22 February, 2010

Week ending 26 February 2010


Kevin Rudd says Australia faces major terror threat - 23 February
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has warned that his country is now under a permanent and increased threat of militant attack. He also announced plans to fingerprint and face-scan visitors from 10 high-risk countries. - BBC News website

Ex-Guantanamo detainee Mamdouh Habib to sue Australia - 25 February
An Australian man who was held in the Guantanamo Bay US detention camp has won the right to sue his government for complicity in his alleged treatment. Mamdouh Habib says Australian officials were present at torture sessions he was subjected to while in detention. A Federal Court said he was free to sue after rejecting Canberra's claim that an Australian judge could not rule on the actions of foreign officials. - BBC News website


Goods made at Jewish settlements are not Israeli - 26 February
The European Court of Justice has ruled that Israeli goods made in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank cannot be considered Israeli. This means goods made by Israelis or Jews in the West Bank cannot benefit from a trade deal giving Israel preferential access to EU markets. - BBC News website


Violent French husbands 'may be tagged' - 25 February
Men seen as likely to be violent towards their wives could be forced to wear an electronic tag under a law being debated by the French parliament. The tag would have to be worn by men who have received a court order to stay away from their partner. - BBC News website


Malawi court refuses to hear gay couple's case - 24 February
Malawi's Constitutional Court on Tuesday refused to hear the case of a gay couple arrested for "gross indecency" after holding the nation's first public same-sex wedding ceremony.Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza were arrested in late December. Their lawyer argued that the law used against them violated their constitutional rights to privacy, belief and self-expression. Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo said the case was a simple criminal proceeding. - Mail & Guardian website


Ex-Mozambique minister sentenced to 20 years - 27 February
A court sentenced Mozambique's former transport minister to 20 years in prison Saturday for his involvement in the theft of nearly $2 million in the country's biggest corruption case to go to trial since indepence in 1975. Former Transport Minister Antonio Munguambe was conficted of stealing money from the publicly owned company that runs the airports. - The Washington Post website

Goat sex : owner wants wedding - 26 February
Two young men accused of having sex with a goat in central Mozambique are facing criminal charges, and the goat's owner is demanding they make traditional wedding arrangements. - IOL website


Rwanda says genocide law fair, not stifling opposition - 20 February
The Rwandan government justified a genocide law which bans ethnic divisionism and denied claims it is used to stifle freedom of speech. Rights groups, including Amnesty International, say the legislation is vague and ambiguous and is often employed to silence legitimate criticism and discredit opposition parties. - Eye Witness News website

South Korea

South Korea court rules death penalty legal - 25 February
South Korea's highest court has ruled the death penalty does not violate the constitution. The country has 59 prisoners on death row - but the last executions there were in 1997, before an unofficial moratorium to allow for debate. Analysts say it is unlikely executions will now resume. - BBC News website


Statement from the Synod of Bishops, 8-11 February 2010
The Anglican Church of Southern AFrica
Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Draft Bill
Writing Rights blog

United Kingdom

When is a non-resident a resident under British tax rules - 25 February
there are many enduring myths about the legal system. The common-law spouse and judges banging gavels may be the most popular, but not far behind is the belief that if you simply spend 90 days or less in the UK, you are one up on the taxman. But it is a myth that will struggle to survive the publicity surrounding Robert Gaines-Cooper's unsuccessful trip to the Court of Appeal last week. - Times Online website

David Mills awaits Italy bribery case appeal ruling - 25 February
UK tax lawyer David Mills could learn on Thursday whether his conviction for bribery is to be upheld in Italy. Mills was convicted of taking a 600 000 pound bribe from Silvio Berlusconi in 1997 for giving false evidence at one of the Italian PM's trials. - BBC News website

Torture collusion probe urged by human rights watchdog - 20 February
The UK's human rights watchdog has called for an independent review of claims that British intelligence services colluded in torture. The Equality and Human Rights Commission says 25 people now claim the UK knew of their mistreatment abroad. - BBC News website

Fresh legal challenge over MI5 torture guidance - 23 February
The government is facing fresh legal action over secret guidance on torture given to intelligence officers interviewing detainees abroad. Legal charity Reprieve, which represents several former Guantanamo Bay detainees, wants the advice for MI5 and MI6 officers to be published. - BBC News website

Mercy killers to face the full rigour of criminal law, says DPP - 25 February
Mercy killers will face the full rigours of the criminal law under guidelines to be announced today by the Director of Public Prosecutions. But people who answer a loved one's request to assist them in committing suicide are unlikely to be prosecuted, Keir Starmer says. - Times Online website

Law clarified on assisted death - 25 February
New guidance has been issued to clarify the law on assisted suicide in England and Wales. But the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, has made it clear it does not cover so called mercy killing. - BBC News website

See also : British guideline on assisted suicide will capture attention of Kebble murder trial
in InfoUpdate 5 of 2010

Yorkshire Ripper seeks ruling on minimum sentence - 1 March
Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe is seeking a High Court ruling on how much longer he must serve in jail, it can be revealed. A judge said there was no reason why it should not be reported that 63-year-old Sutcliffe is asking the High Court to grant him a finite minimum sentence. - BBC News website

Killer Venables 'where he belongs', says Bulger mother - 3 March
Jon Venables, 27, was recalled to prison last week after breaching the terms of his release from prison. He and Robert Thompson murdered James Bulger in 1993. Jamie's battered body was found by children playing on a freight railway line. Precise details of the nature of Venables' breach were not released by the Ministry of Justice. - BBC News website

British Library warns UK's web heritage 'could be lost' - 25 February
The UK's online heritage could be lost forever if the government does not grant a "right to archive", a group of leading libraries has said. The British Library, along with other institutions, has been archiving UK websites since 2004 but has only been able to cover 6 000 of an estimated 8m. - BBC News website

Pair settle 'lost Titian' claim - 24 February
Christie's has reached an out of court settlement after selling a painting for 8 000 pounds which turned out to be a lost original Titian worth up to 4m pounds. Its previous owners had accused the auction house of negligence over the sale of the picture - Salome with the Head of St John the Baptist - in 1994. - BBC News website

United States

US was told of Toyota claims in 2004 - 21 February
The largest US auto insurer alerted regulators earlier than first believed about a worrying trend of accidents involving Toyota Motor Corp vehicles. Toyota's president, Akio Toyoda, is to make an extraordinary appearance to answer questions from lawmakers next Wednesday about the safety crisis that has engulfed the company founded by his grandfather. - Eye Witness News website

Toyota receives subpoenas for recall documents - 22 February
Toyota has received subpoenas asking it to produce documents relating to problems that led to the recall of millions of its vehicles. Toyota said in a statement it would co-operate with the investigations. The confirmation of the legal requests comes as a document alleging it "saved" $100m on the recalls was released. - BBC News website


Mugabe defends local ownership laws - 1 March
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe defended his controversial local ownership laws at his 86th birthday celebrations on Saturday, saying that they were designed to broaden Zimbabwean participation in the economy. - Polity website
Keyphrase :
Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Regulations

Zim ownership law 'could affect economic recovery' - 1 March
Zimbabwe's new local ownership law, requiring locals to own 51% of major foreign firms, could hurt the nation's economic recovery, the main labour body said on Monday. The law took effect on Monday, giving companies valued at more than $500 000 45 days to inform the government of the racial make-up of their shareholders. The companies will be given five years to comply with the 51% rule. - Mail & Guardian website

And the bill for Mugabe's party was . . . - 27 February
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's supporters say they spent $300 000 (abour R2.3-million) to celebrate his 86th birthday in the impoverished country. - IOL website

Court orders return of diamonds seized by Zimbabwe mining minister - 19 February
The murky saga of diamonds mined in eastern Zimbabwe has once more been aired in the courts, with the ZANU-PF mining minister Obert Mpofu ordered to return 29 kilograms of rough stones he took from the central bank where they had been deposited for safekeeping. - Voice of America News website

Bennett's farm overrun by diamond miners - 20 February
A rights group in Zimbabwe said on Friday Roy Bennett's coffee farm had become overrun with diamond miners. The farm, Charleswood Estate, was seized under President Robert Mugabe's Land Reform Programme. Researcher Farai Maguwu said senior government officials could be involved in diamond mining on Charleswood Estate. - Eye Witness News website


Golden years : time spent in retirement has sharply increased - 23 February
As governments try to tackle huge structural budget deficits, one means of attack is to delay paying state pensions by gently raising the official state-retirement age. Official retirement ages have failed to keep pace with rising life expectancy, making pensions increasingly unaffordable. - Economist website
Includes comparative graph

Miscellaneous E-Things

Twitter and Facebook access for US troops - 27 February
US troops are to be allowed to use social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook following a review of internet use and security. Defence department officials say the benefits of using social media now outweigh the risks to security. - BBC News website

Google execs found guilty of privacy violations : how concerned should we be for Internet freedoms? - 24 February
In a milestone verdict handed down by an Italian court on Wednesday, three Google executives were given six-month suspended sentences for allowng a video about which they were totally unaware to be uploaded to their site, Google Video. Is this the end of Internet freedom, or the beginning of Google's accountability to the individual? - The Daily Maverick website

Google faces European competition inquiry - 24 February
The European Commission is looking into complaints about Google's behaviour, the company has revealed. The complaints were made by UK price comparison site Foundem, French legal search engine ejustice.fr, and Microsoft's Ciao. - BBC News website