Archive for International Law

Obama White House violating international “right to life” with drone strikes?

Posted in Drones, Obama and Drones with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2013 by saynsumthn

Two leading human rights groups released detailed reports on U.S. drone strikes Tuesday that accuse the government of killing civilians and violating international law. The White House admitted killing civilians, but denied breaking the law, saying the strikes were “precise” and “lawful.”

Amnesty International, which studied 45 drone strikes in Pakistan in 2012 and 2013, said the U.S. violated the internationally recognized “right to life” and may have committed war crimes. They state,

“The Obama administration claims its use of lethal force, including with drones, is “legal”, “ethical”, and “wise”. But Amnesty International is gravely concerned that the administration is killing people outside the bounds of human rights and the law. International law permits the use of lethal force in very restricted circumstances. But from the little information made available to the public, U.S. drone strike policy appears to allow extrajudicial executions in violation of the right to life, virtually anywhere in the world. Public outcry over the killer drone program is growing, leading to President Obama and Congress addressing the issue. Despite all the talk that new laws, rules or a “kill court” are needed, the solution is simple: the Obama administration must follow the law. Congress and the courts must hold them to it.
Urge the U.S. government to follow international law that restricts the use of lethal force.”

“There are real threats to the U.S. in the region,” said Naureen Shah, Amnesty’s advocacy adviser, “but it is hard to imagine that a 68-year-old grandmother or a 14-year-old boy are among them. Something clearly went wrong and the U.S. government needs to come clean.”

On March 15, Ben Emmerson, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counterterrorism, released a statement that categorically declared the CIA drone program a “violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.” That statement followed three days of secret meetings with Pakistani officials, who told Emmerson that they had confirmed 400 civilian deaths in drone strikes since the program began in 2004.

In Pakistan, popular support for CIA drone strikes is virtually non-existent. Although public opinion in favor of drone strikes remains quite high in the United States, the targeted killing campaign has come under increasing fire of late from human rights organizations, Congress, and even former U.S. government officials. The New America Foundation’s National Security Studies Program is pleased to invite you to a conversation with Emmerson about his work investigating human rights violations in the “war on terror,” particularly in relation to the CIA drone program.

PARTICIPANTS include: Ben Emmerson, Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism, United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Peter Bergen, Director, National Security Studies Program, New America Foundation

This week, Human Rights Watch, which focused on six drone strikes in Yemen over the past four years, said the U.S. is undermining its own efforts against AL Qaeda with drone attacks.

The 102-page report, “‘Between a Drone and Al-Qaeda’: The Civilian Cost of US Targeted Killings in Yemen,”examines six US targeted killings in Yemen, one from 2009 and the rest from 2012-2013. Two of the attacks killed civilians indiscriminately in clear violation of the laws of war; the others may have targeted people who were not legitimate military objectives or caused disproportionate civilian deaths.

“The US says it is taking all possible precautions during targeted killings, but it has unlawfully killed civilians and struck questionable military targets in Yemen,” said Letta Tayler, senior terrorism and counterterrorism researcher at Human Rights Watch and the author of the report. “Yemenis told us that these strikes make them fear the US as much as they fear Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.”

Human Rights Watch released “‘Between a Drone and Al-Qaeda’” in a joint news conference on October 22, 2013, with Amnesty International, which issued its own report on US drone strikes in Pakistan.

Muslims sue Oklahoma over Shariah Law Ban

Posted in International Law, Islam with tags , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2010 by saynsumthn

Oklahoma Is Sued Over Shariah Ban

WSJ/ By JESS BRAVIN

A Muslim activist in Oklahoma City filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging a voter-approved measure that bars Oklahoma state judges from considering Shariah, the Islamic religious code based on the Koran and the Prophet Mohammed’s teachings, in formulating rulings.

State Question 755, which passed Tuesday with 70% of the vote, declares “the legal precepts of other nations or cultures” off-limits to Oklahoma courts. “Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia Law,” it reads.

The suit, filed by Muneer Awad, director of the state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, asks the federal district court to block officials from certifying the referendum.

Mr. Awad says the measure violates the First Amendment, which protects “free exercise” of religion and prohibits official “establishment of religion.” A hearing was set for Monday.

The complaint alleges Oklahoma has singled out Islam for “profound stigma,” consigning Muslims such as Mr. Awad “to an ineffectual position within the political community.”

Oklahoma’s Legislature voted overwhelmingly to place the Save Our State Amendment before voters. A co-sponsor, state Sen. Anthony Sykes, denied it sought to stigmatize Muslims. “We’re not trying to send any sort of message here,” said Mr. Sykes, a Republican.

Rather, he said, Oklahomans wanted to insulate their judiciary from un-American influences. While no Oklahoma court ever has cited Shariah law, “we are on a slippery slope,” he said.
Democratic Sen. Richard Lerblance, one of two state senators to vote against the measure, called it “a scare tactic.”

“They call it ‘Save Our State.’ I don’t know what we’re saving it from,” he said. “We have yet to have any court do anything based on Shariah law.”

Several states have considered rules that restrict judges from making decisions that take into account foreign or international legal materials, said William Raftery, a research analyst with the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg, Va. Only Oklahoma’s measure singles out a particular religious tradition, he said, though a proposal in Arizona lists Shariah along with canon law, Jewish law and karma, a conception of fate in Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

Mr. Sykes and other conservatives who perceive a threat from Islamic law cite a 2009 case in which a New Jersey judge declined to issue a restraining order against a Moroccan man who forced sex on his unwilling wife.

Among other reasons, the judge said the husband’s belief that his wife must submit to sex “was consistent with his [religious] practices.” An appeals court reversed the judge and ordered that a restraining order be issued, citing a Supreme Court decision rejecting a Mormon’s claim that his faith exempted him from an anti-bigamy statute.

“To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself,” Chief Justice Morrison Waite wrote.

Decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court are binding on all state and federal courts, and no justice of the Supreme Court ever has asserted he or she is bound by any authority other than the U.S. Constitution.

However, beginning in 1791, when Chief Justice John Jay adopted English rules for the new U.S. Supreme Court, American judges occasionally have examined how foreign courts address similar legal problems.

For instance, in a 1997 decision concerning Washington state’s ban on assisted suicide, Chief Justice William Rehnquist cited court decisions from Australia, Britain, Canada, Colombia and New Zealand.

Mr. Sykes said he wanted to protect the Oklahoma judiciary from the influence of “Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan and, I’m sure, Sonia Sotomayor, given her political leanings,” who he believed were inclined to rely on international law.

Justice Ginsburg responded to similar criticism in a July speech to the International Academy of Comparative Law, at American University. She said foreign opinions “are not authoritative; they set no binding precedent for the U.S. judge. But they can add to the store of knowledge relevant to the solution of trying questions.”

She cited Justice Robert Jackson’s 1952 concurrence that the president lacked authority to seize steel mills during wartime. Justice Jackson “pointed to features of the Weimar Constitution in Germany that allowed Adolf Hitler to assume dictatorial powers. Even in wartime, Jackson concluded, the U.S. president could not seize private property.”

University of Oklahoma law professor Joseph Thai said that earlier this year, the state legislature commissioned “a monument to the laws of another religion”–the Ten Commandments–for the state Capitol.

“Oklahoma’s apparent approval of the legal traditions of a majority religion and attempt to suppress the legal traditions of a minority religion” may conflict with the Constitution’s requirement that government treat all religions equally, Mr. Thai said.

He said the new state law may forbid Oklahoma judges from citing the Ten Commandments, because they are “international in origin.”

Corrections & Amplifications
Several states have considered rules that restrict judges from making decisions that take into account foreign or international legal materials, said William Raftery. An earlier version of this story said several states have adopted the rules and misspelled Mr. Raftery’s name as Raferty.

Is Elena Kagan’s philosophy right for America or a threat to ?

Posted in Supreme Court with tags , , , , , on July 30, 2010 by saynsumthn

10-
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Is Elena Kagan’s philosphy right for America? , posted with vodpod

Islamic Sharia law – illegal in Oklahoma?

Posted in Islam, Sharia Law with tags , , , , , , on June 25, 2010 by saynsumthn

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International Law Good Idea? Sweden court : taking naked pictures of sleeping teen not a crime

Posted in child predator, International Law, Violence against women with tags , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2010 by saynsumthn

Taking naked pictures of sleeping teen not a crime: court ( SWEDEN)
31 Dec 09

A court in Halmstad on the southwest coast of Sweden has dismissed charges against a man who reportedly took a photo of a 17-year-old girl’s genitals while she was sleeping. The court said that the incident was was not a punishable offense.

The girl had laid down to sleep on a sofa during a New Year’s party. The 49-year-old reportedly lifted up the girl’s skirt and photographed her genitals. The man, whose teenage son was hosting the party, was indicted on charges of sexual harassment, local newspaper Hallandsposten reports.

Citing several other cases, the Halmstad district court said that the man had not committed a crime. There is no general prohibition against photographing people without their consent. The same applies to people who are asleep.

The fact that other people have seen the photograph, as claimed by the prosecutor in this case, doesn’t make the incident a punishable offense either, according to the court.

The court cited a Swedish Supreme Court (Högsta domstolen) case that cleared a man who had been brought to trial for filming sexual intercourse without the consent of the woman involved.
TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se/08 656 6518)
http://www.thelocal.se/24144/20091231/

The story above shows how absurd it would to be for the US Courts to look to “Other Nations” and “International Law” in their opinions of US Cases. Perhaps what happened in Sweden is a picture of what is coming to the US. Just Say’n !

Recently Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spoke to the issue of looking to International Law. Read about it here: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on abortion and international law

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on abortion and international law

Posted in Abortion, Anti-abortion, Constitution, International Law, Politics, pro-choice, Pro-Life, Supreme Court with tags , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2010 by saynsumthn

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia argues that the people of a democracy, not judges, should bear the responsibility to decide on issues of natural law like abortion and sodomy. “Why are judges experts on these questions?” he asks. “In democratic political institutions, it’s up to the people to decide what they think natural law demands.”

Scalia, “Women have a natural right to abortion”.” fine, say that in a political campaign, then put it to a vote !”

And just last week, in a speech in Mississippi, Scalia noted, “If there was any thought absolutely foreign to the founders of our country, surely it was the notion that we Americans should be governed the way Europeans are. I dare say that few of us here would want our life or liberty subject to the disposition of French or Italian criminal justice — not because those systems are unjust — but because we think ours is better.”

He said American judges who advocate use of international law in their rulings do it selectively, such as nations who have widely differing views on whether abortion is legal.

I will become a believer in the ingenuousness, though never the propriety, of the Court’s newfound respect for the wisdom of foreign of wisdom minds when it applies that wisdom in the abortion cases,” Scalia said.

Scalia is one of the leading proponents of originalism, a doctrine holding that courts should interpret the U.S. Constitution as people living at the time of its writing would have.

Scalia also said that he was worried by a mounting trend of appointing career judges to the judiciary

I worry about our not having people of a lot of different experiences, especially with substantial legal practice,” Scalia added. “More and more people practice for a couple years, then they become a minor state court judge and they stay in the judiciary the rest of their career. You can have some people like that, but if our whole judiciary becomes like that, we’re going to become European. I may as well move to France.”

Scalia made the statements Monday to about 600 people at the First Baptist Church of Jackson during a luncheon sponsored by the Mississippi College School of Law.

Harold Koh,Legal Adviser:Department of State and Sharia Law?

Posted in Constitution, Islam, Racism, Religion, Violence against women with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2009 by saynsumthn

Harold Koh- Nominated: Legal Adviser to the Department of State.

It looks like former Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh will in fact be the next Legal Adviser of the State Department. The cloture voted just passed, 65 – 31. The cloture vote ends months of debate over Koh’s nomination. An up-down vote on his nomination should follow soon.

On Monday, nearly four months after President Obama nominated Harold Koh to become legal adviser to the State Department, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed cloture and moved his nomination to the floor. Confirming the dean of Yale Law School to a powerful but usually uncontroversial position had proven harder than either his supporters or his detractors could have expected.

READ WHAT THE No Koh People have to say about this pick:

NY POST March 30, 2009:

OBAMA’S MOST PERILOUS LEGAL PICK

By MEGHAN CLYNE

Koh: Wants US courts to apply “world law.”

http://www.nypost.com/seven/03302009/postopinion/opedcolumnists/obamas_most_perilous_legal_pick_161961.htm

JUDGES should interpret the Constitution according to other nations’ legal “norms.” Sharia law could apply to disputes in US courts. The United States constitutes an “axis of disobedience” along with North Korea and Saddam-era Iraq.

Those are the views of the man on track to become one of the US government’s top lawyers: Harold Koh.

President Obama has nominated Koh — until last week the dean of Yale Law School — to be the State Department’s legal adviser. In that job, Koh would forge a wide range of international agreements on issues from trade to arms control, and help represent our country in such places as the United Nations and the International Court of Justice.

It’s a job where you want a strong defender of America’s sovereignty. But that’s not Koh. He’s a fan of “transnational legal process,” arguing that the distinctions between US and international law should vanish.

What would this look like in a practical sense? Well, California voters have overruled their courts, which had imposed same-sex marriage on the state. Koh would like to see such matters go up the chain through federal courts — which, in turn, should look to the rest of the world. If Canada, the European Human Rights Commission and the United Nations all say gay marriage should be legal — well, then, it should be legal in California too, regardless of what the state’s voters and elected representatives might say.

He even believes judges should use this “logic” to strike down the death penalty, which is clearly permitted in the US Constitution.

The primacy of international legal “norms” applies even to treaties we reject. For example, Koh believes that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child — a problematic document that we haven’t ratified — should dictate the age at which individual US states can execute criminals. Got that? On issues ranging from affirmative action to the interrogation of terrorists, what the rest of the world says, goes.

Including, apparently, the world of radical imams. A New York lawyer, Steven Stein, says that, in addressing the Yale Club of Greenwich in 2007, Koh claimed that “in an appropriate case, he didn’t see any reason why sharia law would not be applied to govern a case in the United States.”

A spokeswoman for Koh said she couldn’t confirm the incident, responding: “I had heard that some guy . . . had asked a question about sharia law, and that Dean Koh had said something about that while there are obvious differences among the many different legal systems, they also share some common legal concepts.”

Score one for America’s enemies and hostile international bureaucrats, zero for American democracy.

Koh has called America’s focus on the War on Terror “obsessive.” In 2004, he listed countries that flagrantly disregard international law — “most prominently, North Korea, Iraq, and our own country, the United States of America,” which he branded “the axis of disobedience.”

He has also accused President George Bush of abusing international law to justify the invasion of Iraq, comparing his “advocacy of unfettered presidential power” to President Richard Nixon’s. And that was the first Bush — Koh was attacking the 1991 operation to liberate Kuwait, four days after fighting began in Operation Desert Storm.

Koh has also praised the Nicaraguan Sandinistas’ use in the 1980s of the International Court of Justice to get Congress to stop funding the Contras. Imagine such international lawyering by rogue nations like Iran, Syria, North Korea and Venezuela today, and you can see the danger in Koh’s theories.

Koh, a self-described “activist,” would plainly promote his views aggressively once at State. He’s not likely to feel limited by the letter of the law — in 1994, he told The New Republic: “I’d rather have [former Supreme Court Justice Harry] Blackmun, who uses the wrong reasoning in Roe [v. Wade] to get the right results, and let other people figure out the right reasoning.”

Worse, the State job might be a launching pad for a Supreme Court nomination. (He’s on many liberals’ short lists for the high court.) Since this job requires Senate confirmation, it’s certainly a useful trial run.

What happens to Koh in the Senate will send an important signal. If he sails through to State, he’s a far better bet to make it onto the Supreme Court. So Senate Republicans have a duty to expose and confront his radical views.

Even though he’s up for a State Department job, Koh is a key test case in the “judicial wars.” If he makes it through (which he will if he gets even a single GOP vote) the message to the Obama team will be: You can pick ’em as radical as you like.

Meghan Clyne is a DC-based writer.

More Stories

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/03/31/obamas-appointment-koh-state-department-legal-adviser-stirs-controversy/

JUNE 24, 2009

In the end, every Democrat* and eight Republicans voted for cloture on Harold Koh’s nomination for legal adviser to the State Department. The Republicans: Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio). Three of them — Gregg, Martinez, and Voinovich — are retiring in 2010. All of them except for Alexander and Hatch represent states won by President Obama last year.

“We were confident that we would get the votes needed to invoke cloture and are pleased that this nomination is moving forward,” said Regan Lachappelle, a spokesperson for Sen. Harry Reid (R-Nev.) “Our hope, of course, would have been to consider the nomination without having to take up all of this time.”

Thirteen of the Republican “no” votes came from senators, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who voted to confirm Koh to his last job as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor, back in 1998.

*Sen. Ted Kennedy (R-Mass.) and Sen. Robert Byrd (R-W.Va.) were not in the Senate for the vote.

http://washingtonindependent.com/48499/eight-republicans-vote-for-harold-koh