Lowenstein Clinic Past Project Highlights
Lowenstein Clinic projects may involve domestic or international litigation; fact-finding; drafting legal manuals, research memoranda, or submissions for various international human rights bodies; or other kinds of human rights advocacy.
Litigation in Domestic Courts
Litigation in International Fora
Amicus Practice in U.S. Courts
Amicus Practice in Foreign Courts
Legal and Policy Advocacy
Human Rights Investigation and Reporting
Legislation and Standard-Setting
Litigation in Domestic Courts
• The Clinic was co-counsel for plaintiffs in Doe v. Karadzic, a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, brought against Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic on behalf of victims of Bosnian-Serb abuses during the war in Bosnia. Following a default judgment finding Karadzic liable, the Clinic assisted at the damages trial and prepared a supplemental trial brief on the factual and legal bases for liability and for punitive damages. The jury awarded plaintiffs a $4.5 billion judgment.
• The Clinic developed the foundation and secured pro bono counsel for a case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of people of Eritrean descent whose property was expropriated when they were expelled from Ethiopia following the outbreak of armed conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The Clinic provided research memoranda on international human rights law, and students traveled to Eritrea to interview plaintiffs and potential witnesses and to draft witness declarations. The class action suit, brought under the takings exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act against Ethiopia and the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, was ultimately dismissed.
• The Clinic worked with the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (now Human Rights First) on a case, Ford v. Garcia, brought in the Southern District of Florida on behalf of the families of four U.S. church women murdered in El Salvador in December 1980. The suit sought to hold two former high-ranking Salvadoran military officials now living in Miami liable under the Torture Victim Protection Act for the torture and death of the church women. The jury held for the defendants. Students in the Clinic researched a number of difficult international law issues and drafted proposed jury instructions on the critical issue of command responsibility.
• The Clinic worked with counsel who brought suit in Belgium against Ariel Sharon, then prime minister of Israel, on behalf of twenty-three plaintiffs who were injured and lost family members or property in the September 1982 massacre in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in Lebanon. Sharon, minister of defense when Israel invaded Lebanon in June 1982, was in command of Israeli forces who were in control of the camps and who allowed Christian Phalangist militia to enter the camps, where they committed the massacre. Plaintiffs brought suit in Belgium, seeking the criminal prosecution of Sharon and others, under a statute that allowed prosecution, under a doctrine of universal jurisdiction, of individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. The Clinic wrote research memos on issues of retroactivity and command responsibility in international criminal law; plaintiffs’ attorneys used the memos in briefs on jurisdictional matters. The Belgian parliament ultimately amended the universal jurisdiction statute, ending the litigation against Sharon.
• The ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project asked the Clinic for assistance with a major case for which they were seeking certiorari. The case involved secret deportation hearings of non-citizens, almost all charged with routine visa violations, arrested in the months after September 11, 2001, and designated as “special-interest” detainees. A September 21, 2001, Department of Justice directive, requiring that these hearings be closed to the public, prevented officials from even “confirming or denying whether such a case was on the docket or scheduled for a hearing.” The Clinic did extensive historical research on early common law precedents and comparative legal sources.
Litigation in International Fora
• The Clinic prepared an amicus brief for the African Commission on Human Rights, which had been asked by African organizations to consider claims of human rights abuses by both Ethiopia and Eritrea arising from the war between the two countries. The brief addressed Ethiopia’s expulsion of some 70,000 men, women, and children of Eritrean descent as a violation of international law.
• The Clinic worked with the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), the NGO most active in using the inter-American human rights system to seek redress of human rights violations, in its efforts to bring about the prosecution of past human rights abuses within domestic judicial systems. The Clinic filed an amicus brief with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in a case from Peru that involved issues related to the duty to investigate, prosecute, and punish those responsible for a notorious massacre.
• The Clinic later worked with CEJIL on a case concerning possible civilian prosecutions of those responsible for a massacre in Colombia. The Clinic’s work addressed the legitimacy of trying military officers in military courts for human rights violations. The Clinic and CEJIL sponsored a roundtable in Bogotá on the limitations of non bis in idem (double jeopardy) in such cases. With CEJIL, the Clinic wrote the discussion paper, and two Clinic students presented it to Colombian jurists, scholars, and human rights advocates attending the session.
• The Clinic prepared an amicus brief for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in a case involving a categorical ban on the use of in vitro fertilization procedures (IVF) in Costa Rica. The highest court in Costa Rica held that the IVF procedures violate the right to life of the embryos that are not successfully implanted. The Clinic’s brief argued that such a ban violates rights protected under the American Convention on Human Rights, including the right to nondiscrimination, the right to found a family, and the right to privacy.
• The Clinic prepared a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights concerning violations arising out of the overthrow of Haiti’s democratically elected government. The petition, submitted with the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, and the TransAfrica Forum, argued that the Interim Government of Haiti and the governments of the United States and the Dominican Republic deprived the Haitian people of their right to participate in representative government by undermining, overthrowing, and replacing the democratically elected Haitian government.
• The Clinic submitted an amicus brief in support of the admissibility of a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in a case that argued that terminating a Chilean woman’s custody of her children on the basis of sexual orientation violated the prohibition against discrimination. The amicus brief argued that the State of Chile’s interference in the private life and family of the petitioner and her daughters was arbitrary or abusive and thus violated the American Convention on Human Rights.
• The Clinic submitted an amicus brief to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights that provided a legal analysis of the right to a nationality under international law and the applicability of this right to the issues in a case brought by the Nubian Community in Kenya against the government of Kenya. The Nubians, originally from Sudan, have lived in Kenya since the early 1900s. Although entitled to Kenyan citizenship, they are prevented from obtaining proof of this citizenship, which has deprived them of access to employment, health care, and education. The Clinic argued that because the right to a nationality is a necessary condition for the protection of these other rights, the African Commission should find that the right to a nationality is implicit in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
• A Clinic team traveled to Kenya to collect testimony from Kenyan Nubians, particularly children, to support a petition being prepared by the Open Society Justice Initiative for submission to the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. The testimony and the petition focused on how the Kenyan government has denied Nubian children’s right to nationality, which has, in turn, resulted in violations of their rights to health and education.
• Working with the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) and other NGOs in Argentina, the Clinic drafted portions of an amicus brief arguing that Argentina’s human rights obligations limited its obligations under bilateral investment agreements. The brief was submitted by a coalition of Argentine consumer and human rights groups to the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in arbitration proceedings against Argentina initiated by foreign private companies that supplied water and sanitation services to Buenos Aires. The companies demanded massive compensation for the effect on their revenues of economic emergency measures that the government of Argentina adopted in response to the 2002 economic crisis.
• A clinic team traveled to Kenya to collect testimony from Kenyan Nubians, particularly children, for use in support of a petition being prepared by the Open Society Justice Initiative for submission to the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. The petition addressed the Kenyan government’s denial of Nubian children’s right to nationality, resulting in violations of their rights to health and education.
Amicus Practices in U.S. Courts
• The U.S. District Court for the Virgin Islands asked the Clinic to submit an amicus brief in support of a pro se suit challenging the constitutionality of the status of the U.S. Virgin Islands as a non-self-governing territory. The Clinic’s brief argued that the continuation of this status violates residents’ rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other international law binding on the United States. The Court asked the Clinic to participate in a hearing called specifically to discuss the brief. A Clinic student presented the Clinic’s arguments in a well-attended hearing. In September 2006, a judge sitting by designation dismissed the case, holding that, among other things, the Court did not have jurisdiction to address the international law issues that had been raised by the district court judge and briefed by the Clinic.
• Working with Dean Harold Koh, the Clinic prepared an amicus brief for the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Atkins v. Virginia, challenging the execution of the mentally retarded. The brief, written on behalf of a group of former senior U.S. diplomats, argued that, as the only democracy that maintains the death penalty against the mentally retarded, the United States was increasingly isolated diplomatically and at risk of losing its global position of moral leadership. The brief also argued that the international consensus against the execution of the mentally retarded has significantly influenced U.S. opinion and legislation on this issue and should be taken into account by the Court in determining whether executing the mentally retarded violates the Eighth Amendment. The Court ruled that the execution of the mentally retarded is unconstitutional.
• The Clinic submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the case of Benitez v. Mata, which presented the issue of the lawfulness of the U.S. government’s policy of indefinitely detaining inadmissible aliens who have been ordered deported, but for whom deportation is impossible or unforeseeable. The Clinic prepared a brief that presented to the Court an accurate picture of the people affected by this policy and demonstrated the hardship that the policy, particularly the conditions of detention and the inadequacies of the process for considering release, creates for them and their families.
• The U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut requested an amicus brief to address whether the prolonged or indefinite detention of a repatriated Haitian criminal alien would constitute torture as defined by the Convention Against Torture (CAT). After completing their prison terms in the United States, Haitian nationals deported on criminal grounds were being detained upon arrival in Haiti and held indefinitely in prisons with horrendous conditions. The Haitian government had stated that the detention policy’s purpose was to deter further criminal activity. A Haitian national convicted of an aggravated felony in the United States filed a habeas petition, claiming that the CAT prohibited the United States from returning him to Haiti, where he claimed that his detention in Haitian jails would violate the CAT. The Board of Immigration Appeals had found, in an earlier case, that the substandard conditions of Haitian prisons did not constitute torture “where there is no evidence that the authorities intentionally create and maintain such conditions in order to inflict torture.” The Clinic’s brief analyzed each element of the torture definition in light of the petitioner’s claims. The Clinic filed a second amicus brief containing this analysis with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit after the case was transferred from the District Court pursuant to reforms of the Immigration and Naturalization Act.
• The Clinic prepared an amicus brief, on behalf of two international experts on the law of torture, which addressed the standard under international law for torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, and filed it in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in a case brought against Donald Rumsfeld and other U.S. officials. The brief argued that the prohibition against torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment was universal, obligatory, specific, and definable, and that the kinds of abuses allegedly suffered by detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan were prohibited under these norms. The District Court dismissed the case in March 2007.
• The Clinic filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Nadarajah v. Gonzalez on the legality of immigration detention without procedural safeguards that allow the detainee to meaningfully challenge the source and substance of adverse evidence. The petitioner had been detained by the U.S. government for more than four years despite having been granted asylum twice based on his fear that he would be persecuted if he returned to Sri Lanka. The government’s continued detention of the petitioner was founded on anonymous hearsay evidence that the petitioner was not able to challenge or confront. In March 2006, the Court granted Mr. Nadarajah’s habeas petition and ordered his release.
Amicus Practices in Foreign Courts
• The Clinic filed an amicus brief with the High Court of Botswana in Sesana v. Attorney General, a case brought by the Basarwa people challenging their forced relocation from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. The Clinic’s brief discussed the duty of states to consult with and gain the informed consent of indigenous peoples before moving them from their traditional lands. It argued that the relocation of the Basarwa raised significant questions about whether the government of Botswana obtained their free, prior, and informed consent through a process of meaningful consultation. In December 2006, the High Court ruled that the government’s forced relocation of the Basarwa was unconstitutional and that the Basarwa had the right to live on their ancestral lands in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
• In partnership with the Center for Reproductive Rights, a Clinic team prepared an amicus brief in a case that challenged a Colombian law that categorically banned abortion, even where an abortion would be necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman. The amicus brief surveyed different approaches to the treatment of abortion in the laws and jurisprudence of several European and Commonwealth countries. The Colombian Constitutional Court issued a decision in May 2006 finding the law unconstitutional.
• The Clinic researched and prepared a section of an amicus brief on international standards concerning proportionality of punishment that was submitted by the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) to the Colombian Constitutional Court. The brief challenged Colombia’s Justice and Peace Law, which provides paramilitaries with generous benefits in exchange for demobilizing. In May 2006, the Court upheld reduced sentences for paramilitaries who comply with the law’s requirements, but it struck down provisions that could have allowed paramilitaries to evade responsibility for human rights violations and interpreted other provisions to ensure that the law would accomplish its demobilization goals. In particular, the Court required paramilitaries to fully and truthfully confess their crimes to be eligible for the law’s benefits.
• The Clinic submitted a brief to the Supreme Court of Spain arguing that the facts in a criminal judgment against Adolfo Scilingo, a former Argentine military official, for conduct during that country’s “Dirty War” were consistent with crimes against humanity and not the crime of genocide. The Supreme Court’s decision affirmed that the crimes committed by Scilingo were crimes against humanity.
• The Clinic drafted and submitted an amicus brief to the Peruvian court trying former president Alberto Fujimori for his alleged involvement in murders and kidnappings. The brief addresses the requirements of extradition law and modes of individual criminal responsibility under international law. In April 2009, the court convicted former President Fujimori of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to twenty-five years in prison.
• The Clinic submitted an amicus brief to the Peruvian court trying former president Alberto Fujimori for his alleged involvement in murders and kidnappings. The brief addressed extradition requirements and modes of individual criminal responsibility under international law.
Legal and Policy Advocacy
• A group of Clinic students initiated an advocacy campaign to address the current conflict in Darfur, Sudan, which has been called a genocide by the U.S. State Department. The Clinic produced a report, An Analysis of Select Companies’ Operations in Sudan: A Resource for Divestment, that was instrumental in the Yale Corporation’s decision to divest from companies doing certain types of business in Sudan. The team also worked together with the Connecticut State Treasurer’s Office and members of the Connecticut legislature to develop legislation authorizing the Treasurer to divest. The bill was passed.
• The Clinic helped the Poverty and Race Research Action Council (PRRAC), a domestic NGO, expand its use of international human rights standards and participation in international and regional fora to advocate on issues related to housing segregation in the United States. The Clinic submitted a letter on international law and U.S. housing segregation to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for a thematic hearing on the right to housing. The Clinic also prepared a publication for PRRAC on international and comparative law relevant to segregation in U.S. housing.
• For Human Rights First, the Clinic prepared an analysis of international law concerning interdiction of refugees and other immigrants on the high seas. The Clinic drafted a detailed report of U.S. practice, including a description of the actions of the Coast Guard, the INS, and other relevant agencies. Human Rights First presented the draft report at a meeting in Ottawa sponsored by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), where it was instrumental in gaining endorsement of a set of international principles on safeguarding refugees (the Ottawa Principles) and a UNHCR announcement that it planned to issue guidelines on interception.
• In the fall of 2006, the Clinic prepared and submitted to a legislative committee in Fiji an analysis, based on international law on the rights of indigenous peoples, of proposed legislation giving ownership to indigenous communities of their traditional fishing waters and adjacent coastal land.
• The Indonesian Human Rights Network asked the Clinic to examine the history of human rights abuses experienced by the indigenous population of West Papua (until recently called Irian Jaya by Indonesia) since the territory became part of Indonesia in 1963. The Clinic gathered available documentation and drafted a paper that includes a comprehensive narrative of Indonesian abuses in West Papua during this period, including as many as 300,000 deaths, and an analysis of whether Indonesian policies and practices there constitute genocide or genocidal conduct. The paper was widely distributed and generated much-needed press and official attention.
• On behalf of OXFAM/America, the Clinic examined an emerging right of local communities to free, prior, and informed consent to resource extraction projects on local lands. The research addressed an issue at the heart of the global debate over the impact of extractive industries on indigenous communities. The Clinic produced an opinion paper to inform reform initiatives, including the World Bank’s Extractive Industries Review and a dialogue on “mining and sustainability” convened by the global mining industry following the World Summit on Sustainable Development. A student presented the analysis to a workshop attended by representatives of organizations concerned with these issues. In a second phase of the project, the Clinic developed a framework for implementing a right of consent.
• A group of organizations inside and outside of Haiti, including the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Port-au-Prince, asked the Clinic to prepare an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages for Haiti of ratifying the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The paper was translated into Haitian Kreyol to use in advocating ratification.
• The Clinic prepared a paper for Global Rights (formerly the International Human Rights Law Group) to inform its collaboration with lawyers in Mongolia seeking to protect the rights of that country’s nomadic population. A post-Communist law providing for private ownership of land threatened nomadic communities’ rights to move across Mongolia’s grasslands and to have access to traditional grazing areas. The Clinic’s paper surveyed international law and state practice and developed potential arguments for protecting these rights.
• The Clinic prepared a paper for the Niapele Project analyzing states’ international law obligations to returning refugees. It also evaluated the best practices of several states that have faced large-scale repatriations of their nationals. The Clinic’s paper applied the international standards and comparative best practices to the situation of returning refugees in Liberia.
• A clinic team prepared research memoranda on temporary protection regimes to support a Human Rights Watch project to document the plight of recent Zimbabwean migrants to South Africa who are denied asylum;
Human Rights Investigation and Reporting
• The International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) asked the Clinic to conduct legal and factual research on “property grabbing” – families seizing widows’ inherited property – in Zambia and the challenges that women face in seeking redress from the police and courts. The Clinic prepared a report that addressed the intersection of HIV/AIDS, gender, and property rights in Zambia. Based on a mission to Zambia in the fall of 2005, the Clinic produced a report for IAWJ that documented barriers faced by Zambian women who seek access to the legal system in the HIV/AIDS context. The team presented the report’s findings at a briefing in New York organized by IAWJ in conjunction with the March 2006 session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
• In January 2007, the Clinic sent a team to the Philippines to document the implementation of a policy established by the mayor of the City of Manila prohibiting the provision of artificial family planning services or information in city health facilities. The Clinic also analyzed the policy from the perspective of international human rights law for incorporation in a report published by the Center for Reproductive Rights and Likhaan, an organization in the Philippines.
• The Clinic helped the International Committee of Lawyers for Tibet (ICLT, now the Tibet Justice Center) investigate the situation of Tibetan refugees in Nepal and India. Following extensive secondary research, a team of students, with the supervising attorney from the ICLT (a former Clinic member), conducted a research mission in Nepal and drafted a report that the Tibet Justice Center published. The report has been used to advocate for the rights of Tibetans in Nepal and to support the asylum claims of Tibetans in the United States.
• The Clinic assisted Amnesty International in its effort to raise the visibility of human rights violations committed against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people. Students compiled a report detailing governmental and non-governmental human rights abuses committed in various countries over the previous five years. Amnesty International submitted the report to the U.S. State Department as part of an advocacy effort to bring about reporting of these abuses in the annual country reports on human rights conditions; most of the information in the report was included in that year’s country reports.
• The Clinic completed a 100-page report for the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Radhika Coomaraswamy. The report analyzed U.S. trends, achievements, and best practices in the areas of her mandate over the period of her tenure, 1993-2002. She used a summary of the Clinic’s work in her concluding report on violence against women throughout the world.
• The Clinic provided the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah) with legal and factual research assistance to help it evaluate and prepare for a possible legal challenge to a particular practice of the Israeli government in the West Bank. The Clinic team traveled to the West Bank in early 2006 to collect information relevant to this evaluation.
• The Clinic prepared research memoranda on the rights of juvenile prisoners for use in a report, written by a Human Rights Watch researcher (a Lowenstein Clinic graduate) and published by Human Rights Watch, on abuses of children in Burundi’s prisons. The research memoranda analyzed the scope of Burundi’s obligations to guarantee the rights of incarcerated juveniles to food, education, and the assistance of counsel.
• Working with the Solidarity Center of the AFL-CIO, the Clinic researched workers’ rights in Swaziland, traveled to Swaziland to interview workers, advocates, and others about these issues, and prepared a comprehensive report based on their findings. The report, Justice for All: The Struggle for Worker Rights in Swaziland, was published by the Solidarity Center as part of a series designed to address the lack of independent, in-depth country reporting on workers’ rights and to provide a useful resource for programs to train advocates.
• For Gisha: Center for the Legal Protection of Freedom of Movement, an Israeli organization that seeks to protect fundamental rights of Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories, the Clinic prepared an analysis of the status of Gaza under international law after Israel’s disengagement. The analysis was incorporated in a report published in January 2007 by Gisha, Disengaged Occupiers: The Legal Status of Gaza.
• A team of Clinic students traveled to Bangladesh to investigate the barriers that women face when they seek to use the legal system to redress violence they have suffered. Based on the interviews conducted on this trip and additional research, the team prepared a report analyzing these issues for the International Association of Women Judges.
• The Clinic prepared and published a report on the failure of the judicial system in Indian-administered Kashmir to address claims against the military and police for human rights violations. The report was based on the findings from a Clinic trip to Kashmir.
• A Clinic team traveled to Zambia to investigate “property grabbing” – the families of deceased husbands seizing widows’ inherited property – and the challenges that women face in seeking redress from the police and courts. The Clinic prepared a report to be used by the International Association of Women Judges in developing strategies to strengthen the ability of Zambian courts to address these issues.
• A team of Clinic students traveled to Ghana to investigate the human rights situation of communities affected by artisanal mining. The Clinic is preparing a report that analyzes the relationships between artisanal and small-scale mining and corporate mining and the consequences of those relationships for “at risk” communities – women, children, and indigenous people. The report will be submitted to John Ruggie, the U.N. Special Representative to the U.N. Secretary General on Business and Human Rights.
• A Clinic team traveled to Tanzania to investigate the implementation of Tanzanian land laws and the impact of those laws on women’s rights. The team prepared a research memorandum for the International Association of Women Judges and the Tanzanian Women Judges Association. It also drafted the text of a public education brochure that the Tanzania Women Judges Association and the Society for Women Against AIDS in Africa-Tanzania will publish to inform women about their land rights and the procedures through which they may seek redress for violations of those rights.
• The Clinic prepared and published a report on problems in the response of the judicial system in Indian-controlled Kashmir to claims against the military and police for human rights violations. The report was based on the findings from a clinic trip to Kashmir to document these problems.
Legislation and Standard-Setting
• To assist Human Rights Watch in its advocacy for a strong, effective International Criminal Court (ICC), the Clinic, over several semesters, drafted research memoranda on criminal procedure, rules of evidence, elements of crimes against humanity and war crimes, domestic implementation of the treaty, and the appropriate use of the relationship agreement between the new court and the United Nations. Human Rights Watch used the Clinic’s research to draft commentary for lobbying at the UN Preparatory Committee conferences on the ICC. The Clinic continued to provide research assistance for Human Rights Watch’s advocacy efforts concerning the ICC, including preparation of a memorandum on standards for victim indigence.
• As part of a larger project with the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (now Human Rights First) to study the relationship between effective policing and respect for human rights, the Clinic drafted a proposed code of conduct, with commentary based on international human rights law, for the new Northern Ireland police force.
• The Clinic drafted model legislation, along with detailed commentary, on HIV/AIDS for four African nations (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia). Coordinated by a New York-based NGO, the project sought to work with parliamentarians and members of civil society in these countries to develop model legislation guided by the needs and realities of those countries. The Clinic focused on legislation to secure the rights of women and children, as well as critical issues related to treatment.
• the Clinic collaborated with a student team at the University of Pretoria in South Africa to prepare model legislation on a series of issues arising out of the HIV crisis, including non-discrimination, voluntary testing, children orphaned by AIDS, and social assistance, for submission to the South African Development Community Parliamentary Forum.
• The Clinic, in cooperation with the Center for Justice and Accountability, drafted proposed federal legislation that would enable the U.S. government to prosecute individuals for extrajudicial killings committed anywhere in the world. The proposed legislation has been submitted to a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.
• The Clinic produced, with the International Longevity Center (ILC), a Draft U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Older Persons. ILC is working with the governments of several countries to encourage them to propose the declaration to the United Nations General Assembly.
• A clinic team drafted proposed legislation for submission to a U.S. Senate subcommittee that would enable the government to prosecute individuals for extrajudicial killings.
• The Clinic produced, for the International Longevity Center, a draft Declaration on the Rights of Older Persons to be proposed to the UN General Assembly.
• The Clinic drafted a comprehensive practitioners’ manual on bringing economic, social, and cultural rights claims in the inter-American human rights system. The idea for the manual was developed by a Clinic student and presented to the Centro de Derechos Económicos y Sociales (CDES) in Quito, Ecuador. The 470-page Manual was published in English and Spanish editions by the Schell Center and CDES. Copies can be found on the bookshelves of most advocates working on these issues in the inter-American system. CDES conducted training conferences based on the manual. The student who wrote the manual later became a Bernstein Fellow at the Center for Justice and International Law, where she developed the organization’s practice in this area.
• As part of UNICEF’s strategic planning process for its program to eliminate child trafficking, the Clinic drafted the bulk of an advocacy and implementation guide and reference manual on child trafficking for UNICEF field offices and partner organizations. Students analyzed relevant international human rights instruments and addressed practical issues faced by international agency staff, NGOs, and local community advocates (e.g., how to identify victims, protect them, and gain custody of them quickly). They also participated in a meeting of UNICEF staff on these issues at UN headquarters.
• The Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor was an independent authority, established by the National Council of the East Timorese transitional government, with support from the Human Rights Unit of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor. The Commission’s research group asked the Clinic for support in gathering and analyzing documentation, not available in East Timor, of human rights abuses. The team researched the early years of the occupation, 1975-1983, when some of the worst abuses took place, and provided the Commission with summaries of available sources of information.
• Counsel for the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is based in Istanbul, asked the Clinic to analyze, under international human rights law, a number of repressive measures taken by the government of Turkey against the patriarchate. The Clinic advised counsel on possible legal strategies for seeking redress and prepared a briefing paper on human rights violations against the Greek Orthodox church in Turkey. The paper was presented to European Union officials and to a Capitol Hill hearing sponsored by the U.S. Helsinki Commission, a government agency that monitors states’ compliance with their commitments as members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
• Working on behalf of WITNESS, the Clinic produced a paper on the policies and best practices of human rights, news, and other organizations for obtaining consent from individuals who are subjects of video documentation.
• The Clinic provided the Human Rights Law Network in India with research assistance on international law and comparative national practices concerning the accommodation owed to squatters who are evicted from public land. The Clinic’s research was incorporated in a submission to the Supreme Court of India in Sahaj v. Government of Gujurat, a case that challenged the government’s decision to force a community in Gujurat to leave public land, on which it had been living for decades, without providing any alternative accommodation.
• The Clinic prepared a research memorandum for Human Rights Watch that describes and critically analyzes the counterterrorism laws of a large, representative sample of countries and offers a comprehensive set of recommendations to governments and UN bodies to support legal reform efforts. The research is to be incorporated in a report published by Human Rights Watch.
• A clinic team traveled to Bangladesh to investigate the barriers that women face when they seek to use the legal system to redress violence they have suffered. Based on its findings, the team prepared a report analyzing these issues for the International Association of Women Judges.