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Novak Djokovic returned to court on Sunday to fight an attempt to deport him because of what a government minister described as a perception that the top-ranked tennis player was a “talisman of a community of anti-vaccination sentiment.”

Three Federal Court judges hope to hear the entire case in a single day so that the men’s No. 1-ranked tennis player and nine-time Australian Open champion might begin on Monday his title defense at the first Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year.

Djokovic spent Saturday night in an immigration detention hotel after he and his lawyers met with immigration officials earlier in the day. Television footage showed the 34-year-old Serb wearing a face mask as he sat in a vehicle near the hotel Sunday morning.

Djokovic spent four nights confined to a hotel near downtown Melbourne before being released last Monday when he won a court challenge on procedural grounds against his first visa cancellation.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on Friday blocked the visa, which was originally revoked when he landed at a Melbourne airport on Jan. 5.

Deportation from Australia can lead to a three-year ban on returning to the country, although that may be waived, depending on the circumstances.

On Sunday, Federal Chief Justice James Allsop gave his reasons for rejecting Hawke’s argument that the case only warranted a hearing by a single judge.

Allsop cited Hawke’s own words that the issues behind his decision to cancel the visa “go to the very preservation of life and health of many members of the community.”

A verdict of three judges is far less likely to be appealed than the decision of a single judge.

Djokovic could not appeal a decision made on Sunday or Monday in time to compete in the Australian Open, Allsop said.


Voters in the home state of Venezuela’s late President Hugo Chávez are casting ballots again Sunday in a special gubernatorial election called after the opposition contender in November’s regular contest was retroactively disqualified as he was ahead in the vote count.

The contenders in the northwestern state of Barinas include a local opposition leader, an opposition dissident and a former foreign minister. For the first time in more than two decades, no member of Chávez’s family is on the ballot.

The disqualification of Freddy Superlano by the country’s highest court and the scheduling of the special contest raised further doubts about the fairness of Venezuela’s electoral system following the first vote in years in which most major political parties took part.

Superlano was disqualified Nov. 29 while he was ahead by less than a percentage point over incumbent Argenis Chávez, one of Hugo Chávez’s brothers. The high court, which is one of many government bodies seen as loyal to the government of President Nicolas Maduro, ignored a presidential pardon that had made Superlano and other members of the opposition eligible to run.

Barinas has long been a bastion of Chavismo, with his brother Argenis Chávez, brother Adán Chávez and father Hugo de los Reyes Chávez all serving stints as governor since 1998.

But the pull of the late president, who founded Venezuela’s ruling socialist movement, proved weak on Nov. 21. Residents said afterward that many people in Barinas are angry over long facing serious gasoline shortages, a lack basic services like gas, water and electricity, deficient health care services and hunger from food scarcity.

Argenis Chávez resigned as governor following Superlano’s disqualification and did not enter the race in the special election. The ruling party then chose former foreign minister Jorge Arreaza as its candidate.

In addition to Superlano’s disqualification, his wife, who was chosen as his successor, was disqualified. So was her substitute.

Sunday’s ballot also includes Sergio Garrido, candidate for the U.S.-backed opposition, and Claudio Fermin, an opposition dissident.


A top European court declined Thursday to rule in a high-profile discrimination case centered on an activist’s request to have a cake decorated with the “Sesame Street” characters Bert and Ernie and the words “Support Gay Marriage.”

The European Court of Human Rights said the case was inadmissible because activist Gareth Lee had failed to “exhaust domestic remedies” in his case against a Northern Ireland bakery.

It was the latest ruling in a long-running legal battle that began in 2014 when Ashers Baking Co. refused to make the cake Lee wanted.

The owners argued they were happy to bake goods for anyone but would not put messages on their products at odds with their Christian beliefs.

Lee said he was frustrated the case was thrown out on what he called “a technicality” and said that freedom of expression “must equally apply to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people.”

He originally ordered the cake to support a campaign to allow same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. The campaign succeeded when Britain’s Parliament stepped in to bring the region into line with the rest of the country. Two women who tied the knot in February 2020 became the first gay couple to wed in Northern Ireland.


The top adviser to the European Union’s highest court on Thursday said that the principle of linking the bloc’s budget disbursements to respect for rule of law is compatible with the bloc’s laws and that a challenge by Hungary and Poland should be dismissed.

The right-wing governments of both nations had argued that such action lacked a proper legal basis. Both nations, large recipients of EU funds, have come under increasing criticism over the past few years for veering away from the Western principles of the respect for rule of law in their nations.

The advice to the court precedes a full court decision, which is expected within the coming months.

The EU Commission said it took note of the advice but did not go into details.

Linking the distribution of funds to democratic principles was a key part of the EU’s decision last year to push through a massive subsidy program for the 27 member nations to overcome the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Advocate General Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona advised that the link was “adopted on an appropriate legal basis ... and respects the principle of legal certainty.”

The court said in a statement that “compliance with the principles of the rule of law may be vitally important for the sound operation of public finances and the proper implementation of the Union budget.”

Government officials in both Hungary and Poland rejected the opinion, arguing that the court was overstepping its authority in approving a new mechanism that is not described in the EU’s own treaties.


A few days after Tunisia’s president froze parliament and took on sweeping powers in July, a dozen men in unmarked vehicles and civilian clothes barged into politician Yassine Ayari’s family home overnight and took him away in his pajamas.

“These men weren’t wearing uniforms and they didn’t have a warrant,” Ayari told The Associated Press. “It was violent. My 4-year-old son still has nightmares about it.”

A 40-year-old computer engineer-turned-corruption fighter, Ayari will stand trial again in a military court on Monday, accused of insulting the presidency and defaming the army. It is the latest in a series of trials that shine a light on Tunisia’s use of military courts to push through convictions against civilians. Rights groups say the practice has accelerated since President Kais Saied’s seizure of power in July, and warn that its use further threatens hard-won freedoms amid Tunisia’s democratic backsliding.

The charges Ayari faces relate to Facebook posts in which he criticized Saied, calling him a “pharaoh” and his measures a “military coup.” Ayari intends to remain silent in court to protest the whole judicial process, according to his lawyer, Malek Ben Amor.

Amnesty International is warning of an “alarming increase” in Tunisian military courts targeting civilians: In the past three months, it says, 10 civilians have been investigated or prosecuted by military tribunals, while four civilians are facing trial for criticizing the president.

That’s especially worrying because Tunisia was long considered the only democratic success story to emerge from the Arab Spring uprisings a decade ago, and was long seen as a model for the region.


Russian authorities on Thursday turned the legal screws on one of the country’s most prominent human rights group as part of a months-long crackdown on activists, independent media and opposition supporters.

The Prosecutor General’s Office has petitioned Russia’s Supreme Court to revoke the legal status of Memorial — an international human rights group that rose to prominence for its studies of political repressions in the Soviet Union and was declared a “foreign agent” in 2016. The “foreign agent” label implies additional government scrutiny and carries strong pejorative connotations that can discredit the targeted organization.

The group tweeted Thursday that prosecutors accused it of systematically violating the “foreign agents” law, but didn’t give details about the alleged violations. In a statement on its website, Memorial’s board said there are no legal grounds for revoking the group’s legal status.

“We have repeatedly said that the (‘foreign agents’) law had been initially designed as an instrument for persecution of independent organizations, and insisted that it should be abolished,” the statement read. “This is a political decision to destroy the Memorial group — an organization focused on the history of political repressions and advocating for human rights.”

A hearing on the petition to revoke Memorial legal status has been set for Nov. 25, the group said. It wasn’t immediately clear whether it plans to continue working without being a legal entity like several other rights groups in Russia have done following earlier crackdowns.

In recent months, the Russian government has designated a number of independent media outlets, journalists and human rights groups as “foreign agents.” At least two disbanded to avoid a tougher crackdown.


The International Criminal Court is opening a formal investigation into allegations of torture and extrajudicial killings committed by Venezuelan security forces under President Nicolás Maduro’s rule, the first time a country in Latin America is facing scrutiny for possible crimes against humanity from the court.

The opening of the probe was announced Wednesday by ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan at the end of a three-day trip to Caracas.

Standing alongside Maduro, Khan said he was aware of the political “fault lines” and “geopolitical divisions” that exist in Venezuela. But he said his job was to uphold the principles of legality and the rule of law, not settle scores.

“I ask everybody now, as we move forward to this new stage, to give my office the space to do its work,” he said. “I will take a dim view of any efforts to politicize the independent work of my office.”

While Khan didn’t outline the scope of the ICC’s investigation, it follows a lengthy preliminary probe started in February 2018 — later backed by Canada and five Latin American governments opposed to Maduro — that focused on allegations of excessive force, arbitrary detention and torture by security forces during a crackdown on antigovernment protests in 2017.

Human rights groups and the U.S.-backed opposition immediately celebrated the decision. Since its creation two decades ago, the ICC has mostly focused on atrocities committed in Africa.

“This is a turning point,” said Jose Miguel Vivanco, the Americas director for Human Rights Watch. “Not only does it provide hope to the many victims of Maduro’s government but it also is a reality check that Maduro himself could be held accountable for crimes committed by his security forces and others with total impunity in the name of the Bolivarian revolution.”

It could be years before any criminal charges are presented as part of the ICC’s investigation.

Maduro said he disagreed with Khan’s criteria in choosing to open the probe. But he expressed optimism that a three-page “letter of understanding” he signed with the prosecutor that would allow Venezuelan authorities to carry out their own proceedings in search of justice, something allowed under the Rome statute that created the ICC.

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