October 2008

Iraqi court convicts Iraqi man of killing American soldiers

10/28/2008: The Washington Post reports that an Iraqi judge convicted and sentenced to death an Iraqi man for abducting, torturing, and killing two American soldiers on evidence of the defendant’s bloody fingerprints on a truck used to drag the soldiers. Two co-defendants were acquitted for lack of evidence. This was the first case of an Iraqi investigative judge filing charges and prosecuting an Iraqi for killing an American.

Defense attorneys given access to secret Guantanamo camp

10/28/2008: The Washington Post reports that defense attorneys of the detainees at Guantanamo have been given permission by a military judge to inspect Camp 7 for purposes of understanding the conditions in which the detainees have been held. Questions have been raised in the proceedings before the military commission as to the treatment of the detainees at Guantanamo as related to the effect on the defendants’ mental state and fitness to stand trial.

UN expert says torture still widespread despite international conventions

10/27/2008: Jurist reports that the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment has said that worldwide, torture is still widespread despite a number of international conventions banning it. The expert cited the reliance in many countries on confessions for prosecutions in their criminal justice systems as well as the isolation of prisoners as creating a system ripe for torture and other abuses.

Russia and China said to prevent UNSC from protecting human rights

10/27/2008: The Washington Times discusses how the UN Security Council is prevented from addressing violations of international human rights by the presence of Russia and China as permanent members. The situations in Zimbabwe and Sudan are of particular note. One study notes that in 1990, the EU could get UN General Assembly support on human rights issues 72 percent of the time. Over the last two years, that percentage has dropped to 49 and 55 percent, respectively.

Presidential candidates share views on use of American military

10/27/2008: The Washington Post reports that both Barack Obama and John McCain hold similar views as to when the American military should be used abroad. In the debates and on the campaign trail, both candidates have said that they would commit troops for humanitarian and strategic missions and that such a mission could be for moral reasons as opposed to just defending U.S. interests. They also both concede that the war in Afghanistan is likely to require a long-term commitment of U.S. personnel – which is why both favor increasing the size of the armed forces.

Kenya’s parliament endorses a truth and reconciliation commission

10/27/2008: Jurist reports that Kenya’s parliament has endorsed a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate human rights violations from the nation’s independence in 1963 all the way up to February 2008. The commission will be made up of six Kenyan nationals and three foreigners. No one guilty of genocide or other human rights violations will be granted amnesty by the commission.

ICJ issues provisional order on racial discrimination case

10/27/2008: Exploring International Law reports that the International Court of Justice has issued a provisional order in the Case Concerning Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Georgia v. Russian Federation). The Court was split 8 to 7 in the decision which only orders compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

DNI eases rules on foreign contacts for security clearances

10/27/2008: Secrecy News reports that the Director of National Intelligence has relaxed its policies on giving security clearances to individuals with foreign nationals as spouses or in their immediate families. The previous rules had caused well-qualified linguists and foreign area subject matter experts to have substantial difficulty getting hired by U.S. intelligence agencies. The new directive only eases the barrier; it does not eliminate it.

Coalition forces in Iraq detain Al Qaeda suspects

10/27/2008: War on Terrorism reports that Coalition forces detained two individuals, one of which was a wanted Al Qaeda associate connected to the terrorist group’s foreign operations network. The men were caught west of Baghdad and detained for further questioning.

Judge that tried Saddam speaks out

10/26/08: Newark Live reports that the Iraqi judge who tried Saddam Hussein is speaking about his experience. Raid Al-Saedi says that he took on the job of prosecuting Saddam as a serious duty he owed to his country and its people. Saedi is currently in the United States at Cornell Law School on a fellowship learning about the American legal system so that he can return to Iraq and work to improve its fledgling system.