June 19, 2009
DePaul University College of Law FIRES Its Dean for Reporting Truthful Information to the ABA Consultant on Legal Education
DePaul University College of Law FIRED Dean Glen Weissenberger yesterday because he reported truthful information to the ABA Consultant on Legal Education. Click here to read more.
Introduction to Legal English -- A New Edition of a Book for Lawyers and Law Students Who Speak English as a Second Language
The International Law Institute of Washington D.C. has just published the third edition of Introduction to Legal English. The book is designed for lawyers and law students who speak English as a second language. Click here for more information. The first edition of this book was the first of its kind to appear in the United States with a specific focus on Legal English. It can be used in courses or for individual study.
June 18, 2009
Government Security Forces in Colombia Murder Innocent People and Then Dress Up the Bodies to Make Them Appear as Though They Were Guerilla Fighters
We've just received this disturbing press release from the United Nations, in which an independent U.N. Human Rights expert discloses that the government forces in Colombia are murdering innocent people and then pretending that they were guerilla fighters. Here is the press release.
UN EXPERT VOICES CONCERN OVER MURDERS COMMITTED BY COLOMBIAN SECURITY FORCES
New York, Jun 18 2009 7:00PM
An independent United Nations human rights expert today warned that although guerrilla groups in Colombia commit a significant number of murders, more concerning are the so-called ‘false positive’ slayings performed by Government forces.
The killings involve luring innocent victims under false pretences to a remote location, and the murdered bodies are often photographed wearing guerrilla uniforms and holding a gun or grenade to appear as if the individual was legitimately killed in combat.
“Victims are often buried anonymously in communal graves, and the killers are rewarded for the results they have achieved in the fight against the guerrillas,” Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, said in a statement issued at the end of a 10-day fact-finding mission.
Mr. Alston said that the term ‘false positive’ provides a “sort of technical aura to describe a practice which is better characterized as cold-blooded, premeditated murder of innocent civilians for profit.”
In addition, he said that the focus on the most publicized ‘false positive’ case last year in Soacha, a suburb of Bogotá, encourages the view that the killings are limited to a geographic area and to a period in time. “But while the Soacha killings were undeniably blatant and obscene, my investigations show that they were but the tip of the iceberg.”
Through interviews with witnesses and survivors who described very similar killings in several districts of Colombia, Mr. Alston determined that a significant number of military units were involved in killings.
“The ‘dangerous guerrillas’ who were killed include boys of 16 and 17, a young man with a mental age of nine, a devoted family man with two in-laws in active military service, and a young soldier home on leave,” said Mr. Alston, disputing some claims that the killings were legitimate.
The military’s systematic harassment of the survivors is part of a common pattern, said the Special Rapporteur. “A woman from Soacha described how, in 2008, one of her sons disappeared and was reported killed in combat two days later.”
He said that when another of her sons became active in pursuing the case, he received a series of threats and was shot dead earlier this year. Since then, the mother has also received death threats.
Mr. Alston is encouraged by the steps take by the Government since last year aimed at stopping and addressing the killings, including disciplinary sanctions, better cooperation with the UN and other international organizations, more oversight of payments to informers, and requiring deaths in combat to be investigated first by judicial police and modifying award criteria.
There remains a worrying gap between the good faith effort on behalf of the Government and the reality on the ground, said Mr. Alston, with the number of successful prosecutions remaining very low and a serious lack of resources to implement the measures.
In addition, in some areas “military judges ignore the rulings of the Constitutional Court and do all in their power to thwart the transfer of clear human rights cases to the ordinary justice system.” He said that the “transfer of information is delayed or obstructed, wherever possible jurisdictional clashes are set up, and delaying tactics are standard.”
The delays, often of months or years, devalue the testimony and the evidence is jeopardized, but the “the good news is that there has been a significant reduction in recorded allegations of extrajudicial executions by the military over the last six to nine months.”
Mr. Alston added that despite the significant steps taken to reduce paramilitary violence, killings by groups that include formerly demobilized paramilitaries “continue at a disturbingly high rate across the country.”
He also highlighted the intimidation, killing and false accusations of being – or being close to – guerrillas or terrorists made against human rights defenders in the South American country.
The expert – who, like all UN Special Rapporteurs, reports to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council in an unpaid, independent capacity – is expected to recommend a number of reforms, including the removal of all forms of incentives to members of the military for killing, when he presents his report in four or five months time.
Negotiations relating to Lisbon Treaty Continue at EU Summit
The Member States of the European Union (EU) are meeting in a summit today and tomorrow. Two of the main items on the agenda are (1) concluding negotiations with Ireland over certain guarantees in order to pave the way for adoption of the Lisbon Treaty (aka the EU Constitution); and (2) reappointment of Manuel Barroso as European Commission Chief. Readers may recall from earlier posts that Ireland wants three guarantees of independence in the areas of taxation, ethics, and neutrality in order to sign on to the Lisbon Treaty. The Irish would like these guarantees to be protocols attached to the Lisbon Treaty itself, thereby becoming part of EU primary law. Other Member States are resisting the inclusion of these guarantees in the Lisbon Treaty itself because they believe it may reopen debate on the Treaty in countries that have already agreed to it. Instead, these Member States have proposed that the guarantees be tacked onto another international agreement, perhaps one relating to accession of a new Member State. With respect to Barroso's reappointment, he had hoped to be reappointed to another five-year term at the summit, but is facing some opposition from more left-leaning members of the European Parliament (EP), who say that appointment at the summit would undermine the requirement of consulation with the EP. Such a move could alienate the EP and make Barroso's job more difficult in the future.
June 17, 2009
Our List of Countries Now Grows to 99. Thanks, Ethiopia!
We posted a list of 98 countries from which we know we have had blog readers. We've just added country number 99 -- Ethiopia!
OK, which country not yet on our list is going to be #100?
The Chinese appear to have borrowed a page from the U.S. play book. According to news reports, the 4 trillion yuan Chinese financial stimulus package requires that all goods and services for projects funded by the stimulus package be Chinese-made unless domestic goods and services cannot be obtained under reasonable commercial conditions. Special government permission must be obtained to purchase imports. As reported on this blog last January, the U.S. stimulus package contains a provision requiring the purchase of domestic iron and steel for projects paid for by U.S. stimulus funds. At the time, China criticized this provision of the U.S. bill and stated that China would treat domestic and foreign products alike.
Now it appears that China has not only matched the United States' actions - it went further by applying its "Buy Chinese" clause to all goods and services purchased with stimulus funds, not just steel and iron or other limited product categories. While China is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) which normally requires equal treatment of foreign and domestic products, China is not yet party to the WTO Government Procurement Agreement. As a result, it is unlikely that China's actions can be challenged before the WTO.
June 16, 2009
Intangible Heritage Convention
The East-West Center tells us that the Vanuatu Daily Post reported on June 8, 2009 that Vanuatu's Minister for Education, Charlot Salwai, has pledged his support for the ratification of the Intangible Heritage Convention (ICH) which formally recognizes and protects the intangible cultural law. He made the statement at the opening of the Vanuatu National Intangible Heritage Convention Workshop He stated that a small island nation such as Vanuatu had to be part of the international community through conventions such as the ICH in order to protect its diverse cultural heritage.
If Vanuatu ratifies the ICH, it would join 113 other nations that are a party to that treaty. Click here for a list of state parties to the Intangible Heritage Convention.
Meanwhile, UNESCO announced that the fourth session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage will take place in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) from 28 September to 2 October 2009. The Committe will inscribe the first intangible cultural heritage elements on the Urgent Safeguarding List and the Representative List and select safeguarding programmes, projects and activities that it considers best reflect the principles and objectives of the Intangible Heritage Convention. 111 nominations for the Representative List have been examined from 11 to 15 May 2009 by a subsidiary body of the Committee. In Abu Dhabi, the Committee will decide whether the elements will be inscribed.
The deadline for reception of requests by non-governmental organizations to be accredited to provide advisory services to the Committee is July 1st.
WTO Will Open to the Public its Meeting with Apple Experts in the Trade Dispute Between Australia and New Zealand
At the request of the parties in the dispute “Australia — Measures Affecting the Importation of Apples from New Zealand” (DS367), the WTO Dispute Resolutoin Panel has agreed to open its meeting with scientific experts and its second substantive meeting with the parties on 30 June — 2 July 2009. Click here to read more.
June 15, 2009
Demonstrations in Iran
Andrew Sullivan has done a great job of collecting posts and videos of the demonstrations and violence in Iran. Click here.
Hat tip to Rex Wockner.
Protesting the Election Results in Iran
Pictures DO speak louder than words. Have a look at this one minute video from the BBC.(mew)
Pace International Law Review Invites Submissions on Comparative Constitutional Law and National Security Across the Globe
Pace International Law Review is planning a symposium entitled Comparative Constitutional Law: National Security Across the Globe to be held in November of 2009. The day-long symposium will feature multiple panelists and guest speakers. The editors of Pace International Law Review invite proposals for articles, essays and book reviews from scholars, researchers, practitioners, and professionals. Contributions will be be considered for presentation at the symposium and subsequent publication or for publication only.
Please submit proposals of no more than 500 words to pilr [at] law.pace.edu by June 30, 2009. All proposals should include the intended author's name, title, institutional affiliation and contact information. The proposals should address issues pertinent to the interrelationship between national security concerns and constitutional law of a particular nation or nations. Article proposals that provide a comparative analysis of issues and concerns faced by various nations are preferred. The proposals should be as thorough as possible and may include suggestions for other panelists who experts in the proposed topic.
Book review proposals also should include (a) the title and publication date of the book proposed for review; (b) a description of the importance of the book to the general topic; and (c) any other information relevant to the book or proposed review (e.g., the reviewer's expertise or any relationship with the author). All authors are welcome, but not required, to submit a CV.
They expect to make offers to the selected guest speakers in August. All proposals will be considered for publication even if not selected for the symposium. Complete manuscripts for work that will not be presented at the symposium will be due by August 31, 2009.
Hat tip to Professor Bridget Crawford
June 14, 2009
Visiting Cuba . . . Legally!
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Treasury Department administers Cuba travel restrictions that apply to all United States res. But there are exceptions that allow some Americans to travel to Cuba legally. These exceptions are for
- Official government travelers
- Persons visiting close relatives
- Full time professionals conducting research
- Full time professoinals attending international conferences
- Persons who have received a specific license.
Law professors and other researchers can click here for information on how to visit Cuba legally (without endangering your law license). There are links to upcoming tours as well as information about legal travel to Cuba.