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Legal news from Saturday, July 23, 2005




London police say shot man not bomber; Brazilian government protests
Bernard Hibbitts on July 23, 2005 6:56 PM ET

[JURIST] London's Metropolitan Police Service announced in a statement [text] Saturday that a man originally said to be a suicide bomber shot dead by plainclothes police at point blank range [JURIST report] at the Stockwell Tube station in London Friday was not connected with any of the London bombings and that the service regretted the "tragedy." The man killed was identified as Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian national. British Muslim associations have expressed "deep concern" over the killing [Muslim Council of Britain press release] and have called for the review of police guidelines on dealing with potential terrorists and suicide bombers. In a statement the Brazilian government said it was shocked by the incident and has protested to UK authorities. The shooting has been referred to the UK's Independent Police Complaints Commission. BBC News has more.






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Pakistan uses new antiterror law to crack down on militants
Christopher Tate on July 23, 2005 3:52 PM ET

[JURIST] Pakistani officials said Saturday that they will use their enhanced Anti-Terrorism Act to try over 100 members of militant Islamic factions detained in the Punjab province this weekend. The crackdown comes shortly after the revelation that the bombers implicated in the July 7 attacks in London [JURIST report] were of Pakistani descent and had travelled to Pakistan prior to the bombings. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has criticized Britain for not doing enough to deal with violent Islamic fundamentalism within its own borders [BBC report]. Reuters has more.






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Revised version of UN reform plan defines terror, empowers Council to stop genocide
Christopher Tate on July 23, 2005 3:49 PM ET

[JURIST] UN officials have released a revised version of plans to reform the 60-year old organization and its mandate, articulating for the first time a definition of terrorism ("the targeting and deliberate killing of civilians and noncombatants") to ground a new anti-terror convention and authorizing the UN Security Council [official website] to step in to stop genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity "should peaceful means prove insufficient and national authorities be unwilling or unable to protect their populations." AP has more. Other continuing proposals focus on Security Council enlargement and an overhaul of the Human Rights Commission [official website]. The report is to be considered by world leaders at a meeting on September 14-16, and is based on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's March report In Larger Freedom [official text, JURIST report]. AFP has more.






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Iranian judiciary reports human rights violations in prisons
Christopher Tate on July 23, 2005 3:47 PM ET

[JURIST] The Iranian judiciary [official website, English version] released a report Saturday detailing what it called widespread instances of human rights violations, from solitary confinement to physically coerced confessions. A law passed last year banning torture is frequently ignored, according to the report, confirming criticisms of Iranian prisons by watchdog groups [Amnesty report]. Reuters has more.






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California court rejects electricity regulation initiative
Christopher Tate on July 23, 2005 3:23 PM ET

[JURIST] California's Third District Court of Appeal [official website] ruled late Friday that Proposition 80 [PDF], a ballot initiative that would expand the power of the California Public Utilities Commission [official website], violated the state constitution and struck it from the November ballot. Because Article 12 {text] of the California Constitution gives plenary power to the Legislature to control PUC activity, the court held, a ballot initiative aimed at a statutory revision would violate the Constitution on its face. Both sides have promised an appeal. This was the second referendum rejected by a California court this week; the Superior Court rejected Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Proposition 77 on redistricting [JURIST report] Thursday. AP has more. The University of California has in-depth coverage of energy policy in California.






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Nepal soldiers from UN Congo mission convicted of sexual abuse
Holly Manges Jones on July 23, 2005 12:03 PM ET

[JURIST] A senior Royal Nepalese Army [official website] official said Saturday that six Nepalese soldiers who were part of a UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo [BBC country profile] have been convicted of sexual abuse. The United Nations last year implemented new measures to reduce such situations from occurring, such as making it easier for women to come forward with allegations of abuse and imposing curfews for soldiers from member states on UN missions. AFP has more.






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Government refuses to comply with order to release Abu Ghraib photos
Holly Manges Jones on July 23, 2005 11:27 AM ET

[JURIST] US Department of Defense [official website] lawyers have refused to comply with a federal judge's order to release pictures and videotapes [JURIST report] documenting the abuse of Abu Ghraib prisoners, alleging release "could result in harm to individuals." Judge Alvin Hellerstein had ordered the information be released as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit [complaint, PDF] filed by the American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] to investigate allegations of abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay. Hellerstein had previously rejected the Defense Department's contention that releasing the photos and videos would violate the Geneva Convention because the depicted prisoners would be identified and "further humiliated." The ACLU alleges that the government is withholding four videos and 87 photographs in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal [JURIST news archive]. Read the ACLU press release. The New York Times has more.






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Kerry calls for release of Supreme Court nominee Roberts' GOP files
Holly Manges Jones on July 23, 2005 9:59 AM ET

[JURIST] US Senator John Kerry (D-MA) [official website] called on the White House Friday to release the complete file of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts [JURIST report] during the time he served in two Republican administrations. Democrats are seeking the documents in part to learn of Roberts' role during the 2000 presidential election recount in Florida. Kerry said, "We cannot do our duty if either Judge Roberts or the Bush administration hides elements of his professional record." Democrats also said that they want all materials on Roberts currently at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library [official website] in California regarding his position in the White House counsel's office during 1982-1986. Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] Democratic spokesperson Tracy Schmaler did not confirm the disclosure but said Democrats are generally requesting information on Roberts' career. AP has more.






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Congressional investigators say TSA violated Privacy Act
Holly Manges Jones on July 23, 2005 9:58 AM ET

[JURIST] The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) [official website] has violated the 1974 Privacy Act [text] by collecting personal information on nearly 250,000 people without their knowledge, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) [official website] report [PDF] released Friday. Congressional investigators said the TSA was testing a program called Secure Flight which checks airline passengers for potential matches on terrorist watch lists via a computerized system. The Privacy Act requires any government entity to inform the public of collection activities by saying what information they are gathering and for whom, why it is being gathered, and where it will be stored. According to the GAO report, the TSA gathered approximately 100 million records saying it would only use limited data received on passengers from airlines, but the agency actually began to privately create files on individuals to compare to the terrorist lists. Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) [official websites] wrote a scathing letter [press release] to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff [official profile] saying "careless missteps such as this jeopardize the public trust." AP has more.






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