Month in brief

Politics has no role in law

Hong Kong’s top judge, Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li, warned against ‘unwarranted’ and uninformed criticism of the courts as he underscored the value of the city’s common law system. At the official opening of the 2018 legal year, newly appointed Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah also called for appreciation of mainland China’s civil law system, but added that she was dutybound to ensure judicial independence was respected, and that politics has ‘no role to play’ in decisions to prosecute people.

Iranian tanker collision

An Iranian oil tanker sailing from Iran to South Korea carrying 136,000 tonnes of light crude oil collided with a Chinese freight ship off the coast of China. Despite a huge blaze, no major oil spill has been detected from the Sanchi tanker, though 32 of its crew are still missing. All 21 crew members of the freight ship, CF Crystal, were rescued. The incident marks the first major maritime incident involving an Iranian tanker since the lifting of international sanctions against Iran in January 2016 .

Nepal’s deadly virus

The death toll in the Nepalese district of Jajarkot reached 10 as another victim succumbed to an unidentified viral disease affecting the area. A team of specialist doctors and the Nepal Army are providing treatment as the number of people affected in the region increases, and precautionary measures are being taken to prevent an epidemic. The virus is characterised by flulike symptoms such as headache, muscle cramps, sweating and fever.

Journalist ‘aiding police’ in Aadhaar breach

Amid public outrage at the police case against a journalist who exposed loopholes in the security network of the world’s largest biometric ID system, Aadhaar, the Indian government stressed its commitment to freedom of the press, with law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad insisting the journalist was simply assisting police. This is the second time in less than a year that the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has filed a first information report against a journalist who uncovered vulnerabilities in the Aadhaar system.

Jail time for surrogacy nurse

The sentence of an Australian nurse facing 18 months’ imprisonment for running a surrogacy clinic in Cambodia has been upheld in a high-profile case highlighting the country’s role in this profitable business. Tammy Davis-Charles, a nurse from Melbourne, was arrested in November 2016 just weeks after the country passed a law prohibiting commercial surrogacy. In spite of claims at her trial that she just provided medical care for the Cambodian mothers, she was convicted of sourcing clients and falsifying documents.


Death of a moon bear

A moon bear has died just months after being rescued from an entertainment resort in Vietnam, where she was kept caged for ten years. Bao Lam died suddenly of respiratory failure after x-rays revealed she had 20 litres of fluid in her chest. Following earlier health checks, she was diagnosed with and treated for dental disease and hypertension, both conditions that are common in moon bears.

BBC’s China editor quits

The BBC faced further problems in the gender pay gap row when its China editor, Carrie Gracie, resigned from her post, citing pay inequality with male international editors. Despite being offered a rise, Gracie said this was no solution and she could no longer ‘collude knowingly’ in what she considered to be a policy of ‘unlawful pay discrimination’.

Houthi threat

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have threatened to block the key shipping route linking the Mediterranean Sea with the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean. In a meeting with the deputy UN envoy to Yemen, Saleh Al Samad, president of the supreme political council which controls Sanaa and other rebel-held territory, warned that the Houthis will resort to ‘strategic choices’ if the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen does not halt efforts to retake ports in Hodeidah province.

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