Top stories from DAWNS Digest. 

High Drama in Egypt: Parliament Convenes Against the Military’s Wishes

The Mubarak-era Supreme Court, dominated by sycophants of the Mubarak-era Supreme Military Council,  effectively dissolved the Islamist controlled parliament. Now, barely two weeks into his presidency the Islamist Mohammed Morsi is trying to have parliament reconvene, setting up a potential clash between himself, parliament and the military council. These are uncertain times, for sure. “The lawmakers’ session was brief — just five minutes — but it was long enough to push Egypt deeper into a potential power struggle between Morsi and the military, which had issued an order last month to disband parliament based on a previous ruling by the Supreme Constitutional Court. The court said a third of Parliament had been elected illegally by allowing candidates from political parties to contest seats set aside for independent candidates. On Sunday Morsi issued his own executive order to reconvene the 508-seat legislature.” (CBS http://cbsn.ws/PGvhVc)

ICC Sentences First Ever Convicted Warlord to 14 Years in Prison

The international Criminal Court handed down a landmark sentence to Thomas Lubanga, a Congolese militia leader convicted to using child soldiers, to 14 years in prison. This was the first ever sentence handed down by the court. “Prosecutors had asked for a 30-year sentence, but said they would be willing to cut it to 20 years if Lubanga offered a “genuine apology” to the victims of his crimes. Lubanga did not offer an apology. Wearing a gray suit and tie, Lubanga showed no emotion as Fulford read out the decision. He can appeal his conviction and sentence. [Presiding Judge Fulford said that the time Lubanga has served in pretrial detention since March 2006 would be deducted from the sentence. One of the judges, Odio Benito, issued a separate dissenting opinion, saying the sentence should have been 15 years in recognition of the suffering of victims of harsh punishments and sexual violence.” (ABC http://abcn.ws/PGxlMU)

Punitive Laws Stand in the Way of Global AIDS Fight 

A new study from the Global Commission on HIV and the Law shows that the legal system in several HIV-plagues countries undermine progress against AIDS. “The report found that laws and customs that fail to protect women and girls from gender-based violence and economic and social inequalities increase their vulnerability to HIV infection. These include laws and practices – like genital mutilation, denial of property and inheritance rights and marital rape – that undermine the ability of women and girls to negotiate safe sex and protect themselves from infection. When women and girls can’t protect themselves, the cost can be particularly high, El Feki said in a telephone interview from London.   “The overwhelming perception is that HIV is a function of illicit activity, somehow it’s a function of sin. So, not only is the infection stigmatized, but the infected person as well. That stigma is multiplied when it comes to women,” she said. She noted that only 52 countries have laws against marital rape and that in some countries, including some in the Arab world, health workers can be arrested for providing condoms and condoms can be used as grounds for the arrest of female sex workers.” (TrustLaw http://bit.ly/NEdIRe)  And see today’s Community Bulletin for more.)

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