Blog: Meera Shah

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September 17, 2013

Wednesday, Sept. 18: Forum on Current Events in Syria and Egypt

Event Notice

 

September 18, 2013

“A Forum on Current Events in Syria and Egypt”

12 – 1 p.m.

WCC 3016

Please join us for a dialogue with Robert Blecher, Deputy Program Director, Middle East and North Africa, of International Crisis Group, and Meera Shah, Clinical Advocacy Fellow, of the Human Rights Program. The discussion will revolve around the political, social, humanitarian, and human rights situation in Syria and Egypt.

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March 21, 2013

Clinic and Human Rights Watch: Obama Should Urge Jordan to Stop Sending Asylum Seekers Back to Syria

Posted by Meera Shah

In a joint press release with Human Rights Watch today, the International Human Rights Clinic called on President Obama to use his visit to Jordan as an opportunity to urge the Jordanian government to stop returning asylum seekers to Syria.

While Jordan has accommodated more than 350,000 refugees since the start of the Syrian conflict in March 2011, it is routinely and unlawfully rejecting Palestinian refugees, single men, and undocumented people seeking asylum at its border with Syria. Based in part on the Clinic’s field research conducted in Jordan and Lebanon over January term, the extended press release documents the difficulties faced by asylum seekers in these categories as they attempt to flee the fighting in Syria.

Below you’ll find the first part of the press release. Here is the full document.

PRESS RELEASE

Jordan: Obama Should Press King on Asylum Seeker Pushbacks

Palestinian Refugees, Single Men, and Undocumented Unlawfully Forced Back to Syria

(New York, March 21, 2013) – Jordan is routinely and unlawfully rejecting Palestinian refugees, single males, and undocumented people seeking asylum at its border with Syria, Human Rights Watch and Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic (the Harvard Clinic) said today.

While attention during U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Jordan on March 22, 2013 will focus on the large number of Syrian refugees that Jordan has welcomed and accommodated since the start of the Syrian crisis in March 2011, its rejection of these categories of asylum seekers fleeing the violence should not be ignored, Human Rights Watch and the Harvard Clinic said.  President Obama should seek assurances from King Abdullah that Jordan will not reject any asylum seekers at its border with Syria. The risks to their lives in Syria are too serious to send anyone back at the present time.

“King Abdullah’s support for 350,000 Syrian refugees deserves President Obama’s praise, but Obama should not give Jordan a free pass to force Palestinian refugees and asylum seekers back to Syria,” said Bill Frelick, refugee program director at Human Rights Watch. “Jordan should recognize that everyone —  and that includes Palestinian refugees, single men, and undocumented people — has the right not to be forcibly sent back to Syria to face the risk of death or serious harm.”

In two separate trips to Jordan and Lebanon, in January and February, Human Rights Watch and the Harvard Clinic conducted in-depth interviews with more than 120 Syrian and Palestinian refugees from Syria. Human Rights Watch and the Harvard Clinic documented that, as a matter of policy, Jordan is turning back people from Syria at its border without adequately considering the risk to them. Such a policy violates the international law principle of nonrefoulement, which forbids governments from returning refugees and asylum seekers to places where their lives or freedom would be threatened.

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March 7, 2013

Tomorrow: Clinicians Moderate Panels on Human Rights and the Environment; Syrian Refugees

Posted by Cara Solomon

For those of you in need of an end-of-the-week intellectual treat, tomorrow our clinicians are stepping in to moderate discussions on some of the most pressing issues of the day:

Tyler, our Clinic’s co-director, will moderate a panel at the International Law Journal Symposium on Addressing Environmental, Human Rights and Development Issues in International Investment Arbitration.” That panel, which runs from 4:15- 5:30 p.m. in Wasserstein 204, will feature Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, Professor of International Law at the University of Geneva; Joost Pauwelyn, Nomura Visiting Professor of International Financial Systems at Harvard Law School, Professor of International Law at Graduate Institute of International & Development Studies at Geneva; and Enrique Gomez-Pinzon, Partner at Holland & Knight LLP; and Attila Tanzi, Professor of International Law at the University of Bologna.

And Meera, our Clinical Advocacy Fellow, will moderate an American Bar Association tele-conference entitled “The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Perspectives from the US, UN, and Civil Society.” That panel, from 12- 1:30 p.m., will feature Zaid Hydari, of the Helsinki Citizens Assembly; Jana Mason, of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees; Jennifer Williams, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, U.S. Department of State; and a Syrian refugee activist TBA.

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…

March 12, 2012

Where in the World is the Human Rights Program?

Posted by Susan Farbstein

This week is spring break at the law school, but folks around HRP won’t be sitting on a beach in Florida.  Seven clinicians and 18 clinical students will be on field missions in five foreign countries and right here at home.

Fernando and Deborah will be in Brazil with their team, as well as Celina Beatriz Mendes de Almeida, LLM ’10, presenting a briefing paper about prosecution of dictatorship-era crimes at a workshop with federal prosecutors.

Later in the week, Deborah will return to Massachusetts and, with another team, conduct interviews related to Occupy Boston for a multi-clinic report examining freedom of expression and assembly in the United States.

Mindy and her team will be in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, investigating access to sexual and reproductive health services, including abortion, and the effect on women’s lives.

Meera and a student will be in Israel and the West Bank, presenting research from last semester and meeting with human rights organizations to develop new clinical projects.

She’s still waiting for the visas to come through, but Bonnie plans to have a team in Libya researching the humanitarian effects of abandoned arms, which have proliferated widely in the wake of the recent conflict there and have the potential to harm civilians as well as destabilize the country.

And Tyler and I, along with six students, will be conducting interviews in refugee camps along the Thai/Burma border, examining human rights violations committed by the Burmese military against villagers.

Here’s wishing everyone a productive “break”!

October 3, 2011

Today: Raji Sourani, Director of Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, on Accountability for Gaza

Posted by Meera Shah

Today, Raji Sourani, one of the foremost human rights lawyers and advocates in the Middle East, will come to speak at Harvard Law School.  Personally, as  someone who worked in the Middle East for several years, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to meet him.  The founder of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza City in 1995, Sourani began his human rights career challenging Israeli prison conditions and defending Palestinians facing deportation in Israeli military courts.  As a human rights defender, he was detained by Israeli authorities on multiple occasions, prompting Amnesty International to name him one of their Prisoners of Conscience in both 1985 and 1988.

With the creation of the Palestinian Authority in the 1990s, Sourani’s work took on another dimension, exposing and documenting human rights violations on the part of both Israeli and Palestinian officials.  While this even-handedness was not always popular, it demonstrates Sourani’s commitment to a universal standard.

This principled stance and the courage to speak out continue to drive Sourani’s work.  Today, he will be talking about the need for accountability for violations committed as part of Israel’s offensive in late 2008 and the human rights implications of the ongoing closure of the Gaza Strip.  I hope you will join us for this important and timely discussion!

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September 12, 2011

It’s What Makes This Place Go…

Posted by Tyler Giannini

The International Human Rights Clinic and the Human Rights Program (HRP) are abuzz with energy again—the energy that comes with the start of the semester and the return of students.  They will be joining our team of clinicians and carrying forward a recent flurry of activity: Fernando just traveled to Brazil to investigate prisons conditions, then turned around and headed to Colombia, where he and Deborah made two oral arguments in the same day before the Inter-American Court on Human Rights.  Along the way, he worked with local partners to negotiate a precedent-setting settlement with the Government of Brazil to improve conditions in one of the country’s most notorious prisons (watch this space for more on that this week).  Not to be outdone, days after Deborah returned from Colombia, she was in Panama advocating for clients from an indigenous community that has been displaced by a dam.

As for Bonnie—well, she’s in Beirut right now at the Second Meeting of States Parties on the Convention on Cluster Munitions.  For Susan’s and my part, we just came back from Asia, where we were talking to people about the underlying causes of a protracted conflict in one country and the interplay between human rights and democracy.  And Deborah and I have had a few litigation tussles with the Ohio state attorney general on whether we’ll be granted an oral argument in a case there; more motions in other cases are in the works as well.

All of that in the last three weeks alone.  It may have been summer, but we clinicians are not a bunch that likes to sit idle.

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