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November 28, 2016
November 30, 2016
12:00- 1:00 p.m.
Please join us for a conversation with the Honourable Irwin Cotler, the former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and international human rights lawyer. Professor Cotler has been called “Counsel for the Oppressed” and “Freedom’s Counsel” by Canada’s MacLeans Magazine and the Oslo Freedom Forum, respectively. He was Canadian Counsel for Nelson Mandela and main counsel for former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, and was a law professor at McGill University. Professor Cotler is the recipient of eleven honorary doctorates and various awards including the Order of Canada, which is Canada’s highest civillian honor, and the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation’s Centennial Medal.
This event is organized by the Harvard Canadian Law Students Association and is co-sponsored by the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, HLS Advocates for Human Rights, the Human Rights Program, and ACS. Lunch will be provided.
April 21, 2016
April 21, 2016
“No Más Bebés”:
A Film Screening and Discussion with Renee Tajima-Peña
4:00- 7:00 p.m.
The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required here.
Please join us for a film screening and discussion of No Más Bebés, which tells the story of a landmark event in reproductive justice, when a small group of Mexican immigrant women sued county doctors, the state, and the U.S. government after they were pushed into sterilizations while giving birth at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center during the 1960s and 70s.
This screening will be followed by a discussion with Harvard University alumnus and Director, Renee Tajima-Peña. Professor Tajima-Peña is an Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker whose films on immigration, race and social issues include Who Killed Vincent Chin?, My America…or Honk if You Love Buddha, Labor Women, The New Americans, and Calavera Highway. She is currently the Director of the Center of EthnoCommunications at UCLA, where she is a professor and holds an endowed chair in Japanese American Studies.
This event was organized by the Asian American Studies Working Group and the Latina/o Studies Working Group in EMR, and co-sponsored by Observatory of the Instituto Cervantes, The Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School, Committee on Degrees in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, The Latino Medical Student Association, and The Harvard Chan Women, Gender and Health Interdisciplinary Concentration
November 19, 2015
Company’s Remedies for Rape in Papua New Guinea Deeply Flawed
Legal experts at Columbia and Harvard law schools find major deficiencies with remedies given by multinational company to women raped by its security guards
Geneva & New York, November 19, 2015—A controversial process created by one of the world’s largest gold mining companies to compensate women for rapes and gang rapes in Papua New Guinea was deeply flawed, said human rights investigators and legal experts at Columbia and Harvard Law Schools in a study released today.
The three-year study of Barrick Gold’s remedy mechanism at its Porgera gold mine found that the effort to provide packages to 120 rape survivors was flawed from the start and fell far short of international standards.
“These are some of the most vicious assaults I have ever investigated,” said Professor Sarah Knuckey, one of the lead authors of the report, and the Director of the Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic and Human Rights Institute. “The women and local communities had to struggle for years just to get the company to admit what happened.”
Most women were offered less than $6,000 USD each in compensation, and were also given some counseling and healthcare. Knuckey continued, “They had been suffering for far too long, and deserved much more.”
For several years, security guards at the Porgera mine physically assaulted and sexually abused members of the community. It was only after repeated pressure by local and international groups that the Canadian mining company finally acknowledged the sexual violence and launched an internal investigation in 2010. The company created a remedy mechanism to handle claims by survivors two years later.
The legal investigators interviewed dozens of survivors for the 129-page report, Righting Wrongs?, which found that, in this situation, the women should not have had to sign away their legal rights to sue in order to receive remedies. In addition, the process excluded survivors of many other, non-sexual assaults by company guards, and had insufficient outreach, so some survivors did not know about the mechanism in time to bring their cases. The report also says that inadequate security measures were put in place for survivors, and that some women have reported being threatened and beaten up by family members when their rapes were discovered.
“If remedy mechanisms are to have any chance of addressing egregious violations, they must take on the gross power imbalance between a company and survivors,” said Clinical Professor Tyler Giannini, one of the lead authors and Clinical Director of the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School. “Many of the women signed the company’s agreements because they felt that they simply had no other choice.”
The importance of power was highlighted again this year, when eleven women who obtained U.S.-based lawyers refused to accept the company’s packages, and were given confidential settlement packages believed to be about ten times greater than the amount given to the roughly 120 women who used Barrick’s process. Upon learning this, the lesser-compensated survivors came together to demand more. The company quickly more than doubled their packages, which are still far less than what those who had U.S. lawyers received, and women in Porgera continue to demand that they should receive equitable packages.
The report found that there were some positive features of the mechanism, but that necessary safeguards such as consultation and prior engagement with the survivors and robust legal counsel for the women were either unimplemented or poorly implemented.
“When a company creates and controls the process on its own, there’s an inherent conflict of interest,” said Giannini. “Survivors should be involved early in the process, and on equal footing throughout, so that they do not feel forced into compensation packages that fall seriously short.”
Rather than company-created models, the report suggests an approach that brings companies, survivors, and communities into the joint design of the remedy process. This approach centers the survivors in the process from the outset, and can help address power differentials. The report also calls on the company to provide additional remedies to the 120 women so that their agreements are in line with the amounts received by the eleven women represented by U.S. attorneys; void all legal waivers signed by women; provide remedy to individuals who faced other security guard abuses, including physical assaults; and to provide urgent security protection to women who are currently at risk.
The remedy mechanism is one of the first to be created after the release of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in 2011, which set out the responsibilities of companies for human rights. The Porgera mine has been open since 1989. Barrick Gold became majority-owner and operator of the mine in 2006. Since then, the clinics have actively investigated the situation at the mine. The Columbia and Harvard human rights clinics presented the report this week in Geneva at the 4th Annual United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights.
Sarah Knuckey, Director, Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic: + 1 (917) 685 9098 | email@example.com (Geneva/NYC)
Tyler Giannini, Director, International Human Rights Clinic, Harvard Law School: + 1 (617) 669 2340 | firstname.lastname@example.org (Boston)
Clinical Advocacy Fellow, Amelia Evans, LLM ’11, supervised a research trip that contributed to this report. In addition, numerous students, including Flora Amwayi, JD ’13; Skawenniio Barnes, JD ’14; Marie Cita, JD ’14; Krizna Gomez, LLM ’13; Reeba Muthalaly, LLM ’14; Tamaryn Nelson, MPA ’14; Kiri Toki, LLM ’16; and Helen Zhang, JD ’16, contributed to the report.
The report is available at: www.rightingwrongsporgera.com
November 5, 2015
Yesterday, Anna Crowe, clinical advocacy fellow, and Danae Paterson, JD ’16, took part in a roundtable discussion in Amman, Jordan, on civil documentation – in this context, birth, marriage, and death registration – for Syrian refugees in Jordan.
A recent International Human Rights Clinic report, “Registering Rights,” examines the processes, challenges, and significance of civil documentation for Syrian refugees living outside camps in Jordan. Civil documentation plays a crucial role in securing legal identity within a society, helping to prevent statelessness, and protecting a range of human rights.
October 20, 2015
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
“Don’t Look Away: Images of Systematic Torture in the Syrian Regime”
12:00- 1:00 p.m.
Austin Hall 100 North
Harvard Law School
As the humanitarian crisis in Syria deepens, this panel will explore the role of photography in documenting and raising international awareness about torture, mass killings, and other atrocities committed by the Assad regime. An exhibit of 30 images taken by a former Syrian military police photographer, code named “Caesar” and tasked with photographing corpses of victims who died inside facilities run by the Assad regime, will be on display for two weeks following the panel. The images are part of a cache of 55,000 photographs taken between 2011 and 2013, and smuggled out of Syria in 2014.
Panelists: Stephen J. Rapp, Former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issue; Mouaz Moustafa, Executive Director, Syrian Emergency Task Force; Tyler Jess Thompson, Policy Director, United for A Free Syria; Naomi Kikoler, Deputy Director, Center for Prevention of Genocide, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum; Susan Farbstein, Co-director, International Human Rights Clinic, Harvard Law School
Sponsored by the Human Rights Program, Office of Public Interest Advising, and HLS Advocates for Human Rights
January 26, 2015
The following publication opportunity comes via Prof. Jure Vidmar, a former Visiting Fellow at HRP, and an editor of the Hague Yearbook of International Law:
Deadline: 1 March 2015.
We welcome articles (8,000-20,000 words) and shorter commentaries (4,000-7,000 words) on any aspect of private or public international law, written in either English or French. All submissions will be peer-reviewed. More information is available here.
October 4, 2013
October 7, 2013
“The Act of Killing”
Please join us for a panel discussion of “The Act of Killing,” a documentary film that explores a country where death squad leaders are celebrated as heroes. Panelists include: the film’s director, Joshua Oppenheimer; Professor Robb Moss, of the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard; Professor Alex Whiting, of Harvard Law School; and Professor Mary Steedly, of the Department of Anthropology at Harvard.
NOTE: The Harvard Film Archive will be showing the director’s cut of the film on October 5, 2013 at 7 p.m. You are encouraged to have seen the film before attending the panel discussion.
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