MINELRES: Justice Initiative Activities Round-Up: January Through April, 2006

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Wed May 10 19:42:03 2006

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January through April, 2006


Justice Initiative Holds Cambodia Briefing

A colloquium on the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
brought together legal experts and Khmer Rouge survivors on April 21 in
New York to discuss the upcoming trials of Khmer Rouge leaders.
Organized by the Justice Initiative, the event featured Diane
Orentlicher, a leading expert on international justice and a Justice
Initiative board member; David Scheffer, former United States ambassador
at large for war crimes issues; Socheata Poeuv, a documentary filmmaker;
and Widhya Chem, Cambodia’s ambassador to the UN.  
Khmer Rouge Tribunal page:

New Publication Offers Expert Viewpoints on Khmer Rouge Trial
On April 20, the Justice Initiative released the most recent issue of
its journal, Justice Initiatives, devoted to a comprehensive analysis of
the Khmer Rouge tribunal. The 160-page publication provides multiple
perspectives on the tribunal—officially known as the Extraordinary
Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia—that is set to try the perpetrators
of Khmer Rouge atrocities. 
More: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103186

Op-ed: "Last chance to try the Khmer Rouge"
In this commentary published in the International Herald Tribune on
April 13, Justice Initiative board member Diane Orentlicher and noted
First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams argue that despite its flaws, the
Extraordinary Chambers must go ahead with the trial of Khmer Rouge
More: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103179

Nigeria Police Hold First Meeting with Civil Society Organizations 
Nigeria’s Police Service Commission (PSC) held its first official joint
advisory committee meeting with civil society organizations on April 11,
marking an important step forward in increasing police transparency.
Civil society organizations including the Justice Initiative used the
inaugural meeting to recommend that the PSC be authorized to investigate
extrajudicial killings, torture and rape allegedly committed by police
in Nigeria. National Criminal Justice Reform page:

Justice Initiative Convenes Meeting with European Court of Human Rights
On April 10, the Justice Initiative joined the Registry of the European
Court of Human Rights in convening an all-day discussion in Strasbourg
among Court officials and lawyers and NGOs frequently involved in
litigation before the Court. The discussion addressed issues including
the entry into force of Protocol No. 14, requests for interim measures,
and third party intervention in proceedings before the Court. 

Security Council Must Address Costs of Moving Taylor Trial to the Hague 
If the war crimes trial of Liberia's ex-president Charles Taylor is
moved from Sierra Leone to The Hague, the international community must
shoulder the increased financial costs and address the likely negative
impacts for Taylor's victims, the Justice Initiative warned in a
statement issued on April 4. The extra costs of holding Taylor's trial
in The Hague would include: the need to relocate judges, prosecutors and
court staff; the need to transport witnesses and victims, many of whom
are physically disabled and psychologically traumatized; the
impossibility for a significant number of Sierra Leoneans to be
physically present in the courtroom; the diluted impact of the trial on
political leaders and the general public in West Africa; the difficulty
for Mano River Union media to cover the proceedings; and the risk that
the move might delay and/or prolong the trial.  
More: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103165

Hate Speech Conference at Central European University
Free speech, human rights and minority group activists engaged in lively
debate with academics, media professionals, ambassadors and
representatives of international organizations at a conference on hate
speech in Budapest on March 31-April 1.  The conference, held at Central
European University and co-organized by the Justice Initiative, examined
hate speech in more than a dozen countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle
East and North America. Topics included broadcasting regulation, cyber
hate speech, alternative/additional measures to criminalization,
anti-Roma expression, advocacy of terrorism, cartoons, and incitement by
religious leaders. Papers can be read at
http://www.cmcs.ceu.hu:8080/cmcs/Conferences/hatespeech and will be
published by the end of the year.  
Freedom of Expression page:

Community Prosecution Working Group Launched in Georgia
In early April, the Justice Initiative, the Open Society Georgia
Foundation, and the Office of the Prosecutor-General of Georgia formed a
working group to implement a community prosecution pilot project in
Georgia. The working group will guide implementation of the pilot
project and will develop community prosecution policy for the Office of
the Prosecutor-General. 
National Criminal Justice Reform page:


Justice Initiative Joins Landmark Access to Information Case 
The Justice Initiative and four other organizations filed an amicus
brief in the case of Marcel Claude Reyes and Others v. Chile on March 30
with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, seeking to establish that
the American Convention on Human Rights guarantees a right of access to
information held by public bodies. 
More: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103162

Human Rights Organizations Call for Dissemination of East Timor Report
In a letter sent to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on March
24, the Justice Initiative joined with nine other human rights
organizations in requesting dissemination within the UN of a report by
the Commission for Reception, Truth, and Reconciliation in Timor-Leste
(CAVR). The CAVR report, which documents human rights abuses in East
Timor in 1999, should be referred to the Security Council, the General
Assembly and other UN bodies, according to the rights organizations. 
More: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103156

Ukraine: Legal Aid Reform Approved
A concept paper setting forth recommendations for reforming Ukraine’s
legal aid system was approved by the National Commission on
Strengthening Democracy and Asserting the Rule of Law on March 22 and
sent to President Victor Yushchenko to be signed. The concept
paper—developed by a coalition of groups including the Justice
Initiative—establishes the foundation of a new legal aid system that
will provide access to counsel for indigent Ukrainians. 
Legal Aid Reform Page:

Justice Initiative Lauds UN’s Selection Process for Extraordinary
Chambers Judicial Nominees
On March 13, the Justice Initiative issued a statement praising the
selection process used by the United Nations in nominating a group of
international legal experts to serve in the Extraordinary Chambers in
the Courts of Cambodia.  
More: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103179#more

Nigerian Law Professors Approve Model Legal Clinics Curriculum
On March 18, the Network of University Legal Aid Institutions (NULAI)
and representatives from four pilot legal clinics in Nigeria met and
approved a model legal clinics curriculum. The new curriculum is
expected to become the standard for all university legal clinics in
Legal Capacity Development page:

Freedom of Information Advocates Gather in Lima 
The Latin America Regional Meeting on Access to Information took place
on March 6-7 in Lima, Peru, organized by the Justice Initiative and
partner organization Institute on Press and Society (IPYS). More than 50
judges, lawyers and activists from 15 countries in Central and South
America, as well as international organizations including Article 19 and
the World Bank Institute, participated. Advocates exchanged lessons
learned—which will be included in a Justice Initiative publication
scheduled for 2007—on strategies and tactics for encouraging public
bodies to respond to information requests.  
Freedom of Information page:

Paralegals Trained in Mongolia
>From February 27 through March 4, the Mongolian Ministry of Justice and
Home Affairs, in partnership with the Mongolian Open Society-Forum and
the Justice Initiative, held the first-ever training for paralegals in
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.  The 30 attendees received training in law and
human rights to help them better provide legal advice to impoverished
clients. A follow-up training will take place in September, 2006.  
Legal Aid Reform page:


Statelessness of Kenyan Nubians Documented
>From February 6 to 11 in Nairobi, Justice Initiative staff gathered over
30 notarized affidavits documenting the Kenyan government’s denial of
citizenship from members of the Kenyan Nubian community. The Kenyan
Nubians are descendants of Sudanese soldiers conscripted into the
British colonial army and settled in Kenya who are still not regarded as
full citizens by the Kenyan government. The affidavits will serve as
evidence in a lawsuit being prepared for possible filing with the
African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, alleging discrimination
and numerous consequent rights violations. The Justice Initiative, the
Centre for Minority Rights and Development (CEMERIDE) and the
Banjul-based Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa will
serve as joint counsel.  
Equality and Citizenship page:

Mexican Delegation Visits U.S. Pretrial Services Centers
The Justice Initiative hosted a visit on February 6 to 10 from Mexican
partner organization Renace, which works on bail-related reforms. To
learn more about U.S. bail supervision practices and pretrial detention
services, the Renace delegation met with organizations including the
Pretrial Resource Center in Washington DC and the Bronx Defenders in New
National Criminal Justice Reform page:

European Court Fails to Find Czech Roma Children Victims of Racial
In a case that could be referred to the Grand Chamber, the European
Court of Human Rights ruled on February 7 against 18 Roma children who
had been forced to attend segregated schools in the Czech Republic. The
decision marks a step backwards in the larger movement to expand the
reach of human rights law. "The judgment's narrow conception of
discrimination is at odds with developments in much of Europe and the
world," said James A. Goldston, executive director of the Justice
Initiative and counsel in the case. "The Strasbourg Court has missed a
golden opportunity to advance the cause of human rights."  
More: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103096

OSI Forum: Darfur—Assault on Survival
On February 9, the Justice Initiative and Physicians for Human Rights
(PHR) sponsored a panel on PHR's new report Darfur: Assault on Survival.
The report discusses the destruction of lives and livelihoods in three
villages in Darfur.. During trips to the region between May 2004 and
July 2005, investigators randomly surveyed dozens of survivors from the
villages of Furawiya, Bendisi, and Terbeba and documented—with hundreds
of photographic images as well as hand-drawn maps—compelling evidence of
a destroyed way of life and means of survival that PHR has assessed as
More: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103096

Justice Initiative Files Turkmenistan Torture Case
In February, the Justice Initiative filed an individual complaint with
the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture on behalf of a former cabinet
minister in the Turkmenistan government whose popularity made him a
potential threat to the president. The complaintant, who was detained
without warrant on January 30, 2002, has been tortured and subjected to
varying degrees of ill-treatment. Since his arrest he has reportedly
suffered two heart attacks and a stroke which left him partially
paralyzed, but has been routinely denied medical treatment.  


Cambodia Criminal Defamation Letter
In January a number of Phnom Penh-based international human rights
officials invited the Justice Initiative to analyze the defamation
provisions of Cambodia’s draft penal code. In a January 31, 2006 letter,
the Justice Initiative described the dangers of criminalizing
defamation, and mapped other serious flaws in the insult and defamation
chapter of the bill. The provisions remain under discussion by the
government in Phnom Penh.
Freedom of Expression page:

Human Rights Fellows Gather for Training in Cairo
The Justice Initiative and the American University in Cairo, along with
six partner organizations, held the Open Society Institute
(OSI)–Supported Human Rights Fellows Retreat in Cairo on January 26-28.
The event brought together over 125 present and former Justice
Initiative fellows and recipients of OSI scholarships who engage in
human rights work in different parts of the world. The gathering enabled
participants to develop and strengthen working relations with each other
and sharpen their management, communication and fundraising skills.  
More: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103072

Free Speech Coalition Meets in Santiago
The Latin American Free Speech Coalition met in Santiago, Chile on
January 23-24 to address a number of pressing issues and build upon
recent court victories. The event, organized by the Justice Initiative,
Universidad Diego Portales and the Committee to Protect Journalists,
tackled a range of issues related to indirect/soft censorship, including
abuse of government advertising, pressures on media owners, and
concentration of ownership.  
Freedom of Expression page:

Justice Initiative Condemns Arrests of Human Rights Activists in Sudan 
In a statement issued on Janurary 22, the Justice Initiative condemned
the arrest of human rights and pro-democracy activists in Khartoum.
Approximately 30 activists, including eight foreign nationals, were
arrested by Sudanese security forces and interrogated for several hours
before being released. The activists were participating in a civil
society consultation on the crisis in Darfur organized in conjunction
with the Sixth African Union Summit of Heads of State and Government,
taking place in Khartoum.  
More: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=103071

Justice Initiative Advises Council of Europe on Access to Documents
The Justice Initiative was the only NGO participant in a Council of
Europe expert meeting on access to information convened in Strasbourg on
January 18-20. The meeting reached consensus on several points,
including that a future access to information treaty should be a binding
instrument with a regular monitoring mechanism, and that it should
establish a right of access to official documents. The treaty could be
completed by mid-2007, when it will be opened for ratification by
Council of Europe member states. 
Freedom of Information page:


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. 


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