Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

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.

Malaysia: National Human Rights Action Plan Launched

(Apr. 16, 2018) On March 1, 2018, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, officially launched the National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP). (Press Release, Office of the Prime Minister, Action Plan Malaysia’s Commitment on Human Rights – PM (Mar. 1, 2018).) The development of the NHRAP was approved by the Cabinet in 2012 and was subsequently overseen by the Legal Affairs Division (Bahagian Hal Ehwal Undang-undang, BHEUU) of the Prime Minister’s Department, which engaged consultants to seek input from all stakeholders. (See Press Release, Pusat KOMAS, Dialogue with the Consultants of the National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP) (May 16, 2016), Hakam website; Seminar on the Development of National Human Rights Action Plan for MalaysiaINSTITUTE OF DIPLOMACY AND FOREIGN RELATIONS (2012); NHRAP, BHEUU (last visited Apr. 13, 2018).)

A copy of the NHRAP in the Malaysian language has subsequently been made available on the BHEUU website: Pelan Tindakan Hak Asasi Manusia Kebangsaan 2018 (National Human Rights Action Plan).

The NHRAP has five “pillars”: political and civil rights, socioeconomic and cultural rights, the rights of the disabled, indigenous rights, and complying with Malaysia’s international commitments. Within these pillars come 294 action plans in 83 priority areas. (NHRAP Falls Short of Addressing Systemic Inequalities in Malaysia — Comango, MALAY MAIL ONLINE (Mar. 6, 2018).) The Prime Minister said that the document “would become a solid foundation in transforming the government efforts to strengthen human rights in the country.” (Press Release, Office of the Prime Minister, supra.)

The government stated that it will launch a smartphone application in April 2018 to gather feedback on the implementation of the NHRAP. It has also agreed to establish a “high-level committee” to monitor implementation of the NHRAP. (Azura Abas, NHRAP Mobile App Will Be Available for All Come April, NEW STRAITS TIMES (Mar. 1, 2018).)

Nongovernmental groups in Malaysia have criticized the government “for allegedly cracking down on dissent and introducing legislation they say erodes freedom of speech.” (Samisha Naidu, PM Najib Launches National Human Rights Plan for a “Kinder Malaysia,” CHANNEL NEWS ASIA (Mar. 1, 2018).) The Coalition of Malaysian NGOs in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Process (Comango) commended the government on “finally launching” the NHRAP and found many areas to be “comprehensive and well-explored.” However, it also considered that the NHRAP “falls short in addressing systemic human rights issues, root causes of inequality and the enjoyment of human rights for all in the country, and lacks a gender perspective.” (NHRAP Falls Short of Addressing Systemic Inequalities in Malaysia — ComangoMALAY MAIL ONLINE (Mar. 6, 2018).)

Back to Top

Iran: IMF Evaluates Iran’s Legislative and Institutional Efforts to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing

(Apr. 13, 2018) In its March 2018 report assessing the economic situation in Iran, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) found that Iran had made progress in reforming its policies on combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism and was taking steps to improve the country’s connections to the international banking and trade system. (IMF, Islamic Republic of Iran: Selected Issues 24–29, IMF Country Report No. 18/94 (Mar. 7, 2018), IMF website; IMF Highlights Iran’s AML/CFT Progress, FINANCIAL TRIBUNE (Apr. 5, 2018) (by subscription).)

Background of Reforms

Iran’s anti-money laundering (AML) law (2008) and bylaw (2010) criminalized money laundering, established a ministerial coordination council and Financial Intelligence Unit, and instituted preventive measures for financial institutions and certain nonfinancial businesses and professions.  Iran also adopted a law on combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) in 2016.

The Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF), an intergovernmental organization established to combat international money-laundering and terrorist financing, suspended previously instituted countermeasures against Iran in June 2016 in response to Iran’s high-level political commitment to reform its AML/CFT framework. Iran, however, remains on the list of Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories issued by the FATF. (Mohammad Affianian, Iran Accelerating Reforms Ahead of FATF Deadline, FINANCIAL TRIBUNE (Jan. 28, 2018); Who We Are, FATF (last visited Feb. 1, 2018); Olga Balakina et al., Bank Secrecy in Offshore Centres and Capital Flows: Does Blacklisting Matter? 2 (Baffi Carefin Centre, Working Paper No. 2016-20, May 2016), Research Papers in Economics website. )

Since June 2016, Iran has established a cash declaration regime at its border and introduced draft amendments to its AML and CFT laws in Parliament to make those laws conform to international standards. (IMF Highlights Iran’s AML/CFT Progress, supra.) Other efforts by Iran to strengthen its AML/CFT framework include its ratification on January 24, 2018, of the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), and the Central Bank of Iran’s (CBI’s) recent approval of several preventive measures to be implemented by financial institutions, including customer due diligence and collecting beneficial ownership information. (Iran Takes Initial Step to Join UNTOC, TEHRAN TIMES (Jan. 24, 2018); IMF Highlights Iran’s AML/CFT Progress, supra.) The government had pushed all these reform measures in an effort to have Iran removed from the FATF list of Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories by the FATF’s deadline of January 31, 2018. (Affianian, supra.)

However, several items contained in the FATF Action Plan, including amendments to the current AML/CFT laws and a bill regarding Iran’s accession to the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism (currently being debated at the powerful Majlis (Parliament) National Security and Foreign Policy Commission), remained incomplete as of the deadline. (Maziar Motamedi, Iran Traces Political Motives in FATF Decision, FINANCIAL TRIBUNE (Feb. 24, 2018).)

Amendment of the Law on Combating the Financing of Terrorism

Two Iranian parliamentary commissions are currently debating bills on reforming the country’s policies on money laundering and the financing of terrorism. (Affianian, supra.) The Parliament passed the Law on Combating the Financing of Terrorism on March 17, 2016 (Islamic Parliament Research Center website (in Persian)), and the Cabinet approved some amendments to this Law for debate in Parliament on October 29, 2017. (Executive Bylaw of the Law on Combating the Financing of Terrorism, Oct. 29, 2017, Laws and Regulations Portal of Iran (in Persian).)

The amended version of the Law on Combating the Financing of Terrorism includes a provision requiring “all natural and legal entities, including non-governmental and charity organizations,” to register identifying information on their clients in their systems and refrain from providing services to those on sanction lists. (Iran Gov’t Notifies CFT Law, FINANCIAL TRIBUNE (Nov. 7, 2017).) In addition, these entities must assess the risk status of their clientele on the basis of “their background, occupation, income and asset sources, original birthplace and current place of residence, [and] services they wish to use,” among other criteria, and refuse to offer services to clients who cannot be screened through “reliable independent data sources.” (Id.) Furthermore, they are required to make increased efforts to identify risky clients on the basis of guidelines provided by the High Council of Anti-Money Laundering and fully identify account beneficiaries. (Id.)

The amended version of the Law also places restrictions on financial institutions, prohibiting them from “establishing correspondent ties with shell banks” and maintaining correspondent ties with banks that work with shell banks. (Id.) Lastly, the amendment directs the High Council of Anti-Money Laundering to institute measures to prevent nongovernmental and charity organizations from engaging in terrorist financing. (Id.)

IMF Recommendations

In its assessment, the IMF made recommendations to Iran aimed at further restoring confidence in the its financial system, improving Iran’s status with the FATF, and accelerating Iran’s reintegration into international financial and trade systems. The most critical recommendation is that Iran adopt and publish before the FATF’s June 2018 plenary meeting the comprehensive legislative and regulatory framework based on the FATF Action Plan agreed to by Iranian authorities. (IMF Highlights Iran’s AML/CFT Progress, supra.)

Other recommendations by the IMF include

  • conducting a National Risk Assessment on money laundering and terrorism financing to enhance authorities’ understanding of risks and development of appropriate policies;
  • improving AML/CFT risk-based supervision of banks and other financial institutions and imposing relevant corrective actions;
  • the issuing by the CBI of guidance to financial institutions to improve compliance in identifying beneficial owners and domestic politically exposed persons (PEPs) and applying effective preventive measures;
  • developing mechanisms (such as a public registry for beneficial ownership) to ensure the transparency of and timely access to accurate and current information of all types of entities established in Iran;
  • improving the system of declaration of assets of senior public officials in line with international best practices;
  • establishing an autonomous anti-corruption agency with law enforcement powers to prioritize the pursuit, prosecution, and adjudication of corruption cases without outside interference; and
  • improved domestic coordination between between AML and anti-corruption frameworks. (Id.)

Back to Top

Italy: New Law on Clinical Trials of Medicines and Reorganization of Health Professions Enters into Force

(Apr. 12, 2018) On February 15, 2018, a new law on clinical trials of medicines came into effect in Italy. (Law No. 3 of January 11, 2018, on the Delegation of Power to the Government over Clinical Trials of Medicines as well as on Provisions for Reorganizing the Health Professions and on the Health Directorate at the Ministry of Health) (Law No. 3), GAZZETTA UFFICIALE (G.U.) (Jan. 31, 2018) (in Italian).) The new Law directs several government ministries to issue regulations for the full implementation of the new provisions. (La legge Lorenzin (n. 3/2018) è in Gazzetta ed è in Vigore dal 15 Febbraio: Nasce Ufficialmente la Fnopi. Ecco Cosa Cambia [The Lorenzin Law (n. 3-2018) Is in the Gazzette and Effective on February 25: The Fnopi is Officially Born: This Is What Changes], FNOPI (Mar. 31, 2018).)

Clinical Trials of Medications for Human Use

The new Law delegates powers to the government to amend the existing legislation on clinical trials of medications for human use, introducing specific references to gender medicine and pediatric patients. (Law No. 3, art. 1(1).) To that effect, the Law creates a national coordinating center of territorial ethics committees for clinical trials of medicines for human use and medical devices. (Id. art. 2(1).)

Application and Dissemination of Gender Medicine Guidelines

The Law directs the Health Ministry to approve a plan for the dissemination and application of gender medicine guidelines throughout the country, focusing on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of illnesses taking into account differences arising from gender. (Id. art. 3(1).) The plan must promote biomedical, pharmacological, and psychosocial research. (Id. art. 3(2)(b).)

Reorganization of Healthcare Professionals’ Associations

In addition to regulating clinical trials of medicines, the Law reorganizes healthcare professionals’ associations into geographical districts according to the following professions: surgeons and dentists, veterinarians, pharmacists, biologists, physicists, chemists, nursing professionals, obstetrics, health technicians on medical radiology, and technical health professionals in the areas of rehabilitation and prevention. (Id. art. 4(1).) All health professionals must register in their respective health associations and are bound by the associations’ administrative and ethical rules. (Id. art. 5(1).)

National Federations of Health Administrations

According to the new Law, territorial associations are integrated into national federations based in Rome, which assume the representation of the respective professions with regard to national, European, and international institutions. (Id. art. 7(1).) National federations are composed of a president, national council, central committee, registry commission, and board of auditors. (Id. art. 8(1).)

Creation of the Field of Socio-Health Professions and Other Health Professions

In order to reinforce the protection of health, the Law creates the field of socio-health professions. (Id. art. 5(1).) A decree of the President is to determine the profile of this new health professional order. (Id. art. 5(2).) The Law also recognizes the osteopathic and chiropractic health professions. (Id. art. 7(1).) The Ministry of Health is charged with defining the educational requirements for the granting of college degrees in the areas of osteopathy and chiropractic. (Id. art. 7(2).) The professions of chemist and physicist are also recognized by the new Law, and a national federation of chemists and physicists is established. (Id. art. 8(1).) Likewise, the health professions of biologist and psychologist are recognized, as are their respective national federations. (Id. art. 9(1)–(3).)

Extension of Insurance for Health Professionals

The new Law provides that the existing health insurance fund for damages arising from health liability as established in Law No. 24 of March 8, 2017, on the Safety of Care and of the Assisted Person, and Concerning the Professional Responsibility of Health Professionals (G.U. Mar. 17, 2017 (in Italian)) must now provide access to health professionals who perform their services independently. (La Legge Lorenzin, supra.)

Malpractice in Health Professions

The new Law sets a fine of €10,000–50,000 (about US$12,356–61,777) for malpractice in health professions that require special authorizations issued by the state. (Law No. 3, art. 12(1).) Materials used for the commission of the crime are also to be confiscated. (Id.) Third parties used to commit the crimes are also subject to imprisonment for three to 10 years. (Id. art. 12(2).) Aggravating circumstances include medical malpractice causing injury to persons who are hospitalized in health facilities or in residential or semiresidential social health facilities. (Id. art. 14(1).) Manslaughter caused by medical malpractice is now punishable by imprisonment from three to 20 years. (La Legge Lorenzin, supra.)

Specialized Medical Instruction and Training of Non-EU Physicians

The Ministry of Health is to approve new regulations concerning the insertion of non-EU physicians into the Italian national health structure. (Id. art. 15(1).) A decree of the Ministry of Health may temporarily authorize non-EU physicians to participate in training or professional update initiatives carried out in Italy involving the development of clinical activities at hospital facilities, university hospitals, or institutes for recovery and scientific cures. (Id. art. 15(2).) Authorizations require compliance with specific criteria and may not last longer than two years. (Id.) Existing provisions on professional practice by non-EU physicians in Italy are repealed. (Id.)

Back to Top

New Zealand: Legislation Enabling Wiping of Historical Homosexual Convictions Enacted

(Apr. 11, 2018) On April 3, 2018, the New Zealand Parliament passed the Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Bill, and it was signed into law on April 9. (Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Bill, NEW ZEALAND PARLIAMENT (last visited Apr. 11, 2018); Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Bill (“Bill”), New Zealand Legislation website.) The legislation establishes a system that enables “men who were convicted of specific offences that have since been decriminalised to apply to be treated as if they had never been convicted.” (Wiping Historical Homosexual Convictions, MINISTRY OF JUSTICE (last visited Apr. 9, 2018).)

Offenses related to homosexual conduct were removed from the Crimes Act 1961 by the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986. (Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986, New Zealand Legislation website.) However, convictions before that date remain on a person’s criminal record as “[t]here is no general rule that a person’s conviction is disregarded because the conduct concerned is no longer an offence.” (Wiping Historical Homosexual Convictions: Questions and Answers, MINISTRY OF JUSTICE (last visited Apr. 9, 2018).)

Men who were convicted of the following offenses will be able to submit an application to the Secretary of Justice to have their convictions expunged:

  • Crimes Act 1961, section 141 (indecency between males)
  • Crimes Act 1961, section 142 (sodomy)
  • Crimes Act 1961, section 146 (keeping place of resort for homosexual acts)
  • Crimes Act 1908, section 153 (unnatural offence), but only for offences committed with any other male human being
  • Crimes Act 1908, section 154 (attempt to commit unnatural offence), but only for offences attempted to be committed with or against any other male human being (Id.; Crimes Act 1961 (as enacted), NZLII website; Crimes Act 1908, NZLII website.)

Representatives, such as family members, of people who have since passed away can also apply to have the convictions expunged. (Bill cls 14 & 15.) The Secretary must be satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that the conduct for which the conviction was entered would not be an offense under current law. (Id. cl 8.)

The introduction of the Bill followed the presentation in the Parliament of a petition, created by Wiremu Demchick and gaining the support of 2,111 others, asking that “in the matter of those who were convicted of consensual homosexual acts prior to the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986, the House, (a) promptly issue an official apology to those convicted, and (b) pass legislation which sets out a process for reversing the convictions of those convicted, both living and deceased, in a manner which upholds the mana and dignity of those convicted.” (Petition of Wiremu Demchick and 2,111 Others, NEW ZEALAND PARLIAMENT (last visited Apr. 9, 2018).)

The then-Minister of Justice, Amy Adams, upon introducing the Bill in July 2017, also moved that the Parliament apologize to the men convicted of the offenses, and this motion was passed. (Parliamentary Debates (Hansard), First Reading, Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Bill (Amy Adams), 6 July 2017.)

In a press release following the third reading of the Bill, the current Minister of Justice, Andrew Little, stated,

I would like to apologise again to all the men and members of the Rainbow Community who have been affected by the prejudice, stigma and other negative effects caused by convictions for historical homosexual offences.

This Bill sends a clear signal that discrimination against gay people is no longer acceptable and that we are committed to putting right, wrongs from the past. (Press Release, Hon. Andrew Little, Bill Wipes Historic Homosexual Convictions (Apr. 3, 2018).)

Back to Top

European Union: Regulation on Cross-border Portability of Online Content Services in Effect

(Apr. 10, 2018) On April 1, 2018, the Regulation on Cross-border Portability of Online Content Services (Portability Regulation) became applicable across the European Union (EU). The Portability Regulation aims to accomplish seamless access for consumers throughout the EU to online content services, such as Netflix or Spotify, which they subscribe to in their home Member State. (Regulation (EU) No 2017/1128 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 June 2017 on Cross-border Portability of Online Content Services in the Internal Market 2018 O.J. (L 168) 1, EUR-Lex website.) Regulations, as opposed to directives, do not need to be transposed into national law by the EU Member States and are directly applicable. (Consolidated Version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) art. 288, 2016 O.J. (C 202) 47, EUR-Lex website.)

The goal of the Portability Regulation is to ensure that consumers who live in the EU can use online content services, such as video-on-demand platforms, online TV services, music streaming services, or game online marketplaces, when they stay temporarily in another Member State for travel, vacation, study, or business purposes. (Portability Regulation recital 1; Cross-border Portability of Online Content Services, EUROPEAN COMMISSION (last updated Mar. 1, 2018).) The portability of online content is also available for consumers who daily commute to another Member State. (MEMO/18/2601, Fact Sheet, European Commission, Digital Single Market – Portability of Online Content Services (Mar. 27, 2018).)

Background

Previously, consumers traveling or staying temporarily in a Member State other than their Member State of residence in many cases could not continue to access the online content services they had lawfully obtained the right to access in their home Member State. (Portability Regulation recital 3.) Providers of online content services hold licenses only for certain territories within the EU and therefore had to take actions such as prohibiting access to their services from IP addresses situated outside the territory concerned. (Id. recital 10.)

The Portability Regulation, however, does not change the territorial licensing model. (Id. recital 12.) In order to ensure that providers of online content services are able to comply with their new duty to provide cross-border portability of their services, the Portability Regulation contains a specific legal mechanism (id. recital 23), namely that providing an online content service and the subscriber’s accessing it are deemed to occur solely in the subscriber’s Member State of residence if he or she is staying only temporarily in another Member State (id. art. 4). The providers can therefore offer cross-border portability of online content without having to obtain licenses for those additional territories. (MEMO/18/2601, supra; Portability Regulation recital 23.)

New Rules

According to the Portability Regulation, the provider is obligated not only to provide access to the same content but to make it available on the same range and number of devices and with the same range of functionalities. (Portability Regulation art. 3, ¶ 1.) However, the provider is not required to meet the same quality requirements as if it were providing that service in the subscriber’s Member State of residence. (Id. art. 3, ¶ 3.) On the other hand, the provider must not take any action to reduce the quality of delivery of the online content service. (Id. art. 3, ¶ 3, subpara. 1.)

The Portability Regulation does not determine a maximum duration for staying abroad. It defines the term “temporarily present in a Member State” as “being present in a Member State other than the Member State of residence for a limited period of time.” (Id. art. 2, ¶ 4.)

The obligation of providers to offer cross-border portability is mandatory law and, consequently, the parties cannot exclude it, derogate from it, or vary its effect. (Id. recital 21.) Providers are also not allowed to impose any extra charges on subscribers for the use of the online content service in another Member State. (Id. art. 3, ¶ 2.) Whether providers additionally offer their subscribers access to local content is at their discretion. (MEMO/18/2601, supra.)

As the Portability Regulation covers only situations in which subscribers stay in another Member State for a limited period of time, the provider is obliged to verify the subscriber’s Member State of residence. The provider is therefore entitled to request that the subscriber provide, for example, an identity card and payment details at the conclusion and renewal of a contract for the provision of an online content service. (Portability Regulation art. 5, ¶¶ 1 & 3.) If the provider has reasonable doubts about the subscriber’s Member State of residence in the course of the duration of the contract, the provider is allowed to repeat the verification of the subscriber’s Member State of residence—for example, by checking the IP address. (Portability Regulation art. 5, ¶ 2.)

The services provided by public broadcasters like the BBC also fall within the scope of the Portability Regulation if the consumer can already access the services on different devices, the provider has verified the subscriber’s Member State of residence, and either the services are offered against payment or the provider has chosen to comply with the new portability rules. (MEMO/18/2601, supra.)

Prepared by Catharina Schmidt, Law Library intern, under the supervision of Jenny Gesley, Foreign Law Specialist.

Back to Top