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Vietnam: Penal Code Revisions Proposed

(May 19, 2015) On April 7, 2015, Vietnam’s Minister of Justice, Ha Hung Cuong, spoke to the National Assembly Standing Committee. He discussed a plan to revise the Penal Code of 1999. The draft Code now being considered revises the majority of existing articles, adds several dozen new ones, and deletes a small number. (Revised […]

Canada: Supreme Court Strikes Down Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Gun Crimes

(Apr. 22, 2015) On April 14, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada, in a majority decision, struck down as unconstitutional those sections of the Criminal Code (RSC 1985, c C-46) that establish minimum mandatory sentences of three years for a first offense and five years for a second or subsequent offense for certain gun crimes. […]

Netherlands; Norway: Dutch Prisoners Sue Unsuccessfully to Prevent Transfer of Norwegian Convicts to Luxury Cells

(Mar. 30, 2015) A Dutch court ruled on March 6, 2015, that long-term prisoners, serving ten years to life imprisonment, who currently live in “luxury cells” in Norgerhaven Prison must give up them up to make way for Norwegian convicts who are to be transferred to the facility based on an agreement reached between The […]

Japan: Supreme Court Strikes Down Sentence by Lay Judges

(Sept. 4, 2014) On July 24, 2014, the Supreme Court of Japan rendered a controversial decision on sentencing in a case in which a lay-judge system was used. (Heisei25(a)689 (S. Ct., 1st petit bench, July 24, 2014) [in Japanese], Courts of Japan website.) The lay-judge (saiban-in) system was introduced in Japan in 2009. Six civilians […]

France: Major Reform of Penal Code

(Sept. 2, 2014) An important reform of the French Penal Code was signed into law on August 15, 2014. (Loi No. 2014-896 du 15 août 2014 relative à l’individualisation des peines et renforçant l’efficacité des sanctions pénales [Law No. 2014-896 of August 15, 2014, on the Individualization of Sentencing and Reinforcing the Efficacy of Penal […]

Indonesia: More Lenient Treatment for Drug Users

(Aug. 12, 2014) On August 16, 2014, a new ministerial regulation will come into force in Indonesia that is designed to promote rehabilitation rather than incarceration of drug users, in some cases permitting substitution of stays in rehabilitation centers for jail time. The regulation was issued jointly by the National Narcotics Agency (BNN); the National […]

Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; International Criminal Court: Convicted War Criminal Sentenced

(May 30, 2014) On May 23, 2014, the International Criminal Court (ICC) sentenced Germain Katanga, a militia leader from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to 12 years of imprisonment. Katanga had been convicted in March 2014 of war crimes and crimes against humanity stemming from his role as the leader of the Patriotic […]

Italy: Overhaul of Criminal Penalties

(May 28, 2014) The Italian Parliament recently adopted Law 67 of April 28, 2014, regulating criminal penalties not involving imprisonment and containing measures on prison reform. (Legge 28 aprile 2014, n. 67, NORMATTIVA.) The overall purpose of the Law is to establish punitive measures that are alternatives to incarceration, as a response to the perceived […]

Israel: Use of Virtual Means Does Not Lessen Criminal Responsibility, Punishment

(Feb. 12, 2014) On February 5, 2014, the Supreme Court of Israel unanimously rejected an appeal of a penalty imposed on two physically impaired Arab-Israeli brothers who were convicted of having used social networks to assist Hamas in the organization and recruitment of activists for terrorist attacks in Israel. In addition to their virtual coordination, […]

South Africa: Constitutional Court Upholds Mandatory Minimum Sentence Rule for Accomplices in Armed Robberies

(Dec. 31, 2013) On November 28, 2013, the Constitutional Court of South Africa, the court of last resort on all constitutional issues, overturned a decision of the Western Cape High Court and upheld as constitutional a provision in the Criminal Procedure Act No. 51 of 1977 that makes an accomplice to robbery with aggravating circumstances […]