- The Washington Times - Friday, January 26, 2007

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:


Prison issue may derail vote

EDINBURGH, Scotland — Legal action, which could stop the Scottish parliamentary elections in May, is being prepared after a judicial ruling declared that a ban on prisoner voting breaches European human rights laws.

Lawyers warned that the country’s 7,000 prisoners would be entitled to a multimillion-pound damages claim over their loss of franchise.

Three Court of Session judges in Edinburgh ruled Wednesday that the ban on prisoners voting breached the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and they reprimanded the government for delays, which will mean inmates will not be given the vote before the Holyrood elections on May 3.

Lawyers representing 30 prisoners said the government’s failure to remedy the problem could cost the taxpayer millions of pounds, and the Scotsman has learned that the lawyers are now seeking an interdict to prevent the Holyrood elections from going ahead.

Jerusalem Post

Israel’s President Katsav

JERUSALEM — It is truly a dismal day when we learn that the president of our country, the man who is supposed to embody the best in our nation and, it goes without saying, to be an exemplar of good citizenship and of the rule of law, is to be indicted for numerous serious crimes.

While Attorney General Menahem Mazuz says in his letter to President Moshe Katsav that he is open to being convinced in hearings to withhold an indictment, it is difficult to imagine Mr. Mazuz will be shown evidence that will substantially change the horrible picture before us today.

That picture is of 10 women who have accused Mr. Katsav of crimes ranging from sexual harassment to rape. …

We are acutely aware that any citizen, including the president, is innocent until proven guilty. Yet there is a long-standing practice, backed by Supreme Court decisions, that requires Cabinet members to resign if indicted. We believe the president should be held to a slightly higher standard, and should resign now that a draft indictment has been submitted.

Manila Times

China’s space technology

MANILA — China’s destruction of its own old weather satellite understandably worries many people in the United States and Taiwan.

It demonstrates that China indeed has developed the anti-satellite capability, which heretofore only the United States and Russia were openly known to have. People following the progress of the nuclear-power countries, however, have always known that China possesses that technology. …

Why did China show off its anti-satellite weaponry, then?

The key to the answer is in the fact that the top men of China today, President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, are nonmilitary men. As such they have to prove every so often to the People’s Liberation Army generals that things military are very much on the state council’s agenda. The generals after all still have a big say in who rules China.

Times, London

The role of MI5

LONDON — … It is only in the past two decades that MI5 has emerged from the shadows of unacknowledged and clandestine surveillance to become a publicly recognized organization on a proper legal footing. Since then, however, the security service has faced unprecedented challenge and has had to respond with an increase in size, budget and role not seen since the Second World War. …

When Irish terrorism was the main threat to Britain’s security, the distinction between the roles of MI5, Special Branch and other police investigative bodies was fuzzy. … Since then, MI5 has emerged as the unquestioned lead agency in tackling the far greater threat of global terrorism. … This greater role … has led to calls for greater openness and accountability from a public that has an entrenched skepticism about the antics of “spooks.”

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