2017-03-30 Update: Civil rights and liberties – Global Legal Monitor

France: Law to Help Youth Transition to Adulthood and to Further Equality (Mar. 20, 2017) At the end of January 2017, the French President promulgated a new law aimed at helping young people successfully transition into adulthood. (Loi n¬∞ 2017-86 du 27 janvier 2017 relative √† l'√©galit√© et √† la citoyennet√© [Law No. 2017-86 of 27 January 2017 Regarding Equality and Citizenship], LEGIFRANCE.) The law is organized around three main themes: furthering the of young people and encouraging community service (id. arts. 1-69), encouraging the mingling of social classes (id. arts. 70-152), and fighting against inequality and discrimination (id. arts. 153- 223). The first part of the law provides for the creation of a civilian reserve" corps (citoyenne g√©n√©rale") that will expand upon existing civilian reserves and allow volunteers to participate in various public service missions. (Id. art. 1.)¬† The new law also creates a new type of leave for employees in order to encourage volunteering; salaried employees will be able to claim up to six days of unpaid leave, in half-day increments, in order to fulfill leadership responsibilities in non-profit organizations. (Id. art. 10.) The French government estimates that up to two million people will be eligible for this new type of leave. ¬†(La loi et Citoyennet√©"¬†[The and Citizenship" Law], GOUVERNEMENT.FR (website of the French government) (last visited on Mar. 14, 2017).) The second part of the law includes provisions to improve the allocation of public housing, with emphasis on promoting choice of location, transparency in how housing is assigned, and encouraging the mixing of social classes. (Loi n¬∞ 2017-86 du 27 janvier 2017, arts. 70-116; La loi et Citoyennet√©," supra.) The third part of the law includes a variety of provisions meant to fight against discrimination. These include measures to help those who need to improve their mastery of the French language, a new type of public service entrance exam to promote diversity in the public service …

Pakistan: Sindh Provincial Assembly Passes Law to Establish Commission for Protection of Minority Rights (Dec. 19, 2016) In what Assembly-member Nand Kumar Goklani called victory for the entire province," Pakistan's Sindh Province Assembly has unanimously adopted a private bill to establish a commission to protect the rights of religious minorities. ¬†(Sindhi Assembly Stamps Commission for Minorities, NATION (Nov. 18, 2016).) ¬†The Sindh Minorities Rights Commission Bill, 2015, was passed on November 17, 2016, on the recommendation of a report of the Assembly's Standing Commission on Minority Affairs.¬† (A Bill for the Establishment of Sindh Minorities Rights Commission, 2015 (Minority Rights Commission Bill), Open Parliament website; Azeem Samar, Sindh Passes Bill to Establish Minorities' Rights Commission, NEWS INTERNATIONAL (Nov. 18, 2016).) The new law aimed to provide a platform to examine the grievances of minority communities, suggest mechanisms for accelerating the pace of their socioeconomic development, and promote and protect their identities at the provincial level. ¬†(Minority Rights Commission Bill, preamble.)¬† Kumar, a member of Pakistan's Hindu minority, stated that the law would also the values of religious harmony, tolerance, respect and peace, which were inherent in the creation of Pakistan." ¬†(Time for Inclusion: Law Passed to Establish Sindh Minorities Rights Commission, EXPRESS TRIBUNE (Nov. 18, 2016).) The Minority Rights Commission Bill defines 17 specific functions to be discharged by the Commission, including the examination of government policy and programs related to a variety of issues faced by minorities; review of laws and regulations affecting the status and rights of minorities, suggesting the repeal or amendment of existing laws or adoption of new laws to eliminate discrimination and promote minority welfare; undertaking of research and programs to raise the status, literacy, social interaction, and political participation of minorities in Sindh, and eliminate hate material and hate speech; investigation of specific complaint …

Australia: Police Response to Aboriginal Death in Custody and Ensuing Riot Ruled Discriminatory (Dec. 9, 2016) On December 5, 2016, the Federal Court of Australia found in favor of an Aboriginal community from Palm Island, Queensland, in a class action case involving claims that officers of the Queensland Police Service (QPS) engaged in racial discrimination in responding to a riot that took place in 2004 following the death of an Aboriginal man in police custody. (Wotton v State of Queensland (No 5) [2016] FCA 1457, Federal Court of Australia website.) The applicants also claimed that the QPS had contravened the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) (Federal Register of Legislation website)¬†in its handling of the investigation of the death in custody.¬† (Id.) Background Cameron Doomadgee (commonly called Mulrunji), a 36-year-old Aboriginal man, died in police custody on Palm Island on November 19, 2004. That morning, he had been arrested near the police station after yelling out what the arresting officer,¬†Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley, considered to be abuse directed at Hurley and an Aboriginal police liaison officer who was also on duty. Mulrunji was affected by alcohol and struggled with Hurley, leading to a fall near the door to the police station. He was then dragged and unresponsive" into a cell and died within the next hour. (Federal Court of Australia, Wotton v State of Queensland (No 5) [2016] FCA 1457: Summary (Mortimer J, Dec. 5, 2016), Federal Court of Australia website.) Mulrunji's autopsy showed that he died of major internal injuries. The coroner's preliminary report found that Mulrunji died after falling over a step. When the autopsy results were released, about a week after his death, Lex Wotton, an indigenous activist, angry residents on a riot through the town." (Palm Island Riots: Federal Court Finds Police Acted with in Racial Discrimination Lawsuit, ABC NEWS (Dec. 5, 2016).) The police station was burned down during the riot, along with the courthouse and Hurley's home. (Palm Island Death in Custody Timeline, SYDNEY MO …

Malaysia: National Security Council Act Comes into Force (Aug. 4, 2016) On August 1, 2016, the National Security Council Act 2016 came into force in Malaysia.¬† (National Security Council Act 2016 (Act 776) (NSC Act), e-Federal Gazette¬†website (official portal); National Security Act 2016 Appointment of Date of Coming into Operation, P.U. (B) 310, FEDERAL GOVERNMENT GAZETTE¬†(July 14, 2016), e-Federal Gazette website.)¬† The Act, which was passed in December 2015, has been the subject of controversy due to the extent of the powers that it assigns to the new National Security Council, chaired by the Prime Minister, and to security forces.¬† (Sumisha Naidu, Malaysia's Controversial National Security Council Act Kicks In, CHANNEL NEWS ASIA (Aug. 1, 2016).) Provisions in the Act The membership of the National Security Council consists of the Prime Minister (Chairman), Deputy Prime Minister (Deputy Chairman), the Minister responsible for defense, the Minister responsible for home affairs, the Minister responsible for communication and multimedia, the Chief Secretary to the Government, the Chief of the Defence Forces, and the Inspector General of Police.¬† (NSC Act,¬†¬ß 6.)¬† The Council has the power do all things necessary or expedient for or in connection with its functions," notwithstanding any other written law, including controlling and coordinating government entities with respect to national security operations and issuing directives to such entities on matters concerning national security.¬† (Id.¬†¬ß 5.) The Act gives the Prime Minister the power to declare an area to be a security area,based on the advice of the Council.¬† Such an area is one where security is disturbed or threatened by a person, matter or thing which is likely to cause serious harm to the people, or serious harm to the territories, economy, national key infrastructure of Malaysia or any other interest of Malaysia, and requires immediate national response."¬† (Id.¬†¬ß 18(1).)¬†¬†The declarations remain in force for six months and may be rene …

Indonesia: Proposal to Resurrect Law Against Insulting President (Aug. 14, 2015) Indonesia's President Joko Widodo has recently proposed reviving a provision that criminalizes insulting the president. The provision was in effect during the regime of Suharto, whose dictatorial rule lasted from 1967 to 1998, and punished public insults to the president with prison terms of up to five years. It was repealed by a Constitutional Court decision in 2006. The plan to reinstitute it generated considerable criticism on social media . (Outrage in Indonesia at Bid to Revive Presidential Insult Law, JAKARTA POST (Aug. 6, 2015); Suharto, President of Indonesia, ENCYCLOP√ÜDIA BRITANNICA (Jan. 16, 2015).) A similar proposal was considered in 2012 but dropped in the face of public opposition to what people viewed as its vague wording. (Indonesia: Law to Criminalize Insulting President Opposed, GHANAWEB (Aug. 5, 2015).) The provision would be revived as article 23 of a much longer law that has already been sent to the legislature. The draft article includes the words, publicly insulting the president or vice president is facing a jail term of up to 5 years." (Article on of a President' a Drag on Democracy: Jimly, ANTARA NEWS (Aug. 6, 2015).) Defense of the Proposal Widodo stated of the plan to reestablish the rule, is to protect both those who want to criticise ‚… and also the president as a symbol of the nation in the long term, not just me." (Indonesia: Law to Criminalize Insulting President Opposed, supra.) According to a government spokesman, Teten Masduki, not everyone who voices criticism would be charged with a crime. He suggested that who want to keep the government in check for the public interest will not be criminalized ‚… . But if the criticism amounts to slander, that can be charged." (Id.) Opposition to the Proposal The proposal has been criticized in the legislature and by civil society groups. Prominent opposition legislator Fadli Zon said that the draft article would violate the Constitution by limiting …

Azerbaijan: Journalist on Trial (Aug. 13, 2015) On August 7, 2015, the case of Khadija Ismayilova, a reporter for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) in Azerbaijan, was brought to trial, eight months after she was arrested on accusations of tax evasion, abuse of power, and embezzlement. Ismayilova asserts that the charges are politically motivated, following her reporting on government corruption in the country. The court rejected defense motions by her attorney, Fariz Namazli, to have the tax charge dismissed and to allow Ismayilova to sit outside the glass cage she is in for the proceedings. (Taylor Gillan, Azerbaijan Begins Reporter's Trial, PAPER CHASE (Aug. 8, 2015).) Namazli noted that the inspection related to the tax charge stopped in May and suggested that the court's inclusion of that charge was sign of particular ill-will." (Azerbaijani Journalist Ismayilova's Trial Begins in Baku, RFE/RL (Aug. 7, 2015).) The courtroom was filled to capacity with observers, largely diplomats, but all journalists, a number of activists, some other diplomats, and the defendant's family members were required to remain outside the room. (Id.) Background Ismayilova has written extensively on corruption in the family of President Ilham Aliyev. She is one of dozens of government critics, both activists and journalists, who have been arrested in what rights groups describe as repression of dissent. (Id.) Amnesty International (AI) has called Ismayilova a prisoner of conscience and states that she is outspoken investigative journalist who had published extensively on corruption and human rights violations." (Amnesty International Report 2014/15: Republic of Azerbaijan, AI website (last visited Aug. 10, 2015).) She was detained in December 2014 on suspicion of involvement in the attempted suicide of a co-worker, Tural Mustafayev; the tax, embezzlement, and abuse of power charges were added later. Mustafayev was supposed to appear at a court proceeding on April 7, but did not attend. He stated at a cou …

Turkey: Tightening of Regulation on Meetings and Demonstrations (Aug. 7, 2015) On August 5, 2015, amendments to the Regulation on Implementation of the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations were published in the Resmi Gazete, Turkey's official gazette. The amendments introduce new limits on the organization of demonstrations by individuals. (Legal Changes Introduced to Limit Holding of Demonstrations, TODAY'S ZAMAN (Aug. 5, 2015); Toplanti ve G√∂steri Y√ºr√ºy√ºsleri Kanununun Uygulanmasina dair Y√∂netmelik [Regulation on Implementation of the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations] [the Regulation] (Aug. 8, 1985, as last amended Aug. 5, 2015); Toplanti ve G√∂steri Y√ºr√ºy√ºsleri Y√∂netmeligi degisti, CNN TURK (Aug. 5, 2015).) The amended Regulation states that the route of any public meeting or demonstration march must first be shown to the district or province representatives of the political parties in the Turkish Parliament, along with the heads of the district or province and the three unions that have the highest number of members, and also to public professional organizations. Permission for a march will be given by the locality's highest civil authority, and the location of a meeting or demonstration or the route of a march can be changed if necessary to ensure public order and peace. (Mesut Hasan Benli, New Decree to Restrict Use of Assembly and Demonstration Rights in Turkey, H√úRRIYET DAILY NEWS (Aug. 5 2015); Regulation, art. 3(a).) The Regulation prescribes that a governor or district governor may delay the starting time of a meeting or demonstration by 24 hours without any advance notification given; the amended regulation newly authorizes the governor or district governor to postpone the holding of a demonstration for up to a month or to prohibit it if it poses a and imminent danger" to public order. (Legal Changes Introduced to Limit Holding of Demonstrations, supra; Regulation, art. 23.) If it is found that events occur in violation of the law during a public meeting or demonstration, the local civilian authority is to be i …

Ireland: Gender Recognition Bill Passed (July 31, 2015) On July 15, 2015, the Gender Recognition Bill 2014 was passed by the Oireachtas (Irish legislature). (Gender Recognition Bill 2014, No. 116/2014, HOUSES OF THE OIREACHTAS.) The bill was signed into law by the President of Ireland on July 22. (2015 Legislation, PRESIDENT OF IRELAND.) The bill enables transgender people to obtain full legal recognition of their preferred gender by securing a gender recognition certificate. (Gender Recognition Bill 2014, ¬ß 8.) The bill allows those over 18 to self-declare their gender change; however, those aged between 16 and 18 must undergo a court process involving the furnishing of supporting medical statements. (Government Agrees Self-Declaration Approach for Gender Recognition Bill, DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL PROTECTION (June 3, 2015).) The final version of the bill did not include the so-called divorce" provision. (Mary Minihan, Gender Recognition Bill Will Drop Divorce" Clause, IRISH TIMES (June 3, 2015).) Previously, because same-sex marriage was constitutionally prohibited, individuals applying for a gender recognition certificate could not be married. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has welcomed this development as the outworking" of the recent marriage equality referendum vote. (Rights Watchdog Welcomes Latest Outworking of Marriage Equality Vote, Irish Council for Civil Liberties website (July 16, 2015).) Prepared by Lucy Jones, Law Library Intern, under the supervision of Luis Acosta, Chief, Foreign, International, and Comparative Law Division II. …

Canada: Supreme Court Rejects Appeal of Pakistani Canadian Pilot in Discrimination Case (July 30, 2015) On July 23, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada rejected the appeal of a Pakistani Canadian pilot in a discrimination case filed against Bombardier, an aerospace company. (Quebec (Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse) v. Bombardier Inc. (Bombardier Aerospace Training Center), 2015 SCC 39, Judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada website.) Case History In 2004, Javed Latif, who held both a U.S. and a Canadian pilot's license, applied for training at Bombardier's pilot training center located in Dallas, Texas, under his U.S. license. The security clearance needed was not granted by American authorities, however, and Latif was refused the training. Latif then applied at Bombardier's Montreal center, using his Canadian pilot's license. This request was also denied by Bombardier, which based its decision on that of the U.S. authorities without knowing the motivation behind their decision. (Id. ss. 5-15.) Latif filed a complaint with the Commission des droits de l'homme et de la jeunesse (Commission for Human Rights and for Youth), citing racial discrimination by Bombardier. (Id. s. 18). The Commission initiated proceedings on behalf of Latif in the Human Rights Tribunal, under various sections of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms (COMPILATION OF QUEBEC LAWS AND REGULATIONS, c. 12 (updated to July 1, 2015), PUBLICATIONS QUEBEC); the Tribunal sided with Latif and granted him damages of about CA$320,000 (about US$247, 450). (Quebec (Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse) v. Bombardier Inc. (Bombardier Aerospace Training Center), ss. 20-25.) The Human Rights Tribunal is a specialized Quebec tribunal that has jurisdiction over discrimination and harassment complaints brought under the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. (Ann-Marie Jones, The Human Rights Tribunal, Justice Quebec website (June 25, 2015).) On appeal, the Quebec Court of Appeal rejected the decision of the Tribunal, stating th …

Canada: Ontario Court Upholds Decision to Deny Accreditation to Proposed Law School (July 10, 2015) On July 2, 2015, the Divisional Court of Ontario upheld the legality of a vote taken by Ontario's Law Society (Law Society of Upper Canada) in April that denied accreditation to the proposed law school at Trinity Western University. (Trinity Western University v. The Law Society of Upper Canada, 2015 ONSC 4250, Ontario Courts.) The decision does not stop Trinity Western University from opening a law school, but it does prevent its students from being automatically eligible to the Ontario Bar. Every application from a Trinity Western University graduate would be considered individually by the Law Society of Upper Canada. (Id. para. 121). Background Trinity Western is a private Christian university in British Columbia. In order to attend the university, students must agree to live according to a code of conduct established by the administration. The Covenant" encourages many virtues and values of the Christian faith and also imposes many of the standard clauses found in student-university administration agreements. (Trinity Western University v. The Law Society of Upper Canada, supra, para. 13.) The controversy regarding the Covenant" is rooted in the clauses pertaining to sexual morality. Students must abstain from all sexual activity outside of the marriage between a man and a woman. As such, LGBTQ students can attend the school, but cannot engage in any sexual activity, even if they are married. Heterosexual couples must abstain until marriage. Violation of the terms in the Covenant" can lead to suspension and expulsion. (Id. para. 106.) The Court's Review The Divisional Court performed a judicial review of the vote by the Law Society of Upper Canada at the request of Trinity Western University. As the Court explained, its role was to determine whether or not the decision taken by the Law Society of Upper Canada balanced the Charter rights of each group. On judicial review, the question then becomes whether the decis …

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