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Human Rights Law

Marjorie Cohn Marjorie Cohn

Legal and political analysis of criminal justice, human rights and U.S. foreign policy.
By Marjorie Cohn

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Last Entry: May 13, 2015 at 10:54:00

Recent Entries: 183

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Congress Should End Metadata Collection

Posted on May 13, 2015
Just as Congress was debating whether to reauthorize Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which the government has used to collect data on every telephone call we make, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously struck it down in ACLU v. Clapper. Congress has four days left in its current session to decide whether to reauthorize Section 215, amend it or let it die a natural death on June 1, 2015 (the date on which it will sunset if not reauthorized)...

The Chickens Come Home to Roost in Baltimore

Posted on May 04, 2015
Once again, the nation watches as prosecutors deal with the killing of an unarmed black man.?[The officers] failed to establish probable cause for Mr. Gray?s arrest as no crime had been committed by Mr. Gray . . . Accordingly, [he was] illegally arrested,? Baltimore state?s attorney Marilyn Mosby declared, as she announced the filing of criminal charges against the six officers implicated in Freddie Gray?s death...

Agent Orange: Terrible Legacy of the Vietnam War

Posted on May 01, 2015
Mai Giang Vu was exposed to Agent Orange while serving in the Army of South Vietnam from 1968 to 1974. He carried barrels of chemicals to spray in the jungle. His sons were born in 1974 and 1975. They were unable to walk or function normally. Their limbs gradually "curled up" and they could only crawl...

Challenging American Exceptionalism

Posted on April 27, 2015
President Barack Obama stood behind the podium and apologized for inadvertently killing two Western hostages - including one American - during a drone strike in Pakistan. Obama said, ?one of the things that sets America apart from many other nations, one of the things that makes us exceptional, is our willingness to confront squarely our imperfections and to learn from our mistakes...

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Dutch Lawsuit Charges Crimes Against Humanity During Egyptian Massacres

Posted on April 23, 2015
On July 3, 2013, the Egyptian military staged a coup?etat and deposed the democratically elected government of President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Thousands of Egyptians staged demonstrations throughout Egypt to show support for Morsi.One month later, the Egyptian army and police carried out several massacres in Cairo, killing hundreds of unarmed protesters...

Israel's Blatant Flouting of International Law Requires Presidential Response

Posted on March 26, 2015
As Israeli voters went to the polls, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared he would oppose the creation of a Palestinian state. In what The New York Times called a "racist rant," he also proclaimed, "right-wing rule is in danger" because "Arab voters are streaming in huge quantities to the polling stations...

Netanyahu, ?Censored Voices,? and the False Narrative of Self-Defense

Posted on March 03, 2015
On March 3rd, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued an impassioned plea to Congress to protect Israel by opposing diplomacy with Iran. Referring to ?the remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States? which includes ?generous military assistance and missile defense,? Netanyahu failed to mention that Israel has an arsenal of 100 or 200 nuclear weapons...

Obama to Congress: Rubber-Stamp My Perpetual War

Posted on February 18, 2015
As President Barack Obama presented his proposed Authorization for Use of Military Force(AUMF) to Congress, he declared, "I do not believe America's interests are served by endless war, or by remaining on a perpetual war footing." Yet Obama's proposal asks Congress to rubber-stamp his endless war against anyone he wants, wherever he wants...

?How Human Rights Can Build Haiti?

Posted on February 02, 2015
Book Review: ?How Human Rights Can Build Haiti? Fran Quigley, Vanderbilt University Press (2014), 223 pp.Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. It has suffered a devastating earthquake followed by a deadly cholera epidemic, both set in the backdrop of a history of oppression by corrupt rulers and foreign exploitation...

Supreme Court Upholds Auto Stop With No Traffic Violation

Posted on January 29, 2015
Ignorance of the law is no excuse - that is, unless you're a police officer. For the first time, in December, the Supreme Court upheld a traffic stop even where there was no traffic violation. The court, in Heien v. North Carolina, continued its steady erosion of the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures...

Interview of Marjorie Cohn about 'Drones and Targeted Killing'

Posted on January 12, 2015
By John WilkensSan Diego Union-TribuneMarjorie Cohn has been a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego since 1991, specializing in international human rights law. She?s a former president of the National Lawyers Guild and testified before Congress about torture...

Marjorie Cohn on Drone Warfare: Illegal, Immoral and Ineffective

Posted on December 26, 2014
Leslie Thatcher (Truthout): Marjorie, could you describe the genesis of this project? Marjorie Cohn: George W. Bush prosecuted two illegal wars in which thousands of Americans, Iraqis and Afghans were killed. Although Barack Obama continued those wars, eventually he reduced the numbers of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan...

?Cuban Five? at Heart of US-Cuba Deal

Posted on December 17, 2014
In the course of delivering his historic speech dramatically altering US Cuba policy, President Barack Obama briefly mentioned that the United States released three Cuban agents. These men are members of the ?Cuban Five,? who were imprisoned for gathering information on US-based Cuban exile groups planning terrorist actions against Cuba...

Torture Report Confirms Team Bush War Crimes

Posted on December 16, 2014
Reading the 499-page torture report just released by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was a disgusting experience. Even after many years of writing books and articles about the Bush torture policy, I was unprepared for the atrocious pattern of crimes our government committed against other human beings in our name...

Prosecutor Manipulates Grand Jury Process to Shield Office

Posted on December 03, 2014
You know the fix is in when a suspect who shot an unarmed man voluntarily provides four hours of un-cross examined testimony to a grand jury without taking the Fifth.On August 9, Ferguson, Missouri Police Officer Darren Wilson gunned down 18-year-old African American Michael Brown...

US Government Sanitizes Vietnam War History

Posted on October 17, 2014
For many years after the Vietnam War, we enjoyed the "Vietnam syndrome," in which US presidents hesitated to launch substantial military attacks on other countries. They feared intense opposition akin to the powerful movement that helped bring an end to the war in Vietnam...

?I?m Just a Kid?: Tariq?s Ordeal

Posted on September 28, 2014
Last summer, Tariq Khdeir, a 15-year-old American citizen from Baltimore, accompanied his parents to the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat for a six-week visit with relatives. The first friend Tariq made when he arrived was his cousin, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, whom Tariq had not seen since he was four years old...

Obama Declares Perpetual War

Posted on September 18, 2014
President Barack Obama escalated the drone war he has conducted for the past five and a half years by declaring his intention to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, or ISIL. Since August 8, Obama has mounted at least 154 airstrikes in Iraq...

US Slammed for Failure to Fulfill Legal Obligation to Eliminate All Forms of Racial Discrimination

Posted on September 08, 2014
Three weeks after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) published a report detailing how the United States has failed to fulfill its legal obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Convention)...

National Lawyers Guild, other legal organizations urge International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes by Israeli, U.S. leaders in Gaza

Posted on August 22, 2014
The National Lawyers Guild (NLG), Center for Constitutional Rights, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Arab Lawyers Union, and American Association of Jurists (Asociacion Americana de Juristas) sent a letter on Friday, August 22 to Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), urging her to initiate an investigation of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity committed by Israeli leaders and aided and abetted by U...

US Leaders Aid and Abet Israeli War Crimes, Genocide & Crimes against Humanity

Posted on August 08, 2014
By sending vast amounts of military aid to Israel, members of the US Congress, President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel have aided and abetted the commission of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity by Israeli officials and commanders in Gaza...

Israel Inflicts Illegal Collective Punishment on Gaza

Posted on July 15, 2014
Israel has commenced full-scale warfare on the people of Gaza. The recent tensions began about six weeks ago when Israeli forces abducted 17 Palestinian teenage boys in the occupied West Bank. Then, on June 12, three Israeli teenagers were abducted in the southern West Bank; Israel blamed Hamas...

Will Supremes Apply Cell Phone Privacy to Metadata Collection?

Posted on June 30, 2014
In one of the most significant Fourth Amendment rulings ever handed down by the Supreme Court, all nine justices agreed in an opinion involving two companion cases, Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie, that police generally need a warrant before reading data on the cell phone of an arrestee...

Obama on the Brink: War or Peace?

Posted on June 19, 2014
Once again, we are poised on the brink of a war that could violate US and international law. President Barack Obama faces a critical decision: will he meaningfully pursue a peaceful solution - even collaborating with Israel's archenemy Iran - or will he succumb to pressure from the hawks responsible for destabilizing Iraq during the misnamed "Operation Iraqi Freedom?"The Crisis in Iraq and "Operation Iraqi Freedom"After two horrific wars that killed millions of people, the countries of the world adopted the United Nations Charter "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war...

U.S. Nearly Used Nukes During Viet Nam War

Posted on June 10, 2014
We came dangerously close to nuclear war when the United States was fighting in Viet Nam, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg told a reunion of the Stanford Anti-Viet Nam War Movement in May 2014. He said that in 1965, the Joint Chiefs assured President Lyndon B...

Death to the Death Penalty

Posted on May 15, 2014
The recent torturous execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma has propelled the death penalty into the national discourse. The secret three-drug cocktail prison authorities administered to Lockett ? the first to render him unconscious, the second to paralyze him, and the third to stop his heart and kill him - didn?t work as planned...

BDS: Non-Violent Resistance to Israeli Occupation

Posted on March 23, 2014
Thanks to Scarlett Johansson, the American Studies Association (ASA), and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has entered our national discourse. Representatives of Palestinian civil society launched BDS in 2005, calling upon ?international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South African in the apartheid era ...

Beyond Orwell?s Worst Nightmare

Posted on January 31, 2014
?Big Brother is Watching You,? George Orwell wrote in his disturbing book 1984. But, as Mikko Hypponen points out, Orwell ?was an optimist.? Orwell never could have imagined that the National Security Agency (NSA) would amass metadata on billions of our phone calls and 200 million of our text messages every day...

NSA Metadata Collection: Fourth Amendment Violation

Posted on January 16, 2014
Edward Snowden, who worked for the National Security Agency (NSA), revealed a secret order of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), that requires Verizon to produce on an "ongoing daily basis ... all call detail records or 'telephony metadata' created by Verizon for communications (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls...

Voices From the Drone Summit

Posted on November 17, 2013
Last weekend, I participated in a panel on the illegality of drones and targeted killing off the battlefield at the conference, ?Drones Around the Globe: Proliferation and Resistance,? in Washington DC. Nearly 400 people from many countries came together to gather information, protest, and develop strategies to end targeted killing by combat drones...

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