Author Archives: Marylin Raisch

German Federal Constitutional Court rules on German participation in the European Stability Mechanism

Today the German Federal Constitutional Court ruled on a request from what the New York Times called a group of “German lawmakers, academics and some 37,000 citizens” for a temporary injunction blocking German payments into the “bailout” fund to assist struggling member states’ economies as the European sovereign debt crisis continues. The court did not rule on the formal constitutionality of this long-term and possibly more permanent arrangement, however. An extended extract of the decision, in English, is posted at the official site of the Budesverfassungsgericht, BVerfG, 2 BvR 1390/12 . German taxpayers have been concerned about the continuing sovereignty of their elected Parliament to determine how their tax money is being spent as the euro crisis unfolds. The court apparently believes that the Bundestag’s continuing budgetary responsibilites in the arrangements will be effective, at least until shown to be otherwise. 

Yale Law School creates first American Ph.D. in Law

Many leading European universities offer the Ph.D. in law; now Yale, another one of the leading world institutions in legal scholarship, announces that it is offering the United States’ first Ph.D. in law.

Dean Robert Post observes that “…increasing numbers of law professors now pursue Ph.D.’s in allied disciplines like economics, history, philosophy, or political science. Because such disciplines train students in standards and questions that are different from those of the law, the natural next step for the legal academy is to create our own Ph.D. program that can focus on the questions and practices of the law itself. “

Death Penalty Worldwide Database

 

Irene Berkey, International and Foreign Law Librarian at Northwestern Law, has today posted an announcement of a project that has been in the works and is now launched. It is a free database with superb references to primary law and human rights reports. This will be of great benefit to researchers, both academic and practicing, in the area of international human rights law. See her description below, which nicely details the features of the database:

"The Death Penalty Worldwide (http://www.deathpenaltyworldwide.org), a research project based at Northwestern University's Center for International Human Rights, provides up-to-date analysis on the law and practice of capital punishment for every country in the world that retains it. The centerpiece of the website is a searchable database which tracks, among other information, the offenses for which the death penalty may be imposed, ratification of relevant international treaties, national and international jurisprudence, methods of execution, death sentence and execution statistics, decisions of international human rights bodies, the availability of legal aid, and recent domestic developments with regard to capital punishment. This extensive data is searchable by country, region, offense, or any combination of the above topics. The website also provides links to research resources and thematic summaries of the main international legal issues relevant to capital punishment. The goal of Death Penalty Worldwide is to provide reliable, current legal analysis and information on the death penalty to scholars, activists, practitioners and journalists around the world."

Babar Ahmad and Extradition, European Court of Human Rights

Today the Chamber judgment of the ECHR came down in the case of Babar Ahmad and Others v. United Kingdom, application
nos. 24027/07, 11949/08, 36742/08, 66911/09 and 67354/09, dated 10 April 2012. This case concerns six alleged international terrorist detained in the UK, including the often-publicized case of Mustafa Kamal Mustafa (also known as Abu Hamza), The main points of the decision include the following:

"…no violation of Article 3 [of the European Convention on Human Rights (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment) of
the European Convention on Human Rights as a result of conditions of detention at ADX
Florence (a “supermax” prison in the United States) – if Mr Ahmad, Mr Ahsan, Mr Abu
Hamza, Mr Bary and Mr Al-Fawwaz were extradited to the USA; and,

no violation of Article 3 of the Convention as a result of the length of their possible
sentences if Mr Ahmad, Mr Ahsan, Abu Hamza, Mr Bary and Mr Al-Fawwaz were
extradited."
 

Issues of conditions in detention after trial under death penalty and life- without- parole circumstances have been controversial in European human rights case law (protocol no. 6 of the European Human Rights treaty abolished the death penalty).  It is important to note that this judgment is not final because there is a further procedure, with time limits, for referral to a Grand Chamber, which may take up the referral for further examination and final judgment, or decline to do so, making this decision the final one. The court considers, but is not bound by, its precedents. The treaty, formally known as the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and its protocols, are posted at the Treaty Office of the Council of Europe.

EU Fiscal Compact Finalized

The proposed Treaty on Stability, Coordination, and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union was finalized on Monday, January 30, 2012. All member states signed on except the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic. After the informal summit the European Council set out the plan for its becoming law as follows:

"The treaty will be signed in March and will enter into force once it has been ratified by at least 12 euro area member states. It will be legally binding as an international agreement and will be open to the EU countries which do not sign it at the outset.
The aim is to incorporate it into EU law within five years of its entry into force."

Controversy surrounding the agreement and various related proposals has the Greek debt crisis as its focus. The EUtopia Blog is one free source (major UK papers and the Financial Times of course provide extensive analysis) with good discussion of the issues.

Next International Criminal Court Prosecutor

After a consultations procedure, the States Parties of the International Criminal Court (ICC) have nominated consensus candidate Fatou B. Bensouda of the Gambia for consideration by their Assembly. The formal election will take place at UN Headquarters at the 10th Session of this Assembly on December 12, 2011, and according to the announcement at the ICC official web site, she will assume her post on June 16, 2012.  The nature of the consensus process is intended to assure that this candidate will in fact be the new prosecutor by general agreement. The choice of this highly regarded lawyer, who is Deputy Prosecutor at the court, may well signal the next phase in the history of the court because she hails from a sub-Saharan African jurisdiction, and this region has been a focus of pending cases. Her previous experience included time as a Legal Adviser and Attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda as well as legal posts in Gambia both within and outside the government.

Republic of South Sudan added to Law Library of Congress Law Online Links

The Law Library of Congress Guide to Law Online has added the Republic of South Sudan to the countries covered in its excellent research tool for locating links to legally significant official documents and websites of countries around the world. Of particular interest is the Transitional Constitution of 22 April 2011.  You may also find this text and more in our subscription databases, such as Hein Online's World Constitutions Illustrated under Sudan (GULC login required).

United Nations: Sanctions against Libya; human rights research

On February 26, 2011, the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1970, which takes action under Chapter VII, article 41 of the United Nations Charter, placing demands on Libya (understood to be the government still functioning under Col. Muammar Gaddafi) to ensure safe travel out of the country for nationals foreign to Libya and to cease violence, respecting human rights and humanitarian law.  The resolution also puts in place an arms embargo, refers the government in this situation (dated from February 15, 2011) to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, and sets up a sanctions committee under Rule 28 of its Provisional Rules of Procedure to implement the arms embargo as well as a travel ban (for designated  persons in the government and Gaddafi family listed in an Annex I) and an asset freeze on persons and entities listed in an Annex II. In addition to international criminal law materials, both at the court site and the archived Rome Statute site, there is the excellent Universal Human Rights Index of U.N. Documents where a database of treaty documents and mandates is readily searchable.

FAOLEX and related databases

FAOLex with its  legislation for water law (WaterLex) and water treaties as well as fishery regulation (yes, FishLex ! ), including coastal and maritime limitations on fishing, are all great United Nations agency sites for finding texts related to our world of resources and how international law is seeking to manage these for the good of all.
Peace on Earth! And enough to drink and eat for everyone.

Legal Information Institute of India

As the latest entry in the extraordinary list of legal research resources of the World Legal Information Institute (WorldLII), the soft launch of the Legal Information Institute of India (LIIofIndia) is worth a look. The official launch will take place in March, 2011. Primary legal material from the federal level as well as 28 states and 7 union territories are made available for free. The Indian Supreme Court case law and the federal statutory Indian Code are notable, but the Indian Treaty Series is available from the beginning of the independent Indian state (1947) through 2009, as well as selected journals.

According to founder and Professor of Law Graham Greenleaf, "LII of India at present has 50 databases, including over 300,000 decisions from 37 Courts and Tribunals, Indian national legislation from 1836, over 800 bilateral treaties, law reform reports and about 500 law journal articles. The LawCite citator tracks case and journal article citations. Further case law, and State and Territory legislation, will be added by the time of the formal launch."

Unfortunately, like the WorldLII itself, the entire site runs and loads very slowly (as do most of these links and thanks for your patience); it is hoped that this problem can be resolved. However, the Legal Information Institutes and Free Access to Law Movement is mostly a partnership between non-governmental academic institutions and government support in varying proportions, and so while free to use, these sites are obviously not free to build. As winter brings festivals of light (like the Indian Diwali of the western autumn season), we might reflect on the light that the rule of law shines on our globe while the LIIs ponder combining free with some local subscription support in its many regions.