Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fighting Rape in the Congo

The Daily Beast currently has several features on rape in Congo.  A blog post by Dana Goldstein checks in on a $17 million US government program.

The State Department has provided The Daily Beast with documents detailing how the $17 million to fight sexual violence have been allocated, mostly toward treatment programs for rape survivors. But human rights advocates hope for more. They believe the US should stop sending hundreds of millions of dollars in aid--including military training--to Rwanda and Uganda, whose armed militias perpetrate violence and rape across the border in Congo. They also criticize the administration and Congress for failing to crack down on multinational corporations that operate mines in the country, some of which have paid off armed groups in exchange for access to mineral deposits.

And advocates contend the U.S. should take a leadership role in reforming the United Nations mission in Congo, MONUC, which is regarded as ineffectual at best, corrupt and complicit at worst. The U.S. contributes about a quarter of the funding for the mission—about $337.5 million annually—but no troops. MONUC’s mixed record has led Congolese President Joseph Kabila to pressure the UN to pull its peacekeepers out of Congo by the end of 2011.
She points to the mining trade as a root of the violence and notes that bipartisan legislation that requires electronics companies to disclose whether manufacturing materials are sourced from the Congo does not go far enough.

But critics say the international community, led by the United States, needs to police the mining industry more heavily, and ensure that a significant percentage of Congo's mining profits benefit the nation's citizens. "Electronics companies are seven steps down the supply chain,” said Carney of Friends of the Congo. “Focus on the mining companies. Impunity exists not only in Congo but all the way up the chain to the international level.”
Other highlights of the feature include a profile of Chouchou Namegabe, an anti-rape activist, and a photo essay of survivors of sexual violence.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

State Department's Annual Trafficking in Persons Report Released

On Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released the 10th Annual Trafficking in Persons Report.  For the first time, there was reporting on forced labor and prostitution in the United States.

In her remarks, Secretary Clinton said:
The United States takes its first-ever ranking not as a reprieve but as a responsibility to strengthen global efforts against modern slavery, including those within America. This human rights abuse is universal, and no one should claim immunity from its reach or from the responsibility to confront it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

ICTY Convicts 2 of Genocide

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) convicted 7 Bosnian Serbs Army officials of genocide for their role in the 1995 Srebenica massacre.   

Two defendants, Vujadin Popović, the Chief of Security of the Drina Corps of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) and Ljubiša Beara, Chief of Security in the VRS Main staff were found guilty of genocide, extermination, murder and persecution and sentenced to life imprisonment. 
This was only the second ICTY conviction for genocide.  In 2001, General Radislav Krstić's conviction for genocide was reduced to a conviction for aiding and abetting genocide on appeal.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The POW who Broke INTO Auschwitz

In today's Times, there's a fascinating story about a British POW who traded places with a Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz.

Avey was a troublesome prisoner. In the summer of 1943 he was deported to Auschwitz, in Poland, and interned in a small PoW camp on the periphery of the IG Farben factory. The main Jewish camps were several miles to the west. “I’d lost my liberty, but none of my spirit,” he says. “I was still determined to give as good as I got.”

But he knew immediately that this was a different order of prison. “The Stripeys — that’s what we called the Jewish prisoners — were in a terrible state. Within months they were reduced to waifs and then they disappeared. The stench from the crematoria was appalling, civilians from as far away as Katowice were complaining. Everybody knew what was going on. Everybody knew.”

Remarkably, Avey was able to think beyond the war. “I knew in my gut that these swine would eventually be held to account,” he says. “Evidence would be vital. Of course, sneaking into the Jewish camp was a ludicrous idea. It was like breaking into Hell. But that’s the sort of chap I was. Reckless.”

Asylum for Homeschoolers

The latest issue of Time magazine has a story about a German family that was granted asylum in the US because homeschooling is illegal in Germany. In 2006, the European Court of Human Rights decided that the German law prohibiting homeschooling was acceptable under the European Convention on Human Rights.

So why did he seek asylum in the U.S. rather than relocate to nearby Austria or another European country that allows homeschooling? Romeike's wife Hannelore tells TIME the family was contacted by the Virginia-based Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which suggested they go to the U.S. and settle in Morristown, Tenn. The nonprofit organization, which defends the rights of the U.S. homeschooling community — with its estimated 2 million children, or about 4% of the total school-age population — is expanding its overseas outreach. And on Jan. 26, the HSLDA helped the Romeikes become the first people granted asylum in the U.S. because they were persecuted for homeschooling.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Immigration Removal Report

Earlier this month, the American Bar Association endorsed a report titled “Reforming the Immigration System: Proposals to Promote Independence, Fairness, Efficiency, and Professionalism in the Adjudication of Removal Cases." It was prepared pro bono by the law firm of Arnold & Porter LLP. The ABA's press release is available here.

The report included dozens of suggestions for changes, including: the creation of an immigration court system pursuant to Article I of the US Constitution, rather than under the US Department of Justice; the establishment of a right to representation for indigent noncitizens in adversarial removal proceedings; the hiring of approximately 100 additional immigration judges within the next three to four years, at the latest; and requiring more written decisions from immigration judges.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Holocaust and Modern Day Genocide

Foreign Policy has an article by Andrew Stroehlein about what the Holocaust can't teach us about modern-day genocide.

I suspect too many people in the wider international community still only
recognize genocide in this one most specific sense. They are always looking for
Birkenau -- expecting industrialized killing rather than seeing genocide the way
it unfolds today. They ignore the evidence that in the right environment, simple
machetes can be just as effective as rail networks and gas chambers.

"Genocide" is too limiting a term in any case. In recent years,
governments have not necessarily been exterminating entire subgroups en masse
with crystal-clear intent. Yet some governments show no qualms about shelling
huge numbers of ethnic minority civilians trapped in confined war zones, as we
saw in Sri Lanka earlier this year. More common still are governments that kick
one ethnic group off its land and force the people into displacement camps where
they become permanent wards of international humanitarian agencies -- think
Darfur, for example, to mention just one place commonly labeled a "slow-motion

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gay and Lesbian Asylum Seekers

Newsweek has an article on the anecdotal evidence that suggests that there has been an increase in sexual orientation-based asylum claims in the US.

"When sexual orientation became an option [as a basis for asylum
claims] in 1994, the Internet was in its infancy, and it was difficult for
people to find out they could seek safe haven in the U.S.," says Rachel B.
Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality []. "Now we are seeing a steady
increase." Last week the nonprofit won its 60th case of the year, and it has
several others still pending. Immigration Equality won 55 cases in 2008 and 30
cases in 2007.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Angelina Jolie on Iraqi Refugees

The actress, a UNHCR goodwill ambassador, met with Iraqi refugees in Syria.

"Most Iraqi refugees cannot return to Iraq in view of the severe trauma they experienced there, the uncertainty linked to the coming Iraqi elections, the security issues and the lack of basic services," a UNHCR statement quoted Jolie as saying. "They will, therefore, be in need of continued support from the international community."