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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[JURIST] Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni [official website; BBC profile] refused to sign a bill [press release] proposed by the nation's Parliament [official website] that would toughen punishments for homosexuals in Uganda. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced [CNN report] in 2009 and the Ugandan Parliament passed the bill [JURIST report] last month. Homosexuality has long been illegal in Uganda, and the bill was introduced to inflict harsher penalties for the crime. The bill would impose life sentences [BBC report] for "aggravated...
[JURIST] The prolonged execution of convicted murderer Dennis McGuire on Thursday has stirred a controversy over new drugs used to administer lethal injections. McGuire was convicted [AP report] in 1994 of raping and murdering a 22-year-old girl in 1989 and lost his appeal [text, PDF] to the Supreme Court of Ohio in 1997. Earlier this month McGuire's attorneys filed for a stay of execution [JURIST report] with the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio [official website], claiming...
[JURIST] Madagascar's electoral court ruled on Friday that ex-finance minister Hery Rajaonarimampianina was properly elected president despite allegations that the election was rigged. The court ruled [Reuters report] that Rajaonarimampianina won 53.5 percent of the vote while his opponent Jean Louis Robinson, former health minister, won 46.5 percent. Controversy has surrounded the election and continues to be disputed. Observers of the election claim it was run fairly [BBC report]. However, the Robinson campaign has challenged the results since they were...
[JURIST] Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine [official website] on Thursday filed notice of his plans to appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, [official website] a December ruling [text, PDF] that requires the state to recognize valid out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples on Ohio death certificates. The ruling, made last month by Judge Timothy Black, found that by treating lawful same-sex marriages differently than it treats lawful opposite sex marriages, Ohio law violates the US Constitution...
[JURIST] Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen refused Thursday to ratify a law that would partially criminalize marital rape, calling it "un-Islamic." The law was passed [Minivan News report] by the Maldivian Parliament 67-2 last month. While the law would not have criminalized all cases of marital rape, it would have outlaw it in cases when a dissolution action is pending, when a divorce action has been filed by the husband, if the intent of the intercourse is to transmit a sexually...
[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Thursday warned [press release] Syrian opposition groups that recent mass executions are in violation of international human rights, and that these acts may also constitute war crimes. Pillay claimed that she has received numerous reports from reliable eyewitness sources claiming that several civilians in the custody of armed opposition forces have already been executed this year. She reminded all parties involved that such executions are clearly prohibited by...
[JURIST] Ukraine lawmakers on Thursday passed legislation punishing by fines or arrest the blockading of public buildings, protesters wearing masks or helmets, the dissemination of Internet slander, and providing facilities or equipment for unauthorized meetings. Critics allege [Al Jazeera report] the laws were passed to suppress protests against President Viktor Yanukovych [official website, JURIST news archive]. The legislation passage was followed by protests in Kiev, boosting opposition fears of an imminent police crackdown. The laws, backed by 235 out of...
[JURIST] The UN Committee on the Convention on the Rights of the Child [official website] on Thursday criticized the Vatican [official website] on the its handling of child sex abuse. During questioning in Geneva, committee member Sara Oviedo forced Vatican officials to acknowledge [AFP report] that the Holy See had been slow to react to allegations of sexual abuse by clergy members. During hours of questioning, members of the committee pressed the Vatican over what kind of sanctions are imposed...
[JURIST] A special UN event on Wednesday warned that the world must learn from the consequences of failing to respond to the events in Rwanda that preceded the genocide [UN backgrounder] there 20 years ago in order to prevent such things from happening in the future. Speaking to attendees at UN Headquarters in New York, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson [official profile] emphasized [UN News Centre report] the importance of remembering the collective failure to prevent the Rwanda genocide, calling the...
[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Thursday called for [press release] South Sudan [JURIST backgrounder] leaders, the African Union (AU) [official website] and the UN to support an international commission of inquiry to investigate targeted attacks on civilians based on ethnicity. Daniel Bekele, Africa director at HRW, said, "Appalling crimes have been committed against civilians for no other reason than their ethnicity," and that both sides need to accept a credible, independent investigation into these crimes. UN estimates...
[JURIST] Britain's High Court [official website] ruled on Thursday that Google [corporate website] can be sued by British citizens in the UK despite Google's arguments that the case does not fall under British jurisdiction. The company is being sued for breach of privacy [UK Independent report] by over 100 users of Apple's Safari browser who claim that Google tracked their browsing history without their knowledge, breaching the 1998 Data Protection Act [text]. The company's lawyers argued that the case should...
[JURIST] The International Maritime Bureau (IMB), a specialized division of the International Chamber of Commerce [official websites] reported [press release] on Wednesday that maritime pirate attacks have reached their lowest levels in six years, dropping 40 percent since 2011. Pottengal Mukundan, Director of the IMB, attributes the decrease in attacks to a clampdown on piracy in Somalia [BBC profile]. Somalia experienced 237 pirate attacks in 2011, but only 15 incidents in 2013. Mukundan says that Somali pirates have been deterred...
[JURIST] Egyptian voters on Thursday approved the new military-backed constitution, by a margin of over 90 percent, according to unofficial results released Thursday by individual election committees throughout the country. According to Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, new constitution garnered [Ahram Online report] 97.57 percent "yes" votes and 1.48 percent "no" votes with results in from 26 of Egypt's 27 provinces. According to Al-Ahram, turnout for the election was 27 percent. Election monitors have reported [WP report] serious violations and irregularities in...
[JURIST] The trial of four Hezbollah [START backgrounder] members accused of perpetrating a terrorist attack that killed former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri [BBC profile, JURIST news archive] and 21 others in 2005 began [press release] Thursday before the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) [official website; UN backgrounder].The trial is being held in absentia as the four accused men [STL profiles], Salim Jamil Ayyash, Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra are currently at large. Prosecutor...
[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] on Wednesday rejected [opinion, PDF] a challenge to health insurance subsidies available to people in states that declined to establish their own online marketplaces under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) [text; JURIST backgrounder]. The suit argued [complaint, PDF] that the PPACA allowed subsidies in the form of tax credits for people who obtain insurance only in exchanges established by states but not...
[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments [day call, PDF] Wednesday in two cases. In McCullen v. Coakley [transcript, PDF; JURIST report], the court is considering a Massachusetts law that establishes "buffer zones" for abortion clinics. The buffer zone [Planned Parenthood backgrounder] creates a protected area outside of the abortion clinic where people are not allowed to protest. The law creates a 35-foot buffer zone on the driveways and entrances to the facilities. The US Court of...
[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Wednesday urged [press release] attendees of the fifth Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) [official website] to "ensure that people suspected of committing international crimes and serious human rights violations do not continue to escape justice by crossing borders." Pillay stated that, for example, Rwanda and Uganda are hosts to members of the rebel group 23...
[JURIST] The Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Wednesday made an oral ruling [ICC materials] that Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto [ICC materials; JURIST news archive] may be conditionally excused from attending his trial on a continuous basis. The Trial Chamber enjoys discretion under Article 63(1) of the Rome Statute [text], which states that "[t]he accused shall be present during the trial." However, in October the Appeals Chamber determined [JURIST report] that "such discretion is...
[JURIST] The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] released findings [press release] on Tuesday that a wave of human rights violations took place in the Central African Republic (CAR) [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] last month. According to the UN report, there has been a recent spike in extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, mutilations, enforced disappearances and other rights abuses in CAR. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay warned that the situation in...
[JURIST] Two advocacy groups on Wednesday condemned [press release] the slow pace of the criminal case against former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier [CBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. "A lack of political will and unacceptable court delays are allowing Haiti's former 'president-for-life," Jean-Claude Duvalier to escape justice for human rights violations," Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy websites] said in a joint statement. Haitian authorities reopened a criminal case against Duvalier three years ago after he returned to...

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