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September 30, 2012

Supreme Court to Hear Kiobel Again Tomorrow: Much More at Stake the Second Time Around

Posted by Tyler Giannini and Susan Farbstein

NOTE: The post below was originally published Saturday on Justice Watch, a project of the Alliance for Justice. For more on the Kiobel case, including the most recent amicus briefs submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court, please click here.

Supreme Court to Hear Major Human Rights Case Again: Much More at Stake the Second Time Around

Guest Post by Tyler Giannini & Susan Farbstein

The Supreme Court will open its new term on Monday.  The first argument it hears will be Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., the most significant human rights case to reach the Court in recent years.  Intense interest in the case has generated more than 80 amicus curiae briefs from a range of actors around the world, including governments, human rights organizations, and corporations.  Kiobel is especially intriguing not only because of the human rights issues at stake, but also because it will be the Court’s secondtime hearing oral argument in the matter.  This is a rarity; the last example was Citizen United, the major campaign finance case.

What are the issues?

Kiobel is an Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”) suit based on a 1789 statute that allows non-U.S. citizens to bring civil claims in U.S. federal courts for universally recognized violations of international law.  The case arises out of allegations that Royal Dutch/Shell was complicit in killings and other abuses by the Nigerian government in the 1990s.  The Court first heard Kiobel last February, addressing the question of whether corporations can be held liable under the statute.  But in an unusual move, a week later the Court requested supplemental briefing and a second oral argument. Continue Reading…

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September 28, 2012

Performance Art (and Other Pictures from HRP Orientation)

Posted by Cara Solomon

Here’s a Friday afternoon treat for you: an iconic image from the law school experience.

When Fernando spotted this display at our recent HRP Orientation, he rightly described it as a piece of performance art—except, of course, that it wasn’t.

Below are some other images from the event. Apologies in advance for the poor picture quality, and a belated thanks to all who came, learned, and ate. We were so happy to have you there. Continue Reading…

September 28, 2012

Psychologists Demand Accountability for Torture from APA Ethics Committee

Posted by Deborah Popowski

Last week, psychologist advocates Trudy Bond and Steven Reisner sent the open letter below to the American Psychological Association president.  The letter calls for a review of the organization’s failure to investigate allegations that APA psychologists, including current Wright State University School of Professional Psychology Dean Larry James, were implicated in torture and other forms of prisoner abuse.

Open Letter to

President Suzanne Bennett Johnson

American Psychological Association

A.P.A. has taken a very strong stance against the use of torture, inhumane, and degrading treatment, and if anyone is able to identify A.P.A. members who have been involved in such activities, we will take disciplinary action.

— Gerald Koocher, former APA President, speaking on Democracy Now! (June 16, 2006)

September 18, 2012

Dear Dr. Johnson:

We are two psychologists committed to making certain that psychologists implicated in torture and prisoner abuse are held accountable by oversight bodies for their egregious ethical violations. We believe the public trust and the reputation of our profession depend upon such accountability.

We are writing at this time regarding ethics complaints filed with the APA Ethics Office against three psychologists who remain APA members in good standing: Dr. Michael Gelles, Dr. Larry James and Dr. John Francis Leso. Based on undisputed facts, these cases cry out for investigation and appropriate censure. We would like to briefly review some of the evidence for these complaints and express our concern with regard to the status of each complaint.

Continue Reading…

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September 27, 2012

Today, Sept. 27: The Future of Human Rights and Revolution in the Arab World

Event Notice

September 27

“The Future of Human Rights and the Revolution in the Arab World”

12 pm

Wasserstein 3007

How has the international human rights regime informed the Arab world’s politics? And how did that impact on the Arab uprisings of 2011-2012? Now that it is clear that the Arab uprisings were, at best, incomplete revolutions, will human rights prove to be relevant or irrelevant to the future of this changing region?

Please join us for a talk on these topics by Anthony Tirado Chase, Associate Professor of Diplomacy & World Affairs at Occidental College, and author of both Human Rights, Revolution, and Reform in the Muslim World (2012) and Human Rights in the Arab World: Independent Voices (2006, with Amr Hamzawy).

This event is being co-sponsored by HLS Advocates for Human Rights

AND LATER TODAY…

“Legal Practice Settings: Public International Law Panel”

5:30- 7 pm

Wasserstein 1010

Buffet Dinner Will Be Served

Come hear a panel of public international attorneys provide descriptions of their practice, work environment and career path, and learn how you can break into this exciting field.

Panelists: Robert Anderson, Assistant General Counsel, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative;  Mona Khalil, Senior Legal Officer in the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs; and Viviana Waisman, Executive Director for Women’s Link WorldWide. The event will be moderated by Bonnie Docherty, ’01, Senior Clinical Instructor, International Human Rights Clinic.

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September 25, 2012

Kaitlyn Hennigan Honored with the Dean’s Award for Excellence

Posted by Susan Farbstein and Tyler Giannini

Our very own Kaitlyn Hennigan was one of nine employees honored yesterday with the Dean’s Award for Excellence.  This annual award recognizes HLS employees who excel in multiple areas: innovation, leadership, commitment, learning, and collaboration.

Kaitlyn celebrates with her parents after receiving the Dean’s Award for Excellence.

As we wrote in our nomination, Kaitlyn epitomizes these qualities.  As Program Coordinator, she makes the Clinic hum along smoothly, administering all aspects of our extremely large shop with limitless energy and friendliness.  These qualities are matched by organizational skills and creativity that give her an uncanny ability to juggle a dozen things at once, and efficiently. She interacts daily with students and clinicians, answering questions and emails about clinical processes or policies, and communicating about courses and projects.

Students and clinicians know that Kaitlyn is reliable and dependable, and regularly look to her for advice and suggestions.  They consistently praise her responsiveness and warmth, as well as her ability to thoughtfully solve problems. In short, Kaitlyn is a “go to” person not only for our clinicians and students, but also for other departments that recognize her as an invaluable team player and resource.

We’re so lucky to be able to depend on Kaitlyn, knowing she’ll take care of everything with excellence that represents our Clinic and the Law School in the very best light.  Congratulations, Kaitlyn, on this well-deserved award!

NOTE: In addition to Kaitlyn, the Dean honored eight more of our colleagues at Monday’s ceremony: John Arciprete, Director of Facilities, Facilities Management; Kirsten Bermingham, Assistant Director for Administration, OPIA; Lisa Burns, Registrar, Registrar’s Office; Kathleen Curley, Program Administrator, Faculty Support Services; Russell Keyes, Building Services Coordinator, Facilities Management; Sarah Morton, Administrative Director, Prison Legal Aid Program; Darris Saylors, Student Programs Manager, Dean of Students; Jeanne Tai, Assistant Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies.

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September 24, 2012

Today, Sept. 24: Panel on Arbitrary Detention and Its Prevention

Event Notice

September 24

“Arbitrary Detention and Its Prevention: Comparative Perspectives”

5-7 pm

Hauser 104

What makes detention arbitrary?  How should arbitrary detention be prevented or remedied?  Panelists will compare and contrast answers from the European and Inter-American human rights systems, the law of war, and U.S. domestic law.

Featured speakers: Professor Fionnuala Ni Aolain, of the University of Minnesota School of Law; Clinical Instructor Fernando Delgado, of Harvard Law School; Professor Gabriela Blum, of Harvard Law School; and Professor Carol Steiker, of Harvard Law School. Professor Gerald L. Neuman, Director of the Human Rights Program at HLS, will moderate the discussion.

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September 19, 2012

Irish Parliament Receives Further Overwhelming Evidence of State Involvement in Magdalene Laundries Abuse

Posted by Maeve O'Rourke, 2010 HRP Global Human Rights Fellow and Advisory Board Member for Justice for Magdalenes

Today, we at the Justice for Magdalenes (JFM) advocacy group presented every member of the Irish houses of Parliament with a 146-page submission entitled “State Involvement with the Magdalene Laundries.”  It contains overwhelming proof, if further proof were needed, that the Irish State was directly complicit in and knowingly turned a blind eye to the horrific abuse of women and girls in the Magdalene Laundries, which operated from 1922 until 1996.

Survivors of the Laundries have been waiting decades for an apology and the redress they deserve.  After significant national and international pressure, the State finally took a small step forward last summer, setting up a Committee “to establish the facts of State involvement with the Magdalen Laundries, to clarify any State interaction, and to produce a narrative detailing such interaction.”  But the government has been hiding behind the Committee since then.

Every time JFM and others have pressed the Minister for Justice on the ongoing lack of an apology and restorative justice for the women, the Minister has held fast to the line that the government “will not pre-empt” the findings of the Committee.  To make matters worse, the Minister announced last week that the Committee had revised its “mid-2012” deadline and that its final report may not be published until the end of this year.

This is the same Minister for Justice who, while in opposition in 2009, called for immediate redress measures because of the “absolutely irrefutable evidence” that the state was “directly complicit” in the Magdalene Laundries abuse.

We have been providing the government with proof of its complicity for years. Our final submission to the Committee in August was supported by over 4,500 pages of documentary evidence—including 795 pages of testimony from Magdalene survivors and other witnesses to the State’s involvement in the Laundries’ system of slavery, servitude, and forced labor.

But we are not the only advocates to speak out on this issue.  The UN Committee against Torture recommended 15 months ago that survivors obtain redress within one year.  Nearly two years ago, the Irish Human Rights Commission found clear evidence of state responsibility for the Magdalene abuse and recommended an immediate investigation and compensation mechanism.

Still, the State says it needs more time.

Continue Reading…

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September 17, 2012

Today, Sept. 18: Paul Hoffman, Lead Counsel in Kiobel, on the Future of the ATS

Posted by Susan Farbstein and Tyler Giannini

Please join us tomorrow, September 18, for a talk with Paul Hoffman, lead counsel in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. and Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain. Paul is the leading Alien Tort Statute (ATS) litigator in the country, serving as counsel in ATS cases including Unocal, Wiwa, Apartheid, Talisman, and Kiobel, and arguing Sosa before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Tomorrow, from 12:00-1:00 pm in Milstein 2036, he will speak with us about the future of human rights litigation in U.S. courts in the context of Kiobel, a case against Shell for human rights violations committed in Nigeria.

Paul first argued the Kiobel case in front of the Supreme Court last February, addressing the question of whether corporations can be held liable under the statute.  In an unusual move, following that argument the Court requested supplemental briefing and reargument on the question of whether the ATS extends to international law violations committed outside the United States, in the territory of a foreign sovereign.  Given the case’s potential impact on the ability of survivors of human rights abuse to seek justice in U.S. courts, it will be a privilege to hear Paul’s thoughts as he prepares to reargue Kiobel on October 1st, in the Court’s first hearing of the new term.

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September 13, 2012

Adnan Latif Died on Saturday

Posted by Deborah Popowski

Adnan Latif died on Saturday. He died in Guantánamo.  The Pentagon says he was 32 years old. David Remes, one of his lawyers, says that his documents show that he was 35 or 36 years old.  Given the U.S. government’s dismal track record in getting its facts straight on the people they have rendered, tortured and detained for years without charge, I’ll go with David’s assessment.

Adnan Latif, who died on Saturday in Guantánamo after being held there since 2002, without charge or trial.

Either way, Adnan and I were close in age.

Of all the things I could write about, this is what I keep coming back to.  I’m trying to figure out what it is about this particular piece of horror news that is making me cry.  This is a question worth asking when reading horror news is a big part of what you do for a living, and the things that once made you cry – the things that you imagined would make everyone cry – stop doing so as regularly, probably because crying all the time, every day, would be too hard.

Last night, I taught my first class of the semester, and today, the mad, exhilarating rush of project work begins, but all I can think about is how long a decade is.  I’ve been thinking about how when Adnan was 25, or maybe 24, my government bought Adnan from the Pakistanis for $5000, and flew him, shackled and drugged, to Guantánamo. And how it was around the same time that this same government flew me to Niger to serve in the Peace Corps, where I explained to Muslims that, never mind what they heard on the radio, my country was not at war with Islam.

The series of images flickers by, our decades in review in split-screen, the realization that for the last ten years, while I made my way through nine homes and a dozen countries; while I explored two other careers before applying to, attending, graduating from and coming back to teach law school; while I was meeting, befriending, falling in love with and marrying my husband—Adnan was sitting, pacing, writing, and fighting in a cell, ill and far from his loved ones.

His lawyer David, who spent the better part of the last few years fighting alongside Adnan for justice, released this statement about him:

“Slightly built and gentle, he was a father and husband. He was a talented poet and was devoutly religious. He never posed a threat to the United States, and he never should have been brought to Guantanamo. The military has not stated a cause of death. However Adnan died, it was Guantanamo that killed him. His death is a reminder of the human cost of the government’s Guantanamo detention policy and underscores the urgency of releasing detainees the government does not intend to prosecute.”

Adam Cohen of The Atlantic summarizes here, with devastating efficiency, the perversity of the system that brought him to this death.

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September 10, 2012

Today, Sept. 12, at noon: Human Rights Program Orientation!

Event Notice

September 12, 2012

Human Rights Program Orientation

12- 1:00 pm

WCC 2009

It’s that time of year again!  Join us for pizza and an overview of the Human Rights Program and how you can get involved.

We’ll give you information on our International Human Rights Clinic; summer funding for human rights internships; post-graduate fellowships; events and conferences; and the larger human rights community at Harvard Law School.

Then it’s your turn: mix and mingle with instructors from the Clinic, Visiting Fellows from the Academic Program, as well as representatives from student groups focused on human rights, such as HLS Advocates for Human Rights.

For more information, stop by Wasserstein 3139 or email us at hrp@law.harvard.edu

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