Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Welcoming Clíodhna Murphy

It's our great pleasure to welcome Dr. Clíodhna Murphy (left) as an IntLawGrrls contributor.
A post-doctoral fellow at University College Cork, Clíodhna is working on an Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences project with IntLawGrrl Siobhán Mullally, entitled “Migrant Domestic Workers and EU Migration Law Regimes; exploring the limits of human rights protections”. Siobhán posted about the project yesterday.
Clíodhna completed her doctoral thesis in 2011 in Trinity College Dublin, on the topic of "Integration and the Law: The Irish Experience in its European and International Context”, with the assistance of an Ussher Postgraduate Fellowship. Cliodhna also completed an MLitt thesis in 2006 about complementary protection.
She has lectured on International Human Rights Law at Trinity College Dublin.  She has also taught Public International Law to LLM students in the "China-EU School of Law" programme in Beijing and to masters students at Sciences Po in Paris. Clíodhna is also a qualified solicitor.
Clíodhna’s research interests lie mainly in the areas of migration law and international human rights law. She has published in the area of migration law and international law, including in the European Journal of Migration and Law (“The Concept of Integration in the Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights”). Her most recent publication in the area was in 2011 in the Dublin University Law Journal, entitled "Immigration and Family Life: Family Reunification in Irish Law".
Her introductory post today is the second in a two-part series on migrant domestic workers and EU law. (Part 1, by Siobhán, is here.)
In a further post below, Clíodhna honors Frances Power Cobbe, who was born near Dublin in 1822 and worked as a writer, social reformer, suffragette, and anti-vivisectionist.Today Cobbe joins other inspiring women as an IntLawGrrls foremother.
Heartfelt welcome!

The precarious status of migrant domestic workers in the United Kingdom

(My thanks to IntLawGrrls for the opportunity to contribute this post, which comprises Part 2 of a 2-part series; Part 1, by Siobhán Mullally, is here)

Although the British government took part in the negotiations prior to the adoption of the ILO Domestic Workers Convention, and further indicated its commitment to “a workable convention” that would protect ‘vulnerable domestic workers worldwide’, it was one of eight states to abstain from the final vote on the Convention on 16 June 2011. This refusal to support the landmark international law text centred on the public / private divide and the intersection of domestic work with social care policies.
Ultimately, the UK government considered domestic work, as work taking place within the gendered private realm of the home, to be unsuitable for the same regulatory obligations as other types of work, highlighting the continuing role of the public/private divide in shaping access to human rights protections. The government was also concerned to ensure that no perceived legislative disincentive existed to individuals employing domestic care workers within their home, thus protecting its own social care policy of providing direct cash payments for stay-at-home care for elderly and vulnerable individuals.
On the same day that it abstained from the vote on the ILO Convention (about which Siobhán posted yesterday), the government announced a consultation which would result in sweeping changes to the Overseas Domestic Visa (ODW) regime. These changes rolled back immigration law reforms achieved through years of political mobilisation by migrant domestic workers.
From 2002 until 2012, following a long campaign by the Waling-Waling and Kalayaan migrant domestic workers’ associations, the UK Immigration Rules provided for a specific status for migrant domestic workers working in private households by way of the ODW visa. The ODW visa was granted for a period of up to twelve months, which could be extended for twelve months at a time. Family reunification was provided for as dependents could apply to go with the migrant domestic worker to the UK or to join them there. Migrant domestic workers also had a pathway to long-term residence, as they could qualify for “indefinite leave to remain” if they met the criteria laid down in Immigration Rule 159G -- providing a possible route out of temporary migration status for migrant domestic workers.
Research conducted by Kalayaan showed that the option to change employer provided for by the ODW visa played a crucial role in enabling migrant domestic workers to escape from abusive employers, in facilitating them in negotiating fairer terms and conditions and remaining visible in the UK and in facilitating the pursuit of legal remedies against their employers. In the views of a House of Commons Select Committee on Human Trafficking in the UK convened in 2009 and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, the ODW visa also helped to reduce the incidence of trafficking and forced labour among migrant domestic workers.
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This key point should be seen in the context of the recognition by the European Court of Human Rights (left) of the links between migration status and vulnerability to exploitation in its judgments in Rantsev v Cyprus and Russia and Siliadin v France. Two cases taken by migrant domestic workers against the UK, Kawogo v UK  and CN v UK are currently pending in Strasbourg. These applications seek to build on the Court’s finding in Siliadin that States have positive obligations to protect individuals from slavery, servitude or forced labour in breach of Article 4 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Frances Power Cobbe, foremother

(My thanks to IntLawGrrls for the opportunity today to honor a transnational foremother, in addition to contributing a post on the legal regulation of migrant workers)

Frances Power Cobbe (credit)
I have chosen to acknowledge Dublin-born Frances Power Cobbe, as an Irish woman who was unafraid to challenge the social conventions of her time and a lifelong and tireless campaigner for social reform.
Frances’ determination to express her radical views was a lifelong trait.
When she voiced doubts about conventional religious faith to her father as a young woman, she was expelled from the family home (although she was allowed back a few months later, as housekeeper).
On moving to London she became a prolific columnist and writer. Throughout her life she published at least eighteen non-prose books, hundreds of periodical essays and thousands of newspaper tracts on such varied subjects as travel, theology, women’s issues and animal rights. Her peers and friends included well-known thinkers of the day such as John Stuart Mill and Charles Darwin.
Cobbe was a dedicated women’s rights advocate and an influential member of the executive council of the London National Society for Women's Suffrage.
She published many articles on women’s property rights and the legal rights of women in marriage, including a pamphlet entitled “Truth on Wife Torture” which argued, among other things, that assault of his wife by a husband should be grounds for a legal separation. This and other papers were a key part of the Victorian women’s movement that influenced the landmark Matrimonial Causes Act of 1878, which gave a wife the right to a separation with maintenance and custody of children under ten years where she had been the victim of violence in the marriage.
In later life, she became interested in animal rights issues and founded a number of animal advocacy groups – including the National Anti-Vivisection Society  in 1875, and the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection in 1898 – which are still in existence today.
When she died in Wales in 1904, at age 81, Frances was buried next to her long-term partner, Mary Lloyd, who had died several years before.

On July 31

On this day in ...
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... 2003, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1495: The situation concerning Western Sahara. The resolution expressed support for a settlement plan put forward by former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker III, then serving as Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Western Sahara. It also provided a 3-month extension of the mandate of MINURSO, the U.N. Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, a land (above) for which the Polisario Front sought independence,but  that Morocco had annexed in 1976 after the former colonial power, Spain, withdrew. Although the BBC reported that the resolution represented "a powerful compromise favouring the Moroccans who have persistently warded off demands for a referendum during 12 years of negotiations," Morocco rejected the Council's call the very next day. MINURSO is still in place, and as this recent news indicates, the situation in Western Sahara remains troubled.

(Prior July 31 posts are here, here, here, here, and here.)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Special Tribunal for Lebanon on jurisdiction

Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Leidschendam, the Netherlands (credit)
Today the Special Tribunal for Lebanon confirmed its own jurisdiction, rejecting claims to the contrary by defense counsel.
The judgment was issued by a Trial Chamber comprising Presiding Judge Robert Roth, former law dean of the University of Geneva, along with Judges Micheline Braidy, who served as a national judge in Lebanon, and David Re of Australia, formerly a prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and an international judge at Bosnia's War Crimes Court in Sarajevo.
The decision paves the way for the trial in absentia of 4 men accused in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The current trial date is March 25, 2013.
The 3-page Decision on the Defence Challenges to the Jurisdiction and Legality of the Tribunal in Prosecutor v. Ayyash, dated last Friday and filed today, is available in English here.

And then there were 3 at the ECCC

Folks seeking accountability in Cambodia no doubt are hoping 3d time's a charm.
That is, the 3d time in a year that an international person's been named an investigating judge at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the tribunal charged with bringing to book surviving leaders of the circa-1970s Khmer Rouge reign of terror.
When last we posted 4 months ago, Laurent Kasper-Ansermet of Switzerland had just resigned the position, to which he'd been named following the October 2011 resignation of Siegfried Blunk of Germany. But Kasper-Ansermet'd been refused by the Cambodian government.
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Newly appointed the International Co-Investigating Judge is Mark Harmon (right) of the United States, who recently retired from 17 years of service as a prosecutor at at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. A graduate of the University of California Hastings College of Law and a former federal prosecutor, he's profiled in this 2006 California Lawyer article. Harmon spoke about the ICTY in the daylong Year in Review Conference last March at The Hague. (As posted, yours truly also was on that panel.)
An official announcement on the ECCC website said of Harmon:
'His deployment will enable the ECCC to continue the critical task of pursuing accountability for the crimes committed during the period of the Khmer Rouge regime.'
At issue, as explained in posts available in IntLawGrrls' Khmer Rouge accountability series, is investigation of matters known as Cases 003 and 004, which implicate individuals that the Cambodian government would like to keep free of any such implication.

Migrant domestic workers and EU migration law

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(Part 1 of a 2-part series; Part 2 is here) 

Here at University College Cork, we recently launched an Irish Research Council funded Senior Fellowship project on migrant domestic workers and European Union Migration law regimes. (You can follow us on Facebook here!) The project examines the intersections of migration law regimes with evolving human rights standards on domestic work, and on the rights of migrant workers.
This blog series has two parts. In this first part today, I examine some of the recent developments in international law relating to migrant domestic workers (of which there are several). In the second part, posted by my colleague, Dr Clíodhna Murphy, will examine the changes recently introduced to the overseas domestic worker regime in the United Kingdom. As she'll explain, these changes have rolled back significant reforms secured through domestic workers’ activism over the last decade.

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Recent developments
It is now just over one year since the adoption of the landmark International Labour Organisation Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers. Uruguay has become the first country to ratify, and just two ratifications are needed to ensure that the Convention enters into force. A number of states have indicated their intention to sign and ratify, including the Philippines, Norway, Belgium, Brazil, Peru and Namibia.  An extensive advocacy campaign is under way in the Philippines to urge the government to ratify and trigger entry into force of the Convention before the end of July. Details on the campaign are available here.
Human rights law has somewhat belatedly begun to address the structured inequalities and exclusions that structure the domain of domestic work.
According to the ILO, domestic workers remain unprotected by labour laws in around 40% of the world’s countries. Often they are excluded from labour and social protections extended to other workers as a matter of right. Recent standard-setting initiatives have attempted to address this gap, and so have included the adoption of the ILO Convention, as well as a General Recommendation (no. 26) from CEDAW on Women Migrant Workers and a first General Comment from the Committee on Migrant Workers and their Families.
The ILO Convention is intended to mark a transition from paternalistic conceptions of ‘good employers acting out of a sense of noblesse oblige’, to respect for domestic workers' labour rights. The Convention seeks to extend core labour rights concerning fair terms of employment and decent working conditions to the realm of domestic work. Against the background of this ‘justice cascade’, however, migration laws continue to limit the promise of human rights law. States remain reluctant to acknowledge the ‘dissensus’ that arises between ‘border norms’ (to borrow Linda Bosniak’s words) and human rights law.
The Siliadin, Rantsev and Osman cases before the European Court of Human Rights, and the pending cases of Kawogo, CN and O.G.O. (all against the UK), drawing on Article 4 ECHR (prohibiting slavery, servitude and forced labour), highlight the nexus between immigration laws, migration status and vulnerability to exploitation. The emerging body of positive obligations jurisprudence under the ECHR, specifically in relation to Article 4, could potentially extend to the sphere of immigration law itself.

ASIL seeks scholarly book nominations

In addition to other nominations -- for leadership positions, honors, and journal editors, here, here, and here -- the American Society of International Law welcomes nominations for book awards to be presented at the Society’s next Annual Meeting, set for April 3-6 in Washington, D.C.
Known as ASIL Certificates of Merit, these awards are presented each year as follows:
► To a book for its preeminent contribution to creative scholarship;
► To a book which exhibits high technical craftsmanship and is of high utility to practicing lawyers and scholars; and
► To a book in a specialized area of international law, such as business transactions, economic law, environmental law, human rights, humanitarian law or private international law.
Books published in the 24 months before February 1, 2013, are eligible, regardless of languge or place of publication or the author's nationality.
Winners have included books by a few IntLawGrrls contributors and a foremother:
The International Law of Human Trafficking (2010) by Anne T. Gallagher (prior Read On! post about this book);
Democratic Accountability and the Use of Force in International Law (2003), coauthored by Charlotte Ku;
Law in Times of Crisis: Emergency Powers in Theory and Practice (2006), coauthored by Fionnuala Ní Aoláin;
► Mobilizing for Human Rights: International Law in Domestic Politics (2010) by Beth A. Simmons ; and
► Digest of International Law (vols 1-3, 1963-64), edited by Marjorie Whiteman.
The full list of winners is here and here.
ASIL asks that nominations include 6 copies of the book, sent to Veronica Onorevole, Executive Office & Programs Manager, American Society of International Law, 2223 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008 USA.
Details here, at "Scholarship Awards" tab. Deadline is October 1, 2012.

On July 30

On this day in ...
(photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
... 2002 (10 years ago today), in a ceremony at the East Room of the White House (right), President George W. Bush signed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Bush termed the law, known colloquially as SOX, "the most far-reaching reforms of American business practices since the time of Franklin Delano Roosevelt." Intended as a measure against corporate corruption, it established new rules for U.S. public company boards, management and public accounting firms. Its effect on international, as well as domestic, commerce has generated lots of commentary; for example, here, here, and here.

(Prior July 30 posts are here, here, here, here, and here.)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Look on! In Afghanistan, Buddha Collapsed

(Look On! takes occasional note of noteworthy productions)
'A man was sleeping under a tree. A walnut fell on his head. He got up and said: Lucky it wasn't a pumpkin or I'd be dead...'
So begins Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame (2007), a film shot in Bamian, Afghanistan, a town blown up by the Taliban in 2001.
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Critically acclaimed in film festivals around the world, the movie tells the story of a 6-year-old girl, Bakhtay, who desperately wants to go to school. In the 77 minutes of film we witness the obstacles she faces every day in her quest to learn: the need to buy a notebook and a pen, to find the school for girls and escape from a group of young boys playing at enforcing the laws of the Taliban.  
The film was directed by Hana Makhmalbaf (below), the daughter of Mohsen and Marziyeh and sister of Samira Makhmalbaf, a family of filmmakers from Iran. Hanna was 18 years old when the film was made, developing the story with her mother, the director of Stray Dogs (2004). 
Asked what she intended to show in the film she stated:
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'By showing today’s picture of Afghanistan, I tried to depict the effects of the recent years’ violence on the country. So that the adults could see how their behavior affects the younger generation. Children are the future adults. If they get used to violence, the future of the world will be in great danger. A teenage boy in the film says: “when I grow up I will kill you”. Because as a child he has been through lots of violence so it has become part of his usual life.'
A full interview and dialogue list are available here.
In the everyday images we see on the war in Afghanistan, it is easy to forget the human impact of the war. As IntLawGrrls have chronicled in the "...and counting..." series, news reports focus on the death of soldiers (usually US soldiers), and only occasionally on Afghan civilians. Buddha collapsed out of shame (originally released in Persian as Buda az sharm foru rikht) is a reminder that we could do so much more to help access to education for girls (and boys) around the world. It also calls attention to the effects of decades of war on young children, in areas which are forgotten by the press.
An original and thought-provoking movie, worth watching.

(Cross-posted at Human Rights Film Diary blog)

'Nuff said

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'Garzón’s exoneration was viewed by most media outlets as a personal victory for the judge and a victory for the rule of law. In fact, the outcome was much more ambiguous; it defused the domestic and international outcry, but it effectively closed a venue for Civil War era claims. And in a separate and unrelated case, Judge Garzón was removed from the bench for eleven years. The prevaricación decision, as summarized below, contradicts recent trends in national and international jurisprudence on amnesty and international crimes. Moreover, less than a month later, the European Court of Human Rights rejected a challenge to Spain’s failure to investigate the fate of the Civil War missing. Together, these decisions probably end legal efforts to achieve some accounting for the crimes of the 1936-1939 Civil War and its repressive aftermath.'
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--IntLawGrrl Naomi Roht-Arriaza (left), in "The Spanish Civil War, Amnesty, and the Trials of Judge Garzón," a superb ASIL Insight that explains the content and consequences of decisions (some available only in Spanish) relating not only to the legal travails of Judge Baltasar Garzón, but also to the quest for redress by survivors of victims of Franco-era atrocities. Prior posts on these issues, by Naomi and other IntLawGrrls, are available here and here.

On July 29

Íñigo Vélez, Count of Oñate
On this day in ...
... 1617 (395 years ago today), Archduke Ferdinand II of Austria ratified the Acuerdo de Oñate with Spain's counterpart in the House of Habsburg. Named after the Vienna-based Spanish diplomat at right, who negotiated it, this secret Treaty of Oñate used promises of marriage and succession to divvy up disputed territories in Europe's western regions.

(Prior July 29 posts are here, here, here, here, and here.)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Dueling 'Nuff saids

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Here's Ambassador Victoria Nuland (right), Department Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, quoted on the U.S. government's position regarding news that ATT 2012, a diplomatic conference this month in New York aimed at drafting a U.N. Arms Trade Treaty (that is, "to elaborate a legally binding instrument on the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms") (prior post), had ended Friday without reaching an agreement:
'While we sought to conclude the month's negotiations with a treaty, more time is a reasonable request for such a complex and critical issue.'
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And here's Suzanne Nossel (left), Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, offering an NGO perspective on the U.S. position:
'It's a staggering abdication of leadership by the world's largest exporter of conventional weapons to pull the plug on the talks just as they were nearing an historic breakthrough.'
Nuff said(s).

Write On! Essays for ICC's Latin American judges

(Write On! is an occasional item about notable calls for papers)
 
I'd like to share a call for papers from the Iberoamerican Institute for Peace, Human Rights and International Justice, founded recently in The Hague by Utrecht Law Professor Héctor Olásolo.
The call is for an essay competition created in honour of the first judges of the International Criminal Court from Latin America.
To be honoured are Judge Sylvia Steiner of Brazil, Judge Elisabeth Odio Benito of Costa Rica, and Judge René Blatmann of Bolivia, who from the Pre-Trial and Trial chambers have contributed to the creating of the initial jurisprudence of the ICC.
The essay contest seeks to promote the development of academic writing on international criminal law in Spanish under two categories, one for students through the bachelor's degree level, and another for researchers with a master's or Ph.D. degree.
The competition is open to individuals who:
►  Reside in any Latin American country where Spanish or Portuguese (the languages of contest submissions) is spoken, or
►  Are affiliated to institutions based in this region. The deadline for the essays in 30 November 2012. More information is available here.

On July 28

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On this day in ...
... 1866, Helen Beatrix Potter (right) was born in London. She grew up in that city, though she and her family spent long vacations in Scotland and in England's Lake District. These holidays instilled a love of country life, and that, coupled with the classical education she received from the governesses who tutored her, inspired her to draw and write about flora and fauna alike.
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In 1901, she produced The Tale of Peter Rabbit -- since published in 3 dozen languages -- and that led to a host of other stories that children and their parents still love today. Upon her death in 1943, Beatrix Potter Heelis, who'd married a local solicitor at age 47, bequeathed more than 4,000 acres of Lake District countryside, much of which she'd purchased to protect from development, to Britain's National Trust.

(Prior July 28 posts are here, here, here, here, and here.)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Let the Games begin!

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While many viewers of the 2012 Summer Olympics, which begin in London at 7:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m. New York time), will have their eyes out for barriers broken by medal winners, this 'Grrl is focused on the participation and promotion of female athletes.  Though the headlines offer lots of good news -- women on every team in the world, including Saudi Arabia, male-female categories in every sport now that women's boxing has been added, and a higher than ever percentage of women athletes -- some of the stories are misleading, and there numerous obstacles still to overcome on the path to gender parity.
Women will constitute 40% of competitors at this year's Games, with the United States fielding more women (269) than men (261) -- a reflection of the successes of Title IX.  The U.S.'s oldest (Karen O'Connor, riding at age 54) and youngest (Katie Ledecky, swimming at age 15) competitors this year are both women.
But in the U.S., remarkably powerful women's teams tend to be overlooked in favor of men's teams in the same sport.
I've posted before about this phenomenon with respect to U.S. women's soccer, which is ranked first this year, having won the gold at the past two Olympics, but has in the past lost media coverage to the far less spectacular men's soccer team.  While that phenomenon may be changing (see, e.g., the front page of the print edition of yesterday's NY Times), the same complaint was made this year by the U.S. women's basketball team.  How many IntLawGrrls readers knew that they'd won gold at the last four Olympics?
Discrimination is alive and well in other realms as well.  The NY Times reports that the Japanese women's soccer team -- winner of this year's World Cup -- flew coach class to London's games, while the men's soccer team flew business class.   The same unfortunate treatment was handed to the Australian women's basketball team.  Though the media has proudly trumpeted male-female categories in every sport now that women's boxing and kayaking have been added, a British athlete filed a discrimination suit against the London Organizing Committee for its failure to include female canoeing events -- that sport, for now, remains male only.
Good news as well that there are two Saudi women competing in this year's games, a remarkable achievement given the country's severe restrictions on female participation in sports.  One, Sarah Attar, was born and raised in California and currently attends Pepperdine University -- certainly a role model for her female co-nationals but not one that many are likely to be able to emulate.  Qatar and Brunei are also sending women to the Olympics for the first time, and a Qatari female athlete, Bahiya al-Hamad, will carry that country's flag.
Despite the gaps that remain, supporters of female athletes will cheer at the "mama power" on display at the London Olympics.
Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi will be eight months pregnant as she competes for Malaysia in the 10-meter air rifle event, making her possibly the most heavily pregnant competitor in Olympic history.  She thinks pregnancy has helped her stability, an important element in shooting events, and looks forward to telling her daughter, "You are very lucky, you’re not born yet and you already went to the Olympics.” Amy Acuff will be competing in her fifth Olympic games as a high jumper and mother of a two-year-old.  She said, “You come back stronger after having a baby. . . There’s definitely some mama power.”  Another mom, Dara Torres, who's competed in five Olympic games, failed to qualify for this year's team.  Bowing out with grace at the age of 45, she was content to spend time with her six-year-old daughter and cheer on the U.S. team. 

On July 27

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On this day in ...
... 1995, 42 years after the Korean War armistice was signed in the border town of Panmunjom, U.S. President Bill Clinton and South Korean President Kim Young-sam dedicated the Korean War Veterans Memorial (right) on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The monument features statues and an honor roll of U.S. servicemembers killed during the 3-year armed conflict.

(Prior July 27 posts are here, here, here, here, and here.)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

HRW report: Lessons from the Charles Taylor trial

Today Human Rights Watch releases a report entitled "Even a ‘Big Man’ Must Face Justice": Lessons from the Trial of Charles Taylor.
This past May, the Special Court for Sierra Leone sentenced Taylor, the former president of Liberia, to 50 years in prison for aiding and abetting the brutal 1991-2002 armed conflict in neighboring Sierra Leone. While it has been a long road, the successful conclusion of the trial phase was a landmark for war victims, for West Africa, and for efforts to ensure perpetrators of the gravest crimes are held to account. (IntLawGrrls' Sierra Leone accountability series is here.)
The HRW report – which I authored with editorial guidance from my fellow IntLawGrrl Elise Keppler and which I summarize in this post – examines the conduct of Taylor’s trial, the court’s efforts to make its proceedings accessible to affected communities, and perceptions and initial impact of the trial in Sierra Leone and Liberia. It is based on interviews in The Hague, London, Washington, New York, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, as well as review of expert commentary, trial transcripts, and daily reports produced by trial observers.

Lessons for Trial Practice
Trials of high-level leaders for serious crimes can be complex, lengthy, and fraught. Yet the Taylor trial largely avoided major disruptions that could have marred the proceedings, and is notable for its relatively well-managed character.
Taylor’s representation by counsel appears to have contributed positively to the generally respectful and organized tenor of the courtroom. Moreover, the trial included a high-quality, experienced defense team.
The Taylor trial also provides a strong model for witness management. The Special Court for Sierra Leone handled complex logistics and support for over 100 witnesses, including insiders who had admitted to extensive criminal activity and victims who had suffered severe trauma.
At the same time, lessons should be drawn to improve future practice in similar types of proceedings, with regard to trial management, representation of the accused, and interaction with potential witnesses and sources.
Notably, the judges adopted practices that sought to prioritize efficiency, but sometimes these practices contributed to delays; examples are the ambitious courtroom calendar in comparison to other tribunals, and the insistence on parties meeting certain deadlines.
Other practices – such as the Trial Chamber’s non-interventionist approach to witness testimony – lengthened proceedings.
More active efforts by the Trial Chamber and Registry to address defense concerns could have encouraged smoother proceedings. Taylor’s first defense team left the case due to concerns over inadequate resources and time to prepare; this led to the appointment of a second team and a hiatus in proceedings. In addition, a delay in rendering a decision on the pleading of joint criminal enterprise raised potential implications for Taylor’s fair trial rights.
Finally, although the provision of funds by the prosecution to potential witnesses and sources during investigations may be unavoidable, it was a contentious issue in the Taylor trial, one that should be managed more effectively in future proceedings.

The Impact of the Taylor Trial in Affected Communities
Trials of highest-level leaders are significant beyond the happenings in the courtroom. One crucial objective is to convey a sense of accountability to affected communities so that justice has local resonance. The Taylor trial suggests important lessons for outreach to maximize the impact of future proceedings, particularly those held far from the location of the crimes, as will typically be the case at tribunals like the International Criminal Court.
Consideration of the trial’s impact is constrained by at least three factors:
► First, the Trial Chamber handed down its verdict in April 2012, and it could be years before the trial’s full impact is realized; (at right, © Peter Andersen/SCSL Outreach photo of Sierra Leoneans watching live broadcast of verdict)
► Second, there are inherent challenges to isolating the trial’s impact because, though significant, it is one factor of many in a complex landscape; and
► Third, analysis of the trial’s impact in the report is based largely on information drawn from interviews with civil society members, former combatants, government officials, journalists, and war victims in Monrovia and Freetown.
Despite these limitations, several noteworthy observations are possible:

Kudos to Annie Gell

Delighted to update readers on IntLawGrrl Annie Gell (right), who posted about the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia several years ago, while she was still a law student. She's now the Leonard H. Sandler Fellow in the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch.
After graduating from Columbia Law School in 2009, Annie spent a year with the New York nonprofit Sanctuary for Families, where she represented undocumented victims of gender-based violence who were separated from their children across international borders. Immediately before joining Human Rights Watch, Annie lived and worked in Port-au-Prince, where she used her legal and advocacy skills to support grassroots women’s groups fighting the epidemic of gender-based violence in post-earthquake Haiti.
Today Annie posts on "Even a ‘Big Man’ Must Face Justice": Lessons from the Trial of Charles Taylor, a brand-new Human Rights Watch report that she authored, with editorial guidance from another HRW staffer and IntLawGrrls contributor, Elise Keppler.
Heartfelt congratulations!

On July 26

On this day in ...
... 1967 (45 years ago today), according to Spanish WikiPedia, "Ecuador broke off diplomatic relations with Haiti, on account of the grave violations of human rights perpetrated by the government of François Duvalier," aka "Papa Doc" (far left). After his election to lead Haiti in 1957, Duvalier "immediately imposed a reign of terror" (prior post), and declared himself President for Life in 1964. Upon his death in 1971, he'd be succeeded as President for Life by his son Jean-Claude, aka "Baby Doc" (near left). (photo credit) As detailed in IntLawGrrls posts available here, Duvalier fils would go into exile in 1986, only to return in 2011. Earlier this year he fended off a national trial for crimes against humanity, but he remains under house arrest (at least ostensibly; see here) pending a corruption trial.

(Prior July 26 posts  are here, here, here, here, and here.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

ECHR condemns Spain for failing to investigate racist and sexist acts of violence by police

Yesterday, the Third Section of the European Court of Human Rights reached its unanimous decision in the Case of B.S. v. Spain, which concerned Beauty Solomon, a woman of Nigerian origin who was racially abused and assaulted by the police on the outskirts of Palma de Mallorca, Spain. (The Chamber judgment, in French, is available here.)
The case was brought by Women’s Link Worldwide, as described in this press release.  

I am personally delighted that this NGO was able to obtain justice for Beauty. During my time as staff attorney there, I worked on this case alongside lead attorney Paloma Soria Montañez (left) and other Women’s Link lawyers, including Glenys De Jesús Checo and the Executive Director of the organization, Viviana Waisman.
The facts of the case pertain from 2005, when Beauty, a legal resident of Spain, was stopped on a number of occasions by police officers carrying out identity checks. While purporting to carry out these checks, the officers struck her with a baton and shouted discriminatory and racist insults at her. Beauty complained to an investigating judge about a number of incidents involving the same police officers. She argued that these officers targeted her because of her race, as they did not ask other sex workers for their documentation.
After exhausting domestic remedies, Beauty took her case to Strasbourg.
The press release of the European Court (below right), also available here, states:

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'In her complaints of 21 and 25 July 2005 B.S. had mentioned racist comments allegedly made by the police officers. She had also accused them of not stopping women with a “European phenotype” who pursued the same activity as she did. The courts dealing with her case had not investigated these allegedly racist attitudes. The Court considered that the domestic courts had not taken into account B.S.’s special vulnerability inherent in her situation as an African woman working as a prostitute. The authorities had not taken all possible measures to ascertain whether or not a discriminatory attitude might have played a role in the events.'
In addition to the violation of European Convention on Human Rights Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with Article 3, the Court found a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment) for the lack of an effective investigation and also a violation. It awarded Beauty 30,000 euros in nonpecuniary damages.
The decision of the Court is hugely important, as it draws attention to the precarious situation of migrant sex workers in Spain.

Look On! Turtles: Iraq war refugees


(Look On! takes occasional note of noteworthy productions)

I decided to watch Turtles Can Fly (2004), as part of my ongoing research into human rights and film, after it was recommended to me by a fellow intern at the International Criminal Court. She told me that it had invoked a strong reaction in her. I asked her if it was good, and she replied that she did not know what my criteria were to be able to answer my question.
When I review the films, I often do not have particular criteria in mind.
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I am not fixated by the 'legal realism' which dominated much of law and film scholarship beforehand; that is, I am not really interested in watching In the Name of the Father (1993), for instance, and pointing out all the procedural inaccuracies.
Nor am I purely looking at the formal aspects of cinematography. Being quite new to film studies, I often find myself captivated by the film and drifting off, instead of critically assessing the shots, editing, and mise en scène, all so de rigueur for film scholars.
But whatever the criteria, Turtles Can Fly, which focuses on the plight of children in refugee camps on the Iraqi/Turkish border, is an excellent film.
Turtles was directed by Bahman Ghobadi, who was himself born in Iranian Kurdistan. In a director's statement (p. 35 here), he wrote of the movie:
'Just as the world TV networks were announcing the end of the war, I began to make a film whose leading stars were neither Bush, nor Saddam, nor any other dictators. Those people had been the media stars the world over. Nobody mentioned the Iraqi people. There hadn't been a single shot of the Iraqis. They were mere extras...'
Shot on location, Turtles beautifully captures the consequences of war and poverty for children, who are often rendered extremely vulnerable. Many of the street children in the film have lost their limbs due to the Italian and US landmines. They receive money for picking them from the fields.
The film also tells the story of a girl, Agrin, and her brother, Hengov, who has lost his arms after stepping on a landmine. They have a small, blind child with them. It transpires that the toddler is the child of the girl. Through flashbacks, we see that the girl has been brutally raped by the men who killed their parents.
Through the course of the film I came to emotionally connect with the characters: Satellite, a boy in command of the children, the boy with no arms who can tell the future, the young boys collecting mines and hoping to be rescued by the American soldiers, the girl who has given birth to a baby that she does not want...
I have to thank my friend for this recommendation. An excellent and very moving film.

(Cross-posted at Human Rights Film Diary blog)

AJIL Board of Editors nominees sought

The Nominating Committee of the American Journal of International Law welcomes nominations for AJIL Board of Editors members, who will be elected in conjunction with the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law to be held April 3-6 in Washington, D.C. (Our prior posts for other nominations, for ASIL leadership and honors, are here and here, respectively.)
According to AJIL's notice:
'Nominations are based primarily on scholarship and creativity, as demonstrated in books, articles, and other written work appearing over a period of years, including, but not limited to, publications in the Journal. Other factors taken into account include areas of expertise or professional perspective or discipline.'
Nominations, including "supporting statements and information, such as a curriculum vitae, a list of publications, and, if possible, copies of significant publications," should be sent to the AJIL Nominating Committee Chair, in care of either one of the Co-Editors-in-Chief, Columbia Law Professor Lori Damrosch or Miami Law Professor Bernard Oxman, via the contact details here.
Deadline for nominations is September 15, 2012.

On July 25

On this day in ...
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... 1947 (65 years ago today), Mary Ware Dennett died at a nursing home in New York, not far from its border with Massachusetts. She'd been born Mary Coffin Ware in the latter state, in Worcester, 75 years earlier; her extended family included 2 social reformers, with whom she lived at times. Graduated with honors in 1891 from the School of Art and Design in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, she began teaching art, then married an architect and started a design firm with him. Following 3 difficult childbirths the couple endeavored to prevent pregnancy without benefit of contraceptive advice. Divorce came in 1912. Needing to support her children, she began work outside the home -- as Field Secretary of the Massachusetts Suffrage Association. Thus began a lifelong career of activism for women's suffrage and other rights (in particular, for sex education and reproductive health), and against militarism. In 1928, Dennett was convicted of distributing obscene materials on account of a frank pamphlet that she initially wrote for her own adolescent boys, The Sex Side of Life (1918); in 1930, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2d Circuit reversed. Case materials in United States v. Dennett are archived here.

(Prior July 25 posts are here, here, here, here, and here.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

In passing: Sally Ride

(In passing marks the memory of a person featured in IntLawGrrls)

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Dr. Sally Ride (right), the Stanford-trained physicist who inspired us as the 1st woman astronaut, died  yesterday at her home in La Jolla, California. She was 61 years old and suffered from from pancreatic cancer. She is survived by her mother, her sister, and her partner of 27 years, Tam O'Shaughnessy.
IntLawGrrls' prior posts about Ride, who became the 1st American woman in space in 1983, are here.
In the pithy words of Maria Shriver, who in 2006, while California's 1st Lady, welcomed Ride to the California Women's Hall of Fame:
'Every time a woman dreams of conquering the next frontier, she will stand on Sally Ride's shoulders.'

Go On! IntLawGrrls cosponsors 6th IHL Dialogs

(Go On! is an occasional item on symposia and other events of interest)

Delighted to announce that IntLawGrrls again will cosponsor the International Humanitarian Law Dialogs at a picturesque lakefront venue, the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York. Chautauqua's near the home of another cosponsor, the Robert H. Jackson Center, named after the midtwentieth-century Supreme Court Justice who also served as Chief U.S. Prosecutor before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg.
The theme of this year's 6th annual Dialogs, to be held August 26 to 28, is: Hybrid International Courts: A Tenth Anniversary Retrospective on the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
Exploring this theme and recapping recent international criminal law developments will be prosecutors from international criminal fora, representatives of nongovernmental organizations, and scholars. As demonstrated in prior posts, each year a number of IntLawGrrls contributors take part.
Many present and former international prosecutors are expected to take part this year. In addition to those mentioned as specific speakers in the program detailed below, prosecutors set to attend include the following from the:
► International Criminal Court, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (left), who contributed her December 2011 speech to the ICC Assembly of States Parties as an IntLawGrrls post;
► International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, former prosecutors H.W. William Caming and Benjamin B. Ferencz;
► Special Court for Sierra Leone, former prosecutor Desmond DeSilva;
► Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia: Co-Prosecutor Andrew T. Cayley and former Co-Prosecutor Robert Petit;
► International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and for the former Yugoslavia, former Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour (right);
►International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, Hassan Jallow; and
► Special Tribunal for Lebanon, former prosecutor Daniel Bellemare.
Sessions on the current program include:

Sunday, August 26
► Showing of Granito: How to Nail a Dictator, an award-winning film on accountability in Guatemala. Earlier we posted here and here about the film, which was made by IntLawGrrls contributor Pamela Yates (left).

Monday, August 27
► Keynote speech by Hans Corell, former Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and U.N. Legal Counsel, introduced by Syracuse Law Professor David M. Crane, who was the 1st Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court and is the founder of the Dialogs.
► A dialogue with the current prosecutors, moderated by Professor Michael P. Scharf of Case Western Reserve University School of Law, another cosponsor.
► 1st Annual Clara Barton Lecture by Professor David J. Scheffer of Northwestern University School of Law, formerly the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes. Introducing him will be Jennifer Khurana (right), Manager of the International Humanitarian Law Dissemination Unit at the American Red Cross. (Pleased to see this additional event, particularly given that Clara Barton is an IntLawGrrls foremother.)
► Panel on the Special Court for Sierra Leone, featuring; Scheffer; Stephen J. Rapp, currently the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large of the State Department's Office of Global Criminal Justice and formerly the Special Court's Chief Prosecutor, Binta Mansaray (left), Registrar of the Special Court; Professor Bankole Thompson of Eastern Kentucky University, formerly a Judge at the Special Court; and Raymond  M. Brown of the International Justice Project, formerly a Co-Lead Defense Counsel before the Special Court. Moderating will be Professor William Schabas of Middlesex University, London, and Leiden Law School, The Hague, and formerly a member of the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
► 2 breakout sessions on the porch of Chautauqua's lovely, circa-1881 Athanaeum Hotel: "The Challenge of Piracy" moderated by Scharf, as well as "Practitioners/Prosecutors" moderated by Andrew Beiter, head of the Summer Institute for Human Rights & Genocide Studies and the Jackson Center's Education Coordinator.
►  2d Annual Katherine B. Fite Lecture, delivered by IntLawGrrl Leila Nadya Sadat (right), Director of the Whitney R. Harris Institute at the Washington University School of Law, another Dialogs cosponsor. Moderating will be yours truly, Diane Marie Amann (below right), University of Georgia School of Law. This sessions is sponsored by IntLawGrrls in honor of Katherine B. Fite, a U.S. State Department lawyer who helped draft the Nuremberg Charter.

Tuesday, August 28
► Breakfast address by Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni of DePaul University College of Law, introduced by Mark Quarterman, Research Director of the Enough Project, another cosponsoring organization.
► "Recent Developments in International Criminal Law," by IntLawGrrl Valerie Oosterveld (left), a Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Western Ontario.
► 4 porch breakout sessions: "SCSL Outreach" with Crane and Mansaray as discussants and Oosterveld as moderator; "SCSL New Crimes/New Law" with Thompson and Special Court for Sierra Leone Chief Prosecutor Brenda Hollis (right) as discussants and Sadat as moderator; "Blood Diamonds" with Doug Farah of IBI Consultants and the International Assessment and Strategy Center, Ian Smillie of Diamond Development Initiative, and Alan White, former Chief Investigator at the Special Court as discussants; and "Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Process with Canada's former Minister of Justice, Irwin Cotler, Schabas, and me as discussants and Vanderbilt Law Professor Michael A. Newton as moderator.
► "The Future of the International Criminal Court," a luncheon address by ICC Judge Hans-Peter Kaul, introduced by Mark Ellis, Executive Director of teh International Bar Association.
► Issuance of the 6th Chautauqua Declaration, moderated by Elizabeth Andersen (right), Executive Director of the American Society of International Law, another cosponsor of the IHL Dialogs.
For more information, contact Carol Drake at cdrake@roberthjackson.org.