MINELRES: Justice Initiative Activities Roundup: May through July 2006

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Fri Aug 11 10:01:28 2006


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ACTIVITIES ROUNDUP: MAY – JULY 2006


JULY

Ta Mok’s Death Underscores Need for Prompt Khmer Rouge Trials

The death on July 21 of Ta Mok, the notorious “butcher” of Cambodia’s
killing fields, highlights the urgency of effective prosecutions by the
Extraordinary Chambers, the fledging war crimes court which launched
operations this month in Phnom Penh to try the senior leaders and those
most responsible for Khmer Rouge crimes, the Open Society Justice
Initiative said in a statement released July 24. Click here to read to
full statement
http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103311


Europe’s Highest Court to Hear Landmark Segregation Case

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights announced July
14 that it has agreed to review an appeal by eighteen Romani children
forced to attend segregated schools in the Czech Republic. The Grand
Chamber traditionally reviews only a small proportion of judgments by
the Court’s ordinary chambers that are considered to have significant
precedential value. The decision to accept referral of the Czech case,
D.H. and Others v. the Czech Republic, gives the continent’s supreme
judicial body one last chance to make clear that racial segregation has
no place in 21st century Europe. The case is being pursued jointly by
the Justice Initiative and the European Roma Rights Centre. 
More: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103304


Legal Profession Reform Proposals for Tajikistan

The Open Society Justice Initiative presented a series of
recommendations for reforming the legal profession in Tajikistan during
a meeting of law reform experts in Dushanbe on July 20. The objective of
the meeting was to discuss challenges facing the legal profession in
Tajikistan and to establish a reform agenda aimed at ensuring citizens’
access to qualified legal assistance in accordance with both the
country’s constitution and international standards on regulating the
legal profession. Titled “Problems of the Legal Profession and Reform of
the Bar in the Context of Judicial Reforms in Tajikistan,” the meeting
was organized by the Open Society Justice Initiative and Open Society
Institute Assistance Foundation Tajikistan in cooperation with the
American Bar Association’s Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative
(ABA CEELI) and attended by lawyers, Ministry of Justice
representatives, criminal justice officials and NGOs. 
More: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103303
 

Experts Discuss Balancing Freedom and Security in the “War on Terror”

On July 13, the Justice Initiative and the Open Society Institute’s U.S.
Justice Fund hosted a panel discussion, “Protecting Fundamental Rights
in the ‘War on Terror’:
Perspectives from the United States and Europe,” featuring Roger Errera,
a former senior member of the Conseil d’Etat, France’s Supreme Court for
administrative law, and Michael Ratner, president of the Center for
Constitutional Rights, a nonprofit human rights organization at the
forefront of defending civil liberties in the United States. Click here
for the audio file:
http://www.soros.org/initiatives/justice/events/protecting_20060713


Justice Initiative Condemns Human Rights Crackdown in Nigeria

The Open Society Justice Initiative on July 13 denounced a police
crackdown on a meeting of human rights activists in Abuja and the
threatened arrest of meeting organizers. The meeting, termed a “People’s
Tribunal,” was organized by Nigerian human rights NGOs to protest the
recent removal of Bukhari Bello as head of Nigeria’s National Human
Rights Commission (NHRC)—a move interpreted by the NGOs as a direct
assault on the independence of that body. The activists were to meet at
a hotel in Abuja, but arrived to find it sealed off by police and
members of the State Security Service (SSS). The police and SSS beat a
group of activists who entered the hotel and forcibly dispersed the
rest. 
More: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103294


Rights Organizations Condemn Roma Evictions

The Open Society Justice Initiative and the European Roma Rights Centre
condemned the forced eviction and destruction of homes belonging to more
than 200 Roma, including over 100 children, in the village of Dorozhnoe,
in Russia’s Kaliningrad region. From May 29 to June 2, authorities
bulldozed 37 houses belonging to Roma families and set fire to the
ruins. The destruction followed flawed proceedings in the Russian courts
that denied the Roma fundamental due process. 
More: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103274


JUNE

Justice Initiative Calls for a Fair Trial in Kyrgyzstan

On June 30, the Justice Initiative released a statement calling for a
fair trial for Zulkhumor Tokhtanozarova, a woman in Kyrgyzstan who has
made serious allegations of torture against authorities there. The
Justice Initiative is concerned that the current prosecution is aimed at
silencing her. Click here to read the statement:
http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103263


Op-Ed: “Ethnic Profiling Fails Europe”

In this op-ed, published in the International Herald Tribune on June 29,
James A. Goldston and Rachel Neild of the Justice Initiative argue that
ethnic profiling in Europe undermines rather than furthers the ability
of police to detect crime and halt terrorist violence. Click here to
read the op-ed:
http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103265


African Meeting Looks at Citizenship and Accountability

The Justice Initiative joined a meeting of African civil society groups
in Banjul, the Gambia, on June 26-28 to discuss means of improving
African Union member states’ compliance with AU treaties. The Justice
Initiative argued for greater self-scrutiny by AU members in the areas
of freedom of expression, citizenship and discrimination, and proposed a
new AU treaty to strengthen the right to citizenship.


Op-Ed: “Judgment in Phnom Penh”

In an op-ed published by Project Syndicate on June 26, Dina Nay, a
survivor of the Khmer Rouge killing fields and the executive director of
the Khmer Institute of Democracy, and James A. Goldston, executive
director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, hail the upcoming
arrival of judges at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of
Cambodia (ECCC), the court that will try those responsible for
Cambodia’s “killing fields.” However, they also note that the tribunal
faces many major challenges that must be addressed. Click here to read
the op-ed: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103262

  
Justice Initiative Trains Lawyers in Combating Torture

Twenty lawyers from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan
joined international human rights law experts this week for a practical
seminar on strategic litigation to combat torture and ill-treatment. The
training, which took place in Almaty, Kazakhstan on June 23-25, was
organized by the Open Society Justice Initiative. This is the second
seminar for lawyers from Central Asia focused on litigating torture
cases. Torture is widely used in Central Asia to obtain confessions used
as evidence in criminal proceedings. 
More: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103257  


Experts on Pretrial Detention Gather in Mexico

On June 21 and 22, the Justice Initiative hosted “Lasting Change in
Pretrial Detention: Recent Experiences in a Global Context,” a two-day
workshop in Monterrey, Mexico that brought together criminal justice
practitioners and researchers from eight countries to compare strategies
and lessons learned from their efforts to reform pretrial detention
practices. 
More: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103255


Groundbreaking Study Finds Massive Ethnic Profiling by Moscow Police 

On June 13 the Justice Initiative and JURIX, a Moscow-based
constitutional law NGO, released Ethnic Profiling in the Moscow Metro, a
groundbreaking report which found  that riders on the Moscow Metro who
appear non-Slavic are over twenty times more likely to be stopped by
police than those who look Slavic. Riders who appear non-Slavic make up
less than five percent of all Moscow Metro patrons but account for over
half of all people stopped by the Moscow Metro police. The report’s
conclusions were subsequently covered in The New York Times, The
Washington Post, the BBC, the Independent, and other major international
and Russia media. On June 14 the Justice Initiative joined Amnesty
International, the European Roma Rights Centre, and Open Society
Institute-Brussels, in a briefing for Brussels-based Russia experts on
racism in Russia. Click here to read more and download the report:
http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103244


Ukraine President Approves Concept Paper for Improving Legal Aid 

On June 9, Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko approved the Concept
Paper on Reforming the Legal Aid System in Ukraine, a blueprint for a
nationwide system of quality free legal assistance for indigent persons.
The concept paper was developed through a partnership among the
International Renaissance Foundation, Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice, the
Center for Political and Legal Reforms, the Ukrainian Bar Association,
and the Justice Initiative. 
More: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103321


Executive Director Addresses European Parliament’s Anti-Racism Group

Open Society Justice Initiative Executive Director James A. Goldston
addressed the European Parliament’s Seminar on Counter-Terrorism and
Ethnic Profiling in Brussels on June 6. The seminar, organized by the
European Parliament’s Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI) and
the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), focused on the importance of
ensuring that counter-terrorism activities do not infringe on
fundamental rights and civil liberties, including the prohibition
against racial and ethnic discrimination. Goldston’s presentation,
“Ethnic Profiling and Counter-Terrorism: Trends, Dangers and
Alternatives,” (click here to read it:
http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103239) draws on
the Justice Initiative’s extensive work on ethnic profiling.


Nigerian States Agree to Implement New Database

Working with the Justice Initiative, the Nigerian states of Imo and
Sokoto agreed in June to begin using the Criminal Justice Information
Management System (CRIMSYS), an electronic database that will make it
easier to track prisoners through the criminal justice system. Imo and
Sokoto will begin using the system, which is expected to reduce the use
of pretrial detention, in August. 


Justice Initiative Hosts Prosecutor of Special Court for Sierra Leone

On June 2, the Justice Initiative welcomed Desmond DeSilva, outgoing
prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and his Special
Assistant, Harpinder Athwal, as they briefed New York and
Washington-based NGOs on the Court’s progress in the wake of the recent
arrest of former Liberian president and alleged warlord, Charles
Taylor.  DeSilva also highlighted the need for additional funding for
the Court, which is dependent on voluntary contributions for its
continued operations. 


Justice Initiative Training in Malaysia Leads to New Legal Clinics

Three universities in Malaysia announced in June they would open new
legal clinics, providing increased learning opportunities for law
students and expanded legal services in the schools’ communities. The
announcement followed a training on clinical legal education held in
Kuala Lumpur that was co-organized by the Justice Initiative. 


MAY

Suits Fight Denationalization in Africa 

In May, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights registered
two cases brought by the Justice Initiative to stop discriminatory
denationalization in Cote d’Ivoire and denial of citizenship in Kenya.
Justice Initiative v. Cote D’Ivoire seeks to stop the denationalization
and discriminatory denial of identity cards to people perceived as being
from the northern part of the country. Those without identity cards can
be denied access to education, housing and other public services. The
other suit, The Nubian Community v. Kenya, challenges the denial of
Kenyan citizenship to over 100,000 Kenyan Nubians—a group of people
descended from Sudanese who were conscripted into the British colonial
armed forces and forcibly moved to Kenya. Despite having lived in Kenya
since 1920, the Kenyan Nubians are not recognized as Kenyan citizens and
as a consequence are denied basic rights, including the right to own the
land where they have lived for generations.


Defending a Roma Village against Bulldozers

The Justice Initiative filed a case with the European Court of Human
Rights in May, seeking to halt the destruction of Roma homes and forced
eviction of Roma citizens in Dorozhnoe, in the Kaliningrad region of
Russia. The case, Bagdonavichus and Others v. Russia, seeks to stop the
bulldozing of the homes of Roma who have lived there, many with legal
recognition of their residence, since 1965. In submitting an application
to the Court, the Justice Initiative noted that the local mayor was
elected on an anti-Roma platform, and that only Roma homes are being
destroyed.


Justice Initiative Addresses African Commission on Identity Documents

The Justice Initiative delivered a statement during the May 11-25
session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights decrying
discrimination in access to identity documents. Throughout Africa,
identity documents are required for access to social services, such as
education, or to vote, hold employment or own land. Yet as the statement
noted, these documents are often denied to members of minority ethnic
groups, rendering them de facto stateless.


Group of Interested States Briefed on Extraordinary Chambers
Developments

On May 23, the Justice Initiative, in collaboration with the
International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), briefed diplomats
in New York on developments with the Extraordinary Chambers in the
Courts of Cambodia. Presentations addressed progress in developing court
infrastructure as well as ongoing challenges in ensuring public access
and outreach, clear procedural rules, adequate participation by
international defense counsel, and a positive legacy.   


Angolan Lawyers Study Clinical Program in Mozambique

Working with the Angola office of Open Society Institute - South Africa
and Eduardo Mondlane University (EMU), the Justice Initiative organized
a study visit by Angolan lawyers to Mozambique focused on
university-based clinical legal education. From May 18-20, the Angolan
delegation studied the clinical program at EMU for possible replication
in Angola, and also met with representatives of the Mozambique League
for Human Rights and the Mozambique Bar Association.

Justice Initiatives: The Extraordinary Chambers Launched in Khmer

On May 15 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the Justice Initiative released the
most recent version of its journal, Justice Initiatives, in Khmer, the
Cambodian national language. The 175-page publication provides a
comprehensive analysis of the ECCC—both its promise and potential
pitfalls. This is the first time that the Justice Initiative has
translated and circulated its journal in a local language, as part of
its broader effort to ensure the Justice Initiative’s work is accessible
and relevant to people in the countries in which it works. Held at the
Cambodiana Hotel on the Tonle Sap River, the event drew Cambodian judges
and prosecutors from both Phnom Penh and from the Cambodian provinces,
including some named to serve on the ECCC. They were joined by
diplomats, NGO activists, students and local and international media.
Click here to download either the Khmer or the English edition of
Justice Initiatives: The Extraordinary Chambers -
http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103182


Advocates for the Stateless Interviewed on NPR

Julia Harrington, the Justice Initiative’s senior legal officer for
Equality and Citizenship, was joined by two advocates for the stateless,
Adam Hussein Adam and Naw Htoo Paw, in an interview with the New York
City affiliate of National Public Radio on May 11.  Appearing on the
segment Underreported, the three explained the problem of statelessness
and its global scope. Adam, a Kenyan Nubian, and Paw, a member of the
Karen ethnic group in Burma, provided personal accounts of what it means
to be stateless. Click here to hear the interview:
http://www.wnyc.org/shows/lopate/episodes/2006/05/11


Conference and Public Forum on Statelessness

On May 8-9, the Justice Initiative joined the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights and the Commission on Human Security to
convene a conference on “Human Rights and Legal Identity: Approaches to
Combating Statelessness and Arbitrary Deprivation of Nationality.” The
meeting explored the causes of and potential remedies for statelessness
and the arbitrary deprivation of nationality. Participants included
grassroots and national-level statelessness advocates from Asia, Europe,
Africa and the Americas; representatives from international human rights
organizations and UN agencies; and international law experts. Following
the conference, a forum on statelessness, open to the public, was held
at the Justice Initiative’s New York office.. Titled “In Transit to
Nowhere: Personal Accounts of Statelessness in the 21st Century,” the
event featured testimony by stateless people from Kenya, Burma,
Bangladesh, and the Dominican Republic. 
More: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/statelessness_meeting
 

Justice Initiative Hails Announcement of Judges for Khmer Rouge
Tribunal, but Notes that Unmet Needs Remain

The appointment of judges and prosecutors to the ECCC on May 4 was
hailed as a major step toward establishing the court that will try the
architects of Cambodia's "killing fields." While noting this important
advance, the Justice Initiative also released a memorandum identifying
11 needs that must be addressed for the ECCC to function efficiently and
fairly, including: funding for the training of judges; the protection
of, and psychological support for, victims and witnesses; outreach
activities to keep Cambodians informed of the court's work; and the
development of internal regulations based in Cambodian procedural law
and consistent with fair trial guarantees. 
More: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103198


Freedom of Information Bill Advances in Nigeria

The drive for passage of a Freedom of Information law in Nigeria took an
important step forward on May 3 with a Senate hearing on the bill.
Passage of the bill, which is being promoted by the Justice Initiative
and other civil society organizations, would enshrine in Nigerian law
citizens’ right to access information held by public bodies. 

The URL for this page is:
http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103322 

___________________ 

The Open Society Justice Initiative, an operational program of the Open
Society Institute, 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 the following priority areas:
national criminal justice, international justice, freedom of information
and expression, and equality and citizenship. Its offices are in Abuja,
Budapest, and New York. 

www.justiceinitiative.org

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