Tuesday, February 2, 2016

OWAAT Cyprus Launches World's First Greek International Human Rights Self-Help Website For Abused Women

ONE WOMAN AT A TIME (OWAAT) furthers the U.S. Fulbright global mission to demonstrate how Cyprus became the first nation to declare the international human rights campaign, "Zero Tolerance of Abuse Against Women."

OWAAT is a sustainable, community-court collaboration to prevent all forms of non-physical, non-violent abuse against women, as unwanted contact interference in violation of their international human right to privacy.

OWAAT was initially launched between August 2014 to May 2015, in Cyprus by a U.S. Fulbright Scholarship grant to Patricia M. Martin, a Denver Colorado attorney who modeled her project after Denver’s County Courthouse “Project Safeguard” and Denver Legal Nights. Today, Ms. Martin continues to help guide OWAAT volunteers in Cyprus to achieve its aims also encouraged and supported by the President of the Supreme Court of Cyprus, a newly elected Justice of the European Court of Human Rights from Cyprus, President of Family Courts in Nicosia and the President of Family Court in Larnaca.

OWAAT aims at empowering women to first know what human rights they have and then be guided to self-help as self-represented civil litigants seeking immediate civil protections court orders for no contact to end their own abuse. 

OWAAT outreach extends to predominantly impoverished women who are usually isolated and need easy, inexpensive ready access to self-help legal options for emergency civil protections and legal enforcement.

OWAAT trained pre-law students on international human rights law; developed self-help civil protection application templates forms for emergency protection order application and self-help divorce applications; conducts human rights legal research and related community program development; facilitated Cyprus Complaint Centers also in cooperation with NGO’s; provides OWAAT Website Training Workshops for NGOs, educators, medical professionals and social services; and offers English and Greek language, web-based hyperlink access to human rights information in simplified, downloadable Powerpoint presentations, complete with pdf fill-in-the-blank self-help forms and related instructions.

The OWAAT website was created by women in Cyprus who volunteered their specialized internet technical expertise to help launch it on December 24, 2014, a gift to their Nation. The website provides the first international, replicable self-help toolbox that allows abused women to learn how to fill-in the legal forms, which previously precluded them from gaining access to court for emergency civil protections. 

 OWAAT volunteers refer abused women to the website’s help guide to obtain more information or disseminate information on applicable international treaties, such as the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention of Human Rights, which require that member states like Cyprus ensure and secure citizen human rights protections. 

In January 2016, OWAAT volunteers launched its website in Greek, and plans for this year include translation to Russian and Arabic.

OWAAT’s goals are also furthered in collaboration with state NGOs, like Freedom Dolls Initiative (FDI) to prevent sex trafficking; Association for the Prevention and Handling of Violence in the Family (SPAVO); Cyprus Bar Association Members; UN Women-Cyprus; Cyprus Certified Meditators Association; Cyprus government and municipal officials; Cyprus church and religious leaders; Cyprus law school, middle school and grammar school educators and guidance counselors; and numerous other professional services providers throughout the nation. For more information, visit OWAAT at www.owaat-cy.com.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Lawyers & Jurists: China Must End Its Intimidation and Detention of Human Rights Lawyers

Activists with the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China and China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group demand the release of detained Chinese human rights activists and lawyers during a protest outside the China Liaison Office in Hong Kong on Oct. 9. (Jerome Favre / European Pressphoto Agency)

We, the undersigned lawyers and jurists, write to express our deep concern about the scores of lawyers detained or intimidated in China. The crackdown began on the night of 9 July 2015 with the detention of lawyer Wang Yu, her husband and their 16-year-old child in Beijing. Since then, hundreds of lawyers, law firm staff and family members have been subject to intimidation, interrogation, detention as criminal suspects, and forced disappearance.

Twelve lawyers and legal assistants remain under criminal detention or arrest. Most of those under arrest are suspected of “subversion of state power” or “inciting subversion of state power”. None of them have so far been allowed access to counsel, friends or family, and they are effectively disappeared. In some cases there is good reason to fear that they were put under pressure to “dismiss” their previously appointed lawyers. Some are not known to be suspected of any crime at all; and in the additional case of lawyer Li Heping, the Chinese government has so far declined to admit that he is being held at all.

We fear that without legal representation of their own free choice or other legal protections, the persons above are at high risk of torture or other cruel and inhuman treatment. Our concern is heightened by the findings of the UN Committee Against Torture, which stated on 9 December 2015 that it “remains seriously concerned over consistent reports indicating that the practice of torture and ill-treatment is still deeply entrenched in the criminal justice system, which overly relies on confessions as the basis for convictions”.

Moreover, the state-controlled Chinese media have in a series of broadcasts denounced a number of detained “suspects” as members of a crime syndicate engaging in “rights-defence-style troublemaking”, and paraded some of those detained “confessing” to wrongdoing before they have even been publicly indicted.

In order to vindicate its claim to be a responsible stakeholder in the international community and to be a respected global superpower, it is imperative that China honour its international commitments. Therefore, we respectfully urge President Xi Jinping to:

  • Ensure the release of the detained or arrested lawyers and others held with them without legal basis
  • Ensure access to counsel for all those detained, arrested or otherwise held as a criminal suspect
  • Confirm the whereabouts of those forcibly disappeared
  • Ensure that the rights of those detained, including their right to adequate medical treatment, are safeguarded
  • Ensure that those detained and their colleagues will be protected from any future control measures such as: tracking and following, violent attacks, soft detention, “being travelled”, being asked to have “chats”, criminal, administrative, judicial detention, forced disappearance, torture and psychiatric incarceration.

Dominique Attias, Vice President of the Paris Bar, France

Robert Badinter, Former French Minister of Justice and former President of the French Constitutional Council

Michel Benichou, President of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe

Gill H Boehringer, Coordinator of the International Association of People’s Lawyers; former Dean of the Macquarie University Law School, Australia

Kirsty Brimelow,
QC Chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales

Elizabeth Evatt Commissioner,
International Commission of Jurists, Australia; former President, Australian Law Reform Commission; former member, UN Human Rights Committee

Tony Fisher Partner, Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP, UK

Patrick Henry, President of the Belgium Bar Association, Belgium

Helena Kennedy, QC Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers; Chair of Justice (British branch of International Commission of Jurists)

Asma Jahangir, Jurist; President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan; founding member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

Michael Mansfield, QC Barrister; professor of law at City University, London

Andrea Mascherin, President of the Italian National Bar Council, Italy

Manfred Nowak, Lawyer; former Special Rapporteur on Torture, Austria

Christophe Pettiti,
General Secretary of the Paris Bar Human Rights Institute

Stuart Russell, Former Administrative Judge, Australia

Clive Stafford, Smith Human Rights Lawyer

William Schabas, Professor of International Law and Director of Doctoral Institute, Middlesex University

David J Scheffer, Former US Ambassador at-large for War Crimes Issues; Professor and Director, Center for International Human Rights, Pritzker School of Law, Northwestern University

Ulrich Schellenberg, President of the German Bar Association (Deutscher Anwaltverein)

Jean-Jacques Uettwiller, President of the International Association of Lawyers

Primary Source: Guardian UK 

Recommended: China's Widen Crackdown on Lawyers | The Atlantic

Thursday, December 31, 2015

ABA IHRC End of Year Newsletter 2015

Happy New Year!!

Dear IHRC Supporters, 

We have come to the end of the year. Well, calendar year...that's because the ABA year runs from August to August. Still, this is the time of year when everyone who cares about those who support them give an accounting of what's been happening. And that's exactly what we've done in our 2015 End of the Year Newsletter. Please take a moment to read it and let us know if you have any great committee ideas for 2016. The only thing absolutely set in stone is our committee's commitment to the rule of law and advancement of human rights.

May your light burn bright and all your dreams and wishes come true in 2016! 

Thank you! 

ABA SIL International Human Rights Committee

CPJ: 69 Journalists Died on Job in 2015

Photograph: Marco Ugarte/AP

Sixty-nine journalists were killed around the world on the job in 2015. Twenty-eight of them were slain by Islamic militant groups, including al-Qaeda and ISIS, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The New York-based organization says Syria again was the deadliest place for journalists, though the number of deaths there in 2015 — 13 — was lower than in previous years of the conflict.

“These journalists are the most vulnerable,” Joel Simon, the committee’s executive director said of reporters and broadcasters working in Syria and other areas inundated with Islamic extremists. “This is, clearly based on the data, an incredible risk for journalists.”

Those killed by Islamic extremist groups this year included eight journalists killed in an attack in Paris in January at the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which had published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. The group al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the attack in which two gunmen massacred 12 people. They said it was in “revenge for the prophet.”

In October, two Syrian journalists, Fares Hamadi and Ibrahim Abd al-Qader were killed by ISIS militants.

While some of the deaths were among reporters covering conflict zones, journalists in several countries also were killed after reporting on sensitive subjects. At least 28 of the reporters who were killed had received threats before their deaths, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

In Brazil, Gleydson Carvalho, a radio broadcaster who often criticized local police and politicians for purported wrongdoing, was shot and killed while presenting his afternoon radio show in August. The committee tracked six killings in Brazil this year — the highest it has recorded there.

Among the 69 journalists killed were reporter Alison Parker and videojournalist Adam Ward, of Roanoke, Virginia, TV station WDBJ, who were fatally shot in August by former co-worker Vester Lee Flanagan II during a live broadcast. Their interview subject, Vicki Gardner, was wounded. Flanagan fatally shot himself five hours later after a police chase.

“Journalists are a target and this just confirms it,” Simon said of the data the committee compiled. “This is a global threat.”


Excerpt, read TIME article
Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.
Original source: Committee to Protect Journalists

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Deadline to Submit Article for 2015 Year-In Review Publication Is Near

To: ABA Int'l Human Rights Cmte Members 

Cc: Section of International Law 

From: Nick Leddy, Committee Editor; IHRC Co-Chairs 

Re: YIR Submissions & Deadline 

The Year-in-Review (“The YIR”) is an annual publication of the Section of International Law (“ABA International” or the “Section”). The YIR consists of articles written by Section committees, each summarizing the major legal developments of the preceding calendar year within the committee’s remit. 

The YIR has become a leading and trusted source for judges, lawyers, academics, and other legal professionals who need a reliable source of information that will keep them abreast of the most important international legal developments.  

The YIR is published in digital format and in print and is available on commercial databases such as Westlaw, LexisNexis, and HeinOnline. In addition, members of the Section of International Law of the ABA may access it through the ABA International website. 


Please do not submit your article directly to The YIR. The Committee Editor is the only one authorized to submit articles on behalf of this committee to the The Year-in-Review. Your article will not be considered if you bypass the section's protocol policy. 

The IHRC Committee Editor is Nick Leddy. His email address is nick.leddy@gmail.com.  


Articles that fail to comply with the guidelines will not be forwarded to YIR for consideration. 

Contact Nick Leddy if you have any concerns or a question not addressed in the guidelines. You may carbon copy the Co-Chairs at inthumrights@gmail.com if (and only if) the nature of your concern or query is urgent and/or time-sensitive. 

Thanks and good luck to all contributing authors! 

Nick Leddy, 
Committee Editor 
YIR Vice Chair &

SIL IHRC Co-Chairs