|Deena Hurwitz, third from left, directs the International Human Rights Clinic (pictured) and Human Rights Program.|
Human Rights Clinic Has Busy First Semester
In its first semester, the Law School’s new International Human Rights Law Clinic, under the guidance of new Human Rights Program Director Deena Hurwitz, had nine students working on six projects. Hurwitz selected projects that provided variety, allowed students the opportunity to work with well-known, influential non-government organizations (NGOs); and would have a practical application or role in an actual advocacy strategy:
- Critiquing fair trial standards in the draft statute for the proposed Iraqi war crimes tribunal, on behalf of Human Rights Watch International Justice Division;
- Comparing international standards on freedom of expression and the legal status of a fatwa in the case of two journalists in Afghanistan, on behalf of the International Human Rights Law Group;
- Analyzing the advisory opinion jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court on Human Rights to determine the optimal strategy to present a question concerning economic, social, cultural rights, and outlining a model question for an advisory opinion on the rights of indigenous communities to free, prior and informed consent with regard to their land, on behalf of the Center for Justice in International Law (CEJIL);
- Comparing laws in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela and Bolivia with respect to the rights provided indigenous people on self-governance, land ownership, and consultation, and whether these laws are consistent with international standards, on behalf of EarthRights International;
- An analysis for the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights of national security legislation and policies in Indonesia, Pakistan, Singapore, and the Philippines since September 11 to determine whether they have been impacted by the U.S. Patriot Act and, if so, how;
- Writing two substantial legal memoranda for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) on matters related to cases before the Court (as part of a consortium of law schools serving the OTP).
In addition to these main projects, the Clinic assisted Joe Margulies, lead counsel in the case of Al Odah v. United States — the “Guantanamo case”— on the main brief to the Supreme Court. Al Odah is a case of historic importance, questioning the government’s right in time of war to detain people indefinitely, without charges, and without recourse to legal process. Although the timing was challenging (during exam period), a small group of students volunteered to do research, providing an exceptional opportunity for them to be involved in a cutting edge legal issue.
Hurwitz joined the faculty in 2003 as director of the human rights program and the International Human Rights Law Clinic. From 2000–2003, Hurwitz was the Robert M. Cover/Allard K. Lowenstein Fellow in International Human Rights with the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School. While at Yale she supervised the law school’s human rights clinic, coordinated events sponsored by the Schell Center, and taught International Human Rights at Yale College.
Hurwitz has lined up a number of speakers and events for the spring semester and will also co-sponsor public events with many of the speakers Law School Professor Rosa Brooks has invited for her human rights course.