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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[JURIST] The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] issued a report [text, PDF] on Wednesday highlighting the human rights violations abuses that have been committed in Venezuela amid this year's anti-government protests. Since the beginning of April, the Attorney General has reportedly initiated [press release] at least 1,958 investigations into reported injuries occurring during protests, with such injuries increasing in severity as months have passed. More than 5,000 protestors have been detained since April,...
Uber [corporate website] confirmed on Tuesday that they are currently under investigation by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] for bribing foreign officials. The DOJ is seeking to determine whether Uber operated in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act [text, PDF] over the course of the company's rapid expansion into foreign countries. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prohibits the bribing of foreign officials as well as having an intent to bribe said officials. It is not clear...
Former prison nurse Jesse Vroegh filed a lawsuit [complaint] in Polk County District Court on Monday under the Iowa Civil Rights Act [text, Ch. 216] and equal protection clause of Iowa Constitution [text, Art. I, Section 6] claiming the Iowa's Department of Corrections (DOC) discriminated against him due to his transgender identity. Vroegh claims he was denied access to men's restrooms, men's lockers rooms, and health care coverage for a "medically necessary surgery" despite the fact that the DOC offers...
[JURIST] A Nevada homeowner on Monday filed suit [complaint, PDF] against Wells Fargo & Co [corporate website] in a San Francisco federal court accusing the bank of falsely charging consumers certain mortgage fees. Borrowers applying for mortgages must usually pay a rate-lock extension fee [Reuters report] to set a promised interest rate beyond a certain time period when there has been a delay in the approval process. Customarily, Wells Fargo waives such extra fees when the fault can be attributed...
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein on Tuesday urged [press release] people to refrain from violence against Myanmar security forces, for authorities to adhere to human rights law, and for authorities to prohibit use of provocative media usage in the northern regions of Rakhine state. According to Zeid, the acts of violence committed in northern Rakhine against Myanmar security forces could have been "predicted and could have been prevented" due to "decades of persistent and systematic...
[JURIST] Multiple UN experts on Tuesday urged [press release] all member states to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance [text, PDF] as the rates of enforced disappearances are increasing in multiple countries in every region around the world. The experts argued that in today's political climate, it is unacceptable that enforced disappearances, a wide-spread practice in which persons are secretly abducted or even imprisoned by state actors or third parties acting with the...
[JURIST] The California Supreme Court [official website] issued a 5-2 ruling [opinion, PDF] on Monday that will make it easier for the state to get tax propositions on ballots. The court's ruling relied on its interpretation of Proposition 218 [materials], a constitutional initiative approved by California voters in 1996 that was intended to assure that all taxes on Californian tax payers would have to gain a two-thirds voter approval before going into effect. The ruling will now limit this two-third...
In an open letter[text] addressed to representatives of the Member and Observer States [materials] of the United Nations Humans Rights Council [official website], 56 national, regional and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) called for an "independent, international inquiry" into violations of human rights in Yemen [OHCHR profile]. The letter refers to reports [materials] from September 2015 and September 2016, which address the increasing violence between Saudi Arabia-backed supporters of exiled President Hadi, and the Houthi governement led by President Saleh, which...
[JURIST] The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) [official website] voiced [press release] its concerns on Tuesday regarding the lack of drinking water accessible to children in war torn countries. According to UNICEF, more than 180 million people are cut off [UN News Centre report] from water in countries of conflict including Yemen, Syria and Nigeria. Generally, inhabitants of these countries are four times more likely to lack safe water than people in other countries. In such countries, UNICEF reports that water...
[JURIST] Chile's president, Michelle Bachelet [official profile, PDF] introduced a bill on Tuesday that would legalize same-sex marriage. Bachelet said [press release] "We believe that it is not ethical or just to place artificial limits on love or deny essential rights based solely on the sex of the partners." The marriage bill would also allow same-sex couples to adopt children. The bill must now be approved by Congress. According to the Washington Post, it is "unlikely" [WP report] that Congress...
Human rights groups on Monday filed suits against Jagath Jayasuriya, a former Sri Lanka army general, for alleged war crimes and human rights violations he committed during the 2009 civil war in Sri Lanka. The suits are based on his role as a commander in the Sri Lanka military during the final phase of the government's conflict against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [Britannica backgrounder]. The suits allege [AP report] that Jayasuriya supervised units that are responsible for...
[JURIST] In a periodic report [text, PDF] published on Friday, the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) [official website] expressed concern about the racist speech used by politicians and neo-Nazi groups in Russia. According to the report, such speech often targets Central Asians, the Roma, migrants and people of African descent. While the report found that racist violence has decreased, it still remains a problem in sports. The UN also stated that the Russian police continues to...
A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] on Monday questioned [audio recording] the Justice Department lawyer representing the Trump administration in a hearing over the executive order restricting immigration from certain countries. Popularly known as the "travel ban," the Trump administration policy restricts refugee and general travel from six predominantly-Muslim nations in the stated-interested of national security. Though the Supreme Court defined [JURIST report] what was permissible under the program, there continues...
[JURIST] Kenya's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission [official website] allegedly failed to follow a Supreme Court order on Tuesday requiring the electoral commission to grant the opposition computer access to verify controversial election results. According to Raila Odinga, head of the National Super Alliance (NASA) [party website], the recently re-elected President Uhuru Kenyatta falsely won 54 percent of the vote [NYT report] due to hacking of the commission's servers. Following a challenge from the opposition, the Supreme Court ordered on...
The US Supreme Court [official website] on Monday stayed [order, PDF] a lower federal court order invalidating two congressional districts. The US District Court for the Western District of Texas [official website] had found [JURIST report] Districts 27 and 35 invalid pursuant to the Voting Rights Act [text, PDF] and the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution [text], after finding that the two districts were drawn with an intention to undermine minority voters. Specifically, judges Smith, Garcia and Rodriguez declared District...
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner [official bio] signed into law on Monday a bill to limit detention of immigrants and another to simplify voter registration. The first, Senate Bill 31, also known as the TRUST Act [text, PDF], limits local local law enforcement's authority in detaining immigrants based on citizenship status. Critics of the bills say this will make Illinois a so-called "sanctuary state" because it contradicts federal law. The TRUST Act will not, however, prevent detention of these individuals when...
Since the Kenyan presidential election on August 8, more than 12 people have been killed and more than 100 have been badly injured due to serious human rights violations [HRW report], Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported Monday. Following the announcement of Uhuru Kenyatta's [official twitter] reelection, protests broke out in Nairobi, Coast, and the western counties of Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, and Homabay, which HRW says led to unlawful killings and beatings and house-to-house operations by police. In western Kenya, protesters...
A Kenyan ban [Kenya Gazette, PDF] on plastic bags officially went into effect [press release, PDF] Monday, six months after it was announced in February. The ban applies to Kenyans producing, selling or using plastic bags and carries a punishment of up to USD $40,000 or imprisonment of up to four years. Although the ban has a wide target audience, it will initially be enforced to target manufacturers. The plastic bags covered under the ban include carrier bags with handles...
US President Donald Trump signed an executive order [White House executive orders website] on Monday that will lift an Obama-era directive [text] that restricted local police agencies' access to military equipment. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke Monday morning to the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) [union website] outlining the president's new executive order. The FOP and other law enforcement groups have led the push to reverse the Obama administration policy in order to better respond to local unrest. The Trump...
Kenya Supreme Court ordered the election commission on Monday to allow Raila Odinga's National Super Alliance (NASA) and Uhuru Kenyatta's Jubilee Party limited access to its computer servers and electronic devices to assess the vote-count for themselves to verify the election's integrity. According to the election commission, Kenyatta won a second five-year term, which was substantiated by independent monitors of a sampling of 2,000 polling stations. Odinga's supporters allege that the results from more than one-third of the polling stations...

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