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

Adoption Law: Turkey and the United States

This report discusses the intercountry adoption systems employed by Turkey and the United States. The individual country surveys reveal that both countries are parties to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, though Turkish adoptions are governed by national law, while US adoption procedures are left to the states. Otherwise, both countries require probationary periods before adoptions are finalized, as well as the consent of the biological parents and the children involved, with certain exceptions. In both countries the adoption must be determined to be in the best interests of the child and adopted children obtain all rights of biological children, including inheritance rights. (PDF, 160KB) (May 2013)

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)

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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: Supreme Court Decision Invalidating the Law on Haredi Military Draft Postponement

This report analyzes the background and current status of Israel's law regarding deferment of compulsory military service, and how it has affected the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community in particular. (Mar. 2012)

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)

Military Justice

These two reports examine the military justice systems of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, and the United Kingdom. The first report, “Adjudication of Sexual Offenses,” addresses how sexual misconduct is treated within the military justice systems of Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, and the United Kingdom. Most of these countries incorporate independent review elements and have moved towards more flexibility in the choice of civilian or military courts for adjudications. The second report, “France: Military Justice System,” provides a general overview of the military justice system in France, which aims to treat military personnel in the same manner as ordinary civilians with some exceptions. (July 2013)

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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)

Israel: 2013 Government Composition and Coalition Agreements

This report discusses the agreements made by Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud Yisrael Beiteinu faction with the Hatnua, Yesh Atid, and Habayit Hayehudi parties in order to form a coalition government following Israel’s 2013 parliamentary elections. Besides establishing guidelines for adopting government policies, the agreements focus on forming a ministerial committee for peace negotiations with the Palestinians and reforming the country’s military, civilian national service, and electoral system. (Apr. 2013)

Lebanon: Constitutional Law and the Political Rights of Religious Communities

This report discusses Lebanese Constitutional law and the political rights of religious communities, including individual rights and freedoms; separation of powers; the rule of law, autonomous churches, and religious representation; the National Pact of 1943; the Taef Agreement; and the Doha Agreement. (Apr. 2012)

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)

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

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)

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)

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

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

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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Emergency and Disaster Relief

Japan: Legal Responses to the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011

On March 11, 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake struck, causing a tsunami and a nuclear crisis. Many issues arose as a result of the earthquake, for which the national government made exceptions and eventually created a new system, which amended laws, regulations, and standards; created a new reconstruction agency and nuclear regulatory agency; and enacted a new tsunami countermeasure law. (Sept. 2013)

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Laws on Extradition of Citizens

This chart covers extradition rules for citizens in 157 jurisdictions. Note that many countries will not extradite anyone for political crimes or will not extradite an individual to a country that imposes capital punishment. Those two restrictions were not considered in the making of this chart, as they generally apply to requests to extradite both citizens and foreigners. (July 2013)

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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)

Foreign Aid Regulation

This report outlines foreign aid allocation in the European Union as well as in Australia, Brazil, China, Finland, France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, New Zealand, Norway, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. (Mar. 2012)

Great Britian: Welfare Reform Act 2012

This report provides an overview of the Welfare Reform Act 2012, the most substantive legislative change in the British welfare system since the 1940s. (May 2012)

National Funding of Road Infrastructure

This report examines the funding of roads and highways in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, England and Wales, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, South Africa, and Sweden. It provides a description of the infrastructure in the jurisdiction, information on the ownership and responsibility of the roads, and taxes or other ways of collecting money to fund the nation’s infrastructure. If applicable, a discussion of reforms or new initiatives is examined. (Mar. 2014)

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Gun Control and Firearm Possession

Firearms-Control Legislation and Policy

This report examines the legal approach to gun control—including ownership and possession, licensing and registration, background checks, training, storage, weapons bans, and related issues—in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, the Russian Federation, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, and the European Union. A Comparative Analysis and Bibliography of Selected English-Language Materials on the subject are included. (Feb. 2013)

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)

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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)

Bioethics Legislation in Selected Countries

Countries around the world are facing questions about how to balance developments in various areas of biotechnology with concerns about ethics, human health and safety, and the environment. This report examines bioethics-related international instruments and bioethics legislation in ten countries: the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, China, Israel, India, Kenya, New Zealand, Brazil and Russia.(Oct. 2012)

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)

Israel: Reproduction and Abortion: Law and Policy

This report analyzes Israel's approach to reproductive care and discusses the governing law as well as the allocation of funding for this purpose. (Feb. 2012)

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

Citizenship Based on Birth in Country

The following short report includes information on citizenship laws of selected member countries of the European Union. It specifically addresses whether those countries automatically confer citizenship on children born in their territory. (May 2012)

Citizenship Pathways and Border Protection

This report describes the different legal approaches to immigration, citizenship, and border control taken by Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The report also discusses the European Union’s border control and visa regime for the Schengen area. A summary that compares and contrasts specific elements of the legal systems surveyed is included. (Mar. 2013)

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)

Guest Worker Programs

This report discusses guest worker programs in fourteen countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Norway, the Russian Federation, South Korea, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. It also provides information on the European Union’s Proposal for a Directive on Seasonal Employment, the Association Agreement between the European Union and Turkey regarding migrants of Turkish origin, and the Multilateral Framework of the International Labour Organization on the admission of guest workers. A bibliography is provided. (Feb. 2013)

Investor Visas

This report examines types of visas and visa requirements granted to people who invest in a foreign country. Austria, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain do not specify a particular amount a foreign investor must invest in the country to be considered for a visa (temporary or permanent). Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Portugal, and the United Kingdom specify a particular amount that must be invested in order to qualify for a visa. (Aug. 2013)

Legal Status of Refugees: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq

Many Arabic-speaking countries in recent years have experienced a significant influx of refugees with Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan hosting the largest numbers of refugees. This report provides a general overview of the legal measures adopted by these four countries to regulate the status of refugees and the types of benefits they offer to refugees. (Dec. 2013)

Netherlands: Major Overhaul of Immigration Policies in 2013

This report discusses the features of the Modern Migration Policy and National Visa Acts in the Netherlands, both of which took effect in June 2013. The former focuses on strengthening sponsorship rules and accelerating immigration procedures, while the latter introduces new visa provisions. In addition, an amendment to the Aliens Decree 2000, effective in October 2012, makes other changes in Dutch immigration policy pertaining to restrictions on family reunification, the criminalization of illegal residence, and the strengthening of public order and national security. (Apr. 2013)

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)

Points-Based Immigration Systems

This report discusses the points-based selection processes used by Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom within the context of the immigration systems of these countries. The individual country surveys reveal that Australia operates a hybrid system for skilled migration that involves employer sponsorship and a points-based visa program that was revised in 2012. The UK’s points-based program, introduced in 2003, provides for five different immigrant tiers. Canada uses a points-based selection process for its Federal Skilled Workers Program, which is one of several programs within its “economic class” of immigration. The specific criteria considered within the points-based programs of the countries surveyed vary but can include such factors as the applicant’s age, educational background, language abilities, experience, employment arrangements, and general adaptability, among others. All of the countries surveyed appear to emphasize labor market needs in their current selection processes. (Mar. 2013)

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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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Protection of Trade Secrets

The national laws and practices are detailed and analyzed for how Brazil, China, India, Russia, and South Africa protect and regulate trade secrets, including available remedies. (Aug. 2013)

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Legal History, Traditions, and System

National Parliaments

This report describes the national Parliaments of Australia, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, 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)

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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: 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

Greece: Status of Minorities

Greece is a largely homogenous country that treats ethnic and religious minorities differently depending on the recognition status and type of the minority. Certain rights for minorities are safeguarded including the right of persons belonging to minorities to practice their own religion, culture, and language. Greece also safeguards the right of religious communities to associate and acquire legal personality, however only for recognized minorities. Greece has taken steps to fight discrimination based on race, ethnic origin, religion, and belief in the areas of employment, occupation, social protection, and services. (Oct. 2012)

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)

Plant Protection in Selected Countries: Edelweiss

Austria, France, Germany, India, Slovenia, and Switzerland are countries in which edelweiss, the alpine wildflower, grows and receives protection. This report uses the example of edelweiss, which is in danger of becoming extinct because of climate change, to illustrate how conservation laws are applied in the selected jurisdictions, the interplay between protection at the national and local levels, the complexity of the governing frameworks, and the differences in the extent of protection afforded in the various jurisdictions. (Oct. 2012)

Regulations Concerning the Private Possession of Big Cats

This report surveys the different legal approaches taken by twenty-one countries and the European Union in regulating the private possession of big cats. All the countries surveyed are members of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Among them, China, India, Malaysia, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam are tiger range countries where tigers still exist in the wild. China, India, and Russia were found to designate wild tigers as state property. (June 2013)

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)

Wildlife Trafficking and Poaching

This report describes the regulatory framework relating to wildlife trafficking and poaching in seven African jurisdictions: Botswana, Central African Republic, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, and Tanzania. Included in the report are discussions of laws that criminalize poaching and trafficking in wildlife, the penalties imposed for such crimes, and the state institutions tasked with enforcing the laws. (Jan. 2013)

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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)

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)

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Religion and the Law

International Relations under Islamic Law (Shari’a): Dar al-Harb (House of War) vs. Dar al-Islam (House of Islam)

This report provides an overview of the Islamic concepts of Dar al-Harb (House of War), Dar al-Islam (House of Peace), and Dar al-Aman (House of Safety). (Mar. 2012)

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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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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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)

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)

Israel: Legality of the Decision to Release Convicted Palestinians in the Context of Peace Negotiations

The High Court of Justice in Israel decided that the Israeli government had the authority to enter into political negotiations that resulted in the release of Palestinian prisoners. Explicit authorization in primary legislation and a full-quorum government vote were not needed. Additionally, the rights of the crime victims to object to the release are not fully applicable. (Aug. 2013)

Israel: Participation of Victims of Terrorism in Criminal Appeals

This report discusses the laws in Israel that relate to the ability of victims of terrorism offenses to participate in criminal trials and appeals. (Mar. 2013)

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 who join and fight for terrorist organizations in foreign countries. A number of countries are currently considering action following the September 2014 adoption of a UN Security Council resolution expressing concern about the threat of foreign terrorist fighters. Many nations already have punishments applicable to such fighters, including imprisonment and/or loss of citizenship. In addition to the report on these jurisdictions, two maps have been included to illustrate the findings. (Dec. 2014)

Turkey: Counterterrorism and Justice

The Turkish government has faced insurgent opponents from the mid-1980s, more recently including the self-described Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), small Marxist-Leninist groups, and foreign fighters engaged in the Syrian civil war.  Turkey has responded to terrorism not only by adopting more stringent laws, but also, among other measures, by creating a terrorist blacklist, enhancing antiterrorist international cooperation, using an outreach program to communities to prevent terrorist recruitment, and relying on Turkey’s chief religious affairs body to counter violent extremist messaging.   (Sept. 2015)

Turkey: Recent Developments in National and Public Security Law

In March 2015, Turkey’s Parliament passed two major “package” laws, many of whose provisions tighten government control over national and public security in the country. In particular, Law No. 6638 enhances police powers to conduct searches, use weapons, wiretap, detain individuals without a warrant, and remove demonstrators from scenes of protest. Law No. 6639, amends the Law on Internet Media Regulation to extend government control over the Internet. Critics of the recent tightening of national security laws have expressed concern, in particular about their impact on freedom of the press in Turkey, but also about the exercise of the rule of law in the country in general.    (Nov. 2015)

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Last Updated: 05/19/2016