Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Redisplacing the displaced in Haiti

flikr, Lee Cohen
By Elizabeth Gibson

When the police arrived at Haiti’s Camp Django this summer, they started negotiations by offering money to anyone willing to relocate. It went downhill from there.
When earthquake refugees told the police that $125 each was not enough to find new shelter, the police grew more forceful. A man was knocked to the ground, a woman beaten. Panic set in.

“Everyone started running, so I did too, until I was out of the camp. I later called home and learned that the police broke into my shelter and kicked out my seven-year-old son,” one camp resident described.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Anti-bribery legislation under attack in the US

Flikr, jmrosenfeld
by Katie Shay

In 1977, the United States took a powerful first step in curbing global corruption by passing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The law aims to remove the incentive for bribery, and does so by creating both criminal and civil penalties for U.S. persons and certain foreign issuers who bribe foreign officials to obtain or retain business. It was intended to change the global landscape by leveling the playing field, and in many ways it has ­-- companies have taken notice, and other countries have followed suit by passing similar laws.

Recently, the Chamber of Commerce issued a report advocating for several changes to the legislation that could severely weaken the power of the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission to enforce the law by creating loopholes for companies. Senators Klobuchar (D-MN) and Coons (D-DE) are expected to introduce legislation that incorporates the Chamber’s proposals, despite opposition from human rights and anti-corruption organizations.

The Chamber says these amendments are necessary to give business more guidance as to what activities could expose them to liability under the Act.
Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer urged against amending the FCPA, and announced that the DOJ expects to publish improved guidance in the coming year, eliminating the necessity for any legislative clarifications. “[I]t took decades for the Act to become as strong an enforcement tool as it is today. Having come this far, on what I believe is a noble journey, we cannot, and should not start going backwards. On the contrary, the United States must continue leading the charge against transnational bribery.”

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bahrain's Human Rights Report Likely Absolves the GCC

By Staff Sgt Corkran F. Lee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
by Samuel Halpert

As indicated by my last post, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the report from the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry into that country’s recent crackdown on political protests. The Commission has just released its report, and under current international law the GCC probably can’t be held accountable.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Arms Deals and Human Rights: Multi-Party Obligations in Bahrain

Flikr, Msha7welhom
By Samuel Halpert
It’s been a bad year in Bahrain. After only four days of peaceful protests for political reform last February, the army opened fire on the unarmed protesters--as well as ambulances that arrived to carry away the wounded. The carnage has continued through spring, summer, and into this fall. In August and October, Human Rights Watch documented incidents of police rounding up suspected dissidents and subsequently beating and torturing them in detention--medics who have treated victims of state violence have suffered a similar fate.

So, when the Department of Defense proposed
a $53 million arms sale to Bahrain this September, the idea was unpopular with many.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hidden at Home: Child Labor in Albania

flikr, Cuito Cuanavale
By Aislinn Shaul-Jensen

My daughters don’t like the work and I feel guilty asking them to help me…but we wouldn’t be able to manage financially without their help … It’s really tough.”
-       Aurora, Albanian mother, interviewed by the ITUC

Sadly, stories like Aurora’s are not uncommon. While Albania has received much publicity for its transnational human trafficking and organized crime-related issues, child labor within the country is often over-looked. Although the Albanian government has signed and ratified several international treaties protecting child workers, and has passed domestic legislation of its own, child labor remains a disturbing reality.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Child Marriage: Also a First-World Problem

photo by Jean-Marie Hullot

by: Ashley Binetti
“How can a 10-year-old girl marry an old man?! I’m 10! Isn’t someone doing something about this?” An appropriate gut reaction from a former student, and an even better question.
Forced marriage, especially among young children, is a widespread human rights abuse and is well documented in many countries in the developing world; UNICEF reports that over 60 percent of women in Sub-Saharan African and Bangladesh are married prior to their 18th birthday.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Environmental Human Rights: Will the US Come on Board?

by Elizabeth Gibson

Most Americans probably assume that if a factory opened in their neighborhood and started discharging a toxic cloud, the government would turn up and yank the company’s permits. In reality, although the international community has increasingly recognized a human right to a sound environment, U.S. law is not always as helpful as one might think.

About 1948: A Rights Forum

Since 2005, The Human Rights Institute at Georgetown Law has served as a forum for students, professors, and human rights practitioners to discuss current issues in human rights law. We created 1948 as a way to extend that conversation. The blog takes its name from the year the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly; in choosing our blog's name, we acknowledge that today's legal framework protecting human dignity flows from that document.
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