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Legal news from Saturday, May 1, 2010




UN SG urges Central African nations to adopt anti-arms trafficking treaty
Haley Wojdowski on May 1, 2010 12:37 PM ET

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[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] on Friday urged [statement] Central African nations to adopt a legally binding instrument to combat illicit arms trafficking. Ban noted that there is a strong correlation [UN News Centre report] between arms trafficking and illicit activities, "[y]et Central Africa remains one of the few African subregions without a legally binding instrument to combat the phenomenon." Ban also stated that adopting such a document would be "a milestone step that would help to reduce violence and bring undeniable peace and security dividends to your States."

Arms trafficking has slowed progress towards goals of peace the Central Africa subregion. In March, UN officials warned [UN News Centre report] that arms trafficking was interfering with developments in security and justice by increasing cross-border crime. Also in March, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) [official website] reported [UNODC report] that Africa is the most profitable market and suffers the most casualties as a result of the global illicit arms trade market, which is worth $200-$300 million annually.




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Germany court orders release of secret Nazi files
Haley Wojdowski on May 1, 2010 11:43 AM ET

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[JURIST] A German federal court [official website, in German] on Friday ruled that the government has no legal basis [press release, in German] for keeping files on top Nazi [JURIST news archive] official Adolf Eichmann secret, ordering their release. Argentinian journalist Gabriele Weber filed suit in order to get the documents released, arguing [AP report] that the documents could fill gaps about Eichmann's postwar life. The government argued that the release of documents could potentially harm relations with foreign intelligence agencies [DW report] that provided some of the information. The court rejected the government's arguments, also noting that it would give the office of Chancellor Angela Merkel a chance to present further arguments against the release of the files.

The Holocaust continues to effect today's legal world. Last month, the Regensburg District Court in southern Germany convicted British Bishop Richard Williamson [JURIST report] of incitement for denying the Holocaust and ordered him to pay a 10,000 euro fine. In March, a German court sentenced [JURIST report] former Nazi SS member Heinrich Boere to life in prison for the 1944 murders of three Dutch civilians. In November, a German court began the trial [JURIST report] of accused Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk [NNDB profile, JURIST news archive], marking the first time a Nazi war crimes trial will focus on a low-ranking foreigner rather than a commander. In August, a German district court sentenced [JURIST report] former Nazi army officer Josef Scheungraber to life in prison for the 1944 reprisal killing of 10 Italian civilians. Scheungraber was convicted on 10 counts of murder and one count of attempted murder for ordering soldiers to blow up a barn in Falzano di Cortona, Tuscany, after forcing 11 civilians inside.




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US trade office names Canada, Russia, China as countries with 'inadequate' IP protections
Michael Kraemer on May 1, 2010 11:28 AM ET

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[JURIST] The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) [official website] on Friday placed Russia, China, and Canada [JURIST news archives] on its Priority Watch List [text, PDF] of 12 countries that are not adequately protecting intellectual property rights [press release]. The USTR stated that the Chinese, on the list for the sixth straight year, are using preferential government procurement to advance "indigenous innovation," which could restrict market access for foreign technology. The report found particularly troubling the pace of Russia, on the list for the thirteenth year, in fighting optical disc and Internet piracy, marketing approval for pharmaceutical products, general deterrence of piracy, counterfeiting, strengthening border enforcement, and aligning its legal system to the intellectual property right norms. Additionally, the US found that Canada, listed for the second straight year, needs to provide its border agents with the ability to seize suspected infringing materials without a court order. USTR Ambassador Ron Kirk [official profile] said:
Intellectual property theft in overseas markets is an export killer for American businesses and a job killer for American workers here at home. USTR's Special 301 report is important because it serves as the foundation for a year-round process used to secure meaningful reforms that bolsters our exports and supports American jobs in IPR-intensive industries. I am pleased that this year's Special 301 Report will highlight several successes in the fight against intellectual property theft. The Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland have taken significant steps to clamp down on piracy and counterfeiting and will be removed from the Watch List.
While Russia, Canada, and China have been criticized as the worst violators of US copyright law, other countries on the list include Algeria, Argentina, Chile, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Thailand, and Venezuela. The US-based International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), a consortium of seven trade associations representing 1,900 US companies producing and distributing copyrighted materials, expanded on the 2010 USTR report by detailing specific violations [press release, PDF] by Canada, China, and Russia. The IIPA found that the number of violations had increased over the past year due to what it called the "explosive growth of online and mobile piracy."

In March, the Canadian government pledged to strengthen copyright laws [JURIST report]. Last year, the USTR placed Canada on its priority watch list [JURIST report] for the first time. In January 2009, a dispute settlement panel of the World Trade Organization (WTO) [official website] found for the US [JURIST report] that large parts of China's intellectual property scheme are inconsistent with its obligations under several international treaties, including the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) [text].




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Arizona governor signs bill amending controversial immigration law
Jaclyn Belczyk on May 1, 2010 11:01 AM ET

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[JURIST] Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) [official website] on Friday signed into law a bill [HB 2162 materials] designed to clarify the recently passed immigration law [SB 1070 materials]. The original bill, signed into law [JURIST report] last week, makes it a crime to be an undocumented immigrant and requires police to question anyone whose immigration status appears suspect. It caused intense controversy, with opponents claiming that it mandated racial profiling. The new bill includes several clarifications designed to alleviate those concerns. One provision includes strengthening restrictions against using race or ethnicity as the basis for questioning by police, while another specifies that law enforcement officers can only question a suspect's immigration status if the suspect has already been stopped while enforcing another law. Upon signing the amendments, Brewer said [statement]:
Taking into consideration questions and concerns that have been expressed about the SB1070 legislation I signed last week, today I signed HB 2162 which defines and clarifies even further the proper implementation and enforcement of the law. These changes specifically answer legal questions raised by some who expressed fears that the original law would somehow allow or lead to racial profiling. These new amendments make it crystal clear and undeniable that racial profiling is illegal, and will not be tolerated in Arizona.
Both bills are set to take effect on July 29.

Earlier this week, two lawsuits were filed [JURIST report] challenging the new law. Also this week, Mexican President Felipe Calderon [official website, Spanish] strongly criticized [JURIST report] the new immigration law, claiming that the measure opens the door to intolerance and hatred. US President Barack Obama has also criticized the law [JURIST report], calling for federal immigration reform. Under the law, it is designated a crime to be in the country illegally, and immigrants unable to verify their legal status could be arrested and jailed for six months and fined $2,500.




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