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India: No Import of Cosmetics Tested on Animals

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(Oct 17, 2014) Under new rules that will enter into effect in India in November 2014, "[n]o cosmetic that has been tested on animals … shall be imported into the country." (Madhur Singh, India Bans Import of Cosmetics Tested on Animals, BNA DAILY REPORT FOR EXECUTIVES, Bloomberg BNA online subscription database.) The rules, called the Drugs and Cosmetics (Fifth Amendment) Rules 2014, amend the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, through the insertion of the above-stated new provision as rule 135-B. (Drugs and Cosmetics (Fifth Amendment) Rules, 2014, THE GAZETTE OF INDIA EXTRAORDINARY, REGD. NO. D. L.-33004/99, PART II—SEC. 3(i), (Oct. 13, 2014) [scroll down to find English-language version].) The new rule comes into effect 30 days after its publication in the official gazette. (Singh, supra.)

Earlier this year, India introduced prohibitions against in-country use of animals to test cosmetics and also banned such testing for household products, removing animal tests from the approval requirements for bringing "soaps and other surface active agents" to market in India. (Id.) Subsequently, animal testing in pharmacy education courses was banned, "through a gazette notification that said animal experimentations would be replaced by computer-assisted modules." (Id.) The ban on animal testing came into force on May 23, 2014. (Historic Milestone Celebrated as India Finalises Cosmetics Animal Testing Ban, Humane Society International website (May 23, 2014).) Applauding the new cosmetics rules, Human Society International noted that India has become "the first animal cruelty-free zone in South Asia." (HSI's Be Cruelty-Free India Makes History as India Bans Import of Animal-TestedCosmetics, Human Society International website (Oct. 14, 2014).)

According to Dr. Chaitanya Koduri, Science Policy Adviser at the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the bans on animal testing for cosmetics and household products that are already in place have adversely affected "many companies, especially those that have manufacturing plants in India from where they export to countries such as China that explicitly require animal testing for imports." (Singh, supra.) The new ban on imports, he indicated, would in particular negatively affect European companies "that have been turning to India to sell products that they could no longer sell at home after the EU's ban on animal testing for cosmetics." (Id.)

The European Union's final deadline to fully ban animal-tested cosmetics in the EU market went into effect on March 11, 2013; Directive 2003/15/EC had introduced provisions on animal testing into the Cosmetic Directive 76/768/EEC, resulting in a ban on such testing as of 2004 for cosmetic products and as of 2009 for cosmetic ingredients and a ban on marketing cosmetics with animal-tested ingredients from March 2009 (this ban had been extended to the 2013 deadline "for the most complex human health effects"). (Press Release, European Commission, Full EU Ban on Animal Testing for Cosmetics Enters into Force (Mar. 11, 2013).)

Author: Wendy Zeldin More by this author
Topic: Animals More on this topic
 Marketing and advertising More on this topic
 Research ethics More on this topic
Jurisdiction: India More about this jurisdiction

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Estonia: Family Relations Extended Beyond Marriage

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(Oct 17, 2014) On October 9, 2014, the Riigikogu (Estonian legislature) passed the Cohabitation Act, which was signed into law by the President of Estonia on the same day. The law will enter into force in 2016, after the required implementing legislation is adopted. (Press Release, Parliament of Estonia, Riigikogu Approves Cohabitation Act (Oct. 9, 2014).)

According to the Cohabitation Act, people living in non-marital cohabitation will be recognized as couples, and their rights and mutual legal relations, as well as legal relations with third persons including adopted children, will be regulated following the registration of the couple's civil relationship. As stated in a press release issued by the Riigikogu on the new legislation, "[t]he scope of application of the Act covers the procedure for entering into a cohabitation agreement, the rights and responsibilities of registered civil partners, and the bases for terminating the cohabitation agreement." (Id.) A government registry for cohabitation partnerships will be established, and cohabitation agreements will be registered after having been notarized. (Id.) The Act does not include provisions on judicial proceedings and the right of succession, because these issues are addressed by current civil and civil procedural legislation that will apply to registered cohabitating couples upon their registration. (Id.)

While the Estonian Family Law Act, which defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman, remains in force (Family Law Act of 2009, §1(1), RIIGI TEATAJA [official gazette] 2009, No. 60, Item 395), the newly passed Cohabitation Act is gender neutral, thus extending legal recognition to all registered couples regardless of their sex. This makes Estonia the first former Soviet republic to legally recognize same-sex relationships. (Estonia Allowed Same-Sex Marriages [in Russian], RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY (Oct. 9, 2014).) In regard to the rights of same-sex couples, the Act allows registered cohabitating couples to adopt the children of their partners; however, the Act is silent about their right to adopt other children. (Id.)

After signing the Act, the President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, said that it will establish "equal treatment of all people." He added that Estonia is too small to survive discrimination by its citizens against each other. (Parliament Passes Cohabitation Act, President Proclaims It, ESTONIAN PUBLIC BROADCASTING (Oct. 9, 2014).) The Act was passed by 40 votes of the members of the ruling party, with 38 MPs against, 13 absent, and 10 abstaining. The opposition Conservative People's Party had suggested bringing this Act to a popular referendum, citing opinion polls which showed that a majority of the population opposed its passage. (Id.)

Author: Peter Roudik More by this author
Topic: Human rights More on this topic
 LGBT rights More on this topic
 Marriage and family status More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Estonia More about this jurisdiction

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China: Notable Environmental Public Interest Lawsuit

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(Oct 17, 2014) The intermediate court of Taizhou, a city in China's Jiangsu Province, recently ordered six local polluting enterprises to pay RMB160 million (about US$26 million) for environmental restoration in an environmental public interest lawsuit (the Taizhou Case). It is reportedly the largest amount of damages Chinese courts have ever awarded in a public interest lawsuit. (Gongyi Susong Xian Peifu Zuigao An: Toupai Qiye Beipan 1.6 Yi [Highest Damages Ordered in Public Interest Lawsuits: Polluting Enterprises Ordered to Pay RMB160 Million], FAZHI RIBAO [LEGAL DAILY] (Sept. 17, 2014); Yin Youwen, Gongyi Susong Xian Peifu Zuigao An: Toupai Qiye Bei Pan Pei 1.6 Yi Huanjing Xiufu Fei [A Public Interest Lawsuit with Highest Damages So Far: Polluting Enterprises Ordered to Pay RMB160 Million for Environmental Restoration], XIANDAI KUAIBAO [MODERN EXPRESS] (Sept. 12, 2014).)

In addition to the significantly large amount of damages the court ordered, the Taizhou Case is notable because of the willingness of the court to accept the standing of an environmental protection organization just founded this year to bring such a lawsuit in the public interest.

The Taizhou Case

According to news reports, the court found that from January 2012 to February 2013, the six enterprises provided nearly 26,000 metric tons of waste acid to individuals who were not qualified to handle hazardous waste. (Gongyi Susong Xian Peifu Zuigao An: Toupai Qiye Beipan 1.6 Yi, supra; Yin, supra.) The individuals dumped the waste acid directly into domestic rivers and caused serious pollution. The court therefore awarded damages of about RMB161,000 (about US$26,000) as the amount necessary for environmental restoration in that area. (Yin, supra.)

In August 2014, the individuals who dumped the waste acid into rivers were sentenced to fixed terms of imprisonment ranging from two years and three months to five years and nine months, and fines ranging from RMB160,000 to RMB410,000 (about US$26,000 to US$67,000). Prior to that, one of the six polluting enterprises was also fined RMB350,000 (about US$567,000) in 2012 for polluting the rivers, but they did not stop the polluting. It was believed that the fines for polluting in China had been too small to stop the illegal activities, and therefore the large amount of damages ordered in the Taizhou Case was hailed by commentators. (Id.)

It is not clear from the news reports, however, if the court decision is final, and if so, whether the polluting enterprises have complied with the decision to pay the environmental restoration fee.

Eligibility to Be a Plaintiff in Environmental Public Interest Lawsuits

Public interest organizations are specifically permitted to bring lawsuits against environmental pollution activities harming the public interest in the 2012 amendment to the Chinese Civil Procedure Law. This amendment added a new article to the Law to provide that "[r]elevant bodies and organizations prescribed by law may bring a suit to the people's court against such acts as environmental pollution, harm to the consumers' legitimate interests and rights, and other acts that undermine the social and public interest." (Gongyi Susong Xieru Minshi Susong Fa [Public Interest Lawsuits Written into Civil Procedure Law], XINHUANET (Aug. 31, 2012).)

When the Law entered into effect in 2013, however, problems remained regarding which organizations would be eligible to bring such lawsuits, because there were no legal provisions on the qualifications of the eligible organizations. The All China Environment Federation, for example, is a nationwide non-profit environmental civil society organization. The organization brought eight environmental public interest lawsuits throughout China in the year 2013 and was rejected by all the courts as an unqualified plaintiff. (Yin, supra. All China Environment Federation website (last visited Sept. 25, 2014).)

In April 2014, the Environmental Protection Law was amended to clearly regulate the qualifications of the organizations that may bring environmental public interest lawsuits. That revised Law will enter into effect on January 1, 2015. According to its provisions, social organizations satisfying the following conditions may file lawsuits with the courts against acts that pollute the environment or cause ecological damage that harms the public interest:

(1) the groups must be registered with a government civil affairs department at or above the level of a city with districts; and

(2) the groups must have been engaged specifically in public service activities in environmental protection for five consecutive years without any record of violation of the law. (Laney Zhang, China: Environmental Protection Law Revised, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (June 6, 2014).)

In the Taizhou Case, the plaintiff, the Taizhou Environment Federation, was founded in February 2014; it therefore does not satisfy the qualification requirement of the amended Environmental Protection Law that a group have been engaged in environmental protection activities for five consecutive years. (Yin, supra.) The court may have decided, because the amended Law has not entered into effect yet, that it did not apply to the Taizhou case and based its decision on the general provisions of the Civil Procedure Law.

 

Author: Laney Zhang More by this author
Topic: Environmental protection More on this topic
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Jurisdiction: China More about this jurisdiction

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Switzerland: Adoption of Ordinance Banning Islamic State and Related Groups

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(Oct 17, 2014) The Federal Council, Switzerland's Cabinet, adopted the Ordinance on the Prohibition of the Islamic State Group (IS) and Related Organisations on October 8, 2014. (The Federal Council Adopts Ordinance Banning the Islamic State Group and Related Organisations, Federal Authorities of Switzerland website (Oct. 8, 2014); Etat islamique [text of the Ordinance in French], Publications extraordinaires 2014: 08.10.14, Federal Authorities of Switzerland website.) The Ordinance entered into force on October 9 and will initially be applicable only for six months. However, by the end of 2014, the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports (DDPS) is to submit proposals to the Federal Council on guaranteeing the ban on IS and also on Al Qaeda and on organizations related to the two groups. (The Federal Council Adopts Ordinance Banning the Islamic State Group and Related Organisations, supra.)

The Ordinance not only bans the IS and any related groups in Switzerland, including "organizations and groups whose leaders, goals, and means are identical to those of the 'Islamic State' group or acting on its orders" (Etat islamique, art. 1), but also makes subject to punishment anyone who associates with such groups on Swiss territory or engages in any activities that provide material or human resources to support the groups, organizes propaganda campaigns on their behalf or in furtherance of their objectives, or recruits new members or encourages their activities in any other manner. Punishment for violation of the Ordinance is a sentence of imprisonment of up to three years or a fine, except where more severe criminal provisions apply. (Id. art. 2(1).) Where applicable, under Penal Code article 70, paragraph 5, and article 72, assets of an organization that contravenes the Ordinance might also be forfeited. (Id. art. 3; The Federal Council Adopts Ordinance Banning the Islamic State Group and Related Organisations, supra.)

Swiss fighters for IS could also face prosecution upon their return home for their actions abroad, as the Ordinance provides that anyone who commits the above-named offenses outside the country is punishable if arrested in Switzerland and not extradited. However, the Swiss Penal Code's article 7, paragraphs 4 (excluding a person from criminal liability in Switzerland if he or she has been acquitted of the offense abroad, etc.) and 5 (prescribing the taking into account of partial sentences served abroad), will apply. (Etat islamique, art. 2(2); 311.0 Swiss Criminal Code, Book One: General Provisions, art. 7 ¶¶ 4 & 5 (Dec. 21, 1937, status as of July 1, 2014).)

The Swiss Federal Intelligence Service reportedly estimates that this year 25 Swiss citizens have traveled to Iraq and Syria, with at least ten of them having served as foreign fighters for groups including IS. (J.C. Finley, Switzerland Bans Membership in Islamic State, UPI (Oct. 8, 2014).)

While at present the Federal Council is not considering a federal act that would impose a general ban on Islamist/Jihadist organizations, it has indicated that it "is prepared to discuss solutions if related proposals are submitted, for example in the course of current procedures to introduce the Intelligence Service Act." (The Federal Council Adopts Ordinance Banning the Islamic State Group and Related Organisations, supra; Loi sur le renseignement [Intelligence Service Act], DDPS website (last visited Oct. 16, 2014).)

The Ordinance conforms to the recently adopted United Nations Security Council Resolution 2178(2014), which legally binds member states to "prevent and suppress the recruiting, organizing, transporting or equipping of individuals who travel to a State other than their States of residence or nationality for the purpose of the perpetration, planning of, or participation in, terrorist acts or the providing or receiving of terrorist training, and the financing of their travel and of their activities." (S.C. Res. 2178, ¶ 5, Press Release, Security Council, SC/11580, Security Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution Condemning Violent Extremism, Underscoring Need to Prevent Travel, Support for Foreign Terrorist Fighters (Sept. 24, 2014) [scroll down for text of the Resolution]; Finley, supra.)

Author: Wendy Zeldin More by this author
Topic: Terrorism More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Switzerland More about this jurisdiction

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Central America: Plan to Curb Migration to the U.S.

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(Oct 16, 2014) On September 23, 2014, the Foreign Ministers of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras submitted to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a regional plan to boost economic growth in poor countries and thus slow the exodus of their citizens to the United States. (Centroamérica Presenta un Plan para Frenar el Éxodo de Migrantes Hacia los Estados Unidos, DIARIO PROGRESISTA (Sept. 25, 2014).) The plan, entitled "Partnership for Prosperity of the North Triangle" (Alianza por la Prosperidad en el Triángulo del Norte), includes development projects to promote employment and proposals to strengthen the weak judicial institutions in the communities of origin of the migrant population. The Minister of Foreign Relations of El Salvador, Hugo Martínez, stated that the plan seeks to discourage irregular migration, which puts migrants' safety and lives at risk. (Id.) The plan was prepared with the assistance of the Inter-American Development Bank; information about its cost was not made available. (Id.)

The plan includes energy and infrastructure projects, such as the construction of a gas pipeline from the refinery of Salina Cruz in Mexico to the region of Escuintla in Guatemala. The proposed project was announced several months ago and requires an investment of US$1.2 billion. (Presenta Centroamérica Plan para Frenar Migración, EL UNIVERSAL (Sept. 24, 2014).)

This year an increase in the number of children who migrated, without adult accompaniment, to the American southwest border led Mexico, the United States, and the countries of Central America to seek new strategies to curb migration. (Id.) Meanwhile, Mexico has increased its efforts along its border with Guatemala. (Id.; see also Norma Gutierrez, Mexico: Temporary Visitor Permits Will Be Extended to Additional Central American Migrants, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Oct. 10, 2014).)

Author: Norma Gutierrez More by this author
Topic: Immigration More on this topic
 International affairs More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Central America More about this jurisdiction

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