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Legal news from Sunday, May 31, 2009




Sri Lanka refuses external probes into alleged human rights violations
Ximena Marinero on May 31, 2009 11:12 AM ET

[JURIST] Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama [official profile] on Sunday dismissed calls from Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] to publish the official death toll [AI press release] during the finals weeks of the armed conflict [JURIST news archive] that ended earlier this month. Bogollagama said that only Sri Lankan courts will be permitted [France 24 report] to investigate both alleged human rights violations and the number of civilian deaths that occurred during the final weeks of the conflict. AI has called for an independent investigation into the matter, while the UN Under-Secretary-General John Holmes [official profile] has said that it will be very difficult to accurately assess [Reuters report] such a number. Media sources have continued to decry the numbers circulated by Sri Lankan authorities and the United Nations as ranging as much as three times below the actual number of deaths.

The UN Human Rights Council [official website] adopted a resolution [text; JURIST report] last week that welcomed the end of the conflict but failed to call for an investigation into war crimes allegedly committed during the conflict. Aid workers and the international community have expressed concern over human rights violations during and after the Sri Lankan conflict. Despite a joint statement [text; JURIST report] issued by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa about allowing full humanitarian access to refugee or "welfare" camps, the Sri Lankan government has continued to restrict access alleging an ongoing security screening for any remaining rebels.






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G8 leaders to develop legal system for trying suspected pirates
Ximena Marinero on May 31, 2009 9:57 AM ET

[JURIST] Officials from the G8 countries [BBC backgrounder] on Saturday agreed to work toward establishing a system for trying pirates captured in African waters [JURIST news archive]. The recent increase in pirate activity has created problems for where to try captured pirates. If the pirates are tried in Europe, they may be able to bring successful asylum claims, and in Africa, poor governance and corruption place great obstacles in trying the pirates. The G8 ministers recognized the importance of aiding the region to fight drug trafficking cartels and improve their own judicial systems to effectively process and try captured pirates. The proposal will be presented at the upcoming G8 summit in L'Aquila [official website] in July.

Kenyan authorities have brought charges [JURIST report] against 18 Somali nationals who were captured by German and French forces over the past two months as a result of an agreement reached by the EU and the Kenyan government. There is a similar agreement [Reuters report] between the US and Kenya, through which other Somali nationals have been captured and turned over to Kenyan authorities. Earlier this month, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime [official website] obtained Kenyan support [VOA report] to launch a new plan to combat piracy by policing Horn of Africa waters.






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