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Legal news from Thursday, June 21, 2007
by Leslie Schulman

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled Thursday that Russian authorities were responsible for the deaths of four members of a Chechen family. The court ordered Russia to pay $114,000 to the family of Zura Sharaniyevna Bitiyeva, who was a political figurehead and anti-war campaigner in Chechnya. She, her husband, one of their sons, …

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by Leslie Schulman

The US House of Representatives Thursday passed a measure by 223-201 that would reverse a ban on contraceptive aid to overseas agencies that offer abortions. The measure, introduced by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), is attached to bill HR 2764, appropriating $34.2 billion for the Department of the State and for foreign aid inr …

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by Leslie Schulman

The Iraq Central Criminal Court handed down 16 death sentences Thursday, the latest such sentences in a country with the fourth highest execution rate in the world. Two of those sentenced were non-Iraqi Arabs arrested earlier this year for entering the country illegally and for engaging in terrorist activities. Nine Iraqis were sentenced for kidnapping …

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by Gabriel Haboubi

Former US Attorney General John Ashcroft said Thursday at a closed-door hearing held by the US House Intelligence Committee that there had been divisions between members of the Bush administration as to whether the president's warrantless wiretapping program was legal. The House Intelligence Committee and its Senate counterpart are reviewing the 1978 …

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by Michael Sung

UK Minister of State for Security, Counter Terrorism, and Police Tom McNulty told Parliament Thursday that an Iraqi suspect subjected to a UK government control order is believed to have absconded Monday evening, making him the seventh UK terror suspect to have disappeared while under the controversial measure authorized by the …

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by Gabriel Haboubi

The US Environmental Protection Agency proposed tougher standards for US air quality Thursday, recommending reducing the amount of ground-level ozone from 0.08 parts per million (ppm) to between 0.07 and 0.075 ppm. The EPA is also seeking comments about the possibility of leaving the level at 0.08 ppm, or reducing it …

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by Michael Sung

Ugandan Minister of Internal Affairs Ruhakana Ruganda told IRIN News Thursday that Uganda intends to "engage" the International Criminal Court (ICC) in an effort to obtain review of charges against leaders of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Ruganda said that while the Ugandan government does not condone impunity for …

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by Michael Sung

South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun filed a petition at the Constitutional Court of South Korea Thursday, challenging a ruling by the National Election Commission that Roh violated election neutrality laws for the second time in a month by repeating criticism of the opposition Grand National Party (GNP) [official website, …

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by Gabriel Haboubi

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said in an interview with Sky News Thursday that his government will not commit to making changes called for in an official report on eliminating discrimination against same-sex couples. The Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission report released Thursday recommends legislative changes to 58 federal …

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by Gabriel Haboubi

Human Rights Watch (HRW) Wednesday called for Iran to stop using the death penalty for juveniles convicted of serious crimes. HRW said that Iran has executed offenders who committed crimes when they were as young as 15. With at least 17 juvenile offenders executed since the beginning of 2004, eight times more than any other …

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by Michael Sung

The US, France, and the UK circulated a draft UN Security Council resolution Wednesday seeking to postpone plans for Kosovo's independence for 120 days to facilitate further discussions with Serbia and Russia, which oppose independence. Kosovar Prime Minister Agim Ceku nonetheless urged the international community to quickly adopt a UN-supervised independence plan for Kosovo, …

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by Michael Sung

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid M. Kasuri has said that President Pervez Musharraf will not resort to martial law in the midst of continuing anti-government agitation by lawyers and opposition groups because it is "unconstitutional." In an interview with PBS Tuesday, Kasuri reiterated Musharraf's pledge to "work within the confines of the constitution" despite protests …

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by Jeannie Shawl

The US Supreme Court handed down decisions in three cases Thursday, including Rita v. United States, where the Court held that a prison sentence falling within the federal sentencing guidelines may be presumed to be a reasonable sentence on appeal, but the presumption of reasonableness is not binding. Victor Rita was convicted of …

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by Michael Sung

Thai prosecutors formally filed corruption charges against former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife Pojamarn at the Supreme Court of Justice Thursday, charging the exiled Thaksin with abuse of power for personal gain, conflict of interest violations, and also dereliction of duty for personal gain. The charges stem from a 2003 land …

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by Michael Sung

The Supreme Assembly of Tajikistan voted unanimously Wednesday to approve an amnesty proposed by President Emomali Rahmon, paving the way for Rahmon to reduce the sentences of hundreds of Islamic militants imprisoned for fighting against the government during the 1992-1997 Tajikistani Civil War. The amnesty will not reduce the sentences of …

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by Michael Sung

US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has criticized a bipartisan amendment to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 that seeks to loosen the worker verification program by requiring employers to verify only the immigration status of new job applicants. In a letter sent late Tuesday to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and …

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