Blog: Press Releases

October 21, 2019

WATCH: Victor Madrigal-Borloz Previews United Nations General Assembly Report

Image of Victor Madrigal-Borloz speaking at Harvard Law School on October 17, 2019.

On October 17, 2019, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the Eleanor Roosevelt Senior Visiting Researcher with the Human Rights Program and the UN Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, spoke to the Harvard Law School community, previewing his October 24 address to the United Nations General Assembly.

Mr. Madrigal-Borloz shared findings from his recent report on socio-cultural and economic inclusion for LGBT individuals. The report provides an overview of LGBT access to education, employment, housing, health, public spaces, and religious and political discourse. The talk was organized by the Human Rights Program at HLS and co-sponsored by HLS Advocates for Human Rights and the Harvard Human Rights Journal.

Watch the full October 17 address above or on the Harvard Law School YouTube site.

You can read more about Mr. Madrigal Borloz’s HLS residency as a senior visiting researcher on the Harvard Law Today website.

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October 9, 2019

Gerald Neuman files amicus curiae brief to US Supreme Court on deportation cases

Professor Gerald Neuman, Co-Director of the Human Rights Program and
J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law at Harvard Law School, recently filed an amicus curiae brief to the US Supreme Court in a pair of cases involving the standards for judicial review of deportation decisions.

Both cases, Guerrero-Lasprilla v. Barr and Ovalles v. Barr, involve long-term immigrants who were wrongly removed – to Colombia and to the Dominican Republic – based on interpretations of the statutory deportation grounds that the Supreme Court later overturned.  The petitioners applied to reopen the deportation decisions so that they could return to the United States, arguing that the time limit for reopening should be “equitably tolled” because they had diligently sought relief. The immigration agency rejected their claims as untimely, and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that their diligence presented an unreviewable issue of fact rather than a reviewable issue of law. The Supreme Court granted certiorari, and the cases will be argued in December, and a decision is expected in the spring.

The amicus brief of three leading Scholars of Habeas Corpus Law explains that reviewable issues of law include “mixed questions” of the application of a legal standard to facts, both as a matter of statutory interpretation and in order to satisfy the Suspension Clause of the Constitution.  It shows how historically, both in the eighteenth century and in the modern era, the right to habeas corpus has included judicial review of the application of law to fact.

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October 1, 2019

Photo Exhibit: From the Atomic Bomb to the Nobel Peace Prize

From October 1 through October 8, 2019, the South Lobby of Wasserstein Hall showcases a photo exhibition that documents the impact of nuclear weapons and recent progress toward their elimination. The exhibit focuses on the devastation caused by early use and testing of these weapons and civil society’s role in producing the 2017 treaty that bans them.

Bonnie Docherty, Associate Director of Armed Conflict and Civilian and Lecturer in Law at the International Human Rights Clinic, organized the exhibit. Her introduction is reproduced below in its entirety.

Campaigners outside the United Nations during negotiations of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in New York on March 31, 2017.
The photo, “Campaigners outside the United Nations during negotiations of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, New York, March 31, 2017,” is the ninth photo in a series documenting the history of nuclear disarmament currently on view in the South Lobby of Wasserstein Hall. Photo Credit: Claire Conboy.

The exhibit is co-sponsored by the Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative, Hibakusha Stories/Youth Arts New York, and HLS Advocates for Human Rights.


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September 10, 2019

HRP’s 2018-2019 Annual Report

A banner that shows pages from the annual report: including the cover image, a map of our global reach and impact, and pictures of students traveling on clinical trips.

We are delighted to present HRP’s 2018-2019 Annual Report. The report showcases the global reach and impact of the Human Rights Program in its 35th year. Previews have already run on the Harvard Law School website: profiles of Paras Shah JD ’19, Jenny B. Domino LLM ’18, and Anna Khalfaoui LLM ’17. In addition to celebrating these former students and fellows, the annual report explores how members of HRP contributed to a convention on crimes against humanity, innovated in clinical pedagogy, and advocated for LGBT rights. We thank all of the students, partners, and alumni who made last year so strong and look forward to engaging with our community and working on the most pressing issues in 2019-2020.

You can view our annual report in several different modes: a flipbook version, a color PDF, and a black-and-white PDF.

Read the introduction below, which highlights the words of the Human Rights Program and International Human Rights Clinic Co-Directors:


The Human Rights Program: Reflecting on 35 Years


Founded by Professor Emeritus Henry Steiner in 1984 as a center for human rights scholarship, Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program (HRP) enters its 35th year in 2019. Concurrently, the International Human Rights Clinic celebrates its 15th anniversary. HRP was founded as a place of reflection and engagement and a forum that brings academics and advocates together. Since 1984, HRP has only deepened its commitment to this endeavor. With this past year marking the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations General Assembly, it is a particularly opportune time to take stock of human rights at Harvard Law School (HLS) and how the Program’s impact has reverberated beyond the university.

“The Universal Declaration set forth a vision of liberty and equality and social solidarity that has never been fully achieved; it continues to inspire people around the world as we strive to fulfill its mission,” said Gerald L. Neuman JD ’80, Co-Director of HRP and the J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law at HLS. “The Program has always been about critical involvement with human rights. In a time when human rights face extreme challenges globally, that means thinking more deeply about what changes are needed and  how we can contribute to the system, scholarship, and the world.”

Today, HRP comprises the Academic Program and the Clinic, which together bridge theory with practice and engage with pressing human rights issues around the world. As a center for critical thinking, the Academic Program organizes conferences and other events; publishes working papers and books; offers summer and post-graduate fellowships to launch students in human rights careers; and draws human rights advocates and academics from across the globe as part of the Visiting Fellows Program.

Over the past decade and a half, the Clinic has engaged more than 1,000 students in an analytical and reflective approach to human rights lawyering. While devoting itself to the training of future practitioners, the Clinic has promoted and protected human rights through scores of projects around the world. This work includes pushing for global equity in the realm of gender and sexuality, litigating landmark accountability cases, and helping to negotiate treaties that ban nuclear weapons and cluster munitions.

“The formal founding of the International Human Rights Clinic 15 years ago is really consequential; it recognizes the diversity of ways that people can contribute to the human rights movement,” said Susan H. Farbstein JD ’04, Co-Director of the Clinic and Clinical Professor of Law. While not all clinical students pursue careers in human rights, they often cite their clinical education as influential and formative. For many, clinics are the one place at HLS where they have the opportunity to engage in real-world preparation and see their efforts make an impact. “We’re training students in critical approaches to human rights practice, emphasizing cross-cultural sensitivity and how to be guided by the clients and communities we serve. We hope this leads to better, more effective human rights advocacy,” Farbstein said.

This year, HRP recognizes the anniversary of the Program, the Clinic, and the UDHR with both celebration and humility. After decades of training students and building a network of HRP fellows and partners, it is inspiring to step back and glimpse the network that we’ve built. “It’s not about one particular year but about the cumulative impact,” said Tyler R. Giannini, Co- Director of HRP and the Clinic and Clinical Professor of Law. “When we see the success of our students, alumni, partners, and fellows, it’s a testament to the power of this community.”

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August 28, 2019

UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Seeks RAs

Victor Madrigal-Borloz smiles at a press engagement.

Victor Madrigal-Borloz, UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, will be resident at the Human Rights Program for the next 18 months as a Senior Visiting Researcher. He seeks multiple research assistants for the 2019-2020 year. Research may focus on conversion therapy and the relationship between the criminalization of LGBTI issues and sustainable development goals. RAs must be independent and self-motivated with excellent writing and research skills. Candidates must have a Harvard affiliation.

For consideration, please send a CV to Dana Walters at dwalters@law.harvard.edu.

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August 27, 2019

HRP Welcomes New Clinicians for 2019-2020


The International Human Rights Clinic is thrilled to welcome two new faces, and one familiar one, to our team this year. Two impressive human rights practitioners, Beatrice Lindstrom and Aminta Ossom JD ’09, have joined the International Human Rights Clinic as Clinical Instructors. Coming to us with an extensive background in accountability litigation and advocacy, Beatrice will split her time between supervising projects as a Clinical Instructor and overseeing the student practice organization HLS Advocates for Human Rights. Aminta arrives from the United Nations, where she previously supported the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and the Special Rapporteurs of the Human Rights Council as a Human Rights Officer. We are also pleased to welcome back Thomas Becker JD’08 as a Clinical Instructor. Becker was previously a Clinical Instructor during the 2018-2019 school year, where he worked on projects focused on accountability litigation and femicide in Bolivia, and he has played an integral role in the Clinic’s Mamani case for more than a decade.

Read more about Beatrice, Aminta, and Thomas below, and be sure to welcome them to HLS!


Beatrice Lindstrom is a Clinical Instructor in the Human Rights Program and the Supervising Attorney of Advocates for Human Rights. Her work focuses on accountability of transnational actors, obligations of international organizations, and access to remedies. 

Prior to joining Harvard Law School, Lindstrom was the Legal Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, an organization that works in partnership with Haitian lawyers to bring grassroots struggles for human rights to the international stage. For nearly a decade, her work has focused on path-breaking advocacy to secure accountability from the UN for causing a devastating cholera epidemic in Haiti. She was lead counsel in Georges v. United Nations, a class action lawsuit on behalf of those injured by cholera. For her work on the cholera case, she received the Recent Graduate Award from the NYU Law Alumni Association and the Zanmi Ayiti Award from the Haiti Solidarity Network of the Northeast. 

Lindstrom has extensive experience advocating in the UN human rights system, lobbying governments, and speaking in the media. She has appeared regularly in the New York Times, BBC, and Al Jazeera English.

Lindstrom was previously an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights and a Haiti country expert for Freedom House. She holds a JD from NYU School of Law, where she was a Root-Tilden-Kern public interest scholar, and a BA from Emory University.  


Aminta Ossom is a Clinical Instructor at the International Human Rights Clinic. She focuses on equality, inclusion, and economic and social rights. She also has research interests in human rights diplomacy, the role of identity in advocacy, and symbioses between civil and human rights movements.

Ossom was previously a human rights officer at the United Nations, where she supported the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and the Special Rapporteurs of the Human Rights Council in fact-finding, advocacy and training in Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia and Europe.

Before joining the UN, Ossom taught international human rights at Fordham Law School as a Crowley Fellow in International Human Rights and Adjunct Professor of Law.  There she designed and led a field study examining barriers to education faced by persons with disabilities in Rwanda. She has also served as a supervising attorney for independent clinical and externship students.

After graduating from Harvard Law School in 2009, Ossom focused on transitional justice, including as a Satter Human Rights Fellow with Amnesty International in West Africa. While at HLS, she was a dedicated member of the International Human Rights Clinic. She holds a Masters in African Politics from SOAS, University of London, and a BA from the University of Oklahoma.


Thomas Becker is a Clinical Instructor in the International Human Rights Clinic. He is an attorney and activist who has spent most of the past decade working on human rights issues in Bolivia. As a student at Harvard Law School, he was the driving force behind launching Mamani v. Sanchez de Lozada, a lawsuit against Bolivia’s former president and defense minister for their role in the massacre of indigenous peasants. After graduating, he moved to Bolivia, where he has worked with the survivors for over a decade. Last spring, Becker and his co-counsel obtained a $10 million jury verdict for family members of those killed in “Black October,” marking the first time a living ex-president has been held accountable in a U.S. court for human rights violations. The verdict was overturned by a federal judge and is currently being appealed in the Eleventh Circuit of Appeals.

Becker’s human rights work has included investigating torture and disappearance of Adavasis in India, documenting war crimes in Lebanon, and serving as a nonviolent bodyguard for the Zapatista guerrillas in Chiapas, Mexico. When he is not practicing law, Becker is an award-winning musician and songwriter who has recorded with Grammy-winning producers and toured throughout the world as a drummer and guitarist. 

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August 14, 2019

Human Rights Program Awards Five Visiting Fellowships for 2019-2020


The Human Rights Program is pleased to welcome five exemplary human rights practitioners and scholars to Harvard Law School as 2019-2020 Visiting Fellows. Through its Visiting Fellows Program, HRP seeks to give thoughtful individuals with a demonstrated commitment to human rights an opportunity to step back and conduct a serious inquiry in the human rights field. Learn more about the program here and see below for details on the incoming cohort.


Adejoké Babington-Ashaye

Adejoké Babington-Ashaye is the OPIA / HRP Wasserstein Fellow for the 2019-2020 year. She is a versatile lawyer with over sixteen years of experience in public international law, human rights, international criminal law and the judicial settlement of disputes. She is actively engaged in the provision of technical support and training for national prosecution and investigation of international crimes. Currently Senior Counsel at the World Bank, Babington-Ashaye has worked at the International Court of Justice on the settlement of state disputes and at the International Criminal Court as an investigator. Her background includes campaigning for the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, investigating human rights violations in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region, and conducting human rights policy research at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. She is the co-editor and author of International Criminal Investigations: Law and Practice. Babington-Ashaye holds an LLB from the University of Buckingham and an LLM in Public International Law from the London School of Economics. She is a qualified Attorney in the State of New York.

At HRP, Babington-Ashaye will research the investigation and prosecution of conflict-related sexual violence as acts of terrorism.


Anton Burkov

Dr. Anton Burkov is the Chair of the Center of European Law and Strategic Litigation at the University of Humanities, as well as Director of the human rights NGO Sutyajnik. He has engaged in strategic litigation on a number of cases, including: Burkov v. Google (IT and privacy), Mikhaylova v. Russia (free legal aid), Sablina and Others v. Russia (secret organ harvesting), Korolevs v. Russia (rights of prisoners and their families to conjugal meetings, sex, and artificial insemination). He has authored numerous publications, including a chapter on, “The Use of European Human Rights Law in Russian Courts” in Russia and the European Court of Human Rights: The Strasbourg Effect (Eds. Lauri Mälksoo and Wolfgang Benedek, Cambridge University Press). He has received a fellowship from the Fulbright Visiting Scholars Program to be in residence at HRP for spring 2020.

At HRP, Dr. Burkov will be developing a curriculum on how to conduct strategic impact litigation.


Elena Dorothy Estrada-Tanck

Dorothy Estrada-Tanck is Assistant Professor of International Law and International Relations at the University of Murcia, Spain. She holds a PhD in Law from the European University Institute, an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics, and an LLB from Escuela Libre de Derecho, Mexico City. In addition to her academic background, she has worked for the United Nations and state bodies and NGOs in Mexico, Italy, the U.S., and Spain. She focuses on issues of human rights, gender, and socio-economic justice. She is the author of Human Security and Human Rights under International Law: The Protections Offered to Persons Confronting Structural Vulnerability (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2016).

At HRP, she will be carrying out research on indirect discrimination from a comparative perspective, with a focus on the UN and regional human rights systems, for a book on economic, social, and cultural rights, as well as on international law and new technologies.


Sandra Fahy

Sandra Fahy is an associate professor of anthropology in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and the Graduate Program in Global Studies at Sophia University, Tokyo. She holds a PhD from SOAS University of London. She is the author of two books about human rights in North Korea. The first studies the subjective experience of famine survival: Marching through Suffering: Loss and Survival in North Korea (New York: Columbia University Press 2015). The second scrutinizes violations committed by the DPRK, domestically and internationally, and the state’s use of video technology to spread denial of rights abuse allegations: Dying for Rights: Putting North Korea’s Rights Abuses on the Record (New York: Columbia University Press 2019).

At HRP, she will be working on a book project about state perpetrators who use audiovisual technology to deny rights violations. 


Rashad Ibadov

Dr. Rashad Ibadov is the Director of the Law Program at ADA University, Baku, Azerbaijan and a visiting professor of law at the Catholic University of Lille, France. Dr. Ibadov received his Doctor of Laws (LLD) from the European University Institute, Florence, Italy (2007–2013), LLM from Lund University, Sweden (2004–2006) and LLB from Khazar University, Baku, Azerbaijan (1999-2003). Dr. Ibadov has been a researcher at the Graduate Program of Harvard Law School (2009–2010) and a visiting scholar at UC, Berkeley (Spring 2009). His areas of research interests include law and religion, political and legal philosophy, constitutional law, citizenship and identity in the post-Soviet space.

At HRP, Rashad will be studying the question of how the post-Soviet Muslim-majority states should respond to the constitutional challenges raised by groups divided by religion or by conscience, and, through these responses, thereby promote democracy, political justice, religious harmony and prosperity.



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July 31, 2019

Emily Nagisa Keehn Departs HRP


After three years as Associate Director of the Academic Program, Emily Nagisa Keehn is leaving the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School and starting as Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs at the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, University of San Diego.

Arriving in 2016 from Sonke Gender Justice in South Africa, Emily came to us with a human rights, gender, and HIV background. At HRP, she undertook influential research on health and human rights in prisons, decriminalization, and conflict-related sexual violence. She managed the day-to-day affairs of the Academic Program with her characteristic combination of intelligence, insight, and clear judgment: advising on and running HRP’s summer, post-graduate, and visiting fellowships; spearheading a mentorship program for post-graduate fellows; and curating HRP’s thought-provoking lunch talks and colloquia. Recently she took on additional responsibilities, supervising students in the International Human Rights Clinic.

Emily’s energy, dynamism, and passion inspired staff and students alike. “Emily has been an extraordinarily gifted Associate Director, and a joy to work with,” said Gerald Neuman, HRP Co-Director and J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law, with whom she worked closely. She leaves a large gap in our Program and we will miss her dearly. We wish her all the best in her new role.


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June 25, 2019

Clinic Contributes to New Human Rights Watch Research on Forced Evictions in Guinea


Human Rights Watch recently released research revealing a devastating round of forced evictions in Guinea’s capital, Conakry. The initial spark for the research came from fieldwork conducted this spring, when students in the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School interviewed victims of the evictions.

HRW’s press release provides detail about the circumstances unfolding in Guinea and what the government should do to abide by international law:

“Between February and May 2019, more than 20,000 people were displaced after bulldozers and other heavy machinery demolished buildings and forcibly evicted residents from the Kaporo-Rails, Kipé 2, Dimesse, and Dar Es Salam neighborhoods. Guinea’s government said that the land belongs to the state and will be used for government ministries, foreign embassies, businesses, and other public works.

“‘The Guinean government hasn’t just demolished homes, it has damaged peoples’ lives and livelihoods,’ said Corinne Dufka, West Africa director at Human Rights Watch. ‘The failure to provide alternative housing or even immediate humanitarian assistance to those evicted is a violation of human rights law and shows a blatant disregard for human dignity.’

In March, April, and June, Human Rights Watch interviewed 40 victims of evictions in Conakry, as well as government officials, lawyers, nongovernmental organizations, religious leaders, and politicians. Human Rights Watch also reviewed satellite imagery, which showed that at least 2,500 buildings were demolished in the Kaporo-Rails, Kipé 2, and Dimesse neighborhoods in February and March and more than 385 buildings in Dar-Es-Salam in May

.The Ministry for Towns and Planning, which oversaw the evictions, maintains that the evicted areas were state land. However, many of the people whose homes were demolished said they had documentary proof that their families had decades-old property rights over the land. ‘It’s devastating to lose everything you have in 30 minutes,’ said Makia Touré, a mother of six who said her family had lived in Kipé 2 since 1985.”


To read the full press release and for more, visit the HRW website.

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June 17, 2019

United Nations Independent Expert Victor Madrigal-Borloz to Pursue LGBTQI Research from HRP

UN Independent Expert Victor Madrigal-Borloz (above) visited HRP in February 2019 for a talk about his mandate. He will be in residence at HLS for the 2019-2020 year.

The Human Rights Program is pleased to announce that Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the United Nations Independent Expert (IE) for the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), will be joining HRP as a Senior Visiting Researcher. Mr. Madrigal-Borloz will be in residence at Harvard Law School from July 2019 to December 2020 while carrying out his mandate as Independent Expert. He will build a team of students to support his research agenda, take part in HRP’s prestigious Visiting Fellowship Colloquium, present his research publicly to the HLS community, and join the larger human rights community at Harvard University.

“The Human Rights Program is honored to welcome Victor Madrigal-Borloz to Harvard Law School while he carries out his mandate,” said Gerald Neuman, Co-Director of the Human Rights Program and J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law at Harvard Law School. “His work demonstrates his nuanced understanding of the issues and his sophisticated approach to dialogue with governments in order to achieve progress. Even as homosexuality is decriminalized in India, we see the world take steps backward elsewhere. Advocacy on these issues is more timely than ever.”

The United Nations Human Rights Council appointed Mr. Madrigal-Borloz for a three-year term beginning January 2018. As Independent Expert, he is pursuing two overarching objectives: 1) heightening awareness of the violence and discrimination people experience due to sexual orientation and gender identity and 2) identifying measures that States may undertake to eradicate such violence and discrimination. He pursues these objectives via a variety of mechanisms: writing thematic reports, reviewing allegations of human rights violations, and evaluating country-specific situations, among others.

“I am delighted to have found an ideal match in the Human Rights Program for three key reasons: its resolve to pursue excellence to ensure the furtherance of human rights, the commitment of its faculty to the eradication of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and the intellectual curiosity and contagious enthusiasm of its students,” said Mr. Madrigal-Borloz.

Until recently, Mr. Madrigal-Borloz was the Secretary-General of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (ICRT). He was previously Head of the Registry of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in addition to serving as a member of the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture. In the latter role, he was Rapporteur on Reprisals and oversaw a draft policy on the torture and ill-treatment of LGBTI persons.

Mr. Madrigal-Borloz previously visited HRP in February 2019 for a public talk. He participated in a live Q&A with Zhadé Long JD’20, which can still be viewed on our Facebook page.

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