Tuesday, October 3, 2023

The UN Human Rights Committee Will Review the U.S. Next Month. Why Not Engage with the Committee on the Abolition of Immigration Detention of Children? – Part II

Bartlett_laurenBy Lauren E. Bartlett

Prof. Bartlett writes this second of a two-part post on the U.N. Human Rights Committee’s upcoming review of the United States during the week of October 16th.

For over a decade, international human rights mechanisms have been calling for a complete prohibition on the detention of migrant children, with or without their families, based solely on migration status. There is a consensus in international human rights law that any deprivation of liberty of children based solely on migration status, no matter how brief, is a violation of human rights law and may amount to ill-treatment. In 2012, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child stated that the detention of children based on their migration status or their parents’ migration status is a clear human rights violation. In 2015, Juan Mendez, the former U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment stated that “States should, expeditiously and completely, cease the detention of children, with or without their parents, on the basis of their immigration status.” Both Juan Mendez and his successor, Nils Melzer, agree that the detention of migrant children based solely on migration status is never in the best interests of the child, as it “exceeds the requirement of necessity and proportionality and, even in case of short-term detention, may amount to ill-treatment.” The European Court of Human Rights has noted that the best interests of the child must be determined on an individual basis in assessing the possibility to admit, return, expel, deport, repatriate, reject at the border.

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants dedicated his 2020 thematic report to ending the immigration detention of children. In that report he stated that the “human rights of children have neither nationality nor borders.” The child’s right to non-discrimination includes the protection of children against all forms of discrimination and punishment, “including specifically on the basis of the status of the child and his or her parents or family members.” The Special Rapporteur on migrants also stated that the “imperative requirement not to deprive the child of liberty extends to the child’s parents and requires the authorities to provide alternative measures to detention for the entire family.” Clearly U.S. practices of depriving children of their liberty, without access to adequate food, healthcare, or education, separated from their family members, for prolonged periods of time in hieleras, solely based on their migration status, is a violation of international human rights law.

U.S. Should Explore a Path Towards the Abolition of Immigration Detention for Children

The United States is closer than many may think to abolishing the immigration detention of children. The Biden Administration has officially halted the practice of caging children at the border since 2021, instead releasing migrant children and their families into the United States with ankle bracelets or traceable cellphones to keep track of them. The U.S. government has recognized that the harms perpetrated on children are severe and long-lasting, and though the United States has not outlawed the practice, U.S. law already provides for limits on immigration detention of children and minimum standards of detention conditions.

Moreover, and despite American exceptionalism, the United States does regularly avail itself to the expertise and guidance of human rights mechanisms. For example, the United States rejoined the U.N. Human Rights Council, the United States attends and participates in treaty body reviews, the Universal Periodic Review, Inter-American Commission hearings, and official visits from human rights experts.

If President Biden hopes to stick to his commitment of avoiding the detention of migrant children at all costs, he will need help. Instead of making excuses, the U.S. government should take advantage of the expert guidance that can be provided by international human rights mechanisms, including by the U.N. Human Rights Committee during its review of the United States in October 2023. Compliance with recommendations made by international human rights mechanisms is voluntary and relatively little domestic attention is given to U.S. engagement with these mechanisms. The expertise and guidance that international human rights mechanisms can provide on this subject is unparalleled.

Abolition of immigration detention of children is the right thing to do and in line with U.S. international human rights obligations; the United States can start down the path of dismantling its racist, oppressive, and violent immigration system and prevent future long-term harm to the hundreds of thousands of migrant children each year.

October 3, 2023 in Advocacy, ICCPR, Immigration, Incarcerated, Lauren Bartlett, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 2, 2023

The UN Human Rights Committee Will Review the U.S. Next Month. Why Not Engage with the Committee on the Abolition of Immigration Detention of Children? – Part I

Bartlett_laurenBy Lauren E. Bartlett

Prof. Bartlett writes this two-part post on the U.N. Human Rights Committee’s upcoming review of the United States during the week of October 16th.

The U.S. human rights record will be on full display next month when the U.N. Human Rights Committee finally gets to review the Fifth Periodic Report submitted by the United States during the final days of the Trump administration in January 2021. Some important federal immigration policies have changed for the better under the Biden administration, including a halt, however temporary it might be, on the inhumane practice of detaining migrant children and their families in cages at the border. However, the U.S. report does not reflect those changes despite calls by human rights advocates for updates and it is unlikely that the topic of the abolition of immigration detention of children will be given much play during the review.

If the Biden administration is serious about forging a path towards the abolition of immigration detention of children, it should at the very least engage on the topic with international human rights mechanisms, including during the upcoming review of the United States by the U.N. Human Rights Committee. This is a relatively low stakes step that the U.S. government can take towards abolition.

Migrant Children Detained at the U.S. Border

Detaining children in cages even for short periods of time is traumatic and has negative long-lasting impacts on child health and well-being. While some countries around the globe have outlawed the detention of children based solely on migration status, U.S. law allows officials to put children in cages at the border for up to twenty days and that time limit is rarely enforced.

Until just a year and a half ago, the United States detained hundreds of thousands of migrant children in cages each year. Out of nearly 2 million people detained by the United States at the border from February 2017 through June 2021, more than 650,000 were children. Children detained at the border were held in cages that were built decades ago, at a time when most detained migrants were adult men who were held briefly and rapidly deported. Migrant children were detained in wire cages or tents and then were later moved to larger cinder block cells. The children reported that the food was spoiled and made them sick. Kids with injuries, fevers, coughs or stomachaches could not get basic medical care. Children were held for weeks in the same wet and filthy clothes after journeying thousands of miles and crossing the Rio Grande river. Children also reported bone-chilling cold from the air-conditioned cinder block cells, which are known across the border as hieleras, meaning iceboxes in Spanish.

There are many excuses used by the U.S. government for putting migrant children in cages. These excuses include security and terrorism, deterrence, risk of absconding, public health, and ensuring the child’s well-being. However, detention is never in a child’s best interest and the ill-treatment endured by child migrants means these excuses fall short of justifying these practices. Moreover, many of the detained migrant children, up to forty-six percent or more, had valid asylum claims and require protection as refugees under international law.

At least for the time being, the U.S. government no longer puts migrant children in cages. Today, migrant children with their families at the border must wait near the border for their turn to use the mobile app called CBP One. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is allowing roughly 40,000 migrants per month to make appointments through the CPB one app, with more than 100,000 migrants waiting to use the app at any given time. If a family receives an appointment and their asylum claims are processed by the Border Patrol, they are supposed to be briefly processed by the Border Patrol and then released into the United States with their movements tracked through a GPS monitoring device, such as ankle bracelets or traceable cellphone.

Unaccompanied children at the border detained by Border Patrol are now supposed to be immediately transferred to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). The ORR places unaccompanied children in shelters and then with sponsors, usually family members, as they await immigration proceedings. Though the ORR has used large temporary facilities to detain unaccompanied children at the border in the past, which resemble the Border Patrol cages and hieleras, no migrant children have been held in such a temporary facility since 2022 according to the ORR’s website.

While current practices regarding migrant children at the border do not officially involve cages, there are ongoing worries about conditions in the CBP and ORR facilities. In addition, there is a strong argument that GPS monitoring is just another form of oppressive and racialized violence perpetuated against migrants. The bottom line is that no inhumane, cruel or tortuous practices should be perpetuated by the U.S. government against migrant children.

October 2, 2023 in Advocacy, ICCPR, Immigration, Incarcerated, Lauren Bartlett, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

New Article: Human Rights and Lawyer's Oaths

Lauren E. Bartlett, Human Rights and Lawyer’s Oaths, 36 Geo. J. Legal Ethics ____ (2023). Abstract below.

Each lawyer in the United States must take an oath to be licensed to practice law. The first time a lawyer takes this oath is usually a momentous occasion in their career, marked by ceremony and celebration. Yet, many lawyer’s oaths today are unremarkable and irrelevant to modern law practice at best, and at worst, inappropriate, discriminatory, and obsolete. Drawing on a fifty-state survey of lawyer’s oaths in the United States, this article argues that it is past time to update lawyer’s oaths in the United States and suggests drawing on human rights to make lawyer’s oaths more accessible and impactful.

January 10, 2023 in Books and articles, Ethics, Lauren Bartlett | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 15, 2022

More on Juvenile Sentencing and the Case of Adnan Syed

Barlett_crawfordLauren E. Bartlett recently recorded a podcast with her former client Ike Crawford,  discussing juvenile sentencing in the United States and the case of Adnan Syed.  Mr. Crawford was released in February 2021 after spending more than 29 years in prison. Mr. Crawford was sentenced to life without parole at 17 years old. 

That podcast is available here

October 15, 2022 in justice systems, Juveniles, Lauren Bartlett | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Juvenile Sentencing in the U.S. and the Case of Adnan Syed

Bartlett_laurenBy Lauren E. Bartlett

Adnan Syed was seventeen years old when he was charged with an adult crime, tried in adult court, and given an adult sentence (life imprisonment plus 30 years). When he walked out of court on September 19, 2022, he was forty one.  Adnan had served twenty three years in prison for a crime he committed when he was a kid.

There has been so much written and recorded about Adnan’s case since the “Serial” podcast debuted in 2014.  There’s no need to summarize it all here. In fact, I am going to ignore a lot of what is being currently discussed–DNA evidence, Brady violations, the prosecutor under investigation, appeals of the decision to release Adnan and put him on home detention. I am also not going to discuss Adnan’s innocence or guilt.  Instead, what I am going to focus on is the life plus 30 years sentence that was imposed upon him and, more broadly, the human rights violations that are juvenile sentencing in the United States.

I have to admit that I come at this case from unpopular or even seemingly contradictory stances. When I first listened to the Serial podcast in 2014, I was convinced that Adnan was not innocent. Second, regardless of or despite what he did, I don’t believe that he should have been in prison for as long as he was and I’m glad he’s out of prison.

My Human Rights at Home Litigation Clinic students and I have been representing individuals for the purposes of juvenile life without parole hearings here in Missouri for the last two years.  We have represented eight individuals, so far, who were sentenced to life without parole for crimes they allegedly committed when they were kids–Ages fifteen to seventeen years old. Seven of our eight clients have had parole hearings.  Of those seven, all received out dates, and five individuals have already been released on parole after more than thirty years inside.  These cases have been lifechanging for my clients, for my students, and for me. 

One of the minor ways this work has changed my life, is that I now can’t stand true crime podcasts, or true crime tv shows, or any of it.  I have no desire to figure out who dunnit or to listen to the hosts call for a witch hunt for a supposed murderer.  With my post-conviction work, none of that matters to me. My clients are all human beings who have been in prison since they were kids.  They have faced some of the worst things that any human has to face–lack of adequate healthcare, constant fear, fights, endless solitary confinement, hopelessness, lack of adequate food and water, tortuous security tactics, being cut off from friends and family and even religious services during the pandemic, and no real opportunities for rehabilitation. I will fight for my detained clients’ release forever.

Here in Missouri, our legislature enacted bill SB 590, reforming sentencing for juveniles convicted of murder in the first degree.  Now instead of being sentenced to life without parole or the death penalty, judges may also sentence juveniles to life with parole or to between 30 and 40 years in prison.  To be clear, this change did not ban juvenile life without parole in Missouri, instead just made the sentence non-mandatory. In 2021, the legislature enacted SB 26, allowing offenders sentenced to fifteen or more years as a minor for nonviolent crimes to apply for parole after fifteen years of imprisonment. Next Missouri needs an overhaul of the parole hearing process, but I’ll leave that discussion for another date.

Unlike Missouri, Maryland, where Adnan Syed was convicted, has prohibited sentencing a minor to a life imprisonment without the possibility or parole or release.   In addition, Maryland law now states that individuals, like Adnan, who were sentenced to juvenile life without parole may petition a judge after serving at least twenty years, to reduce their sentence.  Maryland has gone further than Missouri in both of these respects.  Missouri is not resentencing and has not banned juvenile life without parole. 

Moreover, the United States is the only country in the world that allows for the sentencing children to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In fact, human rights law requires that children under the age of eighteen years old be detained for the shortest period of time possible, and their sentences must be proportionate to the circumstances and gravity of their offenses, as well as their own individual circumstances and needs. In some countries juveniles are not sentenced to prison at all.

Sarah Koenig in Serial Episode of 11: Rumors asked “can you tell, really? Can you tell if someone has a crime like this in him? I think most of us think if we know someone well, we can tell.?” Essentially she is asking: How can you know a person’s character? How can you tell what a person is capable of? What if you change those words to ‘How can you know a child’s character?’ I believe a child’s character, even the character of a child who is 17 years old, is not fixed. Instead, I assume a child’s character is going to change, mold and grow, over time, depending on life circumstances and more. To me, knowing a child’s character seems an impossible task.  I think that’s what the U.S. Supreme Court was getting at in dramatically curtailing juvenile sentencing over the last couple of decades.  Children sometimes do really bad things, but they can still grow up to be beautiful, wonderful human beings, all of the time, if given the opportunity and support. The law and legal system needs reflect that, at the international, federal, state and local level.

October 11, 2022 in Children, Criminal Justice, Lauren Bartlett | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

United Nations Condemns U.S. for Misuse of Chemical Agents, Solitary Confinement in Jails and Prisons in Response to Reports of St. Louis City Justice Center Jail Conditions

By Lauren E. Bartlett, HRAH Blog Editor, and Anezka Krobot, 2L at St. Louis University School of Law

On Tuesday, August 30, 2022, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination published its Concluding Observations and Recommendations from its August 10-12 review of the United States. The Committee, which is made up of 18 independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, expressed concerns and gave recommendations for how the United States could better implement the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

In its findings, the Committee condemned the misuse of chemical agents, like pepper spray, in U.S. jails and prisons, in addition to the use of solitary confinement. The Committee also recommended that the U.S impose “strict restrictions on the use of solitary confinement and the use of chemical agents as pepper spray and ensuring that its use does not have a disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minorities.”

These statements follow submissions of reports of inhumane conditions at the St. Louis City Justice Center jail (CJC), including statements from people who were currently and formerly incarcerated at CJC, advocacy organizations and a shadow report submitted in July 2022 by the MacArthur Justice Center, Saint Louis University School of Law Human Rights at Home Litigation Clinic, ArchCity Defenders and Rights Behind Bars. The shadow report highlights the tortuous punishment and inhumane confinement conditions that are used on a daily basis against those detained in the City of St. Louis, 95% of whom are Black. 

A full press statement regarding the Committee’s findings can be found here.

September 13, 2022 in CERD, Criminal Justice, Lauren Bartlett | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Margulies and Azmy Respond to Moyn

By Lauren E. Bartlett

A couple of weeks ago Yale Law professor Samuel Moyn wrote a scathing and seemingly unfounded attack on the late Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights in the New York Review of Books. I had considered posting about that piece here, but decided that it was too strange and awkward, personally blaming one man who had passed away five years earlier for the endless war on terror, to be worthy of additional attention.

However, Joseph Margulies and Baher Azmy’s response to Moyn in Just Security is more than worth a read. Margulies and Azmy, as practicing attorneys, litigators, present their point of view in light of their long careers and personal experiences working alongside Ratner.   

In summing Moyn’s criticism of Michael Ratner, Margulies and Azmy state:

The idea is that by challenging detentions rather than the war itself…Ratner…validated the war on terror. And by smoothing down the roughest edges of the detention policy—providing detainees with a largely symbolic right of access to the courts, for instance—[he] gave a patina of legitimacy to what is at its core an illegal, immoral war, and in that way enabled our current quagmire of endless, boundless conflict.

Margulies and Azmy argue in response that “the idea that the detention litigation in general, or Rasul in particular, is somehow the reason the war on terror has become an endless, lawless monster is just silly” and also point out that “a person can obviously oppose war and torture at the same time, and Michael did both.”

They also point out that Moyn may also be “simply making the spectacularly banal point that litigation has unintended, and sometimes tragic consequences.” To that point, Margulies and Azmy respond:

But as our friend and Yale law professor Hope Metcalf says, “so what?” No experienced civil rights lawyer, and certainly not one as political as Michael Ratner, needs a law professor to explain that the courts are not a reliable friend of the weak. The insight that litigation by itself cannot achieve progressive change was old when Gerald Rosenberg put it in writing 30 years ago. And tying this observation to a larger political lesson—that power adapts to protect its interests—was old when Marx wrote it down nearly two centuries ago.

I think Margulies and Azmy also did a wonderful job of highlighting the best of what Michael Ratner did, which is what the best human rights advocates do best:

lending our voice to men whose voices had been silenced, and demanding that the law protect them when the state would not.



September 14, 2021 in Books and articles, Lauren Bartlett | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Fight to Expose the Hidden Human Costs of Incarceration: Profile of Law Professor Andrea Armstrong

Andrea armstrongLaw professor Andrea Armstrong at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law is profiled in the August 23, 2021, issue of the New Yorker. The article centers on her work to collecting and publicizing information about deaths of those incarcerated in detention facilities in Louisiana, but also covers her legal career, scholarship, advocacy, and even her personal life.  It is an inspiring portrait of a law professor fighting for the protection of rights of the incarcerated in her home state. 

Eyal Press, A Fight to Expose the Hidden Human Costs of Incarceration, The New Yorker, Aug. 23, 2021 Issue.


September 8, 2021 in Books and articles, Criminal Justice, Lauren Bartlett, Prisons | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

New Event: Connecting the Threads that Bind: Contextualizing Legalized Violence Against Asian Americans

Threads_Social-Horizontal_v1aOn Friday September 10, 2021, from 11am-3pm PT, the UC Hastings Law Center for Racial and Economic Justice will host a virtual conference investigating systemic and historic causes of anti-AAPI violence, providing frameworks for understanding the continued subordination of AAPI and BIPOC communities, and discussing AAPI-led advocacy addressing the root causes of violence and disenfranchisement.

For more information and to register for this conference, please visit: https://www.uchastings.edu/event/connecting-the-threads-that-bind-contextualizing-legalized-violence-against-asian-americans/

September 7, 2021 in Events, Lauren Bartlett | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Human Rights and Hurricane Ida Part II

Human Rights and Hurricane Ida Part II

By Lauren E. Bartlett

It has now been four days since Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana and has since forged a path of destruction all the way up the East Coast to Maine. At this point almost one million electric customers in Louisiana remain without power, 30,000 in Mississippi and now over 100,000 customers in the Northeast are also without power. Schools in the New Orleans region are closed indefinitely and the Governor of Louisiana told those who had evacuated not to come home until officials say otherwise. Thousands of people were displaced by Hurricane Ida and it remains to be seen when and if they can come home.

On Monday, in Part I of my posts on Human Rights and Hurricane Ida, I discussed the U.N. Human Rights Committee’s recommendations regarding the human rights of internally displaced persons after Hurricane Katrina. 

Today, I will focus on the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination’s recommendations regarding the disparate impacts on low-income African Americans displaced by and dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  In its Concluding Observations (see paragraph 31) after its periodic review of the United States in 2008, the CERD Committee stated that the United States should:

  • Increase efforts to facilitate right of return, where possible, or to guarantee access to adequate and affordable housing, where possible their place of habitual residence; and
  • Ensure genuine consultation and participation of persons displaced by Hurricane Katrina in the design and implementation of all decisions affecting them.

The CERD Committee makes it clear here that human rights law requires U.S., state and local governments to increase efforts to facilitate the right of return low-income African Americans displaced by Hurricane Ida.  Moreover, decision making regarding emergency housing assistance and recovery must include genuine consultation and participation by low-income African Americans displaced by Hurricane Ida. We need to and can do better in rebuilding this time around, and luckily we have clear guidance as to some of what went wrong in times past.

September 2, 2021 in Lauren Bartlett | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 30, 2021

Human Rights and Hurricane Ida

By Lauren E. Bartlett 

Yesterday, on August 29, 2021, Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana sixteen years to the day after Hurricane Katrina hit  the Gulf Coast.  My heart is with Louisiana and Mississippi, and all of those dealing with loss and heartbreak in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

While it is too soon to know the extent of the destruction wrought by Ida, it is clear that many residents on the Gulf Coast will once again be displaced.  In 2006, the U.N. Human Rights Committee addressed internal displacement and discrimination in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the levee failures of 2005.  In its Concluding Observations (see paragraph 26) after its periodic review of the United States in 2006, the Human Rights Committee stated that the United States should:

  • Ensure the full implementation of the obligation to protect life and prohibit discrimination, whether direct or indirect;
  • Ensure the full implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement; and
  • Increase efforts to ensure that the rights of the poor, and in particular African Americans, are fully taken into consideration in the reconstruction plans with regard to access to housing, education and healthcare.

I hope that the U.S. Government, state governments, and local governments trying to figure out how to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida will use these important human rights directives to guide reconstruction and to ensure the full implementation of human rights protections for all Gulf Coast residents, including internally replaced residents.   

August 30, 2021 in Lauren Bartlett | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 29, 2021

New Article: “One of the greatest human tragedies of our time”: The U.N., Biden, and a Missed Opportunity to Abolish Immigration Prisons

Lauren E. Bartlett, "One of the greatest human tragedies of our time": The U.N., Biden, and a Missed Opportunity to Abolish Immigration Prisons, Mitchell Hamline Law Journal of Public Policy and Practice, forthcoming Fall 2021. Abstract below.

Children in cages, rampant sexual abuse, lack of access to life-saving medical treatment, and more. These human rights violations continue to occur in immigration prisons in the United States today, and given the scope, many, including the United Nations, are pushing the United States to abolish immigration prisons altogether. However, the Biden administration has demonstrated that is not interested in supporting the abolition of immigration prisons, not even in the international human rights arena.

After providing a brief overview of international human rights law prohibiting immigration prisons, this essay explores U.N. recommendations on immigration prisons from each of the Universal Periodic Reviews of the United States over the past ten years, as well as the U.S. responses to those recommendations. Through that exploration, it is made clear that while the Biden administration has showed an eagerness for reform in other areas, the administration missed an important opportunity this year to step up as a global leader and demonstrate commitment to the progressive realization of the full spectrum of human rights of migrants and set the United States on a path towards the abolition of immigration prisons.

August 29, 2021 in Books and articles, Lauren Bartlett | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Sarah Cleveland Nominated to Be Legal Advisor of the Department of State

Please join us in congratulating Professor Sarah Cleveland, who has been nominated by President Biden to be legal advisor of the Department of State. 

Fingers crossed the Senate quickly confirms her nomination! 

August 24, 2021 in Lauren Bartlett | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 23, 2021

Entitled: A Podcast About Why Rights Matter and What’s the Matter with Rights

The new podcast Entitled from the University of Chicago Podcast Network is a fantastic new resource for human rights at home law professors.  Entitled is co-hosted by Professors Tom Ginsburg and Claudia Flores and explores current debates around rights through narrative storytelling and conversations with experts and advocates. 

So far the podcasts have featured:

  • Jamal Greene, author of How Rights Went Wrong: Why Our Obsession With Rights is Tearing America Apart.  
  • John Tasioulas, philosopher of ethics and human rights at Oxford University.  
  • David Kaye, Former Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.  
  • Vietnamese pop star and free speech activist Mai Khoi.
  • Nina Kerkebane, an Algerian asylee and an entering graduate student at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy
  • Ayelet Shachar, author of The Birthright Lottery: Citizenship and Global Inequality
  • Maya Elzinga-Soumah, Senior Legal Associate with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Aruba and Curaçao.
  • Itamar Mann, Director of the Global Legal Action Network and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Haifa Faculty of Law.

The first three episodes are on Apple podcasts now. To listen, click here. 

August 23, 2021 in Lauren Bartlett | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Event: 8/24 WFLS From John Jay to John Roberts: The Law of Nations in U.S. Courts

The Washington Foreign Law Society (WFLS) will present an online free event on Tuesday August 24, 2021, from 5:30-6:30pm ET, discussing and critiquing the U.S. Supreme Court decision Nestle v Doe, which held that the Alien Tort Statute does not support claims against U.S. corporations based on child slavery in foreign lands. Thomas Lee and Mark B. Feldman will serve as discussants. From WFLS:

In recent years, judges and scholars have vigorously debated whether the Supreme Court was correct to state, in cases such as The Paquete Habana (1900), that customary international law is part of the law of the United States. Influential voices argue that Congressional action is required to create a cause of action under international law. That issue was of central concern to the Justices in Nestle, and will be debated by our panel. Registrants will receive a list of notable citations in advance of the program.

For more information and to register click here.

August 18, 2021 in Business, Lauren Bartlett | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 16, 2021

UN experts call for end to police brutality worldwide

UN Special Rapporteurs Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and Clement Nyaletsossi Voulé, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, as well as others, have expressed alarm at what they describe as a “rampant police brutality against peaceful protesters worldwide” and warned States of the grave danger arising from such abuse for human rights and the rule of law. 

“In recent months and years, we have repeatedly voiced our concern over a steady increase in the use of excessive force, police brutality, and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as well as arbitrary detention, against predominantly peaceful protesters in all regions of the world,” the experts said in a statement on August 13, 2021. 

“This trend, often extending to journalists covering protests, has resulted in countless deaths and injuries, often exacerbated through torture, sexual violence, arbitrary detention, and enforced disappearance, and has intimidated, traumatized, and antagonised large segments of society worldwide.”

The experts said the vast majority of these incidents were rooted in political, socio-economic, ethnic, racial, religious, or other tensions specific to particular national or regional situations. “At the same time, there are also relevant, more generic contexts of global reach and underlying reasons of racism, gender-based and other forms of discrimination in law enforcement,” they said.

“Large-scale migration, protests of climate activists, human rights defenders, indigenous peoples and, more recently, the Black Lives Matter movement are affected by excessive use of force and police brutality.

“Additionally, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been numerous reports of security forces employing excessive and often indiscriminate violence resulting in unlawful deaths, injury and psychological trauma, as well as arbitrary detentions, in order to enforce emergency measures for the protection of public health, such asbans on assemblies, lockdowns and curfews.

“Most worryingly, throughout all regions and contexts, these acts of violence and abuse have often been encouraged by divisive, discriminatory and inflammatory narratives spread or condoned by political leaders, local authorities, and parts of the media, and by the resulting atmosphere of near complete impunity for perpetrators.”

The experts said it is the prime responsibility of governments and political leaders to prevent such dangerous developments through non-violent means including, most notably, pro-active communication aiming at de-escalation, reconciliation, and the peaceful exercise of civil and political rights.

“Public confidence in the reliability, legitimacy and integrity of State institutions and their law enforcement officials is the most valuable commodity of any peaceful, just and sustainable society and the very foundation of democracy and the rule of law,” the experts said.

“We therefore urge governments and political leaders not to needlessly squander the trust of their people, to refrain from any unwarranted violence, coercion and divisiveness, and to prioritize and promote dialogue, tolerance and diversity in the common public interest of all.”

August 16, 2021 in Global Human Rights, Lauren Bartlett, Police, United Nations | 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. 


  • 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)

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 [email protected], 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 [email protected] 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)

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)