Category Archives: civil litigation

News Clips- August 12, 2016

SC Votes on Temp Extension of Mandate for South Sudan Mission 15-0-0

The United Nations Security Council discusses South Sudan
Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten

International Criminal Law

  • Nada Kiswanson, a permanent representative at the International Criminal Court who works on evidence of war crimes in Palestine, has received death threats. [MEMO]
  • The International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh issued sentences to eight individuals for crimes against humanity. [Jurist]
  • German investigators have identified eight individuals who they suspect of war crimes during the Nazi era. [The Local]

Civil Society

  • The government of Ethiopia rejected the United Nations request that observers be allowed into the country to investigate the killings of protesters. [Al Jazeera]
  • Kenya’s High Court ruled that the late human rights lawyer, Willia Kimani; his client, Josphat Mwendwa; and a taxi driver were all forcibly disappeared. [Amnesty International]
  • The LGBT Pride parade schedule for August 13, 2016 in Odessa, Ukraine was canceled by the Odessa City Council, citing possible conflict and criminal activity that could arise around the event. [Human Rights First]
  • Pakistan passed its Electronic Crimes Bill, which activists claim could violate the rights to freedom of speech and privacy. [Jurist]
  • A Brazilian judge upheld protestors right to freedom of expression by ruling that they may peacefully criticize the interim president while at the Olympic venues. [BBC]
  • The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expressed concern that opposition party members were removed from the Nicaraguan legislator pursuant to a judicial decision. [IACHR Press Release]

Migrants and Refugees

  • The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern over the treatment of refugees in Bulgaria, claiming they are often subject to detention and trials that do not meet international standards. [UN News Centre]
  • The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees expressed concern over the high numbers of South Sudanese refugees in neighboring countries and the limited funds available to support them. [UN News Centre]
  • The UN again expressed concern that Australia and Nauru continue to hold migrants and refugees offshore where they are often exposed to violence and sexual abuse. [UN News Centre]

Violence and Conflicts

  • Several bombs exploded in Thailand at the end of the week in a resort town, Hua Hin. [UN News Centre]
  • Rebel groups in Syria announced that they intend to take the city of Aleppo. [Al Jazeera]
  • South Sudan has refused to accept a proposal to allow UN troops to enter the country. [Al Jazeera]

The Right to Legal Aid: Observations of a UN Special Rapporteur

Gabriela Knaul

On May 30, Ms. Gabriela Knaul, the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, presented her report on the right to legal aid to the UN Human Rights Council.

Legal Aid as a Human Right

In framing the report, the Rapporteur stresses that “[l]egal aid is an essential component of a fair and efficient justice system that is founded on the rule of law,” and also “a right in itself.”  The right to free legal aid appears numerous times across international and regional human rights instruments, including article 14(3)(d) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, article 18(3)(d) of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, articles 37 and 40 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and article 8 of the American Convention on Human Rights. Read more

South African Development Community Tribunal to Lose its Human Rights Mandate

At the close of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit held in August, 2012 in Maputo, Mozambique, SADC issued a final meeting communiqué. While much of the communiqué was unremarkable, tucked away towards the end was a short paragraph stating:

…a new Protocol on the [SADC] Tribunal should be negotiated and that its mandate should be confined to interpretation of the SADC Treaty and Protocols relating to disputes between Member States.

Following SADC’s suspension of the Tribunal in 2010, this communiqué now signals a decision,  strongly criticized by lawyers and human rights organizations, to strip the Tribunal of its mandate to hear human rights cases Read more

Guantanamo, Ten Years On: A Look Back

Today marks the tenth year anniversary of the United States government’s use of the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba to hold individuals suspected of supporting or being associated with al Qaeda or other groups – some, but not all, of which were designated terrorist groups by the U.S. government. See Mark Denbeaux et al., Report on the Guantanamo Detainees: A Profile of 517 Detainees through Analysis of Department of Defense Data (2006).  On January 11, 2002, the first twenty prisoners  – then labeled ‘enemy combatants’ – were brought to the facility, in an attempt to deny those detained in the ‘war on terror’ access to U.S. courts and limit their enforceable rights.  See legal timeline here.

Who Are the Detainees?

Over the years, a total of 779 detainees – citizens of 48 countries – have been held at Guantanamo, most initially detained by Pakistani or Afghani forces and then handed over to U.S. custody.

Read more

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