International Human Rights Clinic -- Significant Accomplishments

The International Human Rights Clinic started in January 2013. The International Human Rights Clinic works with non-governmental organi- zations and individuals to design and implement human rights cases and projects. Students learn human rights lawyering skills by working on these cases and projects, all of which are supervised by the director of the Clinic. The Clinic uses international human rights laws and norms to draw attention to human rights violations, develop practical solutions to those problems using interdisciplinary methodologies, and promote accountability on the part of state and non-state actors.

Clinic students argued and won a case in an immigration court in Cleveland, Ohio in July. Our client’s parents were shot to death by a violent gang in Jamaica affiliated with a political party. The gang shot his parents because the parents supported the opposing political party. His brother was burned alive with a tire around his neck. The gang kidnapped the client, violently beat him, and told him that they were waiting until dawn to kill him in the same manner that they killed his brother. He escaped and fled to the United States. Two clinic students, Tessa Walker and Kimberly Rhoten, zealously represented Mr. Henry in his immigration proceedings. The immigration judge ruled that deporting our client violates the United States government’s obligation under the Convention Against Torture. As a result of our clinic’s efforts, the client was released from a county jail after spending 2 years in detention (awaiting resolution of his immigration case).

Clinic students researched a report on the causes, conditions, and consequences of women’s imprisonment in Argentina. The Report’s findings were based (among other things) on a survey of 30% of Argentina’s women prisoners in Federal prisons and field research in Argentina (including visits to women’s prisons) by a prior team of students. The Report was released at the University of Chicago Law School in May 14 at an event attended by the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Rashida Manjoo. The Report’s findings were widely disseminated through numerous press reports in Argentina. The Report was co-authored by the Public Defender’s office in Argentina, which is working to implement the Report’s findings. The Report includes a recommendation that Argentina should reduce the sentences faced by women that are low-level drug offenders.

Clinic students traveled to New Delhi, India in March 2013 to present the findings of their comparative research on sexual violence laws in India and the United States. The students delivered remarks at a national conference organized by the leading public interest litigation law firm in New Delhi, India. The students’ research will be used in a report to be released by the law firm. The project and trip to India coincided with a major legislative overhaul of laws against sexual violence in India.

The Clinic will submit a “shadow” report on the laws and practices of shackling of women prisoners during childbirth and labor in the United States. The report will be submitted to the Human Rights Committee that monitors the compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (a treaty to which the U.S. is a party). In undertaking research for the Report, students interviewed women who had been shackled, conducted a 50 state survey of shackling laws and policies, and consulted with experts in the field.