[JURIST] A five-judge panel for the Ontario Court of Appeal [official website] Friday extended stay of a lower court decision striking down laws banning prostitution-related activities, leaving the activities illegal pending ruling of the court. The panel extended the stay [Toronto Star report], which was already extended [JURIST report] last December, just before the proceedings in the Court of Appeal ended Friday, keeping it in effect until a ruling that is expected to come sometime in the next six months. Justice David Doherty said the stay will remain in effect until the court says otherwise before the judges retired to discuss their decision. Although prostitution is legal in Canada, virtually all of the acts ancillary to exchanging sex for money are not. Last September, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (OSCJ) [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that provisions § 210, § 212 and § 213 of the Canadian Criminal Code [texts], which prohibit the keeping of a "common bawdy house," engaging in communications for the purpose of soliciting sex and living "on the avails" of the sex trade, were a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text].
The legality of prostitution in Canada is in a state of flux pending legal challenges to the constitutionality of anti-prostitution laws. In March, the Supreme Court of Canada [official website] agreed to review a B.C. Court of Appeal [official website] decision allowing a challenge to the country's anti-prostitution laws. In arguing to extend the stay in this case last December, the government said a stay would be necessary until the court could conduct a full review of the decision, while the party challenging the laws argued that the stay would "perpetuate the law's contribution to violence against a vulnerable population." Justice Marc Rosenberg applied the RJR-MacDonald Inc. v. Canada test for granting a stay pending appeal, which requires the court to balance convenience and public interest considerations of the issue. He concluded that it is in the public interest that the judgment be stayed for a relatively short period to permit appellate review of the decision. In 2007, the Sex Professionals of Canada [advocacy website] initiated an application with the OSCJ [JURIST report] challenging the three provisions overturned in September's ruling on the grounds that they are inconsistent with the Charter. The challenge came on the heels of the trial of Robert Pickton [CBC case backgrounder], who was accused of murdering 26 women [indictment text], mostly prostitutes, in the Vancouver area in the 1990s. Pickton was convicted of six counts of murder [Globe and Mail report] in late 2007.
[JURIST] Federal prosecutors in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] dropped all charges [indictment text] against al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden [JURIST news archive] in a filing [text] made Friday. The judge approved the procedural move, which is typical upon the death of a defendant. The nolle prosequi motion listed the hundreds of charges against Bin Laden and explained the government's proof of his death.
Shortly after the Abbottabad Raid, US forces collected DNA samples from the body of the deceased individual assessed to be Bin Laden. Those DNA samples were then transported from Abbottabad, Pakistan to U.S. military facilities in Afghanistan, where they were immediately provided to DoD and CIA personnel for processing and comparison. CIA and DoD conducted DNA tests, during which the sample from the Abbottabad Raid was compared with a comprehensive DNA profile derived from DNA collected from multiple members of BIN LADEN's family. These tests confirmed that the sample from the Abbottabad Raid genetically matched the derived comprehensive DNA profile for Usama Bin Laden. The possibility of a mistaken identification is approximately one in 11.8 quadrillion.
[JURIST] The Illinois Appellate Court [official website] on Friday ordered [opinion, PDF] a circuit court to determine whether a law requiring a girl's guardians to be notified before she has an abortion should be enforced. The Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995 [text], which has never been enforced [AP report], mandates that doctors notify the guardians of girls younger than 18 years old 48 hours before the girl gets an abortion. Girls can request a court order from a judge to circumvent the notification requirement. The decision reverses a lower court ruling lifting the injunction on the enforcement of the law. The Thomas More Society [advocacy website], a supporter of the law, expressed discontent with the appeal court's decision:
We strongly disagree with the Illinois Appellate Court's decision to send this back to the trial court without deciding the legal issues involved. This decision is flawed in so many respects that further trial proceedings would be pointless. Only a prompt review by the Illinois Supreme Court can correct the injustice of this law languishing in legal limbo.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website], representing the plaintiffs, praised the appeal court decision. Lorie Chaiten, director of the ACLU of Illinois Reproductive Rights Projects said the law is harmful [press release] and that "young women who do not tell their parents about their pregnancy or desire to have an abortion, have good reasons, including fear for their personal safety."
An Illinois Cook County Circuit Court [official website] judge ruled [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] in May 2010 that the law is constitutional and lifted the temporary restraining order [JURIST report] on the law's enforcement. Judge Daniel Riley, however, approved a 60-day grace period, preventing state officials from enforcing the law pending appeal procedures. Riley granted the temporary restraining order [JURIST report] in November 2010, only hours after the Illinois Medical Disciplinary Board ruled to begin enforcing the law. The order was originally sought by the ACLU-IL in support of a suit brought by a local medical doctor and a women's clinic on behalf of themselves and their minor patients. ACLU-IL alleged that enforcement of the law would cause major harm and compromise the privacy of some Illinois teen-aged women. The Illinois Department of Finance and Professional Regulation (DFPR) [official website] granted doctors a 90-day grace period [JURIST report] for enforcement of the parental notification requirement, following a ruling [JURIST report] by the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] that reversed a district court injunction [JURIST report] barring the law's enforcement. The 1995 law, which has never been enforced, authorizes state judges to waive the notice requirement if doing so would be in a minor's best interest, but otherwise requires parental notification for minors seeking an abortion.
[JURIST] The International Labor Organization (ILO) [official website] adopted a new convention [text, PDF] at its annual conference in Geneva Thursday to protect domestic workers' labor rights. The 100 Session of the International Labor Conference [official website] came to a close Friday. The convention sets standards for domestic workers in line with basic labor rights as those for other workers, including reasonable work hours, weekly rest of at least 24 consecutive hours, a limit on in-kind payment, clear information on terms and conditions of employment, including other basic rights such as freedom of association and collective bargaining. In the introductory text, the convention says it was passed:
[r]ecognizing the significant contribution of domestic workers to the global economy, which includes increasing paid job opportunities for women and men workers with family responsibilities, greater scope for caring for ageing populations, children and persons with a disability, and substantial income transfers within and between countries, and ... domestic work continues to be undervalued and invisible and is mainly carried out by women and girls, many of whom are migrants or members of disadvantaged communities and who are particularly vulnerable to discrimination in respect of conditions of employment and of work, and to other abuses of human rights, and... that in developing countries with historically scarce opportunities for formal employment, domestic workers constitute a significant proportion of the national workforce and remain among the most marginalized.
The convention must still be ratified by the countries joining it for it to be binding. It is unlikely that the US will ratify [ABC News report] the treaty since for the most part labor laws are controlled by the states. The US has only ratified two of the ILO's 189 conventions.
Last September, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] released a report saying Lebanon should improve its judicial system [JURIST report] by providing mechanisms to better protect the basic rights of domestic workers and more ardently prosecuting those who violate them. Earlier last year, the ILO reiterated its call on the international community to take a "rights based approach" [JURIST report] to international migration. The group said that 90 percent of the migration that occurs is driven by the search for employment and that countries should seek to provide "conditions of freedom, dignity, equity and security," to migrant workers. It said that under the right conditions migrant workers, could provide benefits to both their countries of employment and origin, but that they currently face low wages, discrimination, and a lack of social or legal protection. In 2008, HRW reported that migrant and domestic workers still face abusive and exploitative treatment [JURIST report] throughout Asia and the Middle East. The rights group observed that workers in many nations throughout the region lacked access to judicial systems, and often lacked appropriate redress even when granted access. Earlier that year, HRW urged Saudi Arabia [JURIST report] to institute new legal protections for the country's estimated 1.5 million domestic workers.
The international community and human rights groups have urged various countries to arrest al-Bashir while he has been present inside their borders. Earlier this week, AI called on Malaysia [JURIST report] to withdraw its invitation to al-Bashir and arrest him if he travels to the country. Similarly, the ICC urged Djibouti to arrest al-Bashir [JURIST report] in May. The ICC requested that Kenya arrest al-Bashir [JURIST report] during an October visit, his second visit to the country in the same year. Previously, al-Bashir had visited Kenya for the signing of the country's new constitution [JURIST report]. Following his visit, the ICC reported Kenya [decision, PDF; JURIST report] to the UN Security Council and the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute for the violation in not arresting al-Bashir. Also following his August visit, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged Kenya to reaffirm its cooperation with the ICC by arresting al-Bashir [JURIST report]. In July, the ICC called for al-Bashir's arrest during his visit to Chad [JURIST report], marking the first visit to an ICC member state since the warrants were issued. The ICC also reported Chad [decision, PDF] to the Security Council and Assembly of States Parties.
[JURIST] International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] on Friday issued a public notice [text] for victims of violence in the Ivory Coast to give statements and advise if the ICC should proceed with a formal investigation. Victims have 30 days to file a statement. The statement says Moreno-Ocampo will make an investigation request "shortly," although in May he said he had submitted a request [JURIST report]. Last month, President Alassane Ouattara [BBC profile] asked the ICC to launch an investigation [JURIST report] into alleged crimes committed as a result of the disputed presidential elections last November. Violence has been ongoing since last year's disputed election, with factions of Ouattara and ousted former president Laurent Gbagbo [BBC profile] still engaging in retaliatory killings [JURIST report].
Earlier this week, the Ivory Coast announced it would establish a commission [JURIST report] to investigate alleged crimes committed as a result of the disputed presidential elections last November. An official for the International Commission of Inquiry called for an investigation [JURIST report] into Ouattara and his forces' continuing attacks against supporters of Gbagbo earlier this month. In April, Human Rights Watch urged Ouattara to conduct an investigation [JURIST report] into alleged atrocities carried out by his forces in its attempts to secure the presidency. According to the report, the pro-Ouattara forces, known as the Republican Forces of the Ivory Coast, killed more than 100 civilians, raped at least 20 supporters of Gbagbo and burned at least 10 villages in March. Also in April, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) [official website] reported the deaths of at least 800 civilians [JURIST report] in the Ivory Coast town of Duekoue as a result of intercommunal violence.
[JURIST] The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] passed the "Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity" resolution [text, PDF] with a vote of 23-19 and 3 abstentions [UN webcast archive] on Friday. The resolution is the first to call for an end to sexuality discrimination worldwide and to recognize it as a "priority" for the UN. Although the resolution is "binding" to member nations of the UNHRC, it does not address any penalties for violating the act. The resolution "express(es) grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity." It also requests a study and panel to investigate international violence against homosexuals and trans-people. The resolution was introduced by South Africa, the only African nation to vote for its passage. Several African and Middle Eastern nations criticized [AFP report] South Africa and the bill, accusing the nation of "westernizing" and breaking from what "90 percent" of South Africans want, and decrying the UN trying to force controversial ideas with no legal basis on their countries.
[JURIST] The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] on Friday decided to extend a mandate instructing a panel to investigate human rights abuses in Libya. The council, without voting, adopted a resolution [AP report] that orders the investigation of abuses in Libya to continue through the end of the year. The three-person commission appointed to investigate violence in Libya published a report early in June finding that Gaddafi's forces have committed crimes against humanity [JURIST report] and war crimes under orders from Gaddafi and other high-ranking officials. The commission's 92-page report said Libyan authorities have committed crimes against humanity such as acts constituting murder, imprisonment, and other severe deprivations of physical liberties, torture, forced disappearances, and rape "as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population with knowledge of the attack."
Last month, International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official websites] announced he is seeking arrest warrants [JURIST report] for Libyan leader Mummar Gaddafi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and two others in his inner circle on charges of crimes against humanity. The ICC has also launched a probe to investigate allegations of crimes against humanity [JURIST report] by the Libyan government. Moreno-Ocampo specifically identified Gaddafi, his sons and his political allies as targets of the investigation and warned Libyan officials that complicity in such abuses would result in prosecution. Additionally, the UN appointed a team of special prosecutors [JURIST report] to investigate allegations that Gaddafi ordered forces to torture and abduct opponents. Gaddafi is accused of ordering hospital patients' executions, firing on crowds of protesters and using other extreme tactics against his opponents. The UN General Assembly has voted to suspend Libya [JURIST report] from the UNHRC in response to the violent suppression of peaceful protesters by forces loyal to Gaddafi. The ICC has also said that it will not grant immunity [JURIST report] to any person perpetrating crimes against humanity in Libya.
[JURIST] US Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] Thursday defended his plans to prosecute terror suspects in federal civilian courts, responding to harsh criticism from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) [official website] urging two Iraqi-born terror suspects in Kentucky be sent to the Guantanamo Bay military detention facility. Holder gave an address at the American Constitution Society [official website] national convention saying, "our most effective terror fighting weapon [is] our Article III court system." Holder criticized what he called "fear-mongering" from members of Congress who have suggested that trying terror suspects in civilian courts harm the US's national security.
Politics has no place—no place—in the impartial and effective administration of justice. Decisions about how, where, and when to prosecute must be made by prosecutors, not politicians. And this is true for every case. ... So long as I am privileged to serve as the attorney general, I will defend the exclusive right of the executive branch to determine appropriate venues and mechanisms for all criminal trials. And I will continue to point—one indisputable fact, which has been proven repeatedly by this administration and the previous one, in disrupting potential attacks and effectively interrogating, prosecuting, and incarcerating terrorists, there is quite simply, no more powerful tool than our civilian court system.
Earlier this week, McConnell made a speech on the Senate floor arguing to move terror suspects Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi from Kentucky to Guantanamo. He said:
The administration likes to tout its confidence in the US legal system. Well, I don't believe the American people need to try enemy combatants in our towns and cities to prove that our court system works. Prosecution is important. But let's be clear: prosecution is not our ultimate goal in this war. Our goal is to capture or kill those who want to kill us here and abroad and who are plotting even now—as this case clearly proves—to wreak havoc on our troops overseas. This is very simple: those we capture should be interrogated and, if necessary, indefinitely detained and tried in a military setting. Through these interrogations additional intelligence can be derived that leads to additional targets thereby weakening Al Qaeda and other associated terror groups at a moment when they are vulnerable.
Holder has consistently advocated [JURIST report] that terror suspects should be tried in civilian courts though has not found support from Congress. In April, Holder announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and four other co-conspirators will be tried before a military commission [JURIST report] for their roles in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Holder, who wanted the accused be tried before a federal civilian court [JURIST report], referred the cases to the Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] after Congress imposed a series of restrictions [JURIST report] barring the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the US. Holder refused to delay the trial any longer for the sake of the victims of the 9/11 attacks and their families, explaining that the restrictions are not likely to be repealed in the immediate future. The Obama administration changed its position despite repeated appeals from rights groups to utilize civilian courts over military commissions for the trials of suspected terrorists. However, international pressure to use civilian courts remains. Last March, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism Martin Scheinin [official website] called on the Obama administration to hold civilian trials [JURIST report] for Mohammed and other suspected terrorists saying that the military commissions system is fatally flawed and cannot be reformed.
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