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] Turkey's parliament on Saturday passed a law granting itself greater control with respect to the judicial appointment process. Amid protests over suspected government corruption and violence inside parliament [Al Jazeera report] the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) [party website] pushed the bill though parliament, thereby granting the Justice Ministry greater control over the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) [official website]. The law comes amid growing controversy that has forced high-level officials, including members of Prime Minister...
[JURIST] Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Monday signed into law a bill criminalizing the promotion and recognition of homosexual relations. Reports indicate that first-time offenders will face up to 14 years in prison, while those charged with "aggravated homosexuality" will face life in prison. The law also requires Ugandans to report homosexual activity [NYT report] to the authorities or face criminal sanctions. Homosexuality has long been illegal in Uganda, but parliament passed this measure [JURIST report] in December to impose...
[JURIST] A group of UN independent experts on Saturday called on [press release] the government of Iran to halt the startling increase in the number of hangings since the start of 2014. According to the UN Office of the Commissioner of Human Rights (OFCHR) [official website], at least 40 persons were hanged in the beginning of January 2014, and 625 executions were reportedly carried out in 2013. "We are dismayed at the continued application of the death penalty with alarming...
[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] on Friday ruled against [opinion] the University of Notre Dame [official website], denying their claim that the US Department of Health's [official website] contraception-coverage requirement is forcing the institution to violate its religious beliefs. In a 2-1 decision, the federal court affirmed a lower court's ruling that denied Notre Dame's request for a temporary injunction from the federal health law's contraception requirement. Notre Dame argued that the Patient...
[JURIST] The UN Security Council [official website] announced Wednesday that a 10 year old arms embargo against Somalia will not be fully restored after its expiration in March. In 2013, the security council voted to partially lift [Reuters report] the embargo, allowing the Somalian government to purchase small arms to defend against Islamist forces. This year, reports indicated that the Somalian government was abusing the less restrictive embargo by diverting weapons to militants linked to al-Qaeda [JURIST news archive]. Sources...
[JURIST] US Vice President Joe Biden [official profile] on Thursday threatened targeted sanctions [press release] against the Ukrainian officials responsible for violence against civilian protesters. Biden urged Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich [official website; JURIST news archive] to remove security forces from Kiev and to take "immediate and tangible steps" toward ending the violence and addressing the concerns of the Ukrainian people. At least 25 individuals have been reported dead and more than 240 injured in protests that escalated when individuals...
[JURIST] After failing to meet a February 3 deadline, Syria released a 100-day plan to dispose of their chemical weapons on Friday. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) [official website] set the deadline for all Syrian chemical weapons to be destroyed by June 30. While the OPCW did not comment on the plan, several organizations are critical [Reuters report] of the delay. Only 4 percent of Syria's most dangerous chemical weapons have been disposed of [UPI report]...
[JURIST] On Saturday, the Ukrainian parliament [official website] voted to remove President Viktor Yanukovich [official website; JURIST news archive]. The vote followed Yanukovich's statement that he would not be resigning despite current escalating violence. At least 25 individuals have been reported dead [WP report] and more than 240 injured, in protests that escalated when individuals began a march on Parliament in opposition of Yanukovich. The protests began peacefully in November, but became violent after the now repealed protest laws increased...
[JURIST] Ukraine opposition icon and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko [official website; JURIST news archive] was released from prison Saturday when the Supreme Council of Ukraine, Verkhovna Rada [official website], voted to decriminalize the charges that had been brought against her. Tymoshenko, an ardent critic of current President Viktor Yanukovich [official website; JURIST news archive], was jailed and sentenced [JURIST report] on corruption charges in 2011 that many believe to have been politically-motivated retribution. Tymochenko was convicted for violating Article...
[JURIST] Arizona state lawmakers gave final approval on Thursday to a bill [materials] that will allow state business owners to refuse service to individuals for "religious reasons," a law that has been denounced by critics as sanctioning discrimination against LGBT individuals. The bill was jointly written [Arizona Republic report] by the conservative Center for Arizona Policy and the Alliance Defending Freedom [advocacy websites], a Christian legal organization. The voting occurred largely along party lines, with state Republicans generally voting in...
[JURIST] German officials on Thursday raided the homes of three men and arrested them for their suspected roles as guards at the Auschwitz [USHMM backgrounder] death camp during World War II. The men, aged 88, 92 and 94, are currently being detained [BBC report] in the Hohenasperg prison hospital. They are being charged as accessories to murder, an example set by the successful prosecution [AP report] of John Demjanjuk, the first individual to be convicted in Germany on the basis...
[JURIST] Moscow's Zamoskvoretksy District Court convicted eight anti-Kremlin protesters on Friday of rioting and violence against police at a protest in 2012. The protestors were arrested [UK Guardian report] the night before Vladimir Putin's inauguration to his third term as president. At the protest in 2012, police cut off access [AP report] to the public square where the rally was to be held. As a result, protesters began throwing bottles and rocks at the police, and the police ended up...
[JURIST] A Haitian appellate court ruled on Thursday that former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier [CBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] can be charged under international law with crimes against humanity committed during his rule. Haitian authorities reopened a criminal case against Duvalier three years ago after he returned to the country from a 25-year exile in France. The charges against Duvalier include murder and torture of political opponents and corruption. However, the case has been stalled for almost a year while...
[JURIST] Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum [official website] said in a filing on Thursday that her office will not defend Oregon's ban on same-sex marriage. Rosenblum said [WP report] that the ban cannot survive a federal constitutional challenge under any standard of review. Rosenblum went on to say [Reuters report] that there was no rational basis to refuse to honor same-sex marriage commitments the same way the state honors opposite-sex marriages. The National Organization for Marriage [advocacy website] criticized [press...
[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of New Jersey [official website] ruled Friday that the New York Police Department's (NYPD) [official website] surveillance on Muslims is a lawful effort for national security, and does not constitute harm or violation of civil rights. The controversial surveillance program, which allegedly targets individuals based on religious affiliation, was challenged [JURIST report] by Muslim Advocates [advocacy website] in June 2012. The Muslim Advocates alleged that the NYPD has engaged...
[JURIST] The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] called [statement] for changes to the way Australia deals with asylum seekers. As of August 2013, Australia transfers all individuals seeking asylum to a holding camp in Papua New Guinea. From here, they are processed and eventually resettled outside of Australia. This detention can be lengthy, as the Australian government assesses the cases. According to Australia, this is meant to deter people-smugglers. However, following violence at...
[JURIST] Saudi Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] prisoner Ahmed Muhammed Haza al Darbi [JURIST news archive] on Thursday pleaded guilty [pretrial agreement, PDF] to involvement in terrorism-related activities, including the 2002 al Qaeda plot to blow up oil tankers near Yemen. Had al Darbi gone to trial, he faced a potential sentence of life imprisonment. However, the plea agreement stipulates that he is to serve no more than 15 more years behind bars, in addition to the 12 years he has...
[JURIST] New York has agreed to reforms that would reduce the use of solitary confinement and ban solitary confinement for prisoners under 18 years old, according to court documents [opinion, PDF] released on Wednesday. Under the agreement, the state will immediately halt the use of solitary confinement for youth, pregnant inmates, and developmentally disabled and intellectually challenged prisoners. The state will also adopt sentencing guidelines for the first time and set maximum limits on the length of isolation. The reforms...
[JURIST] The European Commission [official website] on Thursday commenced legal proceedings [press release] against the UK for failing to maintain air level standards. According to air pollution legislation [materials], nitrogen dioxide limits should have been met by January 1, 2010, unless given an extension until January 1, 2015. The directive on ambient air quality and cleaner air in Europe requires member states to remain in compliance with with hourly and annual limit values for nitrogen dioxide. Should a member state's...
[JURIST] Egypt put three Al Jazeera [media website] journalists on trial on Thursday for allegedly aiding a terrorist organization and spreading false news. All three men, Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, pleaded not guilty [Reuters report] to the charges. Al Jazeera has stated that the accusations are absurd and the three men are innocent. The Egyptian government contends that the journalists have supplied money, equipment and information to the Muslim Brotherhood [party website; JURIST news archive], a group...

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