"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


don't cry for me

Well, it's been about a week since the dispute between the army chief-of-staff and the president of Guinea-Bissau ended in a rather Shakespearean manner (namely, by having one another killed). Here's an interesting analysis of the situation in Bissau this week that points out the dirty little secret of African politics: sometimes, assassinations aren't necessarily a bad thing.

Much to my surprise, the army did not take over after killing off President Vieira. They let the speaker of the national assembly become president, following the constitutional order of succession, and someone is organizing new elections. As just about everyone quoted in the article points out, getting rid of a dictator and another "big man" may have been the best thing that could've happened in Guinea-Bissau. Here's hoping their replacements are somewhat more peace-and-stability-minded.

(BTW, I don't buy for a minute the idea that the drug cartels organized the assassinations. They operate in G-B precisely because no one interferes with their activities. Why would they mess with a favorable situation? Especially when increased stability means there's potential for better government control of the coastline?)

In other news, no one seems to have the slightest idea where Congolese Tutsi general Laurent Nkunda is being held, but his wife's (someone married Laurent Nkunda?!?) attorney filed a request for his release in civil court in Kigali. No word on Betty's status.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon visited Heal Africa hospital in Goma last week. He was shocked - shocked! - to see what the women being treated there have endured. But probably not shocked enough to make a serious push to increase the number of peacekeepers in Congo to a force capacity that could actually secure the territory.

Finally, the United States Navy turned over seven Somali pirates to the Kenyan government for prosecution in Kenyan courts under a bilateral agreement that allows such prosecutions. . I am very unclear as to how precisely it's legal for Somalis accused of committing piracy in the Gulf of Aden can be prosecuted in Kenya (or how the Kenyan criminal justice system will magically have time and resources to prosecute these cases), but, hey, they're all from the country of Africa, right?


Blogger lawandlife said...

Hey - it's legal to prosecute pirates anywhere in the world because piracy has long been subject to universal criminal jurisdiction.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009 1:29:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Fascinating. I'm trying to get around to a post on the question - any suggestions of resources for that? The stuff I'm reading suggests that finding places to dump the pirates is pretty complicated.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009 1:41:00 PM

Blogger lawandlife said...

Hey - only just saw your response, sorry. It is legal in international law terms to prosecute pirates anywhere - i.e. all states can claim jurisdiction, in the way that State A cannot normally claim jurisdiction to try a national of State B for something he did in State B to another national of State B, for example. I think most of the problems with piracy at the moment are the lack of domestic law allowing courts to exercise this jurisdiction. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/7932205.stm

This is not a complex question in one sense - just a simple law reform is needed in all pirate catching countries that do not yet allow for jurisdiction. The best resource I know on domestic law implementation of universal jurisdiction is a large report by Amnesty International in 2001 - this is the introduction, unfortunately all 15 chapters are separate pdfs on the website: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/IOR53/002/2001/en They are currently updating this in far more detail by releasing country reports one by one, called the 'No Safe Haven' series. They intend to do a report for every UN member state, so far Sweden and Germany have been released.

Hope that helps.

Sunday, May 10, 2009 11:16:00 AM


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