Law Library Stacks

The Law Library of Congress produces reports primarily for members of Congress.  The legal research reports listed below by topic provide commentary and recommended resources on issues and events. These reports are provided for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. The information provided reflects research undertaken as of the date of writing, which has not been updated unless specifically noted.

This page highlights the most recent reports. See the Comprehensive Index of Legal Reports for our complete list of our current reports. Historical reports can be found in the “Publications of the Law Library of Congress” collection.

Aeronautics and Space

Airport Noise Regulations

This multinational report on airport noise regulations surveys the laws of the European Union; six of its Member States (France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden); and the United Kingdom.  Noise thresholds typically vary between the surveyed jurisdictions as well as between individual airports, taking into account both geographic and commercial interests. All jurisdictions surveyed require that noise from airports be taken into account when planning and zoning new residential areas and airports. Other methods for limiting noise levels include the imposition of taxes or fines on airlines or airports that violate established noise thresholds. (Feb. 2020)

Regulation of Drones

The increased use of drones for civilian applications has presented many countries with regulatory challenges. Such challenges include the need to ensure that drones are operated safely, without harming public and national security, and in a way that would protect areas of national, historical, or natural importance. A variety of the countries surveyed in this report have also made efforts to address concerns regarding the property and privacy rights of landowners or other persons impacted by the operation of drones. (April 2016)

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Armed Forces

Israel: Military Court Decision on Killing Neutralized Palestinian Assailant

On January 4, 2017, Israel’s Military Court convicted a sergeant in the Israel Defense Forces of manslaughter and of “unbecoming conduct” for shooting and killing an injured Palestinian assailant without justification and in violation of military rules of engagement. The Court ruled that the defendant’s act was not intended for the performance of a defined mission. Taking a person’s life after he has been subdued—even the life of a “terrorist,” as the assailant is referred to throughout the decision—is prohibited and violated military ethical rules, the Court said, and as such did not coincide with the behavior expected from a soldier at the rank of the defendant. (Jan. 2017)

Israel: Military Draft Law and Enforcement

Israeli law subjects all male and female Israeli citizens and residents to a military draft. Mandatory military service is generally 24 to 32 months, with this period varying depending on the recruit’s gender, age or professional training in medicine or dentistry. Limited exemptions from the draft apply to female recruits under circumstances defined by law. Two groups within Israeli society, however, have traditionally been exempted from the draft: ultra-Orthodox Jews (Haredi) and Israeli Arabs. (Nov. 2019)

Israel: Sentencing of Soldier Convicted of Killing Neutralized Palestinian Assailant

On February 21, 2017, the Military Court Central District sentenced an Israel Defense Forces sergeant to imprisonment for 18 months and ordered that he be demoted to the rank of private.  The defendant was also sentenced to an additional 12 months of imprisonment if he commits another manslaughter offense within three years, as well as an additional six months’ imprisonment if he unlawfully uses a weapon within two years.  (Mar. 2017)

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Banking and Finance

Regulation of Cryptocurrency Around the World

This report surveys the legal and policy landscape surrounding cryptocurrencies around the world. This report covers 130 countries as well as some regional organizations that have issued laws or policies on the subject. The past four years have seen cryptocurrencies become ubiquitous, prompting more national and regional authorities to grapple with their regulation. The expansive growth of cryptocurrencies makes it possible to identify emerging patterns. (June 2018)

Regulation of Cryptocurrency in Selected Jurisdictions

This report summarizes the cryptocurrency policies and regulatory regimes in 14 jurisdictions around the world. Among the key issues covered in the report are matters relating to the legality of cryptocurrency markets; the tax treatment of cryptocurrencies; and the applicability of anti-money laundering, anti-organized crime, and anti-terrorism-financing laws. (June 2018)

Regulatory Approaches to Cryptoassets

This report covers 46 jurisdictions, including the European Union, and focuses primarily on regulatory approaches to cryptoassets created through blockchain, or distributed ledger technology, in the context of financial market and investor protection laws. It also contains updated information regarding the application of tax and AML/CFT laws to cryptocurrencies in the countries covered. Additional countries not covered in this report may also have taken actions in one or both of these areas, but were not included due to there being no existing policies, or new or pending laws, related to financial regulation and oversight of cryptocurrency activities. (Apr. 2019)

Taxation of Cryptocurrency Block Rewards

This report surveys the tax treatment of new tokens obtained by cryptocurrency mining or staking, often known as “block rewards,” in 31 countries around the globe. It also addresses the tax implications of cryptocurrency tokens acquired through airdrops and hard forks (also referred to as a “chain split”) in various jurisdictions. This report complements a broader comparative study on regulatory approaches to cryptoassets, including the application of tax laws to cryptocurrency activities. (Jan. 2021)

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Government Responses to Disinformation

Concerns regarding the impact of viral dissemination of disinformation on democratic systems of government, on political discourse, on public trust in state institutions, and on social harmony have been expressed by many around the world. This report addresses reported instances of alleged disinformation and highlights governmental responses to challenges posed by the spread of disinformation on social media platforms in 16 jurisdictions. (Sept. 2019)

Initiatives to Counter Fake News

This report examines the legal approaches of 15 countries, representing all regions of the world, to the emerging problem of manipulation with “fake news” using mass and social media, especially the impact of fake news on ongoing political processes and elections, and the legislative measures undertaken to counteract the dissemination of false information. With the exception of Japan, the widespread distribution of false information and its impact on decision making and democratic processes is becoming a challenge worldwide. The individual country surveys analyze current and proposed initiatives to limit the spread of false information undertaken at the national level, each country’s challenges associated with these efforts, and efforts undertaken by national governments to secure the validity and accuracy of legal information. (Apr. 2019)

Laws Protecting Journalists from Online Harassment

Attacks against journalists appear to be on the rise recently in countries around the world. These include attacks allegedly directed by governments or politicians, as well as by individuals displeased with their own media coverage or generally with the press. The widespread use of social media has facilitated harassment of journalists in online settings by a variety of means, including by disseminating threats and disinformation, stalking, and broadcasting private or personally identifiable information about targeted journalists (doxing). This report is composed of a survey of relevant international law instruments and activities directed at protection against online threats and harassment of journalists, as well as a comparative summary and individual surveys for 12 countries. (Sept. 2019)

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Constitutional Issues

Civic Space Legal Framework

This report surveys the legal framework of civic space in Brazil, Finland, Morocco, and Tunisia. Civic space protections include the right to access government information, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, the right to privacy and data protection, and freedom of the press. (Oct. 2020)

Freedom of Expression during COVID-19

This report surveys legal acts regulating mass media and their ability to distribute information freely during the Covid-19 pandemic. The report focuses on recently introduced amendments to national legislation aimed at establishing different control measures over the media outlets, internet resources, and journalists in 20 selected countries around the world where adoption of such laws has been identified. Enforcement practices were reviewed in all the countries surveyed, and select examples can be found in all the individual country reports. (Sept. 2020)

Immunity from Prosecution for Former Presidents

This chart reports on 32 jurisdictions with constitutional or statutory provisions addressing immunity of current and former presidents. Where a provision was located specifying whether presidents continue to have immunity after they leave office, such provision is noted. The chart also includes each country’s Freedom House aggregate score, a scale that comparatively assesses political rights and civil liberties in each country. (Oct. 2017)

Interstate Compacts in the United States

An interstate compact is an agreement between two or more states of the United States that is approved by those states’ respective legislatures, and, if required based on the subject matter of the compact, consented to by the US Congress.  Compacts that receive congressional consent become federal law. A compact typically includes provisions regarding its purpose; specific terms with respect to the subject of the compact; in some cases, establishment of an interstate agency to administer the compact or some other method of administration; sources of funding; and other contract terms. (June 2018)

Israel: Scope and Duration of Amendments Regulating the Tenure and Operation of a Rotating Government

On May 7, 2020, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) adopted legislation amending the Basic Law: The Government and the Basic Law: The Knesset to provide a legal basis for the establishment of a rotating government as an alternative form of government in Israel (Amendment Law). In addition to provisions applicable to future rotating governments, the legislation contains provisions that will exclusively apply to the upcoming 35th government. (May 2020)

Laws Lifting Sovereign Immunity

This report provides a review of laws adopted in Cuba, Iran, Libya, Russia, Sudan, and Syria on lifting the sovereign immunity of foreign states. Individual lawsuits against the United States brought before national and international courts by these countries are also analyzed. Except for Iran and Russia, the surveyed countries have no specific legislation addressing general principles of sovereign immunity. Iran uses domestic counterterrorism legislation to facilitate the freezing of financial assets of foreign governments. Syria uses such legislation to freeze the assets of individuals, including government officials, while Sudan uses it simply to prosecute foreign nationals. Cuba and Iran have adopted special laws targeting the US. (May 2016)

Legal Mechanisms for Removing a Head of State for Incapacity

Rules applicable to the removal of officials who hold real executive powers differ depending on the type of government system applicable in each country. The countries surveyed also differed in regard to the order of succession in the event of a president’s incapacity. While some countries allow for succession to take place until the end of the presidential term, others provide for early elections and reduced presidential authority for interim presidents.  (Oct. 2020)

Limits on Freedom of Expression

This report examines the scope of protection extended to freedom of speech in 13 selected countries. In particular, the report focuses on the limits of protection that may apply to the right to interrupt or affect in any other way public speech. The report also addresses the availability of mechanisms to control foreign broadcasters working on behalf of foreign governments. The terms “freedom of speech” and “freedom of expression” as used in this report are interchangeable. (June 2019)

Parliamentary Procedures Requiring a Supermajority

This report identifies countries where a vote by a supermajority of legislators is required to change or initiate some parliamentary procedures. The report’s focus is mainly on the procedural requirements for deviation from standing orders and the termination of filibusters. Following a detailed review of procedural rules accepted by legislatures worldwide, the report includes foreign jurisdictions where legal acts defining parliamentary procedures require a qualified majority vote on a motion to proceed with debating a bill, or to close deliberations and move to voting. (Apr. 2017)

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Crime and Law Enforcement

Decriminalization of Domestic Violence

Russia decriminalized nonaggravated battery in July of 2016 and made it an administrative offense punishable by a fine or detention. However, repeated battery and battery committed against close relatives remained punishable under the Criminal Code. Russia amended the Criminal Code once again in February of 2017 and removed the provision regarding assaulting close relatives from the article on nonaggravated battery. As a result, violence committed against family members has also been made an administrative offense. Only repeated instances of battery are now prosecuted as criminal offenses and punishable by criminal law. International and nongovernmental organizations have noted that the failure to adequately protect victims of domestic violence may be incompatible with Russia’s international human rights obligations. (June 2017)

Decriminalization of Narcotics

This report provides a review of laws adopted in 16 countries with regard to legalization, decriminalization, or other forms of regulation of narcotics and other psychoactive substances. Individual country surveys included in this study demonstrate varied approaches to the problem of prosecuting drug use, possession, manufacturing, purchase, and sale. The country surveys demonstrate some diversity and common threads among these jurisdictions as to defining narcotics, distinguishing between “hard” and “soft” drugs, establishing special regulations concerning cannabis, refusing to prosecute personal use and/or possession of small quantities of drugs for personal use, giving law enforcement authorities the discretion not to prosecute minors and first-time offenders, applying alternative forms of punishment, and providing treatment opportunities. (July 2016)

Egypt: Sexual Violence Against Women

Violence against women has been a significant social and legal problem in Egypt for decades. The two main legislative instruments protecting women from sexual violence are the Egyptian Constitution of 2014 and the Criminal Code of 1937 and its amendments. The Egyptian Constitution of 2014 not only preserved the rights granted to women by previous Egyptian Constitutions but also introduced more rights aimed at protecting women from other forms of violence and discrimination. (Oct. 2016)

Japan: 2016 Criminal Justice System Reform

Japan made reforms to its criminal justice system in June 2016 by amending its Criminal Procedure Code and other laws. The reform that received the most discussion by Japan’s Judicial System Committee was the introduction of the mandatory video recording of interrogations. Another reform that was introduced was bargaining between the defendant and the prosecutor. New crimes were also added to the list of those in which suspects’ communications may be intercepted. In addition, the scope of evidence that must be disclosed in trials was expanded, and new measures to protect witnesses and victims were introduced. (Nov. 2016)

Miranda Warning Equivalents Abroad

This report contains short summaries describing warnings similar to the Miranda warning that are required in 108 jurisdictions around the globe. The warnings specified in the surveyed jurisdictions vary, but typically include the right to remain silent and the right to legal counsel. A number of countries also specify that a person who is arrested or detained has the right to be informed of the reasons for the arrest or detention or of the charges being brought. In some countries, the additional right to have these things explained in a language the detainee understands is explicitly stated. Countries surveyed that have no Miranda-type warning were not included. (May 2016)

Plea Bargaining

This report examines laws and practices related to plea bargaining in six countries: Georgia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Russia, and Singapore. Of these countries, three (Georgia, Malaysia, and Nigeria) have formalized both charge and sentence bargaining procedures in legislation. Russian legislation provides for a “special trial procedure” for defendants who plead guilty, and “special path” provisions based on Russia’s approach are currently being considered as part of criminal procedure reforms in Indonesia. Russia has also implemented provisions on “pretrial cooperation agreements” aimed at providing incentives for individuals involved in organized crime to cooperate with authorities in exchange for a reduced sentence. Georgia also provides for “agreements on special cooperation.” In Singapore, there are no current or proposed plea bargaining provisions in legislation. However, two programs have been implemented that enable alternative case resolution processes to be applied. (Mar. 2020)

Powers of the Mexican Federal Police with Foreign Country Comparisons

This report discusses Mexico’s historical and current policing structure. Mexico’s federal law enforcement structure was reorganized in 2009 to correspond with the 2008 reallocation of duties, vesting both preventive and investigative functions in the newly created Federal Police. This report also examines the structure of police forces in selected other countries. The main criteria for the inclusion of other countries was the functional and geographic divergence of law enforcement duties across various jurisdictional levels. (Apr. 2019)

Sports Betting and Integrity Agreements

This report provides information on the law on sports betting and integrity agreements in Australia and Great Britain. Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act 2001 allows for the provision of online and telephone sports betting services to customers in Australia. Each state and territory has its own legislation that regulates sports betting. Gambling in Great Britain is permitted and regulated by the Gambling Act 2005. Internet gambling operations fall within the purview of the Act if one piece of equipment related to online gambling is located within Great Britain. (July 2018)

Training Related to Combating Human Trafficking

This report describes the programs of 18 countries and the European Union involving combating human trafficking, with a special focus on the training of personnel. Each survey provides a brief introduction to the jurisdiction’s legal framework on human trafficking, describes the roles and responsibilities of particular government agencies in enforcing laws against human trafficking, and provides a description of training programs or initiatives that are conducted by and provided to government personnel. A majority of the surveyed countries have laws specifically targeting the problem of human trafficking and almost all the surveyed countries are parties to relevant international instruments addressing human trafficking. (February 2016)

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Education, Family, and Children's Rights

Child Protection Law and Policy

This report includes surveys of 16 foreign jurisdictions on laws and policies on protecting children from abuse and neglect. The introductory summary briefly describes domestic U.S. federal law before turning to a comparative analysis of foreign law. The individual country surveys in this report describe the law of each jurisdiction on protecting children from abuse and neglect. They also describe practices respecting data gathering and the publication of statistics, as applicable in each country. (May 2019)

Civic Education Models

This report surveys the models of civic education employed by the education systems of 22 selected jurisdictions around the globe. Most of the surveyed jurisdictions have included in their curricula for Grades 1 through 12 at least one course that features civic education components. Some jurisdictions have introduced special assessment models for testing students’ civics-related skills. The surveyed jurisdictions have varying standards on the training that teachers of civic education courses must receive. (June 2020)

Constitutional Right to an Education

This report describes the law of twenty jurisdictions on the right to education, and whether the right appears in the national constitution or in statutory law. The jurisdictions selected for review have different constitutional arrangements and reflect diverse political, cultural, and economic experiences. All of the surveyed jurisdictions recognize the right to education. Fifteen of them provide for the right in their national constitutions, while five provide for the right through legislation. All reflect an interesting diversity in how the right to education is recognized in varied jurisdictions around the globe. (May 2016)

Greece: Higher Education Reforms and University Asylum

This report discusses the legislative history of the university asylum rule that prohibits police from entering universities without permission of a three-person panel (with exceptions). Relevant legislation and legislative resources are highlighted. A short bibliography is also included. (Nov. 2019)

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Elections and Campaign Finance

Lobbying Disclosure Laws

This report surveys laws governing registration of lobbyists in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. A French law requiring registration will go into effect on July 1, 2017. The UK enacted a lobbying registration law in 2014 that requires lobbyists whose annual lobbying business reaches a certain threshold to disclose specified information. Germany does not have a mandatory register for lobbyists at the federal level, although it does have a voluntary register. (Mar. 2017)

Regulation of Campaign Finance and Free Advertising

This report discusses the regulation of campaign financing and spending in national elections and the availability of free airtime for campaign advertising in Austria, Canada, Finland, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Specifically, the individual country surveys address the extent to which each country applies limits on the amounts that can be contributed to political parties and candidates, the existence of ceilings on campaign expenditures, and the availability of free airtime for broadcast advertising. Countries included in this study demonstrate different models used in regulating campaign financing. (Mar. 2016)

Regulation of Foreign Involvement in Elections

This report includes surveys of 13 major democratic foreign jurisdictions on laws and policies addressing foreign involvement in elections. Reports of foreign interference in recent elections in the United States and elsewhere have prompted responses in several countries. For example, Australia, Canada, France, and South Africa have new laws in 2018 addressing political contributions, and most of the other countries surveyed in this report similarly have laws prohibiting foreign donations.  (Aug. 2019)

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Emergency and Disaster Relief

Continuity of Legislative Activities during Emergency Situations

This report the law of 36 foreign jurisdictions and the United States on the functioning of legislatures under emergency measures, arrangements in legislatures for a designated sub-group to constitute a kind of “emergency parliament” with devolved powers from the whole legislature, and arrangements made by national legislative bodies to ensure their work during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the vast majority of countries surveyed, legislatures have adopted preventative measures in response to the public emergency posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, no country surveyed has explicitly invoked the powers of an “emergency parliament” with devolved power from the whole legislature. However, several countries surveyed give various other emergency powers to the legislature in times of emergencies. (March 2020)

United States: Federal, State, and Local Government Responses to COVID-19

Although emergency rulemaking has been used in response to previous emergent situations, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in emergency rulemaking affecting every jurisdiction in the United States. The functional effects of emergency rulemaking are wide-ranging and can be contentious. The nature of emergency rulemaking creates difficulties for oversight at both the federal and state level. The rules and regulations enacted under the emergency framework will shape current and future generations as the United States begins to recover from COVID-19’s economic and societal impacts. (Novt. 2020)

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Government Powers and Litigation

Government Services Feedback Practices

This report surveys laws and practices regarding feedback on customer satisfaction from users of government services. The jurisdictions selected provide an array of representative approaches to obtaining feedback regarding user satisfaction. Some countries have enacted laws requiring agencies to obtain information on customer satisfaction and incorporate such data into quality improvement efforts. Many of the countries reviewed here have established programs for evaluating customer satisfaction of public services. Some countries have provided for large-scale, centralize surveying of customer satisfaction. (Oct. 2017)

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Government Spending

Switzerland: Implementation of Article 126 of the Swiss Constitution – The “Debt Brake”

Article 126 of the Swiss Constitution codifies a fiscal rule for the federal government called “debt brake,” which is designed to finance expenditures through revenues instead of new debt. It was first applied in the federal budget of 2003. Details of the debt brake are implemented in articles 13 to 18 of the Financial Budget Act. Compliance is monitored by the Swiss Federal Audit Office. (June 2016)

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Healthcare, Safety, and Bioethics

European Union: Health Standards in Refugee Camps

The European Union is tasked with establishing a Common European Asylum System. To that end, several legislative instruments have been adopted, including a directive on standards regarding reception conditions of applicants for asylum or subsidiary and temporary protection. For vulnerable persons, such as minors, there are special protections in place. Applicants have a right to receive necessary health care, which must at least include emergency care and essential treatment of illnesses and of serious mental disorders. (Dec. 2019)

Regulating Electronic Means to Fight the Spread of COVID-19

Countries have to find ways to control and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in order to break the chain of human-to-human transmission, such as case identification, isolation, testing, contact tracing, quarantine, and location tracking. Many governments have turned to electronic measures to provide information to individuals about the COVID-19 pandemic, check symptoms, trace contacts and alert persons who have been in proximity to an infected person, identify “hot spots,” and track compliance with confinement measures and stay-at-home orders. Most of the surveyed jurisdictions have developed one or several dedicated coronavirus apps with different functionalities, such as general information and advice about COVID-19, symptom checkers, and contact tracing and warning. This report surveys the regulation of electronic means to fight the spread of this infectious disease in 23 selected jurisdictions around the globe. (June 2020)

Regulation and Funding of Alternative Maternity Care Providers

This report includes surveys of the regulation and funding of two types of alternative maternity care providers, midwives and doulas, in 10 countries around the world. All researched jurisdictions regulate the work of midwives, which is not the case when it comes to doula activities. Health care, which includes midwife services, is funded either by the government at the federal, provincial, territorial, or local level or by a national health insurance scheme. Doula services are not funded in the vast majority of the researched jurisdictions. (May 2019)

Regulation of Wild Animal Wet Markets

This report examines the regulation of “wet markets,” where wild animals or the meat of such animals can be purchased for human consumption. It covers 28 jurisdictions around the world, with a particular focus on sanitary requirements for such markets and the legality of trading in wild animals or wild meat. Wet markets and other types of local or traditional food markets exist in countries around the world and are an important source of food and livelihood for many people. However, they have also been identified as potential or likely sources of outbreaks of diseases or infections that are transmissible from animals to humans, including most recently COVID-19. (August 2020)

Supply Chain Regulation of Pharmaceutical Samples

This research surveys several countries’ regulations regarding “serialization” of pharmaceutical products and whether these regulations apply to free medicinal product samples. The attached reports explore the specific “track and trace” or “serialization” laws and regulations in the European Union, Japan, and Turkey. While technical aspects of serialization differ across jurisdictions, one widely used benchmark for legislation is the voluntary GS1 standards, and specifically the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN). Globally, it is estimated that 70 countries have based their regulatory requirements for traceability of pharmaceuticals on these standards. (Sept. 2019)

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Immigration, Nationality, and Citizenship

Birthright Citizenship Around the World

Based on a comprehensive survey of citizenship and nationality laws of the countries of the world, this report presents information on the laws of those countries that allow acquisition of citizenship based on the fact of one’s birth in the territory of the country (jus soli, or birthright citizenship). In theory, the jus soli rule of citizenship stands in sharp contrast to the jus sanguinis rule, which grants citizenship only if one or both parents hold citizenship. In reality, the line between these approaches frequently blurs, as the various parent-based conditions for birthright citizenship illustrate. (Nov. 2018)

Citizenship Through International Adoption

This report surveys acquisition of citizenship through international adoption in 18 countries around the globe. It provides a general overview about the main legislative instruments governing international adoption and acquisition of citizenship in each of the surveyed countries. The report shows that, in most of the surveyed countries, citizenship laws are the main piece of legislation governing the acquisition of citizenship through intercountry adoption. The report sheds light on the required process and procedures of adoption in the surveyed countries. (Feb. 2021)

Criminalization of Illegal Entry Around the World

On the basis of a worldwide survey, this report identifies 162 countries that have laws criminalizing or otherwise punishing illegal entry. The chart shows countries that impose criminal sanctions for illegal entry as well as countries that impose only civil or administrative penalties (typically fines and deportation). Countries often exempt undocumented entrants from penalties when they are seeking asylum or are otherwise entitled to international protection. The “Additional Comments” section of this chart mentions this exemption only when it is expressly referenced in the immigration or illegal entry laws of the countries surveyed. (Aug. 2019)

Fees Charged for Asylum Applications by States Parties to the 1951 Refugee Convention

This report surveys laws related to asylum granting procedures in 147 countries that are States Parties to the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and/or its 1967 Protocol. It identifies fees charged to applicants in connection with an application for asylum. According to the research findings, the vast majority of countries do not charge a fee for applying for asylum. In some instances, implementing legislation was located but no information regarding fees was found; for these countries the chart indicates “no fee located.” (Dec. 2017)

Germany: The Development of Migration and Citizenship Law in Postwar Germany

Postwar migration into Germany started in the 1950s with ethnic German resettlers who were fleeing discrimination or persecution in the former communist “Eastern bloc” on the one hand, and actively planned labor migration into Germany on the other. The rising number of asylum seekers and immigrants in the late 1980s made migration policy a focus of the federal elections in 1990. The 2005 Migration Act overhauled German migration policy and placed the focus on long-term residency for migrants, in particular for skilled workers, and on integration measures. The latest amendment to the migration framework, the Integration Act, entered into force in August 2016. (March 2017)

Laws Concerning Children of Undocumented Migrants

This report surveys the laws related to the treatment of undocumented migrants who arrived as minors, their eligibility for obtaining legal status and access to social benefits, and their possibilities for becoming citizens. Additionally, all country surveys provide a general overview of national migration legislation, and past amnesty programs are reviewed to illustrate national efforts in resolving problems involving the legalization of undocumented youth. A comparative summary and map is included. (Sept. 2017)

Points-Based and Family Immigration

This report explains the points-based immigration systems adopted by Australia, Austria, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. Each of these countries determines a noncitizen’s eligibility to obtain a particular visa or residence status partly by whether that noncitizen is able to score above a threshold number of points in accordance with the country’s points scoring system. All of the countries have points-based immigration system for skilled workers. Other categories for which a points-based immigration system is used include investor, entrepreneur/business start-up, persons with exceptional capabilities, temporary worker, and job seeker.  (Jan. 2020)

Provisions on Child Asylum Seekers

This report surveys the laws of eight democratic foreign jurisdictions with respect to whether there are special laws concerning children asylum-seekers, particularly unaccompanied children.  As discussed more fully in the jurisdictional surveys, all of the jurisdictions covered in this report have provisions treating asylum-seeking minors differently from asylum-seeking adults.  Covered jurisdictions include the countries of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, as well as the European Union (EU).  (May 2018)

Recognition of Foreign Passports

This report covers the recognition of foreign passport and issuance of passports or other travel documents to foreigners in 20 selected jurisdictions around the globe, and the United States. The United States is included for comparative purposes and for the general information of our readers. In addition, the report includes a section on international law pertaining to the right to leave and re-enter one’s home country, as well as international obligations to issue travel documents to refugees and stateless persons. (April 2021)

Refugee Law and Policy

This report describes the law and policy on refugees and other asylum seekers in 22 geographically dispersed countries and, at the supranational level, in the European Union. The individual surveys cover such topics as participation in relevant international conventions; laws and regulations governing the admission of refugees and handling refugee claims; processes for handling refugees arriving at the border; procedures for evaluating whether an applicant is entitled to refugee status; the accommodations and assistance provided to refugees in the jurisdiction; requirements for naturalization; and whether asylum policy has been affected by international emergencies, such as the current refugee crisis in Europe. (Mar. 2016)

The Revocation of Huguenot Rights to French Citizenship

The 1945 French Citizenship Code was adopted by way of an ordonnance, which is, in this context, an act of delegated legislation. It does not appear that the legality and legitimacy of the ordonnances of 1945 were ever challenged, and French courts treat them as a valid exercise of legislative authority. The 1945 ordonnance which abrogated the right to French citizenship for descendants of Huguenots should therefore be seen as a valid piece of legislation under French law. (Oct. 2019)

Right to Counsel for Detained Migrants

This report provides information on the laws of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Sweden, and the United Kingdom regarding the right to counsel for detained migrants. All countries included in the study allow detained migrants to be assisted by a lawyer. In most of the countries, it is up to the migrant or asylum seeker to hire counsel; the government does not have an obligation to provide legal services to a person who entered the country without a valid visa or is subject to deportation. The United Kingdom appears to be the only country where legal counsel is provided by the government’s legal aid agency free of charge to all migrants in detention. (May 2017)

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Indigenous and Cultural Property

Protection of Indigenous Heritage

This report surveys 11 jurisdictions on the legislative and policy frameworks affecting the protection of sacred places of indigenous peoples, their graves, remains, related artifacts, and indigenous cultural property generally. In the United States, a 1990 law, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) addresses the identification, repatriation, protection, regulated excavation, and custody of indigenous human remains and related cultural objects. The individual surveys in this report reflect research on whether there are corresponding laws in the selected jurisdictions similar to NAGPRA, and more generally discuss the protection of indigenous cultural patrimony. (Mar. 2019)

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Intellectual Property

Digital Legal Deposit

This report surveys laws regulating the mandatory legal deposit of electronic materials. 15 countries representing different approaches to collecting, describing, preserving, and storing digital and non-print documents and providing access to them are included in the study. Each country survey provides information on the history of e-deposit programs in the country, identifies the national institutions charged with collecting and preserving electronic materials, analyzes the legal framework for depositing digital materials, lists the requirements applicable to publishers of such material, and describes the measures taken to bring e-deposit programs in line with the restrictions established by national copyright laws. (July 2018)

Mandatory Deposit Laws

This report contains data on 131 countries, indicating whether or not published books are subject to a mandatory deposit requirement at the national level and, if so, how many copies are required, where they must be deposited, and whether the deposit is part of the copyright system.  Citations to the controlling legislation for mandatory deposits are provided.  In all but 13 of the jurisdictions surveyed, deposits are required.  For some of these thirteen jurisdictions, deposits are voluntary, while in others, no information regarding deposit practices could be found.  Asterisks in the copyright system column indicate that the deposit requirement is contained in the copyright law. (Dec. 2017)

Patent Term Extensions and Adjustments

This report surveys the law on extensions and adjustments of patents in nine jurisdictions: Australia, Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. All of the surveyed jurisdictions provide for a standard patent term of twenty years, and all of them except Canada provide for extensions of protection for certain products that are subject to regulatory approval before they can be marketed. While Canada currently does not have legislation providing for extensions of patent protection, it is currently negotiating a trade agreement with the European Union that in draft form provides for patent term extensions of two to five years for qualifying pharmaceutical products. (Mar. 2016)

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Legal History, Traditions, and System

Egypt: Access to the Justice System and to Legal Aid

In Egypt, free access to the justice system and legal aid are constitutional rights. This concept can be found in various legislative instruments across the legislative spectrum, including the Criminal Procedures Code, Family Law, Child (Juvenile) Law, Human Trafficking Law, and Advocacy Law. The Supreme Court of Egypt, the Court of Cassation, affirmed this principle in its rulings. (Dec. 2017)

Features of Parliamentary Websites

In recent years, parliaments around the world have enhanced their websites in order to improve access to legislative information and other parliamentary resources. Innovative features allow constituents and researchers to locate and utilize detailed information on laws and lawmaking in various ways. These include tracking tools and alerts, apps, the use of open data technology, and different search functions. In some cases, information on more than one website is provided where separate sites have been established for different chambers of the national parliament. (July 2017)

National Parliaments

These reports describe national parliaments in a variety of jurisdictions. They trace the establishment of the current national parliamentary systems and locations of these Parliaments. They also discuss the elections of each Parliament's memebers, the members' terms of office, and the legislative process by which bills are introduced and passed into law. The 2016 report covers 11 jurisdictions, the 2017 report adds India, Kenya, Nigeria, and Pakistan; and the 2018 report adds six more reports including the European Parliament and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. (Jan. 2016; Feb. 2017; Feb. 2018)

Parliamentary Oversight of the Executive Branch

This report provides information on parliamentary oversight mechanisms of the executive branch in Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The means by which the surveyed countries exercise parliamentary oversight of executive branch actions often include members’ inquiries, interpellations, and votes of no confidence against the respective governments. Specialized permanent or ad hoc parliamentary committees tasked with oversight of government actions in specific areas operate in all the countries surveyed. Both the United States and Canada have established special agencies dedicated to overseeing government activities. (Aug. 2017)

Service of Process

This report surveys the rules regarding the service of process in 18 jurisdictions around the world, with particular focus put on rules regarding service in civil proceedings and the availability of the use of electronic means in the context of domestic and international service. While the rules for service vary widely among the surveyed jurisdictions, certain distinctions and commonalties stand out, particularly concerning electronic service of process and other documents related to proceedings. Some of the differences predictably arise from the distinction between jurisdictions that belong to the English common law system and those that belong to (or are influenced by) the civil law traditions. (Oct. 2020)

Virtual Civil Trials

This report surveys the law of 25 foreign jurisdictions on the availability and functioning of virtual civil hearings and/or trials, including the structure of civil court systems and arrangements made to ensure the continuation of hearings and proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report describes foreign court systems that have adopted a range of options and procedural conditions for virtual hearings and/or trials in noncriminal cases in each jurisdiction surveyed. (Apr. 2020)

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Marriage, Divorce, and Estates

Israel: Extrajudicial Sanctions Against Husbands Noncompliant with Rabbinical Divorce Rulings

In a five-to-two decision, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected petitions by two Jewish husbands against rulings by rabbinical courts subjecting them to the application of twelfth-century social religious sanctions not expressly authorized under Israeli law. The sanctions were designed to pressure husbands to comply with divorce judgements issued against them by rabbinical courts. The Supreme Court accepted the petitions only with regard to one specific sanction that was held to conflict with current principles of Israeli law. (May 2017)

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Minority and Human Rights

Legal Provisions on Gender Equality

This report discusses the legal provisions governing inheritance rights, the legal age of marriage, and the transmittal of citizenship through the mother in 18 Middle Eastern and North African countries, including Israel, Iran, and 16 Arab countries (Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen). To the extent applicable, the report also discusses constitutional provisions promoting gender equality in these countries. (Feb. 2020)

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Plants, Animals, and the Environment

Laws on Leg-Hold Animal Traps Around the World

The chart below contains information on laws regulating or banning the use of leg-hold traps in 108 jurisdictions. In a number of jurisdictions the law generally regulates or bans all traps, or prohibits trapping in particular areas, without separately addressing the question of leg-hold traps. Countries with laws that merely provide in general terms that animals must be treated humanely have not been included. Some countries, such as India and Sri Lanka, have at times considered restrictions on traps but to date have not adopted them; such countries are not listed here. (Augt. 2016; Supplemental report Oct. 2016)

Protection of Environmental Defenders in Latin America

This report includes surveys of laws guaranteeing the safety of environmental defenders in Latin America, especially in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. A United Nations Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean, which was adopted for the specific purpose of promoting, protecting, and defending human rights in environmental matters was signed by Brazil, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. However, Colombia and Honduras are the only countries that have enacted specific legislation for the protection of environmental defenders. (Nov. 2019)

Regulation of Air Pollution

This report includes surveys of 11 jurisdictions. The country surveys cover each jurisdiction’s regulation of both stationary and mobile sources of air pollution, and of pollutants including sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, ozone, particulate matter, and hazardous air pollutants.  Fuel quality standards, renewable fuel requirements, and vehicle emissions standards are covered, as are strategies for meeting international requirements to address climate change. (June 2018)

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Privacy Rights and Data Protection

Children's Online Privacy and Data Protection

This report surveys how selected countries from the European Union (EU) and the laws of the European Union (EU) itself provide privacy rights for children online. The EU introduced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2016. As a regulation, the GDPR is directly applicable in all Member States, but most Member States have introduced legislation to ensure consistency and compliance with the GDPR in their domestic laws. France, Denmark Germany, Greece, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the UK have introduced legislation that serves to implement or codify the GDPR in the country’s domestic legislation. (Apr. 2021)

European Union: Collection of Personal Data of Hotel Guests

The Convention Implementing the Schengen Agreement and the national implementing legislation in the European Union Member States requires business accommodations to see to it that foreign guests complete and sign registration forms and confirm their identity by producing a valid identity document. These registration forms must be made available to law enforcement agencies upon request if necessary for the fulfillment of their duties. Business accommodations must ensure that registration forms are safely and securely stored and cannot be accessed by unauthorized persons. They must be destroyed after a certain time. (Feb. 2019)

Foreign Intelligence Gathering Laws

This report offers a review of laws regulating the collection of intelligence in the European Union (EU) and Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. This report updates a report on the same topic issued from 2014. Because issues of national security are under the jurisdiction of individual EU Member States and are regulated by domestic legislation, individual country surveys provide examples of how the European nations control activities of their intelligence agencies and what restrictions are imposed on information collection. All EU Member States follow EU legislation on personal data protection, which is a part of the common European Union responsibility. (June 2016)

Government Access to Encrypted Communications

This report describes the law of 12 nations and the European Union on whether the government, pursuant to a court order or other government process, can require companies to decrypt encrypted communications or provide the government with the means to do so. Some of the surveys provide additional information on related surveillance issues like the law on monitoring and intercepting communications. The report finds that while there is a range of approaches among the surveyed countries, a majority make provision for specified intelligence or law enforcement agencies to obtain access to encrypted communications or the means of decryption under certain circumstances. (May 2016)

Israel: Regulation of COVID-19 Digital Contact Tracing

Israel’s Ministry of Health (MOH) has been conducting contact tracing in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Tracing has involved questioning diagnosed patients, using tracing technology via a voluntary app, and surveillance by the Israel Security Service (ISA) without the consent of those observed. Surveillance of civilians for the purpose of epidemiological examination is normally outside the scope in which the ISA is authorized to operate and constitutes a serious challenge to the right to privacy and to patients’ rights. The assistance provided by the ISA to the MOH is therefore regulated under temporary special legislation that defines the scope, procedure, and duration of the activity, while addressing the constitutional challenges associated with it. (Dec. 2020)

Laws on Erasure of Online Information

This report describes the laws of twelve jurisdictions that have some form of remedy available enabling the removal of online data based on harm to individuals’ privacy or reputational interests, including but not limited to defamation. Six of the countries surveyed are within the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area, and therefore have implemented EU law. Five non-EU jurisdictions are also surveyed. A comparative summary is included. (Nov. 2017)

Online Privacy Law

These reports describe the data protection laws of the European Union and of, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. They describe the legal framework for the collection, use, and transfer of data, and examine whether existing laws are adequate to deal with online privacy in an era of rapid technological development and globalization. (Dec. 2017)

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Property and Land Rights

Israel: Law for the Regulation of Settlement in Judea and Samaria, 5777-2017

On February 6, 2017, the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) passed a law for the regulation of land in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). The law provides for registration of land ownership under the name of the government official in charge where ownership has not otherwise been established. Additionally, it provides for the expropriation of the rights of use and possession of privately-owned land in the region. Such expropriation will be in effect until a political resolution on the status of the region is achieved. (Feb. 2017)

Israel: Legal Aspects of Ceding Israeli Territory

The Knesset (Israel’s parliament) has adopted several legislative measures that impose special requirements for the ratification and implementation of international agreements and unilateral plans for territorial concessions. The constitutional, procedural, and political effects of these legislative measures, however, are debatable. (Oct. 2018)

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Religion and the Law

Legal Restrictions on Religious Slaughter of Animals in Europe

This report includes surveys of the laws of 25 European jurisdictions concerning the legality of religious slaughter, updating and expanding the Law Library’s March 2018 report. All European countries that do not allow kosher or halal slaughter of animals are included; some but not all countries that permit such slaughter subject to regulation are also included. In addition, the report summarizes a February 2019 European Court of Justice decision on religious slaughter and organic labeling. (Sept. 2019)

State Anti-conversion Laws in India

India’s Freedom of Religion Acts or “anti-conversion” laws are state-level statutes that have been enacted to regulate religious conversions. The laws are in force in eight out of 29 states. While there are some variations between the state laws, they all seek to prevent any person from converting or attempting to convert, either directly or otherwise, any person through “forcible” or “fraudulent” means, or by “allurement” or “inducement.” Penalties for breaching the laws can range from monetary fines to imprisonment. (October 2018)

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Taxation and Corporations

Disclosure of Beneficial Ownership

This report surveys the laws related to registration of beneficial owners and disclosure of information on corporate data in the European Union as a whole and in 29 countries. The individual country entries identify institutions authorized to collect information on beneficial owners, procedures for submitting and updating this information, existing exemptions from disclosure, and requirements for the government to verify the information provided. They also indicate who has access to the corporate data provided to the authorities and how companies can be held liable for nondisclosure, for providing false information, or otherwise violating relevant legal requirements. All individual country entries include a definition of “beneficial owner” or comparable terms as provided by national legislation. (July 2017)

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Science and Technology

Regulation of Artificial Intelligence

This report examines the emerging regulatory and policy landscape surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) in jurisdictions around the world and in the European Union. In addition, a survey of international organizations describes the approach that United Nations agencies and regional organizations have taken towards AI. As the regulation of AI is still in its infancy, guidelines, ethics codes, and actions by and statements from governments and their agencies on AI are also addressed. While the country surveys look at various legal issues, including data protection and privacy, transparency, human oversight, surveillance, public administration and services, autonomous vehicles, and lethal autonomous weapons systems, the most advanced regulations were found in the area of autonomous vehicles, in particular for the testing of such vehicles. Maps are included. (Jan. 2019)

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Treaties and International Agreements

Trade Implications of Brexit: Lessons from Austria’s Accession and Greenland’s Withdrawal

The procedure for withdrawal from the European Union (EU) is governed by article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. Article 50 has never been used and presents uncharted political and legal territory. It is only applicable to the withdrawal of Member States. As there is no precedent for a Member State leaving the EU, negotiations surrounding the accession of new member states or the withdrawal of countries or territories that are associated with an EU Member State might provide some guidance. This report will look at the accession of Austria to the EU as an example of a General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and World Trade Organization member joining the EU. As an example of a withdrawal, this report will examine the withdrawal of Greenland, an autonomous territory within the EU Member State Denmark, from the European Economic Community. (Apr. 2017)

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War Crimes, Terrorism, and National Security

Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, and War Crimes Jurisdiction

This chart reports on 149 jurisdictions that have laws punishing at least one of the three crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes. It indicates, where information was available, whether those laws cover only nationals, foreign persons when the offense is committed within the territory, or foreign persons when the offenses are committed outside of the country’s borders. In cases for which it is known that the laws have actually been applied, that information is included. (Nov. 2016)

Israel: Law on Freezing Revenues Designated for the Palestinian Authority

In accordance with the Paris Protocol and Israeli domestic implementing legislation, Israel has been transferring tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority (PA) on a monthly basis. The Israeli Defense Cabinet decided on February 17, 2019, to freeze that portion of these revenues equal to expenditures by the PA in the previous year for payments to families of people killed, injured, or imprisoned for attacks on Israel. The government’s authority to deduct amounts paid by the PA to terrorism operators and their families from its revenue transfers derives from a July 8, 2018, legislation. A precondition for freezing revenues is the submission of a yearly report by the Minister of Defense on such PA payments to the Ministerial Committee for Matters of National Defense and the Committee’s approval. The Law does not expressly authorize the use of frozen funds for enforcement of judgments against terrorist act perpetrators or for furthering antiterrorism projects. (March 2019)

Laws Prohibiting Investments in Controversial Weapons

This report describes the laws of eight European countries that prohibit investment in certain controversial weapons. Controversial weapons include those of mass destruction and those that fail to discriminate between civilians or combatants or cause disproportionate harm. Most of the surveyed countries prohibit both public and private investment in prohibited weapons, but Ireland’s legislation only covers investment by public entities. (Nov. 2016)

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Last Updated: 05/28/2021