Posts Tagged ‘international justice’

Greeting BFP Blog Readers!

Amy and Alicia and I, all international justice enthusiasts, have decided to start exploring international justice (IJ) issues using our group blog. I spent well over a year working closely with AIUSA’s Program on International Justice and Accountability. The Program focused on the international justice components of several conflicts, including demanding an International Criminal Court investigation into the conflict in Darfur. I loved my time with the program. I learned a lot about the international justice system, why it was important to human rights activism in general and I had the opportunity to work with some very talented and brainy folks who are super committed to the international justice system and growing grassroots support for that system in the U.S. The Program closed earlier this year, but the BFP invested so much time in training and networking in this area that I plan on continuing our work.

As an organizer, I’ve had a difficult time trying to get people to respond to the term “international justice”. It is both too vague and too clear. Of course human rights activists want justice! Isn’t that all we do, really? And yet justice itself is really the focus of IJ work. It means using the mechanisms provided by international law to ensure that allegations of the very worst human rights abuses- torture, disappearances, genocide, and crimes against humanity- are investigated and if necessary, prosecuted. But getting a grasp of international law, processes and these mechanisms can be downright intimidating. AIUSA has provided some fantastic fact sheets and even a film online that explores some of the key concepts with exceptional clarity. You can find those resources at

With these “What is International Justice” posts, we’ll be exploring these mechanisms in practice, looking at the role the tools of international justice could play in the many ongoing conflicts in the world. We’ll also be looking at some of the inherent problems with the notion of international justice. In addition to the posts from BFP -ers, I’m hoping that I can arrange for a few current and former IJ colleagues to guest blog about their thoughts and work.

So while you folks spend the weekend reviewing the AIUSA film and fact sheets (hey, an IJ activist can dream, right??!), I’ll be researching more about this : http://www.salon.com/wires/ap/world/2009/09/01/D9AEPAFG4_lt_chile_dirty_war/index.html and this http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/08/24/holder/index.html.
I think it is interesting that the role of the International Criminal Court is to hold the “architects” of these crimes accountable while the Chilean investigation seeks to investigate “all who have participated” and the Holder investigation is, at least for now, only looking at CIA interrogators and some military contractors. I look forward to reading some more and picking the brains of my brilliant friends working in the field. I will report back next week for sure!

In solidarity,

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Human rights defender” is a term used to describe people who act to promote or protect human rights.  Defenders often act within the context of the legal profession, as lawyers, within the community, as activists and leaders, or in the media, as journalists and researchers.  Defenders are active throughout the world, however some act in environments supportive of their activism and advocacy or hostile to and suppressive of it.  When threats against individuals and their families’ safety are made, it sends a dire and chilling message that anyone hoping to seek justice,  uphold rights, secure accountability and end impunity will face harassment and intimidation.

Monday, a prominent Russian human rights lawyer, Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova, a freelance journalist he worked with, were both killed after holding a news conference on Markelov’s decision to pursue an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights against the early release of a former Russian commander imprisoned for the murder of a young Chechen woman. Though his announcement of appeal may not have been connected to his killing, it was just one of many stances he took that led to threats against him.

Thousands gatheredon Tuesday to protest his killing Chechnya’s capital, and the newspaper that Baburova worked for produced an editorial  on the circumstances of her death, the fourth journalist from that paper to be killed.

Human rights defenders, whatever their channel for action, are integral members of human rights and social justice movements and all efforts should be put to defending their work and protecting the individuals.  AI does do much work on behalf of human rights defenders, and more broadly on individuals at risks, ranging from media workers in Sri Lanka to pro-democracy activists in Burma.

Amnesty International has condemned the murder, but it seems no urgent action or pressure will come on authorities to pursue the perpetrators as it seems a high-profile case will ensure public pressure in the least.

Following is a video focused on a human rights defenders from Chechnya; though her story predates the incidents occurring earlier this week, it follows that the environment in which she reports abuses and that which Markelov fought them are one in the same.


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From the NYTimes

In the first hearing on the government’s justification for holding detainees at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, a federal judge ruled Thursday that five Algerian men were held unlawfully for nearly seven years and ordered their release.

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