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ICC prosecutor: African states leaving court is 'regression'
Class Action News | 2016/11/26 16:49
The International Criminal Court's prosecutor said Tuesday that it is a "regression" for African nations — including her home country of Gambia — to quit the court and said the continent should work with her office to end impunity for atrocities.

Speaking to The Associated Press at the court's headquarters overlooking the North Sea on the edge of The Hague, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said regional and local courts in Africa can also play a key role in bringing perpetrators of atrocities to justice.

Bensouda's comments came as the court's governing body, the Assembly of States Parties, met nearby with the issue of departing African states figuring prominently in its discussions.

South Africa, Burundi and Gambia have announced plans to leave the court, which has 124 member states, sparking fears of a domino effect among other African nations.

"I think it's a setback for the continent, it's a regression for the continent that there are some African states that are deciding to withdraw from the ICC," Bensouda said.

However, she said that the announced withdrawals have galvanized support for the court among other African countries attending the annual gathering of member states.

"I wanted to emphasize that today during this Assembly of States Parties you have the vast majority of African states recommitting to the ICC and renewing ... support for the ICC," Bensouda said.

One way of the international court engaging with Africa is by supporting local and regional courts, Bensouda said. Her office is working with authorities in Central African Republic to help establish a court to prosecute atrocities in that conflict-torn country.



Supreme Court stays execution of Alabama inmate
Class Action News | 2016/11/04 22:22
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday night stayed the execution of an Alabama man convicted of the 1982 shooting death of a woman's husband in a murder-for-hire arrangement.

Five justices voted to stay the execution of Tommy Arthur as the high court considers whether to take up his challenge to Alabama's death penalty procedure. Arthur, 74, was scheduled to be executed Thursday by lethal injection at a south Alabama prison.

"We are greatly relieved by the Supreme Court's decision granting a stay and now hope for the opportunity to present the merits of Mr. Arthur's claims to the Court," Arthur's attorney Suhana Han said in a statement.

This is the seventh time that Arthur, who has waged a lengthy legal battle over his conviction and the constitutionality of the death penalty, has received a reprieve from an execution date, a track record that has frustrated the state attorney general's office and victims' advocacy groups.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote Thursday that he did not think the case merited a stay, but voted to grant it as a courtesy to the four justices who wanted to "more fully consider the suitability of this case for review." The execution stay will expire if the court does not take up Arthur's case.

The attorney general's office had unsuccessfully urged the court to let the execution go forward and expressed disappointment at the decision.



Court hearing on potential Ontario ban of Indians name, logo
Class Action News | 2016/10/17 03:20
A Toronto court will hear arguments on an attempt to bar the Cleveland Indians from using their team name and logo in Ontario.

The legal challenge by indigenous activist Douglas Cardinal comes on the same day the baseball team takes on the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series in Toronto.

Cardinal's lawyers will ask the court Monday to bar the usage of the name and logo by the team, Major League Baseball and Toronto team owner Rogers Communications, which is broadcasting the game in Canada.

The logo, called Chief Wahoo, is a cartoon man with red skin and a feather in his headband.

Cardinal says they shouldn't be allowed to wear their regular jerseys, the logo shouldn't be broadcast and the team should be referred to as "the Cleveland team."



Court fight over Ohio executions likely to focus on sedative
Class Action News | 2016/10/14 05:24
Ohio says it's resuming executions in January with a three-drug protocol similar to one it used for several years.

The concept is one adopted for decades by many states: the first drug sedates inmates, the second paralyzes them, and the third stops their hearts.

The key difference comes with the first drug the state plans to use, midazolam, which has been challenged in court as unreliable.

The state argues that a planned dose of 500 milligrams will ensure that inmates are properly sedated.

Defense attorneys say it's unclear what a much bigger dose would achieve.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that midazolam can be used in executions without violating the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.



Polish prosecutors investigate court head for abuse of power
Class Action News | 2016/08/18 17:57
Polish prosecutors have opened an investigation into the head of the country's Constitutional Tribunal to determine if he abused his power in not allowing judges appointed by the ruling party to take part in rulings.
 
The investigation into Andrzej Rzeplinski, which opened Thursday, is the latest development in an ongoing conflict between the Polish government and the constitutional court, whose role is similar to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The government's conflict with the court has raised international concerns about the state of democracy in Poland, and the political opposition and other critics have slammed the investigation into Rzeplinski as an attack on the separation of powers.

Amid the conflict, Rzeplinski has emerged as one of the key symbols of resistance against the right-wing government, which has moved to centralize power since winning elections last year. The investigation is seen by many as an attempt to discredit him since he enjoys, at least for now, immunity from prosecution. His term as head of the court also expires in December.



Kyrgyzstan sends case of jailed journalist back to court
Class Action News | 2016/07/12 17:24
The Supreme Court in the Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday refused to release an ethnic Uzbek journalist and activist serving a life sentence after being convicted of stirring up ethnic hatred, but instead sent his case to a regional court for review. International rights groups consider Azimzhan Askarov a prisoner of conscience.
 
The U.N. Human Rights Committee in April urged Kyrgyzstan to release Askarov, recognizing that he had been arbitrarily detained, tortured and denied his right to a fair trial. This opened the way for a reconsideration of his case, and Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Court began hearings on Monday.

The charges against Askarov relate to ethnic unrest in the south of Kyrgyzstan in 2010 when more than 450 people, mostly ethnic Uzbeks, were killed and tens or even hundreds of thousands were displaced. He is accused of inciting the mob killing of a police officer.

Amnesty International sharply criticized the court's decision on Tuesday to keep 65-year-old Askarov in prison while a lower court reviews his case.

"It's a missed opportunity for Kyrgyzstan to do the right thing by finally releasing a man who should never have been jailed in the first place. Today's decision by the Supreme Court ignores Kyrgyzstan's obligations under international human rights law," Amnesty International senior research director Anna Neistat said in a statement.


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