Nation to join pact on child abduction

Japan’s parliament on Wednesday approved joining an international child custody treaty amid foreign pressure for Tokyo to address concerns that Japanese mothers can take children away from foreign fathers without recourse.

The upper house voted unanimously to join the 1980 Hague Convention on international child abduction following passage by the more powerful lower house last month. Japan is the only Group of Seven nation that has not joined the convention, which has 89 signatories.

The convention will probably take effect later this fiscal year, which ends March 2014, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

The United States, Britain, France and other countries have repeatedly urged Japan to join the convention, which seeks to ensure that custody decisions are made by the courts of the country where the abducted child originally resided, and that the rights of access of both parents are protected.

— Associated Press

Top leaders named in commission report

Kenya’s president received a long-awaited Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission report that names him and his deputy as being among those suspected of planning and financing Kenya’s 2007-08 post-election violence, in which more than 1,000 people died and 600,000 were evicted from their homes.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto already face trial at the International Criminal Court on crimes-against-humanity charges related to the election violence, but local attempts to prosecute the two have stalled. The commission does not recommend prosecution for the two, saying they are already facing ICC action.

Kenyatta’s family members, especially his father, founding president Jomo Kenyatta, are named in the report as having presided over a government responsible for numerous human rights violations and illegal allocation of land.

The government-funded report, years in the making and released late Tuesday, finds that Kenya’s second and third presidents, Daniel arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki, headed governments that were responsible for massacres, economic crimes and grand corruption, among other violations.

— Associated Press

New government calls off E.U. talks

The leader of the center-right Progressive Party was chosen as Iceland’s new prime minister Wednesday and promptly announced a halt to talks with the European Union about joining the 27-nation bloc.

“We will not hold further negotiations with the European Union without prior referendum,” Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson said at a news conference.

Iceland has engaged in on-and-off talks with the E.U. for several years. Gunnlaugsson’s party has been opposed to accession, in part because members fear that joining would mean giving up control of Iceland’s vital fishing stocks.

Icelanders voted April 27, returning to power the parties who had governed for decades before the 2008 economic collapse, the Independents and the Progressive Party.

— Associated Press

Maliki orders changes in military leadership: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered a shake-up of his military command after a week-long spike of militant attacks that has killed nearly 300 people, by far the highest toll since the U.S. withdrew its forces in late 2011, a government spokesman said, adding that the changes will extend to commanders of divisions and operations. In violence Wednesday, militants shot up a brothel in Baghdad in an apparent morals attack, killing 14 people.

Abducted Egyptian security personnel released: Six Egyptian policemen and a border guard kidnapped by suspected militants in the volatile Sinai Peninsula last week were freed by their captors after successful mediation, Egypt’s military said. The release, which followed a massive show of force by the military in northern Sinai, ended a crisis that had sparked the anger of the public and the security forces and held the potential to embarrass both the military and President Mohamed Morsi had it dragged on.

Imran Khan discharged from hospital: Pakistani cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan left a hospital, more than two weeks after he suffered serious back injuries in a fall from a forklift at a campaign event, a spokesman for his Movement for Justice party said. “Thank God, Imran can walk,” Naeemul Haq said, adding that the politician will remain under doctors’ care at his home in the eastern city of Lahore for a while.

Captain of wrecked cruise ship to stand trial: An Italian judge ordered the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship to stand trial for manslaughter in the vessel’s shipwreck last year off the coast of Tuscany, which killed 32 people. Capt. Francesco Schettino, also charged with causing the shipwreck and abandoning the vessel while many of its 4,200 passengers and crew members were still aboard, faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

— From news services