February 28, 2018

Tomorrow, March 1: Criminal Abortion in the U.S.

March 1, 2018

“Criminal Abortion in the U.S.”

11:45- 12:45 p.m.
WCC 2004

Please join us for a lunch talk on human rights and the criminal punishment of abortion with Carol Sanger, Austin Wakeman Scott Visiting Professor of Law at HLS and Barbara Aronstein Black Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, and Mindy Roseman, Director of International Programs and Director of the Gruber Program for Global Justice and Women’s Rights at Yale Law School.

Despite Vice President Pence’s pledge to consign Roe v. Wade to the “ash heap of history,” there are signs that many Americans would not support the re-criminalization of abortion. Professor Sanger will discuss this evidence and raise questions about the criminal punishment of abortion, such as why pregnant woman have not been subject to criminal abortion laws in the U.S. and whether the current administration and red state politicians actually want Roe V. Wade to be overturned. Dr. Roseman will situate the U.S. experience within a global context by discussing criminal abortion in other countries and examining the treatment of criminal abortion under international human rights law.

This event is being co-sponsored by the HLS Criminal Justice Policy Program, the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics, and HLS Students for Reproductive Justice.

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February 26, 2018

Conference next week: “Humanitarian Disarmament: The Way Ahead”

March 5 – 6, 2018

“Humanitarian Disarmament: The Way Ahead”

Inaugural Conference of the Armed Conflict
and Civilian Protection Initiative
at Harvard Law School

12 – 1:30 p.m.
Austin 100 (North), Harvard Law School
Lunch will be served.

Please join us for a conference that brings together international experts in humanitarian disarmament, a movement that strives to end civilian suffering caused by inhumane and indiscriminate weapons. Drawing on first-hand experience in creating international law, conference participants will discuss how the movement has developed over the past two decades and explore where it should go from here.

The conference will include two public events: a keynote conversation with leaders of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning campaigns to ban nuclear weapons and landmines; and a panel that examines current issues in humanitarian disarmament, including efforts to end the urban use of certain explosive weapons, reduce the environmental impact of armed conflict, ban killer robots, and control the unlawful arms trade.

Humanitarian Disarmament: The Way Ahead will launch the Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative, which is housed in Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC). The conference is co-organized by IHRC, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, and Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.

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February 22, 2018

Tomorrow, Feb. 23: Elliot Shrage, Facebook’s VP, Global Communications, Marketing, and Public Policy

Friday, February 23, 2018

A Talk by Elliot Schrage, VP, Global Communications, Marketing, and Public Policy, Facebook

11:45 a.m. – 12: 45 p.m.
WCC 2012

Lunch will be served.

Please join us for a lunch talk with Elliot Schrage, JD ’86, Vice President of Global Communications, Marketing, and Public Policy at Facebook. Schrage will discuss how corporations like Facebook take human rights into account in their business practices.

This event is being co-sponsored by the Harvard Human Rights and Business Law Students Association.


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February 21, 2018

Tomorrow, Feb. 22: Russia’s “Gay Propaganda Law” and LGBTQ Rights

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Russia’s “Gay Propaganda Law” and LGBTQ Rights

11:45 a.m.- 12:45 p.m.
WCC 1010

Lunch will be served.


Please join us for a talk with Melissa Hooper, Director of Human Rights and Civil Society at Human Rights First, on Russia’s global efforts to promote “traditional values” that curtail the rights of LGBTQ people. This agenda is demonstrated in the “gay propaganda law” which penalizes those who share ideas about the equal value of same-sex relationships to children. In addition, Russia has advocated for U.N. resolutions, and supported legislatures in other countries to pass laws that favor “family values” over the human rights of LGBTQ, women, and others. This talk will also consider how U.S. actors are supporting Russia to advance these policies.

This event is co-sponsored by HLS Advocates for Human Rights, the Harvard Human Rights Journal, and HLS Lambda.


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February 20, 2018

Clinic’s case against former Bolivian president for role in 2003 massacre to proceed to trial

Posted by Susan Farbstein and Tyler Giannini

We’ve got thrilling news today: After more than 10 years of litigation, our case, Mamani et al. v. Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín, is finally headed to trial. This is an historic event. It’s the first time a former head of state will stand trial in the U.S. for human rights abuses.

In less than two weeks, on March 5, the former President and Minister of Defense of Bolivia will stand trial in Federal District Court in Florida for their roles in a 2003 civilian massacre in Bolivia. And our clients will be in the courtroom to see it, and to testify.

Plaintiffs Eloy Rojas Mamani and Etelvina Ramos Mamani and their children, Rosalia Rojas Ramos, Heide Sonia Rojas Ramos, Nancy Rojas Ramos, Maruja Rojas Ramos, and Marlene Rojas Ramos (named after her sister who died), with Thomas Becker, JD ’08, at top right.

We would not be here without the work of our partners, listed below, and dozens of clinical students who have contributed over the years, from fact-finding to drafting briefs to thinking strategically about how to move the case forward. Foremost among those students is Thomas Becker, JD ’08. This case started as a seed of an idea in his mind, and he has been working tirelessly on it ever since.

Most importantly, we want to thank our clients, who have kept their wounds open so this case could move forward on behalf of those they lost, and the many other Bolivians whose lives were irrevocably damaged by the actions of these defendants. They inspire us every day with the extraordinary courage and dedication they have shown at every step of this journey.

Please see below for the press release in English and Spanish.


U.S. Judge Orders Case Against Former Bolivian President for Role in 2003 Massacre to Proceed to Trial

Marks First Time in U.S. History a Former Head of State Will Sit Before Accusers in a Civil Human Rights Trial


February 20, 2018, Miami, FL – A federal judge has ruled that the former president of Bolivia and his minister of defense must face trial in the United States in a civil case alleging that the Bolivian military massacred more than 50 of its own citizens during a period of civil unrest in 2003. This is the first time that a former head of state will sit before his accusers in a civil human rights trial in a U.S. court. Last week, the judge rejected the defendants’ final effort to avoid trial (ruling English and Spanish), denying a motion filed by the former Bolivian president, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, and his former defense minister, José Carlos Sánchez Berzaín, both of whom live in the United States. The trial will begin in the federal court in Fort Lauderdale on March 5, 2018.

“The former president and his minister of defense must now listen as we testify about what happened,” said Teófilo Baltazar Cerro, a member of the indigenous Aymara community of Bolivia, which led the protests where the government security forces opened fire. “We look forward to this historic opportunity to have our day in court.”

In Mamani v. Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín, as detailed in the Court’s February 14 order, the families of eight Bolivians killed filed suit against Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín, alleging that they planned the extrajudicial killings. The lawsuit alleges that, months in advance of the violence, the two defendants devised a plan to kill thousands of civilians, and intentionally used deadly force against political protests in an effort to quash political opposition. In addition to the deaths, more than 400 unarmed civilians were shot and injured.

In 2016, a U.S. appeals court held that the plaintiffs could proceed with their claims under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), which authorizes suits in U.S. federal court for extrajudicial killings. Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín then sought and were denied a review by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2017. After a review of the evidence gathered by both sides, District Court Judge James Cohn ruled on February 14 that the plaintiffs had presented sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.

“The trial will offer indigenous Aymara people, who have historically been excluded from justice, a chance to testify about events that led to dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries,” said Beth Stephens, an attorney for the Plaintiffs (cooperating through the Center for Constitutional Rights).

The lawsuit alleges claims by nine plaintiffs including: Etelvina Ramos Mamani, whose eight-year-old daughter Marlene was killed in her mother’s bedroom when a single shot was fired through the window; Teofilo Baltazar Cerro, whose pregnant wife Teodosia was killed after a bullet was fired through the wall of a house; Felicidad Rosa Huanca Quispe, whose 69-year-old father Raul was shot and killed along a roadside; and Gonzalo Mamani Aguilar, whose father Arturo was shot and killed while tending his crops.

The family members are represented by a team of lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights, Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic, and the law firms of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP, Schonbrun, Seplow, Harris & Hoffman, LLP, and Akerman LLP. Lawyers from the Center for Law, Justice and Society (Dejusticia) are cooperating attorneys.


Chandra Hayslett, CCR, (212) 614-6458, [email protected]


Juez de los EE.UU. Ordena Que El Caso Contra el Ex-Presidente Boliviano Por Su Papel en la Masacre de 2003 Procederá a Juicio

Marca Primera Vez en La Historia de Estados Unidos Que Un Jefe De Estado Será Sometido a Un Juicio de Derechos Humanos Frente a Sus Acusadores


20 de febrero, Miami, Florida, Estados Unidos – Un juez federal de los Estados Unidos ha ordenado que el ex-presidente de Bolivia y su ministro de defensa serán sometidos a juicio en los EE.UU. en un caso civil alegando que el ejército Boliviano masacró a más de 50 de sus propios ciudadanos en un período de disturbios civiles en 2003. Será la primera vez que un ex-jefe de estado se sentará frente a sus acusadores en un juicio civil de derechos humanos en una corte en los Estados Unidos. La semana anterior, el juez rechazó el último esfuerzo de los acusados a evitar el juicio, negando una moción que presentaron Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, el ex-presidente de Bolivia, y su ex-ministro de defensa, José Carlos Sánchez Berzaín, los dos cuales viven en los EE.UU. El juicio comenzará en la corte federal en Fort Lauderdale, Florida el 5 de marzo de 2018.

“El ex-presidente y su ministro de defensa ahora tendrán que escuchar mientras testificamos sobre lo que pasó,” dijo Teófilo Baltazar Cerro, un miembro de la comunidad originaria Aymara, la cual dirigió las protestas donde las fuerzas de seguridad del gobierno abrieron fuego. “Esperamos esta oportunidad histórica para tener nuestro día en la corte.”

En el caso Mamani v. Sánchez de Lozada y Sánchez Berzaín, como se describe en la orden de la corte del 14 de febrero, las familias de ocho Bolivianos que fueron asesinados demandaron a Sánchez de Lozada y Sánchez Berzaín, alegando que planificaron las matanzas extrajudiciales. La demanda alega que, meses antes de la violencia, los dos acusados idearon un plan para matar a miles de civiles, e intencionalmente usaron fuerza letal en contra de las protestas políticas para reprimir la oposición política. Encima de las muertes, se disparó a más de 400 civiles desarmados que salieron heridos.

En 2016, una corte de apelación de los Estados Unidos sostuvo que los demandantes pudieron seguir con sus reclamaciones bajo el Acto de Protección para Las Víctimas de Tortura (TVPA por sus siglas en ingles), lo cual autoriza casos en el tribunal federal de Estados Unidos para matanzas extrajudiciales. Sánchez de Lozada y Sánchez Berzaín luego pidieron que la Corte Suprema de Estados Unidos tomara el caso, y fueron negados. Después de revisar la evidencia colectada de los dos lados, el Juez de la Corte del Distrito James Cohn ordenó el 14 de febrero que los demandantes habían presentado suficiente evidencia para seguir al juicio.

“Este juicio ofrecerá al pueblo Aymara, que históricamente ha sido excluida de la justicia, una oportunidad para testificar sobre los eventos que resultaron en docenas de muertes y cientos de heridas,” dijo Beth Stephens, una abogada para los demandantes, cooperando con el Centro de Derechos Constitucionales (Center for Constitutional Rights).

La demanda alega reclamaciones de nueve demandantes incluyendo: Etelvina Ramos Mamani, cuya hija de ocho años Marlene fue asesinada en el dormitorio de su madre cuando una sola bala fue disparado a través de la ventana; Teofilo Baltazar Cerro, cuya esposa embarazada Teodosia fue asesinada cuando se disparó una bala a través de la pared de una casa; Felicidad Rosa Huanca Quispe, cuyo padre de 69 años fue asesinado a tiros al lado de una carretera; y Gonzalo Mamani Aguilar, cuyo padre Arturo fue asesinado a tiros mientras cuidaba sus cultivos.

Los familiares son representados por un equipo de abogados del Centro de Derechos Constitucionales, La Clínica de Derechos Humanos Internacionales de la Facultad de Derecho de Harvard, y los bufetes de abogados Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP, Schonbrun, Seplow, Harris & Hoffman, LLP, y Akerman LLP. Abogados de la organización Dejusticia son abogados cooperantes.



Chandra Hayslett, CCR, (212) 614-6458, [email protected]g

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February 20, 2018

Tomorrow, Feb. 21: The ambitions of Muslim family law reform

Please join the Harvard Journal of Law & Gender tomorrow, Feb. 21, for a talk on Muslim family law reform featuring clinical instructor Salma Waheedi and Prof. Kristen Stilt, Faculty Director of the Islamic Legal Studies Program: Law and Social Change.  The event begins at noon in WCC B015, with a plant-based lunch served.

Stilt and Waheedi will discuss their upcoming Journal of Law & Gender article examining reform efforts in family law in Muslim countries. They will discuss how change in family law can be achieved through arguments based on or justified by Islamic law. They will present and analyze legal strategies of family law reform and identify the possibilities and the limitations of each strategy. Their upcoming article is directed towards scholars and practitioners who seek a deeper understanding of the tools of change in Muslim family law.

This event is organized by the Journal of Law & Gender and co-sponsored by the Women’s Law Association, Islamic Legal Studies Program: Law and Social Change, and the Muslim Law Students Association. 


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February 19, 2018

Gerald Neuman intervenes as amicus in Sixth Circuit appeal to prevent deportation of Iraqi immigrants from the U.S.

Posted by Emily Nagisa Keehn

Professor Gerald Neuman, Co-Director of the Human Rights Program, recently filed an amicus curiae brief to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in a case concerning the potential deportation of Iraqi immigrants, most of whom are Chaldean Christians, a persecuted minority in Iraq.

The Iraqi immigrants were ordered deported years ago, but could not be removed because there was no agreement between the U.S. and Iraq by which Iraq would accept their repatriation. The current administration negotiated an agreement with Iraq this past summer for that purpose, and began arresting the Iraqis with a view to sending them back immediately, without giving them an opportunity to show danger of persecution or torture in light of changed country conditions. If the Iraqis could show such danger, that would bar return under both U.S. law and domestic law.

In July 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan ordered a stay of removal to give the petitioners the opportunity to seek administrative re-opening of their cases due to their need for protection. The government then appealed.

The amicus brief of law professors to the Sixth Circuit explains why the Suspension Clause of the Constitution requires that people in this situation have an effective judicial remedy that could prevent the government from sending them outside the U.S. before their cases can be heard. Thirteen other U.S. professors joined Professor Neuman as co-amici.


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February 16, 2018

Tuesday, Feb. 20: How to fix finance by saving human rights

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

“How to fix finance by saving human rights”

A talk by David Kinley, Chair, Human Rights Law, University of Sydney

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Milstein West B
Harvard Law School

Lunch will be served

Please join us for a talk by Professor David Kinley, Chair in Human Rights Law at the University of Sydney and an Academic Expert Member of Doughty Street Chambers in London. He is a former Fulbright Senior Scholar at American University Washington College of Law, and has taught at Oxford and George Washington Universities, as well as the Sorbonne. He specializes in the area of the global economy and human rights and has worked for more than 25 years with governments, international organizations, law firms, corporations and NGOs in the field. His forthcoming book, Necessary Evil: How to Fix Finance by Saving Human Rights (Oxford University Press), investigates the incredible impact the financial system has on human rights.

This event is being co-sponsored by International Legal Studies.


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February 16, 2018

Human Rights: Adapting to the Challenges of Our Times

Posted by Mayuri Anupindi and Ha Ryong Jung

Despite almost 70 years since the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the world is facing overwhelming challenges in upholding the rights that all humans deserve, especially for minority and marginalized communities. However, these challenges are not insurmountable.

Speakers (including clinical instructor Yee Htun, second from the left) on a panel about the rights and dignity of refugees and migrants and the nationalist backlash. Photo credit: Luiz Sampaio.

On Saturday, January 27, a group of Harvard graduate students held the inaugural Human Rights Symposium, entitled Human Rights: Adapting to the Challenges of our Times. The Symposium set the stage for activists, scholars, and students to come together and discuss the common challenges facing human rights movements across the globe, while confirming the potential for new coalitions and reaffirming our commitment for shared action.

We were inspired by Douglas Johnson, former director of the Carr Center for Human Rights, who memorably reminded us through his welcome address that despite the adversities, the key role of an activist is to “breathe in hope, and exhale it to others.” Professor Rajesh Sampath of Brandeis University then gave a rich, wide-ranging keynote address delving into the philosophical premise of human rights and the notion of freedom, while stressing the value of life and harmonious balance.

Our subsequent panels shed light on the narratives and implementation of economic, social, and cultural rights; the rights and dignities of refugees and migrants in light of nationalist backlash; the shared struggles of minorities across the globe; and the potential for new coalitions and solidarities for shared action on human rights issues. Professor Gerald Neuman, director of the Human Rights Program, and Yee Mon Htun and Salma Waheedi, clinical instructors of the International Human Rights Clinic, were among the diverse group of speakers that shared their valuable insights and analyses on multiple spectrums.

Some of the most memorable moments were from those with personal stories, from a moving presentation on the suffering wrought by the war in Yemen, to the reflections of a writer on the impact of international economic policy on her own life in Kenya, to the historical strife of Native American peoples. Other speakers gave insight into tactical issues, such as the potential of local initiatives to counter trends of nationalist backlash, the ineffectiveness of law alone, and the neglect of policy and indicators.

It was a gift to see such dynamic and diverse activists share the same stage. But the discussions did not end at simply identifying the problems. In order to encourage individuals to take concerted action, our final panel consisted of a dialogue between activists working to address the Roma issues in Europe, Dalit rights in India, Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ rights in the US, and Indigenous rights in Australia. Karlene Griffiths Sekou of Black Lives Matter Boston reminded us that solidarity should not come from an impulse to help an “other”, but instead to reaffirm one’s own humanity.

Charles Prouse, an Indigenous Australian advocate, pointed out the complexity of human rights struggles that not only can encompass multiple issues, but can also recognize a victim and perpetrator simultaneously within the same person. In concluding the day, Dena Elkhatib, an Arab American Muslim lawyer, gave a powerful closing speech focusing on the plight of Syrian refugees.

The panelists noted that new tactics and coalitions can only be formulated if spaces are made for the exchange of knowledge. In this regard, we thank all speakers and attendees for making this open and welcoming space possible. The Symposium was well attended from start to finish by individuals from within our community and beyond. We hope you will join us in continuing this annual event and the important discussions next year.

The video recordings of the panels are available at: https://www.facebook.com/hrsymposium2018, and an e-booklet of the Symposium is available on our website: https://www.hrsymposium.info/.

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February 15, 2018

Save the Date: “Human Rights in a Time of Populism” conference set for March 23 – 24

“Human Rights in a Time of Populism”

March 23 – 24, 2018
Harvard Law School

RSVP requested

Please join the Human Rights Program for a multidisciplinary conference that will explore the challenges that current developments characterized as populist pose to the goals of the international human rights system.

The conference, which is free and open to the public, will address questions such as:

  • What is “populism”?  Is it increasing and if so why?
  • What challenges does populism create for the protection of internationally recognized human rights?
  • How can human rights NGOs and human rights institutions respond to these challenges?
  • Have human rights NGOs or institutions contributed unintentionally to the rise of populism by provoking backlash?  Does increased populism point in other ways to lessons that should be learned by human rights NGOs or institutions?

Speakers will address these questions generally and within particular national or regional contexts. A full list of speakers can be found on the conference website.


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