Wed, Feb 14, 2007 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Malaysia

Ex-UN man blasts Mahathir

A war crimes tribunal set up by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad was criticized yesterday by a former UN official and activists, who say the body lacks legitimacy. Param Cumaraswamy, the former UN special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, said there was no legal basis for the tribunal. He also told the Sun newspaper that during his tenure as prime minister Mahathir had not signed Malaysia onto a statute establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC). "If he was genuinely concerned ... he should have got the government to sign the statute then. He never bothered," Param was quoted as saying. Last week Mahathir launched a tribunal which he said would focus on victims of abuse in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, saying the ICC was biased.

■ Philippines

EU wants `killings' report

The EU wants to work with the Philippines to help end a spate of extrajudicial killings of activists and journalists, but it has yet to receive a copy of a fact-finding commission's report, an official said yesterday. The commission, headed by former Supreme Court justice Jose Melo, submitted its findings to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo last month, but the government has not released them. Melo was quoted as saying the probe showed "military elements" were involved in most of the killings. Arroyo has said soldiers and rebels were both to blame, and has defended the military against allegations of human rights abuses. The human-rights group Karapatan lists 832 summary killings since Arroyo took office in 2001.

■ South Korea

Racial tolerance encouraged

Fifth and sixth graders will be given textbooks on racial tolerance in an attempt to ease discrimination against mixed-race children, the education ministry said yesterday. The new ethics texts would deal with the difficulties facing children of multicultural backgrounds and adopted children. The books will be in use when the new school year begins next month. "The success story of the Korean-American Super Bowl hero Hines Ward raised fresh awareness of the discrimination experienced by mixed-race people in South Korea last year," Yang Won-taek, a senior ministry official, was quoted by Yonhap news agency as saying. "We felt the need to change school textbooks to educate people, from their early childhood, on how to help biracial children live their lives as healthy members of South Korean society."

■ Bangladesh

Awami drops Majlis alliance

The Awami League party has called off an election alliance with a radical Islamist group, a party official said, following pressure from its supporters and other allies. The Awami made the deal with the Khelafat Majlis in December, saying it was part of a strategy to win national elections. But the alliance with the Majlis -- who support the Islamist ideals of Afghanistan's Taliban -- was criticized by the league's partners who said it compromised the party's secular credentials.

■ Tajikistan

Security officer detained

A National Security Committee officer has been arrested on suspicion of involvement in trafficking nearly 200kg of illegal drugs, including 53kg of heroin, the Interior Ministry said on Monday. Major Tokhirjon Rakhmatov was one of three men arrested on Sunday near Dushanbe after police found the drugs in the car they were riding in, an official said.

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