Monday, June 15, 2015

Herzog Lecture on Holocaust Denial at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago

Deborah LipstadtProfessor Deborah Lipstadt of Emory University will deliver the Fred Herzog Memorial Lecture on the subject of "The Changing Face of Holocaust Denial in the 21st Centure" at noon on Thursday, September 24, 2015 at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

Professor Lipstadt is an American historian and author of books including Denying the Holocaust (1993) and The Eichmann Trial (2011). She is currently the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. She received her BA from the City College of New York and her MA and PhD from Brandeis University.

Her book History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2005) is the story of her libel trial in London against David Irving, who sued her for calling him a Holocaust denier and right wing extremist. The book has been described as a “fascinating and meritorious work of legal—and moral—history” (Kirkus, November 2004). It won the National Jewish Book Award and was a finalist for the Koret Book Award. It was ranked by the editors at Amazon.com as number four on its list of top ten history books of 2005.

The Daily Telegraph ( London) declared that Lipstadt's trial had “done for the new century what the Nuremberg tribunals or the Eichmann trial did for earlier generations.” The Times (London) described it as “history has had its day in court and scored a crushing victory.” The judge found David Irving to be a Holocaust denier, a falsifier of history, a racist, an antisemite, and a liar. Her legal battle with Irving lasted approximately six years. According to the New York Times, the trial “put an end to the pretense that Mr. Irving is anything but a self-promoting apologist for Hitler.”

Lipstadt has a blog at lipstadt.blogspot.com. The website on her trial is www.hdot.org.  And there's going to be a movie about her trial, with Hillary Swank playing Professor Lipstadt.

(mew)

 

June 15, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

First-Ever Day for International Albinism Awareness

The first-ever day for International Albinism Awareness is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of people with albinism and join the struggle against the difficulties they face, senior United Nations officials said.  The event was held yesterday, June 13, 2015.

Due to a recessive gene that is carried by both parents, babies in every society are born with albinism. Across the world, these children are likely to face bullying, prejudice and even violence because of stereotypes based on their colouring. Additionally, the common lack of melanin pigment in hair, skin and eyes causes their vulnerability to sun exposure, which can lead to skin cancer and severe visual impairment.

“They frequently cannot access adequate healthcare,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a statement commemorating the Day. “Failure to accommodate this visual impairment, as well as mockery and abuse, may force them to drop out of school; compounded by widespread social rejection, this can result in unemployment, isolation and life-long poverty.

In some parts of the world, people with albinism may also suffer horrific, and even lethal, atrocities.

The High Commissioner elaborated, “civil society activists have reported that hundreds of people with albinism – a majority of them children – have been killed, mutilated or otherwise attacked in at least 25 African countries, because of the belief that their body parts confer magical powers. More cases remain undocumented because of the isolation of the victims, the secrecy surrounding ritual practices, and indifference. Shockingly, such crimes have seldom been investigated or prosecuted.”

Recently, discrimination and violence against individuals with albinism have been highlighted by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council and the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, as well as by the High Commissioner's Office (OHCHR).

“In coming weeks, a UN Independent Expert will be appointed to give an international voice to the concerns of people with albinism, and to contribute to protecting their rights,” said the top UN human rights official.

In Tanzania and Malawi, efforts are underway to develop nation-wide strategies to combat the violence and discrimination that they suffer. Meanwhile, civil society activists around the world continue their essential and inspiring work to fight stigma, combat harmful superstition and ensure that victims have access to justice, care and redress.

“There is no room in this 21st century for erroneous and harmful beliefs, or for discrimination on any grounds. People with albinism are just as deserving of dignity as every other human being. They have the right to live free from discrimination, deprivation and fear,” Mr. Zeid underscored.

He called on States to step up education to: counteract albinism ignorance; provide appropriate care; investigate cases of discrimination and violence against people with albinism; and enforce the law. Mr. Zeid also encouraged civil society activists and human rights institutions to continue reporting on the human rights of people with albinism around the world.

“Awareness is the groundwork for action, and this first International Albinism Awareness Day is a beacon of hope for people with albinism everywhere,” the High Commissioner concluded.

In a separate statement, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative on Violence against Children, Marta Santos Pais, said the lives of children with albinism are surrounded by marginalization, discrimination, prejudice, superstitions and misconceptions simply because of their genetic condition and because they look different. Discrimination condemns these children to a position of extreme vulnerability, and to tolerance of violence against them in many countries in the world.

“The serious violations of the rights of children with albinism to survival and development, to protection from discrimination and to freedom from violence remain a priority concern for my mandate” said Ms. Santos Pais.

She stressed that the International Awareness Day is a unique opportunity to promote laws and policies to better protect children with albinism from all forms of violence and to overcome social conventions that lead to stigmatization and to the extreme social and structural discrimination.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

June 14, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 12, 2015

IACHR Takes Cases Against Brazil and Venezuela to Inter-American Court

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR or Commission) has filed two new cases with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights  - one against Brazil and one against Venezuela.  The following information is taken from press releases issued by the Commission.

The case against Brazil is Cosme Rosa Genoveva, Evandro de Oliveira et al. (Favela Nova Brasília), Case 11.566. It involves the extrajudicial executions of 26 individuals—including six children—in the context of police raids carried out by the Rio de Janeiro Civil Police on October 18, 1994, and May 8, 1995, in the shantytown of Nova Brasília. The police authorities justified these deaths by means of affidavits alleging “resistance to arrest.” In addition, in the context of the raid on October 18, 1994, three victims—C.S.S. (15 years old), L.R.J. (19 years old), and J.F.C. (16 years old)—were victims of torture and acts of sexual violence at the hands of police officers. The IACHR established that these events occurred within a context and pattern of excessive use of force and extrajudicial executions carried out by police in Brazil, especially in Rio de Janeiro. Moreover, the Commission found that the context in which the events in this case took place has been tolerated and even fostered by State institutions. The Commission also established that this context includes a lack of accountability mechanisms and a situation of impunity surrounding these violations.  Both the deaths of the 26 individuals and the acts of torture and sexual violence have remained unpunished, and to date the criminal actions related to the majority of the incidents of the case—the acts of torture and sexual violence in the 1994 raid and the deaths in the 1995 raid—are barred by statute of limitations in domestic law.

In its Merits Report, the Commission recommended that  Brazil conduct—by means of judicial authorities independent from the police—an exhaustive, impartial, and effective investigation into the violations that were found, in order to determine the truth and punish those responsible, taking into account the pattern of excessive use of lethal force by the police and the possible omissions, delays, acts of negligence, and obstructions of justice caused by agents of the State. It also recommended that the State guarantee proper and full compensation; immediately eliminate the practice of automatically recording deaths perpetrated by the police as “resistance to arrest”; and put an end to impunity with regard to police violence in general, adapting its domestic laws, administrative regulations, and operational plans and procedures. The IACHR also recommended that the State establish internal and external oversight and accountability systems to enforce the obligation to investigate, within a gender and ethnic-racial perspective, all cases in which law enforcement agents use lethal force and/or sexual violence; that it implement plans to modernize and professionalize police forces; regulate police procedures involving legitimate use of force; and train police personnel on how to effectively deal with people from the most vulnerable segments of society, including, children, women, and residents of shantytowns, in order to overcome the stigma that all poor people are criminals.

On May 19, 2015, after granting multiple extensions and making a number of efforts, the Commission determined that the State of Brazil had not complied with the recommendations contained in the Merits Report. Consequently, the Commission submitted to matter to the Inter-American Court.  The Commission believes the case offers the Court the opportunity to expand its case law concerning the obligation to properly investigate violent deaths as a result of the use of lethal force by State agents. 

The second case against Venezuela is that of Johan Alexis Ortiz, (Case 12.270), and involves the death of Mr. Ortiz on February 15, 1998, on the premises of the Caño Negro Rural Commandos (Comandos Rurales). Johan Alexis Ortiz was a student at the National Guard Training School of Cordero (Escuela de Formación de Guardias Nacionales de Cordero, ESGUARNAC), and he died after being shot during simulation exercises with real bullets. The exercises, held on the premises of the military facility, were a requirement to complete his officer training at the institution.

The Commission established that the Venezuelan military authorities created the risk by failing to put proper controls in place related to operations and emergency plans as well as to the use of weapons and ammunition. The Commission also established that the State had not provided a satisfactory explanation for the use of live ammunition and failed to comply with safety measures. The Commission also concluded that the State had not responded properly or on a timely basis to the injuries suffered by Mr. Ortiz, as it did not have specialized medical personnel or an ambulance on site that would enable him to receive medical care while he was being transferred to a medical center. The Commission further determined that there were multiple irregularities in the domestic proceedings relating to the matter, violating the principles of independence and impartiality, the requirement of due diligence and the guarantee of a reasonable time period.  

In its Report on the Merits, the Commission recommended that the State carry out a complete, impartial, and effective investigation into the established violations of human rights, in order to determine and punish anyone who masterminded and perpetrated the acts described; order any appropriate administrative, disciplinary, or criminal measures in response to State officials’ actions or omissions that contributed to the denial of justice and the impunity surrounding the facts in this case; and provide adequate reparation, both material and moral, for the human rights violations stated in the report. The Commission also recommended that the necessary measures be developed to ensure that the human rights of students at the National Guard Training School are properly protected in the training and educational courses and practices. The State of Venezuela made no response at all to the notification of the Merits Report. 

The Commission believes Mr. Ortiz's case will enable the Inter-American Court to delve deeper into the use of lethal force in the context of training carried out by a State security force. Specifically, the Court is being asked for its opinion concerning precautionary and response mechanisms States should put into practice to prevent violations of the right to life and physical integrity of individuals who are members or students of a State security service. The case will also enable the Court to rule on the specifics of the duty to investigate with due diligence any deaths that occur under such circumstances.

(cgb)

June 12, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

World Day Against Child Labor

The International Labor Organization has designated June 12 as the World Day Against Child Labor to raise awareness about the extent of the problem and efforts to combat it.  This year's theme focuses on free, compulsory and quality education for all children, at least up to the age of lawful employment.  For more information about this observance, click  here.

(cgb)

June 12, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Call for Papers: French Association of Law Professors in Business Schools will meet in Toulouse France in December

The French Association of Law Professors in Business Schools – the Association des Professeurs de Droit des Grandes Ecoles (“APDGE”) -- will hold its Third Conference in December.  It will be held at the Toulouse Business School in Southwestern France on December 3-4, 2015. 

The theme of the conference is “Governance and Compliance in Companies: Constraints or Opportunities.”

Papers submitted will be reviewed double-blind and the authors of the best papers will be asked to present their papers in Toulouse, with a later publication anticipated.  Participants or their institutions must bear their own travel expenses unfortunately, but then again you do end up in Southwestern France so just find a way to make that happen if your proposal is selected.

The call for papers is also available at the APDGE’s website at, as well as on the Conference’s website which is “under construction.”

Key Dates

Proposals: June 30, 2015

Full Text: September 1, 2015

Author Notification by the Scientific Committee: October 12, 2015

Click here for a related post about the conference on one of our sister blogs, the Business Law Prof Blog.

Hat tip to Greg Voss

(mew)

June 11, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Kazakhstan moves one step closer to joining WTO

Kazakhstan flagAccording to a WTO news release, earlier today Kazakhstan finalized 20 years of negotiations of its terms of accession to World Trade Organization (WTO) with WTO members. The draft WTO Accession Package will be submitted to members for formal approval when the meeting reconvenes on 22 June. Kazakhstan’s Accession Package will then be forwarded to the General Council for formal adoption by all 161 WTO members.

(cgb)

June 10, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 8, 2015

US Supreme Court Affirms President's Authority to Recognize (or not to recognize) Foreign States

The U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Zivotofsky v. Kerry today, involving a conflict between Congress and the President as to which branch may give signals of recognition to foreign states.  The Court held, by a 6-3 vote, that the President has the power to determine whether and when to recognize foreign states without Congressional interference.  Although more a case involving U.S. foreign policy than international law, Zivotofsky does have international implications.

By way of background, the US State Department, under the direction of US presidents, normally issues passports that identify a person's place of birth.  In this case, Menachem Zivotofsky was born in Jerusalem in 2002. His US citizen parents asked the State Department to list his place of birth as Israel.  The US State Department refused, because the US does not take an official position as to whether Jerusalem belongs to Israel. However, the US Congress passed a statute that would allow a person person born in Jerusalem to have Israel listed as the place of birth on a US passport.  The President contended that the law unconstitutionally interfered with his power to determine whether and when to recognize foreign states or any part thereof.

The majority of the Supreme Court agreed with the President, finding that the statute does unconstitutionally interfere with the President's exclusive power to recognize foreign sovereigns. The Court based its decision on the text and structure of the US Constitution as well as historical practice.  This case is noteworthy as a matter of US law because the President has few powers that are considered "exclusive" to the executive branch such as the President may oppose Congress.  It is also noteworthy in that it avoids a potentially embarrassing situation wherein the US government could be divided as to its foreign policy respecting Jerusalem and Israel, a particularly delicate matter of negotiation in Middle Eastern politics. 

(cgb)

June 8, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights Finds Raft of Violations in Eritrea

Amid “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations,” the human rights situation in Eritrea has degenerated into a climate of fear in which dissent is stifled and large swathes of the population are subjected to forced labour and imprisonment, a new United Nations report has found.

The report by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea cites a raft of violations – some, it says, which may constitute crimes against humanity – of “a scope and scale seldom witnessed elsewhere,” according to a press release issued today.

“With the end of the Commission’s investigations and the publication of this report detailing our findings on human rights violations in Eritrea, I look forward to a renewed commitment by the international community to address the justice deficit and to support our call for a restoration of the rule of law,” affirmed Sheila B. Keetharuth, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, who also serves on the Commission.

“Rule by fear – fear of indefinite conscription, of arbitrary and incommunicado detention, of torture and other human rights violations – must end.”

The Commission’s report details numerous incidences in which Eritrea’s “initial promise of democracy and rule of law” following its independence in 1991 has been “extinguished” by the Government under the pretext of national defence. Examples, it notes, include the severe curtailing of rights and freedoms as well as violations in the areas of extrajudicial executions, torture, national service and forced labour.

In addition, a system of mass surveillance, a “completely deficient” administration of justice, and “ubiquitous” arbitrary detention contribute to the pervasive terror encountered by Eritreans on a daily basis.

“The commission finds that the use of torture is so widespread that it can only conclude it is a policy of the Government to encourage its use for the punishment of individuals perceived as opponents to its rule and for the extraction of confessions,” the report continues. “Monitoring of detention centres is non-existent and perpetrators are never brought to justice.”

The widespread abuses allegedly faced by many in the Horn of Africa nation have prompted hundreds of Eritreans to flee their home country in search of asylum in Europe. According to the latest estimates produced by Italian authorities, 32,000 Eritreans were rescued in 2014 as they attempted to traverse the Mediterranean – the majority of all migrants rescued by Italy’s comprehensive Mare Nostrum operation. Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency has placed the number of Eritreans under its concern outside the country at more than 357,400.

“In desperation, they resort to deadly escape routes through deserts and neighbouring war-torn countries and across dangerous seas in search of safety. They risk capture, torture and death at the hands of ruthless human traffickers,” adds the Commission’s report. “To ascribe their decision to leave solely to economic reasons is to ignore the dire situation of human rights in Eritrea and the very real suffering of its people. Eritreans are fleeing severe human rights violations in their country and are in need of international protection.”

The Commission – appointed last September by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council in what the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) then described as a “historic moment”– is composed of Mike Smith of Australia and Victor Dankwa of Ghana, as well as Ms. Keetharuth.

As independent experts or special rapporteurs, they are appointed by the Geneva-based Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

June 8, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

UN Security Council Condemns High Level of Violence in Syria

Amid surging violence in Aleppo, the United Nations Security Council has expressed “outrage” at all attacks against civilians in Syria, as well as indiscriminate attacks. “The members of the Security Council expressed their deep concern at the continued high level of violence in Syria and condemned all violence directed against civilians and civilian infrastructure, including medical facilities,” according to a press statement.

John Ging, Operations Director of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), briefed Council members about the recent upsurge of violence in Aleppo and other areas in the country, where “shelling and aerial bombardment, such as the use of barrel bombs, have reportedly been used extensively in recent days, leaving many dead and injured civilians, including children.”

On May 31, at least 70 civilians were killed in Syria’s northern Aleppo province by barrel bombs dropped from government helicopters.

The Council’s statement recalled that all obligations under international humanitarian law must be respected in all circumstances by all parties, in particular “the obligation to distinguish between civilian populations and combatants, and the prohibition against indiscriminate attacks, and attacks against civilians and civilian objects.”

While reaffirming that the Syrian authorities have the primary responsibility to protect the population of the country, the Council reiterated that all parties must take all “feasible steps” to ensure the protection of civilians.

Members condemned increased terrorist attacks carried out by ISIL, Al-Nusra Front and other entities associated with Al-Qaida, and called on all parties to commit to “putting an end” to these acts.

In this context, they reminded that Member States must ensure that any measures taken to combat terrorism comply with all their obligations under international law.

“The only sustainable solution to the current crisis in Syria is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process, with a view to full implementation of the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012,” Security Council members reiterated in their statement.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

June 8, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pakistan Urged to Halt the Execution of Man Who Commited His Crime as a 14-Year-Old Child

The Government of Pakistan has been urged to halt the execution of a man convicted of a crime committed as a child and reinstate the country’s moratorium on the death penalty. In a press release issued from Geneva, Christof Heyns, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Benyam Mezmur, the Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, and Juan Mendez, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, called on Pakistani authorities to reverse a decision regarding the execution of Shafqat Hussain, scheduled for 9 June.

Mr. Hussein was arrested, tried and convicted at the age of 14 for kidnapping and involuntary manslaughter. According to his lawyers, however, Mr. Hussein’s confession was obtained after being tortured for at least nine days while in police custody. “To proceed with Mr. Hussain’s execution without proper investigation into the allegation that his confession was coerced under torture, and in spite of evidence that he was a child at the time of his alleged offence and of his possible innocence would be utterly unacceptable and in flagrant contravention of Pakistan’s national and international obligations,” the UN experts warned.

“Under Pakistani law and articles 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and 37.1 the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the death sentence cannot be imposed on a defendant who was under 18 at the time of the crime,” they added. “Testimonies obtained under torture are also inadmissible.”

Mr. Hussain was originally due to be executed in March 2015 but his sentence was stayed while authorities conducted an inquiry into his age at the time of the crime and on the torture allegations. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) which led the investigation ultimately concluded that Mr. Hussain was not a child at the time of the killing however both the legitimacy of the inquiry and the initial trial has been contested.

“In light of reports that the trial against Mr. Hussain and the FIA inquiry fell short of such standards, we call once again upon the Pakistani authorities to ensure a fair retrial of Shafqat Hussain, and to immediately halt the scheduled execution,” the three experts continued.

In addition, they urged Pakistan’s Government to reinstate the country’s death penalty moratorium and carry out “serious investigations” all cases of children on death row.

Since Pakistan’s moratorium was lifted in December 2014, 140 prisoners have been executed while reports indicate that more than 8,000 people are currently on death row of whom several hundred may have been sentenced for crimes they committed as children.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

June 8, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Dates Announced for Global Legal Skills Conference 11 in Verona

The Global Legal Skills Conference is the world's largest conference dedicated to the teaching of legal skills around the world, including teaching "Legal English" to lawyers and law students who speak English as a second language. The conference is held annually in different locations around the world. Most recently it was held in Chicago at The John Marshall Law School (where the conference began) and at Northwestern University School of Law. The GLS-10 was also co-sponsored by the Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey, which itself previously hosted the conference twice.

In addition to the sessions on skills training, the conference also has a number of sessions on international law subjects.

The 11th Global Legal Skills Conference will return to a popular location, the University of Verona Faculty of Law in Verona, Italy. The conference will be held from Tuesday, May 24, 2016 to Thursday, May 26, 2016. Optional activities will be organized for before and after the conference.

(mew)

June 7, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Challenges Facing ICTR and ICTY

The top officials of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia today outlined a number of challenges to their work, ranging from the health of the defendants to the “daunting” task of trying to relocate those acquitted or who have already served their sentences.

Theodor Meron, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, told the Security Council that the health of accused individuals and staff attrition had caused delays in some cases. The so-called Residual Mechanism is mandated to take over and finish the remaining tasks of both tribunals once their mandates expire.

But Mr. Meron said: “By the end of this year, the forecasts provided by presiding Judges indicate that the ICTY will have completed its work on all but two trials and two appeals.”

“While various cases have suffered delays, these can each be counted as a matter of months, and the last cases are still expected to be completed in 2017, as predicted in the ICTY's previous forecasts,” he said.

Mr. Meron also reassured Council members that ”when the history of the ICTY is written, it is this legacy, not limited delays in projected delivery dates, that will be remembered and, I believe, celebrated.”

ICTY Prosecutor Serge Brammertz said the countries of the former Yugoslavia continued to cooperate with the Office and to respond, as needed, to requests for assistance. This included, on high-profile cases, joint arrest operations conducted by the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.

Mr. Brammertz also said the trial judgments of former Serbian leader Vojislav Seselj and former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic are “estimated to be delivered later this year.”

The President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Vagn Joensen, said the Appeals Chamber had completed its work with respect to all appeals from the trial judgments, with the exception of Nyiramasuhuko et al. – or the Butare case – concerning six persons and that the formal closure of the Tribunal is still expected to occur before the end of 2015.

He also drew attention to “the very troubling issue of relocating the acquitted and convicted released persons still residing in Arusha,” the Tanzanian city where the Tribunal is based.

“The issue of relocation remains a daunting one and the challenges that the ICTR has faced with relocating these persons, some of which have been residing in a UN safe house for over a decade, have been brought to this Council's attention on numerous occasions,” he said.

Hassan B. Jallow, the Prosecutor of the Rwanda Tribunal and of the International Residual Mechanism for both courts, said the Mechanism Office of the Prosecutor continued to take over functions from the Rwanda and former Yugoslavia Tribunals.

(UN press release)

June 4, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Issues Second Report on Violence and Discrimination Against LGBT Persons Around the World

Although some progress has been made since the first United Nations study four years ago on discrimination and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, the overall picture remains one of pervasive, violent abuse, harassment, and discrimination in all regions, according to a new United Nations report.

“Violence motivated by homophobia and transphobia is often particularly brutal, and in some instances characterized by levels of cruelty exceeding that of other hate crimes,” according to the report by the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) (A/HRC/29/23) to be presented later this month to the UN Human Rights Council, which requested it.

The report found that such violent acts include deep knife cuts, anal rape,and genital mutilation, as well as stoning and dismemberment. “These constitute serious human rights violations, often perpetrated with impunity, indicating that current arrangements to protect the human rights of LGBT and intersex persons are inadequate,” the report says. The report also states that “there is as yet no dedicated human rights mechanism at the international level that has a systematic and comprehensive approach to the human rights situation of LGBT and intersex persons.”

The report contains 20 recommendations directed at the national governments, including these recommendations:

  • Repeal laws used to punish individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, including laws that criminalize consensual same-sex relationships cross-dressing, and that restrict freedom of expression, association, and assembly;
  • Prohibit discrimination and incitement to hatred and violence against LGBT persons, and enact hate crime laws that punish those who target individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity;
  • Legally recognize same-sex relationships;
  • Ensure access to legal identity documents that reflect an individual's self-identified gender, without imposing abusive pre-conditions; and
  • End abusive therapies and treatments to which LGBT people are often subjected -- including so-called "conversion” therapy, forced sterilization of transgender persons and certain medical procedures on intersex children.

The recommendations, the report says, describe measures to protect individuals from the kinds of human rights violations documented in the report and draw from good practices observed in the course of compiling the report and recommendations of United Nations human rights mechanisms.

The report, the second such official study of its kind since 2011, notes that despite “some progress” during the past four years, “the overall picture remains one of continuing, pervasive, violent abuse, harassment and discrimination affecting LGBT and intersex persons in all regions.”

On killings, the report said: “Data are patchy but, wherever available, suggest alarmingly high rates of homicidal violence” and noted that “terrorist groups may target LGBT persons for punishment, including killings.” As an example, the reported cited that “in February 2015, photos appeared to show several men, allegedly accused of homosexual acts, being pushed off a tower to their deaths by militants of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).”

While noting important recent advances in the protection LGBT people, the report presents evidence of “continuing, pervasive, violent abuse, harassment and discrimination affecting LGBT and intersex persons in all regions.”

(Adapted from a UN press release)

Click here to see a copy of the Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, "Discrimination and violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity," (A/HRC/29/23) (May 4, 2015).  Scroll down to find Report A/HRC/29/23.

Click here to read more about the background and context of the UN report.

Mark E. Wojcik (mew)

                  

June 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Protecting Nuclear Facilities from Cyberattacks

The international community must intensify efforts to protect the world’s nuclear facilities from cyberattacks, the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog declared as he opened the Organization’s first-ever conference on the issue at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna.

Sounding the alarm in front of more than 650 experts from 92 member States, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said the inaugural International Conference on Computer Security in a Nuclear World sent “an important message” that the world is finally “serious about protecting nuclear and other radioactive material.”

“Reports of actual or attempted cyberattacks are now virtually a daily occurrence,” Mr. Amano affirmed, warning that the nuclear industry had not been immune from the global threat. “Last year alone, there were cases of random malware-based attacks at nuclear power plants and of such facilities being specifically targeted.”

The threat of cybercrime and cyberattacks has been steadily growing over recent years and particularly in developing countries where criminals can exploit legal loopholes and weak security measures, according to recent findings by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The Conference – organized in cooperation with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) – will run until 5 June and illustrate ways member States and stakeholders can better anticipate and protect themselves from cyber-attacks.

In addition, notes the IAEA on its website, member States will also address a range of issues pertaining to trends in cyberattack and defence, computer security management in nuclear security, computer security threat analysis, computer security for industrial control systems and operator experience in implementing computer security.

“Staff responsible for nuclear security should know how to repel cyber-attacks and to limit the damage if systems are actually penetrated,” Mr. Amano continued.

“The IAEA is doing what it can to help governments, organizations, and individuals adapt to evolving technology-driven threats from skilled cyber adversaries.”

(adapted from a UN press release)

June 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Baku Urged to Free Human Rights Advocates in Advance of European Games

United Nations Special Rapporteur Michel Forst has criticized the “relentless prosecution and repression of prominent rights activists in Azerbaijan” and called for their immediate release – before the inaugural European Games begin in Baku on 12 June.

The independent expert said, “As preparations are in full swing for the Baku Games, the Azerbaijani authorities stepped up their efforts to harass, jail, and surveil human rights defenders, as well as ban them from travel and freeze their assets.” Mr. Forst underscored that such “unjustifiable criminalization” was usually justified with trumped-up or politically-motivated charges of State treason, illegal entrepreneurship, tax evasion and abuse of office. “As a result, most Azerbaijani defenders have had to endure prolonged pre-trial detention, imprisonment or exile,” he explained.

The UN expert also drew attention to actions against Intigam Aliyev and Khadija Ismail for documenting cases of political prisoners; Anar Mammadli, Bashir Suleymanli and Elnur Mammadov for monitoring presidential elections in October 2013; Leyla Yunus and her husband, Arif, for criticizing the Government; and Rasul Jafarov for organizing a “Sport for Rights” initiative during the Baku Games that aimed to expose corruption and rights abuses in the country.

Mr. Forst expressed his deep regret for continued efforts “to stifle fundamental freedoms of expression and association, and to shrink the democratic space even further in the country” and urged the Government to allow those who promote and protect human rights to do so “in an environment that empowers rather than prosecutes.”

The human rights expert noted that the first European Olympic Games represented “an opportunity for the countries of Europe to come together and celebrate the Olympic spirit of freedom and inclusiveness.” He stressed that as host country, Azerbaijan should embody those ideals and release the imprisoned human rights supporters. “Azerbaijani activists must be free and they deserve to be part of the European celebrations in Baku.”

Mr. Forst also urged athletes, sport fans and supporters of the Games “to show solidarity with Azerbaijani human rights defenders and join the calls for them to be freed immediately in the European spirit of freedom and human rights.”

Maina Kiai, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and David Kaye, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom or opinion and expression also endorsed Mr. Forst's appeal to the Azerbaijani Government.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

To read more about the first European Games, click here.

(mew)


June 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Myanmar Urged to Release U Htin Lin Oo, a Journalist Charged with Insulting Religion

Appalled at the two-year prison sentence handed down to U Htin Lin Oo on charges of insulting religion, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) today urged the Myanmar authorities to release the columnist and guarantee freedom of expression and opinion in the country.

“We urge the authorities to release U Htin Lin Oo unconditionally and to take all necessary measures to ensure that those who conduct peaceful advocacy, legitimately exercising their rights to freedom of expression and opinion, do not face reprisals,” said OHCHR spokesperson, Ravina Shamdasani, during a press briefing in Geneva.

According to the media, U Htin Lin Oo, a former official at the National League for Democracy party, was sentenced to two years of jail and hard labour on Tuesday for a speech meant to discourage Buddhist extremism.

“U Htin Lin Oo courageously spoke out against the use of Buddhism as a tool for extremism. His treatment and conviction are in stark contrast to the treatment of those in Myanmar who are clearly inciting violence against minority communities, particularly the Rohingya,” Ms. Shamdasani added.

“Rather than prosecuting individuals, who brazenly call for the Rohingya to be killed, for hate speech and incitement to violence, the authorities have jailed a peaceful advocate who dared to question the misuse and manipulation of religion for extremist ends,” the Spokesperson stated.

High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has previously raised U Htin Lin Oo’s case, warning Myanmar against creating “a new generation of political prisoners” by jailing people who seek to enjoy the democratic freedoms they were promised in the reforms the country has undergone over the past two years.

Calling on the Government of Myanmar to send a “clear message” against hate speech and incitement to violence, OHCHR said that any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence in this country should be prohibited by law.

(UN Press Release)

 


June 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Welcomes End of Death Penalty in Nebraska

Welcoming Nebraska as the nineteenth state in the United States to abolish the death penalty, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has urged the U.S. federal government to engage with those states retaining the policy towards achieving a nationwide moratorium as a first step to abolition.

“We welcome the abolition of the death penalty in the state of Nebraska,” said OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani, who added that Nebraska has not executed any inmates since 1997.

States, such as Colorado, Delaware, Montana and Kansas, whose legislative bodies are currently debating the abolition of the death penalty, are encouraged to follow Nebraska’s lead, Ms. Shamdasani said.

OHCHR also called on the US Federal Government, at the recommendation of the Human Rights Committee in March 2014, to establish a federal level moratorium on the death penalty, while engaging “retentionist states with a view to achieving a nationwide moratorium,” as a first step towards abolition.

The number of people executed each year, and the size of the population on death row in the US have progressively declined in the past 10 years. In 2014, the death penalty was carried out only by seven states, and the number of executions was 35, the lowest since 1994.

(adapted from a UN Press Release)

June 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 29, 2015

Asian Society of International Law Conference

Here's a reminder that the 5th Biennial Conference of the Asian Society of International Law 2015 will be held at the Plaza Athénée Bangkok, A Royal Méridien Hotel, in November 2015. <a href="http://asiansil.org/conference/5thBiennial2015/">Click here for more information about the conference.</a> The website includes the call for papers to be presented at the conference.

(mew)

May 29, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 22, 2015

More than 200 Attendees from 25 Countries at the 10th Global Legal Skills Conference in Chicago

The 10th Global Legal Skills Conference attracted more than 200 participants from 25 countries, the largest GLS Conference to date. The conference was held at The John Marshall Law School (where the conference originated) and Northwestern University School of Law. The conference was also co-sponsored this year by the Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey (Mexico), which previously hosted the conference on two occasions.

The conference included a Consular Reception and Award Ceremony, as well as a panel in Spanish to explain the writ of amparo and different business models for investing in Mexico. A Scholars' Forum sponsored by the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) was also held just before the GLS conference.

The sessions cover a wider range of topics relating to international legal education.

The next Global Legal Skills Conference will return to the University of Verona (Italy) on May 22-24, 2016.

(mew)

May 22, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

WTO Dispute Settlement News

WTOIn dispute resolution activity at the World Trade Organization (WTO) this week, both China and Japan filed appeals of panel reports regarding anti-dumping duties on certain steel tubes.  The two cases are: “China – Measures Imposing Anti-Dumping Duties on High Performance Stainless Steel Seamless Tubes from the European Union” (DS460) and “China – Measures Imposing Anti-Dumping Duties on High Performance Stainless Steel Seamless Tubes from Japan” (DS454).

In addition, Japan initiated a new dispute resolution proceeding against Korea with respect to certain import restrictions when it notified the WTO Secretariat on 21 May 2015 that it has requested consultations with Korea regarding its import bans and additional testing and certification requirements that affect the importation of food products from Japan. This matter has been assigned case no. DS495.

(cgb)

May 22, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)