Sunday, September 30, 2007
This year's theme? "Don't Shoot the Messenger!"
There are parts of the world where translators and interpreters literally risk death simply by doing their job. Some 261 translators and interpreters died in Iraq in 2006, and more in Afghanistan. Elsewhere, translators have been jailed for their work, and received death threats for daring to translate the works of authors such as Salman Rushdie. One was murdered.
... 1997 (10 years ago today), the Roman Catholic Church in France apologized "to the Jewish people ... for its silence in the face of French collaboration with the Holocaust." Bishops proclaimed a Declaration of Repentance that confessed to and asked forgiveness for the "mistake" of silence as the Vichy regime, which ruled in France after the Nazi conquest, imposed anti-Semitic laws and undertook "the deportation of tens of thousands of French Jews to Nazi death camps."
... 1960, U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) was born in Helena, Arkansas.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
As Qin (left) explains, the European Communities had brought a challenge against a Brazilian law that bans importation of already-used-but-retreaded tires (right), based on the reasoning that the retreads have a shorter lifespan and so will find their way even sooner into waste heaps where they "create health and enivronmental hazards by providing breeding grounds for mosquite-borne diseases," and further "caus[e] tyre fires that are difficult to control." A panel of the World Trade Organization agreed, perhaps more so than Brazil wished: the panel "effectively directed" Brazil to extend the ban to imports of such tires from countries outside Europe; most notably, MERCOSUR neighbors that'd been permitted to sell the tires in Brazil.
In Qin's view the Brazil - Tyres decision could "become a milestone in WTO jurisprudence on trade and the environment" -- if, that is, it survives review by the WTO's Appellate Body.
... 2005, Algerians went to the polls to vote on amnesty; that is, on the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation, a proposal of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika that they "forget the violence of a civil war that left more than 100,000 people dead and to offer amnesty to many of those responsible." In the end, 97% of voters approved the referendum; turnout was 80%.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Witnesses on the agenda for Thursday's kickoff hearing are Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, and Admiral Patrick M. Walsh, Vice Chief of Naval Operations. The Committee plans another hearing in October, "at which time proponents and opponents, as well as ocean industry representatives, will be invited to testify." (photo courtesy of the Navy of Australia, a state party since 1994)
... 1966, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) was born in New York City.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
In so ruling, the majority parted company not only with the dissenter, Senior Judge Dorothy W. Nelson (left) -- who wrote that "it is clear that Article 36(1)(b) does confer individual rights" -- but also with the opinion that Judge Diane Wood (below right) wrote for a unanimous Seventh Circuit panel last March in Jogi v. Voges, 480 F.3d 822. (The Jogi decision, about which we posted here, may be viewed free here; log-on required.)
Circuit splits sometimes portend eventual review of an issue by the U.S. Supreme Court. In any event, there's no doubt that Court will grapple soon with aspects of the Consular Relations Convention. For this circuit split arises just weeks before consideration of the enforceability vel non of Avena, a 2004 International Court of Justice judgment that called for reconsideration of noncitizens who'd been convicted in the United States without having been told of the right of consular access. The high court, whose October Term 2007 begins Monday, will argument in that case, Medellín v. Texas, on October 10.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
... 1944, during World War II, U.S. Rep. Doris O. Matsui (D-Cal.) was born in an internment camp run by the United States in Poston, Arizona.
Monday, September 24, 2007
'The discrepancy between the alleged number of victims per year and the number of cases they've been able to make is so huge that it's got to raise major questions. It suggests that this problem is being blown way out of proportion.'Though law enforcement agents' lack of knowledge about or interest in the problem no doubt furthers that gap, in Weitzer's view, that can't account for all of it. In any event, the political capital to be won from embrace of the issue -- of critical concern to some in this administration's base -- itself suggests a need for careful examination of the scope of the problem and the proper means to address it.
... 1980, under orders from President Saddam Hussein, Iraqi armed forces bombed sites in Iran and set an oil export terminal in Iran on fire, the latest escalation of border skirmishes between the 2 countries. The Iran-Iraq War would not end for another 8 years; by that time, more than 400,000 had been killed and 750,000 wounded.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
... 1869, Mary Mallon was born in Ireland. She immigrated to the United States at around age 15, and soon became a cook for wealthy families in Massachusetts and New York. In the early 1900s she was determined to be an asymptomatic carrier of typhoid fever, and was believed to have spread the disease to dozens of people for whom she worked. Dubbed "Typhoid Mary," "the most dangerous woman in America," Mallon was quarantined by health officials; that's her in the 1st hospital bed at left. In a letter pleading for release, she wrote:
I have been in fact a peep show for everybody. Even the interns had to come to see me and ask about the facts already known to the whole wide world. The tuberculosis men would say 'There she is, the kidnapped woman.' Dr. Park has had me illustrated in Chicago. I wonder how the said Dr. William H. Park would like to be insulted and put in the Journal and call him or his wife Typhoid William Park.
Questions persist about the fairness of her treatment and the degree to which class or ethnic prejudice motivated officials in her case.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
are two emblematic human rights abuse cases – the Barrios Altos and La Cantuta massacres – which took place in 1991 and 1992 respectively. Twenty-five people, including a small child and a professor, were murdered in the two massacres. The killings are believed to have been carried out by an infamous, government-backed death squad known as the Colina Group. Prosecutors contend that Fujimori had direct knowledge of and may have even ordered the Group’s anti-subversion operations."From an international law standpoint," Helena Marambio of Amnesty International Chile said, the court found Fujimori "to be responsible for the character of his time in office. Let’s hope they continue to process him in Peru."
Meanwhile, Peru's Minister of Justice María Zavala (left) insisted at a press conference in Lima that the judges who will try the former President "must not be politicized."
... 1868, Louise Crummy McKinney (right) was born in Frankville, Ontario. Trained as a teacher, in 1903 she became a Canada-based organizer of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. Elected to the Albert legislature in 1917, she became the 1st woman legislator in the British Empire. She took part in an appeal to the Privy Council through which women won the right to become Senators. McKinney died in Claresholm, Alberta, in 1931. "Her gravestone reads only 'Mother.'"
Friday, September 21, 2007
... 1898, the Empress Dowager Cixi (left; the name's a variation on Tzu-Hsi) -- among "the most formidable women in modern history," "famed for her beauty and charm," and "power hungry, ruthless and profoundly skilled in court politics" -- detained and seized power from the Chinese emperor, thus ending a period of reform known as the Hundred Days' Reform.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
This series began with the observation of Peter Heigl in his German-English book Nürnberger Prozesse - Nuremberg Trials that among those who played a role at Nuremberg were "a few female defendants." IntLawGrrls've understandably been loathe to claim these women as our own. But they exist, as photos of "SS women" in yesterday's New York Times reminded. Those who stood trial for war crimes have an undeniable, if unfortunate, international prominence, and at times their story too must be told.
Among the defendants convicted by the International Military Tribunal during the Doctors' Trial was Dr. Herta Oberheuser (right), a physician whose specialty was dermatology. For her part in nonconsensual medical experiments conducted on inmates at Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, Oberheuser received a sentence of 20 years, later halved. On release from prison 1952 she tried to open a medical practice but was forced to close it on account of former inmates' protests.
Women defendants further included a number of Nazi camp guards, prosecuted in proceedings such as as:
Conducted by a U.S. military tribunal at the former concentration camp at Dachau. Among those convicted was Ilse Koch (left), wife of the Buchenwald Camp commander who was complicit in the atrocities committed under his command. Furor erupted in 1948, when her initial sentence to life in prison was cut to 4 years. "Koch was released in 1949, rearrested by German authorities, retried, and sentenced to life imprisonment. She committed suicide at Aichach prison in Bavaria in 1967."
A British military court adjudicated charges against 45 defendants, including: "the most notorious" Irma Grese (#9 at right) executed in 1945 along with Elizabeth Volkenrath and Juana Borman, plus at least 18 other women. Of these, 5 were acquitted; the rest received sentences ranging from 1 to 15 years.
Conducted by Polish authorities in Krakow. Defendants included Therese Brandl, 45 when she was executed in 1947; Maria Mandel (below), 36 when executed in 1948; Luise Danz, sentenced to life in prison, released in 1956, and in 1996 subjected to a German trial that was halted on account of her age; Hildegard Lächert, released in 1956, then convicted in a German courtroom in 1981; and Alice Orlowski, sentenced to life in prison but released in 1957.
The crimes of which these women were convicted ought to be unimaginable, and will remain, here at least, unprintable.
... 1999, a force of 1,190 soldiers, most from Australia or New Zealand, landed at the airport in the capital city of Dili in a U.N. effort "restore law and order" in East Timor, where militias "are thought to have killed thousands" in the couple of weeks since the electorate voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia, which had invaded in 1975 after Portugal ended its 450-year colonization of the tiny state (flag at left), which occupies half an island.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Affiliated with the Los Angeles-based Public Interest Investigations, One World Research confirms the growth of a new and important actor in human rights protection. A complementary project that comes to mind is the Institute for International Criminal Investigations, a investigator-training organization founded a few years ago by our colleagues Raymond McGrath and Nancy Pemberton.
The global gumshoe -- the P.I. who stands ready to traipse the planet in aid of victims of human rights violations -- deserves a heartfelt welcome.
... 1893, legislators passed the Electoral Act that extended suffrage to women in New Zealand, as depicted in this illustration from the New Zealand Graphic and Ladies Journal. On this achievement -- New Zealand was the 1st country so to act -- the feisty suffragist Kate Sheppard commented:
It does not seem a great thing to be thankful for, that the gentlemen who confirm the laws which render women liable to taxation and penal servitude have declared us to be 'persons.' ... We are glad and proud to think that even in so conservative a body as the Legislative Council there is a majority of men who are guided by the principles of reason and justice, who desire to see their womenkind treated as reasonable beings, and who have triumphed over prejudice, narrow-mindedness and selfishness.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
The District Court dismissed on the ground that the case raises non-justiciable political questions, with a particular focus on the third factor of Baker v. Carr: Can the court decide the case without making “an initial policy determination of a kind clearly for nonjudicial discretion”? In particular the opinion stated:
By themselves, the CAA and EPCA do not directly address the issue of global warming and carbon emission standards. However, when read in conjunction with the prevalence of international and national debate, and the resulting policy actions and inactions, the Court finds that injecting itself into the global warming thicket at this juncture would require an initial policy determination of the type reserved for political branches.Moreover, the District Court found that the Supreme Court’s decision in Massachusetts v. EPA (on which we've posted here, here, and here) only reinforces its conclusion:
Because the States have ‘surrendered’ to the federal government their right to engage in certain forms of regulations and therefore may have standing in certain circumstances to challenge those regulations, and because new automobile carbon dioxide emissions are such a regulation expressly left to the federal government, a resolution would thrust this Court beyond the bounds of justiciability.Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with this dismissal or whether, this opinion gets overridden on appeal, it raises important questions about the regulation of anthropogenic climate change in several senses:
1st, what role should courts play in the multiscalar, interbranch regulation of this problem? Will these justiciability concerns become more or less salient as the crisis gets worse and the domestic regulatory regime develops further?
2d, how much of a difference should it make whether litigants seek damages or injunctive relief? The opinion indicated that “by seeking to impose damages for Defendant automakers’ lawful worldwide sale of automobiles, Plaintiff’s nuisance claims sufficiently implicated the political branches’ powers over interstate commerce and foreign policy, thereby raising compelling concerns that warn against the exercise of subject matter jurisdiction on this record.” If a suit focused on major emitters within a particular state, do damages become more or less viable under this reasoning? How should courts navigate the interconnections that globalization brings?
3d, and perhaps most importantly, how should climate change be regulated? Is it a problem that can be addressed through a primary set of international and national regulations or do states and localities need to be included more directly? What options should a heavily impacted state like California have to address this problem if international and federal level efforts lag behind what it is willing to do (an issue raised by other recent and pending litigation)? This dismissal does not resolve these questions, but rather serves as another moment in a complex, ongoing conversation.
Comprising the Grand Chamber were President Bo Vesterdorf (Denmark) and 11 other Judges, among them 4 women: Ingrida Labucka (above left, from Latvia), Maria Eugénia Martins de Nazaré Ribeiro (above center, from Portugal), Irena Wiszniewska-Białecka (right, from Poland), and Virpi Tiili (left, from Finland).
The judgment was unanimous, of course: unlike the European Court of Human Rights and many common law courts, the ECJ follows a civil law tradition that disallows dissenting or concurring opinions.
(Occasional item taking context-optional note of thought-provoking quotes.)
-- Frank Wathernam, on March 21, 1963. He was the last prisoner to leave the prison often called "The Rock," maintained by the United States for more than half a century on an island in San Francisco Bay.
... 2001, exactly 1 week after the terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, the U.S. Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force, which stipulated
"[t]hat the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.
This joint congressional resolution's been claimed to authorize a host of acts, ranging from detention at Guantánamo to covert electronic surveillance; those claims remain the subject of litigation in U.S. courts.
.... 1923, Bertha Wilson (right), who served from 1982-1991 as the 1st woman member of Canada’s Supreme Court, was born in Kirkcaldy, Scotland.
Monday, September 17, 2007
No quibbling about the credentials of Mukasey (left), who presided over high-profile terrorism trials while a Chief Judge at the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, to serve as Attorney General of the United States. Still, there's good reason for Senators to take a hard look at the nomination.
Fresh in mind is the U.S. citizen whom the U.S. executive kept in "enemy combatant" detention for years before permitting him to stand trial in federal court in Miami. Prosecutors set out the case against José Padilla in an open and public proceeding, without resort to classified evidence -- and jurors promptly returned the verdict of guilty that likely will permit his incarceration for life. Putting to one side the difficulties presented to the defense by the taint of prior detention, many saw the result as proof positive that persons suspected of terrorist acts can and should be handled through the justice system in place before attacks on Washington and New York set the stage for efforts to establish a newfangled system. (See here, for example; I'd written as much here before the verdict.)
The administration's called this new mechanism "military commissions," though, as the Supreme Court recognized in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, in many respects -- respects particularly menacing to the U.S. tradition of fundamental fairness in the substance and procedure of criminal law -- the system deviates from past commissions. Despite Congress' near-rubberstamp of the system in the post-Hamdan Military Commissions Act, the newfangled system continues to falter: the latest halt occurred because military judges concluded that the government was asking them to act illegally.
Against this backdrop, consider now the op-ed that Mukasey published in the Wall Street Journal a week after the close of the Padilla case. In stark contrast with many other commentators, Mukasey saw the result not as an affirmation of existing practice, but rather as evidence that "current institutions and statutes are not well suited to even the limited task of supplementing what became, after Sept. 11, 2001, principally a military effort to combat Islamic terrorism."
To solve the problem that he maintains is at hand, Mukasey commends his readers, and Congress, to give "careful scrutiny" to proposals for "a new adjudicatory framework" -- the so-called Homeland Security Court or, more often, National Security Court, idea that's been percolating in certain thinktanks for a year or more now. It remained out of the larger public discourse until a recent bipartisan publication in support.
Have yet to read anything in support that demonstrates genuine need for this legal contraption. Proponents tend to ignore statistical analyses -- like this chart in the ABA Journal -- indicating that the Justice Department's scarcely a failure in playing its part in the U.S. antiterrorism campaign. And just as the "new paradigm" proponents of a few years back (some of the same folks now calling for this "new court") acted as if history offered no cautionary lessons, proponents today do not mention difficulty and criticism (some from the pre-9/11 United States) visited upon other countries that've pursued this path. Think of the nonjury Diplock courts in Northern Ireland, or the special terrorism tribunals in places like Egypt, Turkey, and Peru. These examples show that such courts, though established in the name of enhancing security, not infrequently make guarantees of due process, public assumptions of the fairness and legitimacy of judicial decisions, and, in extreme cases, public safety, less secure.
With benefit of hindsight, Mukasey's August op-ed looks much like an audition for the position of next Attorney General. And with more than a year remaining for implementation, the Senate ought to use the confirmation hearings to test whether the nomination's intended to pave the way for a final Bush legacy: for the 1st time in the history of a centuries-old country that's faced many a threat to peace, even to its very existence, establishment of a permanent, due-process-lite National Security Court.
... 1179, the mystic, composer, theologian, and natural historian known both as Hildegard von Bingen and Sybil of the Rhine (right), died at age 81. For details on this "remarkable woman, a 'first' in many fields," see here.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
... 1928, Patricia McGowan was born in "the manufacturing town of Torrington, Connecticut," where she "spent her summers working in the brass mills." She graduated 1st in her class at Connecticut College for Women, then became 1 of a very few women students at Yale Law School. On earning her J.D. she worked in the chambers of Judge Jerome Frank -- the 1st woman law clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2d Circuit. After a 10-year hiatus as she and her husband raised a family, she returned to law practice and public service; in particular, on matters of criminal justice and mental health. In 1979, Patricia M. Wald became the 1st woman to Judge on a U.S. Court of Appeals, serving as the D.C. Circuit's Chief Judge from 1986 to 1991. On retirement from the federal bench, she was a Judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (1999-2001). Since then she's served on the President's prewar intelligence commission, and is on the board of a number of groups concerned with international law.
... 1950, U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) was born in Bethesda, Maryland.
... 1987 (20 years ago today), the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was adopted; it entered into force on January 1, 1989. Nearly all the world's countries now are states parties to this protocol and, in large part, to subsequent instruments that have amended and added to it. For details on why it's sometimes called the "most successful international environmental treaty," see the "When A Treaty Works" post by our Opinio Juris colleague Duncan Hollis.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Indigenous peoples have the right to the full enjoyment, as a collective or as individuals, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognized in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights law.