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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The Philippines Office of the Ombudsman [official website] announced plans to charge [press release] former Philippines president Benigno Aquino III [Britannica profile] on Friday for the botched "anti-terror" raid that led to what is known as the Mamasapano massacre in 2015. The raid left 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos dead as a result of a firefight with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and another privately armed group. Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales [official profile] ordered...
The Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal [official website] voided [Reuters report] the oaths of office of four opposition lawmakers on Friday and removed them from the legislature. Among the four disqualified lawmakers were 24-year-old Nathan Law, leader of the 2014 "Umbrella movement" protests, veteran activist "Long Hair" Kwok-hung Leung, Siu-lai Lau, and Edward Yiu. The reasons behind Judge Thomas Au's decision to remove the lawmakers were varied, but all had a rather broad common theme - changing the wording...
The Office of the Inspector General for the US Department of Justice [official websites] issued a report [PDF] on Friday criticizing the Bureau of Prison's (BOP) [official website] treatment of inmates with mental illnesses. The report singles out [NPR report] a prison in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, having a pending lawsuit against it, alleging that the institution mistreated prisoners and denied adequate mental health services. According to the report, the BOP is violating its own recently implemented policy by keeping prisoners with...
A judge for the US District Court for the District of Hawaii [official website] expanded [opinion, PDF] the exemptions permitted under the Trump administration's temporary travel ban on visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries late Thursday night. Earlier this month the state of Hawaii asked Judge Derrick Watson to interpret the scope of a ruling [JURIST report] from the Supreme Court [official website] that was further defined [JURIST report] by the administration a week later. Watson initially denied [JURIST report]...
[JURIST] Malta's Parliament [official website] approved [press release] a bill legalizing same-sex marriage on Wednesday, making it the fifteenth country in the EU and the twenty-fifth country in the world to do so. The bill, in making marriage "fully gender neutral" also allows same-sex couples to "adopt or take on their partner's surname without distinction." Malta had only legalized [WP report] divorce in 2011. Previously one of the EU's more conservative countries, Malta has been moving in a more liberal...
[JURIST] The US Senate [official website] introduced new proposed legislation [materials] Thursday to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The bill will allow insurance companies already providing policies under the ACA to offer cheaper plans with limited coverage options and contains provisions for providing states with funding for treating opiod addiction. The bill also requires [Reuters reports] providers to give their customers maternity and newborn care, mental health services, perscription drug coverage, and hospitalization and emergency room coverage. The large...
[JURIST] A three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] upheld [opinion] Wisconsin's right to work law [statute] on Wednesday. This law says that unions cannot force workers to "[b]ecome or remain a member of a labor organization [or]... Pay any dues, fees, assessments, or other charges or expenses of any kind or amount, or provide anything of value, to a labor organization." The plaintiffs, two branches of the International Union of Operating Engineers...
[JURIST] The UK Parliament [official website] published legislation [materials] Thursday to sever political, financial and legal ties with the EU. The legislation, known as the Great Repeal Bill, will be a significant step towards the country's exit from the EU, which the UK hopes to complete by 2019. The bill will ensure that all EU laws put in place by Parliament will remain in force after the countries exit with the exception of the European Communities Act of 1972 [materials],...
California Representative Brad Sherman [official website] filed an article of impeachment [text, PDF] against President Donald Trump [official website] on Wednesday. The measure accuses Trump of obstructing justice concerning the Russia probe by using "his authority to hinder and cause the termination of such investigation(s) including through threatening, and then terminating, James Comey." Critics of the move believe it is unlikely to succeed in the majority Republican House. Sherman addressed this in a statement [press release] saying introduction of the...
Indonesian president Joko Widodo signed a decree [text, PDF, in Indonesian] Monday that allows the government to ban radical organizations. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] has called the decree troubling, saying it goes against freedom of association and expression. It is believed that the decree is meant to target a group known as Hizbut Tahrir, which calls for Shariah law in Indonesia. Hizbut Tahrir, along with other groups, has been responsible for months of protests in Jakarta against the...
Former Brazilian president Lula da Silva was convicted [ruling, PDF, in Portuguese] Wednesday of corruption and money laundering and sentenced to almost 10 years in prison. Lula da Silva, who was president of Brazil from 2003 to 2010, was charged with obtaining USD $1.1 million from a construction company in improvements and expenses for an apartment in exchange for getting the construction company contracts with the state-controlled oil company. He can still appeal his conviction and will not be arrested...
The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] ordered [opinion, PDF] Tuesday that a Texas death-row inmate must be provided funds to build a defense against his impending execution. The decision comes two years after the court stayed the execution to consider an appeal that was filed on the grounds that the defendant was denied appointed counsel and funding to hire a mental health expert. Scott Panetti was convicted by the state of Texas for shooting and...
Two Pennsylvania high school students filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] on Wednesday alleging their school district discriminated and violated their First Amendment [LII materials] rights by rejecting a proposal for an anti-abortion club. The suit was filed on behalf of the students by the Chicago-based public interest law firm, the Thomas Moore Society [advocacy website], against Parkland School District [official website]. According to the complaint, the pro-life club, Trojans for Life, was initially denied on the grounds that it was...
The British Supreme Court [official website] ruled [judgment, PDF] on Wednesday that a gay retiree's husband is entitled to the same pension benefits a wife would enjoy regardless of when payment into the program began. John Walker filed the suit against his employer, Innospec Ltd [company profile], when they refused to pay his pension in the event of his death to his husband because his service predated December 5, 2005, the date the UK started legally recognizing civil partnerships. While...
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) [official website] announced [press release] a new rule Monday, banning mandatory arbitration clauses in consumer agreements. The CFPB explained that mandatory arbitration agreements can prevent class action lawsuits and perpetuate harmful practices. The new rule will enforce the consumer's right to take part in group lawsuits. The CFPB hopes that the rule will promote more transparency and accountability for large companies. The CFPB will also place additional requirements for documentation and reporting measures for...
The President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos [BBC profile], granted amnesty [press release, in Spanish] Monday to 3,252 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) [BBC backgrounder]. Since 2016, Colombia has granted renewed status to 7,400 guerrillas. As a result of the decree, "administrative amnesty" will be applied to political and related crimes. As a condition of protection under the decree, FARC members turned over their personal firearms as verified by the UN mission in Colombia. Other conditions...
A group of Twitter [website] users blocked by President Donald Trump [official website] filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] Tuesday alleging the the action is a violation of their First Amendment [text] rights. The group, represented by the First Knight Amendment Institute and Columbia University [official website], argue that Trump's account [Twitter profile] serves as a public forum that "has become an important source of news and information about the government, and an important public forum for speech by, to, and...
The Supreme Court of India [official website] on Tuesday suspended a government ban on cattle trading for the sole purpose of slaughter. In May Prime Minister Narendra Modi [official website], a Hindu nationalist, decreed that cattle trade could only be conducted for agricultural purposes such as dairy production and plowing. Cows are considered holy in Hinduism and their slaughter had been previously banned in most of the country. The new regulations put forth in May expanded the ban [BBC report]...
The European Court of Human Rights [official website] on Tuesday upheld a Belgian ban on wearing the niqab, a full-face veil, in public spaces. The court dismissed two cases, Belcacemi and Oussar v. Belgium and Dakir v. Belgium [judgments, in French], that asserted the ban was in violation of Articles 8, 9, 10 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights [text, PDF]. Both cases concerned women who chose to wear the veil of their own volition and felt...
[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Monday condemned [AI report] Bahrain's sentencing of a human rights defender. Nabeel Rajab [Front Line Defenders profile] was originally arrested in June 2016 after he tweeted about alleged torture in a Bahrani prison. A Bahrani court ordered his release in December 2016, but shortly after his release he was arrested on the current charges. Rajab was sentenced to two years in prison for the political opinions he expressed during interviews in 2015 and...

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