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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.

Israel: Expansion of Rabbinical Courts’ Enforcement Authority over Divorce Refusers

(Apr. 25, 2017) On April 3, 2017, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) passed the Rabbinical Courts (Enforcement of Divorce Judgements) (Amendment No. 8) Law, 5777-2017 (Amendment Law). (SEFER HAHUKIM [BOOK OF LAWS, official gazette, SH] 5777 No. 2627 p. 593, available at KNESSET NATIONAL LEGISLATION DATABASE (in Hebrew).)  The Amendment Law amends the Rabbinical Courts (Enforcement of Divorce Judgments) Law.  (SH 5758-1998, No. 1507 p. 139, as amended (Enforcement Law) (in Hebrew).)

The Rabbinical Courts Jurisdiction (Marriage and Divorce) Law, 5713-1953, authorizes rabbinical courts to adjudicate matters of marriage and divorce of Jewish citizens and residents of Israel, in accordance with Jewish law.  (Rabbinical Courts’ Jurisdiction (Marriage and Divorce) 5713-1953, as amended, §§ 1-2, SH 5713 No. 134 p. 165 (in Hebrew).)  While rabbinical courts may decide that the parties to a marriage should obtain a divorce, they do not have the power to dissolve the marriage.  For a divorce to be valid, Jewish law requires the consensual delivery of a get (writ of divorce) by the husband to the wife and her consensual receipt of the get.  (Jewish Divorce 101, CHABAD.ORG (last visited Apr. 24, 2017).) 

The Enforcement Law was designed to address the difficulty faced by persons whose spouses do not comply with a rabbinical court’s divorce judgment on giving or receiving a get.  To encourage compliance, the Enforcement Law provides enforcement authority to the rabbinical courts, including the power to subject non-compliers (get refusers) to imprisonment until they comply.  Imprisonment of a get refuser generally does not exceed a five-year period, which can be periodically extended to up to ten years.  (Enforcement Law § 3.)  The Enforcement Law also authorizes the rabbinical courts to issue “restriction orders” against prisoners already incarcerated either for committing unrelated offenses or for refusing to give a get.   (Explanatory Notes, Amendment Law Draft Bill, Knesset Hatsaot Hok No. 691 p. 117 (in Hebrew).)

According to the explanatory notes for the draft bill of the Amendment Law, “[a] refusal to give a get inflicts serious harm on the rights of the spouse, including his/her right to liberty, respect, and spousal relations, and sometimes even to his/her right to parenting.  That is why there is justification in imposing restrictions on a get refuser to bring him to give a get.”  (Id.)

Among the restrictions authorized by the Enforcement Law to be applied to prisoners who are get refusers are limitations on special leave, sending and receiving mail, visitation rights, paid work, purchases at the prison’s cantina, and early release.  (Enforcement Law § 2(a)(7).)   The Amendment Law provides that the rabbinical courts may also limit get-refusing prisoners from:

(10) participating in any organized educational activities that takes place in prison;

(11) receiving, according to his request, food that complies with special Kashrut (Jewish dietary laws), that is not provided to all the prisoners, as long as the food provided … includes basic items that comply with such requirements;

(12) staying in a special place in prison that is designated for religious prisoners; and

(13) wearing his personal clothes; [if] the rabbinical court so ordered, the prisoner or the detainee will be forced to wear prisoner clothing in public places in or outside of prison. (Amendment Law § 1, adding subsections 10-13 to § 2(a)(7) of the Enforcement Law.)

A prisoner who has been subjected to a restriction decree may be ordered to be held in solitary confinement for a period of 14 days until he complies with the divorce judgment.  This period may be renewed every nine days if the prisoner has not complied.  The placement of a prisoner in solitary confinement, however, cannot last under any circumstances more than seven days consecutively, and there is a break of seven days between each period of solitude.  (Enforcement Law § 3A(a-e).)

The Amendment Law provides that a rabbinical court that has ordered the placement of a person in solitary confinement may also order that the prisoner may not be permitted to have any phone contact or have any writing or reading materials except for a prayer book.  (Amendment Law § 2, adding subsection (f) to §3 A of the Enforcement Law.)

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Inter-Parliamentary Union: Assembly Focuses on Parliamentarians’ Role in Fighting Terrorism

(Apr. 25, 2017) On April 1, 2017, the 136th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) began in Dhaka, Bangladesh.  The 2017 Assembly focused on parliamentarians’ role in fighting terrorism.  (IPU Assembly 2017 Begins in Dhaka, ASIAN AGE ONLINE  (Apr. 1, 2017).) The Assembly lasted for five days, ending on April 5.  According to a recent news article, a total of 1,348 delegates from 131 countries, among them 650 members of parliaments, 53 speakers and deputy speakers of legislatures, and 209 female parliamentarians attended this event.  (5-Day IPU Assembly Begins in Dhaka, DHAKA TRIBUNE (Apr. 1, 2017).)

The meeting ended with a declaration (the Dhaka Declaration) of the intention of the participants to end the inequalities around the world and to stop foreign interference in the internal matters of a sovereign state.  (136th IPU Assembly Ends with Dhaka Declaration, DHAKA TRIBUNE (Apr. 6, 2017).)

A Draft Resolution of 18 points was passed by the IPU Standing Committee on Peace and International Security with a vote of 44 to 10 and was adopted by the General Assembly.  (Id.)  The key proposal of the Draft Resolution was on the prevention of foreign interference in any country’s internal affairs.  Bangladesh, China, and India were among the 44 nations that voted in favor of the Draft Resolution; Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom voted against it. Belgium abstained. (IPU Passes Resolution to Stop Foreign Intervention in Internal Affairs, BDNEWS24.COM, (Apr. 6, 2017).)

The Draft Resolution included a provision on condemning all forms of terrorism and included human rights issues. It states that the IPU:

Strongly urges all States to fulfil their obligations under international law, to condemn terrorism in all its forms, as manifested in the invasion and occupation of territories, ethnic cleansing and displacement, the destruction of humanity’s archaeological heritage, the establishment of child armies, the abuse of women and suicide operations; these obligations include refraining from the threat or use of force and observing the territorial integrity of other States, while also respecting human rights, State sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of States; … .  (The Role of Parliament in Preventing Outside Interference in the Internal Affairs of Sovereign States, ¶ 74 (Mar. 23, 2017, with amendment as suggested by Lebanon, bold highlights as in text), IPU website.)

The Draft Resolution also urges all the states to fulfill, among their other obligations under international law, those that include:

refraining from the threat or use of force, observing the territorial integrity of other States, not encouraging unrest and trouble in States’ domestic affairs, not causing any internal conflict or disturbance, and avoiding any attempt to influence a State’s national security, political, economic, cultural or social affairs, while also respecting human rights, State sovereignty and noninterference in the internal affairs of States. (Id. ¶ 75, with amendment as suggested by United Arab Emirates.)

Background on the IPU

The IPU is an international organization of the parliaments of sovereign states.  It was established in 1889, at the initiative of two parliamentarians, William Randal Cremer (United Kingdom) and Frédéric Passy (France).  The IPU was the first permanent forum for political, multilateral negotiations, and it contributed to the creation of  the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.  (What Is the IPU, IPU website (last visited Apr. 5, 2017).) The nature, purpose, and composition of the IPU are set forth in the Statutes of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.  (Statutes of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (adopted in 1976, extensively revised in Oct. 1983, as last amended in Mar. 2016), IPU website.)

The IPU, as a member organization of the United Nations since the early 1990s, “has been working closely with the United Nations to make international relations and decision-making more transparent as well as more effective.” (IPU Cooperation with the United Nations: Overview, IPU website (last visited Apr. 7, 2017).)  In the spring of 2007, to further the growing partnership between the IPU and the U.N., the IPU established a dedicated Committee on United Nations Affairs.  (IPU Cooperation with the United Nations: Standing Committee on United Nations Affairs, IPU website (last visited Apr. 7, 2017).)   A policy paper prepared at the request of the Advisory Group of the IPU Committee on United Nations Affairs and endorsed at the 117th Assembly of the IPU in Geneva in 2007 states, “[w]hile constitutional systems vary from one country to another, parliaments everywhere are the central institution of democracy.”  (Geert Versnick, MP (Belgium), On the Nature of the Relationship Between the United Nations and the World of Parliaments, IPU Document No. 34, 117th IPU Assembly (Oct. 10, 2007).)

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Brazil: New Law Prohibits the Use of Handcuffs on Pregnant Inmates During Labor

(Apr. 24, 2017) On April 12, 2017, three laws related to the treatment of women during childbirth and its aftermath were adopted in Brazil. Law No. 13.434 amends article 292 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to prohibit the use of handcuffs on pregnant women inmates during medical and hospital preparatory procedures for delivery and during labor  or on such women during the immediate postpartum period. (Lei No. 13.434, de 12 de Abril de 2017, PLANALTO; Código De Processo Penal, Decreto-Lei No. 3.689, de 3 de Outubro de 1941, PLANALTO.)  The Law entered into force on April 13, 2017, the date of its publication. (Lei No. 13.434, art. 2.)

Law No. 13,435 establishes August as the national breastfeeding month, with the purpose of educating the public and bringing awareness of the importance of breastfeeding. (Lei No. 13.435, de 12 de Abril de 2017, PLANALTO. )

The third new law amends the Child and Adolescent Statute to guarantee mothers of newborns the right to follow-up consultation and orientation from medical professionals related to breastfeeding. (Lei No. 13,436, de 12 de Abril de 2017, PLANALTO; Estatuto da Criança e do Adolescente, Lei No. 8,069, de 13 de julho 1990 (as amended), PLANALTO.)

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Germany: New Rules for Operation of Drones and Model Aircraft

(Apr. 24, 2017) On April 7, 2017, an amendment to the Air Traffic Licensing Regulation and the Air Traffic Regulation entered into force in Germany.  The amendment introduced mores stringent rules for the operation of commercial drones.  In addition, the new rules will also be applicable to the operation of model aircraft.  (Verordnung zur Regelung von unbemannten Fluggeräten [Regulation to Regulate Unmanned Aerial Vehicles] (Drone Regulation), Mar. 30, 2017, BUNDESGESETZBLATT [BGBl.] [FEDERAL LAW GAZETTE] I at 683, BGBl. website; Luftverkehrs-Ordnung [LuftVO] [Air Traffic Regulation], Oct. 29, 2015, BGBl. I at 1894, GERMAN LAWS ONLINE; Luftverkehrs-Zulassungs-Ordnung [LuftVZO] [Air Traffic Licensing Regulation], June 19, 1964, BGBl. I at 370, as amended, GERMAN LAWS ONLINE.)

The Air Traffic Act defines unmanned aerial systems (UAS), commonly called “drones,” as “unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), including their control stations, which are not used for hobby or recreational purposes.” If, on the other hand, the UAVs are merely used for hobby or recreational purposes, they qualify as “model aircraft.”  (Luftverkehrsgesetz [LuftVG] [Air Traffic Act], May 10, 2007, BUNDESGESETZBLATT [BGBL.] [FEDERAL LAW GAZETTE] I at 698, § 1, ¶ 1, sentence 3, as amended, GERMAN LAWS ONLINE.) Until their amendment, the two sets of air traffic regulations were only applicable to the operation of drones and not to model aircraft.

New Labeling and Operator Requirements

All drones and model aircraft weighing more than 0.25 kilograms must be marked with a permanent and fireproof label indicating the name and address of the owner. (Drone Regulation, art. 1, no. 1.)  In addition, from October 1, 2017, onwards, operators of drones and model aircraft that weigh more than two kilograms will need certification to demonstrate that the operator has specialized knowledge of the operation of UAS and their legal framework.  This certification can be a pilot’s license or a similar certificate from an agency recognized by the Federal Aviation Office in the case of drones or a certificate from an aviation sports club in the case of model aircraft.  (Id. art. 2, no. 5, §§ 21d & 21e.)  The certificates are valid for five years.  A certificate will not be required if the UAS is only used on a model airplane airfield.  (Id. art. 2, no. 5, § 21a, ¶ 4, sentence 2.)

Authorization to Fly

Operation of the following drones and model aircraft requires an authorization to fly granted by the relevant state aviation authority and usually valid for two years:

  • drones or model aircraft weighing more than five kilograms;
  • rocket-powered drones and model aircrafts whose propellant mass exceeds 20 grams;
  • drones and model aircraft with a combustion engine, if they are flown within 1.5 kilometers of a residential area;
  • drones and model aircraft of all kinds if they are flown within 1.5 kilometers of an airport (flight at airports requires an additional clearance from German Aviation Control); and
  • drones and model aircraft of all kinds if flown at “night,” defined by the EU Implementing Regulation as the hours “between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight.” (Id. art. 2, no. 5, § 21a, ¶ 1; Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 923/2012 of 26 September 2012 Laying Down the Common Rules of the Air and Operational Provisions Regarding Services and Procedures in Air Navigation and Amending Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1035/2011 and Regulations (EC) No 1265/2007, (EC) No 1794/2006, (EC) No 730/2006, (EC) No 1033/2006 and (EU) No 255/2010, 2012 O.J. (L 281) 1, art. 2, no. 97, EUR-LEX.) 

Prohibitions and Restrictions

Drones or model aircraft must always yield the right of way to manned aircraft. (Drone Regulation, art. 2, no. 5, § 21f, ¶ 1.)  The operation of drones and model aircraft weighing more than 25 kilograms is prohibited.  (Id. art. 2, no. 5, § 21b, ¶ 2.)

Drones or model aircraft weighing less than five kilograms must be kept within the operator’s visual line of sight at all times. (Id. art. 2, no. 5, § 21b, ¶ 1, sentence 1, no. 1.)  They are not within the visual line of sight if the operator cannot see them without vision-enhancing devices or if he/she is not able to have an unobstructed view of the aircraft.  The operation of drones or model aircraft with visual output devices like video glasses is not considered to be outside the visual line of sight if the aircraft is flown below 30 meters and weighs less than 0.25 kilograms. (Id. art. 2, no. 5, § 21b, ¶ 1, sentence 2.)

Drones and model aircrafts cannot be operated:

  • within 100 meters of or above people and public gatherings, the scene of an accident, disaster zones, other sites of operation of police or other organizations with security-related duties, and military drill sites;
  • within 100 meters of or above correctional facilities, military complexes, industrial complexes, power plants, and power generation and distribution facilities;
  • within 100 meters of or above the property of federal or state governments, diplomatic or consular missions, international organizations, and law enforcement and security agencies;
  • within 100 meters of or above federal highways, federal waterways, and railway systems;
  • above nature reserves;
  • above 100 meters;
  • above residential property if the drone or model aircraft weighs more than 0.25 kilograms or if it is able to receive, transmit, or record optical, acoustic, or radio signals;
  • in controlled airspace;
  • to transport explosives, pyrotechnic articles, radioactive materials, or hazardous materials; or
  • within 100 meters of or above hospitals. (Id. art. 2, no. 5, § 21b, ¶ 1, sentence 1, no. 2-11.)

The aviation authority may grant an exception to the general prohibitions in justified cases. (Id. art. 2, no. 5, § 21b, ¶ 3.)

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Brazil: Federal Supreme Court Reaffirms Rule that Civil Police Cannot Go on Strike

(Apr. 24, 2017) On April 5, 2017, the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court reaffirmed by a majority vote an understanding that it is unconstitutional for the civil police (polícia civil) and other public servants who act directly in the area of public security to exercise the right to strike.  (Plenário Reafirma Inconstitucionalidade de Greve de Policias Civis, NOTÍCIAS STF (Apr. 5, 2017).) The decision was taken during the judgment of an extraordinary appeal with recognized general repercussions, which had been filed by the State of Goiás against a decision of the local Justice Tribunal (Tribunal de Justiça de Goiás).  (Id.) In that case the Tribunal’s decision on  the action filed by the State of Goiás against the Goiás Civil Police Union (Sindicato dos Policiais Civis de Goiás) guaranteed the right to strike because, in the understanding of the local Justice Tribunal, the complete prohibition of the police’s right to strike had not been imposed as it was not adopted by the legislature and it is not proper for the judiciary, acting as if it were the original legislature, to restrict that right.  (Id.)

In its decision, the Supreme Court stated that for purposes of general repercussions, the exercise of the right to strike, in any form or modality, is forbidden to civil police officers and all civil servants who act directly in the area of public security; the government is required to participate in mediation for these officers under the terms of article 165 of the Code of Civil Procedure, in order to give the officers a chance to give voice to their interests. (Id.)

Extraordinary Appeal (recurso extraordinário)

An extraordinary appeal is an appeal filed with the Federal Supreme Court contesting the decision (acórdão) of a lower tribunal that contradicts a constitutional norm, declares unconstitutional a federal law or treaty, or considers valid a law or act of a local government contested under the Constitution.  Its main purpose is to preserve the constitutional command violated.  (4 MARIA HELENA DINIZ, DICIONÁRIO JURÍDICO 77 (2005).)

General Repercussions (Repercussão Geral)

Constitutional Amendment No. 45 of December 30, 2004, included as a prerequisite for the admission of an extraordinary appeal the requirement that the constitutional question being raised present an issue with general repercussions. (Emenda Constitucional No. 45, de 30 de Dezembro de 2004, PLANALTO.)

In order for the Federal Supreme Court to examine the admissibility of an extraordinary appeal, which may be rejected only by agreement of two-thirds of its members, the appellant must now demonstrate the general repercussions of the constitutional questions argued in the case, as provided by law.  (Constituição Federal, art. 102 § 3, PLANALTO.)

According to the Federal Supreme Court, the purpose of the requirement for the admissibility of an extraordinary appeal being based on a constitutional issue of general repercussions is to define the jurisdiction of the Federal Supreme Court in trials of extraordinary appeals that have social, political, economic, or legal relevance that transcends the subjective interests of the case and, as a practical matter, to standardize the constitutional interpretation without requiring the Court to decide multiple identical cases on the same constitutional issue.  (“Finalidades,” Apresentação do Instituto, Supremo Tribunal Federal website (last updated Dec. 5, 2016).)

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