November 28, 2009
Tomorrow's Elections in Honduras
The Chicago Religious Leadership Network has just sent us the following announcement concerning an event in Chicago to protest tomorrow's elections in Honduras. Additional demonstrations will be held in Washington DC and most likely in other cities as well.
Chicago VIGIL - 3pm to 5pm Sunday, November 29th
In front of the Honduran Consulate, 4439 West Fullerton, Chicago, Illinois
Tomorrow, Sunday, the illegal coup government in Honduras with carry out elections which will not be recognized as legitimate by the United Nations (UN), the Organization of American States (OAS), or any country in the hemisphere except the United States, Panama, and now since Friday Costa Rica. The U.S. State Department appears to have made a quid-pro-quo deal with right wing Republican Senator Jim DeMint, to recognize the Honduras election in return for DeMint lifting his “hold” on the nomination of Obama’s pick for Ast. Secy of State for Latin America, Arturo Valenzuela. There has been U.S. collusion with the coup plotters and it regime by former U.S. State Department officials, Cuban-Americans, public relations executives who are close political allies with Hillary Clinton (now Secy of State), and possibly the U.S. Ambassador Llorens in Honduras. President Obama, who immediately spoke out forcefully against the coup has demurred ever since, failing to provide leadership for a new direction in U.S. policy as he promised at the Summit of the Americas. So please, come on Sunday. And make the brief phone calls to the White House and Congress. For the latest news from multiple sources, click here.
Hat tip to Gary L. Cozette, Program Director, Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN)
November 27, 2009
UN Human Rights Expert Calls for End to Stonings in Somalia
An independent United Nations human rights expert condemned the series of stonings that have been taking place in Somalia. He called for an urgent end to such "cruel, inhuman and degrading" practices.
Shamsul Bari said the public stonings, floggings, and summary executions carried out by Islamist armed groups in central and southern Somalia highlight the "deteriorating" human rights situation in the strife-torn nation, where Government forces have been battling Al Shabaab and Hisb-ul-Islam opposition groups for many months.
Mr. Bari, the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Somalia, noted that under Al Shabaab's interpretation of Sharia law, anyone who has ever been married – even a divorcee – and has an affair is liable to be found guilty of adultery and punished by stoning.
According to reports from a village near the town of Wajid, 400 kilometres north-west of the capital, Mogadishu, a 20-year-old divorcee accused of committing adultery was stoned to death by Islamists in front of a crowd of 200 people on 18 November.
Earlier this month, a man was stoned to death for rape in the port town of Merka, south of Mogadishu, and in October two men are reported to have been executed after being accused of spying. Similar executions took place earlier in the year.
"I strongly condemn these recent executions by stoning in Al Shabaab-controlled areas of Somalia," Mr. Bari stated in a news release.
He called on all parties to immediately end such cruel, inhuman and degrading practices, including stoning, amputations, floggings, and other unlawful acts of torture and murder.
In addition, he urged all Islamist groups, including Al Shabaab and other armed groups, and religious leaders to abide by their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian laws.
He also urged the international community to engage with Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to identify priorities in terms of security, humanitarian and human rights, and to strengthen the Government's capacity to investigate rights abuses and hold the perpetrators accountable.
Mr. Bari reports to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council in an independent and unpaid capacity.
U.S. Will Observe, But Not Join, Anti-Personnel Landmine Treaty Conference
The U.S. State Department announced earlier this week that the United States will send observers to the Second Review Conference on the Convention on the Prohibition on the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Landmines and on Their Destruction, but will not join the treaty. The purpose of the Convention is "to put an end to the suffering and casualties caused by anti-personnel (AP) mines." Although human rights activists are disappointed the United States will not join the AP Mine Ban Convention, they can take some comfort that the United States is at least willing to participate by way of an observer mission for the first time. The Second Review Conference, also known as the "Cartagena Summit for a Mine-Free World" will be held in Cartagena, Columbia next week on the tenth anniversary of the Convention's entry into force. 156 States are parties to the Convention; including every country in the Americas except the United States and Cuba. China, India and Russia also are not parties.
November 26, 2009
Today, the United States celebrates Thanksgiving, a traditional holiday where family and friends gather to celebrate and give thanks. (Some people also say the holiday is made to watch football on television, drink beer, eat just a little bit too much, and fall asleep on the couch). Others remember how the tradition first started, when the English pilgrims thanked the Native Americans for helping them survive in the new land. The holiday today is recognized as a time when everyone should pause, remember the good things we have in life, remember the love of family and friends, and do something to help others in need, wherever they may be.
Readers of this blog come from more than 100 countries around the world. On many days, most of our readers are outside the United States. We wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving.
Mark (in California today), Cindy (in Illinois), Cyndee (in Canada), Laurent (in Ireland), and Michael (in Missouri)
The Obamas' First State Dinner: The Prime Minister of India is the Guest
Honoring India with the first State Dinner should be seen as a very important gesture toward strengthening relations between the United States and India. Washington observers speculate that India's cooperation may be needed as part of the solution President Obama hopes to craft for eventually extracting the United States from the war in Afghanistan.
The first White House State Dinner was hosted in 1874 by President Ulysses S. Grant in honor of King David Kalakawa of the Hawaiian Islands (then known as the Sandwich Islands).
November 25, 2009
ABA Supports Civilian Federal Court Criminal Trials for Five Guantanamo Detainees
The President of the American Bar Association, Carolyn Lamm, has written to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to express the ABA's support for the decision by the U.S. Department of Justice to pursue federal court prosecutions of the five Guantanamo detainees accused of conspiring to commit the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. She wrote that "[t]he transfer of these high-profile cases to federal court affirms this nation's adherence to due process and to the rule of law, and clearly establishes that these men are being tried as criminals, not as soldiers in armed conflict." She also wrote that U.S. federal courts, "respected around the world, are well-equipped to handle trials of this magnitude. They will provide a fair and impartial forum for bringing these accused criminals to justice and will assure transparency and accountability to victims and the international community."
Meeting of US State Dept Committee on International Law Open to Public
The U.S. State Department's Advisory Committee on International Law will hold an open meeting on Friday, December 11, 2009 from 9:15 am to 5:30 pm at George Washington University Law School. The meeting will be chaired by the former Dean of Yale Law School and international law scholar, Harold Koh, who is now Legal Advisor to the Department of State. The State Department anticipates that the agenda of the meeting will cover a range of current international legal topics, including treaty scope and enforcement issues, the relationship between human rights treaties and humanitarian law; issues relating to the International Criminal Court; options for compliance with the International Court of Justice’s decision in the Case concerning Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States of America); and the law of non-international armed conflict. Members of the public will have an opportunity to participate in the discussion, space and time permitting. Members of the public who wish to attend the session should notify the Office of the Legal Adviser by Monday, December 7, 2009 by calling 202-776-8323 and providing their name, professional affiliation, address, and telephone number. A valid photo ID is required for admittance.
Call for Papers: Japanese Yearbook of International Law
The Editorial Committee of the Japanese Yearbook of International Law (JYIL) invites submission of articles, notes, and book reviews for possible publication. Here's the details:
JYIL welcomes the submission of articles and notes (within 5000 to 15000 words, not including footnotes) that address public and private international law, comparative law, or Japanese domestic law having international implications. Book Reviews should be around 750 to 1500 words on works on public or private international law, comparative law, or Japanese domestic law. All articles, notes and book reviews are peer-reviewed by experts in the field.
The Japanese Yearbook of International Law is a renewed academic journal (Vol. 51, 2008) in continuity with Japanese Annual of International law (JAIL) first published in 1958. While maintaining the 50 year tradition of JAIL, JYIL will consist of the following sections: articles and notes on both general and Japan-related issues, digests pertaining to current Japanese practices in international law, digests relating to major judicial decisions by Japanese courts in the fields of international law, and book reviews, as well as related documents including recent treaties and legislations.
Although submissions are accepted on an occasional basis, the deadline of submissions for the current year issue will be the end of January, and submissions received after that date will be considered as submissions for subsequent issues. JYIL is to be published in February.
For further information, please click here to visit the homepage of the Japanese Yearbook of International Law.
Hat tip to Koji Nishimoto, Supervising Associate Editor of Japanese Yearbook of International Law and Associate Professor of Public International Law in the Department of Law at Senshu University, Japan.
New Treaty Will Close Ports to Those Who Violate Fishing Laws
The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization approved a new treaty that would shut down ports to illegal fishing vessels. When it enters into effect, it will be the first treaty to commit governments to prevent and eliminate "illegal, unreported and unregulated" ("IUU") fishing by closing ports to ships engaged in illegal fishing practices. This will preventing their catch from entering international markets and hopefully end illegal fishing practices.
The treaty was signed by 11 members of the Food and Agricultural Organization: Angola, Brazil, Chile, the European Commission, Indonesia, Iceland, Norway, Samoa, Sierra Leone, the United States, and Uruguay. The formal name of the treaty is the “Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing” will enter into force after 25 countries have ratified it. The most common illegal fishing activities are operating without proper authorization, catching protected species, using outlawed types of gear, and disregarding catch quotas.
The treaty includes special rules on the obligation to share information, duties of flag states, and exceptions to allow help for ships in distress.
The FAO is located in Rome. Click here for more information about the FAO.
November 24, 2009
New Book: The Guantanamo Lawyers
There is an interesting new book on the market by NYU Press called "The Guantanamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law." The book contains the stories of the Guantanamo detainees as told by their lawyers. It is edited by Mark P. Denbeaux and Jonathan Hafetz, who represented Guantanamo detainees themselves, and who collected stories covering virtually every facet of life at Guantanamo and the litigation it spawned. From the publisher:
Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the United States imprisoned more than seven hundred and fifty men at its naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. These men, ranging from teenage boys to men in their eighties from over forty different countries, were detained for years without charges, trial, and a fair hearing. Without any legal status or protection, they were truly outside the law: imprisoned in secret, denied communication with their families, and subjected to extreme isolation, physical and mental abuse, and, in some instances, torture.
These are the detainees’ stories, told by their lawyers because the prisoners themselves were silenced. It took habeas counsel more than two years—and a ruling from the United States Supreme Court—to finally gain the right to visit and talk to their clients at Guantánamo. Even then, lawyers were forced to operate under severe restrictions designed to inhibit communication and envelop the prison in secrecy. In time, however, lawyers were able to meet with their clients and bring the truth about Guantánamo to the world.
The Guantánamo Lawyers contains over one hundred personal narratives from attorneys who have represented detainees held at “GTMO” as well as at other overseas prisons, from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan to secret CIA jails or “black sites.”
Of note to researchers, excerpts from the narratives are available here and an online archive, hosted by New York University Libraries, will be available at the time of publication and will contain the complete texts as well as other accounts contributed by Guantánamo lawyers. The documents will be freely available on the Internet for research, teaching, and non-commercial uses, and will be preserved indefinitely as a historical collection.
November 23, 2009
Investor Protection Act
The Financial Times reports today (Nov. 23, 2009) on page 1 that the Investor Protetcion Act ("IPA"), a new federal statute making its way through the U.S. Congress, will make it "easier for investors to sue foreign companies in US courts," even if those companies are not based in the United States and listed only on overseas exchanges. The IPA will require only that "significant steps" toward the alleged fraud have been taken in the United States.
Not surprisingly, EU officials and others have expressed concern over the potential reach of the new legislation. But as the Financial Times says: "Litigation is part of America's DNA."
United States Likely to Be Last Holdout on Rights of Child
Currently, the United States and Somalia are the only members of the United Nations (UN) that have not ratifed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Last Friday, the Somali government announced its intention to proceed with ratification, which potentially leaves the United States as the last holdout. The number of states party to the CRC is already 193, making it the most widely subscribed human rights treaty. President Clinton signed the CRC on behalf of the United States in 1995, but no U.S. president has submitted the treaty to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent.
Opponents of the treaty argue that joining the treaty will undermine U.S. sovereignty and parental rights. Analyses by human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch suggest that U.S. law is largely in compliance with the treaty and should not present a bar to joining. The CRC emphasizes the importance of family in several articles and instructs governments to respect the rights, duties and responsiblities of parents in raising their children (see, e.g., article 5). The CRC recognizes that children have rights too and is based on four core principles: non-discrimination; best interests of the child; the right to life and development, and respect for the views of the child.
President Obama promised a review of the treaty and the U.S. State Department formed an interagency group to begin that work earlier this year. However, chances for ratification in the near future are likely low even if President Obama decides to submit to the Senate given that the Senate already has a backlog of other treaties to consider that are on the Obama Administration's treaty priority list.