Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The US seeks the extradition of MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom...

United States of America has extradition treat...
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Image representing Megaupload Limited as depic...
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Monday, March 05, 2012

Has the rule of law been lost in Fiji - yes says undercover mission...

Auckland Council puts brakes on port expansion into harbour..
A secret fact-finding mission to Fiji has found citizens have no legal way of challenging any of the Government's decisions, and the rule of law and independence of the judiciary has all but vanished.
A return to the rule of law is hamstrung by the benefits members of the ruling regime enjoy, and by state-sanctioned intimidation of dissenters.
In November members of the Law Society of England and Wales visited Fiji on an undercover mission and interviewed past and present lawyers, judges, diplomats and people in non-government organisations.
Their report Fiji: The Rule of Law Lost found a system of governing that was not "transparent, certain, predictable, accountable or democratic".
Foreign Minister Murray McCully said the report was "not very encouraging" but pointed to steps Fiji was taking towards holding elections.
These included a commitment to a public consultation process and a voter registration programme.
"This is a pivotal point in time," he said. "The acid test in the eyes of the international community would be what steps take place now, both in terms of freedom of assembly and media freedom, but also in terms of the public consultation process and whether it will engage all stakeholders.
Mr McCully said the jury was out and he wanted to keep an open mind.
Fiji has been under military rule since 2006, when Frank Bainimarama seized power. He has promised elections in 2014.
The report found that judges and prosecutors had been fired without reason, the state had censored the media and the regime abused its power to intimidate its critics.
"The judges dismissed in April 2009 were given no reasons, no notice and no compensation for loss of office," the report said. "It is apparent that their sin was to comply with their oath of office and to act independently rather than any misconduct. It is difficult to conceive of a more obvious attack on judicial independence."
Many of the state's prosecutors were also replaced with lawyers from Sri Lanka on short-term contracts, the report said.
The report called all national law societies and bars to lobby governments to press for measures to be taken by the Fiji Government to ensure a return to the rule of law.
Labour's foreign affairs spokesman Phil Goff said the report was damning, but he did not think harsher sanctions on Fiji were the answer.
Economic sanctions hurt ordinary people without necessarily having the desired impact on the regime.
* Dorsami Naidu, president of the Fiji Law Society and vocal critic of the Government, was detained by police for 24 hours after protesting peacefully outside a High Court building.
* Hemendra Nagin, a lawyer who led a petition against the forcible removal of the Chief Justice in 2007, was fined $15,000 for professional misconduct.
* Human rights lawyer Imrana Jalal was charged under a decree that did not come into force until two months after she was charged. She was eventually acquitted, but lives in exile.
* Graffiti artists have been charged with sedition.
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Sunday, March 04, 2012

A tearful Putin is president of Russia once more...

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Opposition leaders denounce 'illegitimate, untransparent' polls in which former PM won more than half of votes. Whatever their opinions may be, whatever the claims are: Vladimir Putin is president of Russia once more...
MOSCOW - Mr Vladimir Putin triumphed in Russia's presidential election and, tears rolling down his cheeks, called his victory a turning point that had prevented the country falling into the hands of enemies.

Mr Putin's opponents complained of widespread fraud, refused to recognise the results and said they would press ahead today with the biggest protests since he rose to power 12 years ago.

But former KGB spy Putin said yesterday he had won a "clean" victory and was on course to return to the Kremlin after four years as Prime Minister with almost 65 per cent of votes, partial results showed.

"I promised you we would win. We have won. Glory to Russia," Mr Putin, dressed in an anorak and flanked by outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev, told tens of thousands of flag-waving supporters at a late-evening victory rally under the red walls of the Kremlin.

Denouncing attempts to "destroy Russia's statehood and usurp power," he said: "The Russian people have shown today that such scenarios will not succeed in our land ... They shall not pass!"

The crowd at one point chanted: "Putin! Putin! Putin!" Some danced to keep warm and drank vodka from plastic glasses, with empty bottles crunching underfoot.

A spokesman later said Mr Putin had wept real tears at the victory rally but said they were caused by the biting wind.

It was a defiant and angry speech which left Mr Putin, 59, on collision course with the mainly middle-class protesters in Moscow and other big cities who have staged huge rallies since a disputed parliamentary poll on Dec 4.

Two exit polls showed Mr Putin with 58 to 59 per cent of the votes and incomplete results showed him winning more than 64 per cent.

His nearest rival, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, had about 17 per cent of votes, and nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, former parliamentary speaker Sergei Mironov and billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov were all below 10 per cent.

Mr Zyuganov said his party would not recognise the result and called the election "illegitimate, dishonest and untransparent". Liberal leader Vladimir Ryzhkov also said it was not legitimate.

The protest organisers, who see Mr Putin as an autocratic leader whose return to power will stymie hope of economic and political reforms, said their demonstrations would now grow.

Said journalist Sergei Parkhomenko, one of the leaders of the opposition protest movement: "He is forcing things to breaking point. He is declaring war on us. As a result the base of aversion to him is growing."

Despite the opposition, mainly among well-educated and relatively well-off young professionals, Mr Putin's support remains strong in the provinces and his victory had not been in doubt.

He showed his gratitude in late-night video links with supporters around Russia, including workers at a tank factory in the Urals town of Nizhny Tagil who have denounced the protests.

"You put in their places those people who went one step too far and insulted the working man," Mr Putin told them. "You showed who the Russian people are, the Russian working man, the worker and the engineer. You showed that you are a head higher than any layabout, any old windbag. This was for me the biggest present."

Mr Putin's clear victory - he avoided a runoff election by receiving more than 50 per cent of the vote - will enable him to portray his return to the post he held from 2000 until 2008 as strong public backing against the protesters, whom he has portrayed as a destabilising minority and pawns of foreign governments.

He will be inaugurated in May. REUTERS
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