No justice in Venezuela for protesters

During protests in Venezuela between February and July 2014, 43 people died and hundreds more were injured and tortured. On March 24, 2015, Amnesty International issued a report asserting that the Venezuelan government had failed to investigate and bring to justice those who were responsible.Pro­testers, passers-by and members of the security forces alike were killed or injured, and some are still behind bars pending trial. This impunity effectively allows more abuses and protests to occur.

Source: Amnesty International

Halt construction of US bases in Okinawa

In a confrontation with the central government of Japan, the governor of Okinawa ordered that work be suspended on a new US military airfield on March 22, 2015. Local opposition has blocked construction for a year already, with peaceful demonstrations being held regularly outside the gates, increasing in size and rowdiness.

Elated protesters were seen cheering on television after the suspension order was announced. Officials in Tokyo, on the other hand, declared they would ignore the order and continue working on the project.

Source: Jonathan Soble, N.Y. Times.

Swedes not welcome

Saudi Arabia will not issue business visas to Swedes or renew the visas of Swedes living in the country, a government official announced on March 19, 2015. This is the kingdom’s response to Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom’s criticism of human rights and women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. Wallstrom refuses to soften her criticism, and a lecture that she was about to deliver in Cairo was abruptly canceled only hours beforehand. She said it was because of protests. The next day, Sweden’s new left-wing government cancelled the renewal of its 10-year contract to sell weapons to the Saudis.

Source: CBS News, AP.

US judge dismisses Marshall Islands case

Last year the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) brought lawsuits in the United States and the Inter­national Court of Justice in The Hague against the US and the eight other nuclear powers. They did not seek compensation but an order from the court requiring the states to enter negotiations toward nuclear disarmament.

The suits argued that all nuclear states are in “flagrant violation of international law” for failing to pursue the negotiations toward abolition of nuclear weapons, as they promised when signing the 1970 Nuclear Non-Pro­lif­eration Treaty (NPT).

The Marshall Islands, formerly a US territory in the northern Pacific, was a site of 67 nuclear tests from 1946 to 1958. They experienced the equivalent of 1.6 Hiroshima bombs daily for 12 years. The largest of these tests, the “Castle Bravo” detonation, was the largest hydrogen bomb the US has ever exploded. A US government agency described the 31 Marshall atolls in 1956 as the most irradiated place on earth. The islanders —about 68,000 persons—are still experiencing health and environmental effects from the radioactive fallout.

On February 6, 2015 a US Federal Court dismissed the case against the United States. In San Francisco, Judge Jeffrey White ruled that, although the Marshall Islands is a signatory to the NPT, it does not have standing to enforce the treaty. White also said the “separation of powers” between judicial and executive branches of government would make it impossible for the court to rule in favor of the Marshall Islands’ case. He said, “Re­quiring the court to delve into and then monitor Uni­ted States policies and decisions with regard to its nuclear programs and arsenal is an untenable request far beyond the purview of the federal courts,” The Marshall Islands had asked the court to order the US executive branch to fulfill its obligations under the NPT within one year, but White declared that the courts could not be involved in such political decisions.

The Nuclear Age Peace Foun­dation, an NGO supporting the case, will pursue the three lawsuits for which there is compulsory jurisdiction at the International Court of Justice—those against India, Pakistan, and the UK.

The RMI will also appeal the US case, but the ruling closes off some key possibilities. According to Giff Johnson, editor of the Marshall Islands Journal, “The Marshalls were trying to get some traction to get a ruling directing the US to engage in essentially nuclear disarmament talks. But the courts can’t order the executive branch to do that … the courts don’t have the jurisdiction. It would make it very difficult on an appeal for this to move forward.”

Sources: Radio Australia; David Brunnstrom for Reuters; Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Peace Magazine Apr-Jun 2015

Peace Magazine Apr-Jun 2015, page 2. Some rights reserved.

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