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Legal news from Monday, June 11, 2007
by Leslie Schulman

Iranian-American scholar Dr. Haleh Esfandiari, currently detained by the Iranian government, is being denied access to counsel, according to her lawyer, 2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi. Esfandiari, director of the Middle East Program at the DC-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, was formally charged last month with …

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by Leslie Schulman

The US Senate voted 53-38 Monday on a cloture motion limiting debate on a joint resolution expressing its lack of confidence in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, effectively stopping the resolution from coming to a floor vote. The motion fell seven votes short of the 60 necessary to pass it and …

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by Gabriel Haboubi

Thailand's Assets Examination Committee (AEC) ordered the assets of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife frozen on Monday, saying the $1.6 billion dollars should not be touched until a court determines if the money was legally obtained. Thaksin, who made his fortune after founding what is now the Shin Corporation [corporate website; …

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by Gabriel Haboubi

The US Supreme Court granted certiorari Monday in three cases to be heard next term, two of which deal with federal sentencing guidelines. In Kimbrough v. US (06-6330) the court will decide an appeal of a Fourth Circuit case stemming from a district judge refusing to order a higher sentencing …

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by Michael Sung

Egyptian police reportedly prevented voters from entering polling stations and arrested approximately 100 members from the banned opposition Muslim Brotherhood Monday as Egypt held elections for the Shura Council, the upper house of the Egyptian parliament. Some voters also reported the government pressured them to cast ballots for the National Democratic Party (NDP) …

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by Gabriel Haboubi

The Supreme Court of Georgia Monday dismissed a challenge to Georgia's voter ID law, finding that the plaintiff lacked standing to mount the challenge [opinion, PDF; summary (pg. 4), PDF], without addressing the law itself. The court said that the plaintiff, as a first time Georgia voter, was entitled to use a non-photo …

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by Michael Sung

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) Monday accused the Zimbabwean government of "interfering with the proper functioning of the administration of justice, the role of lawyers and their independence," following a five-day mission in which the rights group found instances in which lawyers representing dissidents were repeatedly harassed, subjected to detention, or beaten by …

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by Michael Sung

Yahoo! Inc. condemned the persecution of individuals for political expression in China Monday, saying it has informed the Chinese government of its position but reiterating that Yahoo! must comply with Chinese law if it is to do business in China. Yahoo! is currently facing legal challenges alleging it aided and abetted human rights violations committed …

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by Gabriel Haboubi

A US federal appeals court ruled Monday that the military cannot seize and imprison civilians lawfully residing in the United States and detain them as "enemy combatants." The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit rejected the government's contention that the president was authorized to order the military seizure of Illinois resident and Qatari …

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by Michael Sung

The government of Pakistan has prepared a new complaint against suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Pakistan Minister of Law, Justice & Human Rights Muhammad Wasi Zafar said Sunday. Zafar added that the new document will be filed at an "appropriate time," although he refused to provide details on the new charges. …

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by Michael Sung

Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday that he favors the immediate closure of all detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, adding that he would also "get rid" of the framework created by the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) and instead prosecute terrorist suspects under existing federal law or …

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by Michael Sung

At least one-third of the 37 immigration judges appointed by the Justice Department since 2004 are highly-connected Republicans or Bush administration insiders and half of those appointed lacked prior experience in immigration law, the Washington Post reported Monday. Immigration judges, who sit alone on cases, annually deport approximately 250,000 people from the United States. The Washington Post's review of …

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by Michael Sung

Lebanon's Supreme Judicial Council convened Monday to discuss the nomination of 12 Lebanese judges to be considered by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for appointment to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, established under UN Security Council Resolution 1757 to investigate and try suspects in the February 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri …

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by Michael Sung

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun criticized South Korea's election laws Sunday, saying that the country's political system with a single five-year presidential term was "underdeveloped" and should be reformed. Roh also criticized the country's political neutrality laws and rejected last Thursday's ruling by the National Election Commission that Roh violated the neutrality laws …

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by Jeannie Shawl

The US Supreme Court handed down decisions in five cases Monday, including Watson v. Philip Morris, where the Court held that a lawsuit against the tobacco company could not be removed from state to federal court solely based on an argument that the tobacco industry is regulated by the Federal …

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by Michael Sung

A European Union human rights team expressed the EU's "deep concern" at the state of human rights in Bangladesh under President Iajuddin Ahmed's interim government at the conclusion of a visit to the country Saturday, flagging reports of extra-judicial killings, torture and intimidation alleged to have taken place as part of the government's "anti-corruption campaign" [JURIST …

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by Michael Sung

Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court ruled Saturday against an American University of Cairo (AUC) ban on women wearing the Muslim niqab on campus, finding that the private university could not require a plaintiff student to unveil her face because it was her constitutional right under Egyptian law to practice her religion. The court …

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by Gabriel Haboubi

The lower house of the parliament of Rwanda voted Friday to abolish the death penalty effective July 1, with the hope that the measure will prompt other countries to extradite defendants facing trial for the 1994 Rwandan genocide back to Rwanda. Although the final vote was …

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by Michael Sung

The Zimbabwean government has published proposed amendments to the Constitution of Zimbabwe that would allow the simultaneous election of the president and both houses of legislature, reforms that critics allege to be an attempt by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to weaken the opposition. The proposed amendments would end the existing assembly's term two years early …

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