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Join Us on 10/20 for a Foreign and Comparative Law Webinar: Pakistan’s Legal Framework to Manage the Risks of Extreme Climate Events & Disasters

In Custodia Legis - 5 hours 4 min ago

Join us on October 20 at 2 p.m. EDT for our next foreign, comparative, and international law webinar titled, “Pakistan’s Legal Framework to Manage the Risks of Extreme Climate Events & Disasters.”

Please register here.

Flyer announcing upcoming foreign law webinar, Pakistan’s Legal Framework to Manage the Risks of Extreme Climate Events & Disasters, created by Kelly Goles.

This past summer, nearly one-third of Pakistan was struck by floods caused by unusually heavy monsoon rains and melting glacier runoffs. The flooding began in mid-June and has continued into September, where as of now it is being reported that nearly 1,400 people have died, 13,000 were injured, and millions of people have been displaced and rendered homeless. This webinar will try to provide an overview of Pakistan’s legal and policy framework for dealing with climate change issues and managing the risk of extreme climate events and disasters at the federal, provincial, and local levels. It will focus on environmental protection, climate change adaptation and mitigation measures, national disaster risk reduction and management, and climate change litigation. The webinar will also explore challenges for strengthening institutional capacity and governance to deal with climate change disasters.

This webinar will be presented by Senior Foreign Law Specialist Tariq Ahmad. Tariq’s work at the Law Library covers mostly South Asian common law jurisdictions, particularly India and Pakistan. He takes a particular research interest in religion and law issues in the South Asia region. Tariq holds an LL.M. degree in international law from American University Washington College of Law and an LL.B. from University College London. He also holds a BA in political science from Ohio State University.

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Categories: Research & Litigation

Evolution of American Funerary Customs and Laws

In Custodia Legis - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 10:00am

The following is a guest post by Mattie Aguero, a former intern with the Digital Resources Division of the Law Library of Congress.

While cultural customs surrounding death may differ, every society practices some form of ritual for the final disposition of the deceased. In the United States, this ritual is referred to as funeral rites. A funeral is a ceremony that is held in remembrance of the life of the deceased, the collective nature of which allows for a shared experience of mourning and expression of grief for lost loved ones.

Today we will explore the evolution of the American funeral, and how funeral practices in the United States led to the creation of consumer protection laws that regulate goods and services in the death care industry.

Early American Funeral Practices

In early America, death was a frequent part of colonial life. The conditions of the seventeenth century in the United States were such that forty percent of children in society did not reach adulthood. The most profitable material produced by the colonial press was mourning broadsides containing eulogies for the deceased.

While Puritan funerals were silent, somber affairs, their wakes were lively communal events. The night before the burial, friends and family of the deceased gathered at the house of mourning to partake in a viewing, or a time of watching over the body, to make sure that the deceased did not awaken. The wake was accompanied by a large feast, where mourners celebrated with food and liquor. The rum bill was often the most lavish expense of the entire funeral.

As the population in the colonies grew, their funeral ceremonies became increasingly elaborate public displays of mourning. The exchanging of gifts became a major part of colonial death rituals, the most common being pairs of gloves and gold rings that were distributed to the attendees. At the funeral of Waitstill Winthrop, the grandson of the founding governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, 60 rings were given to friends in attendance. The total expense of the entire ceremony was over six hundred pounds, which amounted to one-fifth of Winthrop’s entire estate.

Professor Steven C. Bullock, an academic expert on colonial history, puts the Winthrop funeral in context:

“In a year when all of Boston paid £1700 to the province for poll and property tax…Winthrop’s ceremony cost…more than the tax payments from any other locality in the colony—and more than twice as much as all Maine put together.”

The increasing grandeur of funeral ceremonies became a financial burden for many in the community, particularly for widows and children who became impoverished by spending the estate on funeral bills. Colonial legislators began to pass sumptuary laws to regulate extravagant funeral purchases. This legislation restricted the amount of money that could be charged for things like mourning garments, the tolling of the church bell, and undertaker services. It also enacted fines for excessive gift-giving and providing liquor at funerals.

For example, in 1761, the Massachusetts Bay Province enacted “An Act to Retrench the Extraordinary Expense at Funerals,” which ordered that:

No scarves, gloves (except six pair to the bearers, and one pair to each minister of the church or congregation where any deceased person belongs), wine, rum, or rings shall be allowed and given at any funeral, upon the penalty of fifty pounds, to be forfeited by the executor…to the will or estate the person interred; to be recovered by action…in any of his majesty’s courts of record” (Chapter 14, Section 1, pg. 1086).

Thus, colonial funeral practices paved the way for the creation of laws prohibiting excessive funerary expenses.

Grave covered with various domestic items: clock, cup, goblet, pots; gravestone reads: “Hackless Jenkins, June 15, 1878-June 25, 1926; asleep in Jesus”. Ulmann, Doris, 1882-1934, photographer. Library of Congress, Prints and Photograph Division. //

Nineteenth Century: Birth of the Funeral Industry

The nineteenth century is considered to be the genesis of the modern American funeral industry. Towns grew into cities, which quickly became severely overcrowded. As local cemeteries ran out of burial space, the rural park cemetery emerged. Located far enough away from the city to require transportation, coffin makers began to offer additional services like carriage rentals and hearse transportation to the gravesite.

Over time, these coffin makers began to take on other duties of what is now considered “death care” – they offered mourning wear, burial clothes, flowers, preparation of the body, and coordination of the entire funeral service. These tradesmen began to refer to themselves as undertakers, for they were the people who “undertook” responsibility for funeral arrangements.

A special report on occupations prepared by the Census Bureau shows that in 1890, there were 9,891 people who indicated an occupation of “undertaker” on the eleventh census. In 1900, on the twelfth census, that number rose to 16,189 (an additional 6,298 in 10 years). The use of the term undertaker as common nomenclature for a professional who engages in specialized tasks associated with funerary practices, set the stage for the creation of the modern funeral director and the death care industry.

Horses and carriages in front of funeral home of C.W. Franklin, undertaker, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963, collector. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. //

The Civil War and General Order 39

The Civil War greatly impacted American funeral practices. Soldiers were desperate to avoid being buried on enemy soil. Likewise, families wanted their dead returned to them to give them a proper burial. However, the journey by train was long and the summer heat was not conducive to preserving the deceased.

The solution to this preservation problem was embalming, or treating a dead body with injected chemicals to slow decomposition. Dr. Thomas Holmes, today considered the “father of modern embalming” in the United States, embalmed the bodies of fallen Union soldiers for the Army Medical Corps until he resigned to privatize his embalming services.

Other entrepreneurial surgeons began to offer their embalming expertise at a price. They would advertise their services outside of their tents, with unknown soldiers embalmed and standing at attention in caskets. Embalming fees inflated as the rate of death increased, particularly for higher-ranking soldiers. This became such a widespread issue that the War Department issued General Order 39, an “Order Concerning Embalmers,” which required all embalmers to obtain a special license to practice on deceased soldiers and established “a scale of prices by which embalmers are to be governed.” This order represented the first major effort of the United States federal government to define and regulate professional requirements for undertakers.

Embalming President Abraham Lincoln

Embalming was not commonly practiced among the general population until the death of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. Due to his popularity, government officials decided to take his body on a two-week national funeral procession from Washington, D.C. to Springfield, Illinois, his final resting place. In order to make such a long trip, embalming was necessary to keep the remains preserved. In fact, his body was re-embalmed at every city stop to maintain his “lifelike” appearance for the thousands of mourners who viewed him laid out in his coffin. By the end of the route, he was essentially mummified.

Death bed of Lincoln / A. Brett & Co. 83 Nassau St. A. Brett & Co. 1865. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. //

For many Americans, this was the first time that they saw an embalmed body, and Lincoln’s well-preserved appearance made quite an impression. Embalming of the deceased soon became a common practice, and body preparation shifted from the family home to the care of licensed undertakers. In 1882, undertakers formed the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), and the death care industry was born.

Starting with Virginia in 1894, states began to pass laws regulating the practice of embalming. Virginia established a state board of embalming, with the intent “to provide for the better protection of life and health, to prevent the spread of contagious disease, and to regulate the practice of embalming and the care and disposition of the dead” (Chapter 625). This act made the unlicensed practice of “the science of embalming” a misdemeanor, the penalty for which was a $50-$100 fine per offense. By 1900, 24 states had enacted similar statutes regulating licensing, education requirements, and the technical preparation necessary to practice the trade of embalming. By the late nineteenth century, undertakers had become professionals who provided a necessary service to the public in the form of an organized set of tasks performed for the “proper” disposition of the dead.

American Funerals in the Twentieth Century

The same year that the NFDA was formed, the first school of mortuary science was established in the United States to provide formal training and standardize practices across the funeral industry.

Funeral directors grew their businesses to include funeral home services, offering a neutral space for communities to mourn their dead. The 1900s saw an expansion of family-owned funeral homes across the country. The next few decades in America saw record numbers of deaths due to World Wars I and II, and the Great Depression.

In 1918, state governments mandated prohibitions on public gatherings in large cities, including funerals and wakes, and also required that flu victims be buried within 24 hours of a death to decrease the risk of disease spreading. This had a profound effect on funeral rites in the United States – grieving became less of a public endeavor, and more of a private, individual process due to public health concerns.

The FTC Funeral Rule

Funerals had become a commercial service, which required regulation for the protection of consumers. Following Senate hearings in July 1964, the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection investigated the funeral industry to determine how to address the unethical practices of some funeral directors against consumers. The result of their investigation was a final report proposing a “trade regulation rule on funeral industry practices.” After a lengthy process of public hearings with much backlash from funeral directors, the FTC introduced the “Funeral Rule”  (16. C.F.R. Part 453) in 1984. The current edition of the Code of Federal Regulations can be found online.

Per the FTC, the Funeral Rule “requires providers of funeral goods and services to give consumers itemized lists…that not only state prices and descriptions, but also contain specific disclosures.” Additionally, the Funeral Rule prohibits funeral directors from misrepresenting legal requirements, embalming without permission, and other deceptive or unfair practices. The FTC conducts yearly undercover secret shopper inspections of funeral homes to monitor funeral home compliance. As of January 2020, the civil penalty for violating the Funeral Rule is $43,280 per violation.

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Categories: Research & Litigation

Frances Glessner Lee and the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

In Custodia Legis - Tue, 09/27/2022 - 9:25am

The following is a guest post by Alexander Salopek, a collection development specialist in the Collection Services Division of the Law Library of Congress. He previously wrote posts on Miranda and the Rights of Suspects, Fred Korematsu’s Drive for Justice, Fred Korematsu Winning Justice and What a Difference 17 Years Made.

Frances Glessner Lee’s Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death are forensics models of crime that, at their inception, were revolutionary in their field of criminal investigation. A viewer looking at the nutshells sees a series of miniature model crime rather like a dollhouse, though these scenes are of death. As well as a staged death scene, testimony by a witness or bystander is often included. By reviewing the evidence presented in these scenes, an investigator could assess if the story held up or if the physical evidence pushed in a different direction. With unexplained deaths, the physical evidence can tell its own story.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there was a push to move from the medieval coroner-and-inquest model of investigating suspicious deaths, (a vestige of our once being a British colony) to the reformed model of the medical examiner. The coroner was a political position, either by appointment or by election, and would be responsible for both naming the cause of death and who was responsible for it, supported by vote of an inquest jury (Goldfarb, 6). The medical examiner model meant a doctor would be involved only in the “medical duties”; the others duties would be given over to the proper judicial authorities, (The Coroner and the Medical Examiner, 89).  In the midst of this reform movement, Frances Glessner Lee was having a conversation with her brother’s best friend from college, George Magrath (Goldfarb, 113). Magrath served as Boston’s second medical examiner and dreamed of creating a department of legal medicine, an idea he shared with Lee. He planted a seed in Lee’s mind that she carried with her for the next 30 years.

To honor the work of her friend George Magrath, Frances Glessner Lee used her inherited wealth to create both a department of legal medicine and a library devoted to such research, and named them for Magrath after his death. She used her considerable collection of books and documents on the subject to fill the library’s shelves, and made herself a research associate of the department. She believed that there were three pillars needed to reform criminal investigation. One pillar was the training and establishment of medical examiners; the second pillar was the education of the police, so they learned not to spoil crime scenes; and the third pillar was a reformation of the criminal code (Goldfarb, 120). Later the department’s director made Lee the consultant for the department, and she started to envision how the department could work with police departments. At this time, there was no detective training for police officers, and Lee believed she could fill the educational gap. The issue was that crime scenes could not be viewed by students when they happened, and while photographs or videos might help point the students to the evidence they needed to see, but a miniature model would push the students to assess the scenes themselves (Goldfarb, 209).

Three-Room Dwelling 1 (Nutshells by Frances Glessner Lee), October 28, 2017. [Photo by Flickr user Amaury Laporte. Used under CC BY-SA 2.0.]

Lee thought that she could not show police officers substandard craftsmanship, so she spent large amounts of money and time creating the nutshells. She hired a carpenter, Ralph Mosher, to build the structures and the furniture, artists to paint the artwork and the backgrounds, and Lee herself made the  dolls of the untimely dead (Goldfarb, 213). By this time Lee was living full-time at her mountain vacation home called the Rocks, where she had converted the whole second floor into a workshop for her creations (Botz, 32). She created about three nutshells a year, and left no detail too small for her careful hands; an example of such detail was the figurines’ socks she knitted with needles the size of straight pins, only able to do a few rows at a time before she exhausted her eyes (Botz, 32). Lee used the nutshells for her Seminar on Homicide Investigation for State Police, in which officers would study the nutshells for 90 minutes under her watchful eye (Lee, 677). Lee did not design the nutshells to be “Whodunits”, but instead springboards for thought and discussion, specifically what needed to be tested, and who should be questioned. Police at the time had not received adequate training on how to deal with a crime scene and maintain its integrity (Lee, 677).

Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, December 17, 2017. [Photo by Flickr user Allison Meier. Used under CC BY-SA 2.0 ]

Officers were grateful for her resources and training. When they finished the seminar, each officer would receive membership in a non-profit called Harvard Associates in Police Science (Goldfarb, 219). The goal was to have them continue their collaboration throughout their careers and grow the field of criminal investigation using medical science and other scientific investigation techniques (Botz, 30). One famous attendee of the seminars was Erle Stanley Gardner, author of the Perry Mason novels. Lee felt by allowing him to attend would advance the cause of legal medicine, thus she was glad he attended, and ultimately, Gardner was enamored with Lee and dedicated the Case of the Dubious Bridegroom to her, (Goldfarb. 235). Lee continued the seminars for the rest of her life. After her death, the nutshells were transferred to the Baltimore Medical Examiner’s office to continue her legacy (Botz, 31).

The Nutshell are currently not on public display, but they are digitally available to view on the on the Smithsonian of American Art Museum website here: Inside the “Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death” – 360 VR | Smithsonian American Art Museum.


May Botz, Corinne. The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. Moncelli Press, 2004.

Goldfarb, Bruce. 18 Tiny Deaths : the untold Story of Frances Glessner Lee and the Invention of Modern Forensics. Sourcebooks, 2020.

Lee, Frances Glessner. Legal Medicine and at Harvard University. The Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology, and Police Science. Jan. – Feb., 1952 Vol. 42, No. 5. pp 674-678.

Schultz, Oscar T. and Morgan, Edmund Morris. The Coroner and the Medical Examiner. National Research Council Bulletin No. 64. Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, 1928.

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Categories: Research & Litigation September 2022 New, Tip, and Top – Part II

In Custodia Legis - Mon, 09/26/2022 - 8:04am

At the beginning of September, Margaret and Andrew brought us the news that the API is now available, providing users with convenient access to accurate and structured congressional data through a REST API organized in a hierarchical browse format.

In this release, we are adding transcripts to bills and resolutions from the 6th-10th Congresses (1799-1809) so they are searchable. Also in this release, on the advanced legislation search form, when you select, “Choose House Committees” or “Choose Senate Committees,” there is now an option to “Check All” of the committees on those pages.

You can now choose to “check all” committees on House and Senate committee pages linked from the advanced legislation search form.


Enhancement – Legislation – Search Historical Bill Text

  • Bill texts from the 6th – 10th Congress are searchable.

Enhancement – Legislation – Advanced Search

Search Tip

Try the new appropriations bill search that is linked on the homepage under the heading, “Bill Searches and Lists.” This search returns appropriations bills from Fiscal Year (FY)22 and FY23.

Most-Viewed Bills

The following are the most-viewed bills for the week of September 18, 2022.

1. S.4428 [117th] Taiwan Policy Act of 2022 2. H.R.5376 [117th] Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 3. H.R.1808 [117th] Assault Weapons Ban of 2022 4. H.R.8404 [117th] Respect for Marriage Act 5. H.R.82 [117th] Social Security Fairness Act of 2021 6. S.623 [117th] Sunshine Protection Act of 2021 7. S.2992 [117th] American Innovation and Choice Online Act 8. H.R.3684 [117th] Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act 9. H.R.3617 [117th] Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act 10. H.R.3173 [117th] Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act of 2021

Subscribe to In Custodia Legis – it’s free! – to receive interesting posts drawn from the Law Library of Congress’s vast collections and our staff’s expertise in U.S., foreign, and international law.

Categories: Research & Litigation

FALQs: 30 Years Since the 500% Interest Rate in Sweden

In Custodia Legis - Fri, 09/23/2022 - 8:00am

This blog post is part of our Frequently Asked Legal Questions (FALQs) series.

Riksbanken. Photo by Flickruser Johan Bryggare (Sept. 25, 2008). Used under Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Thirty years ago this month, on September 16, 1992, the Swedish Central Bank, Sveriges riksbank (Riksbanken), announced a 500% marginal interest rate in hopes of saving the Swedish currency from devaluation. It did not work.

This blog post addresses some of the FALQs surrounding the event.

1. What was the role of the Swedish Central Bank in the 1990s?De

The Swedish Constitution at the time provided that the Swedish Central Bank was a government agency under the Swedish Parliament. (9 ch. 12 Regeringsformen.) It could only act as stipulated in law, specifically the Riksbank Act of 1988 (Lag om Sveriges Riksbank (SS 1988:1835)). In accordance with the Riksbank Act, its main goal was to be responsible for the Swedish currency and credit policy. It was also tasked with promoting a secure and effective payment system. (4 § Lag om Sveriges Riksbank.) Moreover, the Riksbank had the monopoly on issuing money (5 § Lag om Sveriges Riksbank.)

With respect to the currency and credit policy, the Riksbank Act specifically provided that:

9 § Riksbanken shall follow the developments on the currency and credit markets and take needed monetary policy measures.

10 § Riksbanken shall decide the system that will govern the establishment of the Swedish krona’s value in relation to foreign currencies as well as how this system should be applied. (Translation by author.)

 2. What led up to the adoption of the 500% marginal interest rate?

Sweden suffered a recession in the early 1990s that led to what later became known as the Swedish banking crisis, part of the Nordic banking crisis. In May of 1991, the Swedish Krona (SEK) was (unilaterally) pegged to the European Currency Unit (ECU), resulting in heavy speculation against the SEK. The Riksbank and the Swedish government tried to keep the SEK steady against the ECU to prevent an outflow of money from Sweden, refusing to devalue the currency, a strategy it had regretted using several times during the 1970s and 1980s. Following several rate hikes over the week leading up to September 16, 1992, the Riksbank announced the “ozone-busting” 500% marginal interest rate. The rate applied to overnight borrowing from the Riksbank by commercial banks.

3. What happened after?

Three days after the rate hike, a crisis package was negotiated between the government and the Social Democrats to decrease the budget deficit. The marginal rate was lowered in stages first to 50% then 24% and finally 11.5% in November 1992. On November 19, 1992, the Swedish Central bank abandoned the fixed exchange rate between the SEK and ECU and let the currency float.

Some have questioned whether there ever was a limit for how high the Swedish marginal rate could have been raised to protect the value of the SEK. Reportedly, the governor of the Riksbank at the time, Bengt Dennis, has said that the limit was 4,000%.

4. What were the lasting effects?

There were several lasting effects. First, the 2% inflation target is now expressed in law through the adoption of an amendment to the Riksbank Act that entered into force on January 1,1999. (Prop. 1997/98:40 Riksbankens ställning.)

Before the amendment the law read:

1 ch. 4 §

Riksbanken has, in accordance with 9 ch. 12 § Instrument of Government, responsibility for the currency and credit policy. It shall also promote a secure and effective payment system. (Translation by author.)

It was replaced with

The Riksbanken has, in accordance with 9 kap. 12 § Instrument of Government responsibility for the monetary policy. The goal of the Riksbank’s activity shall be to uphold a fixed monetary value. Riksbanken shall also promote a secure and effective payment system. (Translation by author.)

Additional amendments to the Riksbank Act also increased the independence of the Riksbank.

5. What laws are on the books now?

The Swedish Constitution (Regeringsformen) amended the language surrounding the role of the Swedish central bank in a 2010 amendment, and the 9 ch. 13 § Instrument of Government now reads

The Riksbank is the country’s central bank and an authority under the Riksdag. The Riksbank is responsible for monetary policy. No authority may decide how the Riksbank shall decide on matters relating to monetary policy.

The Riksbank Act has also been amended Lag om Sveriges Riksbank (SFS 1988:1385)(Consolidated).

6. What is the status of the Swedish Krona?

Sweden, together with neighboring Denmark is one of eight countries in the European Union that is currently not part of the Eurozone. While Denmark has an outright exception, meaning there is no assumption that they will ever join the European currency, Sweden has a duty to adopt the currency, just not now, but once it meets the necessary conditions. Sweden held a referendum on adopting the euro in 2003 with 55.9% voting against adoption and 42% in favor.

7. What is the Swedish policy interest today?

On September 20, 2022, the Swedish Riksbank raised the policy interest rate from 0.75% to 1.75% to fight off inflation and maintain price stability. The Riksbank also announced that it was planning to further raise the interest rate over the coming six months.

8. Where can I read more?


Riksbanken, 1992 – Interest Rate 500% – the Krona Floats

Lars Jonung, The Swedish Model for Resolving the Banking Crisis of 1991-1993. Seven Reasons Why it was Successful, European Commission, European Papers 360 (February 2009)

P, Englund, The Swedish Banking Crisis: Roots and Consequences, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Volume 15, Issue 3, September 1999, pages 80–97.

Government bills

Prop. 1997/98:164 Ändringar i lagen 1998:135 om Sveriges riksbank

Prop. 1997/98:40 Riksbankens ställning

Library of Congress Holdings

Mats Larsson & Gabriel Söderberg, Finance and the Welfare State : Banking Development and Regulatory Principles in Sweden, 1900-2015 (2017)

Stefan Ingves et. al., Lessons Learned from Previous Banking Crises : Sweden, Japan, Spain, and Mexico (2009)

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Categories: Research & Litigation

The Wild Blue Yonder

In Custodia Legis - Thu, 09/22/2022 - 8:12am

The 2006 United States Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Virginia and its three spires appear to be soaring, evoking the contrails of the Air Force Thunderbirds as they peel back in a precision maneuver (Carol M. Highsmith, photographer, July 7, 2007.) Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Sunday marked the 75th anniversary of the passage of the National Security Act of 1947, Act of July 26, 1947, ch. 343, 61 Stat. 495. The act had several major provisions including the establishment of the Department of Defense, the removal of the departments of War and of the Navy from the cabinet, and the creation of the United States Air Force (USAF).

America’s military air force began its existence as a branch of the United States Army, specifically as a part of the Signal Corps, in the summer of 1907, less than four years after the Wright brothers’ historic flight at Kitty Hawk. Beginning with World War I, the Army’s air component became a separate entity, first as the Army Air Service (1918-1926), then as the Army Air Corps (1926-1941), and finally as the United States Army Air Forces in 1941 by Army Regulation 95-5.

The USAAF was extensively involved in fighting World War II, including conducting ground support operations in all areas where American soldiers fought, strategic bombing operations in Asia and Europe, and supporting the flow of material and personnel from the United States to distant theaters of operations. During the conflict, it became apparent that a separate branch of the armed forces would need to be established after the war to better coordinate such activities.

Section 208(f) of the National Security Act of 1947, defines the role of the USAF as

  (f) In general the United States Air Force shall include aviation forces both combat and service not otherwise assigned. It shall be organized, trained, and equipped primarily for prompt and sustained offensive and defensive air operations. The Air Force shall be responsible for the preparation of the air forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war except as otherwise assigned and, in accordance with integrated joint mobilization plans, for the expansion of the peacetime components of the Air Force to meet the needs of war.

The first major mission of the new branch was to resupply the residents of Berlin during the Berlin Airlift of 1948.

Source:  Edwin L. Williams, USAF Historical Division, Research Studies Institute, Air University.  Legislative History of the AAF and USAF, 1941-1951 (1955).

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Categories: Research & Litigation

Collection Highlights: Simon Greenleaf and the First American Legal Citation Index

In Custodia Legis - Wed, 09/21/2022 - 7:36am

Last September, I published a post on this blog about Chancellor James Kent in which I wrote about Chancellor Kent’s role in promoting the professionalization of court reporting in America. In this post, I thought I would expand on the subject of legal research in early America by highlighting the first American author to publish a legal citation index. That author was Simon Greenleaf.


[Simon Greenleaf, 1783-1853, bust portrait]. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

A legal citation index, or citator, is a list of cases which shows whether the holdings in a case have been overturned, or repealed, or have had some negative treatment that has bearing on their value as precedent. The best-known examples of citators are KeyCite and Shepards, which are common tools for legal researchers today. (Black’s, 9th ed. p. 278). But long before Shepards, there was Greenleaf.

Simon Greenleaf was an American lawyer and jurist who was active in the first half of the 19th century. He is best known for his role in the early years of Harvard Law School, where he taught law and later succeeded Joseph Story as the Dane Professor of Law, as well as for producing a very successful American treatise on the law of evidence. Greenleaf was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts in 1783. He studied at the Latin School in Newburyport and eventually apprenticed in the law office of Ezekiel Whitman (1776-1866), a Maine lawyer and politician who went on to serve as chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Greenleaf was admitted to the bar in 1806 and practiced law in Gray, Maine and then in Portland until 1820. From that time until 1832, Greenleaf was also employed as the reporter for the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine, in which position he published nine volumes of reports covering cases from 1820 to 1832. It was in that role where Joseph Story, who was an associate chief justice of the United State Supreme Court and a law professor at Harvard, took note of the quality of Greenleaf’s work. (Ogden, p. 3-5). The two became close friends and collaborators; that partnership resulted in Greenleaf’s appointments to Harvard’s Royall Professorship of law in 1833 and then to Story’s former position, the Dane Professorship, in 1846. Greenleaf held that post until 1848 when ill health forced him to retire.

Greenleaf’s Reports were part of a trend, that was taking place at that time — especially among states on the east coast — toward publishing state court reports in a serial format. While court reporting was still in its infancy in the United States, the number of printed volumes of legal cases was on the rise. In the first decades following independence, very few American courts recorded judicial opinions. Traditionally, lawyers who hoped to remain current regarding cases that received negative treatment in their jurisdiction were obliged to keep a record of them privately in notebooks or commonplace books. (Surrency, p. 24-25). Such notes made them less dependent on published sources than modern lawyers are, but their access to information was far more limited (Surrency, p. 38).  The first two printed reports to be published in America did not appear until 1789. (For those who are curious, they were Ephraim Kirby’s Connecticut Reports and Francis Hopkinson’s Judgements in the Admiralty of Pennsylvania in four suits, although not necessarily in that order). In the following decade, a number of other printed reports followed, including, four volumes published by Alexander J. Dallas which were later incorporated into the United States Reports, which records the decisions of the United States Supreme Court. By 1810, there were only 18 volumes of reports published in America. (Ogden, p. 3). American lawyers routinely cited English cases that appeared in collections of reports that were published in England as well, a practice that was attended by a handful of challenges. (Kempin, pp. 31-32). But in the early 19th century, as more volumes of cases appeared, it became a struggle to manage the size of the literature. The first digest of American law did not appear until the 1820s, and no resource existed that kept an up-to-date record of the treatment that cases were given by subsequent courts. (Ogden, p. 3) It was not at all a simple task to determine whether a case that a lawyer uncovered during research still possessed precedential value.

Greenleaf’s citator, A collection of cases overruled, denied, doubted, or limited in their application, taken from American and English reports. Portland, 1821. Photo by Nathan Dorn.

All of this casts some light on the circumstances that led Greenleaf to compose a list of cases that had been overturned. Theophilus Parsons, Greenleaf’s successor in the Dane Professorship, recounted the following story of its origin:

Very early in his professional career [Greenleaf] had given an opinion, and argued a case which grew out of his opinion, upon the authority of an English decision which seemed to be applicable and decisive. But the court informed him, that this case had been overruled, and had no authority whatever. He determined at once to ascertain, as far as he could, which of the apparently authoritative cases in the Reports had lost their force, and to give the information to the profession. (Parsons, p. 414.)

Late in 1819, Greenleaf mentioned to Joseph Story his personal interest in compiling a list of cases in English and American reports that indicated which cases had been overturned, wondering whether it would be useful for others in the profession. Story encouraged him to turn his list into a publication and gave him guidance. In fact, Story had already been thinking about the need for a resource like the one Greenleaf proposed, and had gone so far as to suggest it to Henry Wheaton, the reporter for the United States Supreme Court. Story explained to Greenleaf that the index should also take care to specify the degree to which a case had received negative treatment, since some cases were not fully overturned, but had some doubt cast on them, or only had parts of them reversed, or were limited to specific cases. The index, he explained, should represent a whole spectrum of such treatment. (Ogden, p. 4) Greenleaf generally adopted this format and published the list as A collection of cases overruled, denied, doubted, or limited in their application, taken from American and English reports. (Portland, 1821). The first edition of the work contained about 600 entries, and included cases from the existing English reports, and the printed American reports as well as comments on some treatises and other items, to which Greenleaf cited the print sources where they appeared. He did not always note the specific point upon which a case received negative treatment, a problem that an early reviewer noted (he omitted such treatment seven times on page 2 of the book) (A Collection, p. 71). Subsequent editions were published in 1838, 1840 and 1856 and included larger numbers of citations, which by the third edition numbered in the thousands. Greenleaf by his own account had little to do with their publication.

A representative page of Greenleaf’s Citator, showing entries including cases and other sources. Note the first entry, which presents a cascade of criticism of Keble’s Reports. Photo by Nathan Dorn.

The work was generally well-received. One early reviewer follows a congratulatory note—that the works is useful and much needed by the profession—with a critical one: he argued both that the work was incomplete, falling short by no less than 400 cases that by any account ought to have been included, and that no single author could hope to complete the work of compiling and staying abreast of all English and American cases. (A Collection, p. 71). In the following decades, the number of cases appearing in print increased dramatically, rendering Greenleaf’s original notion of providing comprehensive coverage of all cases completely outmoded.

Greenleaf’s Treatise on the Law of Evidence, of which the Law Library owns many 19th-century editions, was the standard textbook on evidence law for about half a century. He promoted it with an interesting work in which he tested the rules of evidence against the reliability of testimony offered by the Gospels’ account of the life of Jesus. Greenleaf, a lifelong Freemason, also composed A brief inquiry into the origin and principles of free masonry. Portland [Me.] Printed by A. Shirley, 1820. The professional papers of Simon Greenleaf can be found here. The Greenleaf Law Library, which was founded in 1866 to replace the Cumberland Bar Association Law Library in Portland Maine, began with a donation from his son James Greenleaf of his father’s personal book collection. A bibliography of that library can be found here.

Sources Cited:

Black’s law dictionary. Bryan A. Garner, editor in chief. 9th ed. St. Paul, MN: West, c2009.

Blinka, Daniel D. “The roots of the modern trial: Greenleaf’s Testimony to the harmony of Christianity, science, and law in antebellum America,” in Journal of the Early Republic, Vol. 27, Issue 2 (Summer 2007).

Kempin, Frederick G., Jr. “Precedent and Stare Decisis: The Critical Years, 1800 to 1850” The American Journal of Legal History, vol. 3, No. 1 (Jan., 1959), pp. 28-54.

Newmyer, R. Kent. “Harvard Law School, New England Legal Culture, and the Antebellum Origins of
American Jurisprudence,” The Journal of American History, vol. 74, no. 3, The Constitution and American Life: A Special Issue (Dec., 1987), pp. 814-835.

Ogden, Patti J., “Mastering the Lawless Science of Our Law: A Story of Legal Citation Indexes,” 85 Law Library Journal. 1 (1993).

“Review: A Collection of Cases Overruled, Doubted, or Limited in Their Application. Taken from American and English Reports by Simon Greenleaf.” The North American Review, vol. 15, no. 36 (Jul., 1822), pp. 65-72, 282

Warren, Charles, 1868-1954. History of the Harvard Law School and of early legal conditions in America, by Charles Warren. New York, Lewis Publishing Company, 1908.

Willis, William. A History of the Law, the Courts, and the Lawyers of Maine. Portland: Bailey & Noyes, 1863. Pg. 522-526.

Parsons, Theophilus. “Professor Parson’s Address Commemorative of Professor Greenleaf,” The Monthly Law Reporter vol. 16 (1853), pp. 413-417.

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Categories: Research & Litigation

Old Kentucky State Law Library – Pic of the Week

In Custodia Legis - Tue, 09/20/2022 - 2:00pm

On a recent trip to Kentucky, my colleague Robert visited the Old Kentucky State Capitol Building. This Greek Revival building, which served as Kentucky’s capitol for 80 years, is now a National Historic Landmark. It is also a museum open to the public which has been restored to the way it appeared in the early 1850s and contains pieces original to that time. Of particular interest to my colleague was the re-creation of the state law library housed inside the museum. Have you visited a National historic landmark? Let us know in the comments.

Kentucky’s Old State Capitol building. Photo by Robert Brammer.

Law Library inside Kentucky’s Old State Capitol building. Photo by Robert Brammer.

Law Library inside Kentucky’s Old State Capitol building. Photo by Robert Brammer.

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Categories: Research & Litigation

Celebrating 10 Years of

In Custodia Legis - Mon, 09/19/2022 - 9:00am

On September 19, 2012, 10 years ago today, was launched, providing enhanced access to federal legislative information. was created to replace our old THOMAS site that dated back to the 1990s. improved upon Thomas as it incorporated a powerful search engine. It also took advantage of the advent of responsive web design, which allows the site to scale to the device you are using, whether that is a tablet, phone, or desktop. As Andrew Weber explained in his 2012 post announcing the launch of the site:

THOMAS launched in the mid-1990s using technology that was no longer capable of providing new functionality users have come to expect in a website. The platform enhances access through features such as videos explaining the legislative process, compatibility with mobile devices, and a user-friendly presentation.

To celebrate 10 years of, we asked our colleagues about their favorite, lesser-known features. Here’s what they had to say.

Legislative Information Systems Management Specialist, Amy Swantner:

My favorite, lesser known feature is the full list of actions available to search from the Advanced Legislation search form. This feature is invaluable to users who need to find legislation that has undergone very specific steps in the legislative process. For example, you can search for bills and resolutions considered under suspension of rules in House or Senate amendments referred to committee. And you can combine an action search with other criteria including keywords, sponsor and committee.

Head Legislative Information Systems Management, Kimberly Ferguson:

I have two favorites. The first is that “Current Congress” is the global default search. This relatively new convenience saves researchers from previously soloed search collections. For example, if a researcher wants to find information about the newest Supreme Court nominee, they can simply type “Ketanji” into the “Current Congress” search default, then use the “Limit Your Search” filter to narrow down the results to items any of these collections: Nominations, Committee Meetings, Congressional Record, House Communications, or Senate Communications.

The second favorite is the Law Library’s project to make historical Congressional Record Daily Digest PDFs available for single days (instead of a giant PDF for each year). The Daily Digest is my absolute favorite section of the Congressional Record. It is like the daily executive summary of the business of Congress. The Daily Digest is mandated by law; the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 (Public Law 79-601, 60 Stat. 812) which introduced lots of data standardization and data transparency practices. The very first issue of the Daily Digest is March 17, 1947.

Legislative Data Specialist, Cassidy Charles:

The Keyword In Context feature is available for Congressional Record quick search form results. On the results screen on the results page, there is a “Show Keywords In Context” checkbox. When selected, this feature will display a snippet of text below each result item, showing the keywords that were searched for in the context of the document so a researcher can decide if the result is relevant to their search. Product Owner, Andrew Weber:

One thing I really like is the ability to link directly into the text of legislation on Rather than just going to the text tab, you can copy the link from the right side of the text, and you can to have someone go straight to the language you are referencing, as in this example: “(7) The legislative branch has also embraced digital signatures. Every bill posted to is digitally signed by the Government Publishing Office.”

Law Library of Congress Office of External Relations Chief, Robert Brammer:

I like that you can easily locate member remarks in the Congressional Record by visiting a member’s profile page and clicking “See this Member’s Remarks in the Congressional Record” at the top, right.

Senior Legal Information Specialist, Jennifer González:

My favorite feature of is whatever is coming next. It seems like there is always something new, whether it be a new historic collection, an expansion to another collection, new proposed bills, or a new feature. I look forward to reading the blog posts to find out what each new release includes and the monthly New, Tip, and Top emails for the monthly recap.

Screenshot of on various devices.

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Categories: Research & Litigation

An Interview with Sarah Friedman, A Presidential Management Fellow at the Law Library of Congress

In Custodia Legis - Fri, 09/16/2022 - 9:00am

Today’s interview is with Sarah Friedman, a Presidential Management Fellow working in the Public Services Division at the Law Library of Congress.

Describe your background.

I was born and raised in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where I was always just a short drive away from the beach and many beautiful coastal New England towns. Growing up, my family fostered my love of books and history with frequent visits to libraries and museums around my hometown. After graduating from law school, I moved to D.C.. One of the best parts of living in the city has been having easy access to the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, and other local museums.

What is your academic/professional history?

I earned my undergraduate degree in English literature from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and my J.D. from Roger Williams University School of Law. In law school I discovered my interest in fair housing and focused my research, writing, and professional experiences on learning more about the subject. After graduating from law school, I was appointed to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Office of Fair Lending Oversight (FHFA) through the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program. At FHFA I continued pursuing my interest in fair housing while learning all about the mortgage industry and fair lending from a brilliant and passionate team. The PMF Program offers fellows the opportunity to go on a developmental detail during the two-year fellowship, which is what brought me to the Law Library of Congress.

Sarah Friedman. Photo by Kelly Goles.

How would you describe your job to other people?

I am learning the ins and outs of working as a legal reference librarian. I have a background in law and not librarianship, so I am involved in a variety of activities and projects to get to know all of the librarians’ daily functions. My job includes answering patron questions, familiarizing myself with the collection and library resources, and helping with a project to review the library’s collection of biographies for the justices of the Supreme Court.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?

I chose the Law Library of Congress for my PMF detail because I thought it would be a unique opportunity to get a glimpse into the day-to-day work of a law librarian. I admired the incredibly knowledgeable law librarians at my law school and I thought it would be fascinating see the behind-the-scenes work that goes into maintaining a large collection of print and digital materials, assisting patrons, and providing quality educational resources. I have also always loved books and libraries, so it is exciting to get to explore the Library of Congress and learn from so many experienced librarians.

What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the Law Library?

I found it interesting that most of the collection is housed in the closed stacks in the enormous sub-basement. It is difficult to imagine what over 2.9 million books looks like until you have seen the seemingly endless rows of shelves.

What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

I taught myself to embroider last year. I bought an embroidery kit online as a way to keep busy during the colder months and picked it up pretty quickly. It is detailed work, but I like trying out new stitches and seeing the finished product come together.

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Categories: Research & Litigation

Hispanic Heritage Month 2022: New Acquisitions

In Custodia Legis - Thu, 09/15/2022 - 9:30am

The United States has been commemorating Hispanic Heritage Month since 1968. The celebration honors the civic and cultural contributions and achievements made by our fellow Americans of Hispanic heritage, and also Mexico’s independence day (September 16) and the anniversaries of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. To honor these people and celebrations, we have compiled a list of some of the new materials the Law Library has acquired from these jurisdictions since 2019.

The “Goddess of Agave” mural, painted by Rock “Cyfi” Martinez in 2017 as part of the Tucson, Arizona, Mural Arts Program. [photo by Patricia Highsmith, Library of Congress Prints y Photographs Division, ]



KGF3411.C68 C68 2021 COVID-19 (Mexico, Tirant lo Blanch). COVID-19 : análisis, retos y soluciones de la pandemia desde una perspectiva jurídica.

KGF5582.C78 2021 Cruz Díaz, Eduardo de la. Delitos informáticos más comunes en México.

KGF1502.O26 2020 Ochoa Olvera, Salvador. Derecho anticoncursal mexicano : la visita de verificación y las sentencias concursales : con las reformas de enero de 2014 y enero de 2020.

KGF3265.P39 2021 Paz López, Alejandro. De la reconsideración a la revisión administrativa.

KGF335.C65 C53 2021 Ciberprofesionales : obra colectiva sobre el uso de las TIC.

KGF187.L33 A93 2021 Acciones de capacitación para el nuevo sistema de justicia laboral / coordinador, Sergio Javier Molina Martinez.

KGF2921.C3756 2021 Castellanos Hernández, Eduardo de Jesús. Constitucionalismo multinivel, argumentación, deontología y otros temas jurídicos.

KGF480.C375 2021 Carbonell, Miguel. Sentencias básicas. Tomo 1, Derecho de familia.

KGF1810.C36 2021 Camacho Solís, Julio Ismael. La negociación y el conflicto en las relaciones laborales.

KGF3058.5.A96 2021 Andrade González, Enrique. El voto de los mexicanos desde el extranjero.

KGF4809.R64 2021 Rohde Ponce, Andrés. Derecho aduanero mexicano : fundamentos y regulaciones de la actividad aduanera.

KGF3156.Q56 2021 Quiñónez Huízar, Francisco Rubén. Jurisprudencia y control constitucional en México : elementos necesarios para su comprensión y aplicación.

K5077.D47 2020 Derecho penal y neurociencia / Eric García-López, coordinador.

Costa Rica

KG575.5.G39 D47 2021 El derecho al amor, el reconocimiento de las uniones diversas en Colombia y Costa Rica.

KG514.C85 2021 Culture as judicial evidence: expert testimony in Latin America.

KG574.C67 2020 Control de la convencionalidad en América Latina: desarrollo y estatus actual : homenaje a Juan Velásquez (Mexico), Daniel Gonzalez (Costa Rica).

K5101.P36 2020 Pandemia : derechos humanos, sistema penal y control social (en tiempos de coronavirus).

El Salvador

KGC1054 2020 El Salvador. Recopilación de leyes mercantiles : código de comercio, Ley de registro de comercio y su Reglamento, Ley de marcas y otros signos distintivos, convenciones interamericanas en materia mercantil, leyes y reglamentos complementarios / Lic. Ricardo Mendoza Orantes.

KGC1784 2020 El Salvador. Recopilación de leyes en materia laboral / compilador, Luis Vásquez López.

KGC480.A28 2020 Recopilación de leyes y convenciones internacionales en materia de familia, compilador, Lic. Luis Vásquez López.

KGC3053.D47 2020 Derecho electoral salvadoreño / Luis Mario Rodríguez Rodríguez (coordinador).

K639.A41989 C658 2020 La Convención sobre los Derechos del Niño desde la perspectiva de los derechos humanos / Ignacio Campoy Cervera (ed.) ; autores, Isabel E. Lázaro González [and five others]. (chapter)


KGD5564.S24 2021 Saffa, Sarah N. Kinship and incestuous crime in colonial Guatemala

KGD3061.A948 2020 Luna Aguilera, Celia. Desafíos institucionales del Tribunal Supremo Electoral : alternativas para su fortalecimiento como órgano de gestión electoral.

KGD1056 2020 García Fong, Gustavo. La jurisprudencia de la Corte de Constitucionalidad de Guatemala y el desarrollo de los principios de la economía social de Mercado.

KG966.W66 D45 2020 Delito de feminicidio : diálogo polisémico y su emergencia en la política criminal sistémica (Colombia, España, Guatemala, México y República Dominicana) / Omar Huertas Díaz, Carlos Mauricio Archila Guío, Gladis Isabel Ruíz Gómez (editores).

KGD2921.C66 2020 El constitucionalismo guatemalteco frente a lo global : estudios de una nueva generación de voces / Carlos Arturo Villagrán Sandoval (coordinador).


Prior Consultation of Indigenous Peoples in Latin America : Inside the Implementation Gap. Claire Wright, Alexandra Tomaselli, eds. 2019. Available only on campus as an e-book.

KGE404 2021 Honduras. Civil code of Honduras and Family code of Honduras / translated into English with an introduction and indices by Julio Romañach, Jr.


KGG459.M49 2019 Meyers, Stephen J. Civilizing disability society:  the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities socializing grassroots disabled persons organizations in Nicaragua. 

KGG3003.A312018 A4 2019 Nicaragua. Ley no. 983:  Ley de justicia constitucional : publicada en la Gaceta Diario Oficial no. 247 del 20-12-18.

KGG4170.A312003 A4 2019 Nicaragua. Ley no. 431 : Ley para el régimen de circulación vehicular e infracciones de tránsito, con sus reformas inforpaoradas.

KGG480.A312014 R66 2022 Nicaragua. Family Code of Nicaragua and Selected Public Laws of Nicaragua / translated into English with an introduction and indices by Julio Romañach, Jr.

KGG4584 2019 Nicaragua. Código tributario de la República de Nicaragua : reformas y derogaciones de la Ley no. 902, Código procesal civil ; Ley no. 802, Ley creadora del Tribunal Aduanero y Tributario administrativo ; Reglamento de la Ley creadora del Tribunal Aduanero y del Tribunal Administrativo / compilador, Jhonny F. Guadamz Sequeira.

KG637.H87 2020 Hurtado Rassi, Juliana. Gestión conjunta de ecosistemas transfronterizos : la importancia del trabajo articulado entre los Estados para la conservación de los recursos naturales : análisis del caso particular de la “Reserva de Biosfera Seaflower”. .

KGG2924.H47 2020 Hernández C., Martina. Los medios escritos y el debate constitucional : Nicaragua 1995.

KGG2921.E833 2019 Escobar Fornos, Iván. Manual de derecho constitucional nicaragüense.

KG3548.E84 2019 Escobar Fornos, Iván. Derecho constitucional comparado centroamericano.


Our earlier posts on Hispanic law materials on the shelf can be found here:

Hispanic Heritage Month on the Shelf: What’s New

On the Shelf: Hispanic Heritage Month at the Law Library

Subscribe to In Custodia Legis – it’s free! – to receive interesting posts drawn from the Law Library of Congress’s vast collections and our staff’s expertise in U.S., foreign, and international law.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Law Library of Congress Report Examines Economic Espionage Laws in Selected Countries

In Custodia Legis - Wed, 09/14/2022 - 8:00am

Title page of the Law Library of Congress Report on Economic Espionage Laws

A recently published Law Library of Congress report, Economic Espionage Laws, “addresses economic espionage laws and the regulation of fraudulent filing of corporate, import-export, and banking documentation” in sixteen countries.

The report consists of a comparative summary followed by individual country surveys for sixteen countries. The countries surveyed are Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, India, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Peru, South Korea, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, and Uzbekistan.

While the countries surveyed do not have stand-alone comprehensive legislation on economic espionage, “they subject certain related unauthorized activities to criminal or civil penalties, or both.” The report provides information on relevant penalties and standard of proof required for conviction in related offenses under the laws of the surveyed countries. It also highlights recent cases involving arrests and convictions on grounds of economic espionage and violation of export control requirements. The country surveys contain multiple references and links to legal and non-legal sources of information in English as well as in relevant vernacular languages on the subjects discussed.

The report is part of the Legal Reports (Publications of the Law Library of Congress) collection which contains to date more than 3,000 reports, current and historical, authored by the Law Library of Congress specialists and analysts on a variety of legal topics.

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Categories: Research & Litigation

Rare Book Video – A 14th Century Manuscript of Registrum Brevium

In Custodia Legis - Tue, 09/13/2022 - 8:48am

In this video, Nathan Dorn, the curator of the Law Library’s rare book collection, discusses a recent acquisition, a 14th-century manuscript of Registrum Brevium, a copy of the register of writs used to initiate litigation in medieval England.

Nathan explains:

Over the course of the 12th century, a system of writs was developed that enabled people from all over England to get a hearing for their grievances before judges in the king’s courts. Plaintiffs were able to purchase a writ, which was produced by secretaries at the king’s court. There was an officina brevium, or “workshop of writs,” that produced writs for this purpose. It appears that there was no official copy of the register that served as the model for all others. Instead, each individual master, or cursitor, of a writ shop kept a copy of the register, such as this manuscript, for use in his office. This manuscript has previously been featured on In Custodia Legis.

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Categories: Research & Litigation

Upcoming US Law Webinars – October 2022

In Custodia Legis - Mon, 09/12/2022 - 8:30am

Spooky season approaches! For some, part of October will be spent gearing up for Halloween and Día de Muertos. Others may be excited about the cooler weather and fall recipes. Maybe “pumpkin spice season” will be observed where you live.

Regardless of your October plans, we hope you make time to join us for some of our upcoming webinars on and federal statutes. More information about the Law Library’s upcoming U.S. law webinars and registration links can be found below.

October’s “bright blue weather” A good time to read! Between 1936 and 1940. Bender, Albert M., artist. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, //

Orientation to Legal Research: U.S. Federal Statutes

Date: Thursday, October 6, 2022, 11:00 a.m. EDT – 12:00 p.m. EDT

Content: Provides an overview of U.S. statutory and legislative research, including information about how to find and use the U.S. Code, the U.S. Statutes at Large, and U.S. federal bills and resolutions.

Instructor: Jason Zarin – Legal Reference Specialist. Jason has a B.A. in economics from Tufts University, an M.A. in economics from UCLA, a J.D. from the University of Southern California, an LL.M. in taxation from Georgetown University, and a Master of Science in information systems from the University of Texas at Austin.

Register here. Webinar

Date: Thursday, October 13, 2022, 2:00 p.m. EDT – 3:00 p.m. EDT

Content: This orientation is designed to give a basic overview of While the focus of the session will be searching legislation and the congressional member information attached to the legislation, new features on will be highlighted.

Instructor: Barbara Bavis and Robert Brammer. Barbara is the bibliographic and research instruction librarian at the Law Library. She holds a B.A. in history from Duke University, a J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law, and a Master of Science in library and information science with a specialization in law librarianship from Catholic University. Robert is the chief of the Law Library’s Office of External Relations. He holds a B.A. in political science from the University of Kentucky, a J.D. from Wayne State University, and a Master of library science from Florida State University.

Register here.

To learn about other upcoming classes on domestic and foreign law topics, visit the Legal Research Institute.

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Categories: Research & Litigation

The Complex Origins of Western Legal Traditions

In Custodia Legis - Fri, 09/09/2022 - 9:06am

A few months ago, I read an absolutely fascinating book on early human societies, “The Dawn of Everything.” Co-authored by David Graeber and David Wengrow, this book offers a critique of popular views on western civilization and the traditional narratives of mankind’s linear development from primitivism to civilization. It is a long book, but I found it to be fairly easy reading, especially if you are someone who has an interest in anthropology and archaeology. Since finishing it, I have found myself thinking more and more about the origins of society as we now know it. How similar are we to our prehistoric ancestors? Did they think about the same things we do? Maybe they were not worried about car payments or student loans, but it’s not totally out of the question to imagine that they may have wondered and worried over what to eat for their next meal or where they would find themselves in five years’ time.

Once you start pondering the origins of modern man, it is not hard to find scholarship that discusses our ties to ancient society in any given topic – law included. The Law Library has a great collection of books and articles to sate curious minds. Over the past few weeks, I have fallen down a rabbit hole of riveting literature regarding the origins of Western law and civilization. Among the highlights is an article written by University of Illinois professor of law, Robin Bradley Kar, entitled “Western Legal Prehistory: Reconstructing the Hidden Origins of Western Law and Civilization.” In this lengthy but very engaging article, Kar argues that we should look beyond ancient Rome, Greece, and Israel for the origins of Western legal traditions. Instead, he posits that the roots of Western law go back much further in time and farther east – specifically, back to around 4500 B.C. in the Eastern Iran-Bactria-Indus Valley region. Kar touches on some of the same archaeological evidence that Graeber and Wengrow cover in their book. As someone with more than a passing interest in linguistics, I really enjoyed Kar’s interdisciplinary approach to the question of just how far back we can trace the roots of modern Western legal traditions. While I am not in a position to pass judgment on the accuracy of Kar’s hypothesis, I can attest to the impressive amount of scholarship he cites in building his case. Furthermore, I am compelled by his argument that we should look not as much at the differences between common and civil law traditions, but rather more to their shared, ancient ancestry and what that ancestry may have in common with non-Western legal traditions.

Acropolis, Parthenon, east side, Athens, Greece. Between 1890 and 1930. //

Compared to studying legal systems from the 5th millennium B.C., looking at ancient Greek, Roman, and Israeli law can seem positively easy, given the abundance of primary source materials we have from these later legal systems. Much has been written on how indebted modern legal systems are to these three civilizations. I want to highlight a few works offered through the Library of Congress that address the legal systems of ancient Greece, Rome, and Israel. To start, one of my earliest exposures to Greek law came in a classics class I took as an undergrad. One of the assigned readings for that class was “Lawyers and Litigants in Ancient Athens: The Genesis of the Legal Profession” by Robert J. Bonner. It’s a relatively short work and my favorite part of it is the last chapter on famous trials in ancient Athens. For a concise yet thorough outline of Roman law, I recommend “An Introduction to Roman Law” by Barry Nicholas. To gain insight into law in ancient Israel, I recommend “An Introduction to the History and Sources of Jewish Law.” Finally, I want to recommend a couple of general works on ancient legal systems: “The Anthropology of Law” by Fernanda Pirie and “Ancient Law” by Henry Sumner Maine.

We tend to think that we know all we could possibly need to know about ancient civilizations. But the fact that it is 2022 and we are still discovering new sites, developing new technologies to assist in the work of archaeologists and anthropologists, and producing new publications that ask us to question traditional notions about civilizations and how they have evolved into modern societies, is a testament to the importance of continued research into ancient civilizations. The more I read about prehistoric mankind, the more I am struck by the universality of humanity. Rather than assume that prehistoric humans were less intelligent than modern humans, I have come to appreciate that humanity has always been complex. I also appreciate having resources like the Library of Congress at my disposal so that when I have an itch to research some arcane corner of history, or prehistory, as the case may be, I know that I can find the answers I am seeking in our vast collection or from our staff.

If you have any questions regarding this or any other topics, feel free to ask us using our Ask-a-Librarian service.

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Categories: Research & Litigation

Improved Accessibility for Global Legal Monitor Articles

In Custodia Legis - Thu, 09/08/2022 - 8:00am

The Global Legal Monitor is a publication of the Law Library of Congress that covers legal news and developments from around the world.

In an effort to ensure the Global Legal Monitor (GLM) is accessible to all of our patrons, we have added ReadSpeaker to each article. After you select an article, just click “listen to this page” at the top, left-hand side of the screen to have the article read aloud to you. You can also click on the downward facing arrow to download an MP3 audio file of the article that you can play on your phone or other audio device.

Please provide us with any feedback you might have on this feature in the comments. If you would like to subscribe to the Global Legal Monitor, please click here.

Click “listen to this page” on a Global Legal Monitor article to have the article read aloud to you.

Subscribe to In Custodia Legis – it’s free! – to receive interesting posts drawn from the Law Library of Congress’s vast collections and our staff’s expertise in U.S., foreign, and international law.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Introducing the API

In Custodia Legis - Tue, 09/06/2022 - 4:29pm

This post was co-authored by Margaret Wood and Andrew Weber. is a fantastic source of legislative information, and a marvelous source for investigating specific legislation and exploring the legislative history of a bill. also contains large amounts of data and various users have expressed interest in having additional access to download this data. Certain entities or persons have “scraped” the website over the years and the Government Publishing Office (GPO) has also offered bulk data downloads for some collections, but these have all been somewhat imperfect measures. However, today we are introducing the beta API which will provide access to accurate and structured congressional data. We are very excited about this release and a great deal of hard work has gone on behind the scenes this year to make this happen.

So what is an API? It is a method by which structured data can be shared when an application submits a request and receives the data back. The API is a REST API and presents data in a hierarchical browse format with responses provided in XML or JSON. The XML format is the default for the API.

The API will cover many of the collections out of the gate, including bills, amendments, summaries, Congress, members, the Congressional Record, committee reports, nominations, treaties, and House Communications. Over time we will be adding other collection endpoints, such as hearing transcripts and Senate Communications

Items in the beta API

As with all products, we have worked to provide documentation about the API as well. In this case there is documentation, user guides, a change log that details changes to the API, and opportunities for feedback. To use the API you must first get an API key.

Sign up to get a API key

There is a GitHub page for the API where you can get additional information and provide feedback if you encounter any  problems. We encourage users to look at the issues section for information which can help answer possible queries. And, as always, we are here to help through our  Ask a Librarian service.

Learn more at the API GitHub space


Be sure to join us for the Virtual Public Forum on September 21st where we will talk more about the new beta API.

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Categories: Research & Litigation

Mexico City’s Desagüe of 1607: From an Island to a Water Crisis

In Custodia Legis - Fri, 09/02/2022 - 8:53am

The following is a guest post by Grislean Palacios, who served as a summer 2022 remote intern transcribing and researching documents in the Herencia: Centuries of Spanish Legal Documents crowdsourcing campaign at the Law Library of Congress. Special thanks to Francisco Macías for translation and analysis assistance.

Mexico City, 2015. Photo by unsplash user Alexis Tostado. Used under unsplash license.

The Herencia Crowdsourcing Campaign collection includes historic documents dealing with criminal cases, real estate and property rights issues, wills, and inheritances, among many other legal topics. It may be no surprise that most of the documents cover legal issues that occur within Spain. However, Spain in this time period had colonies worldwide. While reading through the documents in the Herencia collection, I kept an eye out to see if any documents referred to cases occurring in locations outside the Spanish mainland. I was excited to find the document Holographic Copy of a report issued by Bernardino Estrada of Mexico City concerning the drainage system of the lake of Mexico [November 12, 1750].

The document was written by Don Bernardino Estrada on November 12, 1750 and recounts a legal investigation of the Desagüe, Mexico’s water drainage system built by Spain in 1607 in Mexico City. The Spanish crown investigated the Desagüe’s exact location and functionality to help determine its flaws in the aftermath of mass floods in Mexico City in 1629 and 1630:

En el año de 1629 cresio desuerte la Laguna que tiene Mexico à la parte del Oriente, que entrò por la Ciudad dejando muchas casas, y calles inundadas, unas con una vara de agua, otras con mas, y otras con menos… Siguiose el año de 1630. en que creciendo las aguas se inundo de nuevo la Ciudad creciendo la inundacion sobre la del año de 29 media vara… cayeronse muchos edificios, y temiose la total ruina de la Ciudad.

The year of 1629, the Lagoon [referring to Lake Texcoco, which once fully surrounded the Aztec city of Tenochtitlán, present-day Mexico City] that Mexico has on the Eastern side grew, which entered through the City leaving many houses, and streets flooded, some with a vara of water, others with more, and others with less… The year of 1630 continued. in which the waters increased the City flooded once again increasing the flood on top of that of the year 29 half a vara… many buildings fell, and the total ruin of the City was feared.

Holographic copy of a report issued by Bernardino Estrada of Mexico city, concerning the drainage system of the lake of Mexico. [November 12, 1750]. Page two of the document introduces the Desagüe of 1607 and its flaws in preventing the floods of 1629 and 1630 in Mexico City.

The abnormal flooding dates back to the Spanish construction of the Desagüe. The Spanish sought to expand Mexico City past its island borders into the lakebed of Lake Texcoco. To do so, the Desagüe drained the surrounding water, and Mexico City expanded into the lakebed and the land past original borders. However, in times of heavy rainstorms, such as in the years 1629 and 1630, the water settled into the original lakebed of Lake Texcoco. This occurred partly due to Spain’s failure to relocate Mexico City beyond the island’s limited space before expansion and their failure to construct the city plans with Mexico’s many bodies of water in mind, as the Aztecs had once done. The Aztecs had a better understanding that floods were a necessity for agricultural production. In addition, they built “chinampas, or floating agricultural islands,” embracing the abundance of water in the area.

City plan of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlán, which was destroyed in 1521. Anghiera, Pietro Martire D’, Associated Name, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, Hernán Cortés, Friedrich Peypus, and Pietro Savorgnano. Second Letter of Hernán Cortés. Nuremberg: F. Peypus, 1524.

This document provides historical evidence of the Desagüe’s first failures and the first instances of the mass flooding in Mexico City that continue to exist. Today, the yearly floods and heavy rainfall make up only 8% of the water that can be collected for underground reservoirs. At the same time, the rest rushes into polluted rivers and the city’s sewage system. The lack of accessible drinking water has led to “centuries of over-pumping”  into the city’s reservoirs causing Mexico City to sink “10 meters lower than when it was built.” Mexico City continues to struggle with sinking, collapsing buildings, and a lack of a water source despite once being a city having an “abundance of water” for food, canoe transportation, and aqueducts that transported drinking and irrigation water.

Subscribe to In Custodia Legis – it’s free! – to receive interesting posts drawn from the Law Library of Congress’s vast collections and our staff’s expertise in U.S., foreign, and international law.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Qatar: Domestic Laws issued in Relation to the 2022 World Cup – Part 2

In Custodia Legis - Thu, 09/01/2022 - 8:30am

The following is the second part of a two-part guest post on domestic laws in Qatar issued ahead of the 2022 Men’s World Cup in soccer by Ali Ebshara, a foreign law intern working with Foreign Law Specialist George Sadek at the Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress. Read part one on the rights of foreign workers working in Qatar in the tourism and construction sectors before and during the tournament here.

Today’s post will focus on:

  • Laws governing the behavior of foreign nationals visiting the country during the tournament;
  • Laws regulating rights of broadcasting and FIFA’s intellectual property; and
  • Laws on the entry and exit of fans, fans’ financial transactions and the establishment of a security Commission.

    Map of Qatar. Central Intelligence Agency, 1995. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division,

Laws Governing the Behavior of Foreign Nationals During the Tournament

Qatar has a number of laws in place that require foreign nationals visiting the country to adhere to local customs, which are applicable to fans attending the World Cup tournament.

a. Alcohol Consumption

Qatar has declared that use of alcohol will not be permitted in stadiums. The public consumption of alcohol is illegal under Article 270 of Law No 11 of 2004 on the penal code. It is punishable by imprisonment for a period of up to six months and a fine of up to 3,000 Qatari Riyal (QR) (about US$824). Article 271 states that supplying alcohol to anyone under age 16 can result in a fine of up to 10,000 QR (about US$2,746) and an imprisonment period of up to three years. Smuggling alcohol is punishable by imprisonment for up to three years and a fine of up to 10,000 QR (about US$27,464) under article 272 of the aforementioned law.

b. Laws Against Indecent Acts and Sex Outside of Marriage

Qatar imposes harsh penalties on persons convicted of committing indecent acts and the act of sexual intercourse outside of marriage. Article 290 of Law No 11 of 2004 places up to six months’ imprisonment or up to a 3,000 QR fine (US$824) on anyone that displays immoral things, acts, or gestures in public or open spaces.

Additionally, article 294 of the same law penalizes the offense of public display of debauchery, dissipation, or adultery with a term of imprisonment up to three years. Furthermore, under article 281 of the penal code, sex outside of marriage is punished by a term of imprisonment for up to seven years.

c. Dress Code

Qatar is a Muslim country. In accordance with Muslim values, Qatar expects foreign nationals intending to attend the World Cup tournament to adhere to wearing conservative clothing in public places. According to the Qatar Moments website, wearing indecent clothing, including short or transparent clothes violates public morals.

d. Laws against Prostitution

Qatar also has strict penalties against the act of prostitution. Article 298 imposes up to 10 years’ imprisonment for prostitution against any person who uses prostitution as a profession. (Law No. 11 of 2004, art. 298). Article 295 imposes a term of imprisonment between one and three years for anyone running or associated with a brothel. Finally, article 296 imposes the penalty of imprisonment between one and three years against individuals who attempt to groom or seduce another to commit prostitution.

e. Gambling

Finally, gambling is prohibited in Qatar. Article 275 of the penal code penalizes gambling with a term of imprisonment for up to three months and up to a 3,000 QR fine (about US$824). Likewise, article 276 of the same law states that running a gambling organization is punished with up to a year of imprisonment and up to a 5000 QB fine (about US$1,373). Accordingly, fans are prohibited putting monetary bets on specific teams.

 Laws Regulating Rights of Broadcasting and FIFA’s Intellectual Property

Qatar passed Law No. 10 of 2021, adopting legal measures to host the tournament. Law No. 10 of 2021 governs an array of regulations, including protecting the intellectual property rights of FIFA, regulating the rights of broadcasting games, and imposing penalties against violators of this law. These laws are in line with the guarantees previously given to FIFA during the 2010 bidding process.

The law consists of 42 articles. Article 2 of the law limits the effects of the law to the period of the tournament. Article 6 removes the work authorization requirement issued by the Ministry of Labor to foreign nationals working for the international entities organizing the tournament, as well as individuals affiliated with FIFA. Article 8 exempts FIFA and all its branches and subsidiaries from any fees or taxes normally applicable in Qatar.

The law adds copyright protection to all intellectual property rights and trademarks related to FIFA. (Law No. 10 of 2021, arts. 14, 15, and 16.) It also protects FIFA’s right to distribution, and the sale of game tickets. (Id. art. 19.) Furthermore, it protects the personal information of individuals purchasing tickets sold by FIFA. (Id. art. 21.)

The assigned broadcasting channels are tasked with providing broadcasting services to FIFA. They are tasked with broadcasting all video and audio content related to the event to FIFA or the person appointed by FIFA. The broadcasting channels are also responsible for setting up the center and equipment required for video and audio broadcasting. (Id. art. 27.) Advertisements or promotion in tournament locations are prohibited without prior approval from FIFA or the responsible bodies. (Id. art 28.) No advertisement rights shall be exercised in the Commercial Zone during the period of the tournament without prior approval. (Id. art. 29.).

Articles 38-42 of Law No. 10 of 2021 place penalties for those that violate the above acts. Article 38 states that anyone violating articles 16 (violating the Intellectual Rights of FIFA), 18 (Practicing commercial activities without permission), 28, para. 1 (advertisements or promotion in tournament locations without permission), and 29, para. 1 (advertising in the commercial zones without permission) shall be imprisoned for a period not exceeding one year and fined no more than 500,000 QR (about US$137,324). Article 39 creates a chain of liability and states that those managing or employing the violator shall face the penalties of the law, with the condition that they are aware of the violations being committed, or that the violation was a result of their mismanagement. The employer is jointly liable for paying any fines imposed if the violation was committed by an employee, in the manager’s name, or for the manager’s benefit.

If you are interested in the FIFA regulation generally of the World Cup, you might enjoy Elizabeth Boomer’s post on Human Rights, Migration, and Soccer: The Role of Fifa (2021).

Laws on the Entry and Exit of Fans, Fans’ Financial Transactions, and the Establishment of a Security Commission

Additionally, the aforementioned Law No. 10 of 2021 governs the entry and exit of fans interested in attending the tournament, financial transactions carried out by fans and organizers, and the establishment of a security commission supervising the security of the event. Article 4 allows flexibility in granting entry visas to foreign nationals associated with FIFA and those organizing the tournament.

The law loosens restrictions on the transfer and exchange of foreign funds. It allows the wire transfer of foreign currencies within Qatar to foreign countries, and vice versa. These rules sunsets 90 days after the end of the tournament. (Law No. 10 of 2021, art. 13.)

The law ensures the safety and security of the tournament by establishing the security commission. The objective of the commission is to maintain the tournament’s security by adopting various measures, including providing cyber security in addition to physical security. (Id. arts. 9 – 12.)

Finally, the law grants organizers, security personnel, and fans the right to use the public transportation systems free of charge during the periods set by the Supreme Committee, and free public transport to security personnel working for the tournament. (Id. arts. 32 & 33.) The law forbids transportation companies, including airlines and airports, from inflating their fees and prices during the tournament. (Id. art. 34.)

Qatar law books at the Law Library of Congress. Photo by George Sadek. 

Additional Law Library Resources on Qatar

The Law Library of Congress holds the official gazette of Qatar.

In addition, we have a variety of reference books that analyze Qatari domestic legislation, such as:

If you have a broader interest in Qatari legal developments, we also publish Global Legal Monitor articles on Qatar and the Law Library blog.

If you are interested in the FIFA regulation generally of the World Cup, you might enjoy Elizabeth Boomer’s post on Human Rights, Migration, and Soccer: The Role of Fifa (2021).

Subscribe to In Custodia Legis – it’s free! – to receive interesting posts drawn from the Law Library of Congress’s vast collections and our staff’s expertise in U.S., foreign, and international law.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Qatar: Domestic Laws issued in Relation to the 2022 World Cup – Part I

In Custodia Legis - Wed, 08/31/2022 - 8:00am

The following is a guest post by, Ali Ebshara, a foreign law intern working with Foreign Law Specialist George Sadek at the Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress.

The State of Qatar is scheduled to host the World Cup for Soccer in November 2022. The Qatari government adopted an array of domestic legislation in relation to the organization of this global sport event. In this two-part blog, I will discuss legal issues addressed by this domestic legislation. Those issues are:

  • Rights of foreign workers working in Qatar in the tourism and construction sectors before and during the tournament;
  • Behavior of foreign nationals visiting the country during the World Cup;
  • The entry and exit of fans interested in attending the tournament;
  • Financial transactions carried out by fans and organizers;
  • The rights of broadcasting games;
  • Intellectual property rights of FIFA; and
  • The establishment of a security commission supervising the security of the world cup tournament.

Part I of this blog post will address the first of these issues, the rights of foreign workers working in Qatar in the tourism and construction sectors before and during the tournament.

Al Wakrah Stadium – Doha Qatar. Photo by Flickr user Matt Kieffer (Jan. 3, 2019). Used under Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Laws on the Rights of Foreign Workers

Qatar has announced that it is in the process of recruiting 12,000 foreign workers to work in the field of tourism and hospitality in order to meet the needs of fans visiting Qatar during the 2022 Soccer World Cup. The foreign workers will be hired on a temporary basis. Over the past 10 years, Qatar has recruited foreign workers to construct new airports, roads, and public transport systems in preparation for the event. According to a report issued in June 2020 by the Planning and Statistic Authority of the State of Qatar, there are almost two million foreign nationals working in Qatar. (Report at 10). Seventy-nine percent of them work as craftsmen and machinery operators and have an educational level below secondary school. (Id. at 16.)

In 2017, Qatar partnered with the International Labor Organization to protect the rights of foreign workers recruited to work in the country. Qatar aimed at bringing its labor environment up to standards and has passed a number of laws geared toward creating a better labor environment in the country. Those laws include the following measures.

Withholding Travel Documents

Section 8 of Law No. 21 of 2015 limits the withholding of passports and travel documents, a common practice under the Kafala system that allowed sponsors or employers to have control over migrant workers. Workers would not be permitted to leave the country or go through any process that would require their travel documents without obtaining them from their sponsor first.

Migrant Worker Rights

Law No. 15 of 2017 adds a number of migrant worker rights in conformity with international law standards. The Law limits the number of hours migrant workers are required to work each day and requires time off. The maximum hours of work shall not exceed ten hours a day. (Law No. 15 of 2017, art. 12)

Article 6 of the same law adds a mandatory paid probation period. Article 7 requires that the employer provides basic daily necessities for workers to do their work appropriately, does not put the employee in harm’s way, and does not force the employee to come to work during their time off or sick leave. Likewise, article 13 of Law No. 15 of 2017 adds a mandatory paid day off once a week. Finally, article 14 requires the employer to grant the worker three weeks of paid time off for every year of employment.

The Removal of the Exit Permit

Law No. 13 of 2018 removes the requirement of an exit permit from the sponsor or employer in order for the foreign worker to leave the country. Previously, a foreign worker would not be permitted to leave the country temporarily or permanently without permission from their sponsor or employer. This law does not include workers outside of the 2017 labor law, such as military personnel, those working in the public sector, or domestic workers.

Increasing the Minimum Wage

Law No. 17 of  2020 enforces a minimum wage requirement, which is reviewed and determined by the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor, and Social Affairs. The amount is currently set at 1000 QR ($274.65) per month with an additional 500 QR ($137.32) if housing had not been provided by the employer, and 300 QR ($82.39) if food is not provided by the employer.

Removal of the No Objection Certificate

Law No. 19 of 2020 amends articles 21 – 23 of Law No. 21 of 2015, removing the no-objection certificate. Previous to this amendment, an employer would have to provide the foreign worker with a certificate stating that there is no objection to the foreign worker being hired by a different employer. This amendment removes such requirements and allows foreign workers more flexibility in switching positions.

Tomorrow, I will present more Qatari laws that have been enacted as a result of the World Cup.


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