JURIST Legal News

JURIST's legal news service, powered by a team of over 40 law student reporters and editors led by Professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
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International rights groups have reported [press release] that refugees and migrants housed in Greek camps are cutting themselves, attempting suicide and abusing drugs. According to a report [text, PDF] made by Save the Children [advocacy website] Thursday and a report [text, PDF] by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) [advocacy website] Tuesday, anxiety, depression and aggression continue to grow rapidly. According to Save the Children, as a result of the deal between the EU and Turkey to halt the flow of refugees...
The New Zealand Parliament [government website] voted Wednesday to approve a law [materials] that grants the Whanganui River the legal rights of a person. According to the new law [text; PDF, in Maori], the river, or Te Awa Tupua as it is known to the local Maori people, is now recognized as "an indivisible and living whole, comprising the Whanganui River from the mountains to the sea, incorporating all its physical and metaphysical elements," and "is a legal person and...
A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] on Thursday approved a $27 million settlement [order, PDF] in a class action lawsuit between Lyft Inc. [corporate website] and its drivers. The suit challenged Lyft's characterization of the drivers as independent contractors. Drivers for the company asserted they should be identified as employees, which would entitle them to reimbursement for their driving expenses, such as gas and maintenance. The settlement keeps the drivers classified...
The Russian Ministry of Justice filed a suit in the Russian Supreme Court [official websites] Friday seeking to classify Jehovah's Witnesses as an extremist group [press release]. The suit claims that the religious group is closer to a cult than a legitimate religious group and is a danger to Russian families. The leadership of the Jehovah's Witnesses have decried the claim amid worries of reduced freedom of religion in Russia and have stated that, "[e]xtremism is deeply alien to the...
[JURIST] The Constitutional Court of South Africa [official website] on Friday enforced [judgment, PDF; press release] a contract between the South African Social Services Agency (SASSA) [official website] and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) [corporate website] to ensure that beneficiaries will still receive welfare. CPS and SASSA entered into a contract in 2012 wherein CPS agreed to pay social grants for SASSA. This contract was declared invalid by the court at that time and suspended. In 2015 SASSA said that it...
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] released a report [text, DOC] Thursday raising concerns over peace efforts in Colombia. According to the report, 127 activists were killed in 2016, including human rights leaders and members of leftist political organizations. The violence has raised concerns that the Colombian government is failing to implement key elements of a peace accord [JURIST report] brokered between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) [official...
A jury in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York [official website] on Thursday convicted Ibrahim Suleiman Adnan Harun [press release] on federal terrorism charges for his involvement in the deaths of US servicemen in Afghanistan. Harun was charged with multiple terrorism offenses, including conspiracy to murder American military personnel in Afghanistan and conspiracy to bomb the US Embassy in Nigeria. According to acting US Attorney for the Easter District of New York, Bridget M. Rohde,...
[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Washington [official website] ruled [order, PDF] that his prior injunction [JURIST report] on President Donald Trump's [official bio] first travel ban does not apply to Trump's newly revised ban [text]. Judge James Robart said [NBC News report] that the revised order is "different enough" from the original so that his prior injunction should not apply. However, federal judges from Hawaii and Maryland [opinions, PDF] have already temporarily...
[JURIST] The Maebashi District Court [official website, in Japanese] ruled that the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) [official website] are liable for professional negligence in their security maintenance at the Fukushima nuclear plant. The two parties have been ordered to pay [BBC report] a total of USD $341,000 to 62 out of 137 evacuees who sought damages for emotional distress. The court concluded [AP report] that in order to ensure safety at the plant, the plant's generators...
The Seoul Central District Court said on Friday that it has reassigned the bribery case [Reuters report] of Samsung Group's [corporate website] would-be chief Jae-yong Lee [Forbes profile] to a new judge, after reports surfaced on Thursday concerning the previous judge's connection to a woman Lee is accused of bribing. The father-in-law of Young-hoon Lee, the judge who presided over the March 9 pre-trial hearing of Jae-yong and four former and current Samsung executives, was accused the previous day by...
[JURIST] In an open letter [text] issued Thursday, California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye [official profile] asked Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official websites] agents to stop following undocumented immigrants to courthouses in order to make arrests. In her letter, addressed to Attorney General Jefferson Sessions and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly [official profiles], Cantil-Sakauye stressed what she believes to be the importance of separation of power between federal, state and local government to the rule of law. She also...
Orlando, Florida, Chief Prosecutor Aramis Ayala, announced on Thursday that her office will no longer seek the death penalty in Osceola and Orange counties, prompting Florida Governor Rick Scott [official website] to issue an executive order [text, PDF] removing her from a case involving the killing of Orlando police lieutenant Debra Clayton. Ayala cited various factors [NYT report] that weighed in her decision, including the length of time between sentencing and execution, which often exceeds a decade, the costs of...
A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] on Wednesday rejected [order] a settlement in a class action lawsuit between non-Gmail users and Google. The non-Gmail users contended that Google illegally scanned their e-mail correspondence with Gmail users for targeted advertising purposes in violation of the California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA) and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) [text]. The proposed settlement provided for an injunction, a release of the class's claims,...
A federal judge on Thursday ordered the detainment of a Volkwagen AG (VW) [corporate website] executive charged in the company's emissions scandal. Judge Sean Cox of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan [official website] held that Oliver Schmidt should be held until his trial next year as he represented a flight risk. Schmidt is a former chief of VW's environmental and engineering center who was arrested in January in Miami while attempting to return to Germany....
The House Budget Committee [official website] on Thursdayapproved [press release, speech] a proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The 19-17 vote, which received opposition from both parties, sends the American Health Care Act [text, PDF] to the House Rules Committee. The proposal is the first step [USA Today report] in a promise made by many Republican congressman who promised to repeal the ACA during their campaign. Those opposed claim [Fox News report] that the bill "is...
[JURIST] The Israel High Court of Justice [official website] recognized on Wednesday the ties of several Jerusalem-born Palestinians, calling them "native-born residents." The judges ordered [Times of Israel report] Israel to restore the residency of a Jerusalem-born Palestinian who came to the US in his youth but has since returned to Jerusalem. This is the first ruling of its kind for Jerusalem-born Palestinians, which could create precedent that may help protect the residency rights of these Palestinians in the future....
[JURIST] UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism Ikponwosa Ero [official profile] on Thursday called on [press release] Malawi to take action to protect people with albinism from attacks. Recently there have been several attacks this year in the small country on people with albinism. Some attacks have been based in the mistaken belief by those who practice witchcraft that the bodies of people with albinism have magical powers, and Ero urged for a...
[JURIST] Privacy International [advocacy website], a rights group devoted to promoting and protecting the privacy rights of individuals worldwide released a report [text, PDF] on Wednesday documenting serious human rights abuses such as torture, extrajudicial killings and disappearances that have allegedly resulting from the surveillance techniques and practices of Kenya's police and intelligence agencies. The report alleges that the National Intelligence Service exercises its power to intercept an individual's communications and gathers information, which it then shares with the police....
The judge presiding over the USS Cole bombing case, US Air Force Col. Vance Spath, said Wednesday that he plans [transcript, PDF] to set a 2018 trial date for the case. The judge stated that he anticipates that it will take months to seat a jury. He stressed the importance of keeping the case moving forward. He urged parties to finalize discovery and to being scheduling presentations for next year. The proceedings surrounding the prosecution of the USS Cole bombing...
[JURIST] UN rights experts urged the Philippines legislature on Thursday to reject a proposed death penalty bill that would reintroduce capital punishment for drug-related offenses. Specifically, the bill authorizes death penalty for the "import, sale, manufacture, delivery and distribution" of narcotics and for crimes committed under the influence of dangerous drugs." Special Rapporteurs, Agnes Callamard and Nils Melzer [official profiles] stated:This is clearly not permitted under international law, which requires that even States retaining the death penalty may impose it...

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