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 reports.

Adoption, Custody, and Parentage

Provisions on Child Abduction in Non-Hague Countries

This report covers laws on parental child abduction and the legal aid that may be available to parents of abducted children in 38 countries that have not signed the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. While in many countries no specific legislation or programs dealing with international abduction of children could be located, existing laws and general legal aid programs may be relevant. (May 2015)

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Aeronautics and Space

Germany: Privatization of Air Traffic Control

The original wording of article 87d of the German Basic Law precluded privatization of air traffic administration. A first constitutional amendment in 1992 was interpreted to permit only corporatization. In order to allow functional privatization and implement the European Union Single European Sky framework, article 87d of the Basic Law was amended a second time in 2009. (May 2015)

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

Family and Medical Leave Benefits Provided by the Military

Military personnel receive family and medical leave benefits as part of their service in Denmark, Israel, Norway, and Sweden. All countries provide leave following the birth or adoption or a child and caring for a sick child. Leave may be paid or unpaid. Israel distinguishes between permanent-service personnel and conscripts when awarding leave benefits. (June 2014)

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: 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)

Japan: Interpretations of Article 9 of the Constitution

One of the distinctive features of Japan’s current Constitution is its embrace of pacifism. In article 9 of the Constitution, Japan is allowed the Jieitai, Self-Defense Forces (SDF), but many have argued that the SDF is in fact a military organization and that its existence is unconstitutional. The government has interpreted article 9 of the Constitution to legalize and limit the SDF, and there has historically been limited support to amend article 9. However, global political and security issues impacting Japan have changed, as have the viewpoints of the Japanese people, and there now appear to be realistic opportunities to amend article 9. (Sept. 2015)

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Banking and Finance

Regulation of Bitcoin in Selected Jurisdictions

This report surveys forty foreign jurisdictions and the European Union, reporting on any regulations or statements from central banks or government offices on the handling of bitcoins as well as any significant use of bitcoins in business transactions. Topics covered include whether bitcoins are recognized as legal tender, the possibility of negative impacts on the national currency, concerns about fraud, and how transactions using the Bitcoin system are viewed by tax authorities. (Jan. 2014; updated June 2014)

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Constitutional Issues

Constitutional Provisions on National and Religious Identity in Selected Countries

This report contains information on provisions in constitutions and other founding documents specifying an ethnic or religious identity for an Asian or European country. (Dec. 2014)

Egypt: Legal Framework for Arbitration

Arbitration is becoming an increasingly important means of settling investment and commercial disputes in Egypt. The country’s unrest over the past three years spurred the introduction of quicker and more flexible mechanisms for the settlement of investment disputes. Arbitration Law No. 27 of 1994 provides for the rules governing the formation and validity of arbitration agreements, arbitrability of legal disputes, composition of the arbitral tribunal, arbitral proceedings, and enforcement of an arbitral award. (Aug. 2014)

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)

Malian Rules of Judicial Ethics: A Comparative Study

This report examines the legislation governing judicial conduct in Mali, as compared to equivalent legislation in Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Benin. Each of these countries has a specific statute governing the condition of judges, but Mali stands out as being the only country with a code of judicial ethics. (Sept. 2014)

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)

The Parot Doctrine and the European Court of Human Rights

In 2006, the Supreme Court of Spain adopted the “Parot Doctrine” in which it established that sentence reductions for prison benefits, including remission for work performed, were to apply to each sentence individually and not to the maximum term. The Parot Doctrine was recently challenged before the European Court of Human Rights and held to be in violation of the European Convention of Human Rights. (Mar. 2014)

Right to Peaceful Assembly

Freedom of peaceful assembly is a recognized right under international human rights law. This report provides a comparative review of one aspect of this right: whether advance notification or authorization is required for an assembly to take place under the law of France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The report also reviews the relevant case law of the European Court of Human Rights. (Oct. 2014)

Sentencing Guidelines

Sentencing guidelines in the common law countries of Australia, England and Wales, India, South Africa, and Uganda vary significantly. England and Wales have a Sentencing Council that develops offense-specific guidelines that the courts must follow, while Uganda’s Supreme Court has developed guidelines that are advisory only. In India and Australia, no formal guidelines exist and judges retain wide discretion in sentencing, but both countries have mechanisms in place to provide general guidance—in Australia through state legislation and in India through a series of court decisions that identify relevant sentencing factors. (Apr. 2014)

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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: Former President Hosni Mubarak Trials

These reports discuss the charges against and trials involving former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his family members. A report on the pending charges discusses the potential penalties for those charges and the applicable burden of proof. A status update is provided discussing the current status of the charges, investigations, and trials. (June 2011; June 2014)

Egypt: Mohammed Morsi Trial

On June 30, 2013, millions of Egyptians took to the streets to protest what they considered the failed policies of former president Mohammed Morsi and on July 3 the army removed the president from power to stand trial on criminal charges. This report provides a brief overview of the trial, which began on September 1, 2013. It discusses the alleged facts of the case, the charges Morsi faces, and sanctions that could be imposed on Morsi and his aides unders the Egyptian Penal Code if they are convicted. (Apr. 2014)

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)

Legal Status of Khat

This chart summarizes the legal status of khat (Catha edulis, also known as kat, qat, chat, and miraa), a plant whose leaves have a stimulant effect when chewed. It includes information regarding the legality of khat in each jurisdiction and, where it is banned, the applicable penalties. According to applicable tax laws or secondary sources, khat appears to be legal in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Yemen, but is banned in Jordan. Its status in Turkey, where it is categorized as a controlled substance, is unclear. Whereas it is legal under Turkish law to produce, sell, import, and export khat with a license, it appears that consumption of the substance is banned. (May 2015)

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)

Police Weapons in Selected Jurisdictions

This report examines the weapons and equipment generally at the disposal of law enforcement officers in several countries around the world. It also provides, for each of these countries, a brief overview of the rules governing the use of weapons by law enforcement officers. Precise and reliable information on the weapons and equipment of some countries’ police forces was often difficult to find. (Sept. 2014)

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

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)

Laws on Children Residing with Parents in Prison

This report provides information on select international and regional measures and the laws of 97 jurisdictions from around the world that relate to allowing children to reside in prison with an incarcerated parent. Most of the countries surveyed impose specific age limits for a child’s admission into and length of stay in prison. Additionally, most of jurisdictions surveyed require that prisons that admit children meet certain standards. (July 2014)

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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)

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Government Spending

Bond Requirements in a Procurement Protest Procedure

This report contains information on 21 countries on the question of whether a bond, deposit, or fee is required in order to protest procedure in government procurement. The majority of countries included in this report require the payment of fees for an administrative review. These fees can be forfeited if the claim is found to be frivolous. (June 2014)

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

Abortion Legislation in Europe

This report summarizing laws on abortion in selected European countries shows diverse approaches to the regulation of abortion in Europe. A majority of the surveyed countries allow abortion upon the woman’s request in the early weeks of pregnancy, and allow abortion under specified circumstances in later periods. A comparative summary with maps is included. (Jan. 2015)

Approval of Medical Devices

This report describes the approval process for medical devices in the European Union and fifteen countries, and also indicates whether or not an expedited approval procedure is available. In many nations, particularly those influenced by the EU, part of the review process is conducted not by the government but by private, independent organizations called “notified bodies.” In most of the countries in the survey, medical devices are categorized based on the risks associated with their use, and the approval process varies by category. (Sept. 2014)

Child Restraint and Seatbelt Regulations

This report contains citations to the laws on seat belt use in Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, China, Cyprus, Egypt, England and Wales, Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia, Kiribati, Malta, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, and Vietnam, with information on provisions concerning children where available. (Apr. 2014)

Germany: Electronic Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes in Germany are currently not subject to any age-related access restrictions. The Federal Administrative Court concluded recently that nicotine-containing liquids in electronic cigarettes are not medicinal products and therefore can be sold without approval in accordance with the Medicinal Products Act. It is still unclear whether such liquids are covered by tobacco regulations and antismoking laws. (July 2015)

Legal Responses to Health Emergencies

This report contains discussions of the regulations addressing health emergencies in 25 jurisdictions, including countries from six continents, the European Union, and the World Health Organization. All surveys included in this report review government structures tasked with delivering public health protection, relevant legislative frameworks for addressing health emergencies, and the powers of government institutions in times of health crises and their ability to mitigate the consequences of such crises. Analyses of the regulation of such issues as disease surveillance and notification systems are also provided. A comparative summary and a bibliography are included. (Feb 2015)

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Immigration, Nationality, and Citizenship

Family Reunification Laws

This report surveys 71 foreign countries, plus the United States and the European Union, on the issue of whether their laws permit legal immigrants to bring family members into the country for purposes of residence. For many of the jurisdictions covered, the information provided focuses exclusively on family reunification for permanent residents. However, for a number of jurisdictions, information is also provided on family reunification for citizens/nationals or temporary residents. A bibliography of selected international and comparative law sources is provided. (July 2014)

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)

New Zealand: ‘Climate Change Refugee’ Case Overview

A New Zealand case involving an application for refugee status based on the effects of climate change in the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati has received media attention around the world. The proceedings in the case came to a close in July 2015, when the Supreme Court of New Zealand, the highest court in the country, dismissed an application for leave to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision in which it ruled against the applicant. (July 2015)

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)

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

Preservation of Historical Cemeteries

This report provides an overview of laws, regulations, and court decisions governing the preservation of historic cemeteries in Brazil, China, Egypt, England, Eritrea, France, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Russia, Spain, and the United States. The country surveys reveal a wide variety of legal and regulatory approaches to this issue and the involvement of an array of actors at various jurisdictional levels. (Apr. 2014)

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Intellectual Property

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

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

This report describes the national Parliaments of Australia, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, India, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Korea, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. It traces the establishment of the current national parliamentary systems and locations of the these Parliaments. The report also discusses the elections of each Parliament’s members, the members’ terms of office, and the legislative process by which bills are introduced and passed into law. (Jan. 2016)

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)

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Marriage, Divorce, and Estates

Inheritance Laws in the 19th and 20th Centuries

This report summarizes inheritance law in the 19th and 20th centuries in France, Germany, and the United States. French law of the period reflected the egalitarian system of inheritance brought about by the French Revolution, even after reforms instituted by the Napoleonic Code. Nineteenth-century German law was splintered into territorial regimes characterized by differentiated succession rules for the nobility versus the peasantry—a distinction that continued to some extent even after the unified German Civil Code became effective in 1900. Early inheritance law in the United States, premised on English law, was a matter of state law (as it is today) and thus varied, but during the period in question became much more egalitarian with regard to the inheritance rights of women. (Mar. 2015)

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)

Israel: Spousal Agreements for Couples Not Belonging to Any Religion—A Civil Marriage Option?

Marriage and divorce in Israel are generally subject to the application of personal status laws of the parties involved. Jewish Israelis who do not qualify under Jewish law or who do not wish to undergo religious ceremonies are trying to find alternative ways to marry and divorce. The Law on Spousal Agreements for Persons Without a Religion partially addressed the problems of couples where both spouses do not belong to any recognized religion. It did not, however, resolve the problems shared by couples where one spouse does belong to such a religion. Whereas some perceive the law as a positive step in regulating marriage and divorce in Israel, others view it as a step back, creating more dependence on religious courts and further dividing Israel’s society not only along religious lines but even within religious groups. The law clearly does not provide a new civil law option to religiously recognized marriages. (Sept. 2015)

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Minority and Human Rights

Laws on Homosexuality in African Nations

This report summarizes the treatment of homosexuality in the criminal law of 49 African nations. Of the jurisdictions surveyed, only South Africa affirmatively permits same-sex marriage and only Nigeria and Uganda explicitly prohibit gay rights advocacy. (Feb. 2014)

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Plants, Animals, and the Environment

Crude Oil Royalty Rates

This chart lists royalty rates for crude oil production in selected countries where production occurs on lands owned or controlled in whole or part by the national government. The countries selected include leading oil-producing countries that impose royalties; countries that do not impose royalties are excluded. While there are other fiscal instruments used to raise revenue from oil production, this chart focuses solely on royalties. (Jan. 2015)

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)

Restrictions on Genetically Modified Organisms

This report discusses the legislation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically modified (GM) plants and foods in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, England and Wales, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Russian Federation, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, and the United States. The European Union and International Protocols are also discussed. This report summarizes enacted laws on the cultivation and sale of GMOs, as well as public opinion on GM products. (Mar. 2014)

Sweden: Slaughter of Domestic Animals

In Sweden the slaughter of domestic animals must be done following sedation of the animal. This requirement was first adopted in 1937 by the Act on the Slaughter of Domestic Animals and entered into force in 1938. The suffering of the animal was referenced as the main concern and remains so today. Critics of the current law argue that it infringes on the religious freedoms of Swedish citizens, most notably Jews and Muslims. (May 2014)

United Kingdom: Measures to Implement MARPOL Convention Annex VI, Chapter 4

The UK is currently implementing Annex VI, Chapter 4, of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL Convention). The UK government has amended the Merchant Shipping Act and has met with industry stakeholders and EU representatives to explore ways to ensure compliance with the new regulations with minimal cost and regulation, secure EU financing to mitigate the significant investment costs for shipowners and ports, and guarantee fair and consistent enforcement of these regulations throughout the EU so that UK ports are not unfairly disadvantaged. (June 2014)

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Privacy Rights and Data Protection

Biometric Data Retention for Passport Applicants and Holders

This table compares the regulation of biometric data obtained in connection with passport applications and the preservation of such data in fifteen selected countries. (Mar. 2014)

European Union: ECJ Invalidates Data Retention Directive

In April 2014, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) declared the Data Retention Directive invalid. The Court held that the Directive entailed serious interference with the rights to privacy and personal data protection of individuals guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and also failed to establish limits on access by competent national authorities. Because the ECJ did not specify otherwise, the Directive is void and EU Members must comply with the ECJ’s judgment. (June 2014)

Foreign Intelligence Gathering Laws

This report contains information on laws regulating the collection of intelligence in the European Union, United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, and Sweden. The report details how EU Members States 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. A comparative summary is available. (Dec. 2014)

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)

Online Privacy Law

These reports describe the data protection laws of the European Union and of Australia, 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. (June 2012; EU report updated May 2014)

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Property and Land Rights

China: Real Property Law

Individuals cannot privately own land in China but may obtain transferrable land-use rights for a number of years for a fee. Currently, the maximum term for urban land-use rights granted for residential purposes is 70 years. In addition, individuals can privately own residential houses and apartments on the land (“home ownership”), although not the land on which the buildings are situated. Both urban land-use rights and home ownership are subject to registration. (Oct. 2014; updated Mar. 2015)

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)

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Religion and the Law

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 six 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.
(June 2017)

Laws Criminalizing Apostasy in Selected Jurisdictions

This report surveys the apostasy laws of twenty-three countries in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Southeast Asia and primarily focuses on jurisdictions that make apostasy, or renouncing one’s religion, a capital offense. However, several countries that have adopted broadly-defined laws on blasphemy and insult to religion, which could potentially be used to prosecute persons for apostasy, have also been included, as well as one country that expressly prohibits extrajudicial punishment for allegations of apostasy. (May 2014)

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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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Travel Requirements, Visas, and Foreigners’ Rights

Legal Requirements for Travel by Unaccompanied Minors

This report provides a review of the domestic laws and procedures regulating the travel of children abroad in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico—countries of origin for the majority of unaccompanied children caught crossing the United States border in 2012–2014. The report concludes that the migration legislation of all of the countries surveyed requires parental authorization for all minors traveling outside of the country. The laws of Mexico and Guatemala make possession of a passport a mandatory requirement for travel, and Honduran law prohibits the travel of unaccompanied minors. (July 2014)

European Union: Status of Unaccompanied Children Arriving at the EU Borders

At the core of the Common European Asylum System established by the European Union (EU) is the right to asylum and the prohibition of refoulement. EU Members are required to handle requests submitted by unaccompanied minors in conformity with the principle of the best interests of the child. EU asylum law applies to unaccompanied children from the time they arrive at the EU borders, and minors are entitled to remain in the territory of the host state until a final decision is made on their status. The United Kingdom, Ireland, and Denmark have opted out of most of the EU asylum legislation. (Sept. 2014)

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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

Algeria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia: Response to Terrorism

Algeria, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia have adopted broad definitions of terrorism, raising concerns that they could include acts of political dissent. At various points they have also adopted criminal procedure provisions that lowered certain restrictions for investigations of crimes labeled as crimes of terrorism, made the financing of terrorism a separate offense, and required all suspicious financial transactions to be subject to scrutiny by special financial units before they are referred to the competent criminal authorities. In addition, Morocco and Saudi Arabia recognize that there is a religious component to the acts of terrorism committed by many terrorist organizations. They proclaim to have established special programs to seek to address this element of terrorism by means other than the criminal justice system. (Sept. 2015)

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: Legal Aspects of Prisoner Exchanges

Israel has engaged in prisoner-swap deals numerous times throughout its history. The release of members of organizations it considers to be terrorist organizations and of those convicted of terrorism-related offenses has been increasingly contested by the Israeli public. In response to petitions from members of victims’ families and victims’ organizations, the Supreme Court has established requirements for mandatory prior notice and disclosure of the names of prisoners whose release is being considered, as well as procedures for the public to object to prisoner releases. The Court, however, declined to review the merits of governmental decisions to release prisoners and refused to order the government to adopt any fixed rules for future negotiations. (Nov. 2014)

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)

Legal Provisions on Fighting Extremism

This report analyzes anti-extremist legislation and other legal provisions on fighting extremism in China, Pakistan, Russia, and Tajikistan. The definition of “extremism” is examined, as well as the purpose and procedural aspects of the legislation. (Nov. 2015)

Treatment of Foreign Fighters in Selected Jurisdictions

This report contains information on provisions in place or under consideration by the United Nations (UN), the European Union, and 73 countries on the treatment of individuals

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Last Updated: 11/08/2017