Sat, Apr 14, 2007 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ JAPAN

Constitutional bill passed

The lower house of parliament yesterday approved guidelines for amending the pacifist Constitution, a key step in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's push to give the military a larger global role. The legislation was passed easily because of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) majority in the chamber. The 1947 US-drafted Constitution has never been amended. The vote came after members of the LDP and its coalition partner the New Komei Party pushed the legislation through a lower house panel meeting on Thursday despite calls for more debate.

■ CHINA

Seven jailed over protest

A court jailed seven villagers for up to four years for protesting over a land dispute, a lawyer and a human rights group said yesterday, in the latest crackdown on dissent. Liu Dehuo (劉德夥) from Nanhai County, Guangdong Province, one of the protest organizers who had demanded compensation for land seized by a local company, received a four-year sentence, his lawyer Zhang Jiankang (張鑑康) said. "The court's decision was totally unreasonable and unjust," Zhang said by telephone. "They [the villagers] only demanded that their rights be protected," he said, adding that the government had prevented him from defending his client. Six other participants were also sentenced to between two years and six months and four years on the same charges.

■ NORTH KOREA

Deadline unlikely to be met

Pyongyang said yesterday it was still confirming the release of frozen funds that had been its key condition for dismantling its nuclear programs, making it unlikely it would meet a weekend deadline for shutting down its bomb-making reactor. The North's Foreign Ministry said its intention to implement a February agreement with the US and regional powers on initial steps to disarm "remains unchanged" and that the country "will also move when the lifting of the sanction is proved to be a reality." The North has not yet withdrawn some US$25 million that was unfrozen this week in Macau.

■ MALAYSIA

Teacher caned in error

A teacher was dealt a rude shock when she was caned on her backside by the school's principal, who mistook her for a student, according to state media. The secondary school teacher said she was dressed in Malay martial arts attire and ushering some students back to their classrooms on Wednesday after extra-curricular activities when she was whacked. "Suddenly and without asking questions, the female principal who was patrolling the area caned me on the buttocks and also caned several other students," the teacher told the Bernama news agency on Thursday.

■ EGYPT

Amnesty report rejected

The government rejected an Amnesty International report that accused the country of systematic abuse against prisoners, calling it inaccurate and unfair. Amnesty's report, released on Wednesday, said the country had 18,000 people in jails without trial, some for more than a decade. It also said torture was pervasive in police stations and prisons. The human-rights group warned that rights abuses were likely to worsen because of constitutional amendments approved last month that suspended civil rights in terror investigations. The Foreign Ministry said the country had made progress in human rights, citing the establishment of the state-appointed National Council of Human Rights.

■ UNITED KINGDOM

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