[JURIST] The Mexican government joined in opposition to a Mexico City [official website, in Spanish] abortion law legalizing abortions in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy on Friday, appointing Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora to help argue before the Supreme Court of Mexico [official website] that the law is unconstitutional. Mora joins Jose Luis Soberanes [Wikipedia profile], Mexico's top human rights official, who has already brought suit to strike down the law. In order for the law to be overturned, eight of the 11 Supreme Court judges must declare unconstitutional.
Mexico City passed the bill in April [JURIST report], requiring hospitals to provide the procedure during the first trimester of pregnancy. Abortion is generally illegal throughout the heavily Roman Catholic country, with exceptions only for cases of rape. Mexico City previously loosened the country's restriction to allow abortions when the health of the mother was in danger. Last year Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] conducted an extensive study of abortion availability for rape victims in Mexico [study text; press release], finding that those seeking legal abortions often are intimidated with insults and threats of legal retaliation by both prosecutors and health workers. Reuters has more.
[JURIST] An Ontario Court of Appeal [official website] panel ruled [decision] Friday that officials making determinations under the Canadian province's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act [text] had to weigh the public interest in the release of information sought and that simply invoking statutory exemptions on release based on law enforcement or solicitor-client privilege unjustifiably limited the right to free expression guaranteed by s. 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text]. Justice Harry LaForme wrote for the majority: "the governments failure to let the [Information and Privacy] Commissioner even determine whether it is in the public interest to disclose the records arguably puts the administration of justice into disrepute. The lack of an independent means of determining whether the records should be disclosed...places us back to an era where government secrecy was the norm and disclosure was at the whim of the Minister."
The suit was filed by the Criminal Lawyers' Association [official website] in response to a refusal by the Ontario Ministry of Public Safety and Security to turn over government documents in a 1983 murder case. The Toronto Globe and Mail has more.
[JURIST] An investigator for the UN Human Rights Council [official website] said Friday that the US has committed human rights violations in its interrogations of terror suspects and by putting questionable restrictions on immigration. In preliminary report from what will be a larger document due to the Council later this year, UN special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism Martin Scheinin [official website] said at the end of a US visit [press release] that the "enhanced interrogation techniques" used by the US to extract information from alleged terrorists amounted to torture under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [text] treaty, to which the US is signatory. US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad [official profile] countered that the techniques used were not torture because they are done "under US laws and procedures and legitimate decision-making authorities." Scheinen said that these laws, mostly enacted since 9/11, have undermined civil liberties, but noted that the US should not be regarded as an enemy to human rights, especially in regard to press freedom.
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