JURIST Legal News

JURIST's legal news service, powered by a team of over 40 law student reporters and editors led by Professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
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Luisa Ortega Díaz, Venezuela's deposed chief prosecutor, filed a complaint on Thursday with the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official site] calling for the arrest [press conference video, in Spanish] and trial of top Venezuela officials for crimes against humanity. These officials include, President Nicolás Maduro [official website], Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López, and Interior Secretary Néstor Reverol. Díaz alleged that "8,290 deaths took place between 2015 and June 2017 on government orders." She also charged the government officials with "over...
A US District judge declared a mistrial in New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez's [official profile] federal corruption trial on Thursday after questioning the 12 jurors. Following several hours of deliberation, the jury announced that they were "hopelessly deadlocked" [Reuters report] in a note [WP report] sent before noon that read: "We cannot reach a unanimous decision. Nor are we willing to move away from our convictions." The three-year investigation into Menendez was helmed by the Justice Department (DOJ) [official website]...
On Thursday UNSMIL chief Ghassan Salamé [bio] suggested [press release] to the United Nations Security Council [official website] that a joint tribunal should be considered to try individuals suspected of war crimes in Libya. In the speech to the Security Council the chief expressed views that Libya is in a state of lawlessness with crimes being committed each day. Salamé stated [Libya Herald report], "If Libyans alone cannot combat impunity for war crimes, it is time for the international community...
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] on Thursday denied [order, PDF] the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) [Official website] petition seeking to put a hold on a district court's order requiring the DHS to provide additional justification for ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) [official materials] program. The district court had ordered the DHS to provide additional justification for the decision to end DACA. DHS had previously provided 256 pages of documentation...
Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy site] on Friday released a report [press release] detailing humanitarian crisis incidents that may amount to war crimes in the Philippines. The report [report, PDF link] is titled ‘The Battle of Marawi’: Death and destruction in the Philippines and is a look at the five month battle that occurred in Marawi earlier this year. AI found that during the siege of Marawi [JURIST report], civilians were murdered while the the Philippine army battled the Islamic State...
[JURIST] The US House of Representatives [official website] approved HR 1 [text, PDF], a bill which will overhaul the US tax code, by a vote of 227-205 [NYT report] on Thursday. The bill proposes a $1.5 trillion dollar tax cut for business and individuals throughout the country. The legislation currently proposes a cut in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. This would be a permanent drop in the tax rate with no set expiration date. Additionally,...
The chief judge of the EU's rule of law mission in Kosovo, Malcom Simmons, resigned Thursday over frustrations with corruption, he alleged in an interview [text, in French] with the French newspaper Le Monde. The mission, known as EULEX, exists to promote the rule of law in Kosovo, mentor lawyers and judges in that young nation's justice system, and participate in trying sensitive cases, specifically war crimes. The British judge Simmons says the reality of EULEX is a political mission...
Russia's State Duma [official website, in Russian], the lower house of parliament, voted unanimously [legislative materials, in Russian; legislative materials, in Russian; legislative materials, in Russian] Thursday to require foreign media organizations to label their materials as the work of foreign agents. Additionally, the law could potentially force media organizations to disclose [AI report] their sources of funding, finances and staffing. Two broadcasters with ties to the US, which operate seven regional affiliates throughout Russia, stated they received letters [Current...
An unnamed transgender woman being held in an all-male prison in Massachusetts filed suit [complaint, PDF] Wednesday alleging unfair treatment. The lawsuit, filed by GLAD Legal Advocates and Defenders [advocacy website] in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts [official website], names the Massachusetts Department of Correction, Commissioner Thomas A. Turco III, MCI-Norfolk [official website] Superintendent Sean Medeiros, Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator James M. O'Gara Jr., and Assistant Deputy Commissioner of Clinical Services Stephanie Collins. Jane Doe's...
An LGBT rights activist filed a federal lawsuit [complaint, pdf] Monday challenging a Tennessee law [text, pdf] that allows counselors to refuse to serve clients based on religious views. The law, signed in April 2016 [JURIST report] by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam [official website], allows therapists to refuse to treat patients based on religious objections, when that patient's "goals, outcomes or behaviors" conflict with the counselor's "sincerely held principles." The lawsuit was filed by activist Bleu Copas, a former Arabic...
A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri issued an order [text, PDF] Wednesday placing restrictions on how the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department may interact with protesters. The order states that the City of St. Louis will not give the police the authority or discretion to declare an unlawful assembly against protesters unless they are posing an imminent, violent threat. They also may not declare an unlawful assembly for the purpose of punishing people...
PennLive's Wallace McKelvey tours Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District, calling it "one of the nation's most gerrymandered." The Seventh spans a wide swath of southeastern Pennsylvania, from the Delaware border in to the suburbs outside Reading. While we're talking about the federal and state court cases challenging Pennsylvania's district lines, it's worth considering the actual communities at issue. McKelvey's report is part of the Over the Line? collaborative between PennLive, WITF, Keystone Crossroads and other Pennsylvania public media organizations "taking a...
Five House Democrats on Wednesday introduced [press release] five new Articles of Impeachment [text, PDF] against President Donald Trump. Tennessee Representative Steve Cohen [official website] sponsored the measure, joined by Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, Al Green of Texas, Marcia Fudge of Ohio, Adriano Espaillat of New York and John Yarmuth [official websites] of Kentucky. The representatives submitted five Articles of Impeachment [official summary], alleging that Trump obstructed justice through the firing of former-FBI Director James Comey, received foreign foreign payments...
The Cambodia Supreme Court dissolved the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) [party website, in Khmer], the nation's primary opposition party, on Thursday, effectively opening the door for Prime Minister Hun Sen [BBC profile] to extend his 30-year reign as leader of the nation. The ruling follows the arrest of CNRP's leader Kem Sokha following accusations that the party was plotting to overthrow the current government with the help of the US government. The court has also imposed a five-year ban...
A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Wednesday ruled [opinion, PDF] for the city of Philadelphia in a dispute over Attorney General Jeff Sessions withholding federal law enforcement grants in response to the city's refusal to adhere to his heightened immigration security measures. In granting Philadelphia's motion for preliminary injunction, the court stated, "[Session]'s implementation of two of the conditions for receiving the ... grant ... were issued without appropriate authority under the...
Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday accused [report] the Myanmar military of committing sexual crimes against Rohingya women and girls. HRW conducted interviews with 52 women and girls who fled from the Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships. Twenty-nine of them were identified as survivors of rape. Survivors reported experiences of gang rape, and murder of children and elderly.There was also one case of sexual violence against a male. In addition to interviewing 52 female refugees, HRW also consulted with 17 representatives...
An Egypt court on Wednesday upheld the life sentence [JURIST report] of 74-year-old Mohamed Badie, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood [party website], convicted in 2015 for his role in the 2013 attack on a Port Said police station that resulted in the death of five individuals. The court also upheld [Reuters report] life sentences against seven other individuals, while handing out 10-year sentences to 39 individuals and three-year sentences to 19 others. Badie and 88 other Muslim Brotherhood members were...
Attorneys general from 44 states on Tuesday signed a letter [text, PDF] asking Congress to repeal the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act [text, PDF], which they claim prevents the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) from using effective drug enforcement efforts. The National Association of Attorneys General sent the letter to Republican and Democratic leaders in light of an investigation earlier this year that revealed the disabling effects of the Act on the DEA in preventing pharmaceutical companies from...
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein [official website] called [press release] Wednesday for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to deal with those protesting the general election time change in accordance with international human rights laws and standards. The protests are in response to a publication of the electoral calendar that stated the general elections would again be pushed back to December 2018. The original date for the presidential election was set to take place in...
Colombia's Constitutional Court [official website] on Tuesday ruled [judgment, PDF, in Spanish] that provisions for special justice tribunals outlined in the 2016 peace accord between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were constitutional. The Final Agreement to End the Armed Conflict and Build a Stable and Lasting Peace [text, English translation] is the second recent attempt to obtain peace between Colombia's government and rebel forces. Chapter 5 of this modified peace accord, Comprehensive System for Truth,...

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