Public Discontent with Argentine Government

Public Discontent with Argentine Government

By Sovereign Hager

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

Photo Courtesy of CNN
Photo Courtesy of CNN

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina- Recent increases in food prices, coupled with shortages of electricity and other outages, have led to a dramatic increase in public discontent with the government. Increases in beef prices, Argentina’s dietary staple, has led to numerous protests by farmers.

Other governmental failures allegedly include the lack of progress on poverty reduction programs for Argentina’s outlying areas. Additionally, the public is angry about charges that the President’s spouse and former president, Nestor Kirchner was involved in insider trading while buying $2 million in U.S. currency soon after the 2008 financial crisis.

“Most of the Argentine population is paying for the Kirchners’ mistakes.” said Eduardo Buzzi, head of the Argentine Agricultural Federation and an outspoken critic of the government. Farmers are worried because many producers have allegedly lost their livestock and have had to give away their cows due to drought and because “someone from the government decided what the highest prices would be and forced them to sell their cattle.”

Farmers deny the government allegation that they have been holding back on livestock sales to fatten their cattle and create a shortage of beef. Farmers say that the problem dates back to when the president’s husband ruled the country from May 2003 to December 2007. “Nestor Kirchner is responsible of endless mistakes in economic and productive matters.”

The president of one farming cooperative alleged that the government is “trying to blame someone, and attack the weakest link, in this case the farming producers.” Criticisms of the government have also reportedly come from within the government, though that has been weak due to “Kirchners’ sensitivity to any criticism.”

Close to six hundred farmers rode their tractors in a protest march in central Argentina to demand changes to government farming policies. The leader of the Agrarian Federation said that policies of the government are planned to concentrate production in a few hands. Groups are pushing to toughen the stance of the agricultural sector by “putting a stop to sales if that becomes necessary.”

There have been eight trade strikes in Argentina’s rural sector this year in protest of the government since it tried, in March 2008, to establish adjustable taxes on exports of soybeans, corn, wheat, and sunflower seeds.

For more information, please see:

Latin American Herald Tribune-Argentine Farmers Protest With Tractors-21 February 2010

Meat Trade Daily News- Argentina- Farmers Promise Drastic Measures Against Government-18 February 2010

UPI-Argentina’s Fernandez, Farmers Locked in Row Over Beer Prices-11 February 2010

Canadian Courts Refuse Refugee Claim of Rwandan Ambassador

By William Miller

Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

OTTAWA, Canada – A Canadian federal court refused to give former Rwandan ambassador to Canada Maximin Segasayo a hearing to determine whether he was complicit in war crimes on Thursday, February 18, 2010. The court held that Segasayo could not receive a hearing because he was a senior official and was presumed to be complicit.

Segasayo came to Canada in 1991 to serve as Rwanda’s ambassador to Canada. He served in that position until 1995 when Rwanda ordered him to return. Segasayo refused to return and was granted refugee status in Canada.

In 1998 Canada declared that the Rwandan government had “engaged in gross human rights violation, genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity” during the 1994 genocide. During the genocide, members of the Hutu tribe killed 800,000 members of the Tutsis tribe. The genocide ended when a rebel group overthrew the Hutu controlled government and seized control of Rwanda.

Seqasayo was denied status as a landed immigrant in 1998 because he was a senior member of the Hutu tribe. The Canadian government has been trying to deport him ever since.

On Thursday, Federal Judge Sean Harrington found that Segasayo was not entitled to a federal hearing because there was an irrebuttable presumption that senior officials in a regime were complicit in war crimes. As a result, Segasayo a senior member of the Hutu tribe was not eligible for a hearing to determine if he was complicit in the war crimes.

The judge also held that the case was not ripe for adjudication in court because Segasayo had not yet exhausted all avenues of appeal.

This is the third time Segasayo has lost in federal court during his twelve year fight to stay in Canada. During that time he has also sought a ministerial exemption stating that he was not implicit in any of the atrocities that took place during the Rwandan genocide. An attempt to obtain refugee status from the immigration board claiming that as a member of the Hutu tribe he would be subjected to persecution if returned to Tutsis controlled Rwanda.

For more information, please see:

AFP – Canadian Court Denies Rwandan Envoy’s Refugee Bid – 19 February 2010

Montreal Gazette – Former Diplomat Loses Fight to Stay – 19 February 2010

Ottawa Citizen – Former Rwandan Ambassador Loses Key Court Fight to Stay In Canada – 18 February 2010

Sudanese Government to Sign Formal Peace Deal with Darfur Rebels

By Jennifer M. Haralambides
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

KHARTOUM, Sudan – Sudan government has signed the beginning of a ceasefire agreement with one of the main rebel factions in the volatile Darfur region.

The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) agreed to sign the deal which includes a framework for further talks and for the cancellation of death sentences for around 100 figures.  When the conflict in Darfur began in 2003  there were two major rebel groups, the JEM and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA).

This agreement is seen as an important step toward peace even though one of the SLA has not entered into the talks.   The framework agreement will hopefully be formally be signed on Tuesday in Doha, Qatar.  The deadline for signing this final agreement is March 15.

Jem rebels are involved in negotiations with the government

“Today we signed an agreement between the government and JEM in Ndjamena, and in Ndjamena we heal the war in Darfur,” Said President al-Bashir during a speech on aired on state television.

According to JEM spokesman and aid to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, this agreement starts with an immediate ceasefire, but is not a permanent peace accord.   It includes a framework for further talks where issues such as the sharing of power and wealth, and the return of internally displaced people and refugees will be discussed.

“it is a significant step for peace in Darfur . . . . It is a considerable achievement for both parties,” said JEM spokesman Ahmed Hussein.

The Sudanese official in charge of the Darfur peace process, Ghazi Saleh al-Din, said other groups will hopefully also be included.

“It does not exclude other movements.  I think we can try to emulate the agreement which we signed with JEM and try to speed up the process so that we can try to a final agreement as soon as possible,” he said.

Although the seven-year war between forces loyal to the government and rebels in Darfur has lost steam in recent years, the United Nations estimates over 300,000 deaths throughout the worst years of the conflict.    Roughly 2.5 million people are still displaced.

For more information, please see:

BBC – Key Darfur Rebels Sign Ceasefire Deal – 21 February 2010

CNN – Sudanese Government to Sign Formal Peace Deal with Darfur Rebel – 21 February 2010

Sudan Tribune – Sudan, JEM to Sign Darfur Peace Deal Within Three Weeks – Official – 21 February 2010

The New York Times – Darfur Rebels Agree to Truce With Sudan – 20 February 2010

Chinese Schools Deny Hacking

By Hyo-Jin Paik
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

SHANGHAI, China– Recent cyberattacks against American companies, including Google, has been linked to two prominent schools in China, Shanghai Jiaotong University and Lanxiang Vocational School.

Jiaotong is known to have one of China’s top computer science programs where a few weeks ago, Jiaotong students came out first in an international computer programming competition sponsored by I.B.M.

Lanxiang is a school that runs with military support and trains China’s computer scientists for the military.

Google had announced last week that some of its computer codes were stolen and that digital thieves had attempted to break into the accounts of human rights activists who oppose China’s policies.

In response to the cyberattack, Google confronted the Chinese government regarding its censorship policies where the government blocks politically and culturally-sensitive subject matters from search results in the country.

In China, controlling the web world is considered a matter of state security and although Beijing promotes Internet use for commerce, the government heavily censors materials it considers subversive.

However, the Chinese government had released a statement back in January claiming that their anti-hacking policy is transparent and has denied any involvement in the recent online attacks.

Nevertheless, a professor from Jiaotong’s School of Information Security Engineering who wished to remain anonymous said, “I’m not surprised.  Actually students hacking into foreign Web sites is quite normal.”

Conversely, a school official from Lanxiang said, “I think it’s impossible for our students to hack Google or other U.S. companies because they are just high school graduates and not at an advanced level.  Also, because our school adopts close management, outsiders cannot easily come into school.”

Google’s accusations against China regarding the cyberattacks have created a sensitive issue for the U.S. government in dealing with China. 

After Google went public with the accusations, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton challenged China’s Internet censorship, calling Chinese government control over the Internet an “information-age Berlin Wall.”
For more information, please see:

ABC – Schools in China Say They Weren’t Behind Hacking – 20 February 2010

FOX News – Cyberattacks Traced to Computers in Chinese Schools – 19 February 2010

NYT – 2 China Schools Said to Be Tied to Online Attacks – 18 February 2010

Lawyers Exercised Poor Judgment in Torture Memos

By Stephen Kopko

Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

WASHINGTON D.C., United States – The United States Department of Justice released a report on Friday regarding the conduct of two Bush administration lawyers during the War on Terror.  The lawyers, Jay Bybee and John Yoo, wrote legal memoranda arguing for the use of certain interrogation techniques by U.S. intelligence officials.  While the report questioned their reasoning, it stated that the lawyers should not face any disciplinary action.

Jay Bybee was the head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and Yoo was his deputy during the beginning of the War on Terror.  They wrote legal memoranda authorizing the use of certain interrogation tactics such as water boarding.  The memos also stated that the President may not follow laws prohibiting torture. They argued that those who used the interrogation tactics be shielded from prosecution. The substance of the memos was discovered in 2004 and caused a stir among many elected officials in Washington D.C. Many investigations began in 2004 examining the legal reasoning used in the memos.

The Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility originally found Bybee and Yoo did not follow past precedents against torture and gave poor legal advice.  It found that the lawyers engaged in “professional misconduct.”  The ethics report also stated that the lawyers were pressured by Bush Administration officials to find legal authority allowing for the use of the interrogation techniques.

Despite the findings of the Office of Professional Responsibility, the Justice Department determined that Bybee and Yoo did not engage in professional misconduct but exercised poor judgment.  The report, written by Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis, stated that the lawyers were under pressure at the time they wrote the memos.  The pressure affected their judgment and legal analysis.  However, their actions did not amount to professional misconduct and disciplinary sanctions and proceedings should not be pursued against them for exercising poor judgment.

The report was sent to both the House of Representatives and the Senate.  House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers stated that the report shows that the Bush Administration curtailed domestic and international law in allowing torture.  The same sentiment was echoed by Chairman Patrick Leahy of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Currently, Bybee is a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  Yoo is a professor of law at the University of California, Berkley.

For more information, please see:

Wall Street Journal – Lawyers Cleared Over 9/11 Memos – 20 February 2010

MSNBC – No misconduct by interrogation lawyers – 19 February 2010

NY Times – Justice Department Report Finds John Yoo and Jay Bybee Not Guilty of Misconduct – 19 February 2010