Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Realizing the Rights to Food, Health, and Housing


CaptureBy Tamar Ezer, Acting Director & Denisse Córdova Montes, Acting Associate Director Human Rights Clinic of the University of Miami School of Law

Please find resources and a synopsis report from a National Strategy Meeting on Realizing the Rights to Food, Health, and Housing in the U.S., hosted by the University of Miami School of Law’s Human Rights Clinic and the Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights

The first half of the meeting consisted of short topical panels on the rights to food, health, and housing. Advocates from each of these fields shared strategies, lessons, achievements, and challenges and set the scene for the second half of the meeting, which focused on cross-cutting issues and opportunities for future collaboration. Potential joint initiatives identified included exchanging legal tools and models for transformation, shifting narratives from individual responsibility to structural causes and away from a scarcity mentality, disrupting our current system through direct action and political education, and challenging corporate power and the financialization of basic services. With regards to the last point on the privatization of basic services, the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights just released a compendium, collecting the statements of United Nations (UN) treaty bodies on private actors’ involvement in health care, as a tool for advocates.

The meeting concluded with a panel discussion on the documentary film, PUSH, which investigates the increasing unaffordability of housing in cities around the world. The film features Leilani Farha, the former UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing and Global Director of The Shift, launched with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and United Cities and Local Governments to secure the right to adequate housing.

The Strategy Meeting has already inspired some action. Advocates in West Virginia and Washington, excited by efforts in Maine to enshrine the right to food in the state constitution, introduced their own right to food legislative efforts. To find out more about this growing movement, please see a recent article by Michael Fakhri, current UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food.

June 30, 2021 in Advocacy, Global Human Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

New Article: Zero-Tolerance: The Trump Administration's Human Rights Violations Against Migrants on the Southern Border

Jeffrey R. Baker and Allyson McKinney Timm, Zero-Tolerance: The Trump Administration's Human Rights Violations Against Migrants on the Southern Border, 13 Drexel Law Review 581 (2021). Abstract below.

In 2017, the Trump Administration imposed its policy of zero-tolerance immigration enforcement on the southern border. This policy resulted in the forcible separation of families and the prolonged detention of children in harsh conditions, without due process or adequate resources. The Trump Administration unleashed these policies to deter people from immigrating and seeking asylum, consistent with President Trump’s racist rhetoric and campaign promises. This article analyzes and critiques these policies based on international human rights law, noting the resonance human rights norms find among diverse religious traditions.

The article begins with detailed analysis of the Trump Administration’s policies that divided families and detained children in wretched conditions, in violation of U.S. law. It proceeds to evaluate and criticize these policies under treaties ratified by the U.S., conventions it has signed but not ratified, and established customary international law. In the name of border enforcement and immigration deterrence, the Trump Administration’s policies violated the fundamental human rights of migrants and people seeking asylum in the United States, including the right to family life, rights of the child, and rights to be free from ill-treatment and arbitrary detention. The abrupt and often permanent separation of families, the indefinite detention of children without proper care, and the failure of process in these policies are all stark violations of binding international human rights laws. These policies affront the moral conscience of multitudes, eliciting sustained protest from civil society and faith leaders.

The article concludes with a recognition that international institutions and legal mechanisms may not be adequate to compel the Trump Administration to respect international law, so political and electoral responses are vital to ensure that human rights remain at the heart of the American enterprise. It suggests the accord between religious, ethical perspectives and human rights principles is valuable to reinforcing popular support for these norms. As the world bears witness to these cruel abuses of human rights, Americans must decide whether and how to hold the government accountable for the inherent dignity of all people within the rule of law.

June 29, 2021 in Books and articles, Children, Immigrants, Migrants | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 28, 2021

Event: 7/23-7/25 Decriminalizing Neighborhoods Virtual Conference

From July 23-25, 2021, a multi-faceted virtual conference will be held to bring together advocates, community organizers, academics, practicing lawyers, community leaders, and others to discuss the policing and criminalization of neighborhoods.  The Conveners of the conference include =the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association, Pillars of the Community, Community Advocates for Just and Moral Governance (MoGo), The UC Irvine Law School Criminal Justice Clinic, and Detours Mentoring Group, Inc., San Diegans for Justice, and the Peace and Justice Law Center.

Scheduled presenters include:

  • Alex S. Vitale, Policing and Social Justice Project, Brooklyn College
  • Alex Scott, University of California, Riverside
  • Babe Howell, CUNY School of Law
  • Blinky Rodriguez, Communities in Schools
  • Dave Smith
  • David Brotherton, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
  • David Pyrooz, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Fareed Hayat, CUNY School of Law
  • Francisco Romero, CORE
  • Gaby Hernandez, Chicanxs Unidxs
  • James Nelson, Dignity and Power Now
  • James Spady, Soka University of America
  • Jose Valle, Silicon Valley De-Bug
  • Kevin “Twin” Orange, Advocates for Peace & Urban Unity
  • Kimberly Howard
  • Lex Stepling, Dignity and Power Now
  • Melvyn Hayward, Chicago CRED
  • Meredith Manchester Esq.
  • Michael Saavedra, Youth Justice Coalition
  • MK Kaishian, Brooklyn Defender Services
  • Nalya Rodriguez, University of California, Irvine
  • Robert Weide, Cal State Univ. Los Angeles
  • Sean Garcia-Leys, Peace and Justice Law Center
  • Skipp Townsend, 2nd Call
  • Taylonn Murphy Sr., Tashana Chicken Murphy Foundation
  • Tina Padilla, Breaking Through Barriers to Success
  • Urban Peace Institute

For more information and to register for this conference, visit https://decriminalizingneighborhoods.org/

The early bird conference pricing ends July 5th.

June 28, 2021 in Criminal Justice, Discrimination, Immigration, Incarcerated | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 27, 2021

New Article: Transnational Racial (In)Justice in Liberal Democratic Empire

E. Tendayi Achiume, Transnational Racial (In)Justice in Liberal Democratic Empire, 134 Harv. L. Rev. F. 378 (2021). Introduction excerpt below.

"On June 17, 2020, Philonise Floyd addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council, the United Nations’ paramount human rights body, demanding justice for the murder of his brother and the many other Black people who have been subject to the regime of racial extrajudicial killings endemic in the United States. His testimony was part of a remarkable “Urgent Debate” — an emergency special session of the Human Rights Council reserved for extreme human rights situations. We might think of this Urgent Debate as marking a pivotal global moment in the transnational racial justice uprising that coalesced under the banner “Black Lives Matter” during the northern hemisphere summer of 2020. This Urgent Debate was unprecedented for a number of reasons. It was the first triggered by a human rights situation in a, if not the, global hegemon of our time, the United States. It was also the first and only to date concerning a human rights crisis in a country widely considered a liberal democratic paragon, for which the global human rights receivership processes, implicitly associated with U.N. intervention, could not possibly be intended or appropriate, at least from the perspective of other liberal democratic countries and observers. And finally, it was the first and only explicitly framed as concerning systemic racial injustice and anti-Black racism in a First World nation-state."

 

 

June 27, 2021 in Books and articles, Discrimination, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The Role of Local Governments in Treaty Body Reporting

Mary-Hansel-photo-212x300By Mary Hansel, UC Irvine School of Law 

As this blog has highlighted, the U.S. recently submitted its country report to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). Notably, the report contains scattered references to county and city governments and their activities related to racial justice. The report mentions the role of these governments in addressing issues such as hate crimes, maternal mortality, environmental justice and police use of force—indeed, local governments are often on the front lines of such issues. Yet there is no meaningful assessment of their human rights records, nor any indication that they submitted information or analysis for the current reporting cycle. This absence is not surprising given that local governments in the U.S. have rarely engaged with treaty body reviews.

Several international and domestic sources, however, lend support for the idea that local governments should be active participants in these reviews. The texts of the core human rights treaties ratified by the U.S., including the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, make clear that each treaty’s obligations apply throughout all levels of government. In their Concluding Observations, treaty bodies have underscored the pervasive reach of these obligations; for example, CERD has emphasized that the U.S. “is bound to apply the Convention throughout its territory and to ensure its effective application at all levels, federal, state, and local.” Meanwhile, the so-called “federalism understanding,” which the U.S. has attached to treaties upon ratification, demonstrates Congress’ intent to carve out distinct roles for local governments in treaty implementation.

Additionally, in 2019, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report on the importance of local governments in protecting and promoting human rights. The report concludes that “more sustained engagement by local governments is required, particularly with the United Nations human rights protection system.” To this end, the report explicitly calls for local governments to be “more engaged in both State preparations for and State delegations attending the sessions of . . . the treaty bodies” and to supply information “for inclusion in national reports submitted to the human rights mechanisms.”

Moreover, at least one U.S. state has passed legislation laying the foundation for local reporting to treaty bodies. In California, the legislature passed a 2010 Concurrent Resolution urging local governments within the state to report on their human rights efforts. The Resolution acknowledges that the ratified treaties require reports from all levels of government and, thus, treaty bodies “expect to receive information at the local level in all future United States reports.” Accordingly, the Resolution directs the California Attorney General to distribute templates for use by counties and cities in preparing their reports.

These sources provide a basis for local governments to step into their roles of front-line human rights actors and actively participate in treaty body reviews (as well as the Universal Periodic Review). Their participation could yield substantial benefits, including: giving treaty bodies a more complete understanding of the human rights landscape across jurisdictions, promoting human rights transparency and accountability within local governments and helping to foster a robust and widespread human rights culture in the U.S. In light of such benefits, human rights advocates might consider exploring ways in which they can encourage local governments to engage with treaty body reviews and support them in doing so.

June 23, 2021 in CERD, Discrimination | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Complaint filed with DHS for Human Rights Violations at ICE Processing Center in Louisiana

By Chris Hegwood, Rising 2L at St. Louis University School of Law

On June 21, 2021, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFK), Immigration Services and Legal Advocacy (ISLA), and a coalition of fifteen immigrant rights organizations submitted a complaint to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security requesting an investigation into the human rights violations at the for-profit run Pine Prairie ICE Processing Center, located two hours northeast of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The thirty-one-page complaint, found here, details systemic human rights violations, including violations of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, which the United States has ratified; the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution; and ICE’s own policies within the Performance Based National Standards 2011 (PBNDS 2011), all discovered through a joint investigation of the facility by RFK and ISLA.

During interviews, detainees described conditions that include lack of access to safe food and potable water – being served expired milk, moldy bread, and discolored water with visible debris; unsanitary conditions – cells and showers with ant infestations and no toilet paper; lack of protection against COVID-19 – inability to social distance, no personal protective equipment and failure to follow CDC’s COVID-19 guidance.

The complaint outlines recommendations and requested a response from the Department of Homeland Security by July 21, 2021.

June 22, 2021 in Immigration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 21, 2021

Event: 6/30 ASIL Online Free Event on Indigeneity in Settler Legal Systems

On June 30, 2021, from 5-6pm ET, the American Society of International Law (ASIL) will host a free online event consisting of a panel of experts discussing indigeneity in settler legal systems. 

Description of the event: 

Efforts to define “Indigenous Peoples” have long been a source of contention in international law.  Defining indigeneity can exacerbate problems around legitimacy, authenticity and representation; the very vectors of the human rights discourse that the participation of Indigenous Peoples is meant to remedy. Yet, the lack of a simple definition of Indigenous Peoples has created a host of problems including excuses for states to deny the existence of Indigenous Peoples, to limit their human rights, including rights to participation at the UN, and to define Indigenous Peoples as minorities in an effort to make them subjects only of domestic law.

Art 33(1) of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) provides that ‘Indigenous peoples have the right to determine their own identity or membership in accordance with their customs and traditions’. Is this right recognised or respected in settler legal systems? In this panel, leading experts will explore how settler national legal systems recognise, or define for their purposes, indigeneity. 

Speakers:

  • Karen Drake (Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation), Associate Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School
  • Kirsty Gover, Professor, University of Melbourne
  • Timothy Goodwin (Yuin people), Barrister, Victoria Bar
  • Kent McNeil, Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School
  • Shea Esterling, University of Canterbury, and Co-chair of ASIL’s Rights of Indigenous Peoples Interest Group (Moderator)
  • Harry Hobbs, University of Technology Sydney, and Co-chair of ASIL’s Rights of Indigenous Peoples Interest Group (Moderator)

Pre-registration for the event is required. To register, visit: https://www.asil.org/event/indigeneity-settler-legal-systems

June 21, 2021 in Indigenous People, Lauren Bartlett | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Juneteenth—A National Holiday

By Justine Dunlap, Co-Editor

Last year I wrote a post about Juneteenth, the day in 1865 that enslaved persons in Texas finally learned of their freedom about 30 months after the fact. Free at last.  A momentous day, indeed. Yet it was an under-recognized day outside of Texas.

Little did I think that one year later, I would be writing another post on the topic, marveling that June 19th is now a federal holiday. It seems fitting that it is the first federal holiday after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day became a holiday in 1983. I lived in Washington, DC at that time and remember hearing Kansas Senator and former Republican presidential candidate President Bob Dole speak positively about the bill passing both houses and being signed into law by conservative icon President Ronald Reagan.

The Dr. King Holiday bill passed the Senate by a vote of 78-22. The Juneteenth legislation passed the Senate unanimously.  Who’d a thunk it? Surely not I, in these famously and bitterly divided partisan times. Will I take it? Yes. Am I happy that it occurred, taking a mere two years rather than the 15 or so that the King Holiday took? Yes. Do I think it heralds a new day of cooperation and consensus on issues of racial equity? No. But nonetheless, I am thankful that Congress did the right thing on this one.

I ended with this poem last year. It seems well worth including again.

We Rose”  by Kristina Kay Robinson

From Africa’s heart, we rose

Already a people, our faces ebon, our bodies lean,

We rose

Skills of art, life, beauty and family
Crushed by forces we knew nothing of, we rose

Survive we must, we did,
We rose

We rose to be you, we rose to be me,
Above everything expected, we rose

To become the knowledge we never knew,
We rose

Dream, we did
Act we must

June 20, 2021 in Justine Dunlap | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 18, 2021

The Uneasy Detente of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia

By Shirley Lin, Co-Editor

On Thursday June 17, 2021, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Fulton vs. City of Philadelphia, extending a temporary legal detente as religious groups seek to advance counter-rights in response to widespread recognition of the rights of LGBTQIA+ communities.  The City had ceased to contract with a Catholic agency, Catholic Social Services, once CSS acknowledged that it discriminates against same-sex couples when certifying families for foster-care children.  Philadelphia justified the refusal on the non-discrimination provisions in its contracts and its own anti-discrimination law.  CSS challenged this decision as a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.  

In a unanimous decision the Court agreed with CSS, but on narrow grounds specific to the contract's inclusion of exceptions and the City's denial of an exception to CSS.  Yet the Justices also signaled that the City "discriminate[d] against religion," in a turn reminiscent of Masterpiece Cakeshop.  Put less acerbically, of course, the City declined to contract with an agency that discriminated in violation of civil rights law.  The Court avoided weighing in on this central question, as it declined CSS's invitation to overrule precedent that generally upholds anti-discrimination laws that may conflict with religious practice if the law is generally applicable (Employment Div., Dep't of Hum. Res. of Ore. v. Smith).  Fulton leaves civil rights susceptible to future attack, as its splintered concurrences hint at the fragile compromise of the final opinion.

At least five Justices (Barrett, Kavanaugh, Alito, Thomas, and Gorsuch) would overrule Smith, although two (Justices Barrett and Kavanagh) would reject the categorical approach of applying the precedent that existed before Smith deferential to religion.  Justice Breyer declined to join the portion of Justice Barrett's concurrence that argues that the Free Exercise Clause should not be limited to a negative freedom from discrimination, but concurred in her discussion of the difficulty of replacing Smith.  

Also concerning is that, by upholding the ability of this religious agency to access government contracts to vital social services, Fulton does not prevent future religious entities from discriminating on the basis of race, disability, and other grounds.  It requires no stretch of the imagination to consider a locality where (unlike Philadelphia) religious social service contractors predominate in delivering vital social services.  Fulton leaves the Court in the dubious position of deciding the acceptability of social harm, at a time when it has openly shifted its baseline for neutrality.

June 18, 2021 in Discrimination, LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

New Article: Human Rights Disclosure and Due Diligence Laws: The Role of Regulatory Oversight in Ensuring Corporate Accountability

Rachel Chambers and Anil Vastardis, Human Rights Disclosure and Due Diligence Laws: The Role of Regulatory Oversight in Ensuring Corporate Accountability, 21 Chicago Journal of International Law (2021). Abstract below.

The proliferation of human rights disclosure and due diligence laws around the globe is a welcome development in the area of business and human rights. Corresponding improvement in conditions for workers and communities in global supply chains whose human rights are impacted by businesses has not materialized, however. In this Article, we focus on the oversight and enforcement features of human rights disclosure and due diligence laws as one of the missing links to achieving the accountability objectives envisaged by such legislation. Drawing on our analysis of key legislative developments, we observe and critique that the state has almost completely withdrawn itself from the oversight and enforcement roles and assigned these crucial accountability functions solely to consumers, civil society, and investors. Without a regulatory mechanism to ensure quality of human rights disclosures and due diligence processes and to impose sanctions for failing to comply with the laws, not only may the disclosures and processes be inadequate, but there is a danger that misleading disclosures and flawed processes may mask harmful impacts and be detrimental to any hopes of vindicating the rights of workers and communities in global supply chains. We offer a new perspective on a more effective approach to oversight and enforcement in which the state should function as a key actor through which consumers, civil society, and investors can hold businesses accountable.

June 16, 2021 in Books and articles, Business | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Event: 6/17 Webinar on Transitional Justice and Disability in the Americas

On Thursday June 17, 2021, from 10:00-11:15 am ET, Disability Rights International (DRI) is hosting a virtual event "Transitional Justice and Disability in the Americas: Accountability for Serious and Pervasive Human Rights Violations". Click here to register. 

Speakers for the event include:

  • Juan Mendez, former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
  • Juliana Bustamante, Director of PAIIS Colombia
  • Alberto Vásquez, President of Sociedad y Discapacidad (SODIS) Peru
  • Silvia Quan, President of Colectivo Vida Independiente de Guatemala
  • Amalia Gamio, UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • Fabian Salvioli, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence (invited) 

Moderators include:

  • Eric Rosenthal, Executive Director, DRI
  • Priscila Rodríguez, Associate Director, DRI

International Sign, English captioning, and simultaneous English-Spanish translation available.

June 15, 2021 in Disabilities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Event: 6/16 ABA Webinar on Feminist Perspectives on the US Response to the Crisis at the Southern Border

Tomorrow, June 16, 2021, from 12:00 – 1:30pm ET, join the American Bar Association Group on International Law for a webinar on the intersection of immigration, human rights, and inequality. The distinguished webinar panelists are: Deborah Anker, Blaine Bookey, Devon Cone, and Bardis Vakili. More information on tomorrow’s presentation is available here.

As part of the ABA’s three-session Global Women Series taking place this week, tomorrow's panelists will discuss the humanitarian crisis at the southern border of the United States, the disproportionate impact on women and children seeking refuge in the US, and ways that a feminist policy agenda can support the Biden-Harris administration’s response.

To register for this free event, click here.

June 15, 2021 in Gender, Immigration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 14, 2021

New Article: White Supremacy, Police Brutality, and Family Separation: Preventing Crimes Against Humanity Within the United States

Baylis, Elena A., White Supremacy, Police Brutality, and Family Separation: Preventing Crimes Against Humanity Within the United States (May 18, 2021). U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2021-16, University of Illinois Law Review, 2022 forthcoming. Abstract below.

Although the United States tends to treat crimes against humanity as a danger that exists only in authoritarian or war-torn states, in fact, there is a real risk of crimes against humanity occurring within the United States, as illustrated by events such as systemic police brutality against Black Americans, the federal government’s family separation policy that took thousands of immigrant children from their parents at the southern border, and the dramatic escalation of White supremacist and extremist violence culminating in the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. In spite of this risk, the United States does not have a federal law prohibiting crimes against humanity. This Article first applies international law to define crimes against humanity and assess the risk of crimes against humanity occurring within the United States. It then turns to domestic law to evaluate the potential for a federal law or other federal measures to protect against crimes against humanity, including the political obstacles, the likelihood that any future legislation will depart significantly from international law, and the implications for effectiveness.

June 14, 2021 in Books and articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Event: June 24th Discussion on the rights of indigenous women and girls with the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women will hold a virtual day of general discussion on the rights of indigenous women and girls. The Committee states that "the purpose of the day of general discussion is to stimulate debate and seek inputs for the elaboration by the Committee of a General Recommendation on the rights of indigenous women and girls. The aim of the General Recommendation will be to provide guidance to States parties to the Convention on the measures they should adopt to ensure full compliance with their obligations under the Convention to respect and protect the rights of indigenous women and girls." 

The discussion will take place online on Thursday June 24, 2021, from 12:30pm-2:30pm and from 4:00pm-6:00pm (Geneva time)/ 6:30am-8:30am and 10:00am-12noon (Eastern time). (Link to be posted here at a later date).

The Committee welcomes written submissions which should be sent electronically in Word format to Marco Zanin, Human Rights Officer, at mzanin@ohchr.org, indicating "Submission - General discussion on GRIWAG" in the subject. Submissions must not exceed a maximum of 3,300 words and must be received by June 18, 2021 at the latest.  

If you wish to deliver a brief oral statement during the discussion, it must not exceed 3 minutes and you must indicate your intention to do so and must send your statement electronically in Word format to Marco Zanin at mzanin@ohchr.org by June 18, 2021 at the latest, indicating "Registration - General discussion on GRIWAG"in the subject. 

More information on this event is available here.

June 10, 2021 in CEDAW, Lauren Bartlett, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

June & July 2021 Deadlines - Calls for Inputs by UN Human Rights Mechanisms

The following UN Human Rights Mechanisms have issued calls for inputs with deadlines in June and July 2021 and law professors whose practice, research, and/or scholarship touches on these topics may be interested in submission:

Special Rapporteur on the right to everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health – Call for inputs on the right to sexual and reproductive health–challenges and possibilities during COVID-19. Deadline Jun 10, 2021. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants - Call for inputs on the impact of COVID-19 on the human rights of migrants. Deadline June 14, 2021. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression - Call for submissions on gender justice and the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Deadline June 14, 2021. Read more.

Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order – Call for inputs on the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes a serious test to multilateralism, laying bare its weaknesses and how it could be the opportunity for a strengthened, more effected and inclusive multilateralism. Deadline June 18, 2021. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism Call for inputs on the human rights dimensions of technical assistance and capacity building in the counter-terrorism and countering/preventing violent extremism areas. Deadline June 30, 2021. Read more.

Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association – Call for inputs on the protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests during crisis situations. Deadline July 31, 2021. Read more.

This information was compiled by Khala Turner, rising 3L at St. Louis University School of Law, from https://ohchr.org/EN/Pages/calls-for-input.aspx.

June 9, 2021 in Lauren Bartlett, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Housing, Not Fines to Address Homelessness

By: Tamar Ezer, Acting Director & Lily Fontenot, Legal Intern

Human Rights Clinic, University of Miami School of Law

The COVID-19 pandemic has sharply emphasized the importance of a right to adequate housing.  The U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing said it well: “Housing has become the frontline defense against the coronavirus. Home has rarely been more of a life-or-death situation.”

However, in the United States, instead of working to address the problem of homelessness, many of our municipalities have sought to make it invisible by criminalizing and fining activities people experiencing homelessness must engage in stay alive, such as sleeping, eating, or lying down. According to a 2019 survey of 187 cities, 55% have laws prohibiting sitting and or lying down in public; 72% have laws prohibiting camping in public places; and 60% laws prohibiting loitering, loafing, and vagrancy.

Thus, all too often we turn to law enforcement to handle social issues, further exacerbating them. Punishing homelessness is both ineffective and costly, as it merely shuffles people to different parts of the city and results in fines people cannot pay, jail time, and criminal records, perpetuating homelessness. Diverting resources to law enforcement can also cost two to three times more than it would to provide affordable housing. Moreover, criminalization has a disparate impact by race.

Punishing homelessness is also a human rights violation. Recently, the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law, National Homelessness Law Center (NHLC), and The Shift just filed an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit in the case of Blake v. City of Grants Pass, arguing that punishing homelessness through the imposition of fines and fees for life-sustaining activities violates international human rights, including the right to be free from cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. In the case, the plaintiffs, who were all people experiencing street homelessness, received 615 tickets for either sleeping or camping in public, despite the city not having any homeless shelters or emergency beds.

The brief further argues that a human rights analysis should inform interpretation of the 8th Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, which hinges on “evolving standards of decency.” The brief concludes by noting that the U.S.’s failure to recognize the right to adequate housing is at the root of punishment for homelessness. It is thus within the Court’s authority to order measures enabling access to housing, addressing the underlying cause of a violation that has persisted for years.

For additional information on the criminalization of poverty and fines and fees in the justice system, including a virtual interactive simulation, please see the Poor Not Guilty website developed by DePaul University and Nerd Lab, in collaboration with the Miami Law Human Rights Clinic, NHLC, and the Fines & Fees Justice Center.

June 8, 2021 in Homelessness | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 7, 2021

US Submits Periodic Report to CERD

On Thursday June 2, 2021, the United States submitted a periodic report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  This is the first treaty report that the United States has submitted since 2016. The 2021 U.S. report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination states that it  is responding to the Committee’s Request for the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth periodic reports of the United States under article 9 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

This blog welcomes your thoughts and analyses of the new report. Please contact Editor Lauren Bartlett if you would like to submit a post.

June 7, 2021 in CERD, Lauren Bartlett | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

New Articles: Just Security Series on newly released “Méndez Principles"

Just Security is publishing a series of articles starting this week which outline the origins and the scientific, legal, and ethical underpinnings of the newly released “Principles on Effective Interviewing for Investigations and Information Gathering,” also known as the “Méndez Principles.”  These principles are an expert-led initiative responding to a 2016 appeal to the U.N. General Assembly by former U.N. Special Rapporteur Juan E. Méndez to develop such standards.

The Méndez Principles series on Just Security is being compiled here.

June 2, 2021 in Books and articles, Lauren Bartlett | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Title IX Hearings Next Week

By Justine Dunlap, Co-Editor

From June 7 through June 11, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights will conduct 40 hours of virtual public testimony aimed to improve the enforcement of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The public testimony spots are filled but individuals are encouraged to submit written testimony.

These hearings are being held in response to Executive Order 14021, issued March 11, 2021, in which President Biden ordered Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to conduct a review of Title IX, including the much discussed and controversial regulations that went into effect last May.

Much about the new regulations deserve scrutiny and change. But they are not all bad. One beneficial component of the new regulations is the deletion of the term responsible employee and the concomitant de-emphasis on the widespread designation of nearly all university employees as mandatory reporters. Mandatory reporters are employees who must report when a student discloses an assault to them, even if the student opposes reporting.

As I detail in Harmful Reporting, 51 New Mexico Law Review 1 (2021), widespread mandatory reporting can be harmful to someone who wants to disclose sexual assault and receive help but who is against or even ambivalent about a formal report that removes the process from the student’s control. Sexual assault is, at its core, about the loss of control and healing involves regaining control. Thus, mandatory reporting—initially conceived as a positive step to address campus sexual assault--can depress disclosure and continue trauma to the discloser by removing her autonomy and control. Either of these results is contrary to the mandate of Title IX to provide equality in educational opportunity.

More information about the upcoming hearings, including how to attend or submit written comments, can be found at https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/department-educations-office-civil-rights-announces-virtual-public-hearing-gather-information-purpose-improving-enforcement-title-ix 

June 1, 2021 in Justine Dunlap | Permalink | Comments (0)