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Legal news from Thursday, May 3, 2007
by Melissa Bancroft

The US House of Representatives Thursday approved a bill to expand federal hate crimes legislation to include violent attacks against people based on gender or sexuality. The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 broadens the definition of a hate crime and also makes it easier for federal law enforcement …

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by Bernard Hibbitts

Lawyers for the Canadian government said in an affidavit Thursday that Canada and Afghanistan have formally signed a new agreement allowing for monitoring of prisoners transferred from Canadian to Afghan custody as a safeguard against torture and abuse. Following submission of the affidavit, a Federal Court judge in British Columbia halted an injunction action brought by Amnesty …

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by Mike Rosen-Molina

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Thursday ruled that Poland violated the rights of a group of gay rights activists by refusing to authorize a 2005 rally in Warsaw. The Polish government rejected the group's application to hold a march because the group did not present a plan to …

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by Mike Rosen-Molina

A former Guantanamo Bay detainee who was arrested by authorities upon being returned to his home country of Morocco has been released from custody, relatives reported. Criminal charges against Ahmed Errachidi were dropped after he appeared before a judge Wednesday, according to a lawyer with advocacy group Reprieve, who was …

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by Mike Rosen-Molina

Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) announced Thursday that it has formed a coalition with a small opposition Motherland Party of Turkey (ANAP) to pass a series of constitutional amendments that would change Turkey's system for electing its president. Under the proposed reforms, the president would …

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by Mike Rosen-Molina

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom Wednesday released its annual report on worldwide religious freedom, finding for the first time since the ouster of Saddam Hussein that freedom of religious worship in Iraq is under severe threat. The commission pointed to increasing government abuse and sectarian violence, including arbitrary arrests, torture and rape, …

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by Bernard Hibbitts

The US Department of Justice has launched an internal investigation into whether a top aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales considered the political affiliations of candidates for career prosecutor positions in the Department, contrary to federal law and longstanding practice. A Department spokesman said Wednesday that the Department's Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility …

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by Katerina Ossenova

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe repeated his call for reforming the Japanese constitution on Thursday, the day of the constitution's 60th anniversary. Abe said that the country's pacifist constitution "needs to be revised as its basic framework can no longer proceed with major changes in the administration system, relations between central and local governments, …

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by Bernard Hibbitts

Lawmakers dismissed in February from Ecuador's Congress clashed with protesters Wednesday in an unsuccessful bid to forcibly retake their seats in the country's assembly. Police cordoned off the Congress building during the confrontation. The legislators were sacked by Ecuador's electoral tribunal and eventually replaced by supporters of President Rafael Correa [official website, in …

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by Katerina Ossenova

The Nebraska Supreme Court issued an order Wednesday staying the execution of Carey Dean Moore while the court determines whether death by electrocution is cruel and unusual punishment. In a 4-3 decision, the Court noted that recent US Supreme Court decisions have raised the question whether electrocution is constitutional and hence the court's …

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by Katerina Ossenova

US District Judge Jay Zainey has dismissed part of a wrongful death lawsuit filed by families whose relatives died during Hurricane Katrina. The son of Ethel Mayo Freeman sued the federal government, including former FEMA director Michael Brown and Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, for his mother's death. Wheelchair-bound Freeman died …

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by Jeannie Shawl

Australian Attorney General Philip Ruddock said Thursday that the government plans to strengthen foreign bribery laws after a government commission concluded that the Australian Wheat Board (AWB) corporate website] paid roughly $220 million in kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's former regime to secure $2.3 billion in grain contracts under the now-defunct UN oil-for-food program. The Cole Commission …

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by Jeannie Shawl

UN Undersecretary-General for Legal Affairs Nicolas Michel has been unable to break a deadlock within the Lebanese government preventing approval of an international tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Michel told the UN Security Council Wednesday. Michel traveled to Lebanon last month in …

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