stated stance that, “We do not want to control the media or the content of the media by licensing it.”

Tarte, however, sees things differently.  He is upset by the fact that there are discrepencies between interim government’s words and their actions.  “At the media council meeting on Wednesday, the interim attorney general was invited to talk to council members about the Government’s-media relationship, and he cateorically stated the government did not intend introducing any form of legislation. The very next day it is announced that government are going to impose legislation.”  Fiji Times also reports that he has expressed his fear that, along with the hearing appeals, the tribunal would set codes of conduct and exact fines.

For more information, please see:
Radio New Zealand News — Fears Fiji tribunal will undermine media — 19 July 2008

Fiji Daily Post News — Media council wants their views heard — 19 July 2008

Radio New Zealand International — Fiji media council stunned by interim regime’s regulation — 18 July 2008

Fiji Times — State move on media shocks council head — 18 July 2008

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SUVA, Fiji — The a draft of the interim government’s much touted People’s Charter should be finished by the end of the month, says the National Council for Building a Better Fiji.  The chairman of the Council, John Samy, said that the time line for getting the the Charter out was accelerated so as not to interfere with  possible elections next year.

Along with the Charter Samy announced that a State of the Nation report would also be released as well as an economic report. During the announcement, which was delivered to an applauding crowd of the NCBBF, he said, “Not all provincial councils are against the idea of the Charter, in fact below the provincial council, at village and grassroot level, the response we are getting is broad based support.”

For more information, please see:
Fijilive — Draft People’s Charter to be out soon — 15 July 2008

Radio New Zealand International — Draft Fiji People’s Charter expected to be complete by end of this month — 14 July 2008

UPDATE: Tonga’s People’s Rep is Cleared of Riot-Related Crimes; PNG Accused of Ignoring Government Minister’s Corruption Charges; UPDATE: Minister Urges PNG to Develop Plan for Refugees

By Hayley J. Campbell
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania

NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga — The number two people’s representative in Tonga, who was charged with crimes relating to the November 2006 riots, has been cleared of those charges.

Tonga’s April elections had been the first since 2006, when the pro-democracy movement turned violent, causing the death of eight and destroying Tonga’s capital city, Nuku’alofa. The riots erupted after the Legislative Assembly of Tonga adjourned for the year without employing promised reforms. Five of the six newly elected candidates faced criminal charges for their alleged involvement in the riots.

Isi Pulu was the first of the people’s representatives to stand trial for his alleged involvement in the riots.

For more information, please see:
Radio New Zealand International — Tonga’s number two People’s Rep cleared on riot-related charges — 14 July 2008

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea — The PNG government is under pressure for allegedly ignoring reports that a government minister took 40 million US dollars from logging deals.

Since 2002, a Senior Minister in the PNG government, who remains unnamed, allegedly took 2.1 per cent of each log exported out of the country. The Post Courier, a PNG newspaper, reported that the money was kept in two Singapore accounts and managed by a consortium.

Bart Philemon, PNG’s deputy opposition leader, believes the government has chosen to ignore the issue:

“The government has been reluctant to deal directly with a lot of these issues. Like any other issues that have come up, it would appear that the government takes a non-active involvement in trying to find out whether there’s substance to some of these allegations or not.”

A public petition is currently circulating which calls on the Prime Minister to make inquiries into the corruption allegations.

For more information, please see:
Radio New Zealand — PNG govt under pressure to investigate corruption allegations — 14 July 2008

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea — A senior minister in Papua New Guinea (PNG) told Parliament last week that the country has no clear plan to deal with refugees currently squatting in the country.

Foreign affairs, Immigrations, and Trade minister, Sam Abal, has announced the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is responsible for deciding whether refugees in PNG should be resettled. The question is whether the refugees prefer to remain in PNG or move to a third country.

Some refugees are uncertain as to whether, after 30 years of living in PNG, they have the same rights as Papua New Guineans, or whether they will only become permissive residents. Mr. Abel says that residents are subsequently confused about their status because of the government’s lack of a clear policy.

Mr. Abel maintains that all refugees currently squatting in Port Moresby have the right to apply for citizenship.

For more information, please see:

The National/ PacNews — No clear policy on West Papuans –Abal — 14 July 2008

NZ Makes Exception to Fiji Travel Ban for Medical Emergency; Fiji Women Request Place at Political Forum; Organization UPDATE: Fiji Police Maintains They Do Not Need Help

By Ryan L. Maness
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Oceania

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — After declaring that it would maintain its travel ban against all members of Fiji’s interim government and their families, the government of New Zealand has granted an exception for the daughters of a Fiji naval officer so that they can visit their seriously ill brother.  Osea Namatalevu, son of Keveli Namatalevu of the Fiji Navy, is a New Zealand based rugby player who is studying in New Zealand and how is in urgent need of a bone marrow transplant to treat his Hodgkins Lymphoma.

Originally the government of New Zealand intended to hold firm to its commitment to its travel ban, despite the pleas of interim government to grant an exception.  Osea’s mother, Makarita Namatalevu, was dismayed at the New Zealand government’s position and worried that the delay in granting the visas could have an adverse effect on her son’s health.

The cost of Osea’s treatment is expected to reach upwards of $50,000, but Fiji’s interim government has announced that it will hold a fund raiser to assist the Namatalevu family with the costs.

For more information, please see:
Radio New Zealand International — New Zealand Government makes exception to Fiji travel ban — 11 July 2008

Radio New Zealand International — NZ upholds travel an despite Fiji plea for for help in medical case — 11 July 2008

Fiji Village — Grant Visas Please — 11 July 2008

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SUVA, Fiji — The Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre and the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement have written letters to the Commonwealth Secretariat Special Envoy to Fiji calling for the final terms of reference for women to have a seat at the proposed political forum.  The letter was delivered to Sir Paul Reeves while he was in Fiji last week.

Virisila Buadromo, executive director of FWRM, has said that it is essential for women to play a role in peace negotiations and post conflict reconstruction in this time when Fiji is transitioning back to Parliamentary democracy.  She also said that, to date, she has been disappointed that she has not yet received a response to the letter.  “We were quite disappointed that despite us sending a letter last week while he was here, asking if he could include us in his meetings, while he was hear trying to formulate the terms of reference, we didn’t get any response from it at all. We think we should be part of the designing of that terms of reference as well as being part of that political forum.”

The forum is expected to convene next month.

For more information, please see:
Fiji Times — Include us, women say — 10 July 2008

Radio New Zealand International — Fiji women’s organization wants a voice in forum — 09 July 2008

Fiji Times — Women’s organization writes to Sir Paul — 09 July 2008

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SUVA, Fiji —  As the investigation into the death threats made against Australian High Commissioner to Fiji James Batley continue, a spokesman for the Fiji Police has said that assistance from other countries may be necessary.  While this marks a change in course from previous statements that have come from his office, Mua has maintained that they “have enough manpower to continue with our investigation and providing security at the High Commission.”  Specifically Mua said that the police department did not the aid that Australia and New Zealand had offered.  “There are other countries where we can get the help from apart from these two countries, the ministry will look into these areas.”

The assistance that Mua has indicated his office may need is more technical.  He revealed this week that officers could not lift finger prints from two of the death threats that had been received (the other death threat was received via email).

While Mua has not wavered on his refusal to allow foreign officers into the investigation, his tone has changed in that last week with regard to the progress of the investigation.  Earlier the Fiji Police had announced that they had strong leads about who was responsible for the death threats, but now that optimism has dwindled.

For more information, please see:

Fiji Daily Post — ‘No Need’ — 10 July 2008

Radio New Zealand International — Fiji Police say they may need overseas help to solve threats against diplomat — 08 July 2008

Radio New Zealand International — Australia prepared to offer assistance to Fiji police — 07 July 2008

Fiji Times — Overseas help for threat case: Police —  07 July 2008

Palestinian Village Sues Two Canadian Companies over Israeli Settlements; Human Rights Groups Call on Iran to End Juvenile Executions; HRW Report on Saudi Abuse of Migrant Workers

By Laura Zuber
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Middle East

MONTREAL, Canada – On July 9, the West Bank village of Bil’in filed suit against two Canadian companies involved in the construction of a neighborhood in the Jewish settlement of Modiin Illit.  The claim was filed in Superior Court in Montreal, Canada, against Green Park International and Green Mount International.  According to the village’s attorney, Michael Sfard, this is the first time that a private company has been sued for investing in settlements.

According to the residents, the neighborhood is being built on Bil’in lands.  The claim asks the Canadian court to order a halt to all construction, the demolition of all the homes the companies have built in Modiin Illit, and nearly $2 million in punitive damages.

The claim states that the construction companies are violating Canadian law.  Canada has adopted the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which determines that a nation transferring its civilian population into occupied territory constitutes a war crime.

“My understanding is that it will serve as a blinking red light for any investors and corporations that are considering doing anything in the settlements,” Sfard said.

For more information, please see:

Al Jazeera – Firms Sued for Israeli Settlements – 11 July 2008

Associated Press – Village Sues Builders of Israeli Settlements – 10 July 2008

BBC – Canadian Settlement Builders Sued – 10 July 2008

Yedoith – Bil’in Residents to Sue Canadian Construction Companies – 10 July 2008

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TEHRAN, Iran – On July 8, Human Rights Watch, along with 23 other human rights groups issued a joint statement to the Iranian government, urging them to end their practice of executing juvenile offenders, those who were under the age of 18 when they committed the crime.  “Iran is violating international law every time it executes a juvenile offender whether or not the individual has reached 18 at the time of his or her execution,” read the joint statement.

Iran is a member state of both the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Both conventions prohibit the execution of juvenile offenders.  According to Human Rights Watch, Iran has executed at least 17 juvenile offenders since 2004; nearly eight times the amount of any other country. In addition, four juvenile offenders are scheduled to be executed this summer.

Two of those facing execution are Behnoud Shojaee and Mohammad Feda’i, due to be executed on Friday 11 July.  At least two other child offenders – Salah Taseb and Sa’eed Jazee – are also at risk of execution in the coming days.  All are convicted of murder.  Under Islamic law, the victim’s family can stop the execution by pardoning the perpetrator or by accepting compensation in lieu of execution.

For more information, please see:

Amnesty International – Iran: Call to Spare Lives of Four Child Offenders Facing Execution – 8 July 2008

Human Rights Watch – Iran: Spare Four Youths from Execution – 8 July 2008

International Herald Tribune – Human Rights Groups Call on Iran to End the Execution of Juveniles – 8 July 2008

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NEW YORK, United States – On July 8, Human Rights Watch released a report titled, “’As If I Am Not Human’: Abuses Against Asian Domestic Workers in Saudi Arabia.”  The report calls on Saudi Arabia to implement labor, immigration, and criminal justice reforms to protect domestic workers from serious human rights abuses that in some cases amount to slavery.  The report is based on two years of research, during which 142 interviews were conducted.

Currently, there are over 1.5 million domestic workers are employed in Saudi Arabia, primarily from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Nepal.  However, Saudi labor laws excludes domestic workers, denying them rights guaranteed to other workers, such as a weekly rest day and overtime pay.  Abuses include beating, starvation, and sexual violence.

Human Rights Watch said that abused workers are more likely to face counter-charges such as “witchcraft” and adultery rather than see their abusers brought to justice.

For more information, please see:

New York Times – Saudi Arabia: Worker Abuse Cited – 9 July 2008

AFP – Rights Group Condemns Saudi ‘Slave’ Treatment of Migrant Women – 8 July 2008

Human Rights Watch – Saudi Arabia: Domestic Workers Face Harsh Abuses – 8 July 2008

Jurist – Saudi Arabia Urged to Improve Domestic Worker Treatment – 8 July 2008

Israel Plans to Change Barrier’s Route; Week of Deadly Bombings in Algeria; Syria: Mass Trial over Call for Democracy

By Laura Zuber
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Middle East

MA’ALEH ADUMIM, West Bank – On August 21, state prosecutor’s office told the High Court that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have decided to “significantly” alter the course of the Separation Barrier.  The barrier will be moved closer to Ma’aleh Adumim, the largest Israeli settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  The shift will result in 4,000 dunams (400 hectares) remaining on the Palestinian side of the Separation Barrier.

The state’s brief to the court came in response to two petitions filed in 2005 and 2006 by residents of Abu Dis and Suahra e-Sharkiya, Palestinian communities located outside the barrier.  The petitioners allege that the proposed route placed 6,000 dunams of their agricultural lands on the Israeli side of the barrier; making it difficult, if not impossible, to cultivate.

Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel said that he planned to instruct the city’s attorney to petition the High Court against the state’s decision.  According to Kashriel, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert does not have the authority to make such a fateful decision for the city given that he was likely to be in office for only one more month.

For more information, please see:

BBC – Israel ‘to Change Barrier Route’ – 22 August 2008

Ha’aretz – Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor to Appeal new West Bank Fence Route – 22 August 2008

Jerusalem Post – State Agrees to Reroute Security Barrier – 22 August 2008

AFP – Israel to Change Route of West Bank Barrier – 21 August 2008

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ALGIERS, Algeria – A series of deadly attacks have resulted in dozens of deaths and in one of the most violent weeks in Algeria in years.  On August 20, two car bombs exploded in the town of Bouira, southeast of the capital Algiers.  The bombings targeted a military compound and the Hotel Sophie.

The bombing near the hotel exploded as a bus drove by taking workers to a construction site, according to the official Algerian press agency A.P.S.  12 people on the bus were killed and 15 injured.  The bombing near the military compound resulted in extensive damage to the compound and nearby barracks.

In a statement released on August 21, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the attacks.  Until 2006, the group called itself the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat and is the last big extremist group from the Algerian civil war in the 1990s.

The twin bombings follow earlier attacks on August 19 and 17.  On August 19, a suicide bomber drove a car full of explosives into a group of young men waiting to take the entrance exam for the police academy in the town of Issers.  The attack resulted in 43 deaths and several dozen injuries; most of those killed were civilians.

In addition, on August 17, 12 people were killed in an ambush of a military commander and his escort.  No group has claimed responsibility for these attacks.

For more information, please see:

Al Jazeera – Al-Qaeda Claims Algeria Attacks – 22 August 2008

Guardian – Bombings Add to Fears Algeria is al-Qaida Hotbed – 20 August 2008

New York Times – Bomber Kills at Least 43 Near Capital of Algeria – 19 August 2008

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DAMASCUS, Syria – On July 30, the trial for 12 Syrian dissidents for signing a declaration calling for democracy in Syria began.  Charges include harming the state and spreading false information.  All 12 will deny all charges when they appeared in a Damascus court, the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria (NOHRS).

Among those being tried are Fidaa Horani, president of the national council of the Damascus Declaration, writer Ali Abdallah, doctor Walid Bunni, writer and secretary of the national council Akram Bunni and former MP Riad Seif.  The accused are linked to a pro-reform body know as the Damascus Declaration group. They were arrested in the months following a group meeting in December.

It is the biggest collective trial of Syrian dissidents since 2001 after the so-called Damascus Spring, the brief period of relative freedom of expression that followed President Bashar al-Assad’s rise to power in 2000.

The trial was adjourned and will resume on August 26.

For more information, please see:

AFP – Syria Hold Mass Trial Over Call for Democracy – 30 July 2008

BBC – Trial of Syrian Dissidents Begins – 30 July 2008

UN Denies PNG Refugee Requests for Resettlement; Nauru’s Influential Former President Dies; Two Plead Guilty to Human Trafficking in Mariana Islands

By Hayley J. Campbell
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea — Despite requests for resettlement, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has announced that there is no rush to remove the roughly 100 Papuan refugees currently squatting in Papua New Guinea’s capital.

The refugees have accused the UNHCR of neglecting the group’s needs. The UNHCR, meanwhile, has explained that Papua New Guinea has a plan for the refugees to remain in the country.

Within the last 9 months, the group has moved from different locations throughout Port Moresby. Currently the 100 are squatting in a Boroko public park. Richard Towle, a regional representative for UNHCR, explains that, similar to the 10,000 Papuan refugees currently residing in PNG, this relatively small group has little to complain about:

“But they have refugee status, they are safe. there’s absolutely no suggestion of forced return to Indonesia. We’re satisfied that the basic principles of international protection are being fully met here. Certainly there’s a sympathy that we have for a small group of people that can’t find a place to live. I think there are some solutions that need to be explored. We’re happy to work with government and with this group to try and find them in PNG.”

Meanwhile, local NGO activist,  Richard Brunton, has painted a different picture. According to Brunton, the elderly and children refugees are suffering the most due to poor living conditions among the camps:

“[F]or the past three or four days, real problems with sanitation and water. I’ve not seen one visit by UNHCR, Provincial Affairs, Foreign Affairs, even the Governor of the city, nobody’s been down here to check out their conditions or hear the concerns about their safety and not having a place to stay.”

For more information, please see:
Radio New Zealand International — Papuan refugees in PNG don’t need resettlement, says UNHCR — 06 July 2008

Radio New Zealand International — Concern voiced for welfare of Papuan refugees in Port Moresby — 04 July 2008

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YAREN, Nauru — Controversial former President of Nauru, Rene Harris, has passed away at the age of 61. A state funeral was held shortly after his death.

President Harris had been an influential member of Nauru’s Parliament, having served for 31 years. He had also served as president for a total of 4 years between 1999 and 2004.

In particular, Mr. Harris was known for supporting the controversial “Pacific Solution.” As part of this “solution,” the Australian government had introduced a detainment center which soon employed roughly ten per cent of Nauru’s population. The program was aimed at keeping asylum seekers off Australian turf by detaining 1,637 refugees on nearby Nauru and Manus islands. The policy garnered global attention in 2001 when Aghan refugees were offloaded on Nauru, and in 2004, when several detainees went on a hunger strike and sewed their mouths shut to protest their incarceration.

Despite the Pacific Solution’s widespread criticism, Foreign Minister and member of Mr. Harris’s opposing party, Kieren Keke, remembered the former President as an influential and tough politician.

For more information, please see:
Radio New Zealand International — Former President of Nauru Rene Harris dies — 06 July 2008

Radio New Zealand International — Nauru’s former President remembered as strong willed but amicable person — 07 July 2008

Sydney Morning Herald — Nauru ‘Pacific Solution’ president dead — 06 July 2008

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SAIPAN, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands — A Guam man pled guilty to allegations that he was involved in the trafficking of women from Chuuk, Micronesia from April 2006 to January 14, 2008. The man is one of two men recently charged with criminal conspiracy related to human trafficking.

In total, nine women from Chuuk were brought to Guam to work at a place called the Blue House bar. In their pleas, Saknin Weira and Freuda Eseun admitted to recruiting, enticing, transporting, and getting women to perform sex acts for money, the Marianas Variety reported. In addition, the owner’s of Blue House bar, Song Ja Cha and Han Cha, will be charged with conspiracy, sex trafficking, coercion, and enticement to travel for the purpose of prostitution.

Weria and Eseun plead guilty to Chief Judge Francis Tydingco-Gatewood, from a U.S. District Court of Guam. The Marianas Variety had reported that one of the men who pled guilty is mentally challenged.

For more information, please see:
Marianas Variety — Second Bar Worker Pleads Guilty In Human Trafficking Case — 07 July 2008

Syrian Prison Guards Kill Rioting Inmates; US Agrees to Remove Immunity for Private Security Guards; Case Against Rights Activist and Al Jazeera Bureau Chief Begins in Morocco

By Laura Zuber
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Middle East

DAMASCUS, Syria – On July 5, prisoners at the Sidnaya Prison clashed with guards and resulted in the death of several inmates.  Confusion surrounds the incident as there are varying accounts of the riot from the prisoners via human rights groups and the guards via the state run news agency.

According to London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights the incident began when prisoners reacted to “aggressive raids” that targeted Islamist inmates.  Guards responded by firing live ammunition and killing at least 25 prisoners.  One inmate reported that the guards “shackled our hands behind us, confiscated our clothes and possessions, and beat us. And they insulted the Koran, they trod on the Koran.”

However, on July 6, SANA, the state run news agency, reported that the “prisoners sentenced for crimes of terrorism and extremism caused trouble… They attacked their comrades during a prison inspection.”  The agency did not comment on the number of casualties.

Sidnaya Prison currently houses thousands of Islamists on political and security charges as well as, liberal or moderate political prisoners.  According to the Observatory, many of the Islamist prisoners have been at Sidnaya for years without trial.  The organization also reports that the raids were in response to protests held by the prisoners calling for improved prison conditions.

For more information, please see:

Financial Times – Confusion Clouds Fate of Prisoners in Jail Riot – 7 July 2008

BBC – Syria Blames Inmates in Jail Riot – 6 July 2008

Reuters – Syria Prison Riot Draws Conflicting Accounts – 6 July 2008

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BAGHDAD, Iraq – The Iraqi Foreign Ministry stated that the US has agreed to remove immunity for private security guards working in Iraq.  The lifting of immunity for foreign private security guards would make them subject to prosecution under Iraqi law.

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari statement was made just prior to briefing Iraqi MPs on the controversial US-Iraq long-term security pact which is being negotiated.  Currently, US troops operate under a United Nations mandate, which expires in December.

According to Falah Shanshal, a lawmaker from the Sadrist bloc, Iraqi negotiators are working “to submit the American soldiers, their security companies and their movements and behaviors in military operations to Iraqi law.”  In addition to removing immunity for private security guards, some Iraqi politicians are working to remove immunity for US troops as well.

Immunity for private security guards became an issue last September when a Blackwater shooting in Baghdad in September left 17 Iraqis dead.

For more information, please see:

AFP – US Agrees to Scrap Immunity for Security Guards in Iraq – 2 July 2008

Al Jazeera – Immunity for Iraq Guards Removed – 2 July 2008

New York Times – U.S. Agrees to Lift Immunity for Contractors in Iraq – 2 July 2008

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RABAT, Morocco – On July 1, the Rabat Court of First Instance began hearing a case against Al Jazeera’s Rabat Bureau Chief Hassan Rachidi and human rights activist Brahim Sab’alil.  The two are charged with the dissemination of “false information” for reporting that people were killed in clashes with security forces.  The alleged incident occurred in the southwestern port city of Sidi Ifni on June 7 in a protest over poverty and rising unemployment.

Sab’alil is the president of the Sidi Ifni section of the Moroccan Center for Human Rights (Centre Marocain des droits humains, CMDH), an organization that provides ongoing information about human rights conditions in Sidi Ifni.

He was arrested on June 27, after he took part in a press conference in Rabat, where he presented evidence of human rights violations during the June 7 protest.  Rachidi was arrested for airing these claims on the network.

In addition to the charges, Rachidi also had his journalistic accreditation cancelled.

For more information, please see:

AHN – Morocco Under Fire Over Charges Against Journalist – 1 July 2008

Al Jazeera – Al Jazeera Trial to Open in Rabat – 1 July 2008

Human Rights Watch – Morocco: Drop Criminal Charges Against Rights Defender, Journalist – 1 July 2008

Arab Israeli Kills Three in Bulldozer Attack; Yemen Acts to Address HIV Stigma and Discrimination; HRW Urges Jordan to Withdraw Draft Laws

By Laura Zuber
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Middle East

EAST JERUSALEM, Occupied Palestinian Territories – On July 4, the Israeli military prepares to demolish the home of Hussam Dwayat, a Palestinian living in East Jerusalem.  This follows the legal opinion of Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz which stated: “In light of repeated rulings over the years by the Supreme Court, it cannot be said that there is a legal objection… to the demolition of houses in Jerusalem, but the move would create considerable legal difficulties.”

On July 2, an attacker, thought to be Hussam Dwayat, who works as a contractor in Jerusalem, used a bulldozer to ram a bus in Jerusalem.  At least two Israelis were killed and at least 14 people were hospitalized.  The attack stopped only after the driver was shot by an Israeli police officer.

In response to the anticipated demolition, B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, stated, “The demolition of houses is a clear case of collective punishment, which violates the principle that a person is not to be punished for the acts of another. Collective punishment is therefore illegal regardless of its effectiveness.”

It is reported that 20 family members live in the targeted home.  Dwayat had no known ties to any political or terrorists groups, and the attack is not thought to be politically motivated.  In addition, he had a history of drug abuse and violence, for which he spent a year in jail.

For more information, please see:

BBC – Israel to Destroy Attacker’s Home – 4 July 2008

AFP – Israel Looks at Demolition of Palestinian Attackers’ Homes – 3 July 2008

International Herald Tribune – Driver Rams Bulldozer into Jerusalem Bus, Killing at Least Two – 2 July 2008

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SANA’A, Yemen – On July 3, a Yemeni non-governmental organization, composed of members of parliament, prepared a draft legislation that would guarantee the rights of people living with HIV/IDS.  Abdul-Bari Dughaish, chairman of Parliamentarians to Prevent HIV/AIDS, said that while the constitution guaranteed people’s rights, this law would reinforce that protection.

The law prohibited discrimination against HIV-positive people looking for accommodation and services.  It would outlaw the dismissal of workers based on their HIV status.  It would also guarantee paid health leave for public employees living with HIV/AIDS.

One objective of this legislation would be for people with HIV to be treated in the same way as people with other chronic health conditions. “Those living with HIV can lead as normal lives as diabetics or hepatitis patients,” Dughaish said.

In addition, in June 2008, several workshops were held in Yemen to train 25 religious and health officials on how to combat the stigma and discrimination attached to HIV/AIDS.  Not only did the workshops aim to reduce the negative connotations associated with HIV, but also to prevent the spread of the disease by promoting education.

For more information, please see:

Zaywa – New Law to Guarantee Rights of People Living with HIV – 3 July 2008

Yemen Observer – Stigma and Discrimination Against HIV/AIDS People can be Reduced – 24 June 2008

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NEW YORK, United States – On July 1, Human Rights Watch called on the Jordanian prime minister, Nader Dahabi, to withdraw two draft laws from consideration by the parliament.  The first, regarding non-governmental organizations, would further expand the government’s wide control over establishing, operating, and funding NGOs.  The second, on public assembly, would continue to restrict Jordanians’ right to congregate, by requiring the Ministry of Interior’s approval for meetings that discuss “public policies.”

The two laws were introduced in an extraordinary session of parliament in May and June 2008, after Dahabi had withdrawn an earlier draft of the NGO law from parliamentary consideration in January 2008 and urged a revision of the assembly law.

The NGO law would give the government power to obtain an NGO’s future work plans, governmental approval for donations to an NGO, and allow the government to shut down an NGO for minor infractions. Also, the law allows the government to appoint a state employee to serve as temporary president of an NGO.

“These draft laws show Jordan’s intolerance for critical debate in a democracy,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

For more information, please see:

AHN – Jordan Criticized Over New  Laws, Urged to Withdraw Drafts – 1 July 2008

Human Rights Watch – Jordan:  Scrap New Laws that Stifle Democracy – 1 July 2008

Jerusalem Post – Jordan Enacts Laws Restricting Demonstrations, NGOs – 1 July 2008

Dubai Prison Director and Staff Jailed for Beatings; Algerian Christians Jailed for Spreading Faith; Top Iraqi Judge Assassinated

By Ben Turner
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Twenty-five UAE prison officers, including a former prison director, were given jail sentences after being convicted of their involvement in prison beatings.  The former director and six others were jailed for six months while the other 18 officers were jailed for three.

The incident happened in 2007 in Dubai during a search for drugs.  The defendants were all accused of “abuse of power and ill-treatment of detainees under their guard.”

According to attacked prisoners, the officers formed two lines outside the cell door and ordered the inmates to come out.  As they walked through the two lines, the officers beat and kicked them.  One man suffered spinal injuries.

For more information, please see:

BBC – Dubai Jailers Jailed for Beatings – 30 June 30 2008

Khaleej Times – Prisoner Assault Case Verdict on June 29 – 16 June 2008

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ALGIERS, Algeria – Two Algerian men who converted from Islam to Christianity were arrested and charged with illegally promoting Christianity in Algeria.  The two men, Rachid Mohammed Seghir, 40, and Jammal Dahmani, 36, were charged with praying in a building that had not been granted a religious permit by authorities and of trying to spread the Christian faith among Muslims.

The two men were already convicted in absentia for illegal practice of a non-Muslim religion in 2007 but requested, and were granted, a new trial.

Algeria’s constitution allows religious freedom but a 2006 law narrowed how non-Islam religions can be practiced.  The law forbids anyone from attempting to convert a Muslim to another faith with penalties as high as five years in prison and a $15,570 fine.  The law is viewed as a response to a recent rise in the membership of Protestant faiths in Algeria.

Both Seghir and Dahmani are evangelical Christians.

For more information, please see:
Associated Press – Christians on Trial in Algeria for Spreading Faith – 25 June 2008

International Herald Tribune – Converts on Trial in Algeria for Spreading Christian Faith – 25 June 2008

AFP – Algeria Court to Rule Next Week in Trial of Christian Converts – 25 June 2008

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BAGHDAD, Iraq – Kamel al-Shewaili, a leading judge in Iraq, was ambushed and assassinated as he was driving in eastern Baghdad on June 25.  Al-Shewaili was the head of one of Baghdad’s two appeals courts and was in charge of handling criminal cases for eastern Baghdad.

Masked assailants blocked the judge’s car with two vehicles and then opened fire on his car. In January, gunmen killed Appeals Court Judge Amir Jawdat Naeib as he was drove to work.  Both judges were members of the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council which supervises the judiciary and nominates senior judicial officials.

Iraqi professionals, such as judges, doctors and lawyers have often been targeted in the sectarian fighting in Baghdad.

For more information, please see:
BBC – Top Judge Assassinated in Baghdad – 27 June 2008

CNN – Iraq Judge Gunned Down – 27 June 2008

Reuters – Gunmen Kill Leading Iraqi Judge in Ambush – 27 June 2008