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  Human Rights - Legal News


Human rights victims who suffered during the rule of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos filed petitions Monday asking the Supreme Court to order the exhumation of his remains that were buried last week at the country's Heroes' Cemetery.

They also want the court to hold officials and his heirs in contempt for carrying out the burial before the court heard final appeals against it.

Former President Fidel Ramos, who played a key role in the peaceful army-backed revolt that ousted Marcos in 1986, called the former leader's burial at the military-run cemetery "an insult" to the sacrifices of soldiers and veterans.

Left-wing former lawmaker Saturnino Ocampo and other activists urged the court to hold Marcos' widow Imelda, their three children, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and two military officials in contempt for "the hasty, shady and tricky" burial on Friday of the long-dead president at the Heroes' Cemetery.

The petition said they should be fined and detained for mocking the legal process that gave petitioners 15 days to appeal the court's Nov. 8 ruling allowing the burial.

Opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman, who represents another group of petitioners, sought a court order to have the remains exhumed "because the hasty and surreptitious interment was premature, void and irregular."

He asked that the remains be examined to determine if they are not a wax replica. The secrecy-shrouded burial at the cemetery reserved for presidents, soldiers and national artists shocked democracy advocates and human rights victims, prompting street protests in Manila and other cities.

Marcos's rule was marked by massive rights violations and plunder. After being ousted in 1986, he flew to Hawaii, where he lived with his wife and children until he died in 1989.



A defense attorney touched off a protest about race and free expression in a Las Vegas courtroom when she refused to remove a "Black Lives Matter" button from her blouse despite a judge's request not to demonstrate what he called "political speech."

Clark County District Court Judge Douglas Herndon asked Erika Ballou, a deputy public defender who is black, to remove the button or leave the courtroom and turn the case she was handling over to another lawyer.

"I'm asking the same thing of defense attorneys that I ask of anybody else," the judge said. "Please leave any kind of political or opinion protest statements outside the courtroom."

Ballou, with Clark County Public Defender Phil Kohn standing at her side and about a dozen defense attorneys in the audience Tuesday to show their support, insisted that she had a First Amendment right to demonstrate her opinion. She also refused to remove herself from her client's case, which the judge postponed to Thursday.

Several supporters wore a similar lapel button: Black, about the size of a silver dollar, with white letters. Attorney Jonathan MacArthur said he'll wear it again to Herndon's courtroom on Thursday.



A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that Homeland Security officials must quickly release immigrant children — but not their parents — from family detention centers after being picked up crossing the border without documentation.

The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said that lengthy detentions of migrant children violated a 19-year-old legal settlement ordering their quick release after processing. Government lawyers had argued that the settlement covered only immigrant children who crossed the border unaccompanied by adult relatives. But the three-judge panel ruled that immigration officials aren't required to release the parents detained along with the children, reversing U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee's ruling last year.

Advocates seeking stricter immigration controls said they hoped the ruling would discourage adults crossing the border illegally from exploiting children as a way to stay out of custody in the United States.

Mark Krikorian, Center for Immigration Studies executive director and an advocate for stricter border controls, said allowing the parents to be released may have encouraged illegal immigration of adults traveling with children.



Texas is doubling down on its push for court-imposed restrictions on the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state.
 
In a court filing in Dallas on Tuesday before U.S. District Judge David Godbey, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton cited a recent federal acknowledgement that U.S. officials failed to give the state advance notice that a group of refugees was being resettled there. Paxton contends the refugees haven't been sufficiently vetted for potential terrorists.

Godbey already denied the state's request for emergency court-imposed resettlement restrictions. However, he directed federal officials to give the state seven days' notice of any resettlement.

Federal officials have apologized for failure to meet the judge's conditions, calling the omission an oversight.



An anti-Muslim group cannot post ads on buses in Washington state showing photos of wanted terrorists and wrongly claiming the FBI offers a $25 million reward for one of their captures, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a claim by the American Freedom Defense Initiative that King County violated its First Amendment right to free speech by refusing to post the advertisements on buses.

The group — whose leader, Pamela Geller, organized the Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas that exploded in violence in May — has similar bus ads in other cities and has gone to court with mixed results after some transportation officials rejected them.

David Yerushalmi, the group's lawyer, said it will appeal Wednesday's ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative sought to display an ad in Washington state called "Faces of Global Terrorism," which included 16 photographs of militants with their names listed and the statement "AFDI Wants You to Stop a Terrorist." It said the FBI offers a $25 million reward to capture one of the people shown.



Canada's highest court unanimously struck down a ban on doctor-assisted suicide for mentally competent patients with terminal illnesses, declaring on Friday that "an individual's response to a grievous and irremediable medical condition is a matter critical to their dignity and autonomy."

The Supreme Court's decision reverses its own decision two decades ago and gives Parliament a year to draft new legislation that recognizes the right of consenting adults who are enduring intolerable suffering to seek medical help ending their lives. The current ban on doctor-assisted suicide stands until then.

The judgment said the ban infringes on the life, liberty and security of individuals under Canada's constitution. It had been illegal in Canada to counsel, aid or abet a suicide, an offense carrying a maximum prison sentence of 14 years

"The law allows people in this situation to request palliative sedation, refuse artificial nutrition and hydration, or request the removal of life-sustaining medical equipment, but denies the right to request a physician's assistance in dying," the ruling noted.


Website asks high court to throw out lawsuit

  Human Rights  -   POSTED: 2014/10/22 15:34

A lawyer told the Washington Supreme Court on Tuesday that a lawsuit filed by three young girls who were sold as prostitutes on a website should be thrown out because the website didn't write the ads, so it's not liable.

But the victims' lawyer said the website, Backpage, doesn't have immunity under the federal Communications Decency Act because the website markets itself as a place to sell "escort services" and provides pimps with instructions on how to write an ad that works, making them a participant in the largest human-trafficking website in the U.S.

The justices plan to rule on the case at a later date.

Before the hearing several dozen people stood in the rain on the court steps with signs that read: "People's bodies are not commodities," ''End Child Slavery" and "Stop Buying Our Girls."

"No one has the right to sell a kid for sex," said Jo Lembo, with Shared Hope International. "That's why we're here. Someone has to speak up for them. They're kids."

A similar case was filed last week in federal court in Boston, but a previous case in Missouri was dismissed, said Yiota Souras, a lawyer with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. "The Washington state case has gone further than any previous case," she said.


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