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The new data from China bring the total number of probable cases worldwide to 1,323 with 49 deaths.

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International Criminal Court

26 March – Fulfilling a responsibility United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has described as “crucially important,” the countries charged with shaping the newly-inaugurated International Criminal Court (ICC) have selected a prominent Argentinean litigator as the tribunal’s chief prosecutor.

The formal election of Luis Moreno Ocampo as Prosecutor for the world’s only permanent war crimes tribunal is expected to take place when the resumed session of the Assembly of States Parties to the ICC convenes from 21 to 24 April at UN Headquarters in New York. The countries had agreed informally on Mr. Moreno Ocampo as their choice last Friday.

In a statement released yesterday, Prince Raad Al Hussein of Jordan, President of the Assembly, praised Mr. Moreno Ocampo’s “recognized integrity,” saying the Argentinean prosecutor had been chosen by consensus from a list of strong contenders. “In agreeing to Mr. Moreno Ocampo, the States Parties are confident the newly-established Court will benefit in the coming years from a gifted prosecutor with proven abilities,” he said.

The ICC was inaugurated in The Hague on 11 March, with the swearing-in of its judges in a solemn ceremony hailed by top UN officials as an historic day for international justice. Outlining the importance of their task, the Secretary-General called on the judges to show great patience, compassion and an unfailing resolve to arrive at the truth, adding “in all your functions – judicial administrative and representational – you must act without fear of favour, guided and inspired by the provisions of the Rome Statute.”

The 18-judge tribunal will have jurisdiction over the most serious crimes, including war crimes, genocide, mass murder, enslavement, rape, torture, and, once defined, the crime of aggression. The Rome Statute – the treaty establishing the ICC – entered into force 1 July 2002, and the Court’s jurisdiction will cover only crimes committed after that date. The Statute allows States Parties as well as the UN Security Council to refer situations to the Court for investigation.

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26 March – The United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has ordered Croatian authorities to serve an indictment against Gen. Janko Bobetko, with a corresponding order that arrest warrants against the 84-year-old be dropped pending an assessment of his health and ability to travel.

A statement released by The Hague-based Tribunal confirms that yesterday, the charges against the former Croatian military chief were unsealed, and that Judge Carmel Agius directed Croatian authorities to serve the indictment, which charges him with war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during and after a 1993 military action in a Serb-dominated enclave known as the “Medak pocket.”

Judge Agius also ordered that, once the indictment had been served, the warrants of arrest and orders for surrender issued by the Tribunal on 17 and 20 September be suspended immediately, and that the Croatian authorities provide the Tribunal’s Registrar with a monthly medical update on Mr. Bobetko’s health. This followed the Judge’s earlier consideration of report filed by medical experts which “clearly showed the accused is unfit to travel and stand trial.”

Deciding last week that the only matter relevant to the further conduct of the case was to establish a monthly monitoring mechanism to assess Mr. Bobetko’s medical condition, Judge Agius ruled, “It is justified to suspend the warrants for the Accused’s arrest and the orders for surrender, pending a change in the Accused’s state of health that would allow him to stand trial.”

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Human Rights

26 March – An independent expert for the United Nations Commission on Human Rights stressed today that in the face of rampant globalization, only partnership arrangements based on binding obligations, and fair, rights-based trade policies could ensure that the right to development would become a reality for

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