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September 23, 2016
Posted by Cara Solomon
For years, Heather Williams has given her warmth and understanding and knowledge of the law school to anyone who walks through the doors of 6 Everett Street, looking for help. Her smile alone is enough to put anyone at ease. So it was nothing short of a thrill to see her celebrated yesterday, along with 10 other staff, with the Dean’s Award for Excellence.
Here’s what Dean Minow had to say about Heather, whose official title is Clinical Hospitality Coordinator for the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs:
“Heather is the Clinical Hospitality Coordinator for Clinical and Pro Bono Programs, which is to say she is the face to the entire community. She serves the world in our justice vision at Harvard Law School. Heather is deeply committed. She has continually demonstrated her dedication to the work of the various sclinics and the student practice organizations. She is the window to Harvard Law School. She is the face of Harvard Law School. She is the voice of Harvard Law School. The people who are in serious need, the Clinical community, and the Law School are better every day because of what she does.
Heather greets clients when they come for appointments. She makes sure they get to the right place at the right time. In each and every situation, she will do whatever it takes to make sure that the clients’ needs and expectations are met, and at the same time, alleviating the needs of those who seek guidance. Continue Reading…
September 20, 2016
Posted by Cara Solomon
Now that we’re in the rhythm of the semester, it’s time to introduce some new faces in the International Human Rights Clinic. We’re thrilled to welcome five new clinical advocacy fellows, all accomplished lawyers with different expertise and experiences. They’re leading clinical projects this semester on a range of new topics, from human rights protection in investment treaties to armed conflict and the environment.
In alphabetical order, here they are:
Fola Adeleke is a South African-trained lawyer who specializes in international economic law and human rights, corporate transparency, open government and accountability within the extractives industry. This semester, his projects focus on human rights protection in investment treaties and reconfiguring the licensing process of mining to include more consultation with communities.
Rebecca Agule, an alumna of the Clinic, is an American lawyer who specializes in the impact of conflict and violence upon individuals, communities, and the environment. This semester, her project focuses on armed conflict and the environment, with a focus on victim assistance.
Juan Pablo Calderón-Meza, a former Visiting Fellow with the Human Rights Program, is a Colombian attorney whose practice specializes in international law and human rights advocacy and litigation. This semester, his project focuses on accountability for corporations and executives that facilitated human rights abuses and atrocity crimes.
Yee Htun is the Director of the Myanmar Program for Justice Trust, a legal non-profit that partners with lawyers and activists to strengthen communities fighting for justice and human rights. Born in Myanmar and trained as a lawyer in Canada, Yee specializes in gender justice and working on behalf of refugee and migrant communities. This semester, her project focuses on women advocates in Myanmar.
Salma Waheedi is an attorney who specializes in international human rights law, Islamic law, gender justice, family law, comparative constitutional law, and refugee and asylum law. Born in Bahrain and trained as a lawyer in the U.S., Salma currently holds a joint appointment with Harvard Law School’s Islamic Legal Studies Program, where she focuses on family relations in Islamic jurisprudence. This semester, her project focuses on gender justice under Islam.
We’re so pleased to have the fellows as part of our community this semester. Please swing by at some point to introduce yourself and say hello.
September 14, 2016
“U.S. Law and Policy on Transitional Justice”
A book talk by Zachary D. Kaufman
Please join us for a discussion with Zachary D. Kaufman about his new book, United States Law and Policy on Transitional Justice: Principles, Politics, and Pragmatics (Oxford University Press, 2016), which explores the U.S. government’s support for, or opposition to, certain transitional justice institutions. Dr. Kaufman, a senior fellow at the Kennedy School, presents an overview of possible responses to atrocities (such as war crimes tribunals), then evaluates why and how the U.S. has pursued particular transitional justice options since World War II.
August 22, 2016
Posted by Gerald Neuman
Today I have the honor of announcing an exciting new appointment at the Human Rights Program. Emily Nagisa Keehn has joined HRP as Associate Director for the Academic Program. Emily is a dynamic and skillful human rights lawyer, who will bring leadership and experience to the work of the Academic Program, and who looks forward to developing strong relationships with our students. She will also act as an important liaison between the HRP Academic Program and other parts of the Law School and the University.
Emily joins the Human Rights Program from Sonke Gender Justice in Cape Town, where she was the head of policy development and advocacy. In this role, she directed strategic litigation, research, parliamentary engagement, and advocacy pertaining to human rights, gender, and HIV. She primarily focuses on human rights issues at the intersection of criminal justice, gender, and health.
Previously, Emily worked for UCLA School of Law, where she developed and ran a post-graduate legal fellowship for Southern African public interest lawyers, culminating in an LL.M. and a one-year work placement with a human rights organization. Emily’s experience spans Southern Africa, Southeast Asia, Israel and the U.S. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of California, San Diego, and a J.D. from UCLA School of Law.
At HRP, Emily will play a substantive and managerial role in innovating and implementing academic activities, including the speaker series, conferences, and the Academic Program’s various fellowships.
We welcome her warmly and look forward to your meeting her soon.
July 1, 2016
Moving On: Deborah Popowski to Be Executive Director of NYU’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice
Today we have the mixed blessing of announcing that one of our favorite people is moving on: Deborah Popowski, JD ’08, Clinical Instructor and Lecturer on Law, is bringing her considerable talents to New York University (NYU) School of Law as Executive Director of its Center for Human Rights and Global Justice.
It comes as no surprise to us that she was chosen for this leadership role. For the past seven years, Deborah has proven herself to be a visionary inside the International Human Rights Clinic, carving out a critical niche for U.S.-based work. In her time here, she led clinical projects on issues ranging from protest and assembly rights to the right to heal for U.S. service members and Iraqis. She also created a clinical seminar, “Human Rights Advocacy and the United States,” with the Human Rights Program’s former executive director, Clinical Professor Jim Cavallaro.
In particular, Deborah distinguished herself in recent years as a national leader in the grassroots movement to hold U.S. health professionals accountable for torture in the national security sphere. Her approach was both innovative and in-depth: through professional misconduct complaints, legislative advocacy, media outreach and academic conferences, she worked with clients to highlight the actions of psychologists at Guantánamo. Continue Reading…
June 29, 2016
Statement on the end of the In re South African Apartheid Litigation
June 29, 2016
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a major corporate accountability case, Ntsebeza, et al., v. Ford Motor Co., et al., that represented the last opportunity for South Africans to achieve justice in U.S. courts for apartheid-era crimes. The U.S. corporations – Ford and IBM – were alleged to have purposefully facilitated violations of international law by enabling the denationalization and violent suppression, including extrajudicial killings, of black South Africans living under the apartheid regime. What began fourteen years ago as litigation against dozens of multinational corporations has effectively ended without ever even entering discovery.
We are deeply disappointed for our clients and the communities who suffered as a direct result of corporate complicity in violence and oppression. We are also extremely concerned about the reluctance of U.S. courts to take on powerful corporate actors that have involved themselves in human rights abuses abroad. Continue Reading…
June 20, 2016
Posted by Bonnie Docherty
This piece originally appeared in The Conversation on June 16, 2016
New technology could lead humans to relinquish control over decisions to use lethal force. As artificial intelligence advances, the possibility that machines could independently select and fire on targets is fast approaching. Fully autonomous weapons, also known as “killer robots,” are quickly moving from the realm of science fiction toward reality.
These weapons, which could operate on land, in the air or at sea, threaten to revolutionize armed conflict and law enforcement in alarming ways. Proponents say these killer robots are necessary because modern combat moves so quickly, and because having robots do the fighting would keep soldiers and police officers out of harm’s way. But the threats to humanity would outweigh any military or law enforcement benefits.
Removing humans from the targeting decision would create a dangerous world. Machines would make life-and-death determinations outside of human control. The risk of disproportionate harm or erroneous targeting of civilians would increase. No person could be held responsible. Continue Reading…
June 17, 2016
Human Rights Case Against Former Bolivian President for Role in 2003 Massacre Cleared to Move Forward
Court of Appeals Rejects Defendants’ Attempt to Have Case Dismissed
Miami, FL –More than 12 years after government-planned massacres in Bolivia killed 58 unarmed civilians, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday rejected an effort to scuttle a lawsuit against the former President of Bolivia and his Minister of Defense, both of whom are currently living in the United States. Instead, the appellate court sent the case back to the district court with a mandate to proceed to discovery.
In Mamani v. Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzain, the families of eight Bolivians killed in the massacres filed suit against the former Bolivian president, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, and his former Bolivian defense minister, José Carlos Sánchez Berzaín, charging they ordered extrajudicial killings. The lawsuit alleges that, months in advance of the violence, the two defendants devised a plan to kill thousands of civilians, and that they intentionally used deadly force against political protests in an effort to quash political opposition. In addition to the deaths, more than 400 civilians were injured when security forces fired on unarmed civilians.
In today’s unanimous decision, the appeals court held that a federal statute, the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), permits plaintiffs to sue in U.S. court for extrajudicial killing after they have exhausted the remedies available in their home country. Continue Reading…
June 9, 2016
Today marks the grim five-year anniversary of the resumption of armed conflict in Myanmar’s Kachin State. This conflict, between the Myanmar military and the Kachin Independence Army, has displaced more than 100,000 civilians. Organizations at the local and international level have also documented severe human rights violations perpetrated by the Myanmar military, including extrajudicial killings, torture, rape and sexual violence and forced labor.
The International Human Rights Clinic today joins 129 other organizations in calling for peace, justice and accountability in Kachin State.
“Joint Statement: Five Years of War- A Call for Peace, Justice and Accountability in Kachin State”
(June 9, 2016)— Although much of the world has expressed excitement over Myanmar’s political transition, communities throughout Kachin and northern Shan states have been living with severe human rights abuses and displacement for the last five years.
Since 2011, renewed armed conflict between the Myanmar military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has displaced more than 100,000 civilians. Continue Reading…
June 3, 2016
Posted by Tyler Giannini and Susan Farbstein
Last week, the International Human Rights Clinic and co-counsel filed our reply brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, responding to Ford and IBM’s opposition to the petition for a writ of certiorari in the in re South African Apartheid Litigation. The reply brief points out the clear circuit splits that require the Supreme Court’s attention, flatly rejecting Defendants’ claim to the contrary. Continue Reading…
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