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Legal news from Thursday, September 7, 2006
by Natalie Hrubos

Iraq's parliament adjourned abruptly Thursday following a heated debate about a draft law that would divide the country into autonomous regions. Sunnis oppose the plan because it would leave them without access to Iraq's oil as most Sunnis live in the central and western provinces of the country where oil resources are limited. Still, Shiite lawmakers, who …

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by Natalie Hrubos

Four human rights experts appointed by the United Nations are heading to the Middle East to investigate possible abuses during the recent Mideast conflict between Israel and Lebanon. Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Representative on the human rights of internally displaced persons Walter Kälin, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur …

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by Natalie Hrubos

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper Thursday urged members of the Canadian Senate's Special Committee on Senate Reform to support legislation that would limit terms in the country's unelected Senate to eight years. Currently, senators appointed on a regional basis can retain their seats until the age of 75. Harper's appearance …

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by Katerina Ossenova

A bill designed to put the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program on a sound legal footing failed to make it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday. Sponsored by committee chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA), the legislation [S.2453 summary] would have increased the secret warrant time limit from …

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by Katerina Ossenova

A Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote on whether to confirm the nomination of John Bolton as permanent US ambassador to the United Nations was postponed Thursday after Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) called for more information from Bolton. Senate Committee chairman Richard Lugar (R-IN) has not said when a rescheduled …

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by Katerina Ossenova

Defense lawyer Badih Aref Izzat, representing a co-defendant in Saddam Hussein's trial, announced Thursday that his assistant had been found murdered in Baghdad. Abdel Monem Yassin Hussein is said to have been kidnapped on August 29 and was found five days later in a hospital morgue with three gunshot wounds. Izzat is defending intelligence officer Farhan …

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by Katerina Ossenova

The US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held Thursday in a 2-1 opinion that state rules on participation in Ohio's primary elections make it prohibitive for minority parties to be included on the ballot. The court ruled that the requirement that parties must file petitions with signatures 120 days before the election "have a negative …

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by D. Wes Rist

Leading Thursday's international brief, international NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said that the Sudanese government has entered a prolonged campaign of randomly bombing civilian locations in the Darfur region and asked the UN Security Council to initiate sanctions against key Sudanese government officials. Under Resolution …

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by Holly Manges Jones

The Bush administration has been "disappointed" with the work of the newly formed UN Human Rights Council, according to US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Mark Lagon during his remarks Wednesday at a hearing of the US House of Representatives International Relations Subcommittee on Africa. The …

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by Holly Manges Jones

The Defense Department's top military lawyers testified Thursday before the US House Armed Services Committee, urging Congress to reject White House proposals that would keep some evidence from suspected terrorists who face prosecutions. The Bush administration submitted the Military Commissions Act of 2006 Wednesday, which among other …

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by Holly Manges Jones

The European Court of Justice ruled Thursday that Great Britain's rest period guidelines for workers are not in compliance with European Union law which mandates minimum daily and weekly breaks. Member countries of the EU are obligated to ensure workers receive 11 consecutive hours of rest in every 24-hour period and a 24-hour rest …

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by Holly Manges Jones

The Florida Supreme Court plans to analyze newly proposed rules that would stop the practice of sealing certain court cases from public view in a system that Chief Justice Fred Lewis said has "gone awry" Wednesday. A Miami Herald investigation uncovered over 400 hidden negligence, malpractice, divorce, and criminal cases involving judges, lawyers, politicians, …

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by Holly Manges Jones

An Indonesian court Thursday sentenced Islamic militant Dwi Widiarto to 18 years in prison for his part in the October 2005 bombings of three restaurants in Bali which killed 26 people. Widiarto was charged with videotaping the three suicide bombers and meeting on three occasions with the suspected coordinator of the attacks, Noordin Mohammed Top [BBC profile; …

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by Jaime Jansen

Amnesty International on Thursday criticized Colombia for allowing attacks on human rights defenders, calling on the international community to provide more support for local activists in Colombia. In a new report released Thursday, Amnesty blamed the Colombian government for facilitating hostilities against human rights activists and highlighted an apparently coordinated effort …

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by Holly Manges Jones

Rights activists on Thursday called for more information from the US government regarding secret CIA prisons where high-value terror suspects have been detained, saying that though US President George Bush's acknowledgement Wednesday of the prisons' existence was welcome, more information needs to be disclosed. Manfred Nowak, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, called …

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by Jaime Jansen

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday vetoed the Free Curriculum Act, a bill designed to add protections against discrimination in schools by prohibiting teaching or textbooks that "reflect adversely" on students based on their sexual orientation. The bill passed both the state Senate and Assembly last month. Schwarzenegger argued that existing law already …

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by Jaime Jansen

The US Justice Department filed a motion Wednesday requesting US District Judge Simeon T. Lake III defer a ruling on vacating the criminal record of former Enron CEO Kenneth Lay until former Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling is sentenced on October 23. Lay and …

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by Katerina Ossenova

US District Court Judge Ewing Werlein has set either February 5 or September 4, 2007 as the trial date for three former British bankers, known as the Natwest Three, who face fraud charges related to the Enron scandal. Defense lawyers argued for a late trial date in order to allow sufficient time to …

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by Katerina Ossenova

An amendment to the FY 2007 Department of Defense Appropriations bill which would prohibit the US military from using cluster bombs in proximity to civilians was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 70-30 on Wednesday. The Cluster Munitions Amendment, introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Dianne …

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by Katerina Ossenova

US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) said Wednesday that negotiations in Congress to implement comprehensive immigration reform will be streamlined to focus on border security and worksite enforcement. Both houses of Congress have passed immigration reform bills and the two versions must be reconciled and voted on before a final bill can be …

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