[JURIST] Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant [official website] on Wednesday joined a federal lawsuit [press release] challenging a policy directive [memorandum, PDF; JURIST report] to defer the deportation of young illegal immigrants. The claim [complaint, PDF], filed by [JURIST report] Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach on behalf of 10 agents of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website] against US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano [official websites], alleges that the directive, known as Deferred Action, contradicts existing practice because it compels ICE officers not to enforce federal immigration laws or initiate removal proceedings against a broad class of roughly 1.7 million illegal immigrants. Bryant alleges that this order "usurps Congress's authority to regulate immigration and violates the constitutional separation of powers and the president's obligation to enforce federal law." He also argues that Mississippi has standing in the case "based on the significant fiscal costs that illegal immigration imposes on the state."
[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit [official website] on Thursday reversed [order, PDF] an injunction issued by the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] against Samsung in an ongoing patent dispute with Apple [corporate websites]. Specifically, the Federal Circuit found [Reuters report] that "the district court abused its discretion in enjoining the sales of [Samsung's] Galaxy Nexus," a product that, according to Apple, constitutes infringement of a patent related to data search sources. Apple, however, was unable to show sufficient evidence of a "causal nexus" between its own products and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Said the court: "Regardless of the extent to which Apple may be injured by the sales of the Galaxy Nexus, there is not a sufficient showing that the harm flows from Samsung's alleged infringement." The case has been remanded to the Northern District of California for reconsideration.
Apple and Samsung have been embroiled in continuous patent litigation in courts around the world. In September, the Federal Circuit similarly ordered [JURIST report] the Northern District of California to reconsider an injunction against Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 [product backgrounder]. Only a week prior, Apple filed a motion [JURIST report] with the Northern District of California to prohibit Samsung from selling products in the US that supposedly infringe on Apple's patents. Also in September, Samsung announced [JURIST report] that it will be adding the iPhone5 [product backgrounder] to a new patent infringement suit against Apple. A judge for the US International Trade Commission (ITC) [official website] also ruled [JURIST report] that month that Apple products do not infringe on Samsung's patents. In August, Apple won a $1.05 billion judgment [JURIST report] against Samsung in a separate case in the Northern District of California that covered everything from the shape and design of the competing companies' tablets and smartphones to the technology employed in the devices' software interface. Following the jury award, Apple moved to block [JURIST report] eight Samsung products from being produced and sold in the US. Also in August, a South Korean court found that Apple and Samsung had violated each others' patents [JURIST report] and banned the sales of some of the companies' products in the country. In July, a UK court ruled [JURIST report] that Samsung tablets do not infringe on Apple's design.
[JURIST] The Thai Supreme Court [official website, in Thai] issued an arrest warrant Thursday for former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. The warrant was issued [AFP report] following his failure to appear before the court in an ongoing trial on five criminal charges including abuse of power and violation of banking regulations at the state-owned Krung Thai Bank. Thaksin and the bank executives are accused of abusing their authority to lend 11.58 billion baht (USD $377 million) to companies which were known to have been in dire financial conditions. Thaksin was removed from power during a 2006 military coup and has been in self-exile abroad since 2008 following a conviction [JURIST reports] on a corruption charge which he claims was politically motivated.
Thailand's political system has remained unstable following the coup that ousted Thaksin in 2006, and, despite his absence from the nation, he remains a polarizing political force within the country. In February 2011 seven leaders of Thailand's "red-shirt" [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] movement, which are formally known as the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship and are staunchly pro-Thaksin, were released on bail [JURIST report]. They had been arrested on terrorism charges stemming from their involvement in the 2010 anti-government protests [JURIST news archive] in Bangkok. In January 2011 members of the movement also petitioned the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] to launch a preliminary investigation [JURIST report] into whether the government committed crimes against humanity during those protests. The Constitutional Court of Thailand ordered that 46.4 billion baht (USD $1.4 billion) of Thaksin's fortune be seized [JURIST report] in Februrary 2010, a ruling that led to violent protests that took place in Bangkok last spring.
[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit [official website] on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit [opinion, PDF] against Rwandan President Paul Kagame [official website; BBC profile] alleging he ordered the killings of the former presidents of Rwanda and Burundi. The lawsuit was filed by the widows of Juvenal Habyarimana, the former president of Rwanda, and Cyprien Ntaryamira, the former president of Burundi, who were killed when their plane was shot down on approach to Rwanda. The widows have alleged that Kagame ordered the attack, which was allegedly carried out by a rebel army in Rwanda. They sought $350 million in damages. In its decision, the court ruled that Kagame is immune from suit because he is the leader of a foreign state. The court's decision upholds a district court ruling finding the same and is consistent with a suggestion of immunity [text, PDF] filed by the US government last year.
A report compiled by a French court in January appeared to clear Kagame of accusations [JURIST report] that he orchestrated the 1994 assassinations of Habyarimana and Ntaryamira. It concluded that the missile came from an area held by the Rwandan army, a unit of elite presidential troops, making it unlikely that Kagame could have been behind the attack. The death of Habyarimana is one of the incidents which sparked the 1994 Rwandan genocide [JURIST news archive; HRW backgrounder]. Rwanda has been continually scrutinized in relation to the 1994 genocide. In a report released in June of last year, Amnesty International (AI) urged Rwanda to review laws it claims have a "genocide ideology" [JURIST report] that are being used to silence critics and dissenters. AI claims that Rwanda has broadly drafted hate speech laws passed since the 1994 genocide that are being used to criminalize legitimate criticism and expression that does not rise to the level of hate speech. In April 2010 Rwandan authorities arrested [JURIST report] opposition presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, accusing her of denying the 1994 genocide. The arrests come at a time when Kagame has received criticism from Human Rights Watch (HRW) for his treatment of opposition parties.
[JURIST] Four Nigerian residents and an advocacy group told a Dutch court on Thursday that Shell [corporate website] should be held liable [press release, in Dutch] for damage from oil pollution in the Niger Delta. The suit, which was filed by the four villagers and Friends of the Earth Netherlands [advocacy website, in Dutch] in 2008, is the first time a Dutch company has been sued for the alleged misconduct of its foreign subsidiary. Shell has maintained throughout the trial that the case should be heard in Nigeria and that the Dutch court does not have jurisdiction. In a press release, Friends of the Earth Netherlands said that the case could set an international precedent encouraging victims of pollution by Western corporations to sue in the Netherlands and other nations in the EU, noting that there are hundreds of thousands of pollution victims in Nigeria alone. Shell has argued that the pollution damage was caused by thieves who sabotaged the oil lines and that its local subsidiary fulfilled its duty in cleaning up the spills. The verdict in this case is expected by early 2013.
Similar pollution lawsuits against Shell are pending in the US and the UK. The US Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments [JURIST report] last week in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. [SCOTUSblog backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The court heard new arguments on whether three oil companies, including Shell, are immune from US lawsuits under the Alien Tort Statute of 1789 (ATS) [text] for alleged torture and international law violations that took place overseas. The court initially heard arguments in February and then directed the parties to file briefs on a new question [JURIST reports] for this term, which asked if the ATS can ever be used against against non-state citizens for atrocities committed in that state, and under what circumstances. JURIST Guest Columnists Michael Hausfeld and Kristen Ward Broz of Hausfeld, LLP have argued [JURIST op-ed] that the jurisdiction of US courts should apply to any entity that has a presence within the US, while the Obama administration urged the Supreme Court to limit corporate liability overseas and dismiss the case [JURIST report]. In the UK, 35 Nigerian villages brought a suit against Shell in a London court in March, alleging Shell's slow response in cleaning up two oil spills [JURIST report] in a Nigerian river ruined their livelihoods.
[JURIST] The Tokyo District Court [official website, in Japanese] ruled Wednesday that the Japanese government must disclose part of a 1965 treaty between Japan and South Korea regarding sexual slavery employed by Japan during wartime. The District Court ruled in favor [Korea Herald report] of 11 Japanese and Korean activists representing the descendants of enslaved sex workers known as comfort women [AI backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Although Japan has insisted that the 1965 treaty established that South Korea would not seek any further compensation for victims of sexual slavery during Japanese colonial rule from 1910-1945, the court ordered Japan to disclose information on 117 cases that it has sealed for the past 40 years. The court's decision comes just weeks after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda [NYT backgrounder] declared that the 1965 normalization treaty firmly settled the issue of compensation [Daily Yomiuri report] to comfort women. It is unclear if the Japanese government plans to appeal the decision.
In 2009 North Korea urged Japan's government to apologize [JURIST report] for its use of comfort women during World War II. The Liberal Democrats [party website], the party of former prime minister Shinzo Abe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], have denied that the Japanese Army officially forced women to become prostitutes. In July 2007 the US House of Representatives passed a resolution [JURIST report] calling on Japan to apologize for its use of comfort women during WWII. Abe dismissed the resolution [JURIST report], claiming it was based on erroneous information [JURIST report] and that the women were professional prostitutes paid for their services. Abe has expressed sympathy and apologized [JURIST report] for the "situation" faced by so-called "comfort women" but stopped short of explicitly acknowledging the alleged roles of the wartime military and government in facilitating the practice. Japan has previously accepted that Japanese soldiers coerced [JURIST report] women into prostitution but denied government involvement.
[JURIST] A UN official on Wednesday said that Islamists who have seized power in northern Mali are violating the human rights of women and children through enforced prostitution and recruitment of child soldiers. UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic [official profile] said [UN News Centre report] that rebel forces who seized power in northern Mali when soldiers overthrew Mali's president in March [Reuters report] have imposed a particularly harsh form of Sharia law [CFR backgrounder], enlisted child soldiers and forced women into marriages or prostitution. In his remarks to the press, Simonovic emphasized that the rebels' actions are particularly devastating for women in northern Mali:
The number of enforced marriages is increasing, the price to buy a wife is less than $1,000. After getting out of their families, the women, once forcefully married, quite often are by their so-called husbands married to other men after a very short while, which is in fact then a smokescreen for enforced prostitution and rapes that are taking place.
The humanitarian crisis in Mali [JURIST news archive] has drawn a great deal of international scorn and scrutiny. Two weeks ago Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] that three armed Islamist groups in northern Mali are abusing the local population and recruiting child soldiers. Earlier in September UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] condemned [JURIST report] human rights violations in Mali and called for international action to address the problems. Pillay stated that two militant Islamic groups, MUJAO and Ansar Dine, are recruiting child soldiers, committing cruel punishments such as amputations and stoning an unmarried couple to death, violating basic human rights, committing sexual violence against women, and executing individuals. In August officials from the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] were in Mali investigating [JURIST report] whether two Islamic groups, the MUJAO and Ansar Dine, had committed war crimes in Mali. According to Malian officials the Islamic groups had been committing human rights violations, including executing Malian soldiers, committing rapes, massacring civilians and recruiting child soldiers.
[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments [day call, PDF] Wednesday in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin [transcript, PDF; JURIST report], in which the plaintiff is challenging the constitutionality of the university's affirmative action program. The plaintiff, Abigail Noel Fisher, was denied acceptance to the university and claims that her race was a determining factor in her rejection. Fisher's attorney, Bert Rein, urged the court to review its current leading precedent on affirmative action, Grutter v. Bollinger [opinion; JURIST symposium] and determine both whether the university's admissions policy is consistent with that opinion and whether that opinion is still good law. While Rein stopped short of saying that Grutter should be overruled, he advocated for clarification and giving less discretion to university officials in using race as an admissions factor. The university and the US Solicitor General argued that university officials have only used the policy as necessary to give its student body a "critical mass" of underrepresented minorities as allowed by Grutter. The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit last year upheld [JURIST report] the university's policy, saying that it was in compliance with the constitutional standards set forth in Grutter. The appeals court's ruling affirmed the ruling of the US District Court for the Western District of Texas [official website], which also upheld the policy.
The court also heard arguments Wednesday in Moncrieffe v. Holder [transcript, PDF; JURIST report], involving what constitutes an "aggravated felony" for the purpose of determining whether an immigrant must be deported. The main issue is whether a conviction under state law which includes, but is not limited to, distribution of a small amount of marijuana without compensation constitutes an aggravated felony, notwithstanding that the record does not show that the defendant was convicted of conduct that would constitute a federal felony. If the Adrian Moncrieffe's conviction constitutes an "aggravated felony," he can be deported under federal statute 8 USC § 1227 [text]. The Fifth Circuit last year upheld [opinion] Moncreiffe's conviction and the classification as an aggravated felony, allowing for his deportation.
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