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Germany: Costs of Phone Calls in Prisons Must Reflect Market Prices

(Dec. 1, 2017) In a decision published on November 28, 2017, the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht, BVerfG) found that the constitutional requirement of social rehabilitation of sentenced persons is violated when a prisoner is charged excessive fees for phone services. An inmate’s request for a reduction of the costs for a prison phone call […]

Sri Lanka: Constitutional Reform Planned

(Nov. 28, 2017) On October 30, 2017, Sri Lanka’s President, Maithripala Sirisena, announced the convening of three government conferences designed to better inform the public about the plans to adopt a new Constitution. The special conferences include one for all political parties now represented in Parliament, one for religious leaders, and one for scholars interested […]

Germany: Personal Status Act Must Allow Third Gender Option for Intersex People

(Nov. 20, 2017) In a decision published on November 8, 2017, the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht, BVerfG) held that the Personal Status Act is incompatible with the German Basic Law, the country’s constitution, to the extent that it only allows the registration of a female or male gender at birth or no gender entry […]

Indonesia: Constitutional Court Opens Way to Recognition of Native Faiths

(Nov. 17, 2017) On November 7, 2017, Indonesia’s Constitutional Court (Mahkamah Konstitusi Republik Indonesia) issued a decision that will allow Indonesians who follow native faiths to list their religions on official forms.  According to Justice Arief Hidayat, several articles in the Law on Population Administration are discriminatory and “contradict the 1945 Constitution and these articles […]

Australia: High Court Disqualifies Five Members of Parliament Due to Dual Citizenship

(Oct. 31, 2017) On October 27, 2017, the High Court of Australia (Australia’s highest court), sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, issued its decision in a case involving seven sitting members of the federal Parliament (sometimes referred to as the “Citizenship Seven”). (Re Canavan; Re Ludlam; Re Waters; Re Roberts [No 2]; Re Joyce; […]

Uganda: Proposal to Amend Constitution, Eliminate Age Requirement for Presidential Candidates

(Oct. 30, 2017) The 445-member unicameral Parliament of Uganda is considering a bill aimed at amending the country’s Constitution in order to eliminate the age requirement applicable to candidates seeking to be elected to the country’s presidency.  (Uganda Introduces Bill to Remove Presidential Age Limit, AL JAZEERA (Sept. 29, 2017).)  The current Constitution of Uganda, […]

Switzerland: Referendum on Burqa and Niqab Ban Will Go to a Vote

(Oct. 24, 2017) On October 11, 2017, the Swiss Government announced that a proposed referendum on a ban of the full body and face veil (burqa) and the face veil (niqab) had achieved the required 100,000 number of signatures to be put to a vote. (Eidgenössische Volksinitiative, “Ja zum Verhüllungsverbot” [Swiss Federal Popular Initiative, “Yes […]

Brazil: Federal Supreme Court Authorizes Religious Education in Public Schools

(Oct. 6, 2017) On September 27, 2017, the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court (Supremo Tribunal Federal, STF) dismissed, by a majority vote (6 to 5), a Direct Action of Unconstitutionality (Ação Direta de Incosntitucionalidade, ADI)  in which the Public Prosecutor’s Office (Procuradoria-Geral da República, PGR) questioned the model of religious education in the country’s public school […]

Togo: Referendum to Be Held on Constitutional Reform

(Sept. 28, 2017) On September 15, 2017, the Law Commission of the Togolese National Assembly began discussing a draft bill to amend the country’s Constitution. (Togo: que contient l’avant-projet de loi sur la réforme de la Constitution? [Togo: What Is in the Draft Bill on Constitutional Reform?], RFI AFRIQUE (Sept. 14, 2017).)  The National Assembly […]

Israel: High Court Strikes Down Draft Exemption for Ultra-Orthodox

(Sept. 25, 2017) On September 12, 2017, Israel’s Supreme Court, sitting as a High Court of Justice with an extended bench, ruled eight to one to strike down amendment numbers 19 and 21 of the Defense Service [Consolidated Version] Law, 5746-1986, which had introduced a new framework for the deferment and exemption of Haredim (ultra-Orthodox […]