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Monday, October 25, 2010

Piracy: A Legal Definition

R. Chuck Mason
Legislative Attorney

Pirate attacks in the waters off the Horn of Africa, including those on U.S.-flagged vessels, have brought continued U.S. and international attention to the long-standing problem of piracy in the region. The United States has been an active participant in piracy interdiction and prevention operations focusing on the Horn of Africa region. As part of piracy interdiction operations, the U.S. military has detained individuals accused of acts of piracy against U.S.-flagged vessels. In some instances these individuals have been released to return to land, while others have been brought to the United States for criminal prosecution in the federal courts.

The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power “To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations.” Since 1819, U.S. law has defined piracy not as a specific act, but rather “as defined by the law of nations.” Supreme Court decisions have upheld Congress’s power to define piracy in terms of the law of nations. Contemporary international agreements, including the Convention on the High Seas, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation (SUA Convention) address piracy. The United States is party to two of the agreements, and the third (UNCLOS) is generally accepted as reflecting customary international law.

A recent development in a piracy trial in federal court in Norfolk, VA, has highlighted a potential limitation in the definition of piracy under the United States Code. In ruling on the defendant’s motion to dismiss, the court stated that the act of piracy, as defined by the law of nations, requires a robbery on the high seas. Thus, it appears that absent an actual robbery at sea, individuals may not be found guilty of the act of piracy under 18 U.S.C. § 1651, but may be tried for other offenses, including the offenses of attack to plunder a vessel, or committing violence against a person on a vessel.



Date of Report: October 19, 2010
Number of Pages: 10
Order Number: R41455
Price: $29.95

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rwanda: Background and Current Developments

Ted Dagne
Specialist in African Affairs

In 2003, Rwanda held its first multi-party presidential and parliamentary elections in decades. President Paul Kagame of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) won 95% of the votes cast, while his nearest rival, Faustin Twagiramungu, received 3.6% of the votes cast. In the legislative elections, the ruling RPF won 73% in the 80-seat National Assembly, while the remaining seats went to RPF allies and former coalition partners. In September 2008, Rwanda held legislative elections, and the RPF won a majority of the seats. Rwandese women are now the majority in the National Assembly. In October 2008, the National Assembly elected Ms. Mukantabam Rose as the first female speaker of the Assembly. In August 2010, Rwanda held its general elections and President Kagame won 93% of the votes cast.

In Rwanda, events of a prior decade are still fresh in the minds of many survivors and perpetrators. In 1993, after several failed efforts, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and the government of Rwanda reached an agreement in Tanzania, referred to as the Arusha Peace Accords. The RPF joined the Rwandan government as called for in the agreement. In April 1994, the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, along with several senior government officials, were killed when their plane was shot down as it approached the capital of Rwanda, Kigali. Shortly after, the Rwandan military and a Hutu militia known as the Interhamwe began to systematically massacre Tutsis and moderate Hutu opposition members. In the first 10 weeks of the Rwandan genocide, an estimated 1 million people, mostly Tutsis, were slaughtered by government forces and the Interhamwe militia. In July 1994, the RPF took over power and later formed a coalition government.

In late 2008, the governments of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) agreed on a wide range of issues. The two governments agreed to launch a joint military offensive against the National Congress for the Defense of the Congolese People (CNDP) and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). They also agreed to restore full diplomatic relations and to activate economic cooperation. In January 2009, Rwanda and Congo launched a joint military operation in eastern Congo. In late February 2009, Rwandese troops pulled out of Congo as part of the agreement with the Kabila government. In October 2009, Ugandan authorities arrested a top genocide suspect, Idelphonse Nizeyimana. He was later transferred to Tanzania to stand trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.



Date of Report: October 8, 2010
Number of Pages: 10
Order Number: R40115
Price: $29.95

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Kenya: Current Conditions and the Challenges Ahead


Ted Dagne
Specialist in African Affairs

Kenya, a nation of about 36.9 million people, has been an important ally of the United States for decades. Kenya moved from a one-party state to a multi-party democracy in 1992. Kenyans voted in record numbers in the country’s first multi-party election in almost 26 years. President Daniel arap Moi defeated opposition candidates by a small margin. In 1997, Kenya held its second multiparty elections, at the height of tensions between the opposition and the ruling party. President Moi was re-elected with 40% of the votes cast, while his nearest rival, Mwai Kibaki, won 31%. In the 2002 presidential and parliamentary elections, the opposition National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) defeated the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU). In the presidential election, NARC leader Kibaki defeated Uhuru Kenyatta, the leader of KANU.

On December 27, 2007, millions of Kenyans went to the polls in Kenya’s fourth multi-party elections, with the hope of strengthening the institutions of democracy and, most importantly in the view of many observers, of bringing change. An estimated 14.2 million (82% of the total eligible voters) Kenyans were registered to vote, while 2,547 parliamentary candidates were qualified to run in 210 constituencies, according to the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK). Nine candidates competed in the presidential election. The opposition reportedly made significant gains in the parliamentary elections. The ECK, however, hastily declared President Kibaki as the winner of the elections. Kibaki was quickly sworn in as president, while international and domestic election observers declared the elections as rigged and deeply flawed.

Following the announcement of the election results, violence erupted in many parts of Kenya. More than 1,000 people have been killed and an estimated 350,000 reportedly displaced. In August 2008, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) released a report on the post-election violence. In early February, the opposition and the government began negotiations under the leadership of former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. The two parties agreed to work together to end the violence, improve humanitarian conditions, and write a new constitution within a year. In late February, the government and the opposition reached a powersharing arrangement. On March 18, 2008, the Kenya parliament unanimously approved the agreement. On April 3, 2008, the parties agreed on a 40-member cabinet. But important reforms agreed to by the parties have yet to be implemented. The initial United States government reaction to the December elections was considered by some international observers as contradictory and seen by some Kenyans as being one-sided in favor of President Kibaki. On December 30, the United States government reportedly congratulated President Kibaki. Senior Bush Administration officials visited Kenya in an effort to resolve the crisis and provided support to Kofi Annan’s mediation efforts. The Obama Administration has repeatedly pressed the government of Kenya to implement reforms agreed to by the parties in 2008. In September 2009, Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson sent a letter to 15 Kenyan officials warning them that reforms must be implemented. In April 2010, the Kenyan parliament passed a new draft constitution, and on August 4, 2010, Kenyans approved the new constitution. The next general elections are scheduled for 2012.



Date of Report: October 6, 2010
Number of Pages: 16
Order Number: RL34378
Price: $29.95

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Uganda: Current Conditions and the Crisis in North Uganda


Ted Dagne
Specialist in African Affairs

In February 2006, Ugandans voted in the first multi-party elections in almost 26 years. President Yoweri Museveni and his ruling National Revolutionary Movement (NRM) parliamentary candidates won a decisive victory over opposition candidate Kizza Besigye and the Forum for Democracy Coalition. Nevertheless, poll results showed a notable decline in support for President Museveni from previous elections. International election observers did not condemn the election results, nor did they fully endorse the electoral process. Critics charged the government with intimidating the opposition during the pre-election period, and Besigye spent much of the campaign period in jail. The election followed a controversial move by the Ugandan parliament in July 2005 to remove the constitutional two-term limit on the presidency.

In the north, the government of Uganda has long fought the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), an armed rebel group backed by the government of Sudan. Through over 20 years of civil war, the brutal insurgency has created a humanitarian crisis that has displaced over 1.5 million people and resulted in the abduction of over 20,000 children. In 2006-2008, the government of Uganda and the LRA were engaged in an effort to resolve the conflict peacefully. The government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) mediated the talks. In August 2006, the government of Uganda and the LRA signed a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement. In February 2008, the parties agreed on a Permanent Ceasefire and amended the Agreement on Accountability and Reconciliation and Agreement on Comprehensive Solutions. However, the leader of the LRA, Joseph Kony, failed to show up for the final signing of the agreement on a number of occasions. The cessation of hostilities has allowed an estimated 1.4 million people to return to their homes. In November 2007, an LRA delegation went to Kampala for the first time and held talks with senior Ugandan officials. In late 2007, Vincent Otti, the deputy commander of the LRA, reportedly was killed in Uganda by Joseph Kony, the head of the LRA. In December 2009, the deputy commander of the LRA, Bok Abudema, was killed by Ugandan forces in Central African Republic.

In late October 2007, President Museveni visited Washington, DC, and met with President Bush and other senior Administration officials. President Museveni also met with several Members of Congress. During his visit, President Museveni discussed a wide range of issues, including U.S.- Uganda relations, the crises in Somalia and Darfur, trade, and HIV/AIDS. Uganda deployed an estimated 2,700 peacekeeping troops to Somalia, shortly after Ethiopian forces invaded Mogadishu and installed the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). As of July 2010, more than 20 members of the Ugandan peacekeeping forces have been killed.

On July 11, 2010, the Somali terrorist group Al-Shabaab carried out multiple suicide bombings in Kampala, Uganda. An estimated 76 people, including one American, were killed and more than 80 injured. The United Nations, the African Union, and the United States condemned the terrorist attacks. More than 20 suspects are currently in prison.



Date of Report: October 6, 2010
Number of Pages: 38
Order Number: RL33701
Price: $29.95

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Tanzania: Background and Current Conditions

Ted Dagne
Specialist in African Affairs

Tanzania, an important U.S. ally in Africa, is a stable and important regional actor. There has been a gradual increase in political pluralism, but Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM ), the ruling party, remains dominant in government and parliament. Tanzania’s current president, Jakaya Kikwete, who previously served for 10 years as Tanzania’s foreign minister, won 80.3% of the votes cast in the December 2005 presidential election. The next general elections are scheduled for October 2010. President Kikwete selected Mohamed Ghalib Bilal as his running mate for the election. Tanzania continues its pattern of steady real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth and has a low and stable inflation rate. The Economist Intelligence Unit predicts real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 6.4% in 2010 and 7.1% in 2011.


Date of Report: October 6, 2010
Number of Pages: 8
Order Number: RS22781
Price: $19.95

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