[JURIST] President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo [official profile; JURIST news archive] of the Philippines [official website] Saturday signed into law a bill [House bill summary] abolishing the death penalty. The law repeals the country's 12-year old death penalty and converts all current death penalty sentences into terms of life imprisonment.
The Philippines Senate and House of Representatives passed the bill [JURIST report] earlier in June. The legislation went directly to Arroyo after bypassing ordinary bicarmeral negotiations. AP has more. The Philippines Star has local coverage.
[JURIST] A provision in the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act [text] on its way to the US House of Representatives after being passed 96-0 Thursday by the Senate would restore military aid to countries that refuse to sign bilateral immunity agreements - so-called Article 98 [US Department of State backgrounder] agreements - under which they promise not to hand over US personnel for trial in the new International Criminal Court [official website; JURIST news archive] without US permission. Dropping the ban would allow officers from certain Latin America and Caribbean countries to once again receive training [US DOD backgrounder] in the United States, a process encouraged by the US military, in part to avoid them seeking similar training by alternate states such as China. The House version of the bill does not currently contain a provision eliminating the training ban, but supporters of the bill are hopeful that the amendment will survive House and Senate negotiations.
Twelve countries [list] in Latin America and the Caribbean - including major US allies Mexico and Brazil and US nemesis Venezuela - have so far refused to enter into Article 98 agreements. The Miami Herald has more.
[JURIST] The US Navy [official website] announced [text] Friday that it has begun a criminal investigation into how information containing Social Security numbers and other personal data for 28,000 sailors was found on a civilian Web site. Although the information has been removed, the Navy did not identify the Web site or its owner, nor did it explain how the information was placed on the site.
This investigation follows an announcement [text, DOC] earlier this month by the US Veteran Affairs Department [official website] that as many as 26.5 million veterans and current military troops may have had information regarding their Social Security numbers and birth dates compromised following the theft of an employee's home in early May. More recently, a data theft at the US Department of Agriculture [official website] may have disclosed the names, Social Security numbers, and photos of over 25,000 Washington-area employees [USDA press release]. AP has more.
[JURIST] The American Bar Assocation (ABA) [official website] and the US Justice Department [official website] agreed on Friday that the ABA would pay the goverment $185,000 in fees and costs for violating six provisions of a 1996 court order that settled a 1995 government suit against the association [complaint text] for violations of antitrust law. The suit alleged that the ABA had allowed its law school accreditation process to be misused by law school personnel with a direct economic interest in the outcome of accreditation reviews, resulting in anticompetitive conduct. The 1996 order [text] prohibited the ABA from fixing faculty salaries and boycotting state-accredited law schools, among other requirements. Friday's agreement still requires court approval before taking effect.
"The Antitrust Division takes compliance with court decrees very seriously," said Thomas O. Barnett, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department's Antitrust Division. "No one is above the law and those who do not comply with their obligations under court orders must be prepared to face consequences." The ABA Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar [profession website] is the only national accrediting body for American law schools and sets and regulates standards in the area. Read the DOJ press release on the agreement. AP has more.
[JURIST] Governor M. Jodi Rell [official profile] of Connecticut said Friday that a tentative agreement has been made between the city of New London and two homeowners who refused to leave their homes for a private development on their land and ultimately took their case all the way to the US Supreme Court. Susette Kelo and Pasquale Cristofaro risked forced eviction under eminent domain [JURIST news archive] doctrine if they did not reach an agreement with the city. Rell indicated in a statement [text] that the deal should be complete by the end of June.
[JURIST] The US Second Circuit Court of Appeals [official website] declined Friday to order the government to turn over information about the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program [JURIST news archive] in its terrorism financing case against Yassin Aref. Aref asked for greater access to the evidence against him in an attempt to determine if it had been gathered through the NSA wiretapping program. His lawyers also requested details of the program, asking the court to rule it illegal and exclude evidence found as a result of any warrantless electronic surveillance. The court ruled [PDF] it had no jurisdiction to grant Aref's request.
The government accuses Aref of laundering money for an FBI informant posing as an arms dealer. Aref, an imam at the Masjid as-Salam mosque [mosque website] in Albany, allegedly worked with Mohammed Hossain from 2003 to 2004 in a plot to obtain a shoulder-fire missile and assassinate a Pakistani diplomat. Much of the case has continued in secret since March, when a New York federal judge ruled the case classified [JURIST report]. AP has more.
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