Tuesday, May 30, 2023

U.S. Anti-Black Immigration Policies are The Afterlife of Slavery

By: Gabrielle Thomas1 and Denisse Córdova Montes

Gabby (2) R.-Denisse-Cordova_headshotIn 1808, the U.S. abolished the transatlantic slave trade, but today, the semiotics of the slave ship continues through forced movements and separations of migrants and refugees. Slave codes sustained through immigration laws and policies of both political parties endlessly reignite the generational trauma of forced removal. At a thematic hearing at the 186th Period of Sessions of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR), the Human Rights Clinic at University of Miami School of Law (HRC), alongside Haitian Bridge Alliance (HBA), RFK Human Rights (RFK), and University of Pennsylvania Transnational Legal Clinic (UPenn TLC), provided testimony of systemic racism committed by ICE officials against Haitian immigrants. At the hearing, we argued that the U.S. government’s treatment of Black migrants is discriminatory and in violation of the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The U.S. government responded with an evasive claim of racially equitable practices within their immigration system.

Black Immigrants Face a Double Jeopardy of Being Both Black and Immigrants

The U.S. government’s lack of transparency about its racist practices, despite public and frequent documentation of the disproportionate negative treatment of Black immigrants, remains of the upmost concern.  Black immigrants face a double jeopardy of being both Black and immigrant. They are stopped, questioned, arrested, and deported at disproportionate and higher rates. Black persons, more generally, are five times more likely to be stopped without cause than a white person. The racism of the militarized criminal justice system spills over into their immigration system creating a prison-to-deportation pipeline. In our hearing with the IACHR, Daniel Tse of HBA and RFK highlighted that, “though [Black migrants] are less than 6% of the undocumented population, they make up more than 20% of the immigrant population facing detention and deportation on criminal grounds.” Furthermore, “76% of [Black migrants] are deported because of contact with the police and the criminal legal system.”

Haitian Immigrants Face Heightened Discrimination in the Immigration System and are Deported to Conditions Tantamount to Torture

Haitian migrants, in particular, face heightened police harassment, heightened state monitoring, heightened unjust immigration enforcement, and harsher prosecution. Once arrested and put into ICE custody, Haitian migrants must pay higher bonds for release than other migrants in detention. These migrants also serve longer sentences in ICE custody and face a heightened risk of deportation. For black migrants, speaking out results in retaliatory violence from ICE officers and retaliatory transfers to distant facilities and unfamiliar lands.

Recently, our clinic documented conditions tantamount to torture in Haitian prisons, where recently deported individuals were detained upon arrival in Haiti. Once deported to Haiti, migrants were detained indefinitely, inflicted with severe pain and suffering, and faced heightened persecution, extortion, and harassment for being and sounding “American”. Many of these Haitians know no other home than America where their family reside. James – a man previously deported to Haiti – faced crippling discrimination as a “deep” – slang for deported individual – and encountered violations of his rights to work, health, family, food, and security while encountering gang kidnapping and brutality. Despite the horrors James faced, when questioned about the conditions he endured after deportation, James expressed his need to simply see his children. Before the U.S. deported James, he provided for his two daughters and remained a devoted father. He stressed that one of his daughters turns sixteen this year, but “they took [my] kids away,” and he is down in Haiti struggling

The U.S. Has a Long History of Anti-Black U.S. Immigration Policies

Forced movement and separation of Black migrants did not start with Trump era politics nor did they cease with the emancipation proclamation. The practice of ruthlessly ejecting Black persons from the U.S. started before the Civil War. Since the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1807, the U.S. has implemented anti-black immigration policies to prevent the unfavorable freed Black persons from coming into this country. The liberation of Haitians from French occupation nearly two thousand miles away, fueled Thomas Jefferson to pass a bill in 1803, prohibiting any “Negro and mulatto” migrants. During this total ban on Black migrants in the country, in the 1857 Dred Scott Dred Scott v. Sanford case, Mr. Scott and Mrs. Scott argued that after their perilous journey from chattel slavery to safety, they have a right to stay free and citizens. This 11-year struggle reaffirmed 1803 race-based restrictions on migration ending with the Supreme Court ruling that Mr. and Mrs. Scott, were not citizens and as, “a negro, whose ancestors were imported into [the U.S.], and sold as slaves, whether enslaved or free, could not be an American citizen and therefore did not have standing to sue in federal court.”

Forced Movement and Separation of Black Families Should Come to an End

The widespread emancipation of Black peoples throughout the Americas in the late nineteenth century further ignited racist and xenophobic sentiments. The Calvin Coolidge Administration implemented the Immigration Act of 1924 which turned away Black migrants with a nationality-based quota system that favored European countries. The U.S. executive branch continued to implement excessive anti-Black immigration policies under the Carter, Reagan, H.W. Bush, and Clinton administrations.

Today, the disproportionate treatment of Haitian migrants continues. Like the Immigration Act of 1924 with nationality-based quota system that preferred European countries, the Biden administration expelled nearly 20,000 Haitians the same year he extended protections to as many as 180,000 Ukrainian migrants. In 2021, confirming that U.S. border policies still operate to create a racial double-standard, the U.S. government decided to exempt Ukrainians from the Title 42 Policy that led to Homeland Security riding on horses into crowds of Haitian refugees with whips on December 6, 2021 exhibiting  modern-day “Slave Patrol”.

The afterlife of the slave ship lives in policies that dehumanize Black migrants by disproportionately persecuting them and knowingly sending them to their torture and death.  Newly obtained documents revealed that high-ranking ICE officials directly involved in the mass deportation of Black migrants felt disdain for Africa, disregard for Black migrants, and hostility towards immigrant rights activists. Who gets to be human in crisis?  All migrants have a right to be treated with dignity. The disproportionate treatment of Black migrants and Haitians must come to an end and the U.S. should stop deportations to Haiti.

1Gabrielle Thomas is a rising 3L student at the University of Miami School of Law. She served as a Human Rights Clinic law intern as a 2L.

May 30, 2023 in Discrimination, IACHR, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Event 5/30-6/2: Second Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on People of African Descent

From May 30 – June 2, 2023, the second session of the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent will be held at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

The session will open on Tuesday May 30, 2023 at 10 a.m. ET with a cultural performance, followed by a high-level segment, and a general debate. The thematic discussions will start on Tuesday afternoon and continue until Thursday afternoon, focusing on human rights concerns of people of African descent on issues, respectively: reparatory justice, Pan-Africanism, transnational migration, structural racism and data, health, well-being, and intergenerational trauma.

On Friday, the members of the Permanent Forum will present the preliminary conclusions and recommendations of the session. The session will close on Friday afternoon with a cultural performance.

Discussions on these thematic issues are aimed at contributing to the process of elaborating a UN Declaration on the promotion, protection, and full respect of the human rights of people of African descent. Dozens of side events are also expected to take place in person or virtually to expand the discussions beyond the plenary session.

The event is open to the public and can also be viewed via livestream here.

May 28, 2023 in Global Human Rights, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 26, 2023

IACHR Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights to Meet with Indigenous Tribes

This week, May 22-26, 2023, the IACHR Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights (REDESCA) is visiting and meeting with three Indigenous tribes from Alaska and leaders from four Indigenous communities in Louisiana for site visits and in-depth discussions about the impacts of the climate crisis on the social, economic, environmental, and cultural experiences of the Tribes. During these visits, the legal justice coalition involved will be spotlighting the human rights impacts of the climate crisis on Indigenous culture and livelihoods, the forced displacement of their communities and the role of the US government in addressing these issues. 

This meeting is the result of an October 2022 IACHR hearing, where five tribes—four from Louisiana, one from Alaska—participated in a hearing about threats to tribal sovereignty and determination posed by climate change. As a result of the tribes’ testimonies, REDESCA asked the State Department for an in-loco visit to the United States to visit the tribes and understand how the climate crisis is impacting not only community infrastructure, but also how tribes have experienced economic, cultural, and social discrimination when trying to address climate change impacts. During the tour, members of the tribes will not only show the stark impacts of climate change and its effects on land, bodies of water, homes, and infrastructure, but will also discuss the institutional and systemic racism of both the U.S., Alaska, and Louisiana governments in providing inadequate resources for repair and recovery in the face of massive storms, catastrophic land collapse, soil erosion, rising waters, thawing permafrost, and decreasing arctic sea ice, among other impacts. REDESCA’s visit will provide a tool for the Tribe’s ongoing organizing and advocacy in ensuring that the State and Federal governments meet their obligations in protecting and upholding the rights of the Tribes.  

You can read more about the IACHR hearing here: https://www.uusc.org/tribes-leadership-brings-climate-crisis-to-international-forum/

May 26, 2023 in IACHR, Indigenous People | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Event 5/25: Launch of the National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence: Strategies for Action

On Thursday, May 25, 2023, from 11 A.M. to 1:15 P.M. ET, the White House Gender Policy Council will release the National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence: Strategies for Action. This first-ever National Plan advances an unprecedented and comprehensive approach to preventing and addressing sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking, and other forms of gender-based violence (referred to collectively as GBV). 

The White House Gender Policy Council will be hosting a launch event that will include two roundtable discussions. During the first roundtable, leaders from key federal agencies will highlight the role of their agencies in strengthening ongoing federal action and interagency collaboration to advance the goals of the National Plan through a whole-of-government approach. During the second roundtable, survivors, advocates, and other leaders from civil society, including community-based organizations and private sector organizations, will discuss the importance of mobilizing a whole of society approach to prevent and address GBV.

The event will be livestreamed. Register here.

May 23, 2023 in Gender Violence | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 8, 2023

UN Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice in the Context of Law Enforcement ends visit to U.S.

The UN Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in the Context of Law Enforcement ended a 12-day visit to the United States of America on May 5, 2023, calling on the U.S. Government to boost efforts to promote accountability for past and future violations.

During the visit (April 24 to May 5, 2023), the Mechanism visited Washington DC, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis and New York City and met with representatives of civil society and victims, as well as federal, State and local officials including from law enforcement, city administrations, judicial actors, police unions and affinity groups. 

In it's press release dated May 5, 2023, the Mechanism stated that it was

pleased to learn about various promising initiatives, including at the State level, that authorities have developed to combat racial discrimination affecting people of African descent. However, the Mechanism feels an urgency, and a moral responsibility, to echo the harrowing pain of victims and their resounding calls for accountability and support, which it heard throughout its journey.  

"We saw some promising initiatives centering the voices of victims and survivors, as well as law enforcement initiatives that could be replicated throughout the United States. We welcome the reparatory measures taken so far, including executive orders signed in 2021 and 2022, as well as individual reparation initiatives by way of civilian settlement for damages,” said Tracie Keesee, an expert member of the Mechanism. “But we strongly believe that more robust action, including on part of federal authorities, is needed to result in strong accountability measures for past and future violations.”

 “This includes boosting oversight mechanisms with compelling power; the allocation of appropriate resources; and the provision of robust and holistic reparation, support and rehabilitation to victims, including access to justice and health, including mental health services,” Keesee said.

 For more, visit https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2023/05/usa-whole-government-leadership-needed-address-legacy-slavery-and-redefine

The Mechanism has shared its preliminary findings with the government and will draft a full report to be published in the coming months and presented to the Human Rights Council at its 54th session (September-October 2023).


May 8, 2023 in Criminal Justice, Police, Race, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Event 5/18-21: Human Rights Cities Leadership Summit

The Human Rights Cities Leadership Summit will take place in downtown Atlanta Georgia from May 18-21, 2023. Following the city’s recent passage of a resolution naming Atlanta the newest U.S. Human Rights City, Atlanta civil society and partners, along with supportive City Council members invite community activists, policy practitioners, legal experts, youth, and municipal leaders to come together to share ideas, lessons, and tools for promoting human rights in cities and communities. Now more than ever, cities need innovative ideas and strategies to address problems of affordable housing, community safety, climate change, racial and gender inequities, and reparatory justice. Learn how cities around the world are using international human rights law and institutions to shape local policies, with powerful impacts at the local level. Plenaries and breakout sessions will provide opportunities to learn, exchange and network. (Register at bit.ly/atlsummit23).

Featured plenary speakers include: Leilani Farha, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing and Global Director, The Shift/Right to Housing & Justin Hansford, Member of the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, Professor of Law and Executive Director of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard University

*Preliminary Schedule

*Breakout Session Topics

Co-hosts: The Human Rights Cities Alliance, Southern Center for Human Rights, Southern Poverty Law Center, Organization for Human Rights and Democracy, American Friends Service Committee-South Region, in cooperation with Atlanta civil society and supportive members of Atlanta City Council; Ronald J. Freeman Chapter of the Black Law Students Association at Georgia State University College of Law

April 25, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 6, 2023

New Article: Afghan Allies in Limbo: The U.S. Immigration Response

Lindsay M. Harris, Afghan Allies in Limbo: The U.S. Immigration Response, Howard Law Journal, Vol. 66, No. 3, (2023). Abstract below.

After the fall of Kabul in August 2021, the U.S. government airlifted an estimated 120,000 people to safety from Afghanistan. An airlift of this scale was unprecedented, but also woefully inadequate as a solution to the Afghan humanitarian crisis. This article analyzes the U.S. immigration response to the Afghan humanitarian crisis following the Taliban takeover.

While the U.S. granted humanitarian parole for two years to approximately 76,000 individuals permitting them to enter the United States, along with creating a new category of priority for refugee processing for Afghans, the government and Congress to date have failed to follow through on logical and stable pathways to permanent immigration status for our Afghan allies.

The U.S. has failed the Afghans airlifted to the United States by failing to pass an Afghan Adjustment Act and forcing Afghans through the dysfunctional and delayed Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) process or the backlogged and re-traumatizing asylum system. Similarly, the government’s handling of the estimated 66,000 humanitarian parole applications filed on behalf of Afghans still trapped in Afghanistan or in the region has been nothing short of abysmal. Approval rates plummeted after the end of August 2021 and the U.S. government took in over $25 million in fees for applications that have since languished for now close to a year.

In contrast, the U.S. created an innovative and expeditious process for the reception of Ukrainian refugees – eliminating hurdles and barriers still in place for Afghans and facilitating the admission of over 150,000 Ukrainians into the United States. Months later, the U.S. created a special process for humanitarian parole for Venezuelans, and then later Cubans, Nicaraguans, and Haitians. This article situates the disparate treatment of Afghans and Ukrainians as one of the latest episodes in the long history of racism in the creation, execution, and implementation of immigration policy in the United States. The stark contrast in treatment for Ukrainians and Afghans underscores the need for an end to biased decision-making and to truly welcome those fleeing violence and conflict with a principled and impartial immigration system, grounded in humanitarian principles.

April 6, 2023 in Books and articles, Refugees | Permalink | Comments (0)


Picture1By Prof. Margaret Drew

Hope came in the form of a Wisconsin election. “Liberal” candidate Janet Protasiewicz won a seat on the Supreme Court, defeating “conservative” Daniel Kelly. This election determined the balance of the court. Crucial human rights issues will come before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, including abortion rights, voting rights, and gerrymandering. After a year of consistent defeats for the rights of women, people of color, and the poor, progressives hope for Supreme Court decisions that recognize the fundamental human rights of the litigants coming before them.

I am not a fan of labels. One cannot always predict how a labeled individual will behave. I prefer to know whether an individual appreciates and understands fundamental human rights. In this instance, those celebrating this victory do so with the hope that basic human rights will be the overriding principle of the court’s agenda.

We have passed through concerning times. Hope has not always been a close companion during this time, but a necessary one. For me, this election is a sign of hope. How nice that it arrived in early spring, along with the flowers and the birds. Here we have it!

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -

That perches in the soul -

And sings the tune without the words -

And never stops - at all

            E. Dickenson


April 6, 2023 in Margaret Drew, Voting | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

IACHR Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression Visits SF Bay Area

On March 2 and 3, 2023, the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights visited internet companies and organizations based in the San Francisco Bay Area, to discuss and gather information regarding their policies and practices on human rights and technology. The visit was led by the Special Rapporteur, Pedro Vaca Villarreal, together with representatives of the States of Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Peru, and Uruguay.

The delegation visited the headquarters of organizations and social media platforms that play a relevant role on today’s public debate online, including Twitter, Meta, Google, Internet Archive, Wikimedia, Creative Commons, and TikTok. During the visits, the Special Rapporteur underlined the need to expand the democratic culture and mechanisms for the protection of human rights online, explaining some of the main obstacles and even setbacks observed around freedom of expression on the Internet. Discussions delved into the challenges posed by the use of artificial intelligence for social media content and of content moderation systems, which could put freedoms at risk, and exacerbate pre-existing social tensions and power disparities of the different actors involved in Internet governance.

The Special Rapporteur called on platforms to align practices in accordance with human rights guidelines and for both companies and public authorities to observe Inter-American standards on freedom of expression when adopting decisions that impact the circulation of online content, including during electoral contexts.  The Special Rapporteur also underscored the challenges of digital literacy and inclusion in the hemisphere, especially for the most vulnerable populations, such as those living in rural or remote areas, indigenous peoples, women, LGBTQIA+, racialized people, and people in socioeconomic vulnerability. He highlighted the need to promote the participation, diversity, and openness in the deliberations of public interest and to overcome the barriers that may affect the possibility of connecting to networks, devices, and applications, or that have an impact in accessing information and consuming online content in a critical and informed manner.   

More on the visit is available on the OAS website here.

April 4, 2023 in IACHR | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Event 4/6: AJIL Speaks: Race and International Law

On April 6, 2023, at 12:00pm EST, join the American Journal of International Law (AJIL) for a webinar on race and international law.

International law has historically perpetuated racist practices by providing the legal architecture for slavery and the slave trade; colonialism; the theft of art or other objects; the relegation of many people of color to the economic, cultural, and social periphery; and in other ways. Many of these structures have formally been abolished and much progress has been made. But the legacy of racism in international law continues. This legacy might, for example, be seen in the marginalization of Africa in the international legal system, the relative lack of attention to race in international human rights and economic law discourses, and in the frames for addressing climate change. In this webinar, panelists will discuss race and international law in a historical and contemporary perspective, while looking forward to consider the changes that might be made. They will focus, among other topics, the representation of historically disenfranchised groups in international law and the prospects for reparations for past and ongoing harms.

The distinguished panelists will be Antony Anghie of the University of Utah College of Law, Aslı Ü. Bâli of Yale Law School, and Olúfẹmi O. Táíwò of Georgetown University’s African Studies Program. The program will be moderated by Monica Hakimi, AJIL Co-Editor-in-Chief, of Columbia Law School.

Register for the program here.

April 2, 2023 in Events, Global Human Rights, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 31, 2023

April - May 2023 Deadlines: Calls for Inputs by UN Human Rights Mechanisms

The following calls for inputs have been issued by UN Human Rights Mechanisms with deadlines in April – May 2023 and law professors whose practice, research, and/or scholarship touches on these topics may be interested in submission:

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Call for inputs for the preparation of the 2023 report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 47/21 on systemic racism and violations of international human rights law against Africans and people of African descent by law enforcement agencies. Deadline April 3, 2023. Read more.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Call for inputs for a police brief on universal health coverage that will provide guidance on implementation of universal health coverage that is consistent with legally binding human rights norms, including the right to health and the principles of equality and non-discrimination. Deadline April 3, 2023. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities – Call for inputs on thematic report on Rebuilding Inclusive Societies in Post-Conflict Situations and the active involvement of Persons with Disabilities. Deadline April 5, 2023. Read more.

Special Procedures – Call for inputs on the development of practical tools to assist law enforcement bodies in promoting and protecting human rights in the context of peaceful protests. Deadline April 7, 2023. Read more.

Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent – Call for written submissions on the economic empowerment of people of African descent. Deadline April 9, 2023. Read more.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Call for inputs for report for UN General Assembly resolution 77/205 “A global call for concrete action for the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.” Deadline April 10, 2023. Read more.

Subcommittee on prevention of torture – Call for comments on draft general comment 1 on places of deprivation of liberty (article 4) of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture. Deadline April 14, 2023. Read more.

Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights – Call for inputs to a report on cultural rights and the governance of development. Deadline April 14, 2023. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and its consequences – Call for input on the use of technology in facilitating and preventing contemporary forms of slavery. Deadline April 14, 2023. Read more.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Call for inputs: implementation of Resolution A/RES/76/162 on human rights and cultural diversity. Deadline April 15, 2023. Read more.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Call for inputs on intimidation and reprisals for the annual report of the Secretary-General. Deadline April 15, 2023. Read more.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Call for inputs for the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the programme of activities of the International Decade for People of African Descent. Deadline April 15, 2023. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation – Call for inputs for thematic report on fulfilling the human rights of those living in poverty and restoring the health of aquatic ecosystems: two converging challenges. Deadline April 20, 2023. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples – Call for inputs on green financing and a just transition to protect Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Deadline April 21, 2023. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context – Call for inputs on housing affordability. Deadline April 30, 2023. Read more.

Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons – Call for inputs for a report on older persons in the context of climate change-induced disasters and building back better. Deadline May 1, 2023. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment – Call for inputs on the procedural or participatory elements of the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, including access to information, public participation and access to justice with effective remedies. The Special Rapporteur is also seeking inputs on the rights to environmental education, freedom of expression and association, and safe spaces for environmental human rights defenders. Deadline May 1, 2023. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers – Call for inputs on the promise of legal empowerment to expand and transform access to justice. Deadline May 5, 2023. Read more.

International Independent Expert Mechanism to advance racial justice and equality in law enforcement – Call for inputs on reimagining policing. Deadline May 12, 2023. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance – Call for inputs on combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Deadline May 26, 2023. Read more.

This information was compiled from https://www.ohchr.org/en/calls-for-input-listing.

March 31, 2023 in United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Event 4/3: Panel on Human Rights and Legal Empowerment

Join the Duke Law Center for International and Comparative Law and the International Human Rights Clinic on April 3, 2023, at 12:30pm EST, for a program discussing human rights and legal empowerment. This event is co-sponsored by the American Constitution Society, Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute, Human Rights Law Society, International Law Society, and National Lawyers Guild.

The distinguished speaker will be Meg Satterthwaite, Professor of Clinical Law; Faculty Director, Center for Human Rights and Global Justice; Director, Global Justice Clinic; Faculty Director, Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights at NYU Law & UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers. The program will be moderated by Jayne Huckerby, Clinical Professor of Law and Director, International Human Rights Clinic, Duke Law.

There will be a livestream of this event available here. There is more information about this event available here.

March 29, 2023 in Events, Global Human Rights, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 27, 2023

IACHR Concludes 186th Period of Sessions

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) concluded its 186th Period of Sessions, which took place in a hybrid format between March 6 and 17, 2023, at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in the United States.

During the Period of Sessions, the IACHR elected its 2023 Board of Directors, which is made up of the President, Commissioner Margarette May Macaulay (Jamaica); the First Vice-President, Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño (Panama), and the Second Vice-President, Commissioner Roberta Clarke (Barbados). This is the second time in its history that the IACHR has had an all-female board of directors and the first in which all three women are from the Caribbean and Central America.

During the first week of the 186th Period of Sessions, 18 in-person public hearings were held at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Among the issues addressed were: women and girls; sexual and reproductive rights; indigenous peoples; forensic search; free movement; human mobility; LGBTI rights; arbitrary deprivation of nationality; fiscal policies and economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights; threats to the independence of the judiciary; the protection of journalists and defenders; and the right to information of victims of forced disappearance.

In addition, more than 70 representatives of civil society organizations took part in the meeting on human rights in the United States. On this occasion, the IACHR held a dialogue and received information on the subject from various participants.

The IACHR has made available an annex containing summaries of the public hearings held during this Period of Sessions. Videos of the hearings and photos are available on the IACHR's YouTube and Flickr feeds.

March 27, 2023 in IACHR | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 23, 2023

New Edition of Human Rights Advocacy in the United States

9798887863375_1There is a new edition of Human Rights Advocacy in the United States available from West Academic Publishing. The Third Edition (2023) of Martha F. Davis, Johanna Kalb, Risa E. Kaufman and Rachel Lopez's wonderful textbook is now available.

From the editors:

This pedagogically innovative book is the only law school casebook focused on human rights advocacy in the United States. It illuminates a range of both emerging challenges and persistent theoretical and doctrinal issues while equipping students to thoughtfully engage human rights law and strategies in their own practice of law. Readings and case studies expose students to the history, tactics, and critiques of the U.S. human rights movement as well as the legal and practical challenges of human rights implementation in the United States. Skills exercises introduce practice-oriented approaches to integrating human rights in U.S. based advocacy, including through engagement with international treaty bodies, regional mechanisms, U.S. courts, and policymakers. Additionally, the appendices provide the text of relevant human rights treaties.

Appropriate for both introductory and advanced seminars, as well as clinical and other experiential offerings, the materials engage students on a remarkable range of human rights issues, including climate change, reproductive justice, immigration, the rights of Indigenous peoples, racially discriminatory policing, and the human right to housing. Chapters also explore fundamental issues of federalism, sovereignty, judicial review, and legal ethics.

March 23, 2023 in Books and articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

New Article: Moral Imperative—Legal Requirement: Why Law Schools Should Require Poverty Law and International Human Rights

Eric J. Boos, Moral Imperative - Legal Requirement: Why Law Schools Should Require Poverty Law and International Human Rights, 19 U. St. Thomas L.J. 63 (2023). Abstract below.

This paper argues that the growing undercurrent of discontent in this nation, which has manifested in increasing levels of civil unrest, violence, crime, mass shootings, and political chaos, is symptomatic of the ever-increasing disparity in wealth that political philosophers, sociologists, economists such as Alan Greenspan, and politicians such as Bernie Sanders, have warned against. This paper further argues that this disparity is, in large measure, facilitated by the legal establishment. Lawyers are at the heart of the global financial crisis, the restructuring of the criminal justice system as a “for-profit” enterprise, the 900+ police shootings since 2014, the $2 billion of property confiscated under civil forfeiture rules, the mass incarceration policies, the recent environmental scandals, the protection of monopolies in agribusiness, pharmaceuticals, and telecommunications, the dysfunctional system of immigration and deportation, and the deplorable and racially biased legal processes for capital crimes and the death penalty. Unfortunately, the response to the increasing levels of discontent has been a predictable increase in policing tactics, legalistic controls, political fearmongering, social vitriol, and intolerance against targeted populations. Society is ripping apart at the seams, and the response has been a fascist-like clampdown—a trajectory first predicted by Mortimer Adler in 1938. Citing the deplorable state of higher education, Adler averred that America would become the next great fascist state in the World. This paper applies Adler’s critique of higher education to America’s law schools and argues that what is needed to change the trajectory is a different approach to legal education. The justification for a restructuring of American legal education is rooted in the fact that lawyers have a special obligation under the Constitution of the United States to achieve justice and to vitiate the tendency of economic and social stratification that occurs in society. The restructuring would ideally include a comprehensive overhaul of the curriculum so that each course addresses the issue of justice (in the Platonic sense and in the sense our Founders used it), but at a minimum it should require courses in Poverty Law (because of our deplorable track record in that area) and International Human Rights (because we live in a global society and justice is a universal goal).

March 21, 2023 in Books and articles, Education, Global Human Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 10, 2023

Event 3/16: Decolonizing Refugee Law

On Thursday March 16, 2023, from 3:00 – 4:30 PM EST, Cornell Law School, Global Strategic Litigation Council for Refugee Rights, and the Refugee Solidarity Network, will present a virtual panel on Decolonizing Refugee law. Register here.

The legal protection of the rights of refugees and other migrants is inscribed within imperial and colonial legacies. This virtual event will consider decolonial practices and the protection of refugees with a focus on positive practices for refugee protection in South and Southeast Asia. Speakers will reflect on the challenges and opportunities for realizing human rights posed by colonial-era laws and legal work in countries which are neither parties to the 1951 Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees nor its 1967 Protocol. The event will open with framing remarks by Professor E. Tendayi Achiume, reflecting on these themes as well as decolonization itself as a frame for critique. The event will then proceed as a discussion of examples of legal advocacy work promoting refugee rights under contemporary applications of colonial-era laws, such as the Foreigners Act (1946) in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, and open to a broader discussion of practical strategies for litigation and other legal advocacy in the context of such legacy legal frameworks.


  • Tendayi Achiume, Alice Miñana Professsor of Law, UCLA Law and former UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
  • Roshni Shanker, Executive Director, Migration & Asylum Project
  • Umer Gilani, Advocate and Partner, The Law and Policy Chambers
  • Zaid Hydari (co-facilitator), Executive Director, Refugee Solidarity Network
  • Ian M. Kysel (co-facilitator), Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, Cornell Law School

Please note: additional speakers may be confirmed in due course.

March 10, 2023 in Global Human Rights, Race, Refugees | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Long COVID, Assisted Suicide, and Capitalism: What’s a Society to Do?

AnezkaBy Anezka Krobot, 2L at St. Louis University School of Law

The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating to billions around the world who have lost opportunities, loved ones, and even their lives to the disease. COVID has also created a new phenomenon that is difficult to predict for the long-term–long COVID. Long COVID, also known as post-COVID conditions, is a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems that people experience after being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. The most common symptoms are neurological, namely chronic fatigue (similar to the experience of people diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome) as well as seemingly permanent loss of taste and smell. There are also heart and respiratory symptoms associated with long COVID. All these symptoms can result in someone having difficulty returning to work even after testing negative for COVID for quite some time. Some people with long COVID even have to quit their jobs and apply for disability.

This is the situation for a Canadian woman who recently made headlines for applying for Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying program (MAiD) citing long COVID as her reason. Tracey Thompson, a former professional chef in her 50s, has been rendered completely unable to work by her symptoms, and sees no other option than medically assisted death. After more than two years of lost income,, no foreseeable ability to work and an absence of support, Thompson said she expects to run out of money very soon. She said she was applying for the program exclusively for  “financial consideration,” and that her only option is to “die slowly and painfully, or quickly.”

MAiD expanded its criteria in March 2022 to include people with disabilities or those suffering from pain even if they are not close to death and will begin accepting applicants citing mental health disorders as their rationale, further broadening the already broad criteria. United Nations experts pushed back on the original expansion in January 2021, arguing that extending assisted dying to people with non-terminal conditions contravenes Article 10 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  “It is not beyond possibility that, if offered an expanded right as per Bill C-7, persons with disabilities may decide to end their lives because of broader social factors such as loneliness, social isolation, and lack of access to quality social services,” reads the letter sent by the United Nations experts to the government of Canada prior to the expansion.

Not only has Canada broadened its criteria for MAiD, but it has started to become more proactive in offering it to potential candidates. Disabled veteran and Paralympian Christine Gauthier, 52, testified before a Canadian veterans affairs committee that while she was attempting to gain government assistance in having a chair lift installed in her home that she received a letter from a veterans' affairs employee saying, “If you’re so desperate, madam, we can offer you MAiD, medical assistance in dying.” The Veterans Minister indicated that there had been five similar reports but was quick to assure the committee that a single employee was the culprit, and that individual was now suspended. Still, this begs the question: what kind of culture has been created around MAiD that an employee felt comfortable offering assisted suicide to a person asking for mobility assistance? A wheelchair lift is a permanent addition to someone’s house and someone who wants to die would not invest that kind of time, effort, and money into acquiring such a permanent fixture.

The U.S. is more conservative than Canada in terms of medically assisted death – it is legal only in a few states (California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) and the District of Columbia, and is permitted only under extremely strict parameters. If Canada approves Thompson’s request, though, this may galvanize people in the U.S. suffering with long COVID or chronic mental illness to do the same here, seeing no way out. The economic effects of long COVID may even be exacerbated by living in the U.S., particularly given the difference in the healthcare system between the U.S. and Canada. The combined burdens of losing healthcare coverage along with one’s job, stacking medical bills, difficulty in acquiring disability pensions, and skyrocketing housing costs may result in now-disabled COVID victims feeling as though they have no other choice. Also, the isolation that accompanies COVID may be contributing to suicidal ideation in long COVID victims, which should not be overlooked. The issue of long COVID has already been used in debate over an assisted suicide bill in Connecticut in 2021, with proponents arguing that assisted suicide is preferable to the isolated deaths that many who died of COVID experienced. Though that bill did not pass at the time, a revised version has made it out of the Connecticut legislature’s Public Health Committee and to the public hearing stage as of March 2023.

The UN Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights states: “Persons living in poverty must be recognized and treated as free and autonomous agents. All policies relevant to poverty must be aimed at empowering persons living in poverty. They must be based on the recognition of those persons’ right to make their own decisions and respect their capacity to fulfill their own potential, their sense of dignity, and their right to participate in decisions affecting their lives.” The expansion of medically assisted death in Canada only pits impoverished people’s pain and suffering with economic needs, while giving them no support or methods by which their lives might improve. It is ableist, classist, and reminiscent of eugenics policies (especially if government officials continue to offer it unprovoked to disabled citizens merely seeking assistance) and should not become the model for medically assisted death going forward. Instead, governments should provide further economic and social assistance to disabled citizens to ensure that they are not forced into poverty by their medical circumstances. If disabled individuals are fully empowered in this way, their quality of life may improve such that medically assisted suicide is no longer their only option, and they can live fulfilling, successful lives, as is every human being’s right. 

March 9, 2023 in Health, Poor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

New Article: Weathering the Storm: Establishing Internally Displaced People’s Right to Affordable Housing in the Wake of Natural Disasters

Raina Hasan, Weathering the Storm: Establishing Internally Displaced People’s Right to Affordable Housing in the Wake of Natural Disasters, 31 J. L. & Pol'y 177 (February 2023). Abstract below.

In 2020, natural disasters caused more internal displacement than war; floods, storms, and wildfires caused thirty million new displacements globally, and 1.7 million in the U.S. alone. The data and history suggest that masses of people will be displaced every year and will face housing insecurity without any formal acknowledgement of their unique plight or a guarantee that internally displaced persons (“IDPs”) will have protected rights. This Note proposes that, considering the worsening climate crisis leading to more frequent and severe natural disasters, the U.S. should codify the rights of internally displaced people as laid out in the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.

In order to actualize IDPs’ right to return and resettle, the U.S. should also establish IDPs’ right to affordable housing when natural disasters force people to leave behind their homes and communities. To effectively enforce such rights, the federal government should provide more affordable housing, invest in making the existing affordable housing stock and new affordable housing developments climate resilient, and collect accurate data on IDPs to provide adequate disaster relief, taking special care not to exacerbate gentrification and surveillance concerns. Codifying the rights of IDPs would go a long way in remedying larger systemic issues such as the racial wealth gap and rampant housing insecurity, ultimately furthering environmental justice.

March 7, 2023 in Books and articles, Environment, Homelessness | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 2, 2023

IACHR Announces Calendar of Hearings for 186th Period of Sessions

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has published the calendar of public hearings that will take place as part of the 183rd Period of Sessions, to be held in person from March 6–10, 2023, at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in the United States. During the period of sessions, several promotional events and 17 public hearings will be held, covering a range of human rights issues affecting people in movement, the LGBTI community, women, indigenous peoples, human rights defenders, and journalists in OAS member countries and the Americas as a whole. Of the 17 hearings, 3 will follow up on cases that have been brought before the IACHR and 1 concerns the implementation of precautionary measures that have been granted. An in-person meeting with civil society on the human rights situation in the United States will also be held on March 10, 2023 between 12:15 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. (PT) in Rooms C and D of the UCLA Meyer & Renee Luskin Conference Center, located at 425 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, California. The meeting will be held in a hybrid format, with in-person attendance and the possibility of connecting virtually for those organizations unable to attend in person. In both modalities it will be possible to access Spanish/English interpretation. The link to connect is as follows: https://cidh-org.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcvcOmspzMuEtTgbKeTuvzoKJyxBpmI8wiV.

The United States will be involved in the hearing on March 9, 2023, from 8:45-10:00AM PT, on the topic of the rights of Haitians in mobility in the United States. The participants will be the Transnational Legal Clinic University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, the International Human Rights Clinic and Immigration Clinic University of Miami School of Law, the Haitian Bridge Alliance, RFK Human Rights, Alternative Chance, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDJ), and the United States.

In accordance with Article 68 of the IACHR's Rules of Procedure, all hearings will be public and will be streamed live via the IACHR's official Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter accounts. The sessions are open to all people wishing to attend (without the need to sign up in advance), and attendance is only limited by the space available at the venue where the hearings are to be held.

March 2, 2023 in IACHR | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 27, 2023

Event 3/2: Webinar on The Courts, Climate Change, Migrant and Refugee Rights

On March 2, 2023, from 4:00PM to 5:30PM EST, join the American Society of International Law's  International Refugee Law Interest Group  (IRLIG), the Migration Law Interest Group (MILIG), and their co-sponsor, the Global Strategic Litigation Council for Refugee Rights (GSLC) for a webinar exploring the current state of international migration and refugee law and human rights applicable to those displaced by global climate change; how the law should evolve to meet the current mobility challenges; and practical avenues in international, regional, and national courts to facilitate the progressive development of the law for the protection of the rights of those moving in the context of climate change. The distinguished speakers will be Viviana Krsticevic, Jane McAdam AO, Matthew Scott, and the event will be moderated by Melissa Stewart.

The webinar is free and open to the public. Register for the event here.

February 27, 2023 in Refugees | Permalink | Comments (0)