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Posts Tagged ‘justice’

Anti-Imperialist Court seeks justice for dioxin victims

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2010 at 9:25 am

Anti-Imperialist Court seeks justice for dioxin victims

QĐND – Monday, December 20, 2010, 21:48 (GMT+7)

Thousands of delegates in the 17th World Festival of Youth and Students attended the ‘Anti-Imperialist Court’ held on December 19 as an important part of the event.

Participants presented evidence of the crimes against humanity committed by imperialism. The Vietnamese delegation took part in a hearing that condemned the US using Agent Orange/dioxin in the Vietnam War, which caused severe lasting consequences in Vietnam. The delegation also called for international friends’ support in the lawsuit for justice for Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange poisoning.

The speech by the Vietnamese delegation articulated that from 1961-1971, the US launched about 20,000 sorties to spray about 80 million litres of the poisonous chemicals onto 25,000 hamlets and villages in Vietnam, destroying more than 3 million hectares of natural forest, and leaving about 4.8 million local people infected with dioxin.

Representatives said it was one the most dastardly crimes in human history, with severe and long-term impact on Vietnam.

On January 30, 2004, the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin began legal action against 37 US chemical companies. However, the Supreme Court of the US rejected the trial of this lawsuit in 2009.

Despite this, Vietnam has persevered in pursuing this lawsuit and seeking support from the international community. This effort directly involved the human kind’s joint struggle against war and the use of weapons of mass destruction.

A Vietnamese delegate, who is also a second-generation AO victim, spoke about the aftermath of the dioxin poisoning.

Tran Thi Hoan, 24, made the hall silent as she walked with difficulty to the rostrum. She had handicapped legs, which remained from her knees upward. Her left arm was contracted and handless.

In fluent English, Ms Hoan told the audience about the obstacles and unhappiness of Vietnamese victims of AO, including herself, in daily life. Her story received empathy from many international friends.

Canadian delegate Drew Bowering said everyone in the court learned about the consequences caused by the US chemical agent and in his opinion all people needed to take responsibility in assisting dioxin victims. He stressed that he completely supported the struggle for justice for Vietnam’s dioxin victims in the lawsuit against American chemical companies.

Source: VOV

Source: QDND

Pleas for justice as Philippines mourns massacre victims

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 4:51 am

SHARIFF AGUAK, Philippines, Nov 23, 2010 (AFP) – Relatives of 57 people killed in the Philippines’ worst political massacre made emotional appeals for justice Tuesday as the nation marked the slaughter’s first anniversary.

Thousands of mourners gathered at a remote hill in the southern province of Maguindanao where the carnage took place to pay their respects and demand the powerful Muslim clan accused of orchestrating the massacre be held to account.

Supporters along with relatives of the 57 people killed in the November 23, 2009 massacre attend a memorial service at the massacre site in Ampatuan, Maguindanao province on the southern island of Mindanao on November 23, 2010. AFP

“I am praying by the will of God that we can get justice,” Tom Teuto, 50, who lost his sister and 13 other relatives in the massacre, told reporters at the site on the outskirts of the provincial capital of Shariff Aguak.

“I am calling on the president to intervene. It has been a year. It has been very painful.”

The Ampatuan clan, which had governed Maguindanao since 2001, allegedly orchestrated the murders of at least 57 people in a futile bid to stop a member of a rival Muslim clan from running for the provincial governorship.

Those killed were relatives and supporters of the rival, Esmael Mangudadatu, who were to have filed his election nomination papers, as well as at least 32 local journalists who had travelled in the convoy.

Their bodies were later found in shallow pits, and witnesses who have testified in an ongoing trial in Manila for Andal Ampatuan Jnr, the clan patriarch’s son and namesake, said he gunned down most of the victims.

President Benigno Aquino declared Tuesday a “day of remembrance” and ordered government employees to wear black to symbolise unity with the victims’ relatives.

“Today we again offer our condolences to the families of the victims and vow to do everything in our power to achieve a timely resolution of this case and ensure this does not happen again,” Aquino said in a statement.

At the massacre site, religious leaders led prayers during an emotional service in which white doves and balloons were released to remember the victims.

Radio and television stations across the country also silenced their broadcasts for 58 seconds at 7:00 am to remember those killed and urge authorities to speed up the prosecutions of those accused.

Although the death toll is officially 57, a 33rd journalist, Humberto Mumay, is believed to have been killed as well.

Mumay’s death would bring the toll to 58 but the Ampatuans are being prosecuted for only 57 murders because Mumay’s body has not been found and he is officially declared as missing.

Ampatuan Snr and Jnr, and four other clan leaders, have been charged and are behind bars.

But Ampatuan Jnr is the only clan leader whose trial has begun and there are fears the court proceedings in the Philippines’ notoriously over-burdened justice system could last for years.

Meanwhile, many members of the Ampatuans’ private army remain on the loose and allegedly can receive calls from their leaders to stage attacks in an effort to eliminate or intimidate witnesses.

“They remain very dangerous and can receive instructions any time (from the Ampatuan leaders) through mobile phones,” Mangudadatu, the rival politician and now provincial governor, told AFP.

Human rights groups have said at least one key prosecution witness has been killed.

The Ampatuans deny being involved in any killings.

The Ampatuans had ruled Maguindanao with the support of then president Gloria Arroyo, who supplied the family’s private militia of up to 5,000 men so they could be used as a proxy force against Muslim separatist rebels.

However, rights watchdogs say Aquino, who took office on June 30 this year, must also address the bigger picture of abolishing all private armies run by politicians across the country.

The government still funds and arms some of these militias to supplement the under-resourced military, and critics say Aquino has either been unwilling or unable to disband the militias.

“The fact that private armies continue to operate a year after the Maguindanao massacre is an affront to the victims and an invitation to further disasters,” said Amnesty International’s Asia director, Sam Zafiri.

Source: SGGP

Accelerating the struggle for justice for AO victims

In Uncategorized on August 10, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Accelerating the struggle for justice for AO victims

QĐND – Tuesday, August 10, 2010, 20:50 (GMT+7)

Diplomats, lawyers, businesspeople and young people gathered at talks in Ho Chi Minh City on August 9 to point out the role, responsibility and behaviour of each individual in caring, helping and struggling for justice for Agent Orange victims.

Lawyer Truong Trong Nghia, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Bar Federation, said that AO has caused a long-term effect on many Vietnamese generations and the environment, including deep spiritual wounds that cannot be compensated for.

The focus will be on implementing measures to prevent the transmission of AO chemicals to children, and building care centres, schools and vocational training centres for AO victims to help them integrate into the community, and accelerating the struggle for justice for the victims.

Doctor Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA), Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong said that the struggle for justice for AO victims has made some progress.

The US Government has not yet acknowledged its legal responsibility for dealing with the consequences of the AO chemical but it is gradually admitting its responsibility and helping to deal with the problem. The US plans to provide US$300 million the AO victims in the next 10 years.

The VAVA will continue the struggle for justice for AO victims and mobilise the community’s support for them.

Source: VOV

Source: QDND

Kagan confirmed as Obama’s second Supreme Court justice

In Uncategorized on August 6, 2010 at 11:20 am

WASHINGTON, Aug 6, 2010 (AFP) – Elena Kagan has become only the fourth woman to win confirmation as Supreme Court justice, giving Democrats a welcome election year boost. But the court’s conservative make-up is unlikely to change.

Senators voted 63-37 Thursday to confirm Kagan as one of the nine justices who act as final arbiters of the US Constitution, set precedent for lower courts, and decide the nation’s toughest moral and legal dilemmas.

Five Republicans broke ranks to back the 50-year-old former Harvard Law School dean, and just one Democrat, Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, voted against her.

She will be sworn in on Saturday by Chief Justice John Roberts, but will not be formally seated until October 1 for the court’s fall session.

Though never seriously in doubt, her confirmation to the lifetime post gave President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies a much-needed victory before November mid-term elections in which they are expected to suffer heavy losses.

Thanking the Senate, Obama said he was “confident that Elena Kagan will make an outstanding Supreme Court Justice.”

The confirmation brought to two the number of justices named by the president — after the court’s first Hispanic justice, Sonia Sotomayor — and the total number of women on the high bench to three for the first time ever.

Kagan’s “legal qualifications are unassailable. She earned her place at the top of the legal profession,” said Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Her qualifications, intelligence, temperament and judgment will make her a worthy successor to Justice John Paul Stevens,” he said, referring to the retiring leader of the court’s liberal bloc.

But Kagan was not expected to tip the overall ideological balance of the court, which many observers have described as the most conservative in decades.

Nominating US Supreme Court justices ranks among the most consequential powers of the US presidency, as a judge’s lifetime tenure typically stretches well beyond the influence of the temporary occupant of the White House.

Some of their most controversial decisions have included the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion in the United States and the Bush v. Gore case that handed the disputed 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush.

And some of the toughest rulings have come in 5-4 decisions that can take a generation to reverse.

The 50-year-old Kagan, who as US solicitor general has argued the Obama administration’s case before the high court, will be the youngest justice.

Democrats pointed to her decades of legal work, including in her current position as US solicitor general and her time as the first woman dean of Harvard Law School.

Her critics said they feared she would be unable to keep her personal politics separate from her judging and painted her as a foe of gun ownership and of restrictions on abortion.

“I’m not quite sure how I would characterize my politics, but one thing I do know is that my politics would be, must be, have to be, completely separate from my judging,” Kagan told the Senate Judiciary Committee during her confirmation hearings.

She drew laughs from the packed committee room by saying some high court arguments “will put you to sleep,” that judges sometimes have to act because lawmakers “make a mistake, they’re careless, whatever,” and diplomatically declining invitations to criticize her potential future colleagues.

She also backed expansive “war on terrorism” government powers, saying she favored military tribunals for some suspected terrorists, in line with Obama’s policies.

Despite looming November elections to decide control of the US Congress, opposition to Kagan becoming the court’s 112th justice was relatively tepid.

Kagan drew the American Bar Association’s highest rating of “unanimously well qualified,” and her nomination had the support of past solicitors general, including many Republicans.

She carefully avoided criticizing current members of the court despite being invited to do so during her confirmation hearings.

“I would not want to characterize the current court in any way,” she said. “I hope one day to join it.”

Source: SGGP

Political battle looms after Justice Stevens says to retire

In Uncategorized on April 10, 2010 at 1:36 pm

The US capital on Saturday faced another tough political battle after venerable US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens announced his retirement from the bench.

In this Sept. 29, 2009 photo, Associate Justice John Paul Stevens sits for a group photograph at the Supreme Court in Washington. (AFP Photo)

President Barack Obama vowed to quickly name a replacement for Stevens, the court’s liberal standard-bearer, and said he would select an advocate for “ordinary” Americans, in comments which put his conservative foes on alert.

Stevens, who will shortly turn 90, joined the bench amid the traumatic fallout of the Watergate scandal in the 1970s, and will depart after 34 years, with bitter partisanship once again tearing at the fabric of US politics.

A president can influence American life for years after he leaves office, with the lifetime appointment of a Supreme Court justice.

Stevens’s departure, however, is unlikely to change the current court’s conservative leaning.

The announcement was widely anticipated, and the White House has been quietly sifting possible replacements. Obama’s political foes have also built ammunition for what will be a brutal political struggle over his nominee.

“I shall retire from regular active service as an associate justice… effective the next day after the court rises for the summer recess this year,” the soft-spoken Stevens wrote in a letter to Obama.

He said he took the decision so a successor could be in place before the court, which adjudicates the thorniest legal, political and constitutional questions, begins its fall term in October.

Obama, who learned of Stevens’s decision while flying home from Prague aboard Air Force One, lauded the Chicago-born judge as an “impartial guardian of the law” who had worn his robes with honor and humility.

Setting the parameters of the confirmation fight, Obama said he would seek someone with “similar qualities” as Stevens — “an independent mind, a record of excellence and integrity, a fierce dedication to the rule of law.”

Obama pledged to choose a candidate who understood how “the law affects the daily lives of the American people.

“It will also be someone who, like Justice Stevens, knows that in a democracy, powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.”

Conservatives accuse judges of the type seemingly favored by Obama of being “activists” who are more keen to “legislate from the bench” than confining their rulings to a strict interpretation of the US Constitution.

“Even if Justice Stevens’s liberalism has led to many decisions I oppose, I respect his devotion to the institution and the gentlemanly manner in which he always carried out his work,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

“Americans can expect Senate Republicans to make a sustained and vigorous case for judicial restraint and the fundamental importance of an even-handed reading of the law,” McConnell said, hinting at a tough confirmation struggle.

The New York Times, a liberal newspaper, noted that Justice Stevens “has been an eloquent voice for civil liberties, equal rights and fairness” and argued, in an editorial, that “Obama should fill his seat with someone equally committed to these principles.”

The president, a former constitutional scholar himself, has had an unusually delicate relationship with the Supreme Court, after he chided a ruling on campaign finance in front of justices during his State of the Union address.

Obama will be making his second pick to the top court after naming Sonia Sotomayor as the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice last year.

Stevens, at the time a moderate Republican, was nominated by former president Gerald Ford and has sat on the bench since 1975, carving out a reputation as an unlikely dissenter as the court became more conservative.

With his white hair, round glasses and bow tie, his goodhearted appearance masked a crafty legal mind. He was a holdout when the Supreme Court ultimately decided the 2000 election in favor of George W. Bush over Al Gore.

Professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University law school described Stevens’s retirement as “an understandably sad moment for liberals.”

“It is not just the loss of one of the clearest voices for civil liberties and equality. It is the departure of the last of the court’s ‘greatest generation,'” Turley said.

Stevens nearly beat the record of his long-serving predecessor, William Douglas, who served for 36 years.

Born in 1920 in Chicago as the youngest of four siblings, Stevens first threw himself into the study of literature in the hope of becoming a professor like his mother.

But he turned to law after joining the US Navy following the attacks on Pearl Harbor, serving as an intelligence officer from 1942 to 1945.


Source: SGGP

President vows justice in Philippine massacre

In World on November 25, 2009 at 10:47 am

MANILA, Nov 25, 2009 (AFP) – Philippine President Gloria Arroyo on Wednesday vowed justice would be served after an election-linked massacre that claimed at least 46 lives was blamed on a political ally.

“The president is really very angry about this incident,” presidential spokesman Cerge Remonde said on the ABS CBN television network.

“The president is very clear that those people responsible, regardless of who they are, should be brought before the bar of justice.”

Police earlier said the top suspect in Monday’s killings was Andal Ampatuan Jnr, a member of Arroyo’s ruling coalition and the son of a powerful regional politician who has helped secure votes for the president in previous elections.

Photojournalists light candles during a indignation rally in Quezon City, suburban of Manila on November 24, 2009, denouncing in strongest possible terms the massacre (AFP photo)


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Arroyo vows justice as massacre toll hits 52

In World on November 25, 2009 at 10:47 am

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo vowed Wednesday justice would be served after 52 people were killed in a political massacre, but refused to say if an ally blamed for the murders would be arrested.

Journalists and troopers look as a backhoe pulls the wreckage of one of three vehicles that was dumped together with massacre victims along a hillside grave in Ampatuan, Maguindanao province, southern Philippines on Wednesday Nov. 25, 2009. (AFP Photo)

As more bodies were pulled out of shallow graves following Monday’s election-linked killings in the lawless south of the country, Arroyo insisted she was committed to tracking down those responsible.

“This is a supreme act of inhumanity that is a blight on our nation,” presidential spokesman Cerge Remonde said on the ABS CBN television network.

“The president has vowed that the perpetrators will not find the way to escape justice.”

Police earlier said the top suspect in the massacre was Andal Ampatuan Jnr, a member of Arroyo’s ruling coalition and the son of a powerful regional politician who has helped secure votes for the president in previous elections.

“According to the initial reports, those who were abducted and murdered at Saniag were initially stopped by a group led by the mayor of Datu Unsay,” national police spokesman Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina said.

Ampatuan Jnr is the mayor of Datu Unsay and his father of the same name is the governor of Maguindanao province, a lawless part of the strife-torn Mindanao island where the massacre took place.

However, two days after the massacre, authorities indicated an arrest of Ampatuan Jnr was not imminent.

Speaking on DZMM radio, Espina said investigators still needed to speak with witnesses before they could secure a court order for the arrest of the suspects.

Asked if Ampatuan Jnr would be arrested, Remonde replied: “I will not telegraph our punches”.

But he said Arroyo had delivered a message to the Ampatuan clan, which has its own private army, not to obstruct the police investigation.

The massacre occurred after about 100 Ampatuan gunmen allegedly abducted a convoy of aides and relatives of a rival Maguindanao politician, Esmael Mangudadatu, plus a group of journalists.

The victims were abducted as they were travelling in a six-vehicle convoy to nominate Mangudadatu as the opposition candidate for governor in next year’s elections. He was not in the convoy.

They were shot a short time later at close range, some with their hands tied behind their backs, and dumped or buried in shallow graves on a remote farming road close to a town bearing the Ampatuan name.

The death toll rose from 46 to 52 after six more bodies were pulled out of the graves on Wednesday, according to police.

The victims included at least 13 local journalists who had been intending to report on Mangudadatu’s governorship nomination, making Monday’s killings the deadliest single attack on the media in history.

Ampatuan Snr had been grooming his son to take over as governor of Maguindanao province, and the victims’ relatives have alleged the Ampatuans organised the murders so that Mangudadatu would not run for governor.

Arroyo on Tuesday declared a state of emergency in Maguindanao and neighbouring Cotabato city, a stronghold of the Ampatuans, amid fears the killings could trigger a clan war.

But instead of ordering tough action against her allies, she sent a special envoy, Jesus Dureza, to the Ampatuan camp on Tuesday to get the clan to pledge its cooperation in an investigation.

The ruling coalition’s candidate for next year’s presidential election, ex-defence secretary Gilberto Teodoro, backed calls for the immediate arrest and prosecution of the suspects.

“This is a test case. The government should be decisive in going against this group, to arrest the perpetrators no matter who they are, whether they are political allies or not,” he said.

The Philippine Commission on Human Rights chairwoman, Leila De Lima, also called for immediate action by the president.

“I am appealing to President Gloria Arroyo to show political will, for her to show to the public that the investigation by the government is serious,” she told AFP.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share