Let’s jail all the lawyers? / LatAm volcanos / Pakistan battles

Morguefile photo, http://mrg.bz/nik5xX

Minnesota lawyer Peter Erlinder has been jailed in Rwanda, where he went to represent opposition leader Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, who was accused of “promoting genocide ideology.” In 1994, genocide in Rwanda killed about 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis. Ms. Ingabire, a Hutu, has called for prosecution of people who killed Hutus during the genocide. According to BBC:

US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson has accused the Kigali government of restricting freedom ahead of the 9 August presidential election, in which Ms Ingabire was a challenger.

President Paul Kagame is a Tutsi former rebel leader who came to power to end the killings. His forces have been accused of massacring Hutus after the genocide ended.

The Washington Post described the charges:

He came to Rwanda four days ago and “has been publicly saying that there was no genocide in Rwanda,” said police spokesman Eric Kayiranga.

Erlinder is on the faculty of the William Mitchell Law School and a member of the National Lawyers Guild and has a long history of representation and advocacy in human rights cases. The National Lawyers Guild and the International Criminal Defense Attorneys Associaiton have called for his release.

A U.S. proposal to investigate lawyers who defend Guantanamo prisoners is pending in the House of Representatives. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 2011 would require the Defense Department’s Inspector General to investigate defense lawyers. The Atlantic explains:

In response to suspicions that attorneys for Guantanamo detainees violated federal intelligence laws by supplying their clients with pictures of covert CIA agents, the House Armed Services Committee has proposed legislation that seems likely and is perhaps intended to substantially hinder the ability of lawyers to provide detainees with meaningful representation.

The American Bar Association denounced the proposal:

ABA President Carolyn Lamm said the inspector general provision will have a “chilling effect” on the ability of lawyers to give zealous advocacy and effective assistance of counsel to their Guantanamo clients.

“It will compromise the professional independence of counsel and divert already starved defense resources from defending clients to defending the conduct, practices, actions and strategies of their lawyers,” she wrote. Lamm added that the Department of Justice, not the Department of Defense, is the appropriate agency to investigate any legal wrongdoing by these lawyers.

Note, too, by way of context, that the Washington Post has just published an administration report showing that there is no evidence that most Guantanamo detainees were “leaders, operatives and facilitators involved in plots against the United States.”

Latin American volcanoes have driven thousands of people from their homes in Ecuador and Guatemala. BBC reports that the eruption of the Pacaya volcano in Guatemala has killed at least two people and driven at least 1700 from their homes, while the Tunguhara volcano in Ecuador “forced the evacuation of seven villages and shut the airport and schools in Guayaquil, the country’s largest city.”

BP oil spill – continuing. And the plug attempts are not going well, says an anonymous BP technician. BP says: Wait until Sunday for more news.

The latest tragic episode of Muslims killing Muslims in Pakistan shows the depths of the war’s complexities. “The war” includes wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, not to mention ongoing threats and foot-stomping over Iran. Juan Cole is still one of the best analysts:

What Friday’s attack suggests, if Geo is right, is that small networks of Punjabi fundamentalist vigilantes had gathered in Waziristan, from which they are now being expelled by the Pakistani military. They are attempting to take their revenge by destabilizing Pakistan. Hitting the Ahmadis, considered heretics by most Muslim Pakistanis, puts Pakistan’s politicians in the awkward position of having to defend them, and so cleverly tars the government with the brush of heresy itself.

Go to his blog for a fuller description of what is going on in Pakistan now.

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