Gay Marriage Approved — New Zealand’s parliament voted late Wednesday on a bill to legalize gay marriage, and it was approved 77 to 44 on its third and final reading, reports the AP. The bill will amend the 1955 Marriage Act to define marriage as a union of two people regardless of their sexuality, sex or gender. Prime Minister John Key had previously backed the proposal, with New Zealand now becoming the 13th country in the world where gay marriage is legal, according to Human Rights Watch.
Operation Cleanup — The Los Angeles Times reports that Mexico’s Operation Cleanup, an effort to clamp down on corruption within the country’s elite organized crime bureau, has failed. Shortly after the high-profile operation was launched in 2008, 25 top law enforcement officials were arrested on charges of corruption. Of the 25, only 13 were formally charged. “The collapse of the cases underscored the long way Mexico has to go in revamping its sclerotic judiciary,” writes the paper. The Times adds that the failure of the prosecution reveals Mexico’s systemic corruption and weak and dysfunctional judiciary.
Rights in Morocco – Morocco has cancelled the annual “African Lion” military exercise with the U.S. after Washington proposed the establishment of a human rights monitor in the disputed Western Sahara territory, notes Reuters. Washington’s proposal was described in a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that was circulated to the so-called Group of Friends on Western Sahara, including France, Spain, Russia and the U.K. The draft resolution, which will be put to a vote later this month, not only broadens the U.N. mission’s mandate in the Western Sahara to include human rights monitoring but also extends the mandate for another year. In 1976, Morocco annexed Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, inciting the Polisario Front independence movement; the U.N. brokered a cease-fire in 1991.
Organized Crime — A new report by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reveals that organized crime in East Asia and the Pacific is worth roughly $90 billion, notes the BBC. Counterfeit goods and fake drugs account for two-thirds of the annual revenues generated by criminal activities, which also include narcotics and human trafficking. According to the report, the most profitable trades for criminals in East Asia are fake goods, illegal wood products, heroin, methamphetamines and counterfeit drugs.