In The News

Jan 26, 2010

NATIONAL – Last month the Obama administration announced that it will stop detaining asylum seekers arriving in the United States who have a “credible fear of persecution in their home countries,” the New York Times reports. Immigrants would have to establish their identities and prove that they are not dangerous or a flight risk. Asylum seekers must still spend time in detention while they are interviewed and their information is checked, but administration officials hope to reduce the time they spend in detention. 
NATIONAL – The number of federal hate crime prosecutions grew in 2009 to the highest number since 2001. Tom Perez, who leads the Justice Department’s hate crimes division, told USA Today that he was “shocked to see the downtick in prosecutions of hate crimes” in recent years.  Some critics claim that during President Bush’s term there were not enough lawyers investigating hate crimes, housing and employment discrimination or police misconduct cases.
NATIONAL – The Department of Justice ordered federal prosecutors to step up efforts to combat crime on Indian reservations, particularly crimes against women and children, the Rapid City Journal reports. Tribal leaders, state government leaders, state law enforcement and federal and tribal law enforcement plan to come together for a “tribal listening session” to identify specific ways to improve this work. The Bureau of Justice Statistics has reported that American Indian and Alaska Native women experience the highest rates of intimate partner violence.
CA – Actor Charlie Sheen was arrested in a domestic violence incident on Christmas Day. He, his wife Brooke Mueller and his sons were vacationing in Colorado. After the arrest, Sheen quickly returned to work on his CBS sitcom, “Two and a Half Men.” Hanes ended Sheen’s endorsement and advertising campaign following the incident. Sheen served two years probation for a 1996 assault on a then-girlfriend, and then-wife Denise Richards alleged that he threatened to kill her in divorce papers filed in 2006. A court date is scheduled for next month.
FL – Barred from calling or visiting his ex-girlfriend, Brian Hinrichs believed that he had found a way around a domestic violence injunction – using MySpace to send the message “I still love you,” the St. Petersburg Times reports. But the Pasco County Sheriff's Office arrested Hinrichs and charged him with a third domestic violence violation. He is forbidden from making any contact with his ex-girlfriend until December 2010.  
IL – New laws went into effect this month that strengthen legal protections for domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking victims. Victims now must prove that the stalker committed at least two acts (such as following or watching the victim, interfering with the victim’s property, or delivering an unwanted object to the victim) that would cause a reasonable person to fear for her safety or suffer emotional distress, the Chicago Tribune reports. Until the new laws took effect, stalking victims had to prove they suffered two separate incidents of following or surveillance and a threat of bodily harm in order to get a protection order. Cyber-stalking is now defined as at least two acts involving electronic communication that produce the same effect. Victims of sexual assault can now get a protective order against a third party who “aided and abetted” in the assault and obtain protection orders for other household members.
INTERNATIONAL –The World Health Organization reports that HIV/AIDS is the number one killer of women age 15 to 49. Its report finds that lack of access to education, decision-making positions and income can limit women’s ability to protect their own health and the health of their families. Though major differences exist in women’s health across regions, countries and socio-economic status, women and girls worldwide face similar challenges that include discrimination, violence and poverty, which increase their risk of ill-health. Women and Health: Today’s Evidence Tomorrow’s Agenda is available here. 
SPAIN – Officials are launching a campaign to introduce a “European protection order,” which would ensure that a victim in any European Union (EU) country who obtains a protection order will have the same protections throughout the countries of the EU. The draft legislation is widely supported, but Spanish officials noted that it may fail because of the problems reconciling different legal and administrative systems across the EU, the Guardian reports.