MINELRES: Justice Initiative News Roundup, June 2005

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Justice Initiative News Roundup, June 2005

Georgia's First Public Defender Office Opens in Tbilisi
Georgia's first public defender office opened its doors on June 18 in
the country's capital, Tbilisi. The new institution will provide legal
help for criminal defendants unable to afford a lawyer. The pilot office
will serve the Gldani-Nadzaladevi district of Tbilisi, reaching a
population of 520,000. A second pilot office opened on June 22, in
Zestafoni, a city of 50,000 in the Imereti region of Georgia. Both
offices were established with technical assistance from the Justice
Initiative, the Open Society Georgia Foundation, the Georgian Young
Lawyers Association, and IRIS Georgia.

Press announcement 
Justice Initiative legal aid reform page

Nubians in Kenya Appeal for Their "Right to Existence"
Abdul Faraj, a Nubian community leader called for the Nubians' "right to
existence" at a forum on June 14 in Nairobi, Kenya, on citizenship and
discrimination. Faraj was joined by other community leaders urging the
Kenyan government to stop discrimination against Nubians and others
denied citizenship due to their ethnicity. The meeting—convened by the
Center for Minority Rights Development, the Open Society Institute in
East Africa, and the Justice Initiative—brought together over 30
activists, academics, lawyers, and others to discuss discrimination,
exclusion, and access to citizenship in Kenya.

Press announcement 
The rights of noncitizens

Justice Initiatives: Ethnic Profiling by Police in Europe
The June issue of Justice Initiatives focuses on ethnic profiling, the
inappropriate use by law enforcement of ethnic characteristics in
identifying criminal suspects, in Europe. Ample evidence of the practice
exists, from the wholesale targeting of Roma neighborhoods in central
Europe to the counter-productive reliance on profiling to fight
terrorism in Northern Ireland and, more recently, France, Germany,
Sweden, and elsewhere. Justice Initiatives June 2005 documents profiling
by police in Europe, and explores the methods used in the United States
and the United Kingdom to counter it.

Justice Initiatives online

Antidiscrimination Activists and Police Dialogue on Profiling
On June 2 and June 3, 2005, international criminologists, law
enforcement representatives, and antidiscrimination advocates from
Bulgaria, Hungary, and Spain met in Sofia, Bulgaria, as part of a
Justice Initiative-led project to design practical tools for measuring
and countering ethnic profiling by police.

More on the project

Prosecutorial Strategy in International and Hybrid Criminal Tribunals
The Justice Initiative worked in March-May with the International
Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and the
Special Court for Sierra Leone, to provide advice and recommendations on
prosecution, investigation, indictment, brief-writing, trial, and appeal
strategies. The Justice Initiative will remain intimately involved with
each of these tribunals.

Justice Initiative international tribunals page

UN Human Rights Committee Finds Angola Infringed Free Speech
The UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) ruled on March 29 that Angola
violated the freedom of expression and the rights of a journalist who
was imprisoned for criticizing the country's president. Rafael Marques
de Morais was arrested in Luanda, on October 16, 1999, following the
publication in the Agora newspaper of remarks by him about Angolan
President José Eduardo dos Santos. Marques said that the President was
"accountable for the promotion of incompetence, embezzlement and
corruption." Marques was detained for forty days without charges, ten of
them incommunicado. The HRC petition was filed by the Justice Initiative
and Interights.

Justice Initiative litigation

Mexican Government Grants Two New Community Radio Licenses
In May, the Mexican government granted another two licenses to community
radio stations, bringing the total number of licenses secured by
AMARC-Mexico, with Justice Initiative legal assistance, to nine. The two
recent licenses were particularly important given that the stations in
question have a history of harassment by police and regulators. The nine
are the first licenses issued for community radio stations in Mexico in
forty years.

Freedom of Expression

East Africa Workshop for Legal Clinicians
The Justice Initiative co-organized, with the Legal Aid Centre of the
Ugandan Law Development Centre, an East Africa Teacher Training Workshop
in Entebbe, Uganda, on May 18-22. Invitees included clinicians from
Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda. The workshop
covered general lawyering skills: interviewing and counseling, general
and special legal writing skills, alternative dispute resolution, trial
preparation, and advocacy skills.

Legal capacity development

Nigeria Says Taylor Cannot Stay if Asylum Terms Violated
Speaking at the UN on May 18 at a meeting organized by the Justice
Initiative, a representative of Nigeria's government said that indicted
war criminal and former Liberian president Charles Taylor cannot remain
in Nigeria if he is shown to have interfered in Liberian and regional
politics. According to Okon Efiong Isong of Nigeria's United Nations
Mission, "If the government is convinced that Taylor has violated his
terms of asylum, then you can be sure—the world community can be
sure—that Mr. Taylor cannot take cover in Nigeria." The intervention
followed the launch of a report by the Coalition for International
Justice that says Taylor is still active from his exile in Calabar,

Justice Initiative litigation against Charles Taylor

Romania Reforms Advertising Law to Protect Media Freedom
Romania took an important step toward greater transparency of government
advertising with public spending reforms announced on May 18. The
amendments are designed to curb official interference with editorial
independence by means of actual or threatened withdrawal of public
advertising. The reforms were first advocated by the Justice Initiative
and the Bucharest-based Center for Independent Journalism, and developed
in consultation with other media freedom groups.

Press announcement

Monitoring Profiling in the Moscow Metro
On May 16, the Justice Initiative, together with Jurix, a Russian NGO,
organized a small meeting of Russian criminologists and other social
scientists, together with Dr. John Lamberth, an international expert on
ethnic profiling. The Moscow meeting discussed statistical methodologies
for monitoring ethnic bias by police in stops undertaken in the Moscow
metro. The first monitors were trained on May 21.

Strasbourg Court to Hear Roma School Segregation Complaint
Five years after the application was filed, the European Court of Human
Rights agreed in May to hear the case of D.H. and Others v. the Czech
Republic—involving racial segregation in Czech schools. This is the
first significant challenge to systemic discriminatory education of
Romani children to come before the Court. The decision moves the
litigation to its central stage: consideration on the merits of whether
assignment of disproportionate numbers of Romani children to
substandard, separate schools constitutes racial discrimination in
breach of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Justice Initiative litigation

Justice Initiative Freedom of Information Delegation Meets Chilean
Senators, Civil Society
A Justice Initiative-led delegation traveled to Chile on May 1-4, to
contribute to the drafting of freedom of information (FOI) legislation.
Joined by the Chilean FOI group ProAcceso, the delegation discussed a
draft FOI law with civil society groups and think tanks, held a
roundtable in the Library of Congress attended by 150 civil society,
academic, and government representatives, and addressed the senate in

Freedom of Information page

Open Statement to African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
The Justice Initiative issued an open letter on statelessness,
discrimination, and denationalization at the 37th Ordinary Session of
the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, held in Banjul,
Gambia, from April 27 to May 11, 2005. The statement recognizes
denationalization—i.e., depriving an individual of legal nationality—as
a severe attack on human rights and calls on the African Commission, the
African Union, and African governments to develop tools to monitor
discrimination and denationalization and to unequivocally condemn
discrimination, denationalization, and statelessness.

Open statement

Nigerian FOI Bill Receives Widespread Support at Senate Public Hearing
A Justice Initiative-supported senate hearing on Nigeria's pending
freedom of information bill, held in Abuja on April 26, was widely
attended by business interests, trade unions, academics, religious
bodies, the media, the legal profession, the civil service, and human
rights groups, who expressed support for the Bill and urged the Senate
to pass it quickly.

Press about the event

Police-Citizen Cooperation Works in Peru, UN Congress Told
An experiment to enhance multi-sectoral cooperation for crime
prevention, including bringing police and communities closer together,
has led to reduced crime and an increased sense of public security in
just over a year. These are the early results from a project launched by
the Justice Initiative and its Peruvian partner, Instituto de Defensa
Legal, presented at the Eleventh United Nations Congress on Crime
Prevention and Criminal Justice in Bangkok on April 23. Residents
surveyed in the pilot district of Chilca, Peru, were more likely to feel
safe than before the project began, up from 36 percent to 49 percent.

UN presentation

Charter on Transparency in International Financial Institutions
On April 20-21, the Justice Initiative hosted an expert meeting of civil
society and IFI representatives in New York to develop a Charter for
Transparency in International Financial Institutions (IFIs), working
with the Bank Information Center and Article 19. The Charter recommends
reform of IFI disclosure policies into proper access to information

Meeting report

Macedonian FOI Law Amended in Line with International Standards
On April 19-20, at a roundtable organized in Skopje, Macedonia, by Pro
Media, an expert from the International Senior Lawyers Project presented
Justice Initiative comments on a draft FOI law to the Ministry of
Justice. The law, due for parliamentary consideration in coming weeks,
now includes these as well as earlier Justice Initiative
recommendations, including a duty to assist requestors and a single
consolidated article listing exemptions. The law also mandates
information disclosure from all bodies performing public functions.

Comment on the draft Macedonian law

Council Of Europe Urged to Adopt Access to Information Treaty
Sixteen European civil society organizations joined the Justice
Initiative in a letter sent on April 16, calling on the Council of
Europe to adopt a new binding instrument entrenching the right to access
information throughout Europe. The Council of Europe has since mandated
a working group to present by April 2006 an outline of the proposed

Letter to Council of Europe

Myths of Pretrial Detention in Mexico (English version)
The Justice Initiative released on April 13 the English language edition
of a study on pretrial detention in Mexico, which finds that the number
of people imprisoned before trial in Mexico doubled in ten years without
any discernible impact on crime rates or the public's sense of security.
The paper is available in

English and Spanish
Justice Initiative publications

Inter-American Court Should Affirm Right to Nationality without
In an amicus brief filed on April 12, the Justice Initiative requested
the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to uphold the international
prohibition on racial discrimination in access to nationality in a
landmark case currently before the Court. The case, Dilcia Yean and
Violeta Bosico v. Dominican Republic, involves two girls born in the
Dominican Republic to women of Haitian descent. The girls were denied
Dominican nationality despite the fact that the Dominican Constitution
guarantees nationality to all born in the country.

IACHR amicus curiae brief

Ukrainian Legal Clinicians visit Polish Clinics
Together with the Polish Legal Clinics Foundation, the Justice
Initiative facilitated a study visit for seven legal clinicians from
Ukraine to clinical programs in Polish universities in Warsaw, Krakow,
and Byalystok. The visitors witnessed techniques in clinical management,
curricula formulation, case selection, legal representation, and other
areas where Ukrainian clinics can learn from Polish experience.

Support for Cambodian Tribunal Ahead of Donor Conference
Securing international funding for Cambodia's Khmer Rouge Tribunal is
crucial to ending impunity and bringing justice to the country's people,
said Japan's Ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. Toshiro Ozawa, at a
discussion in New York organized on March 23 by the Justice Initiative.
Ambassador Ozawa spoke at the launch of After the Killing Fields:
Lessons from the Cambodian Genocide, a new book by Cambodia expert Craig
Etcheson. The event came just days before a UN conference to raise funds
to establish the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Press release
Book launch announcement

Juvenile Rights Clinics Meeting in Budapest
On March 18-19, the Justice Initiative co-organized with the Public
Interest Law Initiative the First Juvenile Rights Clinics Meeting in
Budapest, Hungary. Invitees included clinicians from the University of
West Timisoara (Romania) and the University of Lodz (Poland). An
overview of juvenile rights protection measures in Europe complemented
the workshop's focus on specialized children's rights clinical programs.

Open Letter: Urgent Need for Effective UN Resolution on Darfur
The Justice Initiative and seven other human rights organizations sent
an open letter to the UN Secretary-General and the members of the UN
Security Council on March 18, urging a robust resolution on Darfur. The
groups also put forward a draft resolution for the Security Council's
consideration, strengthened with a view to ending the cycle of violence
and impunity in Darfur.

Open letter and proposed draft resolution

This announcement is available online at: 


The Open Society Justice Initiative, an operational program of the Open
Society Institute (OSI), pursues law reform activities grounded in the
protection of human rights, and contributes to the development of legal
capacity for open societies worldwide. The Justice Initiative combines
litigation, legal advocacy, technical assistance, and the dissemination
of knowledge to secure advances in five priority areas: national
criminal justice, international justice, freedom of information and
expression, equality and citizenship, and anticorruption. Its offices
are in Abuja, Budapest, and New York. 


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