Abortion is a human right. A pandemic doesn't change that

Excerpt of CNN op-ed co-authored by GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Access to abortion is an essential service and a fundamental human right. Period. The denial of it, including in times of global crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic, constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

In the United States, the Trump administration's colossal failure to help keep people healthy and to slow the pandemic-driven implosion of the economy shouldn't come as a surprise to much of the public. He has delayed acknowledging the severity of Covid-19, prematurely hinted at an end to social distancing and over the course of his term in office, attempted to slash funding for the WHO, the CDC, and other preparedness agencies that are tasked with the monitoring of such epidemics. The list goes on and on.

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Human rights groups sue Pompeo, try to disband State Department commission

Excerpt of McClatchy article that features the Global Justice Center.

They are suing Pompeo, in his capacity as secretary of state, in the Southern District of New York, as well as the State Department and its director of policy planning staff Peter Berkowitz, the executive director of the commission.

The other plaintiffs in the case are the Center for Health and Gender Equality, or CHANGE, the Council for Global Equality and the Global Justice Center.

Their lawsuit alleges members of the commission hold biased views, and they were selected by Pompeo to yield a predetermined outcome. It argues that the commission’s work is not in the public interest.

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Human rights organizations file suit over Pompeo's 'unalienable rights' commission

Excerpt of CNN article that features the Global Justice Center.

Pompeo unveiled the commission in July 2019, saying it would be tasked with examining the role of human rights in foreign policy and refocusing on which rights should be "honored." Lawmakers and human rights organizations had expressed concerns that the initiative was an effort to roll back protections for women, LGBTQ groups and minorities.

On Friday, Democracy Forward filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York on behalf of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights, the Center for Health and Gender Equity, the Council for Global Equality and the Global Justice Center. It targets Pompeo, the State Department and the department's director of policy planning staff, Peter Berkowitz.

The groups allege that the commission was created and operated in violation of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the 1972 statute that establishes guidelines that such committees must adhere to.

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Latin American Feminists Are Rising Up Against Violence. The International Community Should Join Them.

Excerpt of Ms. Magazine op-ed by GJC's Danielle Hites.

Latina feminist activists have poured onto the streets to challenge government and police officials for their failure to protect women from this lethal discrimination. Pointing to the misogynist and machismo institutions, they have made clear that their inaction is complicity.

The international community must lift these voices and hold governments accountable to their obligations to protect the rights to life, equality and freedom from torture.

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Meet Akila Radhakrishnan, President of the Global Justice Center

Excerpt of DropLabs article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

What we become inspired by often is genuinely determined by our experiences. For some, the passions they discovered at a young age eventually do manifest into their professional careers, and for others, such a pathway becomes best informed by time and experience. In Akila Radhakrishnan's story, a mixture of both helped shape the direction of her career today. As a kid, Akila recalls always saying she wanted to be a lawyer, citing her love for being argumentative as an indicator of the direction she wanted to pursue when she got older. However, it wasn't until attending law school, working in the field and learning more about herself and the work she aimed to achieve that a path in advocating for human rights ended up unfolding.

Presently, Akila serves as the president of the Global Justice Center, an international human rights organization. Founded in 2005, the non-profit organization works to advance gender equality by helping to implement and enforce human rights laws. Akila's journey into her present role has been accented by incredibly hard work, a dedication to social justice and a willingness to be as diligent as possible in upholding the GJC's mission.

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Behind Myanmar’s Military Alibi: A Path for Compliance with the ICJ’s Order to Protect Rohingya

Excerpt of Just Security op-ed by GJC's Akila Radhakrishnan and Grant Shubin.

In the wake of the ruling from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordering Myanmar to prevent genocide against the Rohingya going forward, the initial excitement was tempered by pragmatics—how this important court order can be enforced so that it actually protects the 600,000 Rohingya who remain in Rakhine State.

To be sure, there is no confusion that these measures are binding—as the court noted, they create international legal obligations that require Myanmar’s compliance. But how can the international community guarantee that Myanmar actually does anything? And does Myanmar’s civilian government have the capacity to do what is needed?

The answers to these questions are mixed, generally relying on exertion of geopolitical pressure, including through the United Nations Security Council, to which the order has been transmitted. As a general rule and absent a concrete enforcement mechanism, ICJ orders have a reliable compliance rate. However, looking at the Myanmar case in context, and in particular the measures requiring prevention of the commission of genocide by Myanmar’s military, compliance will require a serious and concerted effort by both the international community and the civilian government.

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Myanmar’s Commission Report Delivers Genocide Denial Playbook

Excerpt of Just Security article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

As Akila Radhakrishnan of the Global Justice Center put it, the ICoE summary is a “masterclass in how to erase the gendered experiences of conflict and genocide.” While the FFM had described “rape and other forms of sexual violence [as] one of the hallmarks of Tatmadaw (Myanmar military) operations,” the ICoE concluded:

“There were no credible statements on allegations of gang rape committed by Myanmar’s security forces. Although some interviewees mentioned rape cases, these were all secondhand information heard from someone else.”

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U.N. Court’s Order on Rohingya Is Cheered, but Will Myanmar Comply?

Excerpt of New York Times article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

“The court confirmed that no matter where genocide occurs, it’s a matter for the entire international community, and that a state does not have to be connected or affected by the genocide in order for them to take action to prevent, end and punish it,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the New York-based Global Justice Center.

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Myanmar ordered to prevent genocide against Rohingya by top UN court

Excerpt of CNN article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Akila Radhakrishnan, President of the Global Justice Center, said the ruling was a legal statement and a powerful recognition of what the Rohingya went through.

"It's like a surface affirmation from the court, that kind of the basics of the case have been met," she said. "There's power in acknowledgment, there's power in another country standing up for your rights, taking someone to court, putting a lot behind exposing in a very serious manner what happened. I think that that can't be lost in this."

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International Court of Justice orders Myanmar to prevent genocide against the Rohingya

Excerpt of Washington Post article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Experts in international justice said the court’s ruling that Gambia did indeed have a case against Myanmar set a strong precedent. The decision at the United Nations’ highest court also acknowledged that Rohingya Muslims constitute a vulnerable group that is in need of protection, they said.

“There was a level of complicity that existed around the Rohingya,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, the president of the New York-based Global Justice Center. “The ruling not only sends a signal to Myanmar that its flimsy excuses won’t be accepted, but also sends a signal to the rest of the international community that there are still some serious risks to the Rohingya that must be acted on.”

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Burma urged to take measures to prevent genocide against the Rohingya

Excerpt of Le Monde article that features GJC Deputy Legal Director Grant Shubin.

The decision must now be transmitted to the United Nations Security Council. Grant Shubin, deputy legal director of the Global Justice Center, said: "It is not certain that the Council will take action, particularly because of opposition from China," Burma's ally, "but such a decision constitutes a warning for Burma that the international community is watching.”

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International Court of Justice orders Myanmar to prevent Rohingya genocide

Excerpt of ABC Australia article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

The full report is not public, but the Global Justice Centre cast doubt on the commission's independence and said it couldn't provide real accountability.

"All signs point to what human rights experts and Rohingya themselves already know, which is that the government has no intention of bringing perpetrators of mass rape and other genocidal crimes to justice," Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Centre, said.

"This Commission is just yet another domestic attempt to deflect responsibility and whitewash the situation of the Rohingya."

She pointed out that the report "also seemingly fails, like the Government of Myanmar, to use the term 'Rohingya', which continues to deny the identity of the group".

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World Court Orders Interim Protection for Myanmar’s Rohingya

Excerpt of Bloomberg article that features GJC Deputy Legal Director Grant Shubin.

Failure to comply may affect Myanmar’s international standing or prompt reactions in bilateral or multilateral forums, Grant Shubin, deputy legal director of the New York-based Global Justice Center said in an email. ”While there are still several stages of the case that must happen before the court finally decides if Myanmar violated the Genocide Convention, the broader international community should do everything in their power to ensure Myanmar complies with an order,” Shubin added.

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Myanmar inquiry into treatment of Rohingya condemned as 'cover-up'

Excerpt of The Guardian article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

The panel report, said Akila Radhakrishnan, a human rights lawyer and the President of the Global Justice Centre, was fundamentally flawed. “It’s methodology has been criticised since it was announced, the last fact [UN] finding mission report laid out a series of concerns that they had - from the lack of a clear mandate to to its dependency on the Myanmar government and questionable operating procedures.

“The [panel] commissioners themselves said they’re not going to be able to point the finger, that they are not looking to establish accountability.”

Radhakrishnan added that by admitting some abuses took place, the report appeared to be attempting to reassure the international community, and that the timing of the report was significant. “This is their way of saying we have this impartial independent process - you need to leave domestic accountability to us,” she said.

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World Court to Rule on Emergency Measures in Rohingya Genocide Case

Excerpt of Reuters article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Although the Myanmar case in The Hague is only at an early stage, human rights lawyer Akila Radhakrishnan said it has already had an impact.

"Since the case was filed we've seen the government take some action to ensure accountability, like issuing a court martial. Now the military justice system is deeply flawed but its something that wasn't there before," she said.

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Myanmar’s Silence on Rape Against Rohingya Is Cruel and Dangerous

Excerpt of Pass Blue op-ed by GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Last month, the world was struck by an unusual image — that of a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi — standing in court to defend and deny genocide. What was striking was not only what she and Myanmar’s legal team said but also what wasn’t said: the total failure of Myanmar to respond to the allegations of mass sexual violence against the Rohingya, including rape.

As Prof. Philippe Sands, counsel for The Gambia, which brought the case against Myanmar, said, “Madame agent, your silence says far more than your words.”

In fact, the words “sexual violence” passed through the lips of Myanmar’s team just once during the three-day hearings at the International Court of Justice in December, only to say that it is “a phenomenon that regrettably occurs in many parts of the world and that we all condemn unequivocally.”

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Myanmar finds war crimes but no genocide in Rohingya crackdown

Excerpt of Al Jazeera article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

But refugees carried consistent accounts of widespread murder, rape, torture and arson with them and have so far largely refused to return for fear of their safety.

“All signs point to what human rights experts and Rohingya themselves already know, which is that the government has no intention of bringing perpetrators of mass rape and other genocidal crimes to justice,” Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center said in a statement.

“This Commission is just yet another domestic attempt to deflect responsibility and whitewash the situation of the Rohingya.”

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Human Rights Watch Blasts China for Rights Violations at Home and Abroad

Excerpt of Inter Press Service article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Meanwhile, Roth also echoed thoughts from experts who have previously said that one of the reasons the Security Council had not been able to take steps against Myanmar is because of pressure from China. 

In November, on the heels of a lawsuit being filed against Myanmar by the Gambia, Akila Radhakrishnan of the Global Justice Center expressed similar concerns to IPS.

“Security council has consistently failed to act because of China — there’s no possibility of any strong action,” Radhakrishnan had said, reiterating why it’s important for states to directly take action against Myanmar.  

In that regard, especially with Roth’s concerns about China “intimidation of other governments” with threatsone issue of concern would be China’s relations with the Gambia, which has grown in the past few years. 

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The Rohingya genocide: A crisis we’ve stopped talking about

Excerpt of The New Daily article that features a GJC tweet.

The Nobel peace prize Laureate, once heralded as a human rights champion, also said the government was working to boost “social cohesion” between the Rohingya people and the rest of the country.

“Mr President, how can there be an ongoing genocide or genocidal intent when these concrete steps are being taken in Rakhine?” she said.

Human rights groups have refuted Ms Suu Kyi’s version of events.

The Global Justice Centre slammed her picture of an internal military conflict with “no genocidal intent” against the Rohingya as “completely false”.

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