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Legal News for August

JURIST – News – Legal News & Commentary
Portugal Constitutional Court declares Azores COVID quarantine for visitors unconstitutional
Fri, 07 Aug 2020 14:44:53 +0000

The Portuguese Constitutional Court (TC) has ruled that the Azores Islands’ mandatory 14-day quarantine for visitors is unconstitutional. In a decision released Wednesday, the court found that the authorities were treating visitors as if they were serving short-term prison sentences.

On March 26, the Azores government declared that all passengers who arrived in the Azores Islands had to go into mandatory confinement for 14 days in a hotel. This requirement, taken to stop the spread of COVID-19, was initially paid for by the government. However, after May 8, visitors were required to pay for this on their own. Visitors were not allowed to leave their rooms, and food and water were brought up to the rooms for them.

The ruling comes after an airline pilot filed a legal appeal over being quarantined for two weeks in a hotel in São Miguel after arriving on the island, even though he had a family home in São Miguel. In May, a lower court found that the man had been deprived of his freedom and the authorities were ordered to release him immediately.

In the July 30 decision, the Constitutional Court said that the authorities had treated visitors like prisoners serving short sentences. Visitors were required to quarantine even if they had no symptoms, and it was unconstitutional to impose the mandatory quarantine on all visitors.

Travelers to the Azores Islands now have the option to take a COVID-19 test either before they arrive, or on arrival before they are admitted. If a traveler chooses not to take the test, they will be required to return to an area outside of the Azores.

 

 

 

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Category: portugal constitutional court
UN commissioner flags rampant rights violations against journalists covering war in Yemen
Sat, 08 Aug 2020 12:50:30 +0000

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said Thursday that there have been a high number of human rights violations against journalists covering the ongoing civil war in Yemen. 

The conflict began in March 2015. Since that time, the UN Human Rights Office has documented 357 human rights violations and abuses against journalists, including killings, disappearances, death sentences, and arbitrary arrests and detentions.

Since the beginning of April, the UN Human Rights Office has documented an assassination, an abduction, arbitrary arrests and detentions, death sentences in violation of international human rights law and jailing, physical assaults, and physical violence threats, all done by participants in the armed conflict.

Bachelet said that these violations may amount to war crimes, because journalists are protected as civilians under international humanitarian law. She noted:

The safety of journalists is essential to the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of us all, and in the context of armed conflict they play a vital role in uncovering the truth and holding the parties to the conflict to account publicly.

Because journalists should not be penalized for carrying out their “legitimate activities,” she urged that de facto authorities set aside death sentences currently imposed on four journalists. She called for the release of detained journalists and the investigation and punishment for those responsible for the violence and threats of violence against journalists.

 

 

 

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Category: Yemen
Iowa becomes last state to end lifetime felony disenfranchisement
Thu, 06 Aug 2020 16:07:11 +0000

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed Executive Order 7 on Wednesday, restoring voting rights and the right to qualify for public office to Iowans with felony convictions. Iowa was the last US state that permanently banned its residents with felony convictions from voting unless they appealed directly to the governor.

Under Article II, Section 5 of the Iowa Constitution, no “person convicted of any infamous crime” is allowed to vote. The Iowa Supreme Court has interpreted this to mean that no person with a felony conviction could vote. Under Article IV, Section 16 of the Constitution, the governor is granted the power to restore citizenship rights lost from a conviction.

The executive order immediately restored the right to vote and to hold public office to anyone who forfeited that right through conviction of any infamous crime and who discharged their sentence on or before August 5. It will continue to restore these rights to individuals who discharge their sentences on or after August 6.

Under the order, a person discharges their felony sentence upon completion of any term of confinement, parole, probation, supervised release, or of completion of any special sentence. The order does not grant these rights to anyone convicted of homicide.

The order states that a constitutional amendment is the only permanent solution to the problem, although the people of Iowa would benefit now from the restoration of the right. Governor Reynolds has previously backed a constitutional amendment that would permanently grant these rights, even as this amendment has continuously failed to pass.

When announcing the order, Reynolds said:

The right to vote is the cornerstone of society and the free republic in which we live. When someone serves their sentence, they should have their right to vote restored automatically. We’re going to continue to advocate for a constitutional amendment and make this major milestone permanent.

The executive order will remain in effect until Article II, Section 5 of the Iowa Constitution is amended, and the rights already granted will remain valid.

 

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Category: voting rights
Federal judge calls on Supreme Court to eliminate qualified immunity for police officers
Thu, 06 Aug 2020 23:56:29 +0000

A US federal judge in Mississippi has granted a police officer qualified immunity for damage caused to a black man’s vehicle during an extended traffic stop while calling for the Supreme Court to overturn the doctrine, a goal of Black Lives Matter protesters.

District Judge Carlton Reeves issued his opinion Tuesday, granting summary judgement to Officer Nick McClendon, a white police officer who pulled over a black man, Clarence Jamison, and subjected him to a nearly two hour long traffic stop. McClendon stated that he originally stopped Jamison because his temporary paper license plate on his newly purchased Mercedes-Benz “folded
over to where [he] couldn’t see it.” Even after background checks on Jamison and the vehicle came back clean, McClendon demanded that Jamison allow him to search the vehicle, and refused to allow Jamison to leave until he had spent nearly two hours fruitlessly searching the vehicle for contraband. Jamison filed suit under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments and Section 1983, saying that McClendon violated his constitutional rights by engaging in racial discrimination, damaging his vehicle in the course of the search, and illegally extending a traffic stop far beyond the necessary time.

Judge Reeves said that his hands were effectively tied by precedent of qualified immunity, which he described as “a shield for these officers, protecting them from accountability.” While granting McClendon’s request to dismiss the lawsuit, the judge was harshly critical of the doctrine. In his introduction, he stated bluntly

But let us not be fooled by legal jargon. Immunity is not exoneration. And the harm in this case to one man sheds light on the harm done to the nation by this manufactured doctrine. As the Fourth Circuit concluded, “This has to stop.”

Reeves called on the Supreme Court, which recently refused to hear cases on whether to end qualified immunity, to end the doctrine. “Just as the Supreme Court swept away the mistaken doctrine of separate but equal,” he said, “so too should it eliminate the doctrine of qualified immunity.”

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Category: traffic stop
Cape Verde court approves US extradition of Maduro financier for money laundering
Thu, 06 Aug 2020 23:52:00 +0000

A Cape Verde court has approved the extradition of Columbian lawyer and businessman Alex Nain Saab Moran to the United States, where he faces charges for money laundering on behalf of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s government.

Saab was arrested on 12th June 2020 on the island of Sal in Cape Verde when he was en route from Venezuela to Iran. The Venezuelan government protested Saab’s arrest, stating that the Interpol arrest notice was issued after the arrest, violating international norms as he was acting as an agent of the government and was on a humanitarian mission to buy food and medical supplies.

João do Rosário, an attorney on Saab’s legal team, told VOA’s Portuguese service that while the Court made its decision Friday, Saab’s legal team was not informed about it until Monday evening. He said that the team was considering an appeal to Cape Verde’s Supreme Court, and if the appeal failed, the team would approach the Constitutional Court.

According to the US Justice Department, Saab was indicted in July 2019 in the US federal court in Miami for participation in an alleged bribery scheme in a low-income housing project for the Maduro Regime from 2011 to 2015. Saab is alleged to have used an elaborate network of bank accounts in Venezuela and the United States that allowed him and Maduro to profit from state-run food subsidy programs.

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Category: Venezuela