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World’s first digital courtroom unveils in Abu Dhabi

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Abu Dhabi Global Market, which operates the free zone on Al Maryah island, Abu Dhabi, has launched a digital courtroom to deal with business cases and commercial disputes.

The island, which is home to some of the capital’s top commercial outlets, including the Galleria Mall and the soon to launch Al Maryah Central shopping centre, has its own court.

They have processed 20 cases, ranging from debt, employment, commercial disputes and urgent interim applications, since they were launched in May 2016.

They operate in the English language to make things simpler for international businesses, follow UK common law and have memorandums of understanding with the UAE Ministry of Justice, Abu Dhabi Judicial Department and Ras al Khaimah Court on the local level, and with judicial systems in Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and the commercial court in London.

The new digital courtroom enables judges, witnesses, lawyers or plaintiffs from anywhere in the world to participate in a hearing though advanced video conference technology.

The system saves cost and time, and makes the process more convenient for companies with offices overseas.

There are screens behind the judges’ bench and in the witness box allowing legal representatives, witnesses and judges to appear in hearing from different locations around the world.

Believed to be the first of its kind worldwide, the digital courtroom follows an e-platform launched at the beginning of this year. It provides case files in digital form that can be accessed by mobile from anywhere in the world.

“No matter where you are, no matter the time of day, you can enter your case page and see every single document filed for your case,” said Lynda Fitz-Alan, registrar and chief executive of ADGM Courts.

If anything changes with a case file, it is simultaneously communicated to the involved parties through the platform. The platform also provides links to view case hearings.

“We can finish a trial session digitally without boundaries and listen to witnesses, if needed,” said Ms Fitz-Alan.

A “tremendous amount of time and money” is spent on delivering documents and serving parties, but, according to Ms Fitz-Alan, the new system will streamline the process.

So far two cases have taken place in the digital courtroom. The most recent was an employment case, which took place on Saturday night with a judge in London.

The other was an “urgent application case” last week in relation to a disputed commercial contract.

Anybody can file a case if it is within the jurisdiction of the court. This includes all organisations on Al Maryah island and organisations that are within the jurisdiction of judicial systems that ADGM Courts and the UAE Ministry of Justice have agreements with.

Any party is also able to add into a contract that ADGM Courts are the judicial authority to litigate if a dispute were to occur, regardless of where they are based.

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Irish Bishop Against Practicing Yoga in Christian Schools

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An Irish bishop has written to Catholic schools urging them to ban yoga as it is ‘not of Christian origin’ and the children should spend their time ‘in adoration of Jesus’ instead.

Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, wrote to principals, teachers and school staff members in Waterford City and County, Ireland, on October 10.

In his letter, he said: ‘Yoga is not of Christian origin and is not suitable for our parish school setting and especially not during religious education time.

‘I have been asked by several people to say a word on yoga and mindfulness. My question is, ‘Will they bring us closer to God or replace him?’

The bishop claimed that Christian Mindfulness is ‘meditation on Christ’ which empties the mind of ‘everything unnecessary’ in order to become ‘aware of the presence and love of Christ’.

While he also quoted Pope Francis that practices like yoga are ‘not capable of opening our hearts up to God’.

The bishop added how people can ‘take a million courses in spirituality’ but this activity ‘will never be able to give you freedom’, echoing Pope Francis’s speech in 2015.

He said Pope Francis’s philosophy was in keeping with Ireland’s Grow In Love programme. This touches on Christian doctrine, Scripture, morality and prayer.

Teacher’s were reminded that October is the ‘month of the Rosary’ and they should each pray in a bid to get closer to Jesus, in the letter.

But the primary school curriculum allows a degree of flexibility about how its implemented, according to the Irish National Teachers Organisation, who hit-back at his view.

John Stokes, a yoga instructor in Waterford, said the practice of yoga, meditation and mindfulness should be ’embraced’ in ‘an age where children are really suffering from anxiety and stress’.

‘There is no dogma taught in our classes and Yoga in it’s truest sense is a movement and breath awareness practice for health and wellbeing.

They said ‘here’s to tolerance, love and unity’ and invited him to a one-to-one yoga session or class of his choice’ at their Wellness Centre in Youghal, Ireland.

The Irish National Teachers Organisation said the primary school curriculum allows schools a certain amount of flexibility and autonomy with regard to its implementation.

They said the schools ‘are best placed’ to make the decisions about how the subjects are taught, taking into consideration the ‘school culture, ethos and needs of the pupils’.

This is not the first time Bishop Cullinan has received backlash for his views as he said he was to establish a ‘delivery ministry’ group to rid people of the devil through exorcism, last year.

He also claimed the cervical cancer vaccine could lead to promiscuity in 2017.

The bishop said the vaccine ‘lulls girls into false sense of security’ and encourages sexual activity, adding: ‘Prevention, the number one and most effective protection, is abstinence. A good old traditional value.’

He later apologised and admitted he was not fully informed about the vaccination programme. Cullinan’s ‘intention was solely motivated to protect people from HPV’.

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China Demolishes 3,000-Seat Megachurch during Worship Service

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The People’s Republic of China destroyed a church that reportedly could seat 3,000 people and detained its pastors, according to a human rights organization.

An international nonprofit Christian human rights group based in Texas, reported the incident in a statement released Saturday. According to the group, Chinese authorities provided no legal papers to justify the demolition.

The church was located in Funan, Anhui province. Its pastors, Geng Yimin and Sun Yongyao, were detained under suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disturb social order.”

China Aid President Bob Fu said in a statement that the incident was “yet another clear example showing the escalation of religious persecution today by the Chinese Communist regime.”

“The total disregard of religious freedom’s protection as enshrined in the Communist Party’s own Constitution tells the whole world President Xi is determined to continue his war against the peaceful Christian faithful. This campaign will surely fail in the end.”

While China’s persecution of religious groups has existed for many years, recently under President Xi Jinping a wave of crackdowns on religious practices in China has taken place.

The Communist government has destroyed or damaged several churches, reflecting concerns about the increasing Christian population of the country.

In the summer, True Jesus Church in Henan province was razed to the ground, according to persecution watchdog Bitter Winter. Police officers reportedly dragged out all believers from the church before they demolished the property.

Bitter Winter also reported last month that the Ten Commandments have been removed from nearly every Three-Self church and meeting venue in a county of Luoyang city and replaced with the President Xi Jinping’s quotes as part of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to “sinicize” Christianity.

In addition to cracking down on its Christian minority, China has engaged in violent persecution of its Uighur Muslim and Falun Gong communities.

The China Tribunal, a human rights group, told the United Nations Human Rights Council last month that the Chinese government is harvesting organs from religious minorities, with possibly hundreds of thousands of victims.

“Forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience, including the religious minorities of Falun Gong and Uighurs, has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale, and that it continues today. This involves hundreds of thousands of victims.”

“Victim for victim and death for death, cutting out the hearts and other organs from living, blameless, harmless, peaceable people constitutes one of the worst mass atrocities of this century.”

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