Sunday, March 22, 2020
Editors' Note: This post is contributed by Tamar Ezer, Associate Director of the University of Miami Law School's Human Rights Clinic and her student David Stuzin.
Last September, the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Miami (UM) School of Law hosted a symposium on challenging petty offenses that criminalize poverty, marginalization, and gender non-conformity, in collaboration with UM Law Review, UM Social Justice Law Review, UM School of Communication, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, and Open Society Foundations’ Human Rights Initiative. The symposium brought in leading legal practitioners, academics, and advocates from United States, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Malawi, Madagascar, Kenya, Jamaica, Israel, India, Hungary, Guyana, Guinea, and Ghana to critically examine the intersection of petty offenses and marginalization through a variety of perspectives. It provided an opportunity to connect local, national, and global conversations on criminal law and social justice and for learning across movements and countries. Speakers discussed a range of topics including the use of litigation; human rights advocacy at the local, national, regional, and international levels; and strategies for creative campaigning and new media engagement.
Moreover, a communications workshop prior to the symposium provided an opportunity for advocates to strengthen communication strategies and creative campaigning to complement legal advocacy. At the workshop, advocates developed a shared hashtag for work in this area: #PoorNotGuilty.
Additionally, a special issue of the UM Law Review will capture lessons and reflections from the symposium. The first article on “Litigating to Protect the Rights of Poor and Marginalized Groups in Urban Spaces” is now available.