Empowering human rights defenders

IDHUCA and CEJIL encourage El Salvador to cooperate with the Spanish justice system in the ‘‘Jesuits’’ case

The process in Spain revives hope against impunity following inaction of local justice

San Salvador, and San Jose, December 6, 2011 – The Human Rights Institute of the ‘‘José Simeón Cañas’’ Central American University and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) urge El Salvador to cooperate with the Spanish justice system in the case of the Jesuit priests who were assassinated in 1989. The State must respond to the extradition request put forth by the Council of Ministers on December 2 against 13 former members of the military, and meet its international human rights obligations.

Wed, 12/07/2011

San Salvador, and San Jose, December 6, 2011 – The Human Rights Institute of the ‘‘José Simeón Cañas’’ Central American University and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) urge El Salvador to cooperate with the Spanish justice system in the case of the Jesuit priests who were assassinated in 1989. The State must respond to the extradition request put forth by the Council of Ministers on December 2 against 13 former members of the military, and meet its international human rights obligations.

The Salvadoran State has not yet brought to justice those responsible for the grievous acts committed 22 years ago. Based on its failure to comply with such obligations, El Salvador must cooperate with the process that has begun in Spain, which currently represents the only viable hope of obtaining justice for the victims and their families.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has stated that access to justice in cases of grave violations of human rights ‘‘creates obligations for States to adopt measures to guarantee that violations are not left unpunished, whether those measures exercise domestic or international jurisdiction that will judge and, eventually, appropriately sanction those responsible, be it alone or in cooperation with other states acting in pursuit of the same goal.’’

IDHUCA and CEJIL urge the Salvadoran State to act accordingly in order to bring the accused before the Spanish justice system and have them prosecuted and sanctioned in accordance with the severity of their acts.

Background information on the case

The ‘‘Jesuits’’ case refers to the assassination of six Spanish Jesuit priests and two of their assistants by members of the Salvadoran military on the campus of the ‘‘José Simeón Cañas’’ Central American University in San Salvador. The executions took place on November 16, 1989, in the context of the FMLN´s largest military offensive at the time.

A military commission investigated the events and presented its report on January 12, 1990, highlighting nine military members as allegedly responsible. However, only two of them were found guilty and both later benefitted by the application of the Amnesty Law for the Consolidation of Peace in El Salvador.

On November 22, 1999, the Washington based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington D.C, addressed the case by recommending the Salvadoran State investigate the crimes. Yet, the case still remains in impunity over ten years after the resolution was issued.

In 2008, the San Francisco based Center for Justice and Accountability and Spain´s Pro-Human Rights Association filed a criminal complaint before the Spanish National Court for the assassination of   six Jesuit priests. On May 30, 2011, the judge ordered the prosecution and provisional arrest of 20 former military members charged with eight counts of murder and one for crimes against humanity. On December 2, 2011, the Council of Ministers of Spain requested the extradition of 13 former military members currently in El Salvador, and of two who reside in the United States.

 

Press contact in Washington:

Milli Legrain

mlegrain@cejil.org

Tel (1) 202 319 3000

 

CEJIL voices sorrow and grief at the passing of human rights defender Sonia Pierre

Sonia Pierre, Dominican defender of the rights of Dominicans of Haitian descent, died on Sunday, December 4, 2011

Washington, D.C., December 5, 2011- ‘‘We have lost an extraordinary human being, a human rights defender who never faltered in her fight for equality, even when persecuted and threatened. Sonia Pierre was a tireless defender of the rights of Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic and never gave up her fight against discrimination and violence. She paved the way for future generations of Dominicans to celebrate their cultural heritage without having to deny their right to nationality and equal treatment in their homeland, the Dominican Republic,’’ stated Viviana Krsticevic, Executive Director of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL).

Mon, 12/05/2011

Washington, D.C., December 5, 2011- ‘‘We have lost an extraordinary human being, a human rights defender who never faltered in her fight for equality, even when persecuted and threatened. Sonia Pierre was a tireless defender of the rights of Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic and never gave up her fight against discrimination and violence. She paved the way for future generations of Dominicans to celebrate their cultural heritage without having to deny their right to nationality and equal treatment in their homeland, the Dominican Republic,’’ stated Viviana Krsticevic, Executive Director of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL).
 
Sonia Pierre was the founder and Executive Director of the Movimiento de Mujeres Dominico-Haitianas (MUDHA) organization, which alongside CEJIL represented victims who had been denied the right to nationality in the Dominican Republic.  She did so at the highest level, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, where she achieved one of the most important precedents in the realm of international law on the recognition of nationality, the protection of children, and the right to education, in the case Yean and Bosico Children v. Dominican Republic. Unfortunately, the Dominican government has not yet fully implemented the Inter-American Court´s decision, which concluded that the migratory status of parents cannot be inherited by their children.
 
Given the nature of her role as a human rights defender, Sonia Pierre was subjected to constant threats and harassment that endangered her life and that of her family. As a result, the Inter-American Court released a number of precautionary measures demanding the Dominican government protect her life.
 
Sonia Pierre leaves an invaluable legacy to Dominican society, as she became one of the most internationally-renowned leaders in the defense of the rights of women and ethnic minorities. Today we celebrate her life, grateful for the privilege of having worked by her side in the struggle to eliminate unequal or discriminatory treatment against minorities and vulnerable populations, and pay tribute to her legacy for being a prime example of how human rights defenders can create a more just and equal society.
 
Contact
Milli Legrain
Mlegrain@cejil.org
Tel (1) 202 319 3000

Organizations across North America express support for CAJAR and Inter-American System

November 21, 2011 - Twenty-five non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from across Canada, the United States and Mexico have signed statements and sent letters of support for the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers Collective (CCAJAR) and the Inter-American Human Rights System in response to troubling statements questioning the credibility of CCAJAR and the Inter-American system made by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and other high-ranking Colombian officials.

Thu, 12/01/2011

November 21, 2011 - Twenty-five non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from across Canada, the United States and Mexico have signed statements and sent letters of support for the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers Collective (CCAJAR) and the Inter-American Human Rights System in response to troubling statements questioning the credibility of CCAJAR and the Inter-American system made by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and other high-ranking Colombian officials.
 
The Colombian government made these statements after a woman recanted her previous testimony that her husband and sons had been killed in the 1997 massacre in the village of Mapiripán. CCAJAR had represented the woman, along with several other victims' family members, in a case brought before the Inter-American Human Rights Court, which ruled in 2005, based upon evidence provided by the Colombian government, that the Colombian State held responsibility for the massacre and should conduct a thorough investigation to determine the identity of all the victims and pay them reparations. As the Inter-American Court wrote in its decision, "it is the State's obligation to properly investigate the human rights violations that have occurred in Colombia, which have cost the lives of thousands of Colombians and have taken place with the proven acquiescence or participation of agents of the State."
 
All of the statements and letters of support from the different North American organizations highlight their extreme concern over the declarations made by Colombian government officials against CCAJAR. For example, in its November 16th letter to President Santos, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) identified problematic statements from the President himself, in which he attempts to discredit the Collective. CCR highlights how these statements are "outrageous to anyone who is familiar with the brave and committed work of CCAJAR for truth and justice on behalf of human rights victims." Such statements continue to make Colombia a dangerous place for human rights defenders, given regular threats, illegal surveillance and infiltration to which human rights defenders are subject in Colombia.
 
Equally concerning to North American organizations are Colombian government statements that seek to undermine the Inter-American Human Rights System. As the CCR points out in its letter, the Inter-American System has been an invaluable resource for the many victims of grave human rights abuses. "Indeed," writes the CCR, "the crisis of impunity for human rights violations in many countries, including Colombia, is often what necessitates victims turning to the Inter-American System."
 
The November 21st NGO statement also makes reference to several other emblematic cases of human rights violations allegedly involving the Colombian military that are slated to be presented at the Inter-American System or reviewed by Colombian courts, as well as a proposed law that would remove human rights cases involving members of the military from civilian jurisdiction. The NGOs express their concern that these recent statements by Colombian government officials set a dangerous precedent for due process in these cases.
 
CONTACT:Lisa Haugaard, Latin America Working Group, 202-546-7010Camilo Ramirez, Center for Constitutional Rights, 212-614-6463 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            212-614-6463
 
Letters and Statements from North American NGOs

 

CEJIL Activities Report - 20 years

Since its foundation in 1991 the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) has contributed significantly to the enjoyment of rights in the region. The present report outlines some of CEJIL’s milestones, achievements, and challenges over these two decades. It attempts to illustrate some notable actions in order to document the efforts of the work of that period.


Type of publication:Activities report
Full version available in:
Year: 2011
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Washington Conference and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to Focus on Dominican Republic Denationalization Policy

International coalition fosters dialogue on behalf of Dominicans of Haitian descent

WASHINGTON, D.C., Wed. Oct. 12, 2011 – As rising numbers of Dominican citizens of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic are having their nationality revoked by the Dominican government, an international coalition of leading human rights groups announced plans today to examine the legality of those actions and the impacts on people who have lost their nationality rights, in a one-day conference in Washington, D.C., and a surrounding week of dialogue with Dominican advocates, U.S. administration, Congress and other policymakers.

Fri, 10/14/2011

IMMEDIATE RELEASE


WASHINGTON, D.C., Wed. Oct. 12, 2011 – As rising numbers of Dominican citizens of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic are having their nationality revoked by the Dominican government, an international coalition of leading human rights groups announced plans today to examine the legality of those actions and the impacts on people who have lost their nationality rights, in a one-day conference in Washington, D.C., and a surrounding week of dialogue with Dominican advocates, U.S. administration, Congress and other policymakers.

 

David Robinson, Acting Assistant Secretary, 
Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, U.S. Department of State, will keynote the October 26 Conference on Statelessness and the Right to Nationality in the Dominican Republic, which will be held at the Georgetown University Law Center’s Human Rights Institute, Washington.

 

The coalition will also join visiting members of Dominican civil society groups in a public thematic hearing for discussions with the Dominican government and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Washington based human rights branch of the Organization of American States. The dialogue will focus on the Dominican Republic´s retroactive denationalization policy that is stripping * thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent of their previously established citizenship, denying them access to their existing identity documents, and effectively rendering their children and future generations stateless.

Organizers of the October 26 conference and October 24-28 advocacy events are the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Church World Service, Christian Aid, the Episcopal Church, Jesuit Refugee Service USA, Refugees International, and The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center).

 

“The retroactive application of this new Dominican law is forbidden by the American Convention on Human Rights, to which the government of the Dominican Republic is a party,” ** said Melanie Teff, Senior Advocate, Refugees International.

 

In a joint statement, the U.S.-based coalition said:

The coalition is urging the Government of the Dominican Republic to recognize all people born in their territory prior to the change of their constitution in January 2010 as Dominican citizens. It further calls on the Dominican Government to ensure that no children born after the change in the constitution are left effectively stateless.

 

As a rising modern, democratic country, the Dominican Republic gained international admiration for its humanitarian compassion and assistance to Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake. We are confident that the Dominican government wishes to continue building on that reputation by complying with human rights conventions affecting a very vulnerable group of citizens.

 

The October 26 Washington conference and advocacy efforts on behalf of denationalized Dominicans of Haitian descent follow the 50th anniversary (August 30) of the United Nations 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and the launch of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ new campaign on statelessness. To date, the Dominican Republic has signed the 1961 Convention but has yet to ratify it.

 

For conference agenda, registration and further information: http://bit.ly/DRcon

 

Editors, producers, reporters:

• Downloadable press kit for the Conference on Statelessness and the Right to Nationality in the Dominican Republic available here: www.churchworldservice.org/denationalization and http://bit.ly/DRcon

• Interviews available on request with key spokespeople in English or Spanish.

• Conference sessions are open to media.

 

 

Media Contacts:

Lesley Crosson/Church World Service, (212) 870-2676, lcrosson@churchworldservice.org or – 24/7 – Jan Dragin, (781) 925-1526, or mobile: (339) 236-0679, jdragin@gis.net

 

###

 

* U.S. Department of State, 2010 Human Rights Report, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/wha/154503.htm

 

Walter Cronkite School of Journalism Report,  “Stateless in the Dominican Republic”,

http://cronkite.asu.edu/buffett/dr/the_stateless.html

 

** In English: Organization of American States, American Convention on Human Rights, O.A.S.Treaty Series No. 36, 1144 U.N.T.S. 123, entered into force July 18, 1978, reprinted in Basic Documents Pertaining to Human Rights in the Inter-American System, OEA/Ser.L.V/II.82 doc.6 rev.1 at 25 (1992) http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/oasinstr/zoas3con.htm

Coalition of organizations request hearing at the Inter-American Commission and demand halt to the threats against Sonia Pierre in the Dominican Republic

WASHINGTON (Oct. 7, 2011)- An international coalition of nongovernmental organizations has joined to express profound concern  following a campaign of verbal attacks and misinformation launched by the Dominican media against human rights defender Sonia Pierre.

The coalition comprises the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, Refugees International, Christian Aid UK, Church World Service, Global Rights, Fundación Etnica Integral (FEI), Movimiento Social y Cultural de Trabajadores Haitianos (MOSCTHA), the Red de Encuentro Dominico Haitiana Jacques Viau (REDHJV) and the Asociación 180° para la Cooperación y el Desarrollo.

Fri, 10/07/2011

WASHINGTON (Oct. 7, 2011)- An international coalition of nongovernmental organizations has joined to express profound concern following a campaign of verbal attacks and misinformation launched by the Dominican media against human rights defender Sonia Pierre.

The coalition comprises the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, Refugees International, Christian Aid UK, Church World Service, Global Rights, Fundación Etnica Integral (FEI), Movimiento Social y Cultural de Trabajadores Haitianos (MOSCTHA), the Red de Encuentro Dominico Haitiana Jacques Viau (REDHJV) and the Asociación 180° para la Cooperación y el Desarrollo.

The following is a joint statement by the coalition:

We are compelled to state that reports published in the media contain inaccurate and incomplete information regarding human rights activist Sonia Pierre and an upcoming public hearing at the Inter-American Commission in Washington, regarding the rights of Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic.

First, the public hearing is not a legal action against the Dominican State, but rather, a thematic hearing convened by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and to be held on October 24, 2011 on the issue of “Judicial Response in Cases of Denationalization in the Dominican Republic.” We stress that this is not a trial proceeding against the Dominican State, but instead, a space for dialogue to discuss a situation that affects its citizens. This thematic hearing was requested by more than 12 local and international organizations along with individual experts. The Movement of Dominican-Haitian Women, an organization directed by Sonia Pierre, is one of the organizations that supported the petition for the hearing, but it was not Mrs. Pierre who arranged or submitted the request.

Second, the public hearing at the Inter-American Commission headquarters in Washington addresses the Dominican State’s policy of denationalizing Dominican citizens and depriving them of their identity documents. This policy has been criticized by Dominican civil society in general, as well as Dominican courts of first instance which have issued decisions favorable to the victims of this policy. Nonetheless, the State has continued with the policy, clearly violating domestic and international law. The coalition that requested the public hearing consider that this is an alarming situation and deserves an international space for dialogue. This hearing will not only be about the cases presented by the organization MUDHA, but also about all the cases that have been submitted for adjudication by numerous organizations and lawyers throughout the country.

We wish to express our strongest condemnation of the statements and attacks against Sonia Pierre and denounce this campaign of misinformation and threats. Ms. Pierre is the beneficiary of protective measures ordered by the Inter-American Court that require the Dominican State to investigate all threatening and aggressive acts perpetrated against her. In this context, we demand that the Dominican State adopt the measures necessary to prevent all acts of verbal aggression that put Ms. Pierre’s security and personal integrity at risk, as well as fulfill its international obligations to respect the human rights of all persons within its territory.

 

For more information:

 

Milli Legrain

CEJIL

mlegrain@cejil.org

+ 1 202 319 3000

 

Liliana Gamboa

Open Society Institute

lgamboa@osieurope.org

+1 212 548 0189

 

Josh Karlen

RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights

karlen@rfkcenter.org

+ 1 917 671 6803

 

 

CEJIL is awarded the Thomas J.Dodd Prize in international justice and human rights

The ceremony was presided over by the Honorable Christopher J. Dodd

Washington D.C, October 3, 2011.- Today, the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) was awarded the  fifth annual Thomas J. Dodd Prize in International Justice and Human Rights. The Ceremony took place at 4pm at the University of Connecticut and was presided over by UConn President Susan Herbst as well as the Honorable Christopher J. Dodd.

Mon, 10/03/2011

 

Washington D.C, October 3, 2011.- Today, the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) was awarded the  fifth annual Thomas J. Dodd Prize in International Justice and Human Rights. The Ceremony took place at 4pm at the University of Connecticut and was presided over by UConn President Susan Herbst as well as the Honorable Christopher J. Dodd.

 

The Dodd Prize commemorates the distinguished career in public service of Thomas J. Dodd, who served as Executive Trial Counsel at the Nuremberg Trials, U.S. Representative from 1953 to 1957, and Connecticut Senator from 1959 to 1971.  Thomas Dodd dedicated his entire public life to fighting against infringement and suppression of human rights in the United States and abroad.

 

Upon receiving the prize, Viviana Krsticevic, Executive Director of CEJIL said: “The work of CEJIL stands on the legacy of the Nuremberg trials and the work of Thomas J. Dodd. Focusing our efforts on the Americas, a region notorious for its setbacks in human rights and the rule of law, we stand firmly in our beliefs in the dignity of all, the importance of honoring all human beings, and the need to strengthen and apply the rule of law to ensure the rights of all individuals”.

Krsticevic concluded: “On behalf of everyone at CEJIL, thank you very much for this wonderful honor. This award will encourage us to continue the fight for justice and equality. It will give us the hope necessary to create many more success stories in the Americas and reminds us of the importance of preserving the legacy and principles of Nuremberg.”

 

The award will be invested in CEJIL’s strategic litigation in the Western Hemisphere, advocacy before the Inter-American System of Human Rights and training of human rights defenders throughout the region.

 

For more information:

Milli  Legrain

Communications coordinator

mlegrain@cejil.org

202 319 3000

International Day of the Disappeared

Tue, 08/30/2011 (All day)
Evento global
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International Day for the World´s Indigenous Peoples

Tue, 08/09/2011 (All day)
Global event
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International Human Rights Day

Sat, 12/10/2011 (All day)
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