Thursday, January 31, 2008

Events at the IPJ

Tuesday, March 4, 7 p.m.
IPJ Theatre
Joan B. Kroc Distinguished Lecture Series
"War, Peace and Climate Change: A Billion Lives in the Balance"
Jan Egeland, former Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator for the United Nations, will discuss the humanitarian challenges of environmental catastrophes caused by both human conflict and natural disasters. Egeland, who currently serves as Special Advisor to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on conflict prevention and resolution and as director of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, is the author of "A Billion Lives: An Eyewitness Report from the Frontlines of Humanity". A reception and book signing will follow the lecture. RSVP by Tuesday, Feb. 26 at or call (619) 260-4236. Seating is limited and events fill up quickly, so early replies are recommended.


Wednesday, Feb. 6, 7 p.m.
IPJ Theatre
IPJ Speaker Series
"Iranian-Saudi Relations and Prospects for Gulf Peace"
Banafsheh Keynoush, Ph.D., specializes in Middle East foreign relations, security issues and international law. A native of the region, she will examine the prospects for peace in the Persian Gulf. RSVP by Tuesday, Feb. 5 at

Monday, Feb. 11, 7 p.m.
IPJ Theatre
IPJ Film Series
"The Peacekeepers"
With unprecedented access to the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping, "The Peacekeepers" provides an intimate and dramatic portrait of the struggle to save a "failed state." The film follows the determined and often desperate maneuvers to avert another disaster like Rwanda, this time in the Democratic Republic of Congo. John Prendergast, noted human rights activist and scholar-in-residence at the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, will provide commentary and answer questions. RSVP by Friday, Feb. 8 at

Monday, Feb. 18, 7 p.m.
Shiley Theatre (USD)
Special Event
"Three Cups of Tea: An Evening with Greg Mortenson"
The "New York Times" bestselling book, "Three Cups of Tea - One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time" by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, describes Mortenson's dangerous mission to build schools in Taliban-ruled parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan. After 13 years spent bringing 58 schools to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Mortenson believes that terrorism should be fought with books, not bombs. Co-sponsored by USD's Department of Public Relations, KPBS and the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice. A book signing will follow the lecture. Due to overwhelming interest, we have moved the event to USD's Shiley Theatre. The event is free and seating will be first-come, first-served. Please note that there will be two other opportunities the following day to hear Greg Mortenson. For more information, go to

Tuesday, Feb. 26, 7 p.m.
IPJ Theatre
IPJ Film Series
"Beyond the Gates"
Approximately 800,000 people were killed during the 1994 genocide that took place in a mere 100 days during April to July in Rwanda. This film is based on the true story of a secondary school in Kigali, the Ecole Technique Officielle, where over 2,500 people took refuge under the protection of UN troops. On the fifth day of violence, the U.N. troops left, taking with them only the European nationals. The film, shot on location in Rwanda, was directed by Michael Caton-Jones and stars John Hurt, Hugh Dancy and Clare-Hope Ashitey. A panel discussion featuring actors and crew from the film, including survivors of the genocide, will follow the screening. This event is co-sponsored by the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice and Magazine. For more information on the film or to participate in the discussion, go to or contact RSVP by Friday, Feb. 22 at

Friday, March 7
Save the Date
"Fourth Annual International Women's Day Celebration Breakfast"
Further details on how to register and pay will follow.

For event additions, changes and directions go to or call (619) 260-7509. Students are encouraged to attend all IPJ events. Events fill up quickly, so professors are encouraged to make reservations in advance for any classes that will be attending as a group.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

State of the Union

I pulled this letter to President Bush off the Amnesty International Website. I think it's worth a few minutes of your time.

January 28, 2008

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I write in advance of your State of the Union address to urge you to speak to the most pressing human rights issues faced by people around the world and here in the United States. It is essential that all who listen to your State of the Union Address hear that the United States stands for the highest human rights standards and that our nation is committed morally, politically and financially to improving human rights in the world.

As this nation recovered from the shock of the attacks on September 11, 2001, you provided a vision in your State of the Union address in January 2002 for an America that stands firmly in support of human dignity and human rights of all.

"America will lead by defending liberty and justice because they are right and true and unchanging for all people everywhere. No nation owns these aspirations, and no nation is exempt from them. . . But America will always stand firm for the non-negotiable demands of human dignity: the rule of law; limits on the power of the state; respect for women; private property; free speech; equal justice; and religious tolerance."

And yet just days ago, January 11, 2008, marked the 6th anniversary of the first transfer of detainees to Guantánamo Bay. On this anniversary, thousands of people across this nation and in more than thirty countries staged protests calling for this facility to be closed, for the basic right of habeas corpus to be restored to all, and for the United States to make clear once and for all that it upholds unequivocally the absolute ban on torture and ill-treatment. The totality of the detention regime in Guantánamo - harsh, indefinite and isolating - amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and is in violation of international law. If America is to be true to the ideals and vision you articulated in January 2002, all those who remain in detention in Guantánamo must either be charged with a crime and given a fair trial or released unconditionally. If America is to represent the ideals you stated so clearly, all secret and clandestine prisons must be closed, extraordinary renditions ended, and the absolute ban on torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment must be understood to apply to everyone, wherever they are held. America must stand firmly for the rule of law and equal justice for all.

As we look at conditions around the world, the horrific crisis in Darfur, Sudan, continues to demand immediate attention and action. U.S. leadership has been instrumental in achieving progress, but it is more essential than ever now to ensure the full deployment of UN-African Union peacekeepers to bring about greater security. We urge the United States to support UN efforts to secure ground and air transport equipment, including twenty four helicopters, and we urge you to press more strongly to end Khartoum?s obstruction of the deployment. We urge you to use your influence on European and other donor countries to ensure that much-needed equipment is provided and that you offer to provide U.S. funds for the helicopters. We also ask you to reach out to allies that can effectively press the Government of Sudan to end its obstruction and facilitate the deployment of the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

Around the world, women and girls continue to face epidemic levels of violence that cuts across all countries, social groups, ethnicities, religions, and socioeconomic classes. Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation that includes rape, domestic violence, acid burning, dowry deaths, so-called honor killings, human trafficking, female genital cutting and other harmful practices. The United States has a historic opportunity to ensure a systematic approach for ending the suffering of millions of women and girls. The International Violence Against Women Act is groundbreaking legislation that lays out a powerful international agenda to combat violence against women and girls and help achieve prosperity and stability around the world. The bill allocates more than $175 million in U.S. assistance per year to fund international programs that prevent violence, encourage legal reform and changes in public attitudes, promote access to economic opportunity projects and education, and support health programs; it also directs the U.S. government to create a comprehensive, five-year international strategy to reduce violence against women and girls in ten to twenty low and middle income countries. We urge you to support this bipartisan legislation wholeheartedly and to ensure it is fully funded and implemented.

Within the United States, violence against women affects Native American and Alaska Native women disproportionately. Native women are two and one half times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than other women in the United States. It is shocking that a complex maze of tribal, state and federal jurisdiction enables perpetrators to rape with impunity and makes it nearly impossible for survivors to achieve justice. Correcting this shameful situation is long overdue. Among the necessary changes are: amending the Indian Civil Rights Act to recognize the authority of tribal courts to impose penalties proportionate to the offences they try, consistent with international human rights standards; recognizing the concurrent jurisdiction of tribal authorities over all crimes committed on tribal land regardless of the Indigenous identity of the accused; providing more funding for law enforcement - including to process forensic evidence, and maintaining relevant databases - and for tribal courts and legal systems, in compliance with international standards of justice; and instructing the Indian Health Service (IHS) to create standardized protocols for treatment of rape victims, make available sexual assault nurse examiners, and provide increased funding to the IHS including for rape kits. We urge to take these urgent steps to end the current maze of injustice and ensure perpetrators of rape and other violent crimes against Native women are better able to be prosecuted. We urge you to make this part of your legacy.

Two years ago, you launched an initiative to lend support to brave defenders of human rights around the world. The plight of individuals at risk, especially those at risk for defending fundamental human rights for themselves and others, is at the core of Amnesty International's mission. There are innumerable individuals who inspire us with their courage and commitment and who deserve our intervention, such as Ma Khin Khin Leh, a teacher in Burma; Shi Tao, an internet dissident in China; Zmitser Dashkevich, a youth leader in Belarus; Fathi el-Jahmi a free speech advocate in Libya; and Yusak Pakage and Filep Karma who are imprisoned in Indonesia for simply raising a flag. As you travel and meet with leaders from around the world, we urge you to make it a priority to raise these cases. We know that when this has happened in the past, some human rights defenders have been released, such as was the case with Rebiya Kadeer, Haleh Esfandiari, Father Ly, and Bulgarian nurses who were being held by the Libyan government. We urge you to make this a consistent priority with the leaders of countries that are friend or foe, standing with those who put their lives on the line for the principles of freedom and human rights.

Mr. President, as you deliver the State of the Union address, we call on you to recommit this nation to stand firmly for the rights of all people, wherever they are, and to be a voice for those who are unable to be heard because of repression they endure. As you address the nation, we urge you to announce your intent to close Guantanamo, to end renditions, and secure a universal ban on torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. We encourage you to persevere in your advocacy and funding to end the violence in Darfur. We ask you to stand for women everywhere by supporting the International Violence Against Women Act and by taking concrete action to end the maze of injustice that has allowed countless Native women to be raped and suffer other forms of violent assault. We urge you to be a voice for human rights defenders around the world and a consistent advocate for human dignity and human rights of all, both in word and deed.

We look forward to your address,

Larry Cox Executive Director

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Human Rights Violations in Chechnya

Once again thank you to Mary Elizabeth Grant for keeping us up to date on Human Rights situations around the world.

Author: Mary Elizabeth Grant

Editor: Jessie Zaylía

On Behalf of USD School of Law’s International Human Rights Law Society

For the last nine years, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Doctors without Borders, and many other human rights organizations have reported wide spread human rights violations in Chechnya. Russian and Chechen security forces, along with Chechen rebel forces are accused of widespread torture, rape, executions, kidnapping, and forced “disappearances” in Chechnya.

The source of conflict derives from Chechens who want Chechnya to be an independent country while Russia attempts to maintain its control over the territory. The Russians conquered the Chechen territory located in the Caucasus mountain range in 1859. Though Chechens achieved brief independence in the 1920, Russia quickly regained control in 1922. When the Nazis marched into the Chechen region during World War II, the Chechens again attempted to establish independence from Russia. However, when the war ended, Stalin deported Chechens to Siberia for allegedly collaborating with the Nazis. Tens of thousands of Chechens are estimated to have died as a result of deportations.

When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, Chechnya once again declared its independence. Responding swiftly and expecting a quick victory, Russia sent troops to Chechnya to force the territory to join the Russian Federation in 1994. While a signed peace agreement between Russia and Chechnya (two years later) gave Chechnya autonomy, it did not grant Chechnya independence. Since then, Russia has attempted to quash rebels by conducting a reign of terror over civilians.

The Chechen government was weak and unable to control the rebel warlords that took over the region. The rebels kidnapped civilians and held them for ransom and also frequently beheaded their captives. Further, the rebels conducted terrorist attacks in other territories; they are accused of exploding two civilian airlines and of bombing a Moscow train.

In an attempt to gain control and to prevent the rebellion from spreading to other territories, the Russian government sponsored a new constitution that provided Chechnya with even greater autonomy. Elections in 2005, suspected of being rigged, resulted in a primarily pro-Moscow parliament. In April, 2007, Vladimir Putin’s protégé, Ramzan Kadyrov, was elected president of Chechnya. Now, Kadyrov’s security forces, in conjunction with Russian armed forces, are accused of widespread human rights violations.

Currently, Kadyrov’s security forces abduct people from their homes without providing any explanations to family members or information regarding where the abductees are being taken. The few who have been released from the security forces’ control report torture and recall deplorable conditions of secret detention centers. Those who have been released or escaped claim they were tortured in order to elicit confessions of providing food and shelter to rebels when they were innocent of those charges.

Overall, an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people have “disappeared” from Chechnya since 1999. Because many people don’t report the disappearance of relatives for fear of reprisals, arriving at solid figures is difficult because Chechens fear that other family members will be taken. Indeed, many who have sought justice frequently experienced retaliation and, in some cases, have been murdered. The Russian government has been uncooperative in providing resources to help families find the missing.

The Commissioner of Human Rights visited Chechnya in March of 2007. He publicly stated, “The disappearance of a human being is a tragedy, a gross violation of his/her rights. It is also a crime against humanity. This problem must be addressed by the authorities, in order to find the truth, punish the guilty, and preserve the health of society.” [Council of Europe, Initial Conclusions of the visit to the Chechen Republic, March 6, 2007.]

In the last twelve months, the European Court of Human Rights has issued eight rulings in which they found Russia to be responsible for executions, torture, disappearances, and failure to investigate reported crimes in Chechnya. The Court ruled that Russia has violated several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, specifically Article 2 (right to life), Article 3, (prohibition of torture), Article 5 (right to liberty and security), Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), Article 13 (right to an effective remedy), and Article 38 (furnish necessary facilities for the examination of the case). The Court has awarded plaintiffs with pecuniary and non pecuniary damages, as well as reimbursement of costs and expenses.

European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment (CPT) issued its third statement on March 13, 2007, calling on Russia to take action to stop the human rights violations in Chechnya. As the CPT works confidentially with governments of countries to stop violations, the three public statements regarding one country are unprecedented and representative of Russia’s lack of compliance.

The European Court of Human Rights has no authority to force Russia to comply with its rulings. Rather, Russia has sole discretion to follow through with awarding damages to the victims, investigating crimes, and informing families as to the fate of “disappeared” persons. Despite the positive move of the European Court to attempt to provide the victims of crimes in Chechnya with justice, the perpetrators are held unaccountable to date. Such impunity provides a forum for the abuses to continue, which ultimately undermines the social and political fabric of Chechnya and will continue to do so unless the international community applies significant pressure on Russia to take action and end the crimes against humanity.

For cases on this topic, please see: Chitayev and Chiteyev v. Russia. App. No. 59334/00; Baysayeva v. Russia. App. No. 74237/01; Musayev and others v. Russia. App. No. 57941/00, 58699/00, 60403/00; Magomadov and Magomadov v. Russia. App. No. 68004/01; Bitiyeva and X v. Russia. App. No. 57953/00 and 37392/03; Estamirov and Others v. Russia. App. No 60272/00; Imakayeva v. Russia. App. No. 7615/01; Luluyev and Others v. Russia. App. No 69480/01; Khashiyev and Akayeva v. Russia. Nos. 57942/00 and 57945/00; Isayeva v. Russia. App. No. 57950/00; Isayeva, Yusupova, and Bazayeva v. Russia. App. No. 57947/00, 57948/00, 57949/00; Bazorkina v. Russia. App. No 69481/01

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Califonia Innocence Project Event

Please join us for the first ever

Community Mixer, Silent Auction and Raffle to benefit the California Innocence Project

hosted by the CWSL Jewish Student Union, USD Jewish Law Student Association, and CWSL National Lawyers Guild.

Sunday, January 27 th


Wine Steals, Point Loma

2970 Truxton Road, San Diego, CA 92106

please see for an accurate map

Hosted bar and appetizers from 6-7pm
California Innocence Project Director Justin Brooks will speak at 7pm
Bidding will be from 7-8pm, and item pick up from 8:30-9pm.

We will also be raffling prizes throughout the night!

Casual Attire suggested (no suites please)

$5 for students, $10 for general public.
All proceeds will go to benefit the California Innocence Project

Please contact to RSVP or with any questions