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Legal news from Friday, March 26, 2010
by Zach Zagger

A three-judge panel of the US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled Friday that the Republican National Committee (RNC) cannot raise "soft money" to use in state elections. "Soft money" refers to contributions beyond the ceilings imposed by campaign finance laws. The case tests the limits of the …

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by Zach Zagger

The Obama administration on Friday defended the legality of its use of unmanned predator drone strikes. State Department Legal Adviser Harold Koh explained the administration's legal rationale in a speech to the American Society of International Law, saying the strikes "comply with all applicable law." Koh said the drone …

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by Steve Dotterer

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Thursday appointed retired Navy Vice Adm. Bruce MacDonald as the convening authority for military commissions. Considered an expert in military law, MacDonald's experience as a former Navy judge advocate general played a significant role in the appointment process. MacDonald replaces Susan Crawford, a Bush …

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by Daniel Richey

US Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) would appeal a judge's order to release a Guantanamo Bay detainee suspected of involvement in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. In a decision released Monday, US District Court for the District of Columbia Judge James Robinson had …

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by Steve Dotterer

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe agreed at belated International Women's Day Celebrations on Friday that gay rights should not be constitutionally protected. While Zimbabwean "sexual deviancy" laws prohibit homosexual acts, some lawmakers have suggested that drafts of Zimbabwe's new constitution decriminalize …

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by Sarah Paulsworth

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Friday adopted a resolution [A/HRC/13/L.15 materials] condemning Myanmar for rights violations and urging the ruling junta to conduct fair and free elections. The UNHRC also extended the mandate for the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana, for …

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by Patrice Collins

A judge for the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts on Thursday sentenced a computer hacker to 20 years in prison for his role in the one of the largest identity theft cases in US history. Judge Patti Saris also ordered Albert Gonzalez to pay $25,000 and serve three years of probation. …

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by Jonathan Cohen

The Indonesian Constitutional Court on Thursday rejected a challenge to a controversial anti-pornography law. The law was purportedly designed to protect younger generations from pornographic and lewd materials. Critics challenged the bill for being too broad, discriminating against women, and targeting aspects of Indonesian tradition and culture, but …

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by Sarah Paulsworth

The Russian Prosecutor General's Office on Friday banned Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf, finding it in violation of laws against extremism. The step was taken pursuant to Article I of Russia's Law to Combat Extremist Activities. According to the statement from the Prosecutor General's Office, "he autobiographical book contains …

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by Jaclyn Belczyk

The UN Human Rights Council on Thursday adopted a resolution condemning religious defamation. The non-binding resolution, proposed by Pakistan, passed with a vote of 20-17, with eight abstentions. The resolution has long been sought by Muslim countries, which claim that Muslims have faced discrimination, especially since the 9/11 attacks on …

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by Patrice Collins

A Rwandan opposition politician pleaded guilty Thursday to charges connected to the 1994 genocide and was sentenced to 17 years in prison. Joseph Ntawangundi, an aid to Hutu opposition leader Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, was convicted in absentia in 2007, and originally sentenced to 19 years in prison. Ntawangundi pleaded guilty after returning to Rwanda …

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by Daniel Makosky

The Spanish Supreme Court on Thursday denied an appeal by National Court judge Baltasar Garzon, ruling that he may be formally charged for exceeding his jurisdictional authority. The five-judge panel upheld the ability to review Garzon's actions related to his investigation …

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by David Manes

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) human rights office on Thursday called on the government to repeal the controversial National Stability and Reconciliation Law [RFE/RL backgrounder], which provides amnesty for war crimes and human rights violations committed before December 2001. A representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in …

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by David Manes

Bangladesh officials on Thursday announced the establishment of a special war crimes tribunal that will hear cases against individuals accused of war crimes during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. According to Law Minister Shafique Ahmed, the tribunal will include three high court judges and six investigators retired from civilian, law enforcement, and military …

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by Matt Glenn

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a resolution Thursday condemning North Korea for human rights violations. The resolution [A/HRC/13/L.13 materials] decries "grave, widespread and systematic human rights abuses in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, in particular the use of torture and labour camps against political prisoners and repatriated citizens of the Democratic People's …

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by Matt Glenn

The UK Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights recommended Thursday that the government review anti-terror laws and policies passed since the 9/11 attacks to make sure they are necessary and do not violate human rights. The committee found that, despite claiming to support human rights, many government policies appeared to …

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