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In The News

Jan 15, 2009

NATIONAL – The Bush Administration has closed off one of the most common ways undocumented persons appeal deportation decisions, the New York Times reports. Attorney General Michael Mukasey ruled that undocumented persons do not have a constitutional right to legal representation in deportation hearings. The ruling results from three appeals by immigrants who were ordered to be deported and in the appeals said that their cases were hurt by the mistakes of their lawyers. Immigration courts operate within the Justice Department and Mukasey is the highest authority. Immigrant advocates expect to appeal the ruling in federal court.

NATIONAL – The U.S. Public Information Office released a year-end report on the Federal Judiciary last month which found that immigration criminal case filings jumped by 27 percent and sex offense cases filings grew by nine percent in 2008. The increase in immigration cases resulted mostly from filings addressing improper reentry and fraud and misuse of visa or entry permits. The increase in sex offense case filings stemmed from cases involving sexually explicit material and sex offender registration.

NY – A new study from New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services finds that more than half the state’s 2007 female homicide victims (55 percent) were murdered as a result of a domestic incident. “Although we are struggling with a fiscal crisis, we will not sacrifice the public safety and we will not abandon the victims of domestic violence,” said Governor David A. Paterson in a statement. More information is available here.

NY – Domestic violence advocates and women’s groups are protesting that State Senator Hiram Monserrate was sworn in, despite facing criminal charges for slashing his girlfriend’s face with a piece of broken glass. The head of the New York chapter of NOW called the swearing in a “slap in the face” in a statement cited by the Associated Press. Authorities say the evidence, including a surveillance video, shows a heated argument and a frightened, bleeding woman in distress. Monserrate’s girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, initially said she was assaulted, but later recanted.

NC – The North Carolina Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit filed against a domestic violence shelter by the family of a woman who was murdered by her husband at the facility. Bonnie Lynn Woodring was staying at the REACH shelter in Sylvia when her husband, Woody Woodring, broke into the shelter, took her outside, beat her, and then took her back inside and murdered her. The Court of Appeals said the shelter is not responsible for the actions of Mr. Woodring and could not predict his criminal acts, which included: breaking into a neighbor’s home and stealing a shotgun, evading law enforcement, kidnapping a shelter employee, and more. According to REACH, prior to this incident the 30-year-old shelter had never had an abuser come on its property, the Smoky Mountain News reports. Ms. Woodring’s family is petitioning the North Carolina Supreme Court for a review.

MEXICO – Activist Esther Chavez, who first drew attention to the slayings of young women in Ciudad Juarez, was named the winner of Mexico’s National Human Rights Award last month. Chavez has worked with battered and mistreated women since the 1990s and told the Associated Press, “Law enforcement, even with the necessary police investigations and punishment for crimes, will never solve the root problem, which is social inequality, poverty and a lack of educational opportunities.”

RWANDA – Former Army Colonel Theoneste Bagosora was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity and sentenced to life in prison in December for masterminding the killings of more than half a million people in 1994, the Associated Press reports. Former military commanders Anatole Nsengiyumva and Aloys Ntabakuze were also found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity and sentenced to life in prison. The United Nations Security Council created the International Criminal Tribunal to prosecute those responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. Bagosora is the highest-ranking Rwandan official to be convicted in the genocide.

JAPAN – The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will begin training translators in April to support foreign women victimized by violence from their Japanese spouses or human trafficking. The translators will learn how to work with victims, and understand the complexities of trafficking and violence, the Kyodo World Service reports.