- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 14, 2006

UNITED NATIONS

Treaty on rights of disabled adopted

NEW YORK — The U.N. General Assembly adopted by consensus yesterday a landmark treaty to promote and protect the rights of the world’s 650 million disabled people.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will come into force 30 days after its ratification by 20 nations, a milestone likely to be reached in 2008 or 2009. It will be opened to formal signing on March 30.

The convention requires ratifying nations to adopt laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of any form of disability, from blindness to mental illness. Nations also must eliminate laws that discriminate against the disabled.

LAOS

Hundreds surrender from Hmong tribe

BANGKOK — More than 400 members of the Hmong hill tribe minority who have been on the run for decades from the communist government of Laos surrendered to the authorities there yesterday, supporters of the group said.

The group, which came out of the jungle to Ban Ha village in the central province of Xieng Khouang, is one of several ragtag bands of Hmong who during the Vietnam War served a pro-American government that fell to the communists in 1975.

Details of their surrender were provided by the U.S.-based Fact Finding Commission, which lobbies on their behalf and is in touch with the Hmong through satellite telephones.

SYRIA

U.S. senator meets with Assad

DAMASCUS — Sen. Bill Nelson met with Syrian President Bashar Assad yesterday, a week after a U.S. bipartisan panel recommended that the Bush administration engage Syria to help stabilize Iraq.

Mr. Nelson, a Florida Democrat, was named to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence this week and said he was on a fact-finding mission to the region. He left later for Amman, Jordan.

Members of the U.S. Congress have shunned Syria since the assassination in neighboring Lebanon of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005.

PHILIPPINES

Judge denies U.S. custody of Marine

MANILA — A Philippine judge overruled his own government yesterday and denied a U.S. request for custody of a Marine who is appealing a local rape conviction.

Judge Benjamin Pozon dismissed an agreement between the Philippine justice secretary and the U.S. ambassador for the transfer to the U.S. Embassy of Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, 21. He also said a provision of the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement allowing any U.S. servicemen accused of a crime to remain in U.S. custody until all judicial procedures are exhausted does not apply after a conviction, regardless of a pending appeal.

Smith, from St. Louis, was sentenced on Dec. 4 to 40 years in prison in the rape of a 23-year-old Filipina woman. He was sent immediately to detention in Manila.

ISRAEL

Tourists warned of threat in India

JERUSALEM — Israel said tourists visiting India’s Goa state during the Christmas holidays face a “concrete threat” of an al Qaeda attack and advised its citizens yesterday against traveling to the popular beach area.

Last month, Indian authorities strengthened security in Goa after intelligence agencies warned of a “Balilike” attack, referring to the 2002 bombings that killed 202 persons, many of them foreigners on vacation on the Indonesian island.

Nearly 400,000 tourists flock to Goa’s beaches during the peak October-March season.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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