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Legal news from Thursday, October 27, 2011
by Michael Haggerson

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) filed suit Thursday in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA defines marriage for federal purposes as a legal union between one man and one woman. The suit alleges that DOMA …

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by Ashley Hileman

Proposals for amendments to an Egyptian political corruption law were criticized by Human Rights Watch (HRW) Wednesday for their potential for abuse. HRW reports that the amendments, proposed by the Egyptian Cabinet of Ministers, would allow authorities to imprison anyone convicted of crimes involving "political corruption," which the organization alleges are vaguely defined, …

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by Michael Haggerson

Brazil's Chamber of Deputies approved a bill on Wednesday that establishes a truth commission to investigate human rights abuses from 1946 to 1988. The bill must now be signed into law by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, a former guerrilla fighter. Almost 500 people were killed or …

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by Ashley Hileman

An Argentine court on Wednesday sentenced 12 former military and police officers to life in prison for crimes against humanity. The defendants were charged and convicted of various crimes that took place in the Escuela de Mecanica de la Armada (ESMA), which was used by the former military dictatorship as a torture chamber. Argentina's …

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by Matthew Pomy

The International Criminal Court should expand its investigation into the disappearances and killings of more than 1,000 people leading up to Kenya's 2007 election, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Thursday. The 48-page report, "'Hold Your Heart': Waiting for Justice in Kenya's Mt. Elgon Region," claims that, because the …

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by Dan Taglioli

The presidents of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday presented their respective annual reports [UN press release; ICJ & ICC reports, PDFs] to the UN General Assembly, stressing the increasing importance of the courts and need for the rule of international law as nations experience ever-growing globalization …

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by Dan Taglioli

The Uruguayan House of Representatives voted 50-40 Thursday to revoke a 25-year-old amnesty law, which prevented investigations, adjudications and human rights prosecutions of military junta officials during their regime between 1973-1985. The 1986 expiry law was passed after Uruguay returned to democratic rule, shielding police and military personnel from prosecution for …

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by John Paul Putney

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reemphasized Wednesday the importance of accountability issues in Sri Lanka related to conflicts with the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The comments came during a meeting with Mahinda Samarasinghe, the Special Envoy of the President of Sri Lanka on Human Rights, as part of …

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by John Paul Putney

Michigan Attorney General Bill Shuette, joined by four other states, on Wednesday asked [cert. petition, PDF] the US Supreme Court to require the US Army Corps of Engineers to accelerate a study on ecological separation as well as installation of nets to stop the advancement of Asian carp toward Lake Michigan. The current …

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by Dan Taglioli

An Indonesian court announced Wednesday that it would reduce the 15-year prison sentence being served by a radical Indonesian cleric. A spokesman for the Jakarta High Court confirmed without elaboration that the chief judge reduced the jail term to nine years. Regarded as a spiritual leader of militant Islam in Indonesia, 73-year-old cleric Abu Bakar Bashir …

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by Jamie Reese

The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit heard arguments Wednesday in an appeal by US citizen and convicted terrorist Jose Padilla to reinstate his unlawful detention suit against several government officials. Padilla, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), filed an action against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld …

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