“Do as CCJ advises” – Indian High Commissioner to political leaders

first_imgIndian High Commissioner to Guyana,Venkatakchalam MahalingamBy Vahnu ManikchandThe outgoing Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Venkatakchalam Mahalingam, is urging the country’s political leaders to heed the advice of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and discuss the way forward for Guyana.At Monday’s post-judgement hearing, CCJ President Justice Adrian Saunders urged that President David Granger meet with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo to come up with a consensus on the way forward and as such, postponed the date to issue consequential orders on the No-Confidence Motion to July 12, 2019.High Commissioner Mahalingam underscored the need for the parties to do as advised by the Court.“I’m sure the consequential orders are mostly going to be a form of direction for both the political parties. But the hint given is that they should sit together and they should come out with a consensus and decide what the way forward is. So, therefore, we would like both parties to sit together, as advised by the Caribbean Court of Justice, and decide what is the best way forward for the democratic process to continue,” he posited.Democratic processContending that his country does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, the Indian diplomat emphasised, however, that they would like for the democratic process to take over and finally have this issue, which has been languishing for the past seven months, resolved.“The Caribbean Court of Justice understands what has been going on in Guyana and they wanted to put both parties together and arrive at a consensus. I don’t know, if consensus is not arrived at by both parties, what would be the order of the Caribbean Court of Justice or what would be the direction in the end, but we need to wait to see… But I’m sure Guyana will definitely find a solution for its betterment,” Mahalingam stated during an interview with Guyana Times on Tuesday.Following the June 18 rulings, CCJ President Justice Adrian Saunders urged the two sides to meet to find consensus before last Monday’s hearing for consequential orders. However, President David Granger sent an invitation to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Friday for them to meet after Monday’s hearing. During that hearing, Justice Saunders expressed disappointment that the two leaders were yet to meet.“These matters are of the highest constitutional significance… and it beats me that the Leader of the Opposition and the President, and their respective counsel, had not met to discuss the issues that confront us. Everybody says these are important issues but it seems as though the same degree of urgency and deliberation that are expected of the Courts, we don’t see them being reflected in the behaviour of the political directorate and that I think is unfortunate,” the CCJ President expressed.In fact, he went on to note that the case puts the Court in an “awkward position” since it does not want to make political decisions, but at the same time, it has a remit to ensure that the rule of law is observed. This, Justice Saunders noted, however, can only happen if the political leaders display a spirit of compromise and reasonableness, which would allow the rule of law to take effect.The CCJ President’s comments were made after Attorney General Basil Williams told the Court that President Granger had acted “forthwith” and invited the Opposition Leader to a meeting on the relevant matters in relation to the cases but that meeting was yet to happen. In fact, he indicated that the Leader of the Opposition was yet to respond to the invite.However, at a press conference after Monday’s hearing, Jagdeo called out the Attorney General for deliberately misleading the CCJ. According to Jagdeo, a letter was indeed dispatched to his office but stated that he was being invited for a meeting after the June 24 consequential ruling, with no date or time indicated.Nevertheless, a response letter was sent on Tuesday indicated to that Jagdeo is prepared to meet with the President “at any time and on a daily basis if needs be”.Last week, the CCJ ruled that the No-Confidence Motion tabled in Guyana’s National Assembly in December 2018, had been validly passed, and in another case, found that the unilateral appointment of the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), retired Justice James Patterson, was flawed and unconstitutional.After the Trinidad-based regional Court reiterated on Monday that GECOM has no chairman, Government announced on Tuesday that Justice Patterson has resigned.The CCJ President had also noted that the appointment process of a new GECOM Chair had to be reengaged and according to Jagdeo, in the missive to Government, he is prepared to meet and address the appointment of a new Chairman consistent with the ruling of the regional Court on June 18, 2019.last_img read more

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Dutch appeals court dodges decision on hotly debated H5N1 papers

first_img Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwecenter_img “I’m disappointed,” Fouchier says. “They didn’t want to touch the hot potato and passed it on instead.”The Court of Appeal decided the case on 18 June, but released the verdict (in Dutch) only yesterday. In accordance with Dutch judicial practice, all names in the text have been redacted, along with details about the technology and the virus strain that Fouchier used.Here’s the back story: A huge debate erupted after Fouchier submitted a paper to Science in late 2011 that showed how, with only a few mutations, a lab-created H5N1 flu strain could infect ferrets via airborne transmission. So as not to give bioterrorists any ideas, the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) initially recommended not publishing the key details in Fouchier’s paper. (It said the same about a similar study by Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin in Madison submitted to Nature around the same time.)NSABB eventually reversed that decision, but by then the Dutch government had stepped in: Publishing the H5N1 paper amounted to exporting dangerous knowledge outside the European Union, it said. It told Fouchier to apply for an export license before sending a second, revised version of his manuscript to Science’s editorial office. Eager to get the paper in print, Fouchier and Erasmus MC did so, but under protest. The license was granted and the paper was published in Science in June 2012. The team also applied for, and obtained, a license for a companion paper published in the same issue of Science and for a 2014 follow-up paper in Cell.After the first papers were published, Erasmus MC lodged a formal objection against the Dutch government to protest the license requirement. The government turned down that claim in December 2012, after which the institute took the case to the District Court. Erasmus MC lost again in September 2013. The next month, the case moved to the Court of Appeal, where it has been in limbo for nearly 20 months.At the heart of the issue is whether Fouchier’s scientific manuscripts need an export license under E.U. regulations issued in 2009 that aim to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Those rules ban shipping a long list of goods, pathogens, and technologies that could be used for nefarious purposes. But this was the first time anywhere in Europe that the rules had been used to control the publication of a scientific paper.Erasmus MC argued that the E.U. regulation doesn’t apply to the H5N1 work because it makes an exception for ″basic scientific research″ and for information already in the public domain. Fouchier’s work was basic research and his methods weren’t new, it argued. The District Court rejected that defense, arguing that making H5N1 an airborne virus was not basic research, but instead a “practical goal.”The Court of Appeal decided it didn’t need to wade into this thorny discussion. It argued that after it had obtained a license to send the manuscript to Science in 2012, Erasmus MC no longer had a legal interest in pursuing the case. The government should not have taken Erasmus MC’s complaint into consideration, and the District Court should not have upheld the government’s rejection of the complaint, the appeals court said. If Erasmus MC had wanted to object to the government’s policies, the court seems to argue, it should have done so instead of applying for a license—it shouldn’t have done both.”I hadn’t expected this outcome,” says Koos van der Bruggen, a biosecurity expert and independent consultant who co-authored a 2013 report on dual-use issues published by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. But Van der Bruggen says he understands that the court chose to avoid what is essentially a political issue. “They decided not to take the place of the executive or legislative powers,” he says. For Fouchier, the only good thing is that the District Court’s verdict has been annulled, he adds.”Erasmus MC regrets that after a long procedure there is no ruling on the merits and remains convinced that for strictly fundamental research, an export license is not needed,” an Erasmus MC press officer said in an email to ScienceInsider.Both parties have until 30 July to lodge an appeal with the Supreme Court of the Netherlands; the Erasmus MC spokesperson says the institute is still exploring its legal options. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is in charge of export control policy, says the ministry is still studying the verdict.There are other avenues to obtain clarity on the core issue, says Fouchier, but none are very appealing. Whenever a similar GOF paper is ready for publication, for example, Erasmus MC could refuse to apply for an export license and sue the government instead. But that could leave the paper unpublished, possibly for years if there is a new appeal. Alternatively, Fouchier says he could submit his next paper without a license and see if the government prosecutes him. “If it were just me, I would do that,” Fouchier says. “But there are co-authors and Erasmus MC board members who would be liable as well.”For the moment, Fouchier doesn’t have any new GOF work to publish. Last year, the U.S. government unexpectedly decided to halt the funding of such studies, asking researchers to pause their work and ordering a review of the risks and benefits—a process that is still ongoing. Fouchier, who has an important grant from the National Institutes of Health for his flu work, has stopped his project as well. Although he could resume the research with Dutch or European funding, “I don’t think it’s wise to bite the hand that feeds me,” he says.*Updated, 17 July, 8:30 a.m.: This story has been updated to include a response from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. AMSTERDAM—For more than 3 years, virologist Ron Fouchier has battled the Dutch government over a fundamental question in the balance between academic freedom and biosecurity: Did he need a government license to publish his hotly debated gain-of-function (GOF) studies on the H5N1 influenza strain?Yes, a Dutch court ruled in 2013, in a decision that dismayed Fouchier and raised questions about how the publication of sensitive studies is handled in the Eurpoean Union.Now, the Court of Appeal in Amsterdam has tossed out that verdict. But it’s a pyrrhic victory for Fouchier. Rather than ruling on the fundamental issue, the court said Fouchier and his employer—Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, Netherlands—didn’t have standing to sue the Dutch government, putting them back at square one.last_img read more

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