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] Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] reported [text] Friday that rebel fighters in Syria committed war crimes by killing at least 190 civilians and abducting more than 200 during an offensive against pro-regime villages that took place of August 4. The report, titled, "'You Can Still See Their Blood': Executions, Indiscriminate Shootings, and Hostage Taking by Opposition Forces in Latakia Countryside," presents evidence [press release] that the civilians were killed during the offensive by two opposition groups, the Islamic State...
[JURIST] The European Parliament said Thursday that EU member states' complicity with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official websites] rendition program [JURIST news archive] has led to violations of fundamental rights and must end immediately. Members of European Parliament pointed to the recent disclosures [press release] surrounding the National Security Agency [official website] PRISM program [JURIST backgrounder] and revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden [JURIST podcast] as evidence of years of unchecked violations. Stretching back over seven years [JURIST report],...
[JURIST] The UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) [official website; UN backgrounder] on Thursday indicted [text, PDF; press release] Hassan Merhi on charges including terrorism and intentional homicide in a 2005 truck bombing that killed former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and 21 others. Merhi is charged with helping to create a video claiming false responsibility for the attack, the coordination of the video's delivery, and conspiracy aimed at committing a terrorist act. Prosecutor Norman...
[JURIST] Iraqi authorities on Thursday announced the execution of 42 people [press release, in Arabic] convicted on terrorism charges. The executions took place over the course of two days and bring the total number of executions in Iraq this year to 132. The government of Iraq has been resorting to executions in the face of increased violence in the country. In August 17 others convicted of terrorism were executed [JURIST report]. The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) [press release]...
[JURIST] Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] was arrested on Thursday for charges relating to the death of radical cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi who died during an operation ordered by Musharraf on Islamabad's Red Mosque, which left more than 100 dead. Musharraf, however, alleges that the arrest [BBC report] was politically motivated. He has been on house arrest for nearly six months for his alleged role in the 2007 death of Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto, the...
[JURIST] The Court of Appeal for British Columbia [official website] on Thursday upheld [judgment] Canada's law against doctor-assisted suicide. Justice Lynn Smith for the Supreme Court of British Columbia had ruled [JURIST report] last year that the provisions of Canada's Criminal Code unjustly violate the rights to life, liberty and equality. She reasoned that physician-assisted suicide could be executed if adequate safeguards were in place. In a split 2-1 decision, the appeals court overturned the ruling of the lower court:As...
[JURIST] The International Crimes Tribunal Bangladesh (ICTB) [JURIST news archive] on Wednesday indicted Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) [party website] leader Zahid Hossain Khokon in absentia on war crimes charges stemming from the Bangladesh Liberation War [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] in 1971. The charges include [Daily Star report] genocide, torture, abduction and confinement, coming to a total of 11 charges with involvement in at least 13 counts of war crimes. Serving originally as a Jamaat-e-Islami [party website; GlobalSecurity backgrounder] party supporter before the...
[JURIST] Former Liberian president Charles Taylor [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] will serve his 50-year sentence for war crimes [JURIST report] in the UK, according to a written statement to Parliament [text, PDF] from the UK Ministry of Justice [official website] on Thursday. Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice Jeremy Wright [official profile] said that Taylor will be transferred to the UK, pursuant to a request by Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) President George Gelaga King [official websites]. Wright...
[JURIST] The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina [official website] on Wednesday reopened criminal proceedings [press release] for a man convicted of war crimes in 2006, after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] ruled in July that his rights were violated. Abduladhim Maktouf, an Iraqi-born Islamic militant, was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to five years in prison for atrocities against Croat civilians in 1993 during the Bosnian Civil War [JURIST news archive]. Maktouf petitioned for a...
[JURIST] California Governor Jerry Brown [official website] on Wednesday signed a bill [AB-154] that allows nurse practitioners and other non-physicians to perform an early abortion during the first trimester. The bill was introduced due to a lack of physicians who could perform abortions, which was preventing women from accessing such procedures. The new law requires [NYT report] non-physicians to undergo special training in performing abortions, but opponents argued that the new law will lower the medical standards, thereby endangering women's...
[JURIST] The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar [official website], Tomas Ojea Quintana, on Wednesday welcomed [press release] a recent release of 56 prisoners of conscience in Myanmar [JURIST news archive] through presidential amnesty. Quintana noted that the releases are important for a "democratic transition and national reconciliation." Still, he stressed the continuing arrests and maltreatment of activists in the country. He urged that the releases should be unconditional, referring to the current Code of Criminal...
[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments [day call, PDF] in two cases Wednesday. In United States v. Woods [transcript, PDF; JURIST report] the court heard arguments on whether 26 USC § 6662 of the Internal Revenue Code [texts], which prescribes a penalty for an underpayment of federal income tax that is "attributable to" an overstatement of basis in property, applies to an underpayment resulting from a determination that a transaction lacks economic substance because the sole...
[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed suit on Wednesday challenging the inclusion of three abortion-related amendments in the state budget [HB 59] passed in June. Filed on behalf of a Cleveland-based women's health clinic, the ACLU claims that the amendments violate a state constitution provision known as the "single subject rule." According to the Article II, Section 15(D) [text] of the Ohio Constitution, "No bill shall contain more than one subject, which shall be...
[JURIST] The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Miklos Haraszti, urged the Belarusian government on Wednesday to immediately cease executions of its citizens until legislation related to capital punishment and the court system can be reformed. According to Haraszti [press release], executions are administered via a gunshot to the back of the head, while information is withheld from the relevant parties regarding the date of execution and burial site. The lack of transparency, Haraszti states,...
[JURIST] The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) [advocacy website] on Wednesday filed a complaint [press release] against the UN [official website] for compensation of Haiti's cholera victims and their families. The complaint was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] and comes amid the UN's refusal to compensate the victims earlier this year. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon [official website] stated [press release] that the claims brought on behalf...
[JURIST] US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel [official website] named [press release] Paul Lewis as Special Envoy to oversee the eventual closing of Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] on Tuesday. Lewis will join his US State Department [official website] counterpart, Clifford Sloan [professional profile], in working toward closing the detention center. His main duties will relate to the transfer of detainees, including those to be transferred to and within Afghanistan. There are currently 164 prisoners held in Guantanamo. Lewis previously served as...
[JURIST] The International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh (ICTB) [JURIST news archive] on Wednesday found Abdul Alim, leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) [party website] in the nation's war for independence in 1971 [Banglapedia backgrounder], guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to life imprisonment. The tribunal, which was established in 2009 under the International Crimes Act [text] is charged with investigating and prosecuting war crimes committed during the conflict in which about 3 million people were killed....
[JURIST] A Egyptian court on Wednesday set the trial date for the ousted president Mohamed Morsi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] for November 4. Along with Morsi, 14 other leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive], including Essam el-Erian and Mohammed el-Beltagy, will be tried [AP report] on the same day. The defendants were charged [JURIST report] in September with "incitement to murder" stemming from violent protests that took place last year. Morsi and other high-level Brotherhood...
[JURIST] A Turkish appeals court on Wednesday upheld the convictions of several former military officers for plotting to overthrow the regime of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [official website, in Turkish; JURIST news archive] in 2003. The court upheld 20-year prison sentences [Reuters report] for former commanders Cetin Dogan and Ozden Ornek. Supporters of the military officers argued that the trials were politically motivated and an attempt by Erdogan's Islamist-rooted government to suppress secularism. Lawyers for the retired military officials...
[JURIST] US President Barack Obama's administration on Tuesday upheld a decision [text, PDF; JURIST report] by the US International Trade Commission (ITC) [official website] to ban some Samsung products on the grounds that the products infringed on designs patented by Apple [corporate websites]. US Trade Representative Michael Froman [official website] declared [IT World report] that the import ban would protect intellectual property rights and would have only a minimal effect on the availability of Samsung products because Samsung has redesigned...

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