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France: Germanwings Crash Being Investigated as Homicide

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(Mar 26, 2015) The March 25, 2015, crash of a Germanwings flight in the French Alps is being investigated as a potential involuntary homicide. (Crash de l'A320: Hollande, Merkel et Rajoy se recueillent sur les lieux du drame [A320 Crash: Hollande, Merkel and Rajoy Gather to Mourn on the Location of the Disaster], LE POINT (Mar. 25, 2015).) The investigation is being conducted by the French National Gendarmerie under the supervision of the office of the prosecutor of Marseilles. (Id.)

Involuntary homicide is defined in French law by article 221-6 of the French Code pénal (Penal Code) as the act of causing the death of another through "clumsiness, imprudence, distraction, negligence, or failure to follow a duty of care or prudence mandated by law or regulation." (CODE PENAL, art. 221-6, LEGIFRANCE.) Article 221-6 also includes "evidently deliberate violation of a specific duty of care or prudence mandated by law or regulation," although such deliberate violation entails a heavier potential sentence. (Id.)

The Marseilles prosecutor's office may convert the investigation for involuntary homicide into one for voluntary homicide, based on evidence that the copilot may have intentionally crashed the airplane. (Crash A320 GermanWings: seul dans le cockpit, le copilote a agi avec "la volonté de détruire cet avion" [GermanWings A320 Crash: Alone in the Cockpit, the Copilot Acted with "the Will to Destroy this Airplane"], FRANCE SOIR (Mar. 26, 2015).) Voluntary homicide, referred to simply as murder in the French Penal Code, is defined by article 221-1 as the act of voluntarily causing the death of another (CODE PENAL, art. 221-1, LEGIFRANCE.)

Author: Nicolas Boring More by this author
Topic: Aviation and airports More on this topic
 Criminal code More on this topic
 Homicide More on this topic
Jurisdiction: France More about this jurisdiction

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France: Comedian Condemned for Hate Speech and Condoning Terrorism

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(Mar 26, 2015) The controversial French comedian Dieudonné M'Bala M'Bala, known simply as Dieudonné, has been the subject of a recent prosecution for a statement condoning terrorism and of several prosecutions involving hate speech.

These cases were principally governed by the Law of July 29, 1881, on Freedom of the Press, which is considered one of France's foundational laws in matters of freedom of speech. (Loi du 29 juillet 1881 sur la liberté de la presse, LEGIFRANCE.) This law, commonly known as the Law of 1881, was meant to both enshrine and set limits on freedom of the press and freedom of speech. It has been amended several times over the years, including in 1972, when provisions were added to prohibit hate speech, and most recently in 2014, when provisions were added to prohibit speech advocating or condoning terrorism. (Loi No. 72-546 du 1er juillet 1972 relative à la lutte contre le racism [Law No. 72-546 of July 1, 1972, Regarding the Fight Against Racism] LEGIFRANCE; Loi No. 2014-1353 du 13 novembre 2014 renforçant les dispositions relatives à la lute contre le terrorisme [Law No. 2014-1353 of November 13, 2014, Strengthening Provisions on the Fight Against Terrorism] LEGIFRANCE.)

Charge of Condoning Terrorism

On March 18, 2015, Dieudonné was found guilty of condoning terrorism by the criminal tribunal (tribunal correctionnel) of Paris. (Dieudonné Sentenced over Facebook Post on Charlie Hebdo Attack, FRANCE 24 (Mar. 18, 2015); "Charlie Coulibaly": deux mois de prison avec sursis pour Dieudonné ["Charlie Coulibaly": Two Months of Suspended Jail Time for Dieudonné], LE PARISIEN (Mar. 18, 2015].) In this case, Dieudonné was prosecuted after he posted a message saying "[k]now that tonight, as far as I am concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly" on his Facebook page following a massive demonstration that occurred in the wake of terrorist attacks in and around Paris in January. ("Je me sens Charlie Coulibaly": Dieudonné visé par une enquête pour apologie du terrorisme ["I Feel Like Charlie Coulibaly": Dieudonné Investigated for Condoning Terrorism], FRANCE TV INFO (Jan. 12, 2015).) This phrase, which concludes a slightly longer statement in which he was mocking the demonstration, combined a reference to the "Je suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie") slogan that cropped up in support of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which was the target of a terrorist attack on January 7, 2015, and to Amedy Coulibaly, the name of a hostage taker who attacked a Parisian kosher supermarket two days later.

The prosecution had asked that Dieudonné be sentenced to paying 200 days' worth of €150 (about US$160) "day fines" (jours amende, a penalty where the convict must either pay the fine or do jail time), but the court instead sentenced him to two months of suspended incarceration. (Chloé Pilorget-Rezzouk, "Charlie Coulibaly": Dieudonné écope de prison avec sursis ["Charlie Coulibaly": Dieudonné Gets Suspended Jail Sentence], EUROPE1 (Mar. 18, 2015).)

Inciting Racial Hatred Charges

Two days later, Dieudonné was also found guilty of "inciting racial hatred" in another case, for which he was sentenced to pay a fine of €22,500 (about US$24,400). (Dieudonné condamné à 22,500 euros d'amende pour ses propos contre Patrick Cohen [Dieudonné Sentenced to a 22,500 Euros Fine for Remarks Against Patrick Cohen], LIBERATION (Mar. 19, 2015).) In that case, the comedian had been prosecuted for anti-Semitic remarks he made during one of his shows. Specifically, Dieudonné made a joke about Patrick Cohen, a radio host who had been critical of him and who is Jewish, involving gas chambers and the Holocaust. (Id.)

A couple of weeks prior to that, a Parisian civil court ruled that sale of DVDs of the show in which Dieudonné made these remarks would be prohibited. (Pierre-Emmanuel Mesqui, Dieudonné: la justice interdit la vente du DVD de son spectacle [Dieudonné: Court Prohibits the Sale of DVDs of His Show], LE FIGARO (Mar. 4, 2015).) The court also ruled that Dieudonné would pay €5,000 (about US$5,400) in damages to the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism, the advocacy group that initiated the suit to ban the DVD. (Id.) Last year, the live performance of the show depicted in the DVD was banned by local authorities in several cities around France (Dieudonné: interdiction de jouer le "Mur" à Paris aussi [Dieudonné Banned from Performing "The Wall" in Paris Too], LIBERATION (Jan. 10, 2014).) The Conseil d'Etat, France's highest court for matters of administrative law, ruled that these bans were legally justified when it upheld the Prefect of Loire-Atlantique's decision to prohibit the performance in his jurisdiction. (Conseil d'Etat, Jan. 9, 2014, No. 374508.)

Acquitted of Slander Charge

Dieudonné prevailed in another recent case, however. He was before the Paris criminal tribunal in March 2014 on charges of slander for having described Manuel Valls, then the French Minister of Interior, as a "half trisomic Mussolini" in August 2013. (Dieudonné relaxé après avoir qualifié Valls de "Mussolini moitié trisomique"[Dieudonné Acquitted After Having Described Valls as "Half Trisomic Mussolini"], FRANCE TV INFO (Mar. 24, 2015).) In a judgment of March 24, 2015, the court found that Dieudonné's words were the expression of a political opinion and therefore were not illegal under French law. (Id.)

Contrast with Charlie Hebdo

These cases may be contrasted with legal action against the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, known for publishing provocative and often offensive caricatures. It appears that Charlie Hebdo was brought to court approximately 50 times between 1992 and 2014. ("Charlie Hebdo," 22 ans de procès en tous genres ["Charlie Hebdo," All Kinds of Lawsuits in 22 Years], LE MONDE (Jan. 8, 2015).) The magazine prevailed in the vast majority of cases, but was found guilty of defamation a handful of times. (Id.) While Charlie Hebdo has published caricatures of religious figures such as the Pope or Mohammed and has repeatedly been sued by various religious groups for hate speech, courts have invariably declined to find that these caricatures constituted hate speech. (Id.) This is because, while hate speech is illegal in France, blasphemy is not. Whereas mocking or criticizing a distinct people on the basis of their religious beliefs is considered hate speech, mocking or criticizing the beliefs themselves is permissible. (Damien Leloup & Samuel Laurent, "Charlie," Dieudonné…: quelles limites à la liberté d'expression? ["Charlie," Dieudonné…: What are the Limits to Freedom of Expression?], LE MONDE (Jan. 14, 2015).)

Author: Nicolas Boring More by this author
Topic: Freedom of speech More on this topic
 Freedom of the press More on this topic
 Terrorism More on this topic
Jurisdiction: France More about this jurisdiction

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Italy: Updated Legislation on International Military Cooperation

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(Mar 26, 2015) On February 20, 2015, Italy's Parliament passed new legislation, Decree-Law No. 7, regulating the involvement of the Italian Armed Forces in international cooperative activities. (Decree-Law No. 7 of February 18, 2015, Urgent Measures for the Fight Against Terrorism, Including International Terrorism (D.L. No. 7), GAZETTA UFFICIALE, No. 41 (Feb. 19, 2015), NORMATTIVA.)

The new legislation authorizes the extension of the use of Armed Forces military personnel for security activities related to the Expo Milano 2015, which is an international exhibition to be held in Milano, Italy, in October 2015, and appropriates the necessary funds for the use of such personnel. The theme of the Expo is food and nutrition. (Id. arts. 5(1)-(3).)

Decree-Law No. 7 also authorizes new appropriations to support the use of Italian military and police forces in a number of European Union international missions. The missions are in the Balkans, Bosnia-Herzogovina, Albania, Kosovo, the Mediterranean Sea (the "Active Endeavor" mission), Palestine, Georgia, Libya, and several African countries, among other countries. (Id. arts. 11-13.) The legislation provides as well for the Italian forces participation in the anti-piracy mission called Atalanta. (Id. art. 13(9)(3); European Union External Action, Countering Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (Mar. 24, 2015), EU website.)

Funds are also appropriated to support the use of Italian military and police forces in a number of United Nations missions, in Kosovo, Cyprus, Lebanon, and Mali. (D.L. arts. 11(4) & (5), 12(4), & 13(9)(5).)

There is additional funding for the Italian forces' participation in the NATO mission called Baltic Air Policing. (Id. art. 11(7).) Finally, other missions also funded are: the NATO mission in Afghanistan, the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, and the international coalition fighting the terrorist threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. (Id. arts. 12(1), (5) & (9).)

Author: Dante Figueroa More by this author
Topic: Armed forces More on this topic
 Defense spending More on this topic
 International affairs More on this topic
 Military assistance More on this topic
 Militias and paramilitary groups More on this topic
 Terrorism More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Italy More about this jurisdiction

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Egypt: Disciplinary Board Forces 41 Judges into Retirement for Practicing Politics

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(Mar 25, 2015) On March 14, 2015, Egypt's Disciplinary Board of Judges issued a decision dismissing 41 judges for their involvement in political activities. During what is known as the "June 30 Revolution," an uprising in 2013 protesting the rule of Mohamed Morsi, those judges had signed a statement endorsing the former President, who was affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood organization, and publicly opposing the June 30 revolution. They also participated in public workshops and speaking events opposing Morsi's removal by the Egyptian Army on July 3, 2013. (Disciplinary Board Sacks 41 Judges, VETO (Mar. 14, 2015) (in Arabic).)

Background to the Case

In July 2013, the President of the Judges Club filed a complaint before the General Prosecutor accusing some judges of violating article 73, on the neutrality of judges, of Law 46 of 1972 on judicial authority. Article 73 prohibits judges from carrying out any acts, including political activities, that will affect their neutrality. The complaint also stated that the neutrality of those judges was adversely affected when they publicly adopted certain political stands and endorsed specific political trends. (Law 46 of 1972, 40 AL-JARIDAH AL-RASMIYAH [OFFICIAL GAZETTE] 586 (Oct. 5, 1972) (in Arabic).)

The General Prosecutor's Office referred the complaint to the Supreme Judiciary Council to investigate the accusations. The Council subsequently referred it to the Ministry of Justice, which appointed an investigative judge to look into the complaint's allegations. After the conclusion of the investigation process, the Disciplinary Board of Judges found the judges guilty of violating article 73 and rendered its decision to force the judges' retirement. (12 NGOs Oppose the Firing of 41 Judges for Expressing Their Opinions About "June 30th events," AL-SHOROUK (Mar. 18, 2015) (in Arabic).)

Reaction of the Judges

The 41 judges rejected the decision of the Disciplinary Board. The judges argued that the decision contradicts article 8 of the United Nations-endorsed Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, which states: "members of the judiciary are like other citizens entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly … ." (Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights ((1985).)

They also claimed that the Board's decision violates article 87 of the Constitution of 2014, which states that the participation of Egyptian citizens in public life is a national duty. (The Egyptian Constitution of 2014 (unofficial translation), Egyptian State Information Services website (last visited Mar. 25, 2015).)

Finally, the dismissed judges justified their involvement in politics by stating that they were protecting the legitimacy of an elected president and the Constitution of 2012. (12 NGOs Oppose the Firing of 41 Judges for Expressing Their Opinions About "June 30th events," supra.)

Author: George Sadek More by this author
Topic: Judiciary More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Egypt More about this jurisdiction

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Indonesia: Questions Raised on Visa-Free Entry Rule

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(Mar 25, 2015) In January 2015, Indonesia suspended the requirement for a visa for visitors to the country from China and several other nations. Later, 30 other countries were added to the list, with a start date for visa-free tourist entrance set in April 2015. Most of the countries named were in Europe, in addition to Canada, Mexico, South Africa, the United States, and several Middle Eastern nations. (Garuda Hopes New Visa Rules Lure Chinese Flyers, BANGKOK POST (Mar. 24, 2015); Nadya Natahadibrata, Free Visas for 30 Nations Violates Law, May Not Fly, JAKARTA POST (Mar. 23, 2015).)

There may, however, be a legal block to the no-visa policy. Indonesia's 2011 Immigration Law states that entry without a visa may be granted to nationals of other countries only on a reciprocal basis. (Law of the Republic of Indonesia Number 6 of 2011, Concerning Immigration, Ministry of Law and Human Rights website.) The Law requires that, except as stated elsewhere in the law or in a treaty, all foreigners must have a visa to enter Indonesia. (Id. art. 8.) It goes on to specify that releasing foreigners from the visa requirement should be permitted for citizens from a country that has a reciprocal arrangement with Indonesia, for foreigners with valid stay and re-entry permits, and for ship officers or crew members on duty or operating in territorial waters. (Id. art. 42, ¶ 2.)

According to Vincent Jemadu, a spokesperson for the Tourism Ministry, that Ministry plans to propose to the Ministry of Law and Human Rights that the Immigration Law be revised to delete the statement on reciprocity. The alternative, if the visa-free entry is to be maintained, he noted, is "to conduct a painstaking process of negotiation for reciprocity." (Natahadibrata, supra.) The Minister of Law and Human Rights, Yasonna H. Laoly, had stated in the past that Indonesia would try to convince the other countries covered by the visa-free policy to adopt similar rules so as to meet the requirement of the Immigration Law. The Ministry of Law and Human Rights has also said that it is awaiting official directions on implementation of the visa-free policy. (Id.)

The visa-free policy is expected to increase the number of tourists visiting the country to about eleven million annually, up from the current number of about eight million. (Id.)

Author: Constance Johnson More by this author
Topic: Tourism More on this topic
 Visas and passports More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Indonesia More about this jurisdiction

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