Rohingya case may face delay at The Hague

Excerpt of Anadolu Agency article that quotes GJC factsheet.

A final decision at the UN’s top court in the legal battle against Myanmar for the alleged genocide of Rohingya Muslims could be delayed, as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is first set to rule on objections filed by Myanmar.

A legal summary prepared by the New York-based Global Justice Center, shared with Anadolu Agency, stated that Myanmar has raised objections over whether the western African country of Gambia was eligible to file the November 2019 case alleging that Myanmar’s atrocities against the Rohingya in Rakhine state violate the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

“The ICJ’s final ruling on whether Myanmar violated the Genocide Convention, and what reparations are therefore necessary, will be delayed by the time it takes for the court to hear arguments and decide on the preliminary objections, a delay of likely at least a year,” the center said.

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Pompeo says China's policies on Muslims amount to 'genocide'

Excerpt of Associated Press article that quotes GJC Legal Director Grant Shubin.

Human rights groups, which have been generally critical of Trump administration policies, welcomed the move, which Pompeo said was taken with an eye toward the U.S. role in prosecuting Nazi war crimes during WWII at the Nuremberg trials.

“We hope to see the U.S. follow these strong words with decisive action,” said Grant Shubin of the Global Justice Center. “Where there is a risk of genocide, there is a duty to act. Moving forward, this designation should inform the entirety of U.S. foreign policy and we hope to hear more from the incoming Biden administration on how it plans to follow through on this historic announcement.”

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Pompeo labels China's treatment of Uighurs 'genocide'

Excerpt of The Hill article that quotes GJC Legal Director Grant Shubin.

The Global Justice Center, an international human rights and humanitarian law organization, said the U.S. is right to label atrocities in Xianjing as genocide, but raised concerns that Pompeo’s move is weakened by political considerations.

“The United States is right to bring the brutal, years-long repression of the Uighurs within the framework of genocide. What’s more, it correctly cited gendered crimes of biological destruction like forced sterilization and birth control. However, the human rights community should be alarmed at reports that this decision was motivated by policy goals instead of a legal obligation to prevent and punish genocide,” Grant Shubin, legal director of the Global Justice Center, said in a statement.

“Our legal and moral duty to combat genocide should inform our policy goals, not the other way around. The US should be applauded for taking action to prevent the destruction of the Uighurs and we hope other nations join them. But we must see fighting genocide as a cause for humanity rather than a geopolitical wedge," Shubin continued.

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Rescinding the Global Gag Rule Isn’t Enough

Excerpt of Foreign Policy op-ed by GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan and CHANGE President Serra Sippel.

Over the past four years, outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump has abandoned even the pretense of a foreign policy grounded in respect for women’s rights and reproductive rights. Perhaps the clearest example was Trump’s unprecedented expansion of the global gag rule, or the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy (formerly known as the Mexico City policy). The global gag rule blocks U.S. funding for foreign organizations that provide any services, referrals, or even information for legal abortions, or that advocate for changes to abortion laws in their country. First implemented by the Reagan administration in 1984, the policy has been enforced during all subsequent Republican administrations. Before Trump reinstated it, it applied only to family planning funding. But since 2017, it has been extended to all global health funding.

Today, the gag rule places restrictions on $8 billion of U.S. global health funding, and it’s had grave consequences for women worldwide: As a direct result of the policy’s design to cut funding to healthcare providers, it has led to more maternal deaths and unsafe abortions, a rise in HIV and AIDS, and the breakdown of civil society coalitions and partnerships, such as Marie Stopes International.

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The Great Regression

Excerpt of International Bar Association article that quotes GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Further, President Trump was successful in securing a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court for decades to come by appointing Justice Amy Coney Barrett after the death of the Court’s stalwart defender of women’s rights, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Akila Radhakrishnan, President of the Global Justice Center, is concerned that such a politically biased Supreme Court could spell disaster for many rights that were already on tenterhooks. ‘The Supreme Court doesn’t look like it’s going to stand up for women’s rights anymore. And that’s terrifying,’ she says.

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It’s Time We Talk About Gender-Based Violence Against Hong Kong Protestors

Excerpt of Women's Media Center op-ed by GJC intern Hannah Kohn .

Since February 2019, the mass demonstrations roiling Hong Kong have been consistently met with police brutality. But sexual and gender-based violence has flown under the radar in most mainstream coverage of the protests. It is time for the international community to heed the call of Hong Kong-based activists and hold the government to account for this human rights crisis.

The unrest began when Hong Kong’s government proposed legislation that would allow extraditions to mainland China, which critics argue would allow for anyone in the city to be picked up and detained — including political activists — and essentially erode Hong Kong’s independence from the mainland.

Shortly thereafter, hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens (in some cases almost 2 million) took to the streets to protest. The government responded to these largely peaceful protests with widespread, severe police brutality. As a consequence of the government’s disproportionate response, the protests blossomed from the narrow goal of opposing the extradition bill into much wider demandsfor police accountability and democracy.

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Trump’s last Human Rights Week

Excerpt of Public Radio International segment featuring GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

As he has in years past, President Donald Trump issued a proclamation honoring this week as Human Rights Week. As The World's Rupa Shenoy reports, the proclamation was the final salvo in a four-year campaign by Evangelicals in the Trump administration to narrow the definition of human rights in a way that has angered many human rights activists.

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Myanmar ignoring Rohingya genocide trial measures: activists

Excerpt of AFP article that quotes GJC Legal Director Grant Shubin.

Rights groups have condemned the almost absolute exclusion of Rohingya from voting in November's election and their continued vilification as illegal interlopers.

"Myanmar has done nothing to address the root causes of discrimination and impunity that give rise to the ongoing risk of genocide against the Rohingya," said Global Justice Center legal director Grant Shubin.

The Rohingya crisis has left the international reputation of Myanmar and Suu Kyi in tatters.

The UN General Assembly last week voted overwhelmingly for a draft resolution expressing "grave concern" over serious rights violations against the Rohingya, a decision Myanmar blasted as "intrusive" and "illegitimate".

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Execution of Lisa Montgomery Delayed—the Only Woman on Death Row

Excerpt of Ms. Magazine op-ed by GJC Special Counsel Michelle Onello .

A federal judge on Thursday stayed the execution of Lisa Montgomery, potentially thwarting the government’s plans, announced in October, to put her to death in December.

Lisa Montgomery, a victim of severe child and sexual abuse with a history of mental instability, is the only woman on federal death row. The accelerated timeline of Montgomery’s case, and the Justice Department’s determination to proceed despite an election loss and her lawyers’ incapacity due to COVID-19, is an example of the dangerous consequences of its misplaced priorities.

As part of its renewed commitment to federal executions and a broader campaign to bolster its “law and order” credentials, the Justice Department, without notice to her attorneys and in the midst of a pandemic, announced in October that Montgomery’s execution would take place Dec. 8. Defense attorneys, taken by surprise at the expedited process, scrambled to respond and contracted COVID-19 after visiting Montgomery.

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US advocates fear creation of a hierarchy of human rights

Excerpt of International Bar Association article that quotes GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Akila Radhakrishnan is President of the Global Justice Center, which develops legal strategies to establish and protect human rights and gender equity. She believes ‘The elevation of religious liberty is seriously problematic, especially given the way it’s been constructed to then supersede other fundamental rights’.

Radhakrishnan also has concerns about the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett in late October, which gave the Court a 6-3 conservative majority. Although Justice Barrett swore to set aside political and personal preferences in her rulings, she is influenced by originalism. At her confirmation hearings, Justice Barrett reiterated that she believes the Constitution should be interpreted on the grounds that it was written: ‘I understand it to have the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it. So that meaning doesn’t change over time’.

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Mike Pompeo Is Wrong: There *Is* an International Right to Abortion

Excerpt of Ms. Magazine op-ed from GJC Program Coordinator Merrite Johnson.

Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed the Geneva Consensus Declaration, a U.S.-led document that fired yet another shot across the bow at reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy. Bookended by a bizarre montage video, the signing ceremony was touted as a watershed moment in the fight against an international movement to declare a right to abortion at the expense of traditional family values.

The only problem? There very much is an international right to abortion.

The good news, at least, is the declaration is not legally binding. As reluctant as Pompeo and the rest of the Trump administration may be to follow the law, the fact remains that the United States is party to a number of human rights treaties that protect abortion rights—and adhering to these treaties is a legal requirement.

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Russia loses UN vote over women's rights in conflict zones

Excerpt of The Guardian article that quotes GJC Legal Director Grant Shubin.

Grant Shubin, legal director of the Global Justice Center, said: “Every country who withheld its vote for this unnecessary and dangerous resolution should be applauded. The women, peace and security agenda is anchored in human rights and this resolution could have turned back the clock on 20 years of progress.

“Women in conflict-affected countries are suffering catastrophic impacts due to Covid-19. Any attack on this critical tool for advancing women’s health and rights is dangerous and we’re glad to see a diverse group of nations stand up for the agenda and its bold commitments to gender equality.”

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Ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health and rights in EU humanitarian aid

Excerpt of The Parliament article that quotes GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Kumar emphasised that safe abortion care needs to be understood as a medical necessity, independent of the context and the reason for the abortion. Akila Radhakrishnan, President of the Global Justice Center in New York, said that in the past ten years of their work on abortion access in humanitarian settings, there has been both great progress as well as backlash.

“Pregnant persons are still routinely denied access to safe abortion services in humanitarian settings and proactive action grounded in fundamental rights under international law - including by powerful humanitarian donors like the European Commission - is vitally needed.”

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U.S. signs international anti-abortion declaration

Excerpt of UPI article that quotes GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

The Global Justice Center lambasted the Trump administration Thursday, saying despite its rhetoric it has never put the health of women first.

"This administration has consistently [put] both women's bodies, here at home and abroad, last," Akila Radhakrishnan, president of Global Justice Center, said in a statement.

"Just because these regressive governments keep asserting that abortion is not a human right, doesn't make it true; the international human rights framework is clear on this issue," Radhakrishnan said. "There is a reason why none of the U.S.' traditional allies, nor countries with strong records on human rights, joined this declaration -- if flies in the face of decades of hard-fought victories for the rights for women."

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An Unequal World: Are universal human rights actually possible?

Excerpt of CBC Radio program that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

"We set something out there that's aspirational, but it doesn't make it perfect," Radakrishnan tells IDEAS. She explains that a common issue in the discourse around human rights is the focus is often on protecting the law and "not about protecting the people."

"If something is written in a way that is too much in the colonial tradition, we need to rethink it.

"We should be listening to those voices and thinking about how to adapt (the law) and put it into practice in a way that responds to real needs."

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US Supreme Court: death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spurs battle for civil rights

Excerpt of International Bar Association article that quotes GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Akila Radhakrishnan is President of the Global Justice Center, which develops legal strategies to establish and protect human rights and gender equity. Although she sees the ‘deep misogyny’ of the backlash against abortion as the entry point, she says, ‘in many cases, abortion has been a test case of how far you can take a right down. Through the abortion pushback, a model has been created for dismantling other fundamental rights.’

Radhakrishnan notes Justice Ginsburg was ‘a stalwart on a range of civil rights issues that are on the table right now’. Without her, and with those abortion test cases, alongside cases on LGBTQI+ rights and voting rights, currently working their way up to a potentially conservative-skewed Supreme Court, Radhakrishnan is deeply concerned.

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Limiting Scientific Research is Another Front in the War on Abortion

Excerpt of Ms. Magazine op-ed from GJC Special Counsel Michelle Onello.

The recent death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg puts reproductive rights guaranteed by Roe v. Wade in grave jeopardy. As part of its war on abortionthe Trump administration has banned scientists from using human fetal tissue (HFT) donated from terminated pregnancies in medical research.

The ban on HFT research is not only another attack on reproductive freedoms; it is limiting crucial medical advances, putting lives in danger and demonstrating the vast collateral damage unleashed by the war on abortion. Reproductive rights advocates must seize upon this dangerous politicization of medical research to forge new allies and further broaden advocacy coalitions.

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The Trump administration's war on abortion rights is worse than you think

Excerpt of The Hill op-ed from GJC Special Counsel Michelle Onello.

The Trump administration has been executing a coordinated attack on what it sees as a critical public health issue. Unfortunately, the offensive is not targeting the COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected over six million people and claimed almost 200,000 lives in the US. Instead, the campaign has its sights set on women’s sexual health and reproductive rights, especially abortion. With the recent death of Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg threatening the fate of Roe v. Wade, the security of abortion rights has never been more precarious.

The administration’s brazen anti-abortion agenda includes not only well-publicized executive actions such as the expansions of the global and domestic gag rules, “conscience” exemptions to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, and the packing of courts with anti-abortion judges.

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Canada, Netherlands join Gambia's genocide case against Myanmar

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

The New York-based Global Justice Center welcomed the move by Canada and the Netherlands, calling it "nothing short of historic".

Akila Radhakrishnan, the group's president, said: "Just as important as their intention to intervene is their promise to focus on gendered crimes of genocide like sexual and gender-based violence, which was central to the atrocities against the Rohingya."

She added: "Too often, gendered experiences do not translate to justice and accountability efforts and leave the primary targets of those crimes - women and girls - behind. This is an important step forward to address that gap and Canada and the Netherlands should be applauded for this move."

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