MINELRES: Justice Initiative Activities Roundup, August - December 2005

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Justice Initiative Activities Roundup, August - December 2005 
Date: 10 January 2006 

Op-Ed: "Some Quiet Victories for Human Rights"
On December 22, the Justice Initiative published an article in the
International Herald Tribune which highlighted positive developments in
three significant court cases arising from human rights violations in
Bulgaria, the Dominican Republic and Nigeria.

Web Link: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103055

Justice Initiative reports on Financial Pressures and Indirect
Censorship of the Media
On December 12, the Justice Initiative and the Buenos Aires-based
Association for Civil Rights published Buying the News: A Report on
Financial and Indirect Censorship in Argentina. Indirect censorship and
government manipulation of the media is rampant in Argentina, and this
report exposed the many subtle yet powerful ways in which government
officials wield influence over Argentina's media?from the misuse of
government advertising to the exertion of private pressure on reporters
and editors. The report was released in conjunction with The Growing
Threat of Soft Censorship, a paper on the global threat of financial and
indirect restrictions on free expression. Coverage of the report was
extensive in the Argentine and international media, including the New
York Times and the Miami Herald.

Web Link: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103046

Khmer Rogue Tribunal in Cambodia
Throughout the period, the Justice Initiative closely monitored
developments relating to the establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers
of the Cambodian Courts (ECCC) (often referred to as the Khmer Rouge
Tribunal, or KRT) in Cambodia, and provided ongoing technical assistance
to various actors. In addition, it advocated specific steps in the
process of establishing the Tribunal.

     In July, the Justice Initiative posted an open letter on its
website encouraging civil society participation in the nomination
process for high level international positions at the KRT. Together with
the International Criminal Law Services Foundation, the Justice
Initiative compiled and provided to the UN a CD-ROM containing the
curricula vitae of hundreds of individuals interested in working with
the KRT, including many recommended by Cambodian activists and NGOs. 
     In August, the Justice Initiative publicly released an open memo
to the Group of Interested States on Cambodia about issues of crucial
importance to the success of the KRT. 
     In September and October, the Justice Initiative encouraged the
UN's Office of Legal Affairs to publish a short list of international
candidates before making a final selection. We also urged the Cambodian
government to do the same for Cambodian positions, and to make clear the
criteria to be employed in selections. 
     In late November, the UN posted on its website the names of
short-listed candidates for the positions of international judge,
investigating judge, and prosecutor and invited commentary and
information regarding the candidates?the first time it has ever done so
with regard to an international or hybrid tribunal. 

Web Link: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/activities/ij/krt

UN Urged to Adopt Comprehensive Approach to Statelessness
In November, the Justice Initiative submitted comments and
recommendations to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
regarding the right to nationality and the right to be free from
arbitrary deprivation of nationality enshrined in Article 15 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The submission described the
acute crisis of statelessness generated by state violations of clear
international legal prohibitions against discrimination, arbitrary
deprivation of citizenship, and statelessness. The Justice Initiative
urged the United Nations to develop a comprehensive strategy that
further integrates statelessness into its human rights protection

Web Link: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103042

Recommendations for an OAS Convention on Discrimination
In November, the Justice Initiative took part in a meeting of the OAS
Working Group to Prepare a Draft Inter-American Convention against
Racism and All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance. The presentation
distilled lessons from recent European experience and offered concrete

Web Link: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103024

Making Charles Taylor Accountable for War Crimes
On November 1, a Nigerian High Court dismissed the government's
objections to a lawsuit by two amputee victims of Charles Taylor's
armies which seeks to lift the Nigerian government's grant of asylum to
Taylor. The Justice Initiative was instrumental in launching this
litigation in 2004. The government served notice on November 30 of its
intent to appeal the ruling.

Web Links: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103009 

Racial Discrimination and the War on Terror
In October, the Justice Initiative contributed to a Council of Europe
seminar convened to commemorate the entry into force of Protocol No. 12
to the European Convention of Human Rights, which establishes an
independent non-discrimination guarantee. The presentation suggested how
the Protocol might address gaps in current law concerning the obligation
to combat racial discrimination while fighting terrorism.

Web Link: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103058

Campaign for Appointment of a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and
Standards for Citizen Security in the Americas
On October 14, the Justice Initiative and the Buenos Aires-based Center
for Legal and Social Studies (Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales,
CELS) testified before a special hearing of the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights urging the commission to prepare a thematic
report on the issue of human rights standards for citizen security. A
background briefing paper was presented to the commissioners. In
addition to the hearing, the campaign members met with IACHR Chairman
Clare Roberts, and Commissioner Paolo Sergio Pinheiro. The proposal was
favorably received and mentioned twice in the commission's press release
on the October sessions. Campaign members held additional meetings with
OAS Secretary General Insulza's chief of staff, Ricardo Dominguez,
representatives of the Inter-American Development Bank, USAID, the State
Department; the OAS Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Information,
and the Acting Director of the OAS Department of Multidimensional
Security and Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Committee against
Terrorism. In addition to its Latin American members, the campaign has
now been joined by Jamaicans for Justice.

Legal Aid Law Approved in Bulgaria
On October 4, the Bulgarian government confirmed unanimous passage of
the new Law on Legal Aid, a product of a partnership among the Open
Society Institute-Sofia, the Ministry of Justice, and the Justice
Initiative. The law, effective January 1, 2006, will restructure the
delivery, funding, and organization of legal aid in Bulgaria, and
extends the current scope of the criminal defense legal aid system to
include civil and administrative matters. Lawyers wishing to provide
publicly funded legal aid will have to apply for registration with the
National Legal Aid Bureau and will need to meet new standards
established under this legislation.

Web Link: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=102992

Justice Initiative Issues "Ten Principles on the Right to Know"
To mark September 28, the third annual "International Right to Know
Day," the Justice Initiative issued ten principles drawn from
international standards and good practice on freedom of information. The
principles combine both practical recommendations and core elements of
legal instruments.

Web Link: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/Principles/index

Advancing Pretrial Detention Experiences in a Global Context
On September 26-27, the Justice Initiative hosted a workshop in London,
to advance a common ability to diagnose problems in pretrial detention
and measure the impact of efforts to change practices. Workshop
participants included pretrial detention experts from Chile, India,
Malawi, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, and the United States.
Participants had very different experiences of trying to change the
practices or consequences of pretrial detention, and were able to
discuss the possible use of common denominators in the design and
evaluation of recent reform efforts. The Justice Initiative is
interested in strengthening the role that empirical and especially
experiential knowledge plays in designing reforms, and has commissioned
reports from participants to be published next year.

Web Link: http://dev.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103065

Report Identifies Tools for Attacking "Resource Curse" Corruption
In September, the Justice Initiative published Legal Remedies for the
Resource Curse: A Digest of Experience in Using Law to Combat Natural
Resource Corruption. Drawing upon numerous expert meetings and
consultations, the report assesses the availability of legal remedies
for addressing corrupt practices in the natural resource industries.
Focusing on litigation, the report reviews some of the main laws,
treaties, and other legal instruments used to combat natural resource
corruption, and provide case studies to demonstrate what has and has not
worked. Although corruption in transnational resource extraction is
generally subject to inadequate legal safeguards, the report identifies
opportunities for civil society action.

Web Link: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=102966

Joint Justice Initiative/African Commission Mission on Stateless
>From August 28 to September 4, the Justice Initiative organized an
African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights mission to settlements
in Senegal of Mauritanians expelled from their country in 1989. The
visit by the African Commission's Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum
Seekers, and Displaced People was a follow up to the commission's 2000
decision that the Mauritanians were arbitrarily denationalized, and
should have their nationality returned. The Special Rapporteur will
submit a report to the next session of the African Commission, and will
make recommendations to the African Union on how the problem may be
resolved. In October, the Justice Initiative supported a public appeal
by Mauritanian NGOs to the government to permit the safe return of all
those expelled.

Web Link: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103012

Op-ed: "Multiculturalism is Not the Culprit"
On August 30, the Justice Initiative stirred the growing debate about
race, crime, and policing which followed the July bombings in London by
publishing an op-ed in the International Herald Tribune. The article
responded to the commonly held view that "multiculturalism" somehow
bears responsibility for the disaffection among certain Muslim youth
that may have helped create a fertile environment for terrorist
recruiting. The article suggested that, rather than less
multiculturalism, what is needed in many European countries is the
development and effective enforcement of anti-discrimination laws.

Web Link: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=102948

Seeking Angolan Government Accountability for Freedom of Expression
Working with the human rights NGO Interights, the Justice Initiative
wrote a letter on August 29 to Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos
asking him to comply with the March 2005 UN Human Rights Committee
ruling that the dos Santos government had violated the freedom of
expression rights of Angolan journalists Rafael Marques. Marques was
arrested in October 1999 and imprisoned for 40 days without charges
following publication of an article in which he said the president was
accountable for corruption and embezzlement. The August letter, along
with a statement from the Justice Initiative and Interights, was
translated into Portuguese and distributed widely throughout the media.

Web Link: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=102944

Official Support for Juvenile Justice in Kazakhstan
A joint Soros Foundation Kazakhstan-Justice Initiative project on
juvenile justice prompted President Nazarbaev to place juvenile justice
formally on his government's reform agenda in June.  President Nazarbaev
made additional statements in support of juvenile justice in July and
August.  At a roundtable convened by the project (and supported by the
OSCE/ODIHR) in July, the chair of the Supreme Court endorsed the
creation of a comprehensive juvenile justice system. On August 25, the
project director was featured in a five minute interview that aired on
Caspionet, the national television channel that provides coverage of the
president and governance issues.

Web Link:

Central Asian Attorneys Prepare to Challenge Torture
The Justice Initiative held a seminar on August 6-8 in Almaty,
Kazakhstan, to help lawyers devise legal strategies to fight torture.
Program staff helped attorneys from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan,
and Kazakhstan develop current cases and future projects. The meeting
resulted in a core group of attorneys committed to undertaking torture
litigation, and a litigation strategy for the project.

Web Link: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=102932

Pretrial Detention Training Seminar in Mexico
On August 5, the Justice Initiative convened a three-part training
seminar on pretrial detention in the Mexican states of Aguascalientes
and Zacatecas. This interactive seminar series sought to provide
specialized training to justice sector actors who interact with pretrial
detainees to encourage compliance with international and domestic legal
norms. The activities included lectures on how to analyze successful
pretrial services and bail supervision models in other parts of the
world, and the policy implications of the costs and the impact "myths"
of pretrial detention in Mexico.

Web Link: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=102872

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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 program areas: national criminal
justice, international justice, freedom of information and expression,
equality and citizenship, and legal capacity development. Its offices
are in Abuja, Budapest, and New York. 


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