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The Global Legal Monitor is an online publication from the Law Library of Congress covering legal news and developments worldwide. It is updated frequently and draws on information from official national legal publications and reliable press sources. You can find previous news by searching the Global Legal Monitor.

Chile: New Foreign Investment Regime

(Dec. 1, 2015) Law 20848, the New Foreign Investment Law (NFIL), is part of a new legal framework for foreign investment in Chile that supersedes the regime governed by Decree Law No. 600 of 1974. (Ley que Establece el Marco para la Inversión Extranjera Directa en Chile y Crea la Institucionalidad Respectiva, DIARIO OFICIAL (June 25, 2015), Biblioteca del Congreso de Chile website; see also Constance Johnson, Chile: New Foreign Investment Law Enacted, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (June 23, 2015).)

Direct foreign investment is defined as the transfer of foreign capital or assets owned or controlled by a foreign investor into Chile for a sum equal to or greater than US$5 million. The investment must be in the form of foreign currency susceptible to free conversion, tangible assets, reinvestment of profits, capitalization of loans, or technology transfer. (Id. art. 2.)

The NFIL further requires direct foreign investment to be made through the purchase of shares in the capital of a Chilean company, in which the foreign investor has at least ten percent of the voting shares of the company or an equivalent percentage of participation in the company’s capital. (Id. art. 2 ¶ 2.)

The NFIL defines a foreign investor as an individual or legal entity incorporated abroad, neither resident nor domiciled in Chile, which transfers capital to Chile in compliance with the requirements of the NFIL. (Id. art. 3.) In order to qualify as a foreign investor under the NFIL, the foreign investor must be issued a certificate of approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Agency. (Id. art. 4.)

A foreign investor has the following rights:

  • to remit abroad the capital and the earnings with no time limitation after applicable Chilean taxes have been paid;
  • to purchase currency in the formal foreign exchange market in order to remit investment-related funds;
  • to be exempted from payment of value-added tax on imports of capital goods; and
  • to be governed by the same legal framework applicable to domestic investors. (Id. arts. 5-9.)

Foreign investment contracts executed between foreign investors and the Government of Chile under the superseded statue will still be governed by that statute’s rules. (Id., Transitory Provision 1.)

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Germany: Parliament Adopts Draft Act to Criminalize Commercial Assisted Suicide

(Dec. 1, 2015) On November 6, 2015, the German Bundestag (parliament) adopted a draft act that criminalizes commercial assisted suicide. (Entwurf eines Gesetzes zur Strafbarkeit der geschäftsmäßigen Förderung der Selbsttötung [Draft Act to Criminalize Commercial Assisted Suicide] (July 1, 2015), DEUTSCHER BUNDESTAG: DRUCKSACHEN UND PROTOKOLLE [BT-Drs.] 18/5373, Deutscher Bundestag website (scroll down to view text of the draft act).) The draft legislation would add a new section 217 to the German Criminal Code.  (Strafgesetzbuch (StGB) [Criminal Code] (Nov. 13, 1998, as amended), BUNDESGESETZBLATT [BGBl.] [FEDERAL LAW GAZETTE] I at 3322, GESETZE IM INTERNET; German Criminal Code (as last amended Oct. 10, 2013), GERMAN LAWS ONLINE.)

The draft act applies to associations, organizations, and individuals that offer suicide assistance with a commercial intent. The crime would be punishable with a fine or with imprisonment of up to three years.  Close relatives or other people who are close to the person wishing to commit suicide would be exempt from criminal liability. (Id. at 5.)

The Bundesrat, the constitutional body through which the German states participate in the legislative process, adopted the draft act in its November 27, 2015, session. (Beschluss des Bundesrates, Gesetz zur Strafbarkeit der geschäftsmäßigen Förderung der Selbsttötung [Decision of the Bundesrat, Act to Criminalize Commercial Assisted Suicide], DEUTSCHER BUNDESRAT: DRUCKSACHEN UND PROTOKOLLE [BR-Drs.] 544/15r (Nov. 27, 2015), Bundesrat website.)  The draft act will enter into force once the Federal President has signed it and it is published in the Federal Law Gazette. (Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (May 23, 1949), BGBl. I at 1, as amended, art. 82, GERMAN LAWS ONLINE (unofficial English translation).)


Suicide itself remains exempt from criminal punishment in Germany. Due to the fact that suicide is not a criminal offense, aiding and abetting a voluntary suicide will also remain exempt from punishment.  (Entwurf eines Gesetzes zur Strafbarkeit der geschäftsmäßigen Förderung der Selbsttötung, supra, at 10.)  Killing on request is criminally punishable, according to section 216 of the German Criminal Code.

Voting on the Draft and Reactions to the Legislation

Originally, the German Bundestag debated four different draft acts on assisted suicide that varied on the types of assisted suicide that would have been punishable. As the sponsors of the legislation were not able to reach an agreement on the voting order, the Bundestag used a ballot procedure instead.  After the third debate, the Bundestag only voted on the draft act that had received the most votes after the second debate, and that version was eventually adopted. (Geschäftsmäßige Hilfe zum Suizid wird bestraft [Commercial Assisted Suicide Will Be Punished] (Nov. 6, 2015), Deutscher Bundestag website.)

Critics contend that the draft act is unconstitutionally vague, because it includes no clear distinction between illegal commercial assisted suicide and legally aiding and abetting suicide. (Sterbehilfe: Wissenschaftlicher Dienst zweifelt an Entwürfen [Assisted Suicide: Parliamentary Research Service Questions the Draft Acts], LEGAL TRIBUNE ONLINE (Aug. 26, 2015).)

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Sweden: Government Moves to Adopt More Restrictive Rules for Asylum Seekers

(Nov. 30, 2015) On November 24, 2015, the Swedish government announced that it would bring changes to Swedish asylum rules to a vote in Parliament, following reports from the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency that the current refugee situation now is a risk to the life and health of people in Sweden because important forces of societal control (such as health providers and the police) cannot cope with the influx. Under the new rules, Sweden will adopt minimum rules that better correspond to those of other European Union (EU) countries.  This includes the granting of temporary residency permits to all asylum seekers except for quota refugees (refugees received under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees quota system).  (Press Release (with video), Regeringen föreslår åtgärder för att skapa andrum for svenskt flyktingmottagande, REGERINGEN (Nov. 24 2015); for information on Sweden’s UNHCR quota system, see SWEDEN, COUNTRY CHAPTERS – UNHCR RESETTLEMENT HANDBOOK (revised Sept. 2014).)

Under the new rules, families who applied for asylum prior to November 24, 2015, and whose children are younger than 18 years of age when their application is processed will continue to receive permanent residence. The government will also investigate the possibility of allowing private persons to house asylum seekers in their homes and to receive compensation for it.  (Id.)

Effective immediately, the police will adopt ID requirements for persons who travel to Sweden via public transportation from both Denmark and Germany. This is a move designed to reduce the number of asylum seekers who reach Sweden.  The borders will remain open for asylum seekers who have the requisite identification information.  (Id.)

The Moderate Party leader Anna Kinberg Batra has previously proposed that Sweden both close its borders to all asylum seekers who arrive from another EU country, i.e., apply the EU’s Dublin III Regulation strictly, and make a reduction in the Swedish annual monetary contribution to the EU budget as a response to what she describes as the disproportional burden on Sweden created by asylum seekers. (M: “Stoppa flyktingar som kommer via EU,” SVD (Nov. 9, 2015).) The Dublin III Regulation provides that asylum seekers should apply for asylum in the first EU country they enter. Applying the Dublin Regulation strictly would mean that any asylum seeker arriving via an EU country will be refused entry into Sweden because that the person should have sought asylum in the first safe EU country he or she entered on the journey to Sweden. The asylum seeker would thus have to remain in Denmark or Germany, which might not apply the Regulation as strictly. (Regulation (EU) No. 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 Establishing the Criteria and Mechanisms for Determining the Member State responsible for Examining an Application for International Protection Lodged in one of the Member States by a Third-Country National or a Stateless Person (Recast), EUR-LEX.)

In its announcement, which is expected to gain broad support in the Parliament, the government welcomed further talks with the four other political parties (the Alliance) that had worked with the government in October to adopt new rules on asylum. (Id.; Johan Wicklén & Kerstin Holm, Regeringen och Alliansen överens om flyktingmottagandet, SVT (Oct. 23, 2015); Luis Acosta, Sweden: Limit on Asylum Seekers Reached, Measures to Cope with Influx, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Nov. 12, 2015).)  Those rules have been deemed insufficient to stem the number of asylum seekers who continue to reach Sweden despite the Migration Authority’s announcement that it cannot provide housing to asylum seekers who arrive.  (Regeringen föreslår åtgärder för att skapa andrum for svenskt flyktingmottagande, supra.)

Although the new asylum measures will pass in parliament the government has received criticism from the Left Party that the restrictions go too far, stating “Sweden was the beacon of light [for asylum seekers]. That light has now been extinguished.” (Martin Nilsson, Flera kritiska röster efter regeringens migrationsbesked, SVERIGESRADIO (Nov. 24, 2015).)

Representatives of member parties of the Alliance, on the other hand, have criticized the government, claiming that the measures will not be successful in diverting asylum seekers to other EU countries. (Id.)

Prepared by Elin Hofverberg, Foreign Law Research Consultant, under the supervision of Luis Acosta, Chief, Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Division II.

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Taiwan: Law on Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage Adopted

(Nov. 30, 2015) The main legislative body of the Republic of China (on Taiwan), the Legislative Yuan, adopted a new Law on Underwater Cultural Heritage Preservation on November 24, 2015. (Draft Law on Preservation of Underwater Cultural Heritage (Nov. 24, 2015), Legislative Yuan website (in Chinese) (scroll down to item 6 and click on hyperlink to access text of law).)  According to the Minister of Culture, Hung Meng-chi, the legislation is the first of its kind directed at safeguarding Taiwan’s submerged archaeological assets. (ROC Passes Underwater Cultural Heritage Bill, TAIWAN TODAY (Nov. 25, 2015).)

The Law was drafted in conformity with the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage and was developed due to the fact that Taiwan’s current Cultural Heritage Preservation Law lacks the concept of protection of the cultural heritage of the sea. (Legislative Yuan Passes the Law on Preservation of Underwater Cultural Heritage, Draft Fulfills Legalization of Our Nation’s Underwater Cultural Heritage Preservation Work, Ministry of Culture website (Nov. 24, 2015) (in Chinese); Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage 2001 (Nov. 2, 2001, entered into force on Jan. 2, 2009), United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) website; Cultural Heritage Preservation Act (May 26, 1982, as last amended Nov. 9, 2011), Laws & Regulations Database of the Republic of China website.)

In Hung’s view, the new law will not only “help advance local research in maritime history” but also further “the increasingly important field of undersea archaeology.” He added, “[g]iven Taiwan’s prime location in some of the world’s most important waterways, the nation requires a comprehensive legal framework to ensure the preservation, protection and management of its rich undersea cultural heritage resources.”  (ROC Passes Underwater Cultural Heritage Bill, supra.)

The Law is in seven chapters with 44 articles. The chapters cover general provisions, attributed rights and international cooperation, activities involving underwater cultural assets, modern preservation of underwater cultural assets, excavations in the sea, penalties, and supplementary provisions. Sea excavations will not be permitted unless: the nation’s historical position or identity is involved; lack of the underwater cultural asset might affect the completeness of the interpretation of the history of mankind; it is not sufficient to protect the seas without excavation, because major commercial market value is involved; there is a need to carry out underwater cultural heritage investigation and research; without the excavation, conservation, protection, or management will be insufficient because of a dire situation or an existing change in the environment; or there are other situations in which the competent authority deems it necessary to excavate the waters. (Draft Law on Preservation of Underwater Cultural Heritage, art. 34.)

The Ministry of Culture has stated that, to avoid underwater cultural assets being made subject to improper excavation, theft, damage or other destructive acts, the new Law imposes criminal or administrative penalties for such acts, with the nature of the penalties dependent on the degree of the acts’ severity. The maximum punishment is five years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of NT$10 million (about US$307,000).  (Legislative Yuan Passes the Law on Preservation of Underwater Cultural Heritage …, supra; Draft Law on Preservation of Underwater Cultural Heritage, art. 37.)  A “Supplementary Resolution” appended to the Law states that the central organ in charge (i.e., the Ministry of Culture) may designate a specialized agency for underwater cultural heritage, exclusively devoted to carrying out all types of underwater cultural heritage protection and management work.  (Draft Law on Preservation of Underwater Cultural Heritage, Supplementary Resolution, item 1; Legislative Yuan Passes the Law on Preservation of Underwater Cultural Heritage …, supra.)

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Australia: Victorian Parliament Passes Law Establishing Protest Buffer Zone for Abortion Clinics

(Nov. 30, 2015) On November 27, 2015, the Legislative Council (upper house) of the parliament of the Australian state of Victoria passed legislation that prevents protesters from coming within 150 meters (164 yards) of an abortion clinic.  (Abortion Clinic Protest Buffer Zone Law Passes Victorian Upper House, ABC NEWS (Nov. 27, 2015).)

A bill to establish “safe access zones” at clinics providing reproductive health services was originally introduced in August 2015 by Fiona Patten, a member of the Victorian parliament from the Australian Sex Party (a progressive, civil libertarian party established in 2009).  The general proposals were later adopted in a government-sponsored bill introduced by the state’s Health Minister, Jill Hennessy, in October, the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Safe Access Zones) Bill 2015 (Victorian Legislation website; information on the original private member’s bill is also available on that website).  The Victoria Legislative Assembly (lower house) passed this bill on November 12, 2015.

Compared to the original bill, the government bill narrowed the application of the safe access zones to “premises at which abortions are provided” and set out specific prohibited behaviors.  It also included different penalties and provided for broader police enforcement and seizure powers.  (Paige Darby, Research Note on Exclusion Zones in Australia – Update 4 (Parliamentary Library & Information Service, Oct. 2015), Parliament of Victoria website.)

In the bill, as enacted, prohibited behavior is defined as

(a) in relation to a person accessing, attempting to access, or leaving premises at which abortions are provided, besetting, harassing, intimidating, interfering with, threatening, hindering, obstructing or impeding that person by any means; or
(b) subject to subsection (2) [related to employees of the premises] communicating by any means in relation to abortions in a manner that is able to be seen or heard by a person accessing, … [etc.] premises at which abortions are provided and is reasonably likely to cause distress or anxiety; or
(c) interfering with or impeding a footpath, road or vehicle, without reasonable excuse, in relation to premises at which abortions are provided; or
(d) intentionally recording by any means, without reasonable excuse, another person accessing, … [etc.] premises at which abortions are provided, without that other person’s consent; or
(e) any other prescribed behavior. (Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Safe Access Zones) Bill 2015 (Vic) (Safe Access Zones Bill) cl 5 (new § 185B), Victorian Legislation website.)

The penalty for engaging in one of these behaviors within a safe access zone, being an area within a 150 meter radius from an abortion clinic, is 120 penalty units or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months.  (Id. new § 185D.)  The current value of a penalty unit is AU$151.67, making the maximum fine under this provision AU$18,200.40 (about US$13,100).  (Penalties and Values, Victoria Justice and Regulation website (last visited Nov. 27, 2015).)  There is also a separate offense of publishing or distributing a recording of a person accessing (etc.) an abortion clinic, with the same penalties applying.  (Safe Access Zones Bill, new § 185E.)

Prior to the passage of the bill, the Victorian Parliamentary Library noted, “Tasmania is the only Australian jurisdiction which has specific exclusion zones around abortion clinics, while the ACT [Australian Capital Territory] has recently passed legislation that is yet to commence.”  (Darby, supra, at 7.)  It also noted relevant provisions and debate in other countries, including Canada, France, South Africa, and the United States.  (Id. at 9-10.)  The research paper also provided background information on protests at abortion clinics in Melbourne and related legal action by a clinic that was initiated in 2014 and determined by the Supreme Court of Victoria in August 2015.  (Id. at 2-3.)

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