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Legal news from Thursday, January 26, 2006

Annan chides Kosovo for delays in meeting international standards
Lisl Brunner on January 26, 2006 8:35 PM ET

[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned Thursday that Kosovo [UN Interim Administration website, JURIST news archive] has not moved quickly enough to implement international standards of human rights, democraticization, ethnic tolerance and law enforcement. The Serbian province, under UN administration since the end of the Kosovo conflict in 1999 that forced out the Yugoslav military and allowed the return of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanian refugees, is struggling to meet criteria that will determine its future status. While its ethnic Albanian majority is pushing for independence, local Serbs have thusfar objected to self-rule [JURIST report] that they feel would leave them vulnerable to discrimination and violence. International negotiations regarding the future status of Kosovo were temporarily put off when President Ibrahim Rugova [Wikipedia profile] died [BBC report] of lung cancer last week at 61. Rugova was Kosovo's first president and leaves no apparent successor. Reuters has more.

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Pakistan president says US air strike violated sovereignty
Lisl Brunner on January 26, 2006 7:40 PM ET

[JURIST] Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf [official website, BBC profile] has complained to Washington that the United States violated its sovereignty in a recent air strike on a village near the Afghanistan border. The failed January 13 attack [Gulf Times report] by a CIA Predator drone was intended for key Al Qaeda operatives but killed 18 Pakistani villagers. In Islamabad, some legislators are calling for the expulsion of the US ambassador, while protesters have burned US flags in the streets. Speaking to reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Thursday, Musharraf said that the attack violated an agreement that Pakistan would deal with operations within its borders. CNN has more. From Pakistan, the Daily Times has local coverage.

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French high court to rule on law putting positive spin on colonialism
Lisl Brunner on January 26, 2006 7:14 PM ET

[JURIST] France's highest judicial authority will rule on a controversial measure requiring French history teachers to stress the positive aspects of French colonialism. President Jacques Chirac [official profile] announced [press release] Thursday that he would refer the law [text], passed in February 2005, to France's Constitutional Court [official website] after stating his opposition [JURIST report] earlier this month. Criticism surrounded the law even before the November riots [JURIST report] that enveloped some of the Paris suburbs, and it has strained relations with Algeria, who in December asked the French government to apologize [JURIST report] for crimes committed during its colonization there. UPI has more. Le Monde has local coverage [in French].

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BREAKING NEWS ~ Kerry to try Alito filibuster
Jeannie Shawl on January 26, 2006 5:55 PM ET

[JURIST] CNN is reporting that Democratic Senator John Kerry, joined by Edward Kennedy and perhaps other Democrats will attempt a filibuster to block the US Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel Alito [JURIST news archive]. Kerry, currently in Switzerland attending the World Economic Forum, is trying to raise support for the strategy, which would block a confirmation vote. Republicans would need 60 votes to overcome any filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has scheduled a cloture vote [Senate backgrounder] for Monday afternoon, that if successful, would end debate on the nomination. A final vote would then be held Tuesday morning. CNN has more.

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FTC imposes record fine on ChoicePoint in data-loss case
Joshua Pantesco on January 26, 2006 4:52 PM ET

[JURIST] The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [official website] announced [FTC press release] Thursday that ChoicePoint [corporate website] will be required to pay $10 million in civil penalties and $5 million to customers affected by last year's identity theft incident [JURIST report] as a result of making false and misleading statements to consumers regarding their information safety policies. The FTC charged ChoicePoint with violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act [text] by misrepresenting the security of their information database. As a result of a security weakness in the ChoicePoint database, hackers gained access to the personal information of over 163,000 ChoicePoint customers, leading to at least 5,000 cases of identity theft. The settlement obligates ChoicePoint to conduct comprehensive background checks for every business requesting access to the database, to establish and maintain a more effective information security system, and requires that outside security professionals audit the system every year until 2026. Read the complaint [PDF text] and the final judgement and order [PDF text]. CNET has more.

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Judge throws out challenge to Army 'stop-loss' policy
Joshua Pantesco on January 26, 2006 4:23 PM ET

[JURIST] A federal judge Tuesday dismissed [order text] a lawsuit brought in 2004 by two US Army National Guard [official website] soldiers that claimed the Army fraudulently induced them to enlist by failing to inform them that they could be forced to remain on active duty indefinitely. Judge Royce Lamberth of the US DC District Court ruled one case moot as the soldier voluntarily re-enlisted after filing suit, and held that with respect to the second claim, no evidence supported the allegation that Army recruiters used misleading sign-up tactics, and that to the contrary, the contract clearly stated the Army's right to indefinitely extend the reservist's active duty committment. Read Lamberth's opinion [PDF text]. Reuters has more.

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Senate Democrats urge appointment of special counsel for Abramoff probe
Joshua Pantesco on January 26, 2006 3:36 PM ET

[JURIST] US Senate Democrats Charles Schumer (D-NY) [official website] and Ken Salazar (D-CO) [official website] Thursday urged US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile] to appoint a special counsel to lead the investigation of Jack Abramoff [JURIST news archive] and his allegedly corrupt connections [JURIST report] with more than 20 Republican congressmen, staffers, and White House aides. Though Schumer and Salazar said that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] has adequately handled the investigation so far, they argued in a letter [text and press release] that appointment of an independent investigator was "not only justified, but necessary" in light of evidence suggesting that Abramoff had organized at least one White House meeting with presidential aides while Gonzales served as White House counsel. Earlier this month, Abramoff pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges [JURIST report] and to separate conspiracy, tax evasion, and mail fraud charges [JURIST report] as required by a plea bargain [PDF text] where he will receive a reduced sentence in exchange for future testimony in the ongoing Congressional bribery investigation. The lead prosecutor in the case, Noel Hillman, was nominated [press release; AP report] Wednesday by President Bush to a federal judgeship in New Jersey, and DOJ officials say Hillman will step down from the case next week. AP has more.

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West Virginia governor signs mine safety law
James M Yoch Jr on January 26, 2006 2:55 PM ET

[JURIST] West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin [official website] signed [press release] a mine safety bill Thursday S. 247 [text] requiring mines to provide wireless emergency communicators, tracking devices and extra air supplies to their miners. The West Virginia Legislature [official website] on Tuesday unanimously approved the bill [JURIST report], which also sets up a new accident rapid-response system and establishes fines for mines that do not comply with emergency reporting guidelines. State mine officials are expected to start work immediately on drafting the rules for the law, but no deadline for compliance by mines has been set. AP has more.

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Saddam to sue Bush, Blair over alleged 'war crimes'
James M Yoch Jr on January 26, 2006 1:52 PM ET

[JURIST] Khalil Dulaimi, chief defense lawyer for Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] said Thursday following up on earlier defense statements [JURIST report] that the ousted Iraqi leader intends "very soon" to sue US President George W. Bush, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld [official profile] and British PM Tony Blair [official profile] in the new International Criminal Court for abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib [JURIST news archive] and authorizing the use of outlawed weapons, such as depleted uranium artillery shells, white phosphorous, napalm and cluster bombs. The US is not a party to the Rome Treaty [text] establishing the court, but the United Kingdom is. In December, in his address [JURIST video] accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature, British playwright Harold Pinter called for Bush and Blair to be arraigned before the ICC, although he noted "Bush has been clever. He has not ratified the International Criminal Court of Justice." Aljazeera has more.

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UK Lords reject effort to increase terror detention limit
Jeannie Shawl on January 26, 2006 1:33 PM ET

[JURIST] An effort to increase the detention period for terror suspects in the UK from 28 days to 60 days was defeated Wednesday in the House of Lords [official website] by a vote of 210-108. Under current law [Criminal Justice Act 2003, amending the Terrorism Act 2000], terror suspects can be held without charge for 14 days, and a new anti-terror proposal [text] would increase the detention period to 28 days. UK Prime Minister Tony Blair had pressed for a 90-day detention, but members of the House of Commons in November voted against the proposal [JURIST report], marking Blair's first defeat in the Commons. Labour backbencher Lord Sewel led efforts to allow 60-day detentions, arguing that the longer period would allow police and intelligence agents to collect key evidence. BBC News has more.

 Op-ed: The UK Terrorism Bill: Defending Democracy's Core Values [UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke]

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Three indicted for ecoterrorism in California
James M Yoch Jr on January 26, 2006 1:30 PM ET

[JURIST] US Attorney McGregor Scott [official profile] of the Eastern District of California [official website] has announced the indictments of three people for on federal charges of conspiracy to use fire or explosives to damage property. The three defendants, who could be sentenced from five to twenty years if convicted, allegedly targeted a dam and fish hatchery and the US Forest Service's Institute of Forest Genetics [official website] near Sacramento and will be arraigned Thursday. Although the trio allegedly planned the attacks for the extremist ecology group Earth Liberation Front (ELF), they are not known to be connected to the eleven individuals indicted [JURIST report] last week for a series of arsons committed in the name of ELF and the Animal Liberation Front between 1996 and 2001. AP has more.

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EU probe of CIA prisons may ask Cheney, Rumsfeld to testify
James M Yoch Jr on January 26, 2006 1:19 PM ET

[JURIST] The European Parliament [official website], which has launched an investigation [press release; JURIST report] into allegations [JURIST report] that the CIA illegally operated secret jails in Romania and Poland and covertly flew detainees through Italy, Germany and Poland, said on Thursday that it may request US Vice President Dick Cheney [official profile] and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld [official profile] to testify before the committee. MEP Sarah Ludford [official profile], vice-president of the committee, confirmed that the parliament has no legal authority to subpoena the US officials, but she also posited that refusal to testify would allow the 46-member committee, which appointed officers [EP press release] on Thursday, to "draw conclusions" about the alleged US human rights violations. The US government has defended its actions as proper [JURIST report] despite accusations from Human Rights Watch and other organizations that the US operated the prisons and ordered extraordinary renditions [JURIST news archive]. AP has more.

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European rights assembly condemns crimes of communist-era regimes
Holly Manges Jones on January 26, 2006 12:23 PM ET

[JURIST] Parliamentarians of the Council of Europe [official website], often referred to as Europe's human rights watchdog body, have approved a resolution [text] which condemns crimes committed by communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe [COE press release] during the Cold War [BBC backgrounder]. The Council's Parliamentary Assembly on Wednesday labeled the crimes as "massive violations of human rights" and agreed that "those victims of crimes committed by totalitarian Communist regimes who are still alive deserve sympathy, understanding and recognition for their suffering." The resolution was extensively debated and the decision to approve it reopened a sensitive issue in the newly formed democracies of Europe, which have tended to focus on the Council more than most Western Europe states who were part of the pre-enlargement European Union. The Guardian has more.

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South Korea court says US companies liable for making Agent Orange
David Shucosky on January 26, 2006 12:02 PM ET

[JURIST] The Seoul High Court on Thursday ordered Dow Chemical [corporate website] and Monsanto [corporate website] to pay $65.2 million in damages for the negligent manufacture of defoliants used during the Vietnam War, including Agent Orange [Wikipedia backgrounder]. The money is to go to over 20,000 Korean veterans who were exposed to the chemicals. Dow and Monsanto settled a 1984 US lawsuit alleging that their products caused cancer, deformities, and organ dysfuncton for $180 million. They maintain that they produced the chemicals according to US government specs and that no connection between the chemicals and the alleged harms has ever been proven. Despite the ruling, jurisdiction issues and the amount of time passed since the end of the war may severely restrict damage collection by individual veterans. Reuters has more. The Korea Herald has local coverage.

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Bush: 'no doubt' NSA domestic surveillance program legal
Holly Manges Jones on January 26, 2006 11:52 AM ET

[JURIST] In a press conference [transcript; recorded video] Thursday, US President George Bush continued his administration's defense of the controversial domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive], saying the program is legal and indicating that he may resist proposals by Congress to change it. Responding to a question on the surveillance program, Bush said:

There's no doubt in my mind it is legal.... There's no doubt in my mind there are safeguards in place to make sure the program focuses on calls coming from outside the United States in, with an al Qaeda -- from a -- with a belief that there's an al Qaeda person making the call to somebody here in the States, or vice versa -- but not domestic calls.

So as I stand here right now I can tell the American people the program is legal, it's designed to protect civil liberties, and it's necessary. Now, my concern has always been that in an attempt to try to pass a law on something that's already legal, we'll show the enemy what we're doing. And we have briefed Congress -- members of Congress. We'll continue to do that, but it's important for people to understand that this program is so sensitive and so important, that if information gets out to how it's -- how we do it, or how we operate, it will help the enemy. And so, of course, we'll listen to ideas. But, John, I want to make sure that people understand that if it -- if the attempt to write law makes this program -- is likely to expose the nature of the program, I'll resist it. And I think the American people understand that. Why tell the enemy what we're doing if the program is necessary to protect us from the enemy? And it is. And it's legal. And we'll continue to brief Congress. And we review it a lot, and we review not only at the Justice Department, but with a good legal staff inside NSA.
AP has more.

Previously in JURIST's Paper Chase....

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Canadian Conservative MP promises armed border guards
David Shucosky on January 26, 2006 11:38 AM ET

[JURIST] A high-ranking Canadian MP likely to be named to a Cabinet position in the new Conservative party government [JURIST report] of Prime Minister-elect Stephen Harper said Wednesday that the party would honor its campaign pledge to arm Canadian border guards after an incident [CBC report] in British Columbia on Tuesday, when some unarmed guards with the Canadian Border Services Agency [official website] left their posts after receiving word that two murder suspects were headed their way from California. Vic Toews [official website], the party's Justice Critic while in opposition, said arming the guards "[is] simply a practical matter of how soon these officers can be trained and the firearms issued to them." Canadian labor laws allow workers to refuse to work if they feel they are in imminent danger. The two suspects were eventually arrested after a gun battle with US border agents. A vice president of the union representing the border guards said he was glad that Toews has suggested the change. A June 2005 Canadian Senate report [PDF text] recommended that border guards be armed as one of several reforms to Canadian border security policy. The Conservative party has promised to put more emphasis on crime and security issues as it takes over from the old Liberal party government of Prime Minister Paul Martin. AP has more.

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Alito law clerks support nomination in meeting with Bush
David Shucosky on January 26, 2006 11:27 AM ET

[JURIST] President Bush Wednesday met with a group of former law clerks to Judge Samuel Alito [JURIST news archive], describing them as people with a "wide range of political views", all of whom support Alito's nomination to the US Supreme Court. Addressing the press afterwards, Bush said:

... he has the strong support of all 54 of his former clerks, regardless of their political beliefs. Judge Alito has earned broad support from his fellow judges on the 3rd Circuit. Seven of them took the extraordinary step of testifying on his behalf before the Senate Judiciary Committee. ...

All these brilliant legal minds are united in their strong support of Sam Alito. And in his confirmation hearings, the American people saw why. Judge Alito is open-minded and principled. He gives every case careful attention, and he makes decisions based on the merits. Judge Alito understands that the role of a judge is to interpret the law, not to advance a personal or political agenda. Judge Alito is a man of character and integrity. Judge Alito will bring to the Supreme Court a broad range of experience and accomplishment. ...

There's no doubt about Judge Alito's qualifications, his intellect, or his complete dedication to our Constitution and laws. He is exactly the kind of person Americans want on the Supreme Court.

The Senate has a constitutional responsibility to give every judicial nominee an up or down vote. In its 216 year history, the Senate has held an up or down vote on every Supreme Court nominee with a majority of Senate support. And I call on the United States Senate to put partisanship aside and give Judge Alito the up or down vote he deserves and to confirm him as the next associate justice of the Supreme Court.
Bush's remarks [text] come as Senate debate on the nomination continues. Alito's confirmation seems only a matter of time [JURIST report] as a majority of senators have announced their support for the nomination. A vote by the full Senate is expected either late this week or early next week. AP has more.

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Leaked e-mails show British PM pushed for ban of Islamic parties after bombings
Holly Manges Jones on January 26, 2006 11:20 AM ET

[JURIST] UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke [official profile] was pressured by Prime Minister Tony Blair [official website] to ban two Islamic parties in Great Britain after the July 2005 London bombings [JURIST news archive], according to civil service e-mails leaked [New Statesman article] to a British magazine. The e-mails indicate that Blair wanted to ban the radical Islamic party Hizb-ut-Tahrir [official website, English version] and an affiliated party, but that British intelligence officers refused to take part in the "political decision." Another e-mail indicated that Clarke pushed for a delay of the ban until proposed amendments to anti-terror legislation regarding groups involved in "justifying and glorifying violence" had been considered by the British Parliament. The leaks are expected to pose further problems for as he pushes his Terrorism Bill proposal [text] through Parliament, and may also lead to an investigation within the civil service to uncover the source of the leaks. A spokesman from the civil rights group Liberty [advocacy website] praised Clarke for being able to "spot an illegality when it is waiting to happen." The Independent has more.

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Moussaoui lawyers granted access to pre-9/11 US documents
David Shucosky on January 26, 2006 11:05 AM ET

[JURIST] A federal judge has said that the government must turn over documents detailing what the US knew before the attacks to defense lawyers for Zacarias Moussaoui [JURIST news archive], in an order [PDF text] made public on Wednesday. In 2005, Moussaoui pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to conspiracy charges [indictment] in connection with the attacks. The sentencing phase will begin next month. Prosecutors are seeking the on the theory that if had originally told investigators what he knew about al Qaeda's plans, the attacks could have been prevented. Defense lawyers will now have access to threat assessments and other documents relating to Moussaoui's arrest in order to make their counterargument that the government had more information than he could have provided and still couldn't prevent the attacks. The jury can sentence Moussaoui to either death or life imprisonment. AP has more.

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Japan high court rejects appeal by smokers against tobacco company
Holly Manges Jones on January 26, 2006 11:04 AM ET

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Japan [official website, English version] Thursday rejected an appeal by six smokers who sued the Japanese government and a maker for illnesses they claim were caused by their smoking habits over a 33- to 50-year period. Japan's high court affirmed a 2003 lower court ruling that acknowledged was hazardous to an individual's health but did not find a causal connection between smoking and the men's illnesses. The six men, three of whom have died since filing the suit in 1998, were seeking a total of $518,000 from the Japanese government and Japan Tobacco [corporate website], the world's third largest tobacco producer. Last year, began mandating stronger warning labels on cigarette packages. Reuters has more.

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Palestinian PM resigns after Hamas victory in 'completely fair' elections
Jeannie Shawl on January 26, 2006 9:32 AM ET

[JURIST] Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei [BBC profile] and members of his Fatah party Cabinet submitted their resignations Thursday after initial results from Wednesday's parliamentary elections - the first in ten years - appeared to give the militant Hamas [MIPT backgrounder] movement a majority of seats in the 132-member Palestinian Legislative Council [official website]. Official results will be announced by the Central Election Commission [official website] at 7 PM local time Thursday [CEC press release]. There have been no major fraud allegations [AP report] and former US President Jimmy Carter, who led a team of international observers [NDI materials; Carter Center materials] said that the vote was "completely honest, completely fair, completely safe and without violence."

The US considers to be a terrorist organization [State Department backgrounder and list], and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that the US position has not changed [AP report] despite the election results. Hamas leaders are known for their steadfast unwillingness to negotiate with Israel and the election of a Hamas majority has put current peace negotiations in doubt. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas [BBC profile], also a member of , has said previously that he too will resign if he is unable to pursue a peace policy with Israel. A Hamas victory signals a major political shift in the region and an internal break with the legacy of late Fatah founder Yasser Arafat [Nobel profile], the first president of the Palestinian National Authority [official website]. AP has more.

3:01 PM ET - According to preliminary results [press release] from the Central Election Commission, Hamas won 76 seats in the 132-member parliament. Fatah won 43 seats and the remaining 13 seats went to smaller parties and independent candidates. Voter turnout was almost 75 percent. BBC News has more.

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Leahy calls for DOJ clarification on Google subpoena
Cathy J. Potter on January 26, 2006 8:51 AM ET

[JURIST] Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official website], ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has asked US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to clarify the steps being taken to protect the privacy of American citizens after a Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] subpoena for information about internet searches [JURIST report] from Google and other Internet search engines was made public. In a letter [PDF text] to Gonzales released Wednesday, Leahy asked about the types of information being sought and how the department intends to use the information, noting "strong public concern over the government's monitoring of Internet communications and warrantless eavesdropping on the telephone conversations of American citizens." The Senator said the collection and potential use of such information by government agencies raised serious concerns about "excessive government surveillance that may intrude upon important privacy interests and chill the exercise First Amendment-protected speech and associational interests." The DOJ is seeking the information in order to prepare a case defending the 1998 Child On-Line Protection Act [text]. America Online, Yahoo and Microsoft have complied with similar subpoenas. The DOJ's request to force Google's compliance with the subpoena is pending before a California court. Reuters has more.

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Uganda judge refuses to dismiss treason charge against opposition leader
Cathy J. Potter on January 26, 2006 8:02 AM ET

[JURIST] Ugandan High Court Justice John Bosco Katutsi [official profile] has denied a defense motion to dismiss treason charges [JURIST report] against opposition leader Kizza Besigye [BBC profile] on the grounds of vagueness. Defense lawyers had argued that the charges, alleging Besigye's involvement in a plot to overthrow the government, failed to identify the ringleader and offered no details of the alleged conspiracy. The court rejected the motion to dismiss and ordered the government to present amended charges on February 3. is also charged with rape [JURIST report]. In that trial, also being presided over by Katutsi, the prosecution rested its case Wednesday and defense lawyers declined to respond. Besigye also faces terrorism and weapons charges [JURIST report] that will be tried in military court after proceedings in the civil court are concluded. He has denied all charges, asserting they are politically motivated. Besigye remains on the ballot as the main opposition candidate challenging President Yoweri for president, but will be removed if convicted of any of the charges. Elections are scheduled for February 23. AFP has more. From , the Daily Monitor has local coverage.

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Kyrgyz PM asks parliament for control of police agencies after death threat
D. Wes Rist on January 26, 2006 7:37 AM ET

[JURIST Europe] Kyrgyz Prime Minister Felix Kulov [BBC profile] has appealed to the Parliament to grant him control of parts of the Interior Ministry that govern the nation's police agencies. alleges that a recent crime wave, including the murders of three members of parliament, is due to ineffective enforcement by the courts, prosecutors, and the state police agency, the SNB. The takeover bid follows Kulov's claim that he had specific knowledge of a death threat against himself that the SNB had failed to follow up. The Parliament has yet to respond to the request. In November, the country's prosecutor-general said the central Asian nation was on the verge of anarchy [JURIST report] and could go out of control if authorities failed to deal with organized crime and chaotic protests. Since former president Askar Akayev's ouster [JURIST report] in March 2005, Kyrgyzstan has also been plagued by prison riots and the seizure of the Supreme Court building [JURIST report] by an angry mob. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Kyrgyzstan [JURIST news archive]. Reuters has more.

D. Wes Rist is Bureau Chief for JURIST Europe, reporting European legal news from a European perspective. He is based in the UK.

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Moscow court to hear Adamov detention appeal
D. Wes Rist on January 26, 2006 7:26 AM ET

[JURIST Europe] The City Court has announced that it will hear an appeal from former Russian nuclear minister Yevgeny Adamov [Kommersant profile; JURIST news archive] concerning a lower court decision to extend his custody until April 12. Adamov's lawyer has challenged the lower court's decision as excessive and has said he will ask the court to release him on bail. was extradited from Switzerland [JURIST report] in December and Russian prosecutors claim that he represents a flight risk. Adamov is charged with fraud and abuse of office in and also has charges pending against him in the US, where he allegedly embezzled over $9 million (USD) from the US Department of Energy. Itar-Tass has local coverage.

D. Wes Rist is Bureau Chief for JURIST Europe, reporting European legal news from a European perspective. He is based in the UK.

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US releases five Iraqi women detainees
Cathy J. Potter on January 26, 2006 7:19 AM ET

[JURIST] The US military on Thursday announced the release of 419 Iraqi detainees [press release], including five women detainees [JURIST report]. The decision to release the detainees followed a review by the Combined Review and Release Board [press release], an Iraqi-led panel that includes representatives from the Iraqi Ministries of Human Rights, Justice and Interior and the US military. The are to be released Thursday and Friday from detention facilities near . US officials insisted that the release of the five Iraqi women was part of routine procedures and had no links to the case of Jill Carroll [CNN profile; CSM updates], an American reporter abducted in Baghdad on January 7. Carroll's kidnappers threatened to kill her last Friday unless all women prisoners were released. There has been no word of her fate. US officials have previously confirmed [JURIST report] that eight women are being held at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison [JURIST news archive] and has since acknowledged detaining two more women for allegedly taking part in insurgent activities in Mosul. Reuters has more.

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International brief ~ UN to help Lebanon set up Hariri assassination tribunal
D. Wes Rist on January 26, 2006 5:22 AM ET

[JURIST] Leading Thursday's international brief, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said that he's sending UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Nicolas Michel [official profile] to Lebanon to assist government officials there in identifying the "nature and scope of the international assistance" needed to create a tribunal charged with trying those accused of killing Prime Minister Hariri and others in February 2005. Michel and the UN Office of Legal Affairs [official website] are authorized to lend assistance under UN Security Council Resolution 1644 [official PDF text], which recognizes the need for an international tribunal into the political killings in Lebanon and grants the Secretary-General power to assist Lebanese officials in creating the court. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of the Hariri assassination probe [JURIST news archive]. The UN News Centre has more.

In other international legal news ...

  • In an op-ed [text] published Wednesday in the Washington Post, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on the UN Security Council [official website] to make a "firm decision" concerning the creation of a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur [JURIST news archive], Sudan. Annan praised the work of the 7,000 member African Union [official website] peacekeeping force already in the country, but said that those troops were underfunded, understaffed, and lacked a clear mandate to contain the violence. The current UN Mission in Sudan [official website] is tasked with enforcing the provisions of the January 2005 peace accords between the Khartoum government and the now autonomous South Sudan; it has no authority to act in Darfur. Annan's statement came on the heels of a similar call [JURIST report] Tuesday by the head of the UN refugee agency for an established UN presence. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Sudan. The UN News Centre has more.

  • Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] Wednesday released a six-month report [text] on Libya's compliance with international human rights standards that praised its progress but urged other world governments not to ease pressure on the country to improve its record. The report, based primarily on a June to July 2005 visit to Libya, the first allowed to a human rights NGO in nearly two decades, additionally chastised the North African state for its continued incarceration of political prisoners, lack of an independent judiciary, and the absence of free and impartial elections, and urged the government to change domestic legislation limiting the right to free speech. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Libya [JURIST news archive]. Read HRW's press release accompanying the report. South Africa's Mail & Guardian Online has local coverage.

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For more legal news check the Paper Chase Archive...


Unprecedented Notice of Warrantless Wiretapping in a Closed Case
Ramzi Kassem
CUNY School of Law

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible, ad-free format.


Paper Chase welcomes comments, tips and URLs from readers. E-mail us at JURIST@jurist.org