[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism [official website] Ben Emmerson on Friday urged [press release] the Obama administration [official website] to provide more clarity on its counterterrorism policies. While Emmerson's office recently released a statement [text] strongly in favor of the new policies laid out in a speech by US President Barack Obama, this statement reiterates the need for more clarity and specificity in the administration's policies. Specifically, Emmerson is calling for more information surrounding the drone policies be released into the public domain. The statement comes after Emmerson finished a fact-finding mission in the administration where Emmerson met with lawyers at the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency and the President's National Security Staff.
The statement comes in reference to a speech [JURIST report] Obama gave in May. The Obama administration's counterterrorism projects have been highly criticized. In April Pakistan declared US drone strikes are illegal [JURIST report] and directed Pakistan's Foreign Ministry [official website] to introduce a resolution against such attacks in the UN. Also in April JURIST Guest Columnist David Frakt of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law argued that the Obama administration should release those detainees [JURIST op-ed] held at Guantanamo Bay who have already been declared to not be a danger to the US. Also last month UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] called for US authorities to close down the Guantanamo prison camp [JURIST report], emphasizing the continued indefinite incarcerations of many detainees as a clear violation of international law.
[JURIST] US District Judge David Campbell on Thursday refused to reconsider stopping an order [JURIST report] by Governor Jan Brewer [official website] denying driver's licenses to young immigrants who have been granted work permits. Campbell has yet to schedule a trial [Reuters report] on the merits of the contention that the policy instituted by Arizona's Department of Transportation [official website] is illegal. Until such a ruling is issued, participants of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [official website] program will remain unlicensed. Federal officials estimate that potentially 80,000 Arizonans are eligible.
[JURIST] The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, on Thursday emphasized [press release] in a speech to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that efforts to mask the human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory cannot disguise how Israel's actions are endangering Palestinians' daily lives. Falk observed that since Israel began occupation of Palestine 46 years ago that Israel has detained approximately 750,000 Palestinians or roughly 20 percent of the Palestinian population. Falk is scheduled to present a report concerning Israel's blockade in Gaza [BBC backgrounder] to the UNHRC on June 10.
Conflicts between Israel and Palestine continue to raise concern of possible human rights violations. In March a UN rights experts called for Israel to cease all settlement activity and immediately withdraw settlers [JURIST report] from Palestinian territories due to the possibility of human rights abuses. In December the UN called on Israel to implement and support [JURIST report] the conflict-ending cease fire agreement with Palestinians in Gaza. Last August Amnesty International [advocacy website] urged Israel to investigate [JURIST report] the alleged mistreatment of two Palestinian prisoners currently on hunger strike.
[JURIST] The Obama administration on Thursday urged [text, PDF] the US Supreme Court [official website] to limit the scope of its review of the case challenging the president's power to temporarily fill vacancies in government offices. The government laid out its arguments limiting the scope of the case in the reply brief filed in National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] in which the lower court ruled such appointments were unconstitutional. The Supreme Court is set to decide if it will accept the government's petition to review the decision. Noel Canning contends that the court should review if the Senate's pro forma sessions held last January prevented it from being in recess. The government's reply brief claims:
The effect of the Senate's pro-forma sessions on the length of its recess was the principal question addressed by the parties in the court of appeals, ... and it is assuredly important. But that question was not resolved by the court of appeals, and it has not yet been resolved by any court, though it might be a ground of decision in any of several cases that are currently pending in the courts of appeals.
Because the issue was not addressed in the lower court, the government contends it should not be addressed in the Supreme Court's review.
The writ of certiorari was filed [JURIST report] in April. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] in January that the recess appointment of three members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) by President Barack Obama was unconstitutional. The case was brought by a bottler and distributor of Pepsi-Cola products in Washington state challenging the NLRB after the Board affirmed a decision that the distributor violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) [text]. In addition, two business advocacy groups filed motions contesting the constitutionality of the president's recess appointments [JURIST reports] in January 2012. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] defended the use of recess appointments [CRS backgrounder, PDF] by Obama immediately after his announcement. The DOJ's memo argues that although the Senate met between January 3 and 23, the sessions were not sufficient to constitute an interruption of a recess under the Recess Appointment Clause because they were only pro forma sessions that lasted less than a minute and there was no intent to conduct any business.
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