Current Cases & Projects
The Spring 2013 clinic class is working on the following cases and projects:
- In Vitro Fertilization in Costa Rica
- Mining and Human Rights in the Conga Region of Cajamarca, Peru
- Judicial Protection, Labor Rights, and Enforcement of Domestic Judgments in Nicaragua
- Refugee Rights in the Inter-American Human Rights System
- Freedom of Expression and Criminalization of Protests in Peru
- Human Trafficking in California
- Advocacy Campaign to Support the Autonomy and Independence of the Inter-American Commission
- Implementing Legislation on U.S. Treaty Obligations
News and Updates
May 24, 2013 -Santa Clara Universitys International Human Rights Clinic submits commentson the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in theUnited States.
May 6, 2013 -The International Human Rights Clinic at Santa Clara University School of Law participates in an international delegation of observers in Guatemala, in the first domestically held trial of a former head of state for genocide and crimes against humanity. Clayton Cheney, a Graduate Fellow at the Clinic, flew to Guatemala from April 15th to the 19th as a member of the delegation of the National Lawyers’ Guild that viewed the trial of former Guatemalan dictator Jos Efran Ros Montt and his then head of military intelligence Jos Mauricio Rodrguez Snchez. In this blog post, Clayton recounts his experience in this historic trial.
April 22, 2013 -Santa Clara Law International Human Rights Clinic students Amy Askin, Scott Idiart, Gloria Lee, Elizabeth Maushart, Amanda Snyder, and Jayna Sutherland file an amicus curiae brief before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in a case involving a family’s right to seek refugee status in Bolivia
April 3, 2013 -Clinic students, Scott Idiart and Amanda Snyder, travel to Medelln, Colombia with clinical fellow, Britton Schwartz to attend the Inter-American Court of Human Rights 47th Extraordinary Session
March 20, 2013 – IHRC students travel to Washington D.C. to interview clients and attend the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights thematic hearings.
March 19, 2013 -Five IHRC students travel to Jamaica over spring break to research and gather information on LGBTI rights in Jamaica
February 20, 2013 – International Human Rights Clinic signs-on to a letter to OAS Ambassador Lomellin and Alternative Representative Owen, providing input on the criteria that the U.S. should use to nominate a new human rights expert to serve as a Commissioner on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
February 12, 2013 – Ambassador Carmen Lomellin responds to SCU’s sign-on letter regardingthe strengthening process of the Inter-American Human Rights System
December 11, 2012 – International Human Rights Clinic signs-on to a coalition letter to the U.S. government urging constructive engagement in the UN review process of the Standard Minimum Rules (SMR) for the Treatment of Prisoners
November 20, 2012 – SCUs International Human Rights Clinic submits letter to the U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS) in regards to the strengthening process of the Inter-American Human Rights System
November 2, 2012 – International Human Rights Clinic participates in a sign-on letter on behalf of Evel Fanfan, a Haitian human rights defender who is currently fighting to increase the minimum wage in Haiti
October 22, 2012 – SCU’s International Human Rights Clinic joins more than 100 human rights advocates and organizations in a letter to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations to express alarm about the escalating threats and intimidation against Attorney Mario Joseph of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) and other human rights lawyers in Haiti
October 15, 2012 – During Fall Break, SCU International Human Rights Clinic students engaged in fact-finding missions in Nicaragua and Peru
October 11, 2012 – Students from Santa Clara Laws International Human Rights Clinic submit reform recommendations to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
September 20, 2012 – Students from Santa Clara Laws International Human Rights Clinic file an amicus curiae brief before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
July 25, 2012 – SCU International Human Rights Clinic files petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights regarding discrimination against Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic
Over the past nine months, the International Human Rights Clinic at Santa Clara Law hasengaged in fact-finding and research to investigate local responses to human trafficking in theCalifornia Bay Area, focusing on Santa Clara and Alameda Counties. Our research has focusedon actors in the three key sectors of legal aid, law enforcement, and victim services agencies.Through this work, we have gained insight into the problem of human trafficking in the BayArea and how the different actors are working together to combat the problem and serve victims.
This research, which the Clinic will publish later this year as part of a comprehensive report,forms the basis for our comments to the US Department of Health and Human Services on itsFederal Strategic Plan for Services to Human Trafficking Victims. The Clinics comments reflectthe recommendations and expertise gathered through dozens of interviews with local actors whoregularly interact with human trafficking victims. Because the Bay Area is a national hotspot forhuman trafficking activity, we hope that the lessons we have learned from actors here will proveuseful on a national level as well.
The Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the UnitedStates can be downloaded here.
The Clinics submission to the federal government can be downloaded here.
The following Santa Clara Law students have worked on the Clinics upcoming report onhuman trafficking in the Bay Area: April Peth, Bernadette Valdellon, Cristina Figueroa Cortes,Elizabeth Maushart, Gloria Lee, Jacqueline Judson, Jaqueline Ramirez, Jessica Chan, KatherineKrassilnikoff, Scott Idiart, and Sophia Areias.
Historic Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity Trial Continues in the Face of Legal Challenges
By Clayton Cheney
Guatemala City, Guatemala
From April 14th-19th I was given the opportunity to participate in the National Lawyers Guild Delegation (NLG Delegation) team of international observers at the trial of Jos Efran Ros Montt and Jos Mauricio Rodrguez Snchez for genocide and crimes against humanity in Guatemala. The trial marks the first domestically held trial of a former head of state for genocide and crimes against humanity. The process has faced numerous legal hurdles, however, due to the tireless work of dedicated individuals and organizations in Guatemala, it appears the trial will reach a conclusion within the next week.
NLG Delegation in front of the Plaza de los Derechos Humanos
Ros Montt, the former de facto dictator of Guatemala from March 23, 1982 to August 8, 1983, and Rodrguez Snchez, the former director of intelligence, are charged with genocide and crimes against humanity in connection with the massacre and displacement of Ixil Mayans during the dictatorship of Ros Montt. For a comprehensive summary of the historical context of the trial, please visit this website.
During the weeklong visit to Guatemala City, the NLG Delegation was fortunate enough to meet with individuals and organizations supporting the process, view some of the most contentious trial proceedings of the trial thus far and meet with survivors from the Ixil Mayan population. The NLG Delegation was able to obtain a comprehensive picture of the current situation in Guatemala in relation to the Ros Montt and Rodrguez Snchez trial.
The NLG Delegation met with members of the Asociacin Americana de Juristas (the Association of American Jurists) on April 15th, 2013. The members of this organization provided us with a background of the power structure, as well as a brief introduction to the procedural nature of the criminal process in Guatemala. The members stressed that a circle of power existed within Guatemala that permitted the culture of impunity to continue. Essentially, the upper class and supporters of the military control the land, the banks, the political process and the press. This power circle allows for the perpetrators of atrocities during the thirty six year Civil War to avoid prosecution.
The day after meeting with members of the AAJ, the NLG Delegation met with a local human rights expert, Factor Mndez Doninelli, who provided us with significant substantive and logistical support during the delegations visit. We also met that evening with Kate Doyle, the Director of the Evidence Project at the National Security Archive, who has been instrumental in uncovering documentary evidence of the crimes committed in Guatemala during the Civil War. (For a comprehensive summary of the events leading to the prosecution of Ros Montt see Granito: How to Nail a Dictator a film by Pamela Yates.) Ms. Doyle discussed the importance of documentary evidence in the prosecution of these high ranking government officials and the difficulty in establishing the chain of command necessary for these types of trials.
Guatemala Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz discussing the trial with the NLG Delegation
Additionally, the NLG Delegation met with the Attorney General of Guatemala, Claudia Paz y Paz, who has been instrumental in the process of bringing Ros Montt and Rodrguez Snchez to trial for genocide and crimes against humanity in a domestic court. It was reassuring to find government officials that continued to fight for the maintenance of a fair and transparent judicial process, despite having to overcome a multitude of significant obstacles. The trial against Ros Montt and Rodrguez Snchez has faced opposition through legal challenges and public media campaigns condemning the process. The courageous work of public officials, such as the Attorney General, has been vital to contributing to the fight against impunity for atrocities committed during the Civil War.
As part of the NLG Delegation, I was able to view trial proceedings in the Ros Montt and Rodrguez Snchez matter from April 14th to 18th, 2013. The first two days I observed the trial, experts for the prosecution and defense attempted to establish the existence or absence of a chain of military command, which would have effectively been controlled to some extent by Rodrguez Snchez, but ultimately by Ros Montt. During the third day of the proceedings, a lower court ruling by Judge Patricia Flores attempted to annul the proceedings up to that point, as a result of procedural deficiencies in the pre-trial and trial phases.
The following day, arguments were made by prosecution and defense in favor of continuing or annulling the trial proceedings that had taken place up to that point. The presiding judge over the trial proceedings, Judge Jazmin BarRos, ruled that the lower courts annulment of the trial proceedings was illegal and ordered the trial to continue. What occurred next was one of the most shocking events I have seen in a courtroom during my young legal career. The defense attorneys, in what they called a passive protest, stood up and walked out of the courtroom, essentially abandoning their clients. The divided audience, though a majority was either Ixil Mayans or supporters of continuing the trial, both cheered and booed the controversial decision. When the defense attorneys refused to return to the courtroom, despite the repeated request of Judge BarRos, the trial had to be suspended pending the defendants obtaining representation.
In the days that followed, a series of legal challenges were filed by the defense and later by the prosecution in the appellate courts and the Constitutional Court of Guatemala. Many of these petitions are still pending before the Constitutional Court. However, one very recent ruling by the Constitutional Court required the lower court judge, Judge Flores, to admit certain evidence and return the matter to the trial court. Judge Flores returned the matter to the trial court and on April 30th Judge Barrios ordered the trial to be resumed on May 7th. Given the point at which the trial was suspended, if resumed on May 7th it could be completed within the next week.
While observing these trial proceedings in Guatemala City, I was struck by the social context and the always present feeling of political and human tension. This tension was magnified through media publications that seemed to either be a boisterous arm on the payroll of political organizations or merely content with breading social divergence through misleading and false headlines. Unfortunately, obtaining access to reliable and accurate information on the current state of the proceedings continues to be problematic. Conflicting information provided by the various courts involved and interested parties makes any prediction of what the future holds for this trial difficult. News organizations are providing no alleviation of the confusion. It seems as though information is released by a news organization, only to be later replaced by conflicting information on the same issue. This is fueling the climate of uncertainty surrounding the trial, especially in Guatemala City, where accurate information is vital during a trial consistently influenced by public opinion.
As the proceedings against Ros Montt and Rodrguez Snchez appear to be moving forward, it is essential that international attention remains focused on ensuring the transparency and the completion of this historic trial in a fair and just manner. International attention will ensure that Guatemala adheres to its obligations as a democratic state, including providing equal protection of the law and ensuring that justice is carried out without discrimination.
A group of Ixil Mayan survivors share their harrowing stories with the NLG Delegation
In addition to the legal hurdles discussed above, there also appears to be a silent threat to the integrity of the trial against Ros Montt and Rodrguez Snchez. Throughout the NLG delegation visit to Guatemala, numerous parties with an interest in the matter expressed concern over the applicability of amnesty to any sentence handed down against the former dictator and his military subordinate. If the legal, personal and public struggles endured by the victims, civil society and government figures are in the end made futile by a ruling of amnesty for Ros Montt or Rodrguez Snchez, that would be the most disappointing and destructive result of all. I urge the international community to continue to draw attention to this monumental trial and signify the extreme importance of accountability and equality of justice in the protection of fundamental human rights.
I will conclude this summary of the NLG Delegations visit to Guatemala with the experience that will have the most lasting effect upon me. The NLG Delegation had the honor of meeting with survivors from the Ixil Mayan population who had endured indescribable atrocities. The group shared their stories with our delegation, some of which were heart wrenching and tear jerking accounts of losing family members and friends. While it was difficult to see the pain and sadness in their eyes, it was inspirational to witness their resolve in continuing their fight against impunity. The experience effected me not only on a professional level by strengthening my desire to assist their fight for justice, but also on a personal level by giving me perspective on lifes problems.
Santa Clara Law International Human Rights Clinic students Amy Askin, Scott Idiart, Gloria Lee, Elizabeth Maushart, Amanda Snyder, and Jayna Sutherland filed an amicus curiae brief before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in a case involving a family’s right to seek refugee status in Bolivia. The students co-wrote the brief under the supervision of Clinic Director Francisco J. Rivera Juaristi and Clinic Fellow Britton Schwartz, with assistance from Clinic Graduate Fellow Clayton Cheney. Clinic students Scott Idiart and Amanda Snyder also traveled to Colombia to participate in the oral hearings regarding this case.
As clinic student Gloria Lee explains, this case raises an issue of first impression before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in determining the extent to which the principle of non-refoulement prohibits a State from returning a refugee or asylum seeker to a place where their life, personal integrity, or freedom may be threatened due to his or her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. We remain confident that the Court will recognize necessary minimum due process guarantees for all refugees and asylum seekers in the Americas.
Clinic student Scott Idiart, speaking on behalf of all students who worked on this brief, said we are hopeful that the Court will issue a broad ruling that will have a far reaching effect in the Americas, and we remain optimistic that the Court will find that Bolivia and other countries cannot return asylum seekers to a country where they may be subject to possible acts of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment without being given an opportunity to be heard and to appeal the decision.
In March 2013, clinic students Scott Idiart (3L) and Amanda Snyder (3L) traveled to Medelln, Colombia with clinical fellow, Britton Schwartz, to attend the Inter-American Court of Human Rights 47th Extraordinary Session. They observed the Courts hearings on three different contentious cases, including Pacheco Tineo Family v. Bolivia. The Clinic will be submitting an amicus brief for the case, and attending the hearing gave the students the opportunity to develop ideas for the brief, while listening to live testimony and arguments of the actual parties involved.
The last few days of the session, the Inter-American Court led a seminar on contemporary human rights issues entitled The Inter-American Human Rights System: Trends and Complementarities. Some of the most prominent legal minds in Latin America, including most of the Inter-American Court judges, spoke at length on legal issues that are both unique and challenging to the Inter-American System.
Scott Idiart noted that the highlight of the experience, in my opinion, was seeing the Court operate during a contentious case. From Commission lawyers statements to party and expert witness testimony to Court judges questions, we were able to witness the confluence of the Inter-American System and the role each party plays in the pursuit of justice. That the sessions took place in Colombia, a country with a renewed emphasis on human rights, only added to the memorable experience of seeing the Inter-American System in action.
Scott Idiart and Amanda Snyder inMedelln, Colombia
On March 11 and 12, IHRC students Scott Idiart (3L) and Jaqueline Ramirez (2L) traveled to Washington D.C. with clinical fellow, Britton Schwartz, to interview clients and attend the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights thematic hearings on human rights violations in Peru. During the course of the semester, IHRC students have been investigating the situation of human rights defenders in Peru and the threats these defenders face because of their work. The clinic is working on preparing an amicus curiae brief in support of the right to freedom of expression within the context of the criminalization of social protest in Peru.
Jaqueline Ramirez mentioned that this opportunity really allowed [her] to see the actual work that human rights attorneys do. Scott Idiart had this to say about his experience: We witnessed the unique role of an international human rights body playing the mediator between the State and the individual to ensure that international norms are upheld. In short, we saw where our Clinic work fits in the human rights community and how we as students will someday fit as human rights lawyers. It was an incredible experience.
From left to right: Scott Idiart, Jaqueline Ramirez, Britton Schwartz
From left to right: David Velasco (FEDEPAZ), Britton Schwartz, Mar Perez (Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos), Ofelia Vargas (Grufides), Mirtha Vasquez (Grufides), Pablo Sanchez (Grufides), Rocio Silva Santisteban (Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos), Scott Idiart.
Over spring break, IHRC students Cristina Figueroa-Cortes, Gloria Lee, Elizabeth Maushart, April Peth, and Jayna Sutherland traveled to Kingston, Jamaica with clinic director, Francisco J. Rivera Juaristi. The students interviewed members of the religious community, government officials, academics, and non-governmental organizations on issues regarding the treatment of members of the LGBTI community in Jamaica.
The students will use the information obtained from these interviews to write an amicus curiae brief. The brief will lend support to a petition filed before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that seeks to establish the international responsibility of Jamaica for both conduct and laws that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Among other problems, Jamaican homosexual men are often brutally beaten simply because of their sexual orientation, and the state authorities are either complicit in these abuses or turn a blind eye to them.
Elizabeth Maushart stated that the interview experience in Jamaica was a rich and worthwhile opportunity. It illuminated the reality of Jamaican society and its general treatment of homosexuality. April Peth reported that the trip allowed for the students to get an accurate idea of the type and degree of discrimination members of the LGBTI community face in Jamaica, as well as the legal, institutional, and societal changes that are needed to put an end to such discrimination.
From left to right: Jayna Sutherland, April Peth,
Elizabeth Maushart,and Gloria Lee
This week, our International Human Rights Clinic signed-on to a letter to OAS Ambassador Lomellin and Alternative Representative Owen, providing input on the criteria that the U.S. should use to nominate a new human rights expert to serve as a commissioner on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR or Commission). The letter encourages the U.S. to solicit input from the civil society and provide greater transparency during the selection process.
The letter also suggests that the U.S. demonstrate its support for the IACHR by developing a stronger record of compliance with IACHR findings and recommendations and sustaining efforts to raise awareness of the valuable role the Commission plays in protecting human rights in the United States and throughout the region.
The letter suggests that the U.S. take the following criteria into consideration in nominating a new human rights expert to serve as a Commissioner on the IACHR:
- Knowledge of Latin America and the Caribbean;
- Familiarity with the Inter-American system;
- Language ability, specifically in the Spanish language;
- Management skills;
- Time commitment;
- Independent, knowledgeable and well-respected human rights advocate;
- International legal background;
- Ability to navigate political sensitivities; and
- Respect for a victim-centered approach to human rights concerns.
The joint letter can be downloaded here.
In November 2012, Santa Clara University’s International Human Rights Clinic sent a letter to Ambassador Carmen Lomellin, Permanent Representative of the U.S. before the Organization of American States, on behalf of 27 individuals and organizations, expressing our support for the autonomy and independence of the Inter-American Commission and suggesting a number of recommendations regarding the role the U.S. should play within the current reform processof the Inter-American Human Rights System.
In February 2013, Ambassador Lomellin responded to our letter, addressing the following issues:
- U.S. support for an independent and autonomous Commission;
- the “robust” participation of the U.S. in Commission hearings and working meetings;
- the U.S. lack of ratification of the American Convention on Human Rights;
- that the U.S. is “subject” to the Commission’s “authority” by virtue of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man;
- that the U.S. has engaged with the Commission regarding “uncomfortable” petitions concerning domestic violence, migration, the death penalty, and Guantanamo, and has hosted an on-site visit for a report on detention and due process rights of immigrants in the U.S.;
- that the U.S. is a strong advocate for increased civil society participation in the IAHRS; and
- that similar sign-on letters should be addressed to other OAS member states.
Ambassador Lomellin’s full letter can be downloaded here.
Last week, our International Human Rights Clinic signed-on to a coalition letter totheU.S. government urging constructive engagement in the UN review process of the Standard Minimum Rules (SMR) for the Treatment of Prisoners. The letter encourages the United States government to adopt changes to the SMR proposed by independent experts in a meeting convened by Essex University and Penal Reform International in October. These suggested changes include updating the outdated language and gaps in the SMR and making revisions based on current international standards and norms.
The letter also supports the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recommendation for specific targeted revisions on the use of solitary confinement, as well as the Amnesty International (AI) recommendation to include sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited grounds for discrimination in prisons. The letter encourages the United States to be more active in fulfilling its commitment to improving human rights in the U.S. by supporting progressive revisions to the SMR.
The joint letter can be downloaded here.
SCUs International Human Rights Clinic recently submitted a letter to the U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS) in regards to the strengthening process of the Inter-American Human Rights System (IAHRS or System). On
behalf of 27 individuals, law professors, institutions and human rights advocates in the U.S., the clinic proposed the following five recommendations to increase and reinforce U.S. support for the IAHRS:
- The U.S. should lead by example by fully complying with recommendations made by the Commission and by ratifying the American Convention on Human Rights and other regional human rights treaties.
- The U.S. should increase efforts to raise public awareness about the importance of the IAHRS and about the governments commitment to the System.
- The U.S. should push for greater participation by civil society organizations before OAS political organs, including the Permanent Council and the General Assembly.
- The U.S. should lead the way in providing sufficient resources to the IAHRS.
- The U.S. should continue to support the autonomy and independence of the Commission by characterizing as non-binding any and all recommendations the Permanent Council makes in this process.
IHRC students Gloria Lee, Katherine Krassilnikoff, and Sophia Areias participated in the drafting of this letter.
The full letter can be downloaded here.
This week, our International Human Rights Clinic participated in a sign-on letter on behalf of Evel Fanfan, a Haitian human rights defender who is currently fighting to increase the minimum wage in Haiti, while seeking justice for the victims of a State-sanctioned massacre. As a result of Evel Fanfans human rights work, he has received multiple threats to his life, as well as threats to the lives of his friends, family, and children. The joint letter mentions that his colleague, and good friend, Bruner Esterne was murdered in September 2006 as he was coming from a meeting with Fanfan regarding the massacre. On Tuesday, October 23, 2012, Fanfan was the target of an assassination attempt, when a shooter opened fire on Fanfan while he was driving home from his office. The letter urges the Haitian government, the U.S. government, and the United Nations to play an active role in investigating these threats and protecting Fanfan and his family.
The joint letter can be downloaded here.
SCU’s International Human Rights Clinic joins more than 100 human rights advocates and organizations in a letter to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations to express our alarm about the escalating threats and intimidation against Attorney Mario Joseph of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) and other human rights lawyers in Haiti. Among other things, the joint letter mentions that “attorney Joseph began to receive violent death threats on his cell phone shortly after convening a widely attended press conference on January 30, 2012, condemning the dismissal of charges against former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier for political violence. In the immediate aftermath of the press conference, the volume of threatening calls was often three to four times a day before abating in March. Threats began again in July 2012, shortly after Attorney Joseph submitted a letter to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights requesting an investigation of rampant human rights violations in Haiti. While these calls have decreased over the last month, the message is clear: when Attorney Joseph publicly advocates for respect for the rule of law, an independent judiciary and holding Haiti accountable for human rights abuses, he runs the risk of violent threats and, worse, the possibility that the callers will act on those threats with violence.”
The joint letter can be downloaded here.
IHRC students Amanda Snyder, Amy Askin, and Jaqueline Judson, and Clinic Director Francisco J. Rivera Juaristi travelled to Leon, Nicaragua, to interview three clients (a doctor, a statistician, and a mechanic) who had been either labor union members or union leaders in Nicaraguas Health Ministry. The clients were arbitrarily dismissed from their government jobs without due process and in violation of labor laws that protect labor union leaders. After pursuing administrative and judicial remedies, the clients were able to obtain favorable domestic judgments on their behalf. Nevertheless, they have been unable to enforce those judgments. The students also talked with other labor union leaders who expressed that this is a widespread and systematic problem that affects thousands of Nicaraguans. The students will use this information to file a petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
From left to right: Amy Askin, Jacqueline Judson, Amanda Snyder,
Dra. Paula Marlene Blandn Garca, and Francisco Rivera Juaristi
Under the supervision of Clinic Fellow Britton Schwartz and Volunteer Instructor Claudia Josi, three other IHRC students (Katherine Krassilnikoff, Katherine McDonnell, and Justin Hunt) conducted a field mission to Cajamarca, Peru to investigate the human rights implications of Newmont Mining Corporations proposed Conga open-pit gold mine. The hotly contested mine project has been the subject of ongoing social conflict in the Cajamarca area and would become the largest gold mine in Latin America if it goes forward as planned. Although the Peruvian government and the company insist that the mine will benefit the region, affected communities and civil society organizations have mobilized in opposition to the proposed mine and claim that the Peruvian government failed to consult properly with communities near the mine before approving the project. They also allege that the project will cause irreversible damage to the agricultural and tourist economy of the region by destroying critical drinking water sources, including the planned draining of four alpine lakes as part of the mine’s construction.
From left to right: Claudia Josi, Britton Schwartz, Katherine McDonnell,
Katherine Krassilnikoff, and Justin Hunt
During the field mission, the students interviewed a variety of involved actors about the impacts of mining in Cajamarca, including officials of the Cajamarca Regional Government, leaders of civil society organizations, Catholic Church officials, and the corporate staff and community beneficiaries of Newmonts social programs in the Cajamarca area. The Regional Government of Cajamarca issued a press release about the Clinic’s visit, which can be found at http://www.regioncajamarca.gob.pe/contentido/estudiantes-de-universidad-de-santa-clara-de-california-eeuu-realizar-n-estudio-sobre-miner-en. The IHRC expects to publish a full-length human rights report based upon the teams investigation in early 2013.
On October 4, 2012, International Human Rights Clinic students Gloria Lee, Katherine Krassilnikoff, and Sophia Areias submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights three proposals with recommendations on strengthening the Inter-American Human Rights System. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is currently reflecting on how it might improve its methods, procedures, and practices so that they achieve its two main objectives: promotion and protection of human rights in our region. To that end, the Inter-American Commission requested observations and recommendations from all relevant actors, including Member States, NGOs, academics, and human rights clinics.
In that context, students from Santa Clara Laws International Human Rights Clinic suggested that the Commission (1) work with civil society organizations to ultimately reduce the Commissions workload by utilizing technology to educate and raise awareness about procedural and admissibility requirements; (2) increase online visibility by adding a tab entitled Present a Precautionary Measure Request on the Commissions homepage, and (3) train National Human Rights Institutions to review individual petitions in order to reduce the amount of inadmissible petitions the Commission receives and thus reduce the backlog of petitions.
General information on the reform process of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights can be found here.
The recommendations submitted by students from Santa Clara Laws International Human Rights Clinic can be found here.
Santa Clara Law International Human Rights Clinic students Amanda Snyder, Bernadette Valdellon, and Sophia Areias filed an amicus curiae brief before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in a case involving access to in vitro fertilization in Costa Rica. The students co-wrote the brief under the supervision of Clinic Director Francisco J. Rivera Juaristi and Clinic Fellow Britton Schwartz.
In their brief, the students grappled with complex issues involving international treaty interpretation methodologies. A copy of the brief (in Spanish) may be found here.
Click here for additional information on the case (IACtHR Case No. 12.361, Gretel Artavia Murillo et al. (in vitro fertilization) V. Costa Rica).
Prof. Francisco Rivera Juaristi, Amanda Snyder, Bernadette Valdellon, Sophia Areias,
and Clinic Fellow Britton Schwartz
July 25, 2012 – SCU International Human Rights Clinic files petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights regarding discrimination against Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic
On July 25, 2012, Santa Clara Laws International Human Rights Clinic filed a petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of six Dominicans of Haitian descent who have been denied renewals of their birth certificates, passports, and other identity documents by the government of the Dominican Republic because of their Haitian descent. The petition argues that such discriminatory practices effectively limit the full enjoyment of the petitioners right to Dominican nationality and other related rights recognized in the American Convention on Human Rights. The purpose of the petition is to establish the international responsibility of the Dominican Republic for these discriminatory practices that have not only affected the six petitioners in this case, but also thousands of people born in the Dominican Republic of Haitian parents.
The petition can be found here.