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Legal news from Thursday, September 21, 2006
by Natalie Hrubos

Senior US Senate Republicans reached an agreement on military commissions legislation with the White House Thursday that would make the President the sole arbiter of the meaning of the Geneva Conventions for the United States and would bar litigants such as detainees from invoking the Conventions in habeas or civil actions in the federal …

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by Natalie Hrubos

US Central Intelligence Agency officers concerned about being prosecuted for illegal interrogation tactics refused to carry out interrogations of terror suspects, contributing to pressure on the Bush administration to empty its secret prisons and transfer top terrorism suspects to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to a report in the Financial …

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by Katerina Ossenova

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak said Thursday in Geneva that "the situation as far as torture is concerned in Iraq is now completely out of hand", and is so bad that "many people say that it is worse than in the times of Saddam Hussein." Nowak has not been able to visit Iraq personally, but …

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by Holly Manges Jones

Amnesty International said Thursday that China has not been working quickly enough to meet its promise to improve human rights in the country in order to host the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Amnesty said China's overall record was poor, and suggested that although progress had been made in …

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by Katerina Ossenova

Lawyers for the US Department of Justice Thursday asked the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a ruling of Judge Garr King of US District Court in Portland to allow a lawsuit by the US branch of the Saudi Arabia-based Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation to proceed against the US government over the …

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by Jaime Jansen

A group of five United Nations human rights investigators told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva Thursday that pending US legislation drafted by the Bush administration to clarify interrogation methods for terror suspects will breach Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which bars "outrages on personal dignity" …

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by Holly Manges Jones

A federal judge ruled Thursday that all evidence relevant to the CIA leak case against former vice-presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby should be considered for admission, despite government concerns about confidentiality. Attorneys for the government had suggested a three-part test for potential evidence which would allow classified information to be admitted …

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by Katerina Ossenova

The retrial of five Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian doctor accused of infecting over 400 Libyan patients, primarily children, with the HIV virus, was adjourned Thursday after a defense lawyer did not show up in court. In the absence of leading defense lawyer Othmane Bizanti, the trial was postponed until October 31. Bizanti was …

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by Holly Manges Jones

The Royal Thai Army which took over the government of Thailand through a coup earlier this week said Thursday that four top leaders of the government of ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra have been detained. The new military rulers also took over the responsibilities of Parliament, prohibiting …

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by Holly Manges Jones

A federal judge Wednesday ruled that the Pentagon must release additional documents revealing the names of Guantanamo Bay detainees who have either been released or who have alleged abuse by prison guards or other detainees. The order was made pursuant to a lawsuit brought by the Associated Press in March under the …

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by Holly Manges Jones

A US Department of Justice (DOJ) spokesman retreated Wednesday from comments made earlier this week by US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on the case of Canadian Maher Arar in which Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the US was not responsible for his removal to Syria and that he was …

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by Jaime Jansen

A Louisiana grand jury in New Orleans indicted Salvador and Mabel Mangano Wednesday on 35 charges of negligent homicide and 64 charges of cruelty to the infirm from the couple's alleged refusal to evacuate a St. Rita's Nursing Home in St. Bernard Parish under a mandatory evacuation order during Hurricane Katrina. Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti …

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by Holly Manges Jones

A judge in Turkey Thursday acquitted Turkish novelist Elif Shafak on charges that she "insulted the Turkish identity" in violation of Article 301 of the country's penal code, for comments referring to an Armenian genocide contained in one of her books. As many as 1.5 million Armenians were killed …

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by Jaime Jansen

The US House Judiciary Committee voted 20 to 16 along party lines Wednesday to approve the Electronic Surveillance Modernization Act of 2006, a measure that would relax warrant requirements for electronic surveillance of certain domestic communications, making such warrants easier and faster to secure. The legislation would also …

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by Katerina Ossenova

The US House Judiciary Committee approved the Military Commissions Act Wednesday 20-19, but only after its Republican leadership harnessed enough votes to overcome an initial 20-17 vote that would have killed the legislation. Key Republican members were missing when the first vote was taken. The House bill closely follows the controversial draft legislation [PDF …

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by Jaime Jansen

US Justice Department Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty argued against the pending Free Flow of Information Act of 2006 during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, saying that a federal shield law for reporters will hinder national security investigations by encouraging people to leak classified information if reporters are protected from revealing …

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by Katerina Ossenova

An Iraqi woman who attempted to detonate a suicide bomb as part of the 2005 deadly hotel bombings in Amman was sentenced to death Thursday by a Jordanian military court. Sajida al-Rishawi was convicted along with six others who were tried in absentia of conspiracy to carry out a terrorist act causing death and destruction and illegal …

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by Katerina Ossenova

Clarence Hill, who was convicted of the 1982 murder of a police officer, was executed Wednesday in Florida after the US Supreme Court denied his request to stay the execution. Five justices voted to refuse the stay; Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter and Stevens would have granted the stay of execution. Hill filed a …

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by Holly Manges Jones

The Hong Kong Court of Appeal Wednesday upheld a 2005 ruling that laws prohibiting gay sex are unconstitutional and discriminatory and violate Hong Kong's Basic Law and the Bill of Rights. The law in the former British colony, now a Special Administrative Region of the People's …

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by Holly Manges Jones

A federal judge Wednesday reinstated a 2001 ban on road construction in almost a third of US forests, ruling that the Bush administration did not conduct appropriate environmental research before suspending the rule and giving states the authority to manage their own forests. The original Roadless Area Conservation Rule was implemented by former US President …

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by Holly Manges Jones

A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled that a program in San Diego County which uses peace officers to search the homes of welfare applicants without having warrants does not violate constitutional bars against unreasonable searches or invasion of privacy. In Tuesday's 2-1 decision, the …

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