Legal news from Thursday, February 2, 2006
20:02 EDT

[JURIST] UN ambassadors from Panama and South Africa Thursday circulated a draft compromise resolution in the UN General Assembly [official website] outlining provisions for a UN Human Rights Council [UN backgrounder] to replace the current 53-member Commission on Human Rights [UN backgrounder]. The draft proposes a 45-member body based in [read more]

20:02 EDT

[JURIST] International Atomic Energy Agency [official website] Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei Thursday sought to delay an IAEA vote on a draft resolution offered by Britain, France and Germany and backed by the US that calls for Iran to be reported to the UN Security Council [official website] after Tehran broke IAEA [read more]

19:02 EDT

[JURIST] The Oregon Supreme Court [official website] Thursday upheld an award of $79.5 million in punitive damages [opinion] that a jury in 1999 directed Philip Morris USA to pay to relatives of an Oregon man who died of lung cancer from smoking. The same jury set the level of compensatory [read more]

18:02 EDT

[JURIST] In a close vote Thursday, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) [official website] beat out stand-in GOP chief Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) [official website] to win election as GOP House Majority Leader [official website], vowing to move the party away from recent ethics and corruption scandals. Boehner, who beat Blunt 122-109 [read more]

16:02 EDT

[JURIST] EU Justice Commissioner and European Commission Vice-President Franco Frattini [official website] intervened in the growing Islamic cartoons controversy Thursday, calling newspaper publication of caricatures of the prophet Muhammad "somewhat imprudent," while acknowledging that freedom of expression was a "'founding principle' of most European nations." In a statement [text] from [read more]

16:02 EDT

[JURIST] The War Crimes Chamber [OSCE backgrounder] of Bosnia's State Court on Thursday ordered suspected Bosnian Serb war criminal Dragomir Abazovic released from police custody due to a problem with his arrest warrant. Abazovic was arrested [JURIST report] earlier this month by European Union EUFOR [official website] peacekeeping troops in [read more]

15:02 EDT

[JURIST] Four advocacy groups on Thursday filed a petition [PDF text] with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) [official website] on behalf of Haitian citizens, alleging that the US violated Haitian sovereignty by illegally preventing the flow of financial assistance and military supplies into Haiti in an attempt to [read more]

15:02 EDT

[JURIST] The UK government said Thursday that it will hold a full public consultation [press release] on whether prisoners should be granted the right to vote. The decision comes in response to a European Court of Human Rights [official website] ruling [text; JURIST report] last year that the British ban [read more]

15:02 EDT

[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] has asked a federal judge considering a shutdown of the BlackBerry [product website] wireless email network to exempt government workers who rely on the technology. The DOJ submitted a list of 138 governmental agencies who rely on the BlackBerry network, including [read more]

14:02 EDT

[JURIST] Efforts to amend the Florida constitution [text] to ban same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive] have faltered as supporters of an amendment failed to meet a Wednesday deadline to secure enough signatures to put the issue on the November ballot. The Florida Coalition to Protect Marriage [advocacy website] made a [read more]

14:02 EDT

[JURIST] The European Commission [official website] has told Germany and Luxembourg that the Commission is preparing to take legal action [press release] against the countries if they fail to bring national tobacco advertising laws into compliance with an EU directive [PDF text] which bans tobacco advertising in newspapers, on the [read more]

12:02 EDT

[JURIST] Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi [BBC profile] has denied allegations [press release] from Amnesty International that the government has unlawfully detained thousands of protestors as part of the latest anti-government crackdown. Amnesty has said that thousands of students from the Orono ethnic group have been detained in connection with [read more]

12:02 EDT

[JURIST] Human rights observers have accused the US of ignoring a deteriorating situation in Russia, including crackdowns on the media and overreach of executive power. Mark Medish, a spokesman for the independent Council on Foreign Relations, told the US Commission on International Religious Freedom [official website; press release] Wednesday that [read more]

11:02 EDT

[JURIST] The Bush administration has declined requests from the US Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] to produce classified legal opinions on the NSA's domestic spying program [JURIST news archive] for a hearing scheduled for Monday [hearing notice; JURIST report]. The Department of Justice has said that the requested documents would [read more]

11:02 EDT

[JURIST] Irwin Cotler [official profile], the outgoing Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, has said that despite some indications from Canada's incoming Conservative party government [JURIST report], he doubts that the country's recently enacted same-sex marriage law [JURIST report] would be repealed. Prime Minister-designate Stephen Harper [official profile] [read more]

11:02 EDT

[JURIST] The US House on Wednesday approved a new short-term extension of the USA Patriot Act [PDF text] that will last until March 10. Certain provisions of the law were originally set to expire on December 31, but were extended until February 3 [JURIST report] when Congress failed to reach [read more]

08:02 EDT

[JURIST] US Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Wednesday called for a re-examination of antitrust laws after the Committee held a hearing on consolidation in the energy industry [hearing materials]. Specter noted that the Federal Trade Commission [official website] has approved numerous mergers in the [read more]

07:02 EDT

[JURIST] Both India and Indonesia have rejected a report [PDF text] released Wednesday by human rights groups claiming that relief efforts for the devastating 2004 tsunami [JURIST news archive] were marred by numerous violations [JURIST report] of the rights of survivors. Both governments denied that women and minority groups such [read more]

07:02 EDT

[JURIST] Two prosecution witnesses testified Thursday in the trial of Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] on crimes against humanity charges [JURIST report] before the trial was once again adjourned until February 13 [Reuters report] to allow time for more witnesses to be notified. Neither Hussein nor his seven co-defendants were [read more]

04:02 EDT

[JURIST] Leading Thursday's international brief, more than 500 people have been arrested in Nepal for protesting the autocratic rule of King Gyanendra [official profile] on Wednesday, the one year anniversary of the 'Black Day' last February 1 when Gyanendra dismissed the democratic government [JURIST report] and assumed direct control of [read more]

04:02 EDT

[JURIST Europe] The UK House of Lords [official website] Wednesday narrowly defeated government-proposed amendments to the UK Terrorism Bill [text] that would have given the police more power to control information on websites thought to be related to terrorist groups. Initially, the police were to have full power in deciding [read more]

03:02 EDT

[JURIST Europe] Caricatures of the Islamic prophet Muhammad were reprinted in newspapers on Wednesday in Italy, Germany, France and Spain, sparking a new debate over freedom of expression in Europe and drawing protests from Muslims in Europe and the Middle East. France Soir [media website in French] ran the front [read more]

02:02 EDT

[JURIST Europe] Following a meeting Wednesday with Austrian Interior and Justice ministers, Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center [official website] criticized Austria for being complacent in investigating and prosecuting suspects involved in Nazi war crimes, saying that the country had become a "paradise" for fugitives. The Wiesenthal Centre [read more]

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