Category Archives: International Law

Thank You, Mr. President!

Citizens Thanking President Obama

Much is being written all over the Internet today about President Obama’s speech last night, what these events portend, who should take credit for bin Laden’s death, and whether credit should be apportioned for political gain.  I am re-printing here what I wrote in a Note to my friends on Facebook this morning, entitled “President Obama:  Getting The Job Done:”

I am reading with great interest some of the comments here and elsewhere in reaction to yesterday’s news from the President that Osama Bin Laden has been neutralized.

While I agree with the concerns that we not “rest on our laurels,” so to speak, simply because Bin Laden was taken out, I don’t think any reasonable person can deny that President Obama has achieved an extraordinary outcome benefiting our Nation.  He, and those around him, have done what the Bush Administration merely paid lip service to in order to advance their own distorted view of world order.

President Obama demonstrated to me the qualities of a true Commander-in-Chief — contemplative and cautious when he was presented with information about Bin Laden’s whereabouts; yet, determined and decisive, when it came down to striking out.

In everyday speak, folks, that’s called “Gettin’ ‘er done.” He deserves our praise, thanks, and respect.  Can you imagine what the press, the people, the Republicans would be saying had this mission gone the way of President Carter‘s failed attempt to rescue the Iranian hostages.  Remember that?

President Obama is not the kind of President who would, now, shrug his shoulders and say, “Guess that’s over and done with…We can all rest easy…Mission accomplished.”  Whatever doubts I may have from time to time about our President, who does not make me happy all of the time, my faith in him was strengthened immeasurably last night.

Beyond this Note, all I have to say, as a citizen of the United States, is thank you, Mr. President.  You make me proud of our Nation!

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United Arab Emirates: Man May Beat Wife, Children As Long As No Marks

The highest court in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has upheld the right of a man to beat his wife and children for the purpose of “disciplining” them, but only so long as the beating leaves no discernible bruises or marks and is not too “severe.”  In addition, a man must first exhaust admonition and abstaining from sleeping with his wife as forms of correction before resorting to a beating.

According to the court, a man who goes beyond these restrictions abuses his “right” under sharia law and is subject to a fine.  In the case at issues, a husband had “slapped and cicked” his 23 year-old daughter and “slapped his wife.”  The court found that the beating too severe because it left bruises on the wife, and concluded that the daughter was too old for such treatment.

Boy, women and children in the UAE can breathe a sigh of relief after this lamp of liberty was lit, can’t they?  What is, perhaps, most frightening about this decision is that the UAE is often considered by western officials to be one of the more “democratic” of the Mideast countries.  However, the State Department webpage on the UAE lists the following as continued problems for democracy in the UAE:

• no citizens’ right to change the government and no popularly elected representatives of any kind
• flogging as judicially sanctioned punishment
• arbitrary detention
• incommunicado detention permitted by law
• questionable independence of the judiciary
• restrictions on civil liberties–freedom of speech and of the press, and assembly
• restrictions on right of association, particularly for human rights groups
• restrictions on religious freedom
• domestic abuse of women, sometimes enabled by police
• trafficking in women and children
• legal and societal discrimination against women and noncitizens
• corruption and lack of government transparency
• abuse of foreign domestic servants
• restrictions on and abuses of workers’ rights

You can read more about the decision here.

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Federal Judge Blocks Controversial Portion Of Arizona Immigration Law

Seal of the United States Department of Justice

Image via Wikipedia

FindLaw.com’s blog is reporting news today that a federal judge has preliminarily blocked enforcement of at least a portion of Arizona‘s controversial immigration law, known as the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act.

Because the Arizona immigration law contained a “severability clause” – a clause that allows a provision of law that is of questionable legality to be severed from a larger statute or body of laws – U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton did not enjoin enforcement of the entire law.  However, she did enjoin enforcement of the controversial portions of the statute until resolution of the U.S. Department of Justice‘s lawsuit against the State of Arizona is resolved.

That lawsuit, filed by the U.S. on July 6, 2010, argues principally that immigration law is a matter left up to the sole legislative authority of the federal government, an argument known as “pre-emption.”  “Pre-emption” finds its roots in the U.S. Constitution’s “supremacy clause,” which states:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

U.S. Const., Art. VI, Clause 2. (Emphasis added.)  See also, Wikipedia article here.

In reaching her conclusion, Judge Bolton determined that, in all likelihood, the U.S. would be successful in its lawsuit against the State of Arizona.  This determination is a pre-requisite finding before a federal judge can enjoin the enforcement of a law.

A copy of Judge Bolton’s order has been downloaded to the Box for viewing.

Breaking News Update!

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said Wednesday she would swiftly appeal a judge’s ruling blocking key parts of a new state immigration law, vowing to take it all the way to the Supreme Court.  You can read the Arizona Governor’s response here, courtesy of Yahoo.com.

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Supreme Court Rules Abducted Child Should Have Stayed In Chile

I found a fascinating article today written by Lori Paul in, California Family Law Paralegal which describes a case at the intersection between family law and international law.  The article describes the matter of Abbott v. Abbott, a case involving a mother and father who divorced in Chile.  The parties had one son. The Chilean court granted the mother custody, with visitation rights to the father.  In addition, the Chilean court ordered that neither parent could leave Chile with the child without the other parent’s agreement (“no removal” order or ne exeat order).

Unable to find work in Chile, the mother left the country with the parties’ son and returned to the United States. The father found the mother and child in Texas and moved to enforce the Chilean “no removal” order.

In deciding the case, the U.S. Supreme Court had to grapple with whether the “no removal” order issued by the Chilean court constituted a “right of custody” under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.  While it might seem quite obvious that the answer would be yes, most lower courts facing the same or similar issue had decided in the negative.

In a 6-3 decision with an opinion written by Justice Kennedy, the U.S. Supreme Court decided, however, that the “no removal” order was a custodial right granted to the father and that the mother wrongfully removed the parties’ son when she left Chile without the father’s agreement.  Justice Stevens, Thomas and Breyer dissented.

Here is a link to California Family Law Paralegal where you can access the full text of the opinion as well as oral argument.  You can also access the briefs filed on both sides of the argument by following this link.

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Lawyer, Anti-Duvalier Activist & Politician Georges Anglades Killed By Haiti Quake

MSNBC‘s “Breaking News” on Twitter, @breakingnews, is reporting that lawyer, civil rights activist, and politician, Georges Anglades, was killed in the Haiti quake.  Anglades and his wife are pictured here.

Anglades was born in Port-au-Prince in 1944, educated in Haiti as a lawyer, and received a Ph.D. in Vienna.  Anglades came to national attention as an outspoken critic of the Duvalier regime in Haiti.  From 1957 to 1971, Haiti was ruled by the autocrat, Dr. Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, whom it is estimated ordered the deaths of 30,000 Haitians and exile of thousands more.  You can link to a Wikipedia article about Papa Doc Duvalier here.

Papa Doc Duvalier’s reign was followed by his son, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier.  Although he attempted to soften some of the harsher aspects of his father’s regime, “Baby Doc” Duvalier’s reign was marked by corruption and the continued oppression of any political resistance.  “Baby Doc” Duvalier ruled Haiti from 1971 until he was overthrown by popular uprising in 1986.  You can link to a Wikipedia article about “Baby Doc” Duvalier here.

It was through this popular uprising that Anglades became part of the Haitian political landscape.  He was made a political prisoner by “Baby Doc” Duvalier in 1974.  Later, Anglades served as a Haitian cabinet minister and advisor to President Rene Preval.

Anglades and his wife were both killed in the quake.  In addition to the MSNBC BreakingNews report, you can link to an article about the couple’s death from Canadian news outlet, TheStar.com, here.

As of approximately 3 hours ago, reports from Haiti are estimating that the death toll will reach 100,000.  You can link to an article discussing the estimated death toll here.  Describing the earthquake as an “unimaginable disaster,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assured that the Haitian death toll will reach tens of thousands.  You can link to an article quoting Sec’y Clinton here.

The damage done to the Haitian Presidential Palace is pictured below.

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Other LGBT News: Portugal Approves Same-Sex Marriage; Obama Appoints Trans Female; First HIV+ Man To Visit U.S.

While states like California and New Jersey grapple clumsily with the issue of same-sex marriage and equality, Portugal apparently had little difficulty in approving legislation to allow such unions.  On Friday, Portugal’s Parliament voted by a sizeable majority – 125 to 99 – to permit same-sex marriages.  The nation’s President is not expected to veto the measure, and ceremonies are anticipated to begin as early as April 2010.

Before you go dismissing Portugal’s actions as just another liberal EU country showing off, Portugal is hardly a bastion of liberalism.  In fact, Portugal’s decision to approve same-sex marriage is significant given that the country is generally regarded as socially conservative.  Perhaps, in Portugal, the leaders were able to put aside their own petty squabblings and, well, lead.

You can link to a full article discussing Portugal’s decision here.

President Obama Appoints Transgender Female To Commerce Dept.

In other news this week, President Obama appointed transgender female, Amanda Simpson, to be Senior Technical Adviser to the Commerce Department.

“I’m truly honored to have received this appointment and am eager and excited about this opportunity that is before me,” she said in a press release by the National Center for Transgender Equality, an organization for which she has served on the board of directors.”

Simpson was most recently the deputy director in Advanced Technology Development at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson. A flight instructor and test pilot, Simpson also holds degrees in physics, engineering, and business administration.

You can link to other news articles discussing President Obama’s appointment here and here.

First HIV+ Traveler To Visit U.S. From The Netherlands

Clemons Ruland may become the first known HIV-positive person to legally visit the United States after he filed papers with the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security Monday, the day the HIV travel and immigration ban was officially lifted.  The ban was lifted on January 4 by President Obama after 22 years of barring HIV-positive people from entering the U.S.

Ruland, pictured on the right, will travel with his HIV-negative partner pictured left.  Ruland trip to the U.S. is being sponsored by Netherlands group, NGO AIDS Fonds, after he won an essay contest.

Thanks to The Advocate for reporting on this story, which you can link to here.

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Speak Softly To Your Spouse In France – Or You May Be Guilty Of A Crime

In what appears to be a first-of-its-kind piece of legislation, France has enacted a law that criminalizes “psychological abuse” by one spouse against another.  The law applies to cohabiting couples as well as married couples.

The law is expected to cover a wide variety of verbal behavior, including repeated rude remarks, insults, false allegations of mis-behavior, and verbal threats of physical violence.  French police have been urged to issue a caution for first offenses, but repeat offenders could face fines, restraining orders, and even jail time.

Opponents of the law contend that it is a gimmick aimed to please feminist lobbyists, and will be impossible to implement.  But French premier Francois Fillon, who announced the law, said: ‘The creation of this offence will allow us to deal with the most insidious situations – situations that leave no visible scars, but which leave victims torn up inside.’

You can read an interesting article about the French law from Jonathan Turley here, and an article from Dailymail.com here.

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