Saturday, March 31, 2007
Recall the case of Louisiana-born Yaser Esam Hamdi, caught in Afghanistan and held for years as an "enemy combatant" in a South Carolina brig. As soon as the Supreme Court held that he was entitled to a due-process-protective hearing on the lawfulness of his detention, the President ordered Hamdi released -- but only after he relinquished his U.S. citizenship.
The nature of these waivers appears transparent. The government contends that Hicks recanted because he had lied -- and yet a reporter with whom I just spoke suggested to me that the very fact that the government is trying so hard to silence Hicks is indicative of the truth of his initial allegations.
Eventually Jordan nominated Hikmet to the ICTR; she was the 2d highest votegetter, receiving "40 votes from the Islamic group although I am not covering my head." The 1st Arab, Muslim woman ever to serve as an international criminal tribunal judge, Hikmet stressed that she is just one of many "Arab and Muslim women who are qualified for such positions." Thus did she cast a welcome gauntlet at the international community.
... 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella signed an Edict of Expulsion, ordering Jewish Spaniards to leave the country or convert to Christianity.
Friday, March 30, 2007
The fact is apparent in the way that Jessica Lynch, 1 of several persons seized in Iraq at the same time, became a POW icon in the eyes of the U.S. government and populace. And it is apparent in the focus these last days on British seaman Faye Turney. Her Iranian captors featured video of this "wife and mother," wearing an out-of-uniform headscarf, eating a meal and, ultimately, making political statements that served Iranian interests. Initially they promised that she, and she alone, would get an early release from custody. Our 24-hour media duly repeated these images and events, over and over again.
It is a disquieting relief to see this morning that the awful limelight has shifted to 1 of Turney's comrades, a male. Perhaps focus now may shift away from gender-tinged celebritization and toward a quick conclusion of the crisis.
... 1867, U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward concluded the so-called "Seward's Folly" -- an agreement by which the United States would buy Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million. Nearly 80 years later, Alaska became the 49th state.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
hit him repeatedly with his fists and with a night stick. His hands were then handcuffed behind him and he was blindfolded. A rope was put in between the handcuffs and he was suspended from a door with his hands behind him and his feet almost off the floor. While he was hanging from the door, he was repeatedly struck until he lapsed into unconsciousness. When he lost consciousness he was taken down from the door and when he regained consciousness he would be hung back up on the door and again questioned and struck. After about fifteen minutes of this treatment he agreed to sign a confession. (p.585)
... 1461, during the War of the Roses, Edward of York defeated Margaret, known as the Red Queen, to become King Edward IV of England.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Leaving aside the Convention on the Rights of the Child (for reasons explained here), this practice of arbitrarily denying parents access to their children appears to violate Article 17 (right to family life) of the ICCPR, a treaty that the US has ratified, albeit as non-self-executing. The remedy? Litigation and advocacy efforts might draw authority from the international human rights angle, and if domestic remedies fail, Mexico and others might think about reviving ICCPR Article 41, which authorizes state-to-state complaints before the Human Rights Committee.
[N]ews reports detail that one baby, who was breast-feeding, had to be hospitalized for dehydration because her mother remained in detention.
Judge Christa Datz-Winter has denied a fast-track divorce to a fellow German beaten by her husband. Setting out reasoning since condemned in and out of Germany, the judge did not follow law of the country where she and the unnamed woman, who happens to be Muslim, hold citizenship. Asserting that the "Koran ... sanctions such physical abuse," the judge applied her own understanding of the couple's "Moroccan cultural milieu, in which it is common for husbands to beat their wives." Datz-Winter relied on a verse that is at times translated to condone chastisement, though such translations have been questioned by some scholars, including Laleh Bakhtiar and UCLA's Khaled Abou El Fadl.
For thoughtful analysis of how courts might consider culture, turn to The Cultural Defense by our colleague Alison Renteln.
... 1871, a revolutionary government formed as a result of political upheaval in the wake of the Franco-Prussian War -- the Paris Commune -- was installed at Paris' Hôtel de Ville, or city hall. Following bloody battles, the commune fell 2 months later.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Rape as "personal aggression"
In the Rizvie case, a Tamil asylum seeker claimed the Sri Lankan police sexually assaulted her because they thought she supported the LTTE. The Board of Immigration Appeals found the police officer was solely motivated by personal aggression, thus the attack did not constitute persecution. The 2d Cir. disagreed, noting that sexual violence in the context of civil strife is often not about sex, but instead about domination, indimidation, and control. Despite great strides in international law towards ending the tradition of impunity for rape in conflict, our immigration courts have a long way to go.
In the Gao case, a Chinese asylum seeker's parents sold her to an abusive man who she refused to marry. Last year, the 2d Cir. overturned the Immigration Judge's holding that this was a private dispute between two families over a "marriage arrangement", finding that forced marriage constitutes persecution, and that Gao was eligible for asylum as a woman sold into forced marriage. This month, the AG filed a cert petition, arguing that "the highly sensitive context of culturally diverse approaches to marriage" requires a clearer definition of forced marriage. It's not apparent to me which part of an involuntary marriage to a batterer is unclear, but it's surely not true that, as the AG asserts, 96% of marriages in India are are arranged on terms similar to Gao's.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Meanwhile, from other parts of the world, come an outpouring of expressions and rituals of sorrow and regret to commemorate the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Maybe it takes two hundred years.
Dubbed the “most dangerous woman in America” by opponents, Mary Harris (Mother) Jones was a radical labor organizer from the 1870s to the 1920s. Jones was born in Ireland in 1837 and moved to the Unites States as a young girl. After losing her family in 1867 and, later, her property in the great Chicago fire of 1871, she devoted herself to the labor movement. Jones cultivated a mother image and soon became known as “Mother Jones.” In the 1890s, Jones began to organize mine workers in West Virginia. As a result of a particularly violent mine strike in 1912-1913, a West Virginia military court convicted her of conspiracy to commit murder. The governor later commuted her sentence in response to public outrage. In addition to her tireless labor activism, Jones also helped to organize the early Social Democratic Party and the Industrial Workers of the World. She was a fighter. She famously rejected any suggestion that she act “like a lady.” In response to the charge of being “unladylike,” she said: “a lady is the last thing on earth I want to be. Capitalists sidetrack the women into clubs and make ladies of them.” For books on Mother Jones, see here.
The new case is a state case, triggered by the removal of the girl from the custody of her mother, after she stopped taking her psychiatric medicine. Because of the different legal context, less is known. The dependency court judge has issued a gag order and it is unclear how any information was leaked to the local Miami paper. But there seems to be a disturbing parallel distortion of the usual legal standards because the father is a Cuban in Cuba.
Ordinarily a parent has a right to custody absent a showing of harm to a child; the test is not, as reported, whether another family is “more fit” than the father to raise her, as child welfare authorities are quoted as saying; the Supreme Court in Troxel v Granville indicated that the US Constitution requires such deference. The Florida officials seem disposed to avoid this rule by suggesting that the father may be unfit because he did not act in Cuba to safeguard the child from the mother’s abusive behavior. Whether that is even true depends on facts about what happened on the island – yet the stories do not indicate if she were abusive then, only that she was in the United States after she “stopped taking her psychiatric medicine” at some time after she arrived. Similarly, the same authorities, who seem to think they can know what happened years ago in Cuba, have simultaneously expressed unwillingness to place the child with her father because they are distrustful of the home study done in Cuba by an independent agency. Meanwhile, the father may be disadvantaged because of legal impediments – whether from US or Cuban authorities – that have prevented him from appearing in person at the Florida court hearings.
As a feminist and a student of transnational family law, I wonder if the “best interests of the child” requires or permits American agencies and courts to apply our law to cases involving foreign parents, uninflected by a recognition of different laws and cultures. It may indeed be true that the father has neglected or abandoned his daughter under criteria that are not parochial, or that his home is sufficiently bad that his daughter should instead be placed with legal strangers by an American agency whose record of protecting children, while recognizing the the interests of parents leaves much to be desired.
There is reason for concern, however. The Hague Convention on Child Abduction would have provided significant protection for the father, if Cuba were a party. It might yet provide a model for what the Florida courts could do in the interests of comity. Then again, this isn’t simply a transnational family law dispute – it may, unavoidably, be another chapter in the battle of the Cuban government vs. the Cuban exile community in South Florida.
(Posted by Mary I. Coombs under the name of her transnational foremother, Charming Betsy)
... 1930, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was born in El Paso, Texas.
... 1940, U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was born in Baltimore, Maryland.
... 1973, women 1st were permitted to trade on the floor of the 200-year-old London Stock Exchange.
Earlier this month 7 other leading lights in international law were honored in another Dutch city on International Women's Day. As Grace O'Malley reported on March 8, the Open Society Institute (OSI) honored 7 "Women Groundbreakers in the First International Courts." I had the privilege of emceeing the event honoring these truly remarkable women. The honorees included Judge Rosalyn Higgins, who is the first female President of the International Court of Justice--and remains the only female judge ever to serve on the ICJ. In contrast to the ICJ, where it took more than 60 years for women to reach the Court, women have played leadership roles in the contemporary generation of international criminal courts almost from the outset. The other OSI honorees--Hon. Louise Arbour; Ms. Carla del Ponte; Judges Elizabeth Odio Benito, Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, Navanethem Pillay, and Dorothee de Sampayo--have all served in leadership roles in the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia and/or the International Criminal Court.
One by one, the honorees are phenomenal. Together, they are an historic phenomenon. Each has used her leadership position to transform the abstract law of nations into an encompassing law of humanity. Notably, women have served as judges in every major case before an international criminal court that established a break-through precedent on gender-related violence. The impact of their work will reach across generations to come.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
... 1807 (200 years ago today), the British Parliament passed An Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. The act would take full effect in 1808, as did a similar U.S. statute; however, it would be decades before enslavement of persons from Africa ended in either country.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
The charging sheet reveals that convening authority Susan J. Crawford marked out the charge of "attempted murder in violation of the law of war," leaving two specifications of "providing material support to terrorism," a charge that carries a maximum sentence of confinement for life. It's one of 29 crimes laid out in the Military Commission Act of 2006. Judge Crawford was appointed to oversee the new commissions after completing a 15-year term at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF), the military's highest court. Prior to joining the bench she served Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush in key Department of Defense legal billets.
The DefenseLink news site also includes the transcripts of the unclassified portions of the Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRT's) held over the last few weeks for the high-value detainees transferred to Guantamano Bay last fall. Detainees do not have access to counsel at these status hearings, but they do have the services of a misnamed "personal representative," a field-grade military officer with a top-secret clearance who is assigned to manage the detainee's participation in the process. The "personal representative" does not represent or advocate for the detainee (in fact, she cannot be a judge advocate) and may not treat as privileged any information gained in the course of conversations with the detainee. For more on the CSRT's, see Mark Denbeaux and Joshua W. Denbeaux's important study of previously released transcripts.
Jennifer M. Chacón writes for ImmigrationProf Blog; Kim Lane Scheppele for Balkinization; Adrien Katherine Wing for blackprof.com; Anne-Marie Slaughter for TPM Cafe.
Good work, all!
... 1989, the Exxon Valdez supertanker beached on a reef in Alaska. Crude oil, 11 million gallons of it, spilled into Prince William Sound, turning the incident into 1 of the world's worst such disasters.
... 1999, the British House of Lords ruled that the former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet could be extradited to Spain to face charges that he was involved in abuses that violated the Convention Against Torture.
Friday, March 23, 2007
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women has released comments on the reports of fifteen states parties on their implementation of CEDAW.
- New anti-trafficking laws in Colombia and Greece
- Vietnam's new law on gender equality and its serious progress in economic equality
- Nicaragua's efforts to mainstream gender equality principles into agriculture, socio-economic development, and higher education
- The Maldives' prohibition on the election of women to the presidency and vice-presidency
- India's failure to revise colonial-era legislation to broaden the definition of rape and address child abuse
- Suriname's discriminatory marriage and inheritance laws
And, lest we forget, one serious lowlight: the United States' failure to ratify CEDAW, let alone subject its gender practices to the scrutiny of the Committee . . .
... 1949, English King George VI gave his assent to the North America Bill by which Newfoundland, till then an independent entity, became a province of Canada.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Gore-as-Cassandra brought the "Inconvenient" news to Congress yesterday. House members seemed to accept Gore's sounding of a "planetary emergency." Yet in spite of a verbal box on the ears from Senate Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Cal.), doubter James Inhofe (R-Okla.) continued to cry hoax.
... 1945, several Middle East countries concluded the Pact of the League of Arab States in Cairo, Egypt.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 4:15 pm
Grotius Lecture: Rachel Kyte, International Finance Corp. (discussant)
Thursday, March 29, 9 am
"Feeling the Heat? Climate Change in the 21st C.": Hari Osofsky (IntLawGrrls’ own Mata Hari), U. Oregon
"Social Justice Advocacy in the U.S.: What Role for International Law?": Monique Harden, Advocates for Environmental Human Rights
"Citizenship": Linda Bosniak, Rutgers U.; Karen Knop, U. Toronto; Kim Rubenstein, Australian National U.; Saskia Sassen, U. Chicago
Thursday, March 29, 10:45 am
"Future of Food": Janet Nuzum, former U.S. International Trade Commissioner (moderator); Peggy Clarke, Powell Goldstein LLP
"Queering International Law": Doris Buss, Carleton U.; Dianne Otto, U. Melbourne
"Africa: New Voices Panel": Angela Banks, Harvard Law School; Marjorie Florestal, U. Pacific McGeorge School of Law
"1907 Hague Convention & 1977 Geneva Protocols: Looking Back and Thinking Ahead": Laura Olson, International Committee of the Red Cross
Thursday, March 29, 1 pm
"Paving the Way? Africa & the Future of International Criminal Law": Vernice Guthrie-Sullivan, ABA Africa Law Institute; Simone Monasebian, U.N. Office on Drugs & Crime
"Institutions and the Rule of Law: A New Voices Panel": Susan Notar, American Society of International Law
"Collapse: Can International Law Protect Earth’s Natural Resources?": Edith Brown Weiss, Inspection Panel, World Bank & Georgetown U. Law Center
Thursday, March 29, 2:45 pm
"Globalization of the American Law School": Chantal Thomas, U. Minnesota Law School (moderator)
"Future of Internet Governance": Esther Dyson, former chair, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers (ICANN); Miriam Sapiro, Summit Strategies International
Election of 2007 Nominee for ASIL Honorary Member: Brigitte Stern (pictured, right), U. Paris 1 (Panthéon-Sorbonne)
Thursday, March 29, 4:30 pm
"Breaking Developments in International Law: Conversation on ICJ’s Opinion in Bosnia v. Serbia": Leila Nadya Sadat, Washington U. School of Law; Brigitte Stern, U. Paris 1 (Panthéon-Sorbonne)
Thursday, March 29, 7:30 pm
"Future of International Law": Anne-Marie Slaughter, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton U. (moderator); Lori Fisler Damrosch, Columbia Law School
Friday, March 30, 9 am
"What Future for the Doha Development Agenda & the Multilateral Negotiating Regime?": Dorothy Dwoskin, Office U.S. Trade Representative; Sonia E. Rolland, U. Cambridge Law Faculty
"Customary International Law as Federal Law after Sosa": Beth Stephens, Rutgers U.
"Slave Trafficking 200 Years After Abolition": Adrien K. Wing, U. Iowa College of Law (moderator); Diane Marie Amann (IntLawGrrls’ own Grace O’Malley), U. California, Davis, School of Law; Adrienne Davis, U. North Carolina School of Law
"Internationalizing International Law Societies: Dialogue on Building a Global Scholarly Network": Charlotte Ku, Lauterpacht Centre for International Law & U. Illinois College of Law (moderator); Hélène Ruiz Fabri (IntLawGrrls’ own Olympe de Gouges), U. Paris 1 (Panthéon-Sorbonne) & President, European Society of International Law
Friday, March 30, 10:45 am
"Justice Should Be Done, but Where? Relationship between National & International Courts": Naomi Roht-Arriaza, U. California, Hastings College of Law (moderator); Laura Dickinson, U. Connecticut School of Law; Kimberly Theidon, Harvard U.
"Toward International Order in Migration & Trade?": Susan Martin, Institute for Study of International Migration, Georgetown U.
"Indigenous Rights, Traditional Knowledge & Access to Genetic Resources - New Participation in Future International Law Making": Valerie Phillips, U. Tulsa College of Law
"Ethics, Legitimacy, and Lawyering: How Do International Lawyers Speak Truth to Power?": Kathleen Clark, Washington U. School of Law
"International Law 2.0: Maximize Technology for Research & Scholarship": Ellen Callinan
Friday, March 30, 12:30 pm
Women in International Law Interest Group Luncheon: Judge Taghrid Hikmet (pictured, left), International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
Friday, March 30, 1 pm
"Report of International Economic Law Interest Group Bretton Woods Conference": Isabella Bunn, Oxford U. (moderator); Karen E. Bravo (IntLawGrrls’ own Nanny of the Windward Maroons), Indiana U. School of Law; Amy Porges, Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP
"Supreme Court & War on Terrorism": Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, U. Pacific McGeorge School of Law (moderator); Dinah PoKempner, Human Rights Watch
"Divergence & Harmonization in Private International Law": Louise Ellen Teitz, Roger Williams School of Law
"Are We Teaching International Law or Foreign Relations Law?": Marjorie Cohn, Thomas Jefferson School of Law; Mary Ellen O'Connell, Notre Dame Law School
Friday, March 30, 2:45 pm
"Future of Transnational Litigation in U.S. Courts: Distinct Field or Footnote?": Linda Silberman, New York U. School of Law
"Democracy, Gender & Governance": Sonia E. Alvarez, U. Massachusetts-Amherst; Janie Chuang, Washington College of Law, American U.; Janet Halley, Harvard Law School
"Future of International Labor Law": Adelle Blackett, McGill University (moderator); Janelle Diller, International Labour Organisation; Virginia Leary, U. Buffalo Law School
Friday, March 30, 4:30 pm
"Impact of International Law on Multinational Corporations": Lucinda Low, Steptoe & Johnson LLP (moderator)
Friday, March 30, 8 pm
Annual Dinner Introduction by Sarah Cleveland, visiting at Harvard Law School
Saturday, March 31, 9 am
"UN Sale of Goods Convention: Perspectives on Current State-of-Play": Ingeborg Schwenzer, U. Basel, Switzerland
"Strengthening Human Rights Around the World": Judge Cecilia Medina Quiroga (pictured, left) Inter-American Court of Human Rights
"How Can the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime Be Repaired? What if it Can’t?": Patricia McNerney, U.S. Department of State
Saturday, March 31, 10:45 am
"Counterinsurgency & War on Terror: Deadly Convergence?": Catriona Drew, School of Oriental & African Studies, U. London
"Investment Law, Dispute Resolution & Development Promise: Back to the Future": Susan D. Franck, U. Nebraska College of Law
"A Multiplicity of Actors and Transnational Governance": Erika George, U. Utah College of Law
... 1804, the Code Napoléon, a foundation for legislation in many countries, was adopted in France.
... 1617, Pocahontas, a native American who had married Jamestown, Va., colonist John Rolfe, died and was buried in England.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
On trial is Senator Robert Badinter. As Justice Minister in the 1980s, he pushed France to end the death penalty, curtail the State Security Court, and reinforce habeas corpus. In the 1990s, he led a European panel that resolved legal issues arising out of Yugoslavia's breakup. Last March Badinter, who turns 79 next week, called Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson "faussaire de l'histoire," falsifier of history. Faurisson, who took part in the 2006 Tehran conference that called the Holocaust a myth, sued Badinter for defamation.
Le Monde reports that in a session this month, Badinter testified that when he was a teenager during Nazi occupation, his uncle, 80-year-old grandmother, and father disappeared in police roundups. "We never got news of them again. This, this was my adolescence!" To deny the existence of gas chambers, of genocide, of thugs and assassins, he said, is to say his loved ones died for nothing. Eying the plaintiff, he concluded: "Until the end of my days, as long as I have breath, I will battle against you and your like." Trial resumes April 2.
* This title derives from the 1964 speech in which Martin Luther King Jr. accepted the Nobel Peace Prize: "I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."
Monday, March 19, 2007
Military casualties in the conflict in Afghanistan -- Does anyone know a reliable source for Afghan civilian casualties? -- 373 Americans and 170 other coalition servicemembers killed (increases of 2 Americans and 3 other coalition members in same period). The number of American servicemembers wounded remains, as if has for weeks, at 5,994.
... 1920, the U.S. Senate failed to muster the 2/3 majority necessary to approve the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I and authorized the League of Nations, an international organization aimed at peaceful settlement of interstate disputes.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
... 2000, voters chose Democratic Progressive Party candidate Chen Shui-bian as Taiwan's President, thus putting an end to more than 50 years of rule by the Kuomintang Party.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
.... 1901, a Paris exhibition of paintings by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), among them images of ordinary women, children, and men, created a stir that secured the Dutchman a place in art's pantheon.
Friday, March 16, 2007
In Pakistan, steps in a different direction: as a 5-judge panel continued review of President General Pervez Musharraf's week-old suspension of Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, police in riot gear barricaded parts of Islamad against protests of what many view as a "grave threat to the judiciary's independence." Chaudhry's term is marked by a willingness to consider "cases of 'forced disappearance' – people believed to have been picked up by the country's powerful intelligence agencies without due process of law" – reportedly, "at least 400 people ... since Pakistan joined the American-led effort to curb terrorism in 2001." "When the state cannot protect" rights of the official charged with upholding rights," one Chaudhry supporter asked, "how can it protect women's rights or any other individuals' rights?"