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Israel is defending itself in the United Nations’ highest court Thursday against allegations that it is committing genocide with its military campaign in Gaza.

South Africa asked the International Court of Justice to order Israel to immediately stop the war, alleging it has violated the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which was drawn up in the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust.

The convention defines genocide as acts such as killings “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”

South Africa’s 84-page filing says Israel’s actions “are genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part” of the Palestinians in Gaza.

It asks the ICJ for a series of legally binding rulings declaring that Israel is breaching “its obligations under the Genocide Convention,” and ordering Israel to cease hostilities, offer reparations, and provide for the reconstruction of all it has destroyed in Gaza.

The filing argues that genocidal acts include killing Palestinians, causing serious mental and bodily harm, and deliberately inflicting conditions meant to “bring about their physical destruction as a group.” And it says Israeli officials have expressed genocidal intent.

During opening arguments, South African lawyers said the latest war is part of decades of Israeli oppression of Palestinians.

Many South Africans, including President Cyril Ramaphosa, compare Israel’s policies regarding Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank with South Africa’s past apartheid regime of racial segregation. Israel rejects such allegations.

Israel, which was founded in the aftermath of the Holocaust, has denounced the genocide claim. The Foreign Ministry said South Africa’s case lacks legal foundation and constitutes a “despicable and contemptuous exploitation” of the court.

Eylon Levy, an official in the Israeli prime minister’s office, accused South Africa of “giving political and legal cover” to the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas that left some 1,200 people in southern Israel dead and triggered Israel’s campaign.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with the war until Hamas is crushed and the more than 100 Israeli hostages still held by the militant group in Gaza are freed. He’s said that could take several months.


A labor court in Bangladesh’s capital sentenced Monday Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus to six months in jail for violating the country’s labor laws.

Yunus, who pioneered using microcredit to help impoverished people, was present in court and was granted bail. The court gave the defense 30 days to appeal.

Grameen Telecom, which he founded as a non-profit, is at the center of the trial. Sheikh Merina Sultana, head of the Third Labor Court of Dhaka, said in her verdict Yunus’ company violated labor laws: 67 of Grameen Telecom employees were supposed to be made permanent, and the employees’ participation and welfare funds were not formed. She also said that following company policy, 5% of the company’s dividends were supposed to be distributed to staff.

Sultana found Yunus, as chairman of the company, and three other company directors guilty, sentencing each to six months in jail. Grameen Telecom owns 34% of the country’s largest mobile phone company, Grameenphone, a subsidiary of Norway’s telecom giant Telenor.

The Nobel laureate is also facing an array of other charges involving alleged corruption and fund embezzlement.

Yunus’ supporters believe the charges were filed to harass him amid a wider complex political context and frosty relations with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Bangladesh’s governmnet has denied the allegations.

Monday’s verdict came as Bangladesh is preparing for its next general election on Jan. 7, amid a boycott by the country’s main opposition, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, Hasnina’s arch enemy. The party said they didn’t have any confidence in the premier’s administration to hold a free and fair election.

In August, more than 170 global leaders and Nobel laureates in an open letter urged Hasina to suspend all legal proceedings against Yunus.

The leaders, including former U.S. President Barack Obama, former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and more than 100 Nobel laureates, said in the letter that they were deeply concerned by recent threats to democracy and human rights in Bangladesh.


A top state lawyer on Thursday urged the Indiana Supreme Court to uphold the state’s Republican-backed abortion ban, even as the justices weighed whether they should decide its constitutionality before lower courts have fully considered the case.

The state’s highest court heard arguments in a lawsuit filed by abortion clinic operators against the ban, which has been blocked from being enforced since September when a county judge found it likely violated privacy protections under the state constitution.

Indiana became the first state to enact tighter abortion restrictions after the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated federal protections by overturning Roe v. Wade in June.

The arguments being made before the Indiana justices come after the top courts in two other conservative states went in opposite directions on similar state constitutional challenges to their abortion bans; South Carolina’s ban was struck down and Idaho’s was upheld.

Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush asked whether the Supreme Court should now decide the constitutionality of the abortion ban since it has been blocked by a judge’s preliminary injunction order — a legal step taken without a full trial on the merits of the lawsuit.

State Solicitor General Tom Fisher said a Supreme Court decision on constitutionality was needed to settle the dispute.

“Our position is that there’s no likelihood of success on the merits because there’s no right to abortion in Indiana,” Fisher said.

The Indiana ban, which eliminated the licenses for all abortion clinics in the state, includes exceptions allowing abortions at hospitals in cases of rape and incest, before 10 weeks post-fertilization; to protect the life and physical health of the mother; and if a fetus is diagnosed with a lethal anomaly.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which is representing Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinic operators challenging the ban, argued that the ban violates the state constitution’s protections of liberty “to manage one’s own life.”

“A central component of that interest is the right of a woman to make intensely private decisions concerning procreation,” said Ken Falk, the group’s Indiana legal director. “I would ask this court, what would the founders say if tomorrow the General Assembly passes a law which says Hoosier women can only have two children? Or all of us Hoosiers, we could only receive health care for substantial and irreversible impairment of major bodily functions, nothing else?”

The state attorney general’s office has argued that Indiana had laws against abortion when its current constitution was drafted in 1851 and that the judge’s ruling wrongly created an abortion right.

Fisher said the ACLU was asking Indiana courts “to recognize a novel, unwritten, historically counter-indicated right to abortion.”

The five-member Supreme Court, all of whom were appointed by Republican governors, faces no deadline for releasing a decision, and it typically takes weeks or longer.

The question of whether the Indiana Constitution protects abortion rights is undecided. A state appeals court ruled in 2004 that privacy is a core value under the state constitution that extends to all residents, including women seeking an abortion.

But the Indiana Supreme Court later upheld a law requiring an 18-hour waiting period before a woman could get an abortion without addressing whether the state constitution included the right to privacy or abortion.


An Egyptian court on Sunday handed down life prison sentences to 38 people, including a self-exiled businessman whose social media posts helped to spark anti-government protests.

Public protests are rare in Egypt where President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has overseen a wide-ranging crackdown on dissent. But a series of video and other social media posts by Egyptian businessman Mohamed Ali, who now lives in Spain, led to scattered street demonstrations in September 2019 over allegations of corruption and other issues.

Twenty-three of those who got life terms were tried in absentia, including Ali, according to an Egyptian criminal court handling terrorism-related cases.

The court also sentenced 44 others including children to terms ranging from five to 15 years in prison over the same charges. Twenty-one were acquitted, according to defense lawyer Ossama Badawi.

Those sentenced were convicted of a set of charges that included inciting violence against security forces and state institutions. The case stemmed from the 2019 protests in the port city of Suez that sits at the mouth of the Suez Canal.

Authorities arrested hundreds of people at the time in Cairo and across the country. Many were released but others were referred to trials.

Rights groups have repeatedly criticized such mass sentencings in Egypt and called on authorities to ensure fair trials.

Egypt’s government has in recent years jailed thousands of people, mainly Islamists, but also secular activists involved in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.


The highest court in Massachusetts said in a decision Monday that allowing doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to mentally competent patients with terminal illnesses is not protected by the state constitution.

“Although we recognize the paramount importance and profound significance of all end-of-life decisions, after careful consideration, we conclude that the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights does not reach so far as to protect physician-assisted suicide,” the Supreme Judicial Court wrote in its decision. “We conclude as well that the law of manslaughter may prohibit physician-assisted suicide, and does so, without offending constitutional protections.”

The high court, while noting the sensitive nature of the case, said the ultimate decision on physician assisted suicide — also known as medical aid in dying — lies with the state Legislature.

The court said “every one of us is free to vote and encourage our legislators to enact laws, and to craft appropriate procedural safeguards, with respect to one of the only human experiences that will affect us all.”

The suit was originally filed in 2016 by Dr. Roger Kligler, a retired physician with stage 4 prostate cancer, and another doctor who feared prosecution on manslaughter charges if he prescribed end-of-life medications to terminally ill patients.


Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Wednesday called a special session for the Republican-controlled Legislature to repeal the state’s dormant 173-year-old law banning abortion, a move that’s more likely to win him political points with his Democratic base in a reelection year than it is to result in a repeal.

Republicans legislators support banning abortion and are not obligated to take any action during the special session. They ignored other special session that Evers called asking them to take action on issues such as gun control, increasing school funding and sending rebate checks to taxpayers.

“This isn’t about politics — it’s about empathy, compassion, and doing the right thing,” Evers said in a statement. “It’s about making sure the people we care about get the healthcare they need when they need it.”

All of the Republicans running in the Aug. 9 primary to challenge Evers support a total ban on abortion, with no exceptions for circumstances such as rape or incest. Republicans are expected to retain their strong legislative majority following the November election.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Republican Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu did not immediately reply to messages seeking their reaction to Evers’ special session call. Vos told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in May that he would like to see exceptions for rape and incest if Wisconsin’s ban on abortion takes effect, signaling future political fights over the scope of the ban should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Evers called on the Legislature to meet on June 22 to repeal the dormant 1849 law that makes abortion a criminal offense except to save the recipient’s life. If the Supreme Court repeals repeals Roe, as was detailed in a leaked draft opinion, the state law would go back into effect.


Three more nations on Tuesday joined an international investigation team probing war crimes in Ukraine, and the International Criminal Court prosecutor said he plans to open an office in Kyiv, amid ongoing calls for those responsible for atrocities since Russia’s invasion to be brought to justice.

Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia signed an agreement during a two-day coordination meeting in The Hague to join Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine in the Joint Investigation Team that will help coordinate the sharing of evidence of atrocities through European Union judicial cooperation agency Eurojust.

ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said the teamwork underscores the international community’s commitment to the rule of law.

“I think it shows that there is this common front of legality that is absolutely essential, not just for Ukraine ... but for the continuation of peace and security all over the world,” he said.

Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has been widely condemned as an illegal act of aggression. Russian forces have been accused of killing civilians in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha and of repeated attacks on civilian infrastructure including hospitals and a theater in the besieged city of Mariupol that was being used as a shelter by hundreds of civilians. An investigation by The Associated Press found evidence that the March 16 bombing killed close to 600 people inside and outside the building.

Since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, the AP and PBS series Frontline have verified 273 potential war crimes.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has denounced killings of civilians as “genocide” and “war crimes,” while U.S. President Joe Biden has called Russian President Vladimir Putin “a war criminal” who should be brought to trial.

The team that met Monday and Tuesday at Eurojust’s headquarters in The Hague was established in late March, a few weeks after the ICC opened an investigation in Ukraine, after dozens of the court’s member states threw their weight behind an inquiry. Khan has visited Ukraine, including Bucha, and has a team of investigators — the largest team of prosecutors ever deployed by the international court — in the country gathering evidence.

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