International Law

International Law

Indefinite Solitary Confinement Ruled Unconstitutional in British Columbia

April 5, 2018 Hunter Snowden 0

Summary: The Supreme Court of BC has classified indefinite solitary confinement as a form of torture and a breach of Canadian prisoners’ rights. On January 17, 2018, the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled Canadian prisons’ use of indefinite solitary confinement unconstitutional. The court ruled that the practice of allowing the wardens to place an unjustified expiration date on prisoners’ time in solitary was equivalent to torture and placed them at an increased risk of self-harm and suicide. Justice Peter Leask wrote in his decision that this indefinite administrative segregation violated the rights afforded to prisoners under Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, specifically the right to not be deprived of the security of life and the person protected by this section. While this section does clarify that these rights are subject to seizure in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice, Leask did not believe that […]

International Law

“Violence Begets Violence”: Addressing Chile’s Anti-Terrorist Laws

March 8, 2018 Joshua Smith 0

In recent address to the Mapuche indigenous population, Pope Francis implored the community to refrain from violent demonstration. Before the papal address, he was received with the firebombing of three churches with no recorded injuries. This week hails the return of a presidential administration known for aggression, while the past several weeks illustrate the reignited conflict surrounding the Chilean government’s use of anti-terrorist tactics to prosecute demonstrators. In the South of Chile, urges for peace collide with outcries for change. The Araucanía Region hosts this conflict. The region is composed of subsidized tracts of land purchased by private developers disputed by the indigenous populations.  The commodification of this territory followed the administration of  General Augusto Pinochet. His regime was toppled in 1990. The Chilean economy has since grown to be heavily extractive at great cost to the Mapuche, according to Silverio Loncopán, a community leader in a region adjacent to […]

International Law

France: Safe State or Police State?

November 15, 2017 Hunter Snowden 0

Summary: France introduces new controversial terrorism bill but faces large resistance from European Union and human rights organizations. On November 1st, French President Emmanuel Macron signed into law a controversial anti-terrorism bill that would make permanent some of the conditions that were enacted under the state of emergency declared by President François Hollande in 2015. The new bill allows police to search property, conduct interrogations, and make arrests, all without a warrant, should the police believe the suspects to be of a threat to national security. Prior to the declaration of the the state of emergency, such acts would have required approval from a judge. Concerns have been raised by humans rights group from within and outside France. The groups are worried that the vague language of the bill — that allows law enforcement to close mosques that they accuse of preaching hate — will be used to discriminate against […]

International Law

Law and Order: The Philippine War on Drugs

November 8, 2017 Nora Hafez 0

Summary: In the year and a half since Rodrigo Duterte became president of the Philippines, thousands of Filipinos have died as a result of his extreme anti-drug policies.    On June 30th 2016, Rodrigo Duterte assumed office as the 16th president of the Philippines.  He was elected by a landslide, with nearly twice the votes of the runner-up.  During his campaign, Duterte came under fire for everything from expletive-laden speeches in which he compared himself to Hitler to calling his own daughter a “drama queen” after she said she had been raped, yet it was his drug policy that drew the most attention.  In one speech, Duterte famously claimed, “There’s three million drug addicts.  I’d be happy to slaughter them.” Even as mayor of Davao, Duterte was known for being tough on crime. He implemented armed civilian militias who were allowed to target anyone who posed a threat “to public […]

International Law

Rohingya Crisis: What the International Community Should and Can Do

October 30, 2017 Michelle Li 0

By Michelle Xinchen Li | October 30, 2017 Summary: Hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas are fleeing from a persecution of the Myanmar Army. The international community is struggling to classify this persecution and take action correspondingly. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas, a Muslim-majority ethnic minority group  in Myanmar, are fleeing across the border amid a mass persecution by the Myanmar Army. As a humanitarian crisis, the persecution has drawn wide criticism. However, from a legal perspective, many questions remain to be addressed: what is the domestic legal basis for the persecution? Does it violate international law? If so, on what grounds should the international community take action? The persecution started in October 2016 when several Rohingya militants attacked and killed nine police officers. The conflict soon triggered a military crackdown against Rohingya people, most of whom live in Rakhine State, a relatively remote region on the Western coast of Myanmar. The […]

International Law

Nepal’s Rock and A Gulf State’s Hard Place: The Ban on Women’s Migrant Labor

October 28, 2017 Joshua Smith 0

By Joshua Smith | October 27, 2017 The export of unskilled migrant labor is a pillar of the Nepali economy, but a cross-section of the nation’s most socio-politically marginalized populations compose the majority of this workforce. Nepal has continually prohibited any legal process for women under age thirty to pursue domestic work in Gulf Countries such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the U.A.E. This exhausts most options for the unskilled other than exploitative, unsafe chartering through India’s nearby border. It pits a crisis very common in the homes of those Southern Nepalese: should I risk the danger of an illegal attempt to support my family? Foreign employment plays a vital role in the economic backbone of Nepal with over fifty percent of households receiving remittances from overseas. These payments funneled back from workers abroad made up thirty-one percent of the Nepali GDP as of 2015. Seventy-five percent of these […]

International Law

Catalonia: Civil War or Legal Secession?

October 25, 2017 Hunter Snowden 0

Summary: Catalonia is looking at the best opportunity for secession it has ever had but the Spanish government has deemed it unconstitutional. On October 1, 2017, Catalans stared down armed national police and tear gas to take their first proper steps towards independence from Spain. Meeting large resistance from the federal government in Madrid, Catalonia held a referendum vote to decide whether or not they would remain part of Spain. Despite 90% of the votes cast being in favor of independence, the Spanish Prime Minister went on national TV later in the day to say that “no official referendum had been held” and that any attempt at a referendum was unconstitutional. Are the people of Catalan actually engaging in an act of state-sponsored resistance? If they are not, is this another piece of the plan of the Spanish government to hold onto a part of their country that constitutes over […]

International Law

“Like A War”: The Venezuelan Protests

October 23, 2017 Nora Hafez 0

Summary: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has been accused of silencing all political dissent by jailing journalists and tampering with elections. Venezuelans have responded through widespread protests. Nicolas Maduro and the United Socialist Party were elected in 2013, and ever since, his government has faced great criticism for oppressive practices.  The opposing party, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mesa de la Unidad Democratica), was founded in 2008 as a coalition of several former parties, in the hopes of preventing the control of the Socialists. The MUD initially led the National Assembly and attempted to enter discussions with Maduro, but in March 2017, he ended the assembly, sparking national protests. While Venezuela technically allows citizens to protest, Maduro specifically banned protests the weekend of the elections. He prohibited all public meetings and demonstrations, gatherings and other similar acts that might “disturb the electoral process.”  Those who violated the ban could have been sentenced […]

International Law

Apple’s Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich

June 1, 2017 Hunter Snowden 1

What do companies like Google and Apple have in common? They both love a “Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich.” As appetizing as that may sound, it is actually a form of legally-permitted tax avoidance. Through a combination of legal loopholes and financial border-hopping, Google and Apple have lowered their collective tax contribution by just under $20 billion in 2015 alone. Here’s how it works: Large companies like Google and Apple minimize their tax burdens by strategically funneling money into offshore tax havens through “shell companies” – corporate sub-entities used strictly as vehicles for transnational capital shifts. Take Apple, for example. “Apple Ireland,” a shell company owned by the U.S. tech giant, sells iPhones to another shell company, “Apple Netherlands,” which, in turn, sells the product to the customer. The Dutch franchise then collects revenue from the sale but pays as much as possible back to the Irish shell company […]

International Law

Is Egypt Violating Its Own Freedom of the Press Laws?

May 10, 2017 Nora Hafez 0

Egypt has imprisoned more than 60 journalists, several of whom have not yet been brought to trial. Do these imprisonments violate Egyptian or international law? Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has been in office since 2014 when a military coup overthrew then-President Mohamed Morsi, member of the Muslim Brotherhood party. During his time as president, Morsi oversaw the ratification of a new Egyptian constitution, which sparked widespread controversy and often-violent protests. When El-Sisi assumed office, he sought to amend the constitution to placate demonstrators. El-Sisi was not intimately involved in the amendment process; instead he delegated the constitutional reforms to interim President Adly Mansour and a committee of ten legal experts. Although the constitutional referendum passed with an astonishing 98% voting yes, turnout was notably low. Reports of voter suppression and intimidation tactics employed by the Egyptian government began to circulate shortly before the referendum, drawing attention from international organizations […]