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Germany: Constitutional Court Declines to Hear Complaint Challenging Alternating Schedules in Schools

(Aug. 5, 2020) In an order published on July 15, 2020, the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht, BVerfG) declined to hear a case in which the complainants challenged a COVID-19 regulation limiting in-person classes in schools in Bavaria when a physical distance of 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) cannot be maintained. The court further denied the […]

Austria: Constitutional Court Clarifies Rules of Procedure Changes during Extraordinary Circumstances

(July 30, 2020) On July 14, 2020, the Austrian Constitutional Court approved changes to its Rules of Procedure, which, among other things, allow for decisions using a written circulation procedure and videoconferencing when extraordinary circumstances are present. The changes clarify a March 2020 amendment to the Constitutional Court Act that was adopted to keep the […]

European Union: Court of Justice Rules against Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary for Noncompliance with Migrant Relocation Obligations

(June 5, 2020) On April 2, 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union (EU) in Luxembourg issued a judgment in Joined Cases C-715/17, C-718/17 and C-719/17, European Commission v. Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, finding these three countries in noncompliance with the temporary mechanism for the relocation of applicants for international protection […]

Côte d’Ivoire: Former Prime Minister Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Corruption

(May 15, 2020) On April 28, 2020, the Tribunal Correctionnel (Criminal Trial Court) of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, convicted former Prime Minister Guillaume Soro in absentia of embezzlement and money laundering. The trial lasted only a few hours and was boycotted by Soro’s lawyers in protest of what they claimed were politically motivated, trumped-up charges. Soro, […]

Norway: Supreme Court Overrules Detention Order Issued Following Remote Proceedings

(May 14, 2020) On May 8, 2020, the Supreme Court of Norway overturned a decision to detain a man suspected of attempted murder because the pretrial detention hearing had been conducted remotely. (Supreme Court Decision HR-2020-972-U (sak nr. 20-065997STR-HRET).) To limit the risk of spreading COVID-19, the court of first instance conducted an initial pretrial […]

Singapore: Singaporean Courts Hear Only Essential and Urgent Matters During COVID-19 Outbreak, Largely Through Zoom

(May 1, 2020) On April 24, 2020, Singapore’s chief justice announced an extension to June 1, 2020, of the period during which the courts of Singapore would hear only essential and urgent matters in order to slow local transmission of COVID-19. On the same day, the Supreme Court, state courts, and family justice courts each […]

Switzerland: Videoconferencing in Civil Trials Authorized due to COVID-19

(Apr. 27, 2020) On April 20, 2020, a regulation entered into force that temporarily amends Switzerland’s rules of civil procedure to enable the resumption of court proceedings amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 Regulation Justice and Procedural Law (COVID-19 Justice Regulation) establishes general rules for the conduct of proceedings and temporarily allows the use of […]

Italy: Reform of Statute of Limitations in Criminal Cases (“Bonafede Reform”) Takes Effect

(Feb. 21, 2020) On January 1 2020, article 1 of Law No. 3 of January 9, 2019 (Legge 9 gennaio 2019, n. 3) (Law No. 3)—named the “Bonafede reform” after Italian Minister of Justice Alfonso Bonafede—entered into force. The provision amends article 159, paragraph 2 of the Criminal Code to introduce a controversial suspension of […]

Philippines: Supreme Court Rules on Same-Sex Marriage

(Jan. 24, 2020) On January 6, 2020, the Philippines’ Supreme Court announced it had dismissed a motion to reconsider its September 2019 ruling denying a petition to approve same-sex marriage in the country, effectively concluding this case “with finality.” The petition had essentially requested that the Court declare unconstitutional on equality grounds certain provisions of […]

Turkey: AKP Submits Draft “Judicial Reform Package” to Grand National Assembly

(Oct. 17, 2019) On October 7, 2019, the Justice Commission of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (GNAT, Turkey’s parliament) accepted a draft bill constituting a “judicial reform package” that was submitted to the GNAT by Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (the AKP) on September 30, 2019. A press statement released by the AKP stated […]