ANCL Newsflash 02 October 2013

   
 Announcing the Launch of Constitute:  The World’s Constitutions to Read, Search and Compare
 


The Constitute Unit is pleased to announce the launch of Constitute, a website for reading, searching, and comparing the world’s constitutions.  The site was launched at 2:00 p.m. (GMT) today at the New York Palace Hotel in New York City.  Speakers at the launch event included His Excellency President Moncef Marzouki of Tunisia and Her Excellency Roza Otunbayeva (former President of the Kyrgyz Republic). 

Approximately 5 constitutions are replaced and 30 are amended each year.  This year has already witnessed new constitutions in Fiji and Zimbabwe and constitutional amendments in Brazil, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Hungary, Mexico, Switzerland and Tonga.  Despite the high frequency of constitutional change, constitutional drafters often lack systematic information on the contents of other countries’ constitutions that could help them decide what topics should be addressed in their constitution and how to address those topics. 
 
There is no single location that constitutional drafters can use to access and compare constitutional documents and language – which is critical to drafters – because these documents are locked up in libraries or on the hard drives of constitutional experts. Constitute addresses this problem by putting searchable copies of the world’s constitutions online.  However, Constitute is more than just a repository of constitutional texts.  The project draws on data collected by the Comparative Constitutions Project over the last 8 years to assign topic tags to provisions within constitutions.  This allows powerful, topic-based searches of those texts.   There are more than 300 topics for users to choose from on the site, which range from the fairly general – e.g. the structure of the branches of government – to the very specific – e.g. voting rights for indigenous groups.  For those interested in regional or temporal trends in constitution-making, the search results can be filtered by country and year.  

Our hope is that Constitute will increase transparency in countries throughout the world by ensuring universal access to the world’s constitutions.  We expect that access to these important documents will improve constitution-making.  Such access will also empower the general public to learn about their countries’ constitution, enabling them to play a more active role in their country’s governance.
 

Notes for Editors
1.    The Constitution Unit is an independent, non-partisan research centre based in the Department of Political Science at University College London.
2.    Dr James Melton has written a more detailed statement about Constitute on the Constitution Unit Blog
3.    A video that describes the motivation for Constitute and demonstrates how to use the site
4.    Constitute is funded by grants from Google Ideas to the University of Texas at Austin and the Indigo Trust to University College London.
5.    The site’s content is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.  The site itself is not open sourced.
6.    Currently, Constitute includes the constitutions that were in force for independent states at the beginning of September, 2013.  A small number of countries, such as the United Kingdom, do not have a single constitutional documents and are, thus, not included on the site at this time.
7.    Dr James Melton is available for interview:  j.melton@ucl.ac.uk

Contact Information

Google Ideas
•    Marketing:  annadph@google.com
•    PR:  press@google.com
•    PM:  scout@google.com

University College London
•    PI:  j.melton@ucl.ac.uk

University of Texas
•    PI:  zelkins@austin.utexas.edu

University of Chicago
PI:  tginsburg@uchicago.edu
 


International Congress on Constitutional Law
Oslo in June 2014

Dans le cadre des actions  du RADC visant la promotion  des droits de  l’Homme, la culture démocratique et le constitutionnalisme en Afrique, et à fin de  préparer notre prochain congrès mondial sur le droit constitutionnel qui se tiendra en juin 2014 à Oslo, je vous recommande Vivement  de  s’inscrire  au congrès, via  notre site   internet   , qui, -je l’espère- sera  une plateforme  dédiée à vos contributions scientifiques  dans nos  différents ateliers de travail , et un espace de rencontre, d’échange et de dialogue constrictif entre tous  ceux qui partagent les valeurs et les objectifs sur lesquels repose notre groupement .
 
As part of the actions of RADC for the promotion of human rights, democratic culture and constitutionalism in Africa, and therefore to prepare our next World Congress on constitutional law to be held in Oslo in June 2014, I Highly recommended to register for the conference through our website, which, I hope, will be dedicated to your scientific contributions in our various workshops platform and space for meeting, exchange and constrictive dialogue between those who share the values ​​and objectives on which our group.
 
 

Proposals

GLM-LIC Phase III, DFID and Institute for the Study of Labour: The Department for International Development, in partnership with the Institute for the Study of Labour, invites proposals under phase three of its growth and labour markets in low-income countries programme. The aim of this programme is to improve worldwide knowledge of labour market issues in low-income countries and provide a solid basis for the development of future policies. Deadline: 29 October 2013. Further details can be found here: http://glm-lic.iza.org/?page=97.
 
 

The Sudanese Human Rights Monitor Demands Immediate Ending of Violence against Peaceful Protesters and Calls for Independent Investigation in Killings in Niyala, Medani and Khartoum
 
Khartoum. 27th September 2013. Sudanese Human Rights Monitor (SHRM) follows with great concern the gross human rights violations that accompany the ongoing peaceful protests since 22nd September 2013, especially in Medani and Khartoum. People were protesting in different locations in Medani, Khartoum, Khartoum North and Omdurman against the government decision to cut subsidy of oil products, and consequently increase prices of fuel and food items. Police and security have dealt with these protests violently leading to killings in several cases. Authorities have also waged campaigns against protesters, activists and political opponents and arrested tens of them without specific charges. We also followed with concern using excessive force by authorities against protesters in Niyala, South Darfur last week in the aftermath of the assassination of a local businessman.
 
Medani, Khartoum, Khartoum North and Omdurman witnessed peaceful protests over the last four days against the cut of subsidy. Security apparatus responded with tear gas, sticks and close chasing of protesters by police and security vehicles as shown in many video footages circulated by eyes witnesses. Confirmed reports indicate more than 50 cases of killings, in the most conservative estimations, in Medani, Khartoum, Khartoum North and Omdurman in addition to tens of injuries. Also reports, including the statement by the Gezira Governor Al Zubeir Bashir Taha confirm arrest of tens of protesters in Medani. The opposition alliance confirmed arrest of 17 of its leaders and cadres from their homes. Last week, Niyala witnessed protests that have been confronted by authorities with different forms of violence including shooting that led to the killing of at least two protesters and injury of tens. At the same time, authorities continue restricting freedoms of expression as three dailies were confiscated on 19th September. These were Al Ayam, Al Jareeda and Al Intibaha. On 24th Aljareeda was again confiscated and columnists Zuhair Al Sarraj was banned from writing for seven days. In response to clear instructions by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) on coverage of protest, Al Ayam daily decided on 26th September to voluntarily stop publishing as 'censorship made it impossible to publish a newspaper with the minimum professional ethics' according to its editor, Mr. Mahjoub M. Salih. 
 
The use of excessive force by authorities created a favorite environment for assaults and destructions of public and private properties. Several eye witnesses who talked to SHRM were doubtful about the identity of vandals. They were emphasizing that protests started peacefully.

SHRM calls upon officials to practice self-constraint, draw lessons from the developments in the region and work to avoid pushing the country, which is already plagued with conflicts, into further violence. SHRM reaffirms that even under the current circumstances; protection of lives and properties of citizens is the responsibility of the state.
The human rights abuses that took place in Sudan over the last four days represent clear violation to Sudan Interim Constitution that protects the right to life, right to freedom of expression and right to peaceful assembly and protest. They also violate Sudan international obligations. Sudan is a state party to a number of international conventions; most relevant to the current developments is the International Covenant for Political and Civil Rights. On the other hand, the Bill of Rights in the Interim Constitution considers all rights and freedoms included in international human rights instruments ratified by Sudan a part and parcel of the Sudan constitution.
 
The Sudanese Human Rights Monitor (SHRM) demands the authorities to issue clear instructions to its different organs to abide by law and immediately stop using violence against peaceful protesters. Further, SHRM demands initiating an independent investigation into killings in Niyala, Medani, and Khartoum and release of all detainees or taking them to court in a due legal process.