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.

For questions about articles or copies of materials in the Law Library’s collections, contact us at glm@loc.gov.

Current News

Resources

Search Legal News Archives
Find legal news by topic, country, keyword, date, or author

Get Global Legal Monitor on PDF
Monthly issues from May 2006 to July 2008 are available.

Global Legal Monitor RSS
Get the Global Legal Monitor delivered to your inbox, free.

Norway: Segway Ban Lifted

To link to this article, copy this persistent link:
http://www.loc.gov/lawweb/servlet/lloc_news?disp3_l205404142_text

(Sept 30, 2014) On July 1, 2014, the unlicensed use of the self-balancing personal transport device (selvbalanserende kjøretøy), commonly known as the Segway, became legal on the streets of Norway. The device has been prohibited in the country for years because of its ability to reach relatively high speeds (20km/h, about 12.4 mph) and therefore operate more like a moped; drivers of mopeds are required to have licenses. (Norway Lifts Segway Ban, LOCAL (July 1, 2014).)

Earlier this year the issue of whether the use of Segways should be permitted was sent for consideration to the Ministry of Transport and Communications (Samferdselsdepartementet), which found that it was appropriate to treat the vehicle like a bicycle rather than a moped, provided that its maximum attainable speed was limited to 20km/h. ("Ståhjulinger" på høring, Statens Vegvesen [Norwegian Public Roads Administration] website (Mar. 26, 2014); Pressemelding, Nr.: 89/14, Fra 1. juli kan du kjøre selvbalanserende kjøretøy i Norge, [Press Release, No. 89/14, June 13, 2014 , from July 1, You Can Operate a Self-Balancing Vehicle in Norway], Samferdselsdepartementet website.)

Norway still has rules in place requiring that anyone who uses a Segway be at least 16 years old and limits the number of passengers on each device to one (i.e., the driver). (Ståhjuling, Statens Vegvesen website (last updated July 7, 2014).) However, there is no requirement that the operator wear a helmet. (Id.)

The device may be used on pedestrian and bicycle paths as well as on public roads where the maximum speed is less than 60km/h. (Id.) When travelling on pedestrian streets, the Segway may only be driven at walking speed. (20§ 4 Forskrift (FOR-1986-03-21-747) om kjørende og gående trafikk (Trafikkregler) [Regulations (FOR-1986-03-21-747) for Vehicular and Pedestrian Traffic (Traffic Rules)], LOVDATA.)

As in the case of motor vehicle, moped, or bicycle users, Segway operators are subject to a 0.02% alcohol limit, and cellphone use is not permitted. (Ståhjuling, supra.)

The use of the Segway, like the use of a bicycle, requires no permit, registration, or additional insurance. (Press Release, supra.)

Segways may not be used in forests, on ice-covered lakes, and in other environments where there are no pedestrian or bicycle paths. However, they are not prohibited in national parks in place with bicycle or walking trails. (Id.)

Prepared by Elin Hofverberg, Foreign Law Research Consultant, under the supervision of Peter Roudik, Director of Legal Research.

Author: Peter Roudik More by this author
Topic: Transportation and public works More on this topic
 Transportation safety and security More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Norway More about this jurisdiction

Back to Top

United Nations: Arms Trade Treaty Scheduled to Become Effective

To link to this article, copy this persistent link:
http://www.loc.gov/lawweb/servlet/lloc_news?disp3_l205404143_text

(Sept 30, 2014) The United Nations announced on September 25, 2014, that the Arms Trade Treaty adopted by the General Assembly in 2013 will enter into force in 90 days. It reached the necessary number of 50 ratifications on that date with the deposit of instruments of ratification by eight countries: Argentina, the Bahamas, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Saint Lucia, Senegal, and Uruguay. On the same date, Georgia and Namibia signed the treaty. (UN Treaty Regulating Global Arms Trade Set to Enter into Force, UN NEWS CENTRE (Sept. 25, 2014); Arms Trade Treaty (adopted Apr. 2, 2013), United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs website.)

The purpose of the treaty is to set standards for weapons transfers and for efforts to prevent the diversion of those weapons to unintended locations. The treaty bans the transfer of arms to those who would use them for genocide, crimes against humanity, and some war crimes. The provisions cover conventional arms including tanks and other armored vehicles, artillery systems, combat aircraft, warships, missiles and their launchers, and small weapons. (UN Treaty Regulating Global Arms Trade Set to Enter into Force, supra.)

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the ratifications, stating:

Today we can look ahead with satisfaction to the date of this historic new Treaty's entry into force. Now we must work for its efficient implementation and seek its universalisation so that the regulation of armaments – as expressed in the Charter of the United Nations – can become a reality once and for all. (Id.)

Ban also thanked the civil society organizations that worked to get the ratifications done in a speedy manner. He went on to state that the "need for the Arms Trade Treaty remains abundantly clear," and then referred to unscrupulous arms dealers, poorly guarded ammunition depots, weapons used by despotic rulers on their own citizens, and government and civilian equipment that goes missing. He noted that pirates and drug-traffickers can amass deadly weapons. (Press Release, U.N. Secretary-General, Arms Trade Treaty Enters Force, Secretary-General Announces, Urging Rapid Weapons Regulation through Implementation, Universalization, U.N. Press Release SG/SM/16201 (Sept. 25, 2014).)

Author: Constance Johnson More by this author
Topic: Treaties and International Agreements/Weapons More on this topic
 United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, 2013 More on this topic
Jurisdiction: United Nations More about this jurisdiction

Back to Top

France: Legislators Considering New Law to Fight Terrorism

To link to this article, copy this persistent link:
http://www.loc.gov/lawweb/servlet/lloc_news?disp3_l205404141_text

(Sept 30, 2014) French legislators are currently considering a proposed new law to reinforce the legal arsenal against terrorism. (Projet de loi renforçant les dispositions relatives à la lutte contre leterrorisme [Draft Law to Reinforce Provisions Regarding the Fight Against Terrorism], No. 2110 (July 9, 2014), Assemblée nationale website.) This draft law was adopted by the National Assembly on September 18, 2014, and is now being considered by the Senate. (Projet de loi adopté par l'Assemblée nationale après engagement de la procédure accélérée renforçant les dispositions relatives à la lutte contre le terrorisme [Draft Law Adopted by the National Assembly Under Accelerated Procedure to Reinforce Provisions Regarding the Fight Against Terrorism], No. 807 (Sept. 18, 2014).)

The draft law seeks to broaden the administration's authority to take preemptive actions against would-be terrorists. This includes measures such as prohibiting individuals from leaving French territory if they are suspected of seeking to join terrorist groups or activities, criminal sanctions against terrorist propaganda or promotion, and the expansion of the concept of "terrorist conspiracy" (entreprise terroriste) to cover the acts of individual "lone wolf" terrorists. (Id.) The proposal does not explicitly mention social media, but is partly meant to fight the spread of terrorist messages and propaganda on sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. (Lucie Ronfaut, Les réseaux sociaux dans le viseur du projet de loi antiterroriste [Social Networks in the Crosshairs of the Antiterrorist Law Proposal], LE FIGARO (Sept. 17, 2014).)

Reactions to the Proposal

These proposals have triggered significant controversy. The national daily newspaper Le Monde, for example, published an editorial arguing that the law would severely threaten civil liberties. (Terrorisme: un projet de loi dangereux [Terrorism: a Dangerous Law Proposal], LE MONDE (Sept. 16, 2014).) Much of the criticism focuses on the proposal to allow government authorities to prohibit, without prior judicial hearing, individual citizens from leaving French territory, and on fears that the law would threaten freedom of expression. (Julien Bayou & Thomas Watanabe-Vermorel, Monsieur Cazeneuve, votre loi antiterroriste est antidémocratique [Mr. Cazeneuve, Your Antiterrorist Law is Anti-Democratic], LIBERATION (Sept. 18, 2014).)

Proponents of the bill deny that these measures are anti-democratic and claim that they are proportional and necessary to counter the threat posed by French citizens who travel to places such as Syria in order to join jihadist groups. (Jean-Jacques Urvoas, «Notre projet de loi antiterroriste ne relève pas de l'espionnage à l'américaine» ["Our Antiterrorist Law Proposal Is Not Like American-Style Spying"], LE MONDE (Sept. 18, 2014).)

Author: Nicolas Boring More by this author
Topic: Civil rights and liberties More on this topic
 Terrorism More on this topic
Jurisdiction: France More about this jurisdiction

Back to Top

Central America; Mexico; United States: Agreement to Collaborate on Human Trafficking

To link to this article, copy this persistent link:
http://www.loc.gov/lawweb/servlet/lloc_news?disp3_l205404140_text

(Sept 30, 2014) In September 2014, attorneys general from Mexico, the United States, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras met in Mexico City to discuss strategies aimed at improving safety throughout Central America, in order to tackle the circumstances that contribute to the flow of migrant children who have been arriving at the United States southwest border. (Press Release, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs, Readout of Attorney General Holder's Meeting with Counterparts from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, (Sept. 9, 2014).)

More specifically, the attorneys general discussed mechanisms to combat smugglers of these minors and the criminal groups who attack them both in their countries of origin and while in transit to the United States. The officials agreed to form a high-level task force with members of their respective offices who will create a common plan to deal with this issue. The task force is expected to meet soon to design the plan, which will be introduced at a subsequent gathering of the attorneys general. (Id.)

Earlier this year, authorities from the United States, Mexico, Canada, and the Central American countries announced that they reached an agreement, known as the Managua Extraordinary Declaration, on several measures aimed at addressing the issue of the thousands of unaccompanied children who have been trying to migrate to the United States without immigration status. (Gustavo Guerra, Canada; Central America; Mexico; United States: Agreement on Unaccompanied Children, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (July 08, 2014).)

The Declaration provided that the signatory countries intend to adopt several measures to address this issue, including collaboration to locate human smugglers, with the purpose of combating the trafficking of unaccompanied children. (Id.)

Author: Gustavo Guerra More by this author
Topic: Human trafficking More on this topic
 Immigration More on this topic
 International affairs More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Central America More about this jurisdiction
 Mexico More about this jurisdiction
 United States More about this jurisdiction

Back to Top

Australia: Foreign Fighters Bill Introduced in Parliament

To link to this article, copy this persistent link:
http://www.loc.gov/lawweb/servlet/lloc_news?disp3_l205404139_text

(Sept 30, 2014) On September 24, 2014, the Australian Attorney-General, George Brandis, introduced the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014 in the Senate. (Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014, Parliament of Australia website.)

Background and Related Bills

The introduction of the bill follows a comprehensive review of Australia's counterterrorism legislation, which, Brandis said, showed that existing law "does not sufficiently address the emerging and unique domestic security threats posed by the return of Australians who have participated in foreign conflicts, trained with extremist groups, or people in Australia who provide support to those who may seek to do us harm." (Press Release, Hon. George Brandis QC, Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill (Sept. 23, 2014).)

This is the second national security-related bill introduced this year, following the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No.1) 2014, which focuses on the powers of the Australian intelligence agencies to gather intelligence for the purpose of protecting national security. That bill was passed by the Senate on September 25, 2014, and could be passed by the House of Representatives as early as this week. (National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No.1) 2014, Parliament of Australia website; Ben Grubb, Terror Laws Clear Senate, Enabling Entire Australian Web to Be Monitored and Whistleblowers to Be Jailed, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (Sept. 25, 2014).)

The 2013 report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security on its "Inquiry into Potential Reforms of Australia's National Security Legislation" also discussed a proposal for a mandatory data retention system, which will potentially be included in a third bill. (Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, Report of the Inquiry into Potential Reforms of Australia's National Security Legislation (May 2013); Joint Press Conference, Hon. Tony Abbott MP, New Counter-Terrorism Measures for a Safer Australia; Racial Discrimination Act; Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17; Baby Gammy (Aug. 5, 2014).)

Provisions in the Foreign Fighters Bill

If enacted, the "foreign fighters" bill would amend a number of different laws, including federal criminal laws, passport and immigration laws, customs legislation, anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing provisions, and the legislation governing the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). (Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014: Explanatory Memorandum 3 (last visited Sept. 26, 2014).) The following are among the key provisions in the bill:

Extension of Special Powers

  • The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (Cth) would be amended to extend the availability of special powers relating to terrorism offenses for a further ten years. These powers include the ability to obtain special questioning warrants and questioning and detention warrants. (Id.; Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (Cth), pt 3 div 3; see also Lisa White, Australia: Terrorism Laws: Questioning Warrants, Law Library of Congress website (Oct. 2008).)
  • Special powers related to terrorist acts and terrorism offenses in the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) would also be extended for ten years. These include stop-and-search powers, emergency entry to premises without a warrant, and the power to declare a certain area to be a prescribed security zone. (Explanatory Memorandum, supra, at 19; Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) pt IAA div 3A.) In addition, the bill would lower the threshold for arresting a person without a warrant for terrorism offenses from "believes" on reasonable grounds to "suspects" on reasonable grounds. (Explanatory Memorandum, supra, at 21 & 93.)
  • The application of the provisions in the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) on control orders and preventative detention orders, which were due to expire in 2015, would also be extended for ten years, and aspects of these provisions would be amended to include additional safeguards and criteria. For example, the criteria for issuing a control order would be expanded to include that the person engaged in armed hostilities in a foreign state, had been convicted of an offense related to terrorism in Australia or a foreign country, or had received training from a terrorist organization. (Explanatory Memorandum, supra, at 5–6 & 31–38.)
  • Control orders can be used to impose obligations, prohibitions, or restrictions on persons in order to protect the public from terrorist acts. (Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) div 104, http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Series/C2004A04868 ; see also Lisa White, Australia: Terrorism Laws: Control Orders, Law Library of Congress website (Oct. 2008).)

Re-Enactment of Provisions on Foreign Incursion and Recruitment

The provisions in the Crimes (Foreign Incursions and Recruitment) Act 1978 (Cth) would be re-enacted, with some amendments, as a new Part 5.5 of the Criminal Code Act 1995. The penalties for foreign incursion offenses would be aligned with those for terrorism offenses contained in Part 5.3 of the Criminal Code, and wording related to some offenses would also be aligned to ensure consistency. (Explanatory Memorandum, supra, at 6–7 & 43–46; Crimes (Foreign Incursions and Recruitment) Act 1978 (Cth).)

New Criminal Code Offenses

The Criminal Code Act 1995 would also be amended to include two new offenses: "advocating for terrorism" and entering a "declared area" in a foreign country. "Advocating for terrorism" would include intentionally counseling, promoting, encouraging, or urging the commission of a terrorist act and being reckless as to whether another person will engage in a terrorist act. (Explanatory Memorandum, supra, at 28.) The other new offense, entering or remaining in a "declared area," allows the Minister of Foreign Affairs to designate a declared area in a foreign country for the purposes of the offense if he or she is satisfied that a terrorist organization listed under the Criminal Code Act is engaging in hostile activity in that area. A defense is available where an individual provides evidence that he or she had a listed legitimate purpose or purposes for entering or remaining in a declared area. (Id. at 46.)

New Power to Suspend Travel Documents

  • A new power would be added to the Australian Passports Act 2005 (Cth) to allow suspension of a person's Australian travel documents for 14 days if requested by ASIO. (Id. at 4 & 79.) ASIO currently has the ability to request that a person's Australian passport be cancelled if it suspects on reasonable grounds that the person "is likely" to engage in conduct that might prejudice the security of Australia or a foreign country. The new provisions will allow a passport suspension request to be made where ASIO suspects that a person "may" leave Australia to engage in such conduct. (Id. at 11.)
  • New provisions would also allow for a person to not be notified of a decision to refuse or cancel his or her passport if that is needed to protect national security or ensure that an investigation of a terrorism offense is not adversely affected. (Id. at 4 & 12.)
New Emergency Visa Cancellation Power & Enhanced Access to Personal Identifiers

  • The Migration Act 1958 (Cth) would also be amended to include a new emergency visa cancellation power "where a non-citizen outside of Australia might be a direct or indirect threat to national security." (Id. at 8 & 60.)
  • Various other amendments would enable personal identifiers to be obtained from all persons, including Australian citizens who enter or depart Australia, and to expand the purposes for which personal identifiers may be accessed and disclosed to ensure that these "can be used to assist in identifying and authenticating the identity of a person who may be of national security concern." (Id. at 8 & 65–71.)

Human Rights Implications

The Explanatory Memorandum that accompanies the bill assesses the amendments in the light of rights protected under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other international treaties, including the rights to protection against arbitrary and unlawful interferences with privacy, freedom from arbitrary detention and arrest, freedom of expression, freedom of association, and freedom of movement. (Id. at 10–75.) It concludes that

[t]he Bill engages a range of human rights and is compatible with human rights because it promotes some rights and to the extent that it may limit particular rights, those limitations are reasonable, necessary and proportionate in achieving a legitimate objective. (Id. at 75.)

Next Step

Following its introduction in the Senate, the bill was referred to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. The Committee's report on the bill is due by October 17, 2014. (Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014, Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security website.)

Author: Kelly Buchanan More by this author
Topic: Civil rights and liberties More on this topic
 Crime and law enforcement More on this topic
 Terrorism More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Australia More about this jurisdiction

Back to Top