The world in review

Spain ends judges’ “universal jurisdiction”

A 1985 law in Spain that enabled the prosecution of those who abuse human rights anywhere in the world in Spanish courts has been repealed. The centre-right Popular Party approved the change after four former Chinese leaders were issued with Spanish arrest warrants in just one month. A Popular Party spokesperson said that the doctrine of universal jurisdiction over human rights the Spanish legal system created “useless disputes that only generate diplomatic conflicts”. The Spanish government has been embarrassed on several occasions by judges making unenforceable convictions of dictators and despots with which Spain has trading relations.  Amnesty International attacked the repeal as a “step backwards in the fight… for justice and human rights”.

Cyprus bailout stalled after political resistance

It’s a familiar story. A small economy on the edge of the Eurozone suffers a financial catastrophe and seeks help from the infamous “troika”- the EU, IMF and European Central Bank. The Troika demands an eye-watering package of spending cuts, tax hikes and sell-offs in return for a limited bailout. However, Cyprus has bucked the trend after its parliament rejected a key privatisation bill following large public demonstrations. Telecommunications, electricity and port authorities remain under public ownership, but the Troika has warned that a €236 million installment of bailout funds is conditional on the sell-offs being approved by this Thursday. It remains unclear if the democratic will of the Cypriot people or the demands of financiers will prevail.

Economic growth boost for Brazil

The Brazilian economy grew at twice the rate shown in government forecasts, according to statistics for the last quarter of 2013. Figures also indicate a 6.3% surge in investment in the middle-income economy, showing remarkably good economic conditions despite a slump in exports to China, Brazil’s largest market. The news surprised critics of the government, who predicted that the economy would slip into recession due to the state’s ‘redistributionist’ policies. However, the government is maintaining tough monetary policies, and has hiked the base rate to 10.75% in a bid to further reduce inflation and protect the value of the real, which has fallen sharply in recent months.

200 migrants scale Spanish border fence

Last week saw a mass break-in by would-be migrants from sub-Saharan Africa into Melilla, the controversial Spanish territory situated in the north Moroccan coast. Similar illegal border crossings are a part of life in Melilla, but never on such a large scale. The Spanish outposts of Melilla and Ceuta are the weakest points on the European-Africa border, with a fence marking the only barrier to entering European territory. However, it is unlikely that the group will be granted the right to live in Spain, and will probably be instructed to return to their home countries of Cameroon and Guinea.

Charity allowed to return to Burma

After enforcing a ban on the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) charity operating in the country for two days, the government of Burma (officially Myanmar) lifted it in all but one key state. The global emergency medical treatment charity was forced to suspend all operations in the country following allegations that it gave preference to patients from the oppressed Rohingya minority. In reality, MSF statements drawing international attention to a massacre of Muslims in an eastern part of the country is likely to have drawn anger from the military dictatorship. MSF has responded that it is always “guided by medical ethics and the principles of neutrality and impartiality”.

Amnesty hits out at Israeli “war crimes”

Amnesty International has launched a scathing attack on the Israeli forces occupying Palestine, accusing them of inflicting “unlawful killings and unwarranted injuries of Palestinian civilians”. In a report, entitled Trigger Happy, the human rights group documented cases of Palestinians being shot at and injured- or even killed- for no apparent reason whatsoever. In one instance, a schoolboy was shot in the back of his head for staging a small protest “near” a boundary that separates his village from its occupied farming lands. The Israeli army questioned the impartiality and accuracy of the report.

BY: JACK DARRANT