Saturday, August 6, 2011
Friday, August 5, 2011
Kudos to Arizona State University for coming up with this idea. They are hosting an Aspiring Law Professors Conference at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. The conference is designed for those seeking to go on the academic teaching market and provides insight on the Association of American Law Schools hiring process, the appointments process, and other advice about breaking into the academic job market.
U.S. President Barak Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation on August 4 barring the entry into the United States of any immigrants or nonimmigrants who participate in serious violations of international human rights or humanitarian law. The Proclamation does contain an exception allowing entry of such persons if the U.S. Secretary of State deems that the entry of the person will not harm the foreign relations interests of the United States. However, it does not contain an exception for persons claiming to have engaged in abuse of others under duress, an issue that has been the subject of some litigation in the context of asylum cases in recent years.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has had a busy week.
Last week, the IACHR filed an application against Columbia with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Case N. 12.573, Marino López et al. (Operation Genesis). The case concerns a counterinsurgency military operation, called "Operation Genesis," and paramilitary raids carried out between February 24 and 27, 2007, in the Afro-descendant communities of the Cacarica river basin, in the department of Chocó, Colombia. The Operation Genesis bombardments and the human rights violations committed in the paramilitary incursions—such as the torture and extrajudicial execution of Marino López, death threats, looting, robbery, and destruction of property, among other things—led to the forced displacement of hundreds of members of these communities, most of them women and children. The victims were displaced for more than four years and were subjected to acts of harassment and threats during their displacement. The IACHR handed down precautionary measures for their protection. Although the Columbian authorities opened investigations and brought suits against a military general and five paramilitary members; the IACHR concluded that the investigations were not carried out quickly, comprehensively or effectively and that the courts had failed to act with diligence in pursuing criminal proceedings that would clarify the acts of violence and punish those responsible. Accordingly, the IACHR sent the case to the Inter-American Court on July 25, 2011, because the Commission deemed that the State has not complied with the recommendations contained in its report on the merits. More information and relevant documents may be found here.
The second case the IACHR announced it is referring to the Court on Monday involves Costa Rica's ban on in vitro fertilizaiton (IVF), contrary to a 2010 IACHR report and recommendation that access to IVF is a human right that must be allowed by the government. The suit will be filed on behalf of 50 Costa Rican couples who have had to travel to other countries to access the procedure. The case is N.12.361 "Artavia Gretel Murillo and others "(IVF). The Costa Rican government bans IVF because it is a process in which unused embryos are destroyed, contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church. A press release regarding the case may be found on the Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Relations website (in Spanish).
News reports indicate that France has agreed to extradite former Panamanian President Manuel Noriega back to Panama. In 2010, Noriega was tried and sentenced to seven years in prison in France for money laundering because he used illegally gotten gains to purchase property in Paris. Prior to that, Noriega had spent 17 years in jail in the United States for his involvement with drugs after he was deposed with the assistance of the U.S. military in 1989. Panama is seeking to put Noriega on trial for human rights abuses during his regime from 1981-1989, although he has already been convicted there in abstentia for at least three human rights violations. News reports do not indicate when the extradition will occur.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
The United Nations human rights office has urged the Malawian Government to set up a transparent investigation into allegations that its security forces committed grave rights violations when they clashed with protesters last week. At least 19 people are reported to have died during demonstrations last week in Malawi’s biggest cities, with protesters speaking out against shortages of fuel and foreign exchange and calling for greater freedoms and human rights. Security forces have been accused by the protesters of using excessive force.
Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters in Geneva that OHCHR is calling on the Government to stop the use of force and conduct a prompt, impartial and transparent inquiry into the allegations of human rights abuses. “We are extremely worried about reports of arrests of large numbers of people during the demonstrations, and death threats against several leaders of the protests following President Bingu wa Mutharika’s announcement via radio that eight people he specifically named would be arrested,” she said. “We urge the Government to cease the use of mass arrests and threats to silence opponents.”
Ms. Shamdasani also expressed concern at reports that the Malawian Government has shut down news websites and social media networks and blocked signals from local radio stations. “Journalists have also reportedly been targeted and subject to violence and intimidation. We urge the authorities to respect the freedom of expression.”
(Adapted from a UN Press Release) (mew)
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) is a United Nations-backed tribunal set up to try those alleged responsible for the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri. The STL sits in the Hague (Netherlands). During the past week, the STL released the identities of the four men accused of the crime.
Daniel Fransen, a pre-trial judge with the STL, ordered the lifting of confidentiality on the full names, aliases, photographs, biographical information and charges against the men named in an indictment last month. Parts of the indictment remain confidential.
The four people named are Salim Jamil Ayyash, Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra. All Lebanese, they are charged over the massive car bombing in central Beirut on 14 February 2005 that killed Mr. Hariri and 21 others. Mr. Ayyash, 47, and Mr. Badreddine, 50, are each charged with homicide, attempted homicide, committing a terrorist act and conspiracy to commit a terrorist act. Mr. Oneissi, 37, and Mr. Sabra, 34, face charges of conspiracy to commit a terrorist act, and being an accomplice to homicide and to attempted homicide.
In a statement Daniel Bellemare, the STL Prosecutor, said the release of the names and biographical information “has been taken to increase the likelihood of apprehending the accused in case any of them is seen by the public.”
International arrest warrants against the four men were issued on 8 July and Lebanese authorities have to report back by 11 August on the progress made in carrying out the arrest warrants.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release) (mew)
The United Nations human rights office has called for the swift investigation and prosecution of the killers of a prominent human rights defender whose body is believed to have been found, 17 months after he disappeared.
A body exhumed this week in Sri Lanka is thought to be that of Pattani Razeek, the managing trustee of Community Trust Fund (CTF) and a leading member of regional non-governmental organization (NGO) networks, according to Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
“We hope that investigation and prosecution of this crime will now be expedited, and that there will be similar progress in resolving the many thousands of outstanding cases of disappearance in Sri Lanka,” she said.
Mr. Razeek was last seen near the mosque in Polonnaruwa in Sri Lanka’s North Central province on 11 February 2010, although his family and colleagues received telephone calls demanding a ransom for some months after his disappearance.
“Police investigations made little progress amid allegations of political interference. CTF members and Muslim community leaders faced threats to drop the case,” said Ms. Shamdasani.
The spokesperson noted that two suspects in the killing were only arrested in the past few weeks.
“The information they provided reportedly led to the body. Now that the fate of this human rights defender has been established, it is time for an investigation to establish the truth of the circumstances of this heinous crime, and for prosecution to bring justice to the victim’s family.”
She voiced hope that there will be breakthrough in similar cases of people who have been disappeared during and since Sri Lanka’s protracted civil war with Tamil rebels, which ended in 2009.
One case involves the freelance journalist and cartoonist Prageeth Ranjan Bandara Ekneligoda, who has been missing since January 2010.
“We strongly urge the Government of Sri Lanka to expedite investigations and provide information on Mr. Ekneligoda’s whereabouts and fate.”
OHCHR is also calling on the Government in Colombo to seek the assistance of the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances, which currently has 5,653 outstanding cases from Sri Lanka in its records.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release) (mew)
We have learned that the Constitutional Court of Colmobia issued a decision on July 26 giving the Colombian Congress two years to extend marriage to same-sex couples. The court ruling was unanimous. Information is available (in Spanish) on the court's website.
Hat tip to Rex Wockner
The United Nations Human Rights Committee has accused Belarus of violating its international agreements by executing two persons while their cases were still under review by the committee.
The Human Rights Committee (HRC) is an independent body supervising compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The HRC expressed “dismay” that the executions were the second such breach by Belarus in two years.
According to a press statement issued by the committee, Oleg Grishkovtsov and Andrei Burdyko had alleged that they were subjected to torture at the pre-trial investigation stage and did not receive a fair trial. Media reports indicated the two were found guilty of premeditated murder, armed assault, arson, kidnapping of a minor, theft and robbery. The committee had asked authorities in Belarus not to carry out the executions while their cases were under consideration. The exact date of the executions remains unknown but it is presumed that they took place between 13 and 19 July. The committee sent a letter to Belarus’ Permanent Mission in Geneva, expressing concern over the apparent executions “in violation of the committee’s request for interim measures of protection.”
“Our requests for interim measures of protection are aimed at averting irreparable harm to alleged victims of human rights violations. The committee deplores the fact that, by proceeding to execute these two individuals, Belarus has committed a grave breach of its obligations under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” said Zonke Zanele Majodina, the committee’s chairperson. The letter said that under the covenant: “It is imperative that a death sentence be imposed only in full respect of the right to a fair trial. The imposition of a death sentence after a trial that did not meet the requirements for a fair trial amounts to a violation of articles 14 and 6 of the covenant,” Ms. Zanele Majodina said.
In March last year Andrei Zhuk and Vasily Yuzepchuk were executed despite the committee’s request for interim measures of protection, it said.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release) (mew)
The President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has urged the implementation of decisions made at the body’s substantive session this year, which focused on the importance of education as a catalyst for the achievement of the global goals against poverty.
“We addressed issues of access to education, particularly of the girl child; the quality of education; the partnerships and financing needed; the need to ensure that education equips our youth with skills needed by our economies and the jobs markets; and we shared best practices and experiences,” said Lazarous Kapambwe, the ECOSOC President, at the end of the session in Geneva. He said the Council also underscored that the UN system should respond fast to the needs of Least Development Countries (LDCs) and countries recovering from or in conflict, as well as middle income economies.
ECOSOC also established a new UN Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management, which he said would bring together, for the first time at the global level, government experts from all Member States to compile and disseminate best practices and experiences on geospatial information, in the context of sustainable development and humanitarian assistance.
“We have taken a number of decisions and resolutions at this session, as we always do and are expected to do, during ECOSOC’s substantive session. But it would be regrettable if our success is measured by the number of these decisions, or how good many of them are. “The real success of this session should be determined by the extent to which we shall implement these decisions,” said Mr. Kapambwe.
Nikhil Seth, the outgoing Director of ECOSOC’s Office for Support and Coordination, said emphasis should be on monitoring the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals; improving the results of development cooperation and responding quickly to humanitarian crises.
(adapted from a UN Press Release)
The Journal of International Law and International Relations (JILIR) invites submissions from scholars of both International Law and International Relations for its Fall 2011 issue. The Journal is a peer-reviewed scholarly journal that seeks to develop interdisciplinary discourse at the nexus of these two dynamic disciplines.
JILIR is welcoming submissions on the wide variety of topics located in the intellectual space jointly occupied by International Law and International Relations. In addition to accepting research articles, JILIR also encourages the submission of case comments, notes and book reviews addressing new developments in IL and IR. The JILIR is a joint venture of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and the Munk School of Global Affairs.
All submissions must be received by September 24th, 2011 to be considered for publication. More information may be found at the JILIR website.
On October 20-22, 2011, the American Branch of the International Law Association and the International Law Students Association will present the annual International Law Weekend (“ILW”) in New York City.
ILW 2011 will bring together hundreds of practitioners, professors, representatives of government and NGO organizations, and law students. It is a gem of a conference that you don't want to miss if you live near New York (and many people fly in from across the United States and Canada to attend it as well). The ABILA Committee on Teaching International Law (which I chair) will present a program on "Libel Tourism." Click here for more information about the International Law Weekend in New York City.
The ILW is one week after the Fall Meeting of the American Bar Association Section of International Law meeting in Dublin.
Mark E. Wojcik