Monday, April 30, 2007

"Subterranean sexism"?

"Is it fair to presume that the United States lags behind much of the world because of a subterranean sexism?" So asks San Francisco Chronicle reporter Vicki Haddock regarding American women's historical lack of clout compared with countries where 40 woman have governed as prime minister or president. Charts accompanying the article list those 40, as well as the 11 women now in power. They represent a cross-section of the globe. According to University of Missouri Political Science Professor Farida Jalalzai, women heads of state or government have been distributed as follows: Europe, 35%, Asia, 20%, Africa, 16%, Latin America, 14%, Caribbean, 8%. Representation in the Middle East and North America, 1 woman each, defies classification by percentage. (Test your own knowledge of women leaders via the quiz here.)
On why no U.S. head of state to date, the article refers not only to lingering sexism, but also to quirks in the U.S. presidential system and to the "'warrior image'" inherent in the constitutional role of Commander in Chief (of the Army and Navy, that is; not the people at large).
Other thoughts on why this is?

... another key to the mystery of Beatrice

Yesterday's New York Times brought sad news--the passing of Robert Rosenthal, a member of the prosecution team at Nuremberg and a highly decorated World War II pilot. Rosenthal's obituary shed further light on an elusive subject that naturally interests me (Beatrice) greatly--an earlier generation of IntLawGrrls' contribution to the Nuremberg prosecution. On his way to Nuremberg, the Times wrote, Rosenthal "met another lawyer on the prosecutorial staff, Phillis Heller, whom he married in Nuremberg." Earlier reports of female prosecutors were provided by the venerable Nuremberger Benjamin Ferencz, as my IntLawGrrl profile explains:

About Me
Patricia Viseur Sellers, who served for twelve years as advisor on gender issues in the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, “discovered” me. Wondering whether any women served as a senior professional at Nuremberg, Ms. Sellers has asked Nuremberg prosecutors if they could name any. In response, Benjamin Ferencz told Ms. Sellers that, along with another woman whose name he could not recall, “Beatrice” was part of the Nuremberg Prosecution team, and recalled that I live in New York. Despite concerted efforts to find me there, Ms. Sellers has not yet been able to do so. But thanks to her determination to ensure that I remain part of the history of Nuremberg, I have not been totally erased.


If Phillis Heller Rosenthal is the other female prosecutor whose name previously eluded Mr. Ferencz, perhaps yesterday's sad news will help ensure that she, too, remains a part of our collective history.

A Premier Puzzler

Thinking about women leaders inspires a test of your knowledge on women who've served as premiers or presidents:

Which was the 1st country in the world to be governed by a woman as head of state or government?

a) Sweden
b) Sri Lanka
c) São Tomé and Príncipe

Answers below.

On April 30, ...

...1909, the Netherlands' Crown Princess Juliana (left, as a child), was born. She became queen in 1948 when mother, Queen Wilhelmina, retired. On April 30, 1980, Juliana stepped aside for her own daughter, Queen Beatrix I, who reigns as Netherlands' queen to this day. Juliana died in 2004.
... 1993, a man plunged a knife into the back of tennis' top woman player, Monica Seles, as she played a match in Hamburg, Germany. The attacker, an unemployed man described as "disturbed," was convicted later in the year and received a suspended 2-year sentence. The 19-year-old Seles did not return to elite tennis until 1995, and she never regained 1st place on the circuit.

Answer to A Premier Puzzler

Answer to the Premier Puzzler above:

b) Sri Lanka. It became the 1st country in the world to be governed by a woman when, on July 20, 1960, Sirimavo Bandaranaike (left) was appointed Prime Minister. She had become leader of the nationalist Sri Lankan Freedom Party following the assassination a year earlier of her husband, Prime Minister Solomon Bandaranaike. She held office from 1960-65, 1970-77, and 1994-2000. Her daughter, Chandrika Kumaratunga, also served as the country's Prime Minister and, later, President.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Justice unimpeded?

Yesterday, the Cambodian Bar Association dropped its demand that foreign defense counsel before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia pay insupportably hefty bar dues. The Bar will now charge a one-time fee of $500, an amount that should satisfy the international judges, thus likely allowing trials to move forward in early 2008. The international judges are expected to respond tomorrow to this development, which overcomes the last of many obstacles, procedural and otherwise, to the establishment of a court to try the remaining Khmer Rouge leaders.
The Khmer Rouge were overthrown over 28 years ago, on January 7th, 1979. Over 18 years later, the Cambodian government asked the United Nations to assist in the creation of a trial for the Khmer Rouge. It took another 6 years for the Cambodian government and the United Nations to come to an agreement on the structure of the tribunal, and another year for Cambodia to ratify that agreement. Two years later, on July 3, 2006, the national and international judges were sworn in, marking the start of the tribunal's efforts to get off the ground.
But justice for the Khmer Rouge has never moved quickly, and thorny obstacles soon arose. First, there was a dispute last fall between the Cambodian Bar Association and the International Bar Association over training defense lawyers, described here by Kevin Heller. Then there were allegations of corruption at the court, and lengthy negotiations over the court's internal rules that finally broke down over the bar dues dispute. The politics behind these delays are too complex to delve into here, but one can only hope that justice will finally move forward unimpeded -- and in time to meet the court's 3-year mandate.
Update: on April 30, the international judges issued a press release opining that the Cambodian Bar Association's decision to reduce proposed bar dues for foreign defense counsel should enable the court to adopt its internal rules by the last week of May. For a more detailed exploration of the history of efforts to try the Khmer Rouge, see this article by Youk Chhang, the Executive Director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia.

Weekend democratic roundup

It’s been a busy week for “democracy” and human rights, and my weekend papers are unusually full of stories of interest. I thought I would offer a small collage, particularly as many of these items touch on issues discussed earlier on this site. I’ll begin with “democracy”, which, as "Grace O’Malley" [IntLawGrrl Diane Marie Amann] noted here , does not simply mean holding democratic elections: the IHT reports that With the return of democracy, Nepal struggles with big questions”. In particular, how to set up a non-discriminatory, representative democracy. As you may recall, popular revolt in Nepal led to last year’s transfer of power from the King to Parliament and a peace agreement with Maoist rebels, who recently joined the Parliament. Since then, an interim constitution has been put in place and a coalition government, which includes the Maoists, has taken power. To clearly mark the transition, the Nepalese drafted a new national anthem and dropped “Royal” from the name of the Army and the state-owned airline. The government has even promised to start taxing the king’s property. But the major issue and source of frustration is still to be resolved: should Nepal become a federal state that grants autonomy to various ethnic groups and regions? If so, how? Meanwhile in Mali, voters go to the polls today for the first round of presidential elections, while the French study the results of yesterday’s Royal-Bayrou debate, in which Ségolène Royal tried to persuade François Bayrou's supporters to vote for her rather than Nicolas Sarkozy, in the upcoming 2nd round (see my earlier post). At the same time, the Ligue des droits de l'homme (as well as several of my neighborhood political associations) is calling for a massive turnout in favor of Ségolène Royal. Having said it would not intervene in pre-election debates unless it felt that democracy was in danger, the LDH announced that, given Sarkozy’s agenda, it considers that it is its “duty to warn the citizens”. Clearly, as "Amelia Earhart" [IntLawGrrl Elena Baylis] wrote earlier, there are many ways to run an election: having read LDH's statement, Grace O’Malley asked me if it's typical for NGOs to endorse candidates, noting that IRS nonprofit rules wouldn’t allow such a thing. My (French) husband responded, "where would we be if NGOs couldn’t speak out on such an important issue?

Human Rights Win One, Lose Two

Putting an end, perhaps, to the 60-year saga of Japan’s “comfort women”, the Japanese Supreme Court rejected the comfort women’s claims, along with those of forced laborers, in 2 decisions handed down Friday. However, though it said these claims were barred by a 1972 statement in which Beijing renounced reparations for such crimes, the high court nonetheless acknowledged that the Japanese military or industries had forced women to be wartime sex slaves (lose 1, win 1). Continuing what "Grace O’Malley" [IntLawGrrl Diane Marie Amann] called a Janus-faced approach, Japanese prime minister Abe once again (see earlier post by Nanny of the Maroons [IntLawGrrl Karen E. Bravo]) pseudo-apologized, but refused to acknowledge Japan’s responsibility. The second loss comes from Germany, as the federal prosecutor rejected the suit brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights charging Donald Rumsfeld with war crimes, alleging that Rumsfeld “personally ordered and condoned torture at U.S. detention facilities” . This is the 2nd such suit brought by CCR under the recent German law granting universal jurisdiction to prosecute war crimes. Both have been rejected by the prosecutor.

On April 29, ....

...1997 (10 years ago today), the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction entered into force. According to its monitoring body, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, as of last year the Convention had 178 states parties, including the United States, and an additional 8 signatory states. (David Fidler's new ASIL Insight on the past and future of the Convention is here.)
...1950, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) was born in Gladwin, Michigan.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

U.N. expert will visit U.S. immigrant family detention centers

AP reports that the UN Human Rights Council independent expert on migrant rights, Jorge Bustamante, will travel to Texas to investigate a highly criticized center for detained immigrant families (see posts by Lakshmi Bai [IntLawGrrl Jaya Ramji-Nogales] on the detention of immigrant families, including young children, here and here). The U.S. government is apparently facilitating Bustamante’s visit, which will include a tour of the T. Don Hutto Facility in Taylor, TX. Roughly 400 non-criminal immigrants are housed in this former prison as they await deportation or other resolutions of their case. Conditions at this facility have been called "questionable" by a U.S. District Court judge, and rights groups claim that, though no longer a prison, the Hutto facility is still run like one, and that families housed here are subject to psychological abuse from guards, inadequate medical care and inhumane conditions.

On April 28, ...

...2004, during oral argument in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 1 of 3 cases pertaining to the U.S. executive's post-September 11 detention policies, U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens asked Deputy Solicitor General Paul D. Clement, "But do you think there is anything in the law that curtails the method of interrogation that may be employed?" "I think that the United States is signatory to conventions that prohibit torture and that sort of thing," Clement told Stevens, who, as a pro bono lawyer, once had won a coerced-confession case. "And the United States is going to honor its treaty obligations." Hours later, viewers of "60 Minutes II" were confronted with photos of abuse of detainees at the hands of U.S. military personnel -- the beginning of the Abu Ghraib scandal.
...1945, Italian partisans killed deposed fascist leader Benito Mussolini and associates, among them his mistress, Clara Petacci.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Secret séance

Trolling for news about Canada's Guantánamo accused, Omar Khadr, turned up evidence of a "ghostly hearing" that took place this week at Canada's Supreme Court. Appears that unnamed Country X is seeking the extradition of unnamed Target Y, who claims that he was an informant for X, and that X is now hanging him out to dry by seeking his extradition. Or, in effect, just hanging him: Y argues that the entire extradition proceeding must remain confidential because he will be killed, presumably by those on whom he informed, if his identity is revealed. Canada's Justice Department supports Y's request to keep a lid on the case -- a government lawyer called the informant's privilege "near sancrosanct" -- but Canadian media have demanded open proceedings. It's that question of publicity that was considered this week. The Supreme Court now is deliberating this disquieting twist on secrets of state.

On April 27, ...

... 1961, Sierra Leone, a British colony for the previous century and a half, won its independence.
...1759, Mary Wollstonecraft (right), a feminist, author, and intellectual inspired by the ideals of the French revolutionary era, was born in London. Among her works was the 1792 landmark, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, in which she endeavored to show "that the first object of laudable ambition is to obtain a character as a human being, regardless of the distinction of sex." In 1792, Wollstonecraft died soon after giving birth to a daughter who, as Mary Shelley, would write Frankenstein.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Death in the heart of Texas

Deep in the heart of Texas may be found 411 persons awaiting execution (1995 statistics, last available), among them 10 women. It's the United States' 2d largest death row -- California leads with 646 persons even while, as Nancy Ward reported, its legislature contemplates an end to life-without-parole sentences for juveniles. A terse entry on Texas' own Death Row website stresses 1st place in another category: "Texas leads nation in the number of executions since death penalty was reinstated in 1976." That pace of executions slowed a little yesterday, when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned 3 death sentences.
In Smith, Brewer, and Abdul-Kabir, the Court revisited a state system that has dogged it since Jurek, the 1976 decision to which the website alluded. There a splintered Court had ruled that Texas' method of guiding jurors to balance circumstances at a capital sentencing hearing could be applied properly. Since then, however, the Court has held a number of times that application in fact fell short of the Constitution's requirement that jurors be afforded full consideration of mitigating factors. A salient example: the reversals in Penry I and Penry II of death sentences imposed on a mentally retarded man.
Yesterday proved another such time. "[T]he sentencing process is fatally flawed," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in Abdul-Kabir, "[w]hen the jury is not permitted to give meaningful effect or a 'reasoned moral response' to a defendant's mitigating evidence." The 5-member majority's ruling did not sit well with dissenters. Chief Justice John Roberts called the conclusion -- written by a coauthor of the lead opinion in Jurek -- "utterly revisionist."
The jury instructions under review no longer are used. And so more than 3,000 women and men remain on death row, in Texas and elsewhere in the United States, according to Amnesty International the only democracy in the world's developed West to retain capital punishment for ordinary crimes.

On April 26, ...

...1937 (70 years ago today), in aid of Gen. Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War, warplanes from Nazi Germany dropped bombs on Guernica. The campaign lasted for days, killing 1,650 residents and leveling the Basque market town. The devastation inspired Pablo Picasso to create one of his most moving paintings (above). The original is at the Museo del Prado in Madrid; a tapestry reproduction marks the entrance to the U.N. Security Council in New York.
...1954, a diplomatic conference began in Geneva, Switzerland, in an effort to resolve disputes in Indochina. It ended with a July 21 declaration that resulted in the north-south partition of Vietnam.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

... forced migration update ...

At UNHCR's conference on Iraqi refugees last week, the US government pledged to resettle 20,000 of the most vulnerable Iraqis. But as Anna Husarska of the International Rescue Committee notes, many could be barred from refugee status for acts such as paying ransom for their kidnapped children. The material support bar, expanded through the USA PATRIOT and REAL ID acts, renders ineligible for entry to the United States anyone who has provided -- even involuntarily -- a good or service to virtually any armed group. As documented by a group of Georgetown Law students in an excellent report last year, this provision has been applied to deny refugee status to, among others, a Liberian woman gang-raped, abducted, and held hostage by LURD rebels who forced her to cook and do laundry for them and a Sierra Leonean woman raped by rebels who murdered one family member, burned another, raped her daughter, and held the family captive for four days in their own home. After much outcry, last month DHS created a discretionary waiver of the bar, applicable to refugees who provided material support under duress to certain groups -- but more bureaucratic red tape doesn't seem a realistic or promising solution for Iraqis whose lives are in imminent danger.

War crimes charges for alleged acts by a child

Having disposed of the troublesome case of David Hicks, the U.S. Department of Defense yesterday levied charges against Omar Khadr, whom it calls another "person subject to trial by military commission as an alien unlawful combatant." This case too is liable to prove troublesome. That is not just because the Canadian-born Khadr is, like the Australian Hicks, a Westerner. Nor is it only because 1 of the offenses with which Khadr is charged, conspiracy, is unknown to the international laws of war, as 4 U.S. Supreme Court Justices concluded last year in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. (Charged in addition to conspiracy to join the al Qaeda terrorist network: murder of a U.S. Army sergeant, attempted murder of other coalition troops, material support for terrorism, and spying.) Particularly troublesome are the dates of the conduct alleged -- June and July 2002, when Khadr was 15 years old. Even assuming the allegations are true, he was a child soldier, the kind of combatant who in other conflicts has been treated as deserving of special treatment aimed at rehabilitation. (See, for example, arts. 36-40 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which the United States is virtually the only non-state-party, and also my Calling Children to Account: The Proposal for a Juvenile Chamber in the Special Court for Sierra Leone, 29 Pepperdine L. Rev. 167 (2001).) Instead, as 1 of his attorneys, American University Law Professor Richard J. Wilson, has detailed, Khadr has been subjected to indefinite detention at Guantánamo -- a situation condemned by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. To that detention now add prosecution before a tribunal that purports to apply an internationalized law yet, contrary to international law, makes no differentiation based on the age of the accused.

On April 25, ...

...1990, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro (left), publisher of the newspaper La Prensa, was sworn in as the 1st woman President of Nicaragua, a post she would hold for 7 years.
...1945, members of 50 nation-states convened for a San Francisco Conference that would end with the June adoption of the Charter of the United Nations. Participants included Jessie Street, the only woman on the Australian delegation, a founder of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, and, according to Dr. Lenore Coltheart, 1 of a group of women responsible for Art. 8 of the Charter: "The United Nations shall place no restrictions on the eligibility of men and women to participate in any capacity and under conditions of equality in its principal and subsidiary organs." (May 1945 photo of Street addressing conference courtesy of National Library of Australia)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Perspective on U.S. aid percentages

No complaints here regarding Sen. Barack Obama's promise yesterday that if elected President in 2008 he'd double U.S. foreign aid by 2012 -- great to see foreign policy space devoted to planet-building as well as threat-deterring. Yet the promise needs perspective.
Rosa Brooks has noted that Americans' estimates of their own generosity -- Americans assume that international assistance consumes 20% of the federal budget, and 64% believe that "our foreign aid budget was probably the single largest area of federal expenditures, higher than spending on the military Social Security, or Medicaid" -- are 'way off the mark. The European Union gave about $40 billion in 2005; in contrast, the FY2008 aid number for the United States is $36.5 billion, "only about 1% of total" U.S. spending, Brooks reports. As for the U.S. defense establishment, it seeks $481.4 billion "for baseline funding" in FY2008, to which must be added $141.7 billion for what the administration calls "the global war on terror," as well as the $100 billion being spent yearly on the war in Iraq.
The twice-as-much that Obama advocated pales by comparison.

Electing democracy

"Africa's Crisis Of Democracy," headlined award-winning New York Timeswoman Lydia Polgreen's lament of this weekend's presidential election in Nigeria. Put to one side for a moment Amelia Earhart's important and nuanced thoughts about elections, abroad and in the United States. Put to the side too concerns of international observers -- among them former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright -- respecting fraud and violence in the process that returned Nigeria's ruling faction to power. Polgreen's news analysis itself sparks concern.
In declaring Africa in "crisis," the analysis effectively equated "democracy" with elections. That is a common, and mistaken, equation. A free and fair election indeed is a marker of government by the people. But it is by no means the only one; moreover, as experience close to home has shown, election irregularities do not always mark democracy's absence.
Longterm aims of nation-building ought to be "peace and stability" and "protecting human rights," Susan S. Gibson wrote in The Misplaced Reliance on Free and Fair Elections in Nation Building: The Role of Constitutional Democracy and the Rule of Law, 21 Houston J. Int'l L. 1 (1998). Gibson, then a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, continued: "[F]ree and fair elections, by themselves, have not and can not achieve those goals." Her article called on the United Nations not only to press for such elections, but also to "develop procedures to help countries form and nurture stable, democratic forms of government ... founded on the rule of law." This complex evaluation, by which elections are a factor rather than a determinant, is necessary before a "crisis" may be declared -- let alone addressed.

Newmont mining executive acquitted

The International Herald Tribune reports this morning that Richard Ness, president of Newmont Mining of Denver, was acquitted of criminal charges of environmental pollution and resultant damage to the health of local villagers. Accused of dumping mercury and arsenic into Buyat Bay, 1,300 miles northeast of Jakarta, Ness risked a 10-year jail term and a $60K fine. The prosecution’s evidence was apparently very weak: only villagers who complained of itching were called as witnesses and the police tests showing toxin levels way beyond national standards were refuted by the WHO, as well as Indonesian government agencies and several independent groups. As activists point out, tests for body arsenic accumulation should continue for up to 30 years (Newmont mined only from 1996 to 2002 and stopped processing ore and closed the mine on Aug. 31, 2004). As my earlier post regarding the Freeport-McMoRan strike and the recent ATCA case, Sarei v. Rio Tinto (see also Roger Alford’s post) indicate, gold and copper mining in Indonesia will continue to raise not simply the legal issue of accountability for habitat destruction, pollution and the concomitant damage to the health and welfare of local peoples, but the deeper issue of balancing technological progress and need (the demand for copper in China has increased dramatically recently) with respect for the environment and our fellow humans, and sharing the wealth.

On April 24, ...

...1915, Armenians were seized in the Ottoman capital Constantinople, now known as Istanbul, Turkey, and sent to their deaths, part of a series of massacres. Some officials, among them Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, have acknowledged this as Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. The politics surrounding whether U.S. President George W. Bush will follow suit is explored here.
... 1916, some 1,600 nationalists occupied sites in Dublin, the capital city of an Ireland then fully under British rule. After days of fighting, the rebels of this Easter Rising were defeated; Britain executed 15 leaders by firing squad. Second in command of 1 rebel group was Countess Constance Markievicz, pictured in the uniform of the auxiliary she headed, Cumann na mBan, Gaelic for "League of Women." A daughter of the Anglo-Irish Protestant ascendancy who had married a Polish count, Markievicz was the only woman court-martialed for her involvement in the rising. She received a death sentence, but it was commuted "solely and only on account of her sex"; she served just over a year in jail.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Losing Ground

It seems as though we are losing ground in the fight for women’s reproductive autonomy. As Human Rights Watch reports, the World Bank is currently reviewing its draft Health, Nutrition and Population strategy – a document that “misses the opportunity to support access to family planning and contraception as keys to combating global poverty.” The document represents a departure from the Bank’s previous commitments to ensure access to sex education, contraception and safe abortion as articulated in the World Development Report of 2007. This regression in the Bank’s international family planning policy could result in increased poverty and deteriorating health for millions around the world. Lest we think the battle for reproductive autonomy will be waged on foreign soil…. The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a serious blow to domestic reproductive rights advocates in its Gonzales v. Carhart decision last Wednesday, April 18th. Nancy Northup, President of the Center for Reproductive rights observed, “It took just a year for this new Court to overturn three decades of established law. Today’s ruling is a stunning assault on women’s health and the expertise of doctors who care for them.” Although activists, both domestic and international, have made some progress in securing reproductive rights, we seem to be taking two steps forward and one step back. Despite recent setbacks, regional human rights fora may hold some promise for securing reproductive rights - for at least some women around the world. The Center for Reproductive Rights, for example, has presented several successful repro rights cases to the Inter-American Commission. Likewise, the African Protocol on the Rights of Women and the European Convention may offer the most effective remedy for violations of women’s reproductive rights (See also Amelia Earhart's March 20, 2007 post). Activists must now work to protect hard-fought victories and resist losing any more ground - in both domestic and international courts.

International Justice in National Courts

Almost 14 years after the UN Security Council resolved to establish the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), its impact has been felt in myriad ways. Already much noted are its contributions—along with those of its sister court in Arusha—to a global jurisprudence of sexual violence. As a recent judgment by a Bosnian court highlighted, the Hague court’s attention to crimes of sexual violence is also influencing local trials in the former Yugoslavia.
In June 1996, the Prosecutor of the ICTY brought a landmark indictment against eight defendants, charging them with crimes of sexual violence in the Bosnian town of Foca. When the ICTY Trial Chamber issued its judgment against three of those named in the original indictment in February 2001, crimes entailing sexual slavery were for the first time in history found by an international court to constitute the crime against humanity of enslavement.
One of the defendants named in the initial indictment, Radovan Stankovic, escaped trial in the ICTY case Prosecutor v. Kunarac et al. but was finally arrested in July 2002. (As Lakshmi Bai [IntLawGrrl Jaya Ramji-Nogales] reported yesterday, another defendant included in the original ICTY indictment, Dragan Zelenovic, was found in Siberia and sent to The Hague, where he was sentenced to 15 years in prison earlier this month.)
In 2005, the case against Stankovic became another first when the ICTY transferred his case to the War Crimes Chamber of Bosnia’s state court, which had begun operating earlier that year. Announcing the transfer, the ICTY described this action “as a landmark event, being the first transfer of an ICTY accused to be tried in a national jurisdiction.”
The charge of enslavement as a crime against humanity followed Stankovic to the Bosnian War Crimes Chamber, where the three-judge panel that heard his trial included an international judge who had previously served in the ICTY. (Parenthetically, in the view of some observers, the Bosnian court went too far in its efforts to protect witnesses through a decision to hold the entire main trial in closed session.) In November 2006, Stankovic was convicted on most of the counts against him, including enslavement, and was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment. On March 28, 2007, the Chamber’s appellate panel raised Stankovic’s sentence to 20 years.

On April 23, ...

... 2007 (today), is World Book and Copyright Day, by proclamation of the United Nations' Educational, Social, and Cultural Organization. UNESCO made the choice because on this day noted authors -- Spain's Miguel Cervantes, England's William Shakespeare, and Peru's "El Inca" Garcilaso de la Vega -- died. Others, among them -- France's Maurice Druon, Iceland's Halldór Kiljan Laxness, Russia's Vladimir Nabokov, and Colombia's Manuel Mejía Vallejo -- were born.
UNESCO's list includes not 1 woman, so we'll add our own: Teresa de la Parra (left), pseudonym of Ana Teresa Parra Sanojo, born to Venezuelan parents in 1890 in Paris. She lived both in Europe and South America. De la Parra, who died in Madrid on April 23, 1936, won fame after receipt of 1st prize in a 1924 Paris writing contest led to publication of her novel Iphigenia: The Diary of a Young Lady Who Wrote Because She Was Bored.
... 1928, the Hollywood child star of the Depression era who later served as U.S. Representative to the United Nations and Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia, Shirley Temple Black, was born in Santa Monica, California.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Rape in international criminal law

11 years after rape was first charged as a separate grave crime in an international criminal indictment and 9 years after Jean-Paul Akayesu became the first to be found guilty of rape as a crime against humanity, three developments this month made me think about the impact of the doctrine:

Nowhere to hide
Dragan Zelenovic, a member of the group of
former Bosnian Serb paramilitary commanders first indicted for rape as a crime against humanity in June 1996, was deported from Russia last June after being discovered in Siberia, where he was living under a false name. Earlier this month, the ICTY sentenced Zelenovic to 15 years in prison. In Canadian court, Desire Munyaneza was tried this month in the first application of Canada's Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act of 2000 for, among other acts, his involvement in raping Tutsi women during the Rwandan genocide. Munyaneza, who was denied refugee status in Canada, was arrested in 2005 by the Canadian police after a 5 year investigation. While many fish slip through the nets, it's increasingly clear that violators of international criminal law prohibiting rape can be caught anywhere, at any time. At the very least, this development will make perpetrators' lives unstable and uncomfortable.
The trauma of testifying
Zelenovic, who pled guilty to raping Muslim women, including a 15-year old girl, during the Serb seizure of the town of Foca in 1992, stated that the motivation for his plea was to spare his victims the trauma of testifying (possible subtext: three others indicted with Zelenovic had previously been convicted and sentenced to 12 to 28 years). In the Canadian trial, Witness

C-17 testified last week that Munyaneza raped her repeatedly. She had difficulty recalling details under cross-examination, explaining that "When I talk about the genocide, I try to erase everything from my mind." Earlier, Witness C-15, who was held as a sex slave at age 17 and now suffers from AIDS, faced questions on cross-examination such as, "When was the first time after the death of Habyarimana that you were raped?" Her testimony was interrupted when she fainted and had to be taken to the hospital.
La lucha continua
Finally, earlier this month UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour called for investigations of widespread sexual violence during attacks by Sudanese government forces in Darfur in December 2006. The UN reported at least 15 sexual assaults including rapes of 2 pregnant women and a 13-year old girl. Arbour specifically pointed out that systematic rape is a war crime. While this label gives force to the request for an investigation, does it make perpetrators think twice before acting? Perhaps that's too much to ask of international criminal law at this point in its evolution, but we march onwards in pursuit of internalization of the norm.

Strike at Freeport-McMoRan mine in Indonesia

The LA Times reports that tribespeople are striking at Freeport-McMoRan’s copper and gold mine. No wonder. As the Times notes, Freeport-McMoRan (FM) is the subject of long-standing accusations that human rights abuses and environmental damage have resulted from its open-pit mining on Amungme tribal lands in Papua province. In the late 1990s in an action (dismissed) brought under the ATCA, FM was accused of cultural genocide, among other things, for the damage its mining operations caused to the Amungme’s environment. Shortly thereafter, as the Times further reports, 5 years of negotiation between FM and Papuan tribes resulted in an agreement in 2000 to create joint programs for social development and protection of human rights and the environment. In 2001, FM agreed to open a trust fund for Amungme and Kamoro tribe members living closest to the mining operations. Initial funding of $2.5-million has been increased by yearly $500,000 contributions from FM and the tribes may purchase shares in the company. This is in addition to the social development fund created earlier that, according to FM, has “received nearly $95 million from our operations since 1996 for investments in projects selected by a board of local stakeholders." At the same time, however, FM has admitted paying close to $20 million to military and police forces for security, which it claims is a typical business practice. According to Titus Natkime, a leader of the workers’ organization leading the strike and son of deceased tribal leader Tuarek Natkime, workers’ welfare has not improved despite FM’s social welfare investments. Native Papuans make up only about 1/3 of FM’s workforce and, hired only on short-term contracts, they hold no positions higher than foreman and top out at $175/month. Moreover, some of the strikers have worked for 35 years without ever receiving a promotion or a raise. For Natkime, the strike is not limited to wages, but to dignity: " We are poor on very rich land." Indeed, the mine apparently contains the world's largest single reserves of copper and gold, and FM’s operation constitutes roughly 1.6% of Indonesia's gross domestic product. As riot police numbering in the hundreds took up positions at the mine on Friday, the two sides continued to negotiate peacefully. Meanwhile, production is down and strikers intend to keep striking until their demands are met.

On April 22, ...

... 1970, Earth Day was celebrated for the 1st time. The tradition continues today, when concern about climate change, a subject we've discussed here and here, is rallying environmentalists.
... 1451, Queen Isabella I, responsible both for the voyages to America of Christopher Columbus and the Spanish Inquisition, was born in Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Spain.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Fifty ways to run an election

As Nigerians go to the polls today in what will be the first democratic transfer of power between civilian presidents there, it got me thinking about the many different ways states manage their elections and the issues that accompany them, from voter education to the rules of campaigning, from vote fraud to the risk of violence at the polls. Nigeria’s elections have been particularly melodramatic, with allegations of corruption, reports of violence, and a leading candidate who was first barred from the ballot by the national electoral commission, and then reinstituted by the Supreme Court only a few days ago, leading to a flurry of ballot reprinting late this week. When I visited the Democratic Republic of Congo before its landmark elections last July, campaigning was limited to the last 30 days before the election. Wouldn’t some reasonable time limit provide a welcome respite from the years of campaigning that precede presidential elections in the US? It might even serve as a means of de facto campaign finance reform as well -- surely there must be some limit on the amount of money a candidate would spend if given only one month to do it. In France’s hotly contested presidential elections, there is a mandatory one day break in campaigning today before tomorrow’s vote, for a “day of reflection” in which the electorate can consider the candidates in peace. Also not a bad idea. And in Bhutan, where the king is voluntarily turning over power to a democratically elected parliament, the people went to the polls for a practice run yesterday, voting for one of four mock parties in preparation for the real thing in 2008. Between hanging chads and concerns about electronic voting machines, a practice run might be time well spent here too.

On April 21, ...

... 1926, Queen Elizabeth II of England was born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor. She became queen in 1952 after the death of her father, King George VI.
... 1944, Article 17 of the Ordonnance portant organisation des pouvoirs publics en France après la Libération, declared French women eligible to vote "under the same conditions as men." It was the culmination of a suffrage movement that dated not just to the early 1900s (see photo), but all the way back to the late 1700s, when its leaders included Olympe de Gouges, namesake of IntLawGrrl Hélène Ruiz Fabri. Tomorrow, as "Anna Koransky" [IntLawGrrl Naomi Norberg] explained here, women and men in France will go to the polls for the 1st round of this year's Presidential election, in which, for the 1st time, a woman is among the leading candidates.

Friday, April 20, 2007

California Bill to Abolish Life Without Parole for Juveniles

Confessions of my work this week….Just last month California State Senator, Leland Yee, introduced a bill (SB 999) that will finally remedy the unjust practice of sentencing children under the age of 18 to life in prison without the possibility of parole ("LWOP"). After submitting a letter endorsed by 75 law professors, I joined colleagues this week in meeting with Senate offices to urge their support for this bill. I am working on this issue because in California, as in many states, LWOP means that the state can put a young person into prison, lock them up and throw away the key, never allowing that child to request a hearing to demonstrate that after becoming an adult she is rehabilitated. This is a death sentence in all but name.
The bill is important for a number of reasons. It incorporates modern findings on child development. Regardless of the crime, young people are still capable of responding to rehabilitation. The reform also brings us in line with international human rights standards. Not only is LWOP for juveniles prohibited by international treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which the U.S. is a party, but the few countries that have the option in their laws do not use it. We know of only three countries in which at most 12 youth offenders are serving this sentence while there are an estimated 2, 270 in the United States (227 in California). In meeting with government delegates recently at the U.N. Council on Human Rights, the lawyer representing the U.S. was the only one who defended the practice, insisting the U.S. is careful not to violate international law. What he seemed to find troubling, as I, is that California leads the nation in racial disparity with this sentence. Black youth are 22 times more likely than white youth to receive this type of sentence, for the same crimes. Hispanic youth are 4 times more likely.
The bill has now passed out of the Public Safety Committee but it still needs two-thirds of our state legislature’s vote to pass. In 1990, after a wave of crime fears, the public approved the sentence as part of a larger ballot initiative. We now must garner a super majority of legislators to change it---for our children’s sake, I hope this is possible. I know I’ll be working on this in the weeks to come.

With us, or with the terrorists?

Why is it no surprise that anti-Castro terrorist Luis Posada Carriles was released from federal detention yesterday? Despite President George Bush’s unforgettable, “you’re with us, or you’re with the terrorists”, his defense of Posada shows just how ambiguous absolutist language can be. Many of you may recall that Posada escaped from a Venezuelan jail in 1985, where he was held on charges of masterminding the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that resulted in the deaths of all 73 people aboard. He was also implicated in the 1976 bombing in Washington, DC that killed former Chilean ambassador Orlando Letelier and his American associate, Ronnie Moffitt. As Representative Dennis Kucinich points out in his letter to Attorney General Gonzales shortly before Posada's release, “[a]s recently as April 10, 2007, President Bush…said, “I vowed that if you harbored a terrorist you’re equally as guilty as the terrorist.” Arrested in the US in 2005, Posada requested asylum to avoid extradition to Venezuela. The Bush administration refused extradition but, rather than charge Posada with any terrorist crimes, stalled until the court ordered that Posada be charged or released. So the government charged Posada with making false statements to immigration officials and the court allowed him to be released upon posting $350K bond. One person’s terrorist..., n’est-ce pas?

On April 20, ...

... 1902, Marie Sklodowska Curie (right) and her husband, Pierre Curie, successfully isolated radioactive radium salts from pitchblende ore in their laboratory in Paris. The achievement won attention by the Nobel committee, but initially Marie's role was not mentioned. Pierre wrote the committee: "If it is true that one is seriously thinking about me, I very much wish to be considered together with Madame Curie with respect to our research on radioactive bodies." The committee complied, awarding half the 1903 prize in physics to the couple, the other half to another scientist. After Pierre died in a carriage accident, Marie continued her research, became the 1st woman professor at the Sorbonne, and won a 2d Nobel Prize, in chemistry, in 1912.
... 1920, U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens was born in Chicago.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

HIV/AIDS global update

Ambitious national programs. Much greater global mobilization. Increased accountability. All 3 are needed to press the fight against HIV/AIDS, according to Dr. Margaret Chan, World Health Organization Director-General. Chan (pictured at bottom right) spoke on the release this week of "Towards Universal Access," a progress report that WHO published in collaboration with UNICEF and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, or UNAIDS. The U.N. agencies endeavored to put a positive spin on the report, and some news was good. An example: "The number of children receiving treatment increased by 50% in the past year..." But this phrase, like others, ended less optimistically, acknowledging that the increase was 50% above "a very low base." Interpreted: fully 85% of children in need have no access to HIV treatment. Other statistics were equally sobering. The percentage of adults not receiving needed HIV treatment: in sub-Saharan Africa, 72%; in North Africa and the Middle East, 94%; in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, 85%; overall in "low- and middle-income countries," 72%. Prevention, education, testing, and diagnosis all are needed. In short, a very long way to go.

No good reason

Scarcely was the virtual ink dry on yesterday's concerned post, "Imagining Violence," than anyone who accessed web news sites was assaulted with the barrel of 1, or 2, firearms held by a profoundly disturbed, deceased young man. This morning, same photos on page 1. Can't wait for the sadly rote next round of this story: media self-examination on whether they should've published this violence-as-porn.

On April 19, ...

... 1995, a rented truck rigged with explosive destroyed a federal building in Oklahoma City, Okla., killing scores of children, women, and men.
... 1692, Bridget Bishop (left) was indicted on charges of witchcraft. The 1st to stand trial in the Salem, Massachusetts, witch hunt, she remained silent through 2 days of accusatory testimony and was convicted. On June 10 Bishop was hanged from an oak tree on what would come to be called Witches' Hill.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Imagining violence

Tucked into "The Good Shepherd," an otherwise bloodless account of Cold War espionage, is the stripping, black-hooding, and mock-drowning of a Russian interrogee by American agents. Director Robert De Niro's allusion to contemporary events -- forcedly naked and black-robed detainees at Abu Ghraib, alleged CIA waterboarding of detainee Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- is obvious. And it is effective: the image isn't easily put out of mind.
The New Yorker's Jane Mayer and others have written of late about the exponential increase in scenes of torture, on film and on TV, since the attacks of September 11, 2001. It's easy to criticize justificatory depictions in shows like "24." But is De Niro's critical usage that much different? And what about the countless iterations of Abu Ghraib's hooded man that have appeared not only on the news pages and in editorial cartoons, but also on untold university symposium posters? The propriety of one such poster provoked an impassioned discussion in my Human Rights class last week. Most students thought use of the image an appropriate means to draw attention to an event at which speakers would argue against torture. But a few voiced concern that even this usage helped to make something once was reflexively disturbing seem more familiar, more normal -- to inure even the most caring to scenes of torture.
The discussion took on new significance as eyes turned to scenes of horror at Virginia Tech. Of particular note is Alessandra Stanley's New York Times commentary on the sadly rote reportage that such tragedies have produced. Her column again spurred the question whether routinization of violence -- whether graphic depiction of violence for the cold consumption of all -- increases society's tolerance of violence to a degree that ought not to be tolerated.
(Many thanks to my superb Human Rights students for raising and exploring this important question.)

On April 18, ...

... 1906, Baroness Bertha Sophie Felicita von Suttner (left), an author and peace activist, delivered her Nobel Lecture, "The Evolution of the Peace Movement," after becoming the 1st woman to receive the then-5-year-old Peace Prize.
... 1951, U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) was born in Racine, Wis.
... 1980, Zimbabwe gained independence following the ouster of the minority government that had called the country Rhodesia. Its 1st prime minister: Robert Mugabe, who eventually became president and continues to control the country. His critics may be found in the West, among African bishops, and in Zimbabwe itself.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

... forced migration update ...

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees convened a conference in Geneva today to address the growing humanitarian crisis of displaced Iraqis--now the largest displacement of people in the Middle East since the conflict triggered by the creation of Israel in 1948. With over 450 participants, including representatives of 60 nations and numerous aid organizations, the conference aims to shine a necessary spotlight . . . on a problem that has been overshadowed by politics for far too long. Of particular concern: Neighboring countries, who host the vast majority of refugees, are now closing their borders to Iraqis. Syria hosts an estimated 1.2 million Iraqis; Jordan, 750,000; Egypt, 100,000; Iran, 54,000; Lebanon, 40,000. (In contrast, the U.S., which has granted refugee status to fewer than 700 Iraqis since the war began, recently offered to resettle 7,000 Iraqis.) Iraqis lucky enough to gain entry into a neighbor state face increasingly restricted immigration status, limited legal rights, and exploitative work situations. In the words of High Commissioner António Guterres,
The humanitarian dimension of the problem can no longer be overlooked. Almost 4 million Iraqis are watching us today. Their needs are as obvious as the moral imperative to help. All of us – representatives of governments, international organizations and civil society – are now compelled to act.

... and counting ...


(Occasional sobering thoughts.) As the American Civil Liberties Union released details on civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, and as an Afghan human rights group charged U.S. servicemembers with an "excessive reaction" to a March ambush, casualties continued.
According to Iraq Body Count, as of today between 61,728 and 67,703 Iraqi women, children, and men have died in the Iraqi conflict -- an increase of 1,317 to 1,817 deaths in 2 weeks.
American servicemember fatalities, through yesterday: 3,309 persons. Total coalition fatalities: 3,575 persons. (That's 78 servicemember deaths since April 2, 26 of them Americans.) The stated number of U.S. wounded remained at 24,314 persons.
Still no source for Afghan civilian casualties. Military casualties in the conflict in Afghanistan stand at 380 Americans and 180 other coalition servicemembers, an increase of 4 and 10 persons, respectively, in the last 2 weeks.

On April 17, ...

... 1865, Mary Surratt (left) was arrested at her Washington, D.C., boardinghouse on the charge of conspiracy in the assassination 3 days earlier of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. In what was the 1st federal execution of a woman, Surratt was hanged on July 7, along with three others convicted in a capital trial that took place before a military commission.
... 1969, Bernadette Devlin, a 21-year-old psychology student at Queen's University, Belfast, opposed to British rule in Northern Ireland, became the youngest woman ever elected a Member of Parliament at Westminster, and the 3d youngest MP ever.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Movers, Shakers, and Troublemakers

Yale Law School just held its 10th annual symposium celebrating the Robert L. Bernstein International Human Rights Fellowship. Mention Bob Bernstein's name to a friend who knew him in his days as founder and chair of Human Rights Watch, and you'll get an apt description, "He was always causing trouble." Indeed, at the age of 84, he's still advocating tirelessly for human rights in China, sharing at every possible opportunity the story of Gao Zhisheng, a dissident tortured by the Chinese government and currently under house arrest. Big shoes to fill for those who win a fellowship in his name, and this year's crop did not disappoint. Current fellow Ethel Higonnet presented a description of her work with Human Rights Watch documenting horrific crimes of sexual violence used by the government and rebels in the Ivory Coast to terrorize the local population. Fellow Jeremy Robbins discussed his project on prison reform in Argentina, working with the Center for Legal and Social Studies and the Association for Civil Rights to transform Argentina's progressive prisoners' rights laws from paper into reality. The 2007-2008 fellows are equally impressive; Nick Robinson, who successfully pushed Yale University and the State of Connecticut to divest from companies doing business in Sudan, now turns to the problem of water rights in India, where he will work with the Human Rights Law Network next year. And Katherine Southwick will work with Refugees International to combat statelessness through domestic and international advocacy. These talented and dedicated individuals are well on their way to making plenty of trouble in Bob Bernstein's name.

On April 16, ....

... 1940, Denmark's Queen Margrethe II (left) was born Margrethe Alexandrine Þórhildur Ingrid to King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid at Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen. She ascended to the throne upon her father's death in 1972.
... 2005, Marla Ruzicka, a 28-year-old aid worker from California who had founded the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, or CIVIC, died in a car bombing near Baghdad Airport. Ruzicka had spent the day on bereavement visits to survivors of Iraqi civilians who had been killed in what was by then a 2-years-on conflict in Iraq.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sweet Home Chicago

Can't resist a plug for my home city of Chicago. The U.S. Olympic Committee yesterday picked the City of the Big Shoulders as the place where big-shouldered athletes ought to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games. Chicago won out over Los Angeles. Though a nice enough place, LA's no Chicago. OK, so Chicago's weather can be a bit extreme. But it boasts a jewel of a lakefront park, insatiable sports fans, unrivaled public art and urban architecture, power-pols, prizewinning theater, and blues to beat all. Frank Sinatra called it his kind of town; blues legend Robert Johnson wrote:
Come on, baby don't you want to go
To the same old place, sweet home Chicago
Given expected competition -- Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, Rome, Tokyo, and Prague -- we'll have to wait and see where the International Olympic Committee wants the '16 Games to go.

On April 15, ...

... 1987, Claire L’Heureux-Dubé became the 2d woman appointed a Justice of Canada’s Supreme Court. She held the position until her retirement in 2002. Among her noted opinions occurred in Canada (Attorney General) v. Mossop, a 1993 case in which the Court voted 5-4 to uphold the denial of bereavement leave to an employee who had attended the funeral of his same-sex partner's father. Dissenting, Judge L’Heureux-Dubé wrote:

The traditional conception of family is not the only conception. The multiplicity of definitions and approaches illustrates clearly that there is no consensus as to the boundaries of family, and that “family status” may have varied meanings depending on the context or purpose for which the definition is desired. ... The family is not merely a creation of law, and while law may affect the ways in which families behave or structure themselves, the changing nature of family relationships also has an impact on the law.


... 1998, Pol Pot, whose Khmer Rouge regime was responsible for the killing of millions of Cambodia in the 1970s, died in a shack in a jungle in the west of the country. As detailed by our own Lakshmi Bai (aka Jaya Ramji-Nogals), efforts to have surviving Khmer Rouge leaders stand trial in a mixed tribunal have not yet reached fruition.