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 International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Thursday found [order, PDF] that a Malian jihadist is liable for individual and collective reparations for overseeing the destruction of Muslim shrines in Timbuktu. Ahmad Al Faqi [case information, PDF] was found liable for for 2.7 million euros in expenses. In its order, the ICC stressed the importance of cultural heritage:Because of their purpose and symbolism, most cultural property and cultural heritage are unique and of sentimental value. As a result, they...
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] on Thursday announced a settlement in a lawsuit against two psychologists who devised the torture techniques used on three former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) prisoners. The ACLU filed the lawsuit [JURIST report] in 2015 against psychologists James Mitchell and John "Bruce" Jessen, who allegedly designed and persuaded the CIA to adopt their torture techniques as official practice of the CIA. As part of the settlement, the plaintiffs and defendants agreed to the...
Oregon Governor Kate Brown [official website] signed a bill [text, PDF] into law on Tuesday that expands access to abortions and birth control. The bill prohibits health benefit plans from imposing a deductible, coinsurance, copayment or any other cost sharing requirements on services such as abortions or birth control. Additionally, the bill allows state funds to be used to provide reproductive healthcare to non-citizens who are not eligible for Medicaid. There is an exception that allows employers to exclude coverage...
A three-judge panel for the US District Court for the Western District of Texas [official website] held [opinion, PDF] on Tuesday that two congressional districts were invalid. A panel composed of Circuit Judge Smith, Chief District Judge Garcia and District Judge Rodriguez found that District 27 and District 35 were invalid pursuant to the Voting Rights Act [materials] and the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. District 27 was found to be invalid because it was drawn to deny Hispanic voters...
[JURIST] A Thai provincial court in the north eastern province of Khon Kaen sentenced [NYT report] activist Jatupat "Pai Dao Din" Boonpattararaksa [FrontlineDefenders profile] to two-and-a-half years in prison for sharing a BBC article about Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun [official profile] on Facebook on Tuesday. The article concerned personal details concerning Maha's life as the crown prince, including information from three past marriages that ended in divorce. Poonsuk plead guilty to the charge after his counsel recommended he do...
[JURIST] The German constitutional court (ECB) [official website] sent [order, in German] a case concerning the European Central Bank [official website] attempt to buy $2.7 trillion dollar's worth of bonds [Reuters report] to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) [official website] on Tuesday. The Publice Sector Purchase Program (PSPP) of the ECB started in March 2015 [MarketWatch report] in order to bolster the Euro. Unlike similar programs put in place by the ECB, the PSPP enables the bank to buys...
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called on Kenyan leaders [press release] Tuesday to "take the responsible path and exercise their leadership to avoid violence" in the wake of last week's contentious election. Deadly protests erupted [JURIST report] over the weekend after incumbent candidate Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner Friday. Opposition candidate Raila Odinga has claimed widespread voter fraud. Zeid expressed concern over reports of police brutality and the use of live ammunition against protesters:People...
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions [official website] on Saturday announced a federal civil rights investigation into the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend. A "Unite the Right" rally turned deadly when counter-protesters clashed with members of white nationalist groups and 20-year old James Alex Fields drove a car into a crowd, killing 32-year old Heather Heyer and injuring others. Sessions condemned the violence and announced a federal probe:The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American...
President Donald Trump [official profile] signed the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act [text, PDF] on Saturday that will allocate $2.1 billion in government funds to the Veterans Choice Fund, and an additional $1.8 billion [LA Times report] to core VA health programs and medical facility leases. Trump signed the bill in response to the budget shortfall in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) [official website], which threatened healthcare for thousands of veterans. Additionally, the bill also addresses staff shortages...
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner [official website] signed SB 189 [text, PDF] on Friday removing the statutes of limitations on certain sexual abuse crimes. The legislation amends chapter 38, sections 3-6, of the Illinois Criminal Code to eliminate a time guard for reporting [AP report] felony sex crimes and sex crimes against children. Under the previous code a victim of these sex crimes had to report the crime within 20 years of reaching age 18. The statute now reads: When the...
According to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights [official website], a protest in opposition of the reelection of President Uhuru Kenyatta for a second five-year term has resulted in at least 24 people dead on Saturday. Kenya police used live ammunition and tear gas against citizens and opposition officials in order to quell the protest [Guardian report], which they say was a guise to rob and destroy property. Those opposing the reelection have justified their protest, declaring that the...
Here's the international legal news we covered this week: [JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] ruled Wednesday [opinion, PDF] that Judge Scott Silliman [official profile] should have recused himself in a case concerning multiple defendants who were charged with aiding in the 9/11 attacks. [more] Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly (ANC) created [press release, in Spanish] a Commission for Truth, Justice and Public Legitimacy on Tuesday. [more] The Venezuela Supreme Court on Tuesday...
Here's the domestic legal news we covered this week: The Oklahoma Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] against a state cigarette tax [text] on Thursday. [more] [JURIST] The Washington Supreme Court [official website] upheld Seattle's tax [ordinance, PDF] on guns and ammunition sales on Thursday. [more] [JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] ruled Wednesday [opinion, PDF] that Judge Scott Silliman [official profile] should have recused himself in a case concerning multiple...
US President Donald Trump on Friday threatened Venezuela with military action due to its ongoing political unrest, which ,according to Trump, has lead to the dissolution of democracy. As of late, Venezuela has been in a state of unrest [Reuters report] due to a legislative body usurping the authority of the opposition-controlled congress. According to Trump, the spur of possible military action comes as a result of the suffering the people in Venezuela face. In a statement provided during a...
[JURIST] The Oklahoma Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] against a state cigarette tax [text] on Thursday. The plaintiffs—cigarette companies, distributors, and smokers—argued that the $1.50 tax violated the state constitution. The majority agreed, saying that since the tax was a revenue bill, it must originate in the House, be passed at least five days before the legislative session ended, and be approved by either the public or 75 percent of each house. In this case, the Senate created...
[JURIST] The Washington Supreme Court [official website] upheld Seattle's tax [ordinance, PDF] on guns and ammunition sales on Thursday. The two individual gun owners and organizations bringing the suit argued [opinion, PDF] that the tax was actually a state regulation on guns, which is prohibited by a Washington state law [official website]. The six-justice majority [materials] affirmed the lower court's decision in favor of the city. The majority opinion said, "While courts should be dubious of regulations masquerading as taxes...
[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] ruled Wednesday [opinion, PDF] that Judge Scott Silliman [official profile] should have recused himself in a case concerning multiple defendants who were charged with aiding in the 9/11 attacks. The petitioner, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [CNN profile], argued that Silliman was biased in the matter and cited [CNN report] a 2010 comment in which Silliman called Mohammad and his co-defendants the major conspirators in the 9/11 attacks....
[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Texas [official website] on Wednesday dismissed [order, PDF] a case concerning Senate Bill 4 [text, PDF], a bill intended to penalize so-called "sanctuary cities." The action was filled by the state of Texas seeking to have SB 4 declared constitutional before the bill was scheduled to take effect. The law would require local law enforcement agencies to cooperate with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and prohibit...
The Texas House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a bill [text, PDF] that would prohibit health insurance plans from providing coverage for elective abortions. An elective abortion is defined as one in which the mother is not in danger of death or serious injury if the abortion is not performed. Insurance for an elective abortion would only be allowed if the coverage is provided separately from the other health plan coverage and the enrollee pays a premium for the coverage...
Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly (ANC) created [press release, in Spanish] a Commission for Truth, Justice and Public Legitimacy on Tuesday. The ANC is tasked [Bloomberg report] with rewriting Venezuela's constitution. The ANC has previously passed a decree which declared that the national assembly and the supreme court could over rule the assembly. The commission will remove the legal immunity of the national assembly members. The national assembly has previously opposed Venezuela's president, Nicolás Maduro. Critics of the commission have claimed...

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