U.N. Human Rights Committee calls for moratorium on life without parole in U.S.
Last week, for the first time ever, the United Nations Human Rights Committee recommended that the United States “establish a moratorium on the imposition of sentences to life imprisonment without parole,” often referred to as death by incarceration by advocates. The committee issued its conclusions and recommendations based on a review of U.S. compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
On October 17 and 18, in Geneva, a coalition of groups from around the U.S. fighting death by incarceration joined more than 140 representatives of U.S. civil society organizations and directly impacted people in petitioning the U.N. to hold the U.S. government accountable. The groups addressed the U.S. policy and practice of death by incarceration, which they said violates the treaty’s prohibition on racism and torture and its protection of life and liberty. Over 200,000 people in the United States are currently serving death-by-incarceration sentences, and 46 percent of those people are Black, although only 14 percent of the U.S. population is Black.
WATCH: Recording of “Death By Incarceration Is Torture” side event in Geneva
As part of our work in Geneva, Switzerland, we held a side event to amplify the demands in our joint shadow report that we submitted to the Human Rights Committee with our partners. Our delegation included directly impacted people challenging the United States’ racially discriminatory and cruel practice of death by incarceration (DBI), more commonly known as life imprisonment.
This event began with the screening of Amistad Law Project's short film “No Way Home”, a documentary about a mother’s struggle to reunite her family and end mandatory life without parole in Pennsylvania, as well as video shorts from The Visiting Room Project. Those were followed by powerful speakers, including advocates who had been in prison under death-by-incarceration sentences or whose family members still are.
Although life imprisonment is often viewed as an alternative to the death penalty, in this panel, formerly incarcerated people and their loved ones discussed the cruel reality of these sentences and described why it’s important to refer to them as “death by incarceration” or “the other death penalty”. View a recording of the side event on our Youtube channel.
Legal organizations to U.S. colleges: Protect your students from campaign to harass, defame, and silence supporters of Palestinian human rights
Eleven legal organizations sent a joint letter to the leaders of more than 650 U.S. colleges and universities urging them to safeguard the civil and human rights of all of their students, protect the crucial role of campus debate within our democracy, and reject the repression of political speech and the policing, surveillance, and criminalization of students speaking out against the mass atrocities Palestinians are suffering and for their safety and human rights.
Our joint letter follows a dangerous call to U.S. colleges and universities from the ADL and Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law to investigate Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters for “material support for terrorism,” which has no applicability to the independent advocacy of SJPs, whose speech is protected by the First Amendment.
Vince led a panel discussion with our Legal Director Baher Azmy; our board member Alejandra Ancheita, Founder and Executive Director of the Mexico City-based NGO ProDESC (The Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Project); our board member Justin Hansford, Professor of Law and Executive Director of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard University School of Law; and Katie Redford, Executive Director of Equation Campaign.
These movement lawyers are on the frontlines of human rights issues around the world. They shared powerful, insightful stories of struggles for social justice in Burma, Ferguson, Mexico, and New York City, and how positive impact happens even in the face of resistance. Watch the recording of the event on Youtube.
November 8 and 15: Corporate Accountability Litigation Roundup, webinar
Join Corporate Accountability Lab for a two-part series on 2023 developments in human rights litigation. Counsel behind this year’s big cases will join the event to discuss recent opinions and settlements, trends in the case law, and what the future holds for corporate accountability litigation in the U.S. Our Senior Staff Attorney Katherine Gallagher will share more about our ongoing case, Al Shimari v. CACI.
Date: Wednesday, November 8, 2023, 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET Location: Online
Panelists include: Catherine Sweetser, Deputy Director, Promise Institute for Human Rights; Paul Hoffman, Partner, Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris & Hoffman; Katherine Gallagher, one of our Senior Staff Attorneys; Agnieszka Fryszman, Partner, Cohen Milstein; and Terri Marsh, Executive Director, Human Rights Law Foundation.
Paid internship opportunity with us! Legal intern, January - May 2024
We seek experienced second- or third-year law students or LLM students with a strong commitment to social justice to provide legal research and analysis as part of a semester-long paid internship or externship. The intern will spend 12-20 hours per week between January and May 2024 assisting attorneys on projects.
Our work includes issues related to policing; prisoners’ rights; immigration; racial justice; Indigenous rights; environmental justice; gender justice and LGBTQIA+ rights; national security; corporate accountability; torture; detention; suppression of dissent; anti-militarism; international solidarity; violations under the Alien Tort Statute, the Torture Victim Protection Act, and universal jurisdiction; and related work local to the Southern United States.
Qualified candidates should prepare a resume, cover letter, brief legal writing sample, and list of three references as one PDF document, with your name in the document title, prior to applying via our application web form. Apply by November 24, 2023.