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criminal justice

criminal justice, human rights, international justice, public interest law, social change, women's rights

Kimberley Motley: on rule of law in Afghanistan

Here’s quite a fascinating TED talk by Kimberley Motley,who I know has been somewhat of a controversial figure in Afghanistan in the past. She has some interesting thoughts on what it’s like to be a lawyer, representing clients and promoting rule of law in fragile states such as Afghanistan. She represents an interesting array of cases, including gender-based violence and human rights cases in Afghanistan. Her main thrust in this talk, which I have always agreed with  – is that in many countries, there are already many laws on the books that could protect and promote human rights. Even within Shari’a law, there…

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criminal justice, public interest law, social change, women's rights

State violence and domestic abuse

As someone who works on issues of domestic violence, one question I frequently ask is: how can we rely on the state’s violent, coercive power to counter and resolve another issue of ‘private’ violence? The criminal justice system and prosecution of domestic abusers is a solution often put forth when it comes to providing accountability and promoting deterrence in cases of gender-based and domestic violence. Perhaps if we prosecute more often (considering the rate of prosecution is incredibly low for a variety of reasons — patriarchal beliefs among police and the justice system, the intimate relationships between abusers and survivors,…

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criminal justice, human rights, international development, public interest law

Improving pretrial justice: a hidden opportunity

While statistics on the number and percentage of persons formally accused of crime who are detained in custody pending trial are problematic, available evidence suggests that in practice, pretrial detention is far from being the “exception to the rule” that international law demands. In many countries the international standards are not observed. Globally, at any time, just under one third of people in prison are being held in pretrial detention. In Asia, the proportion is 47.8 percent, for Africa 35.2 percent, in the Americas it is 25.2 percent, and in Europe it is 20.5 percent. It has been reliably estimated…

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criminal justice, feature friday, human rights, international development, public interest law

Feature Friday: UN Resolution on Access to Legal Aid

This Friday, I want to feature something a little different. Not an organization, but a little-known new UN Resolution which is truly groundbreaking. In a number of countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, access to legal services (even when accused of a crime) is unfortunately not a guaranteed human right. In the U.S., our criminal justice system is deeply flawed and racialized, with unequal access to high-quality criminal defense. However, this basic right is not even guaranteed for the poor in many parts of the world, leading to protracted pre-trial detention periods. Often, people have been in prison for…

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criminal justice

Mass incarceration: America’s new racial caste system

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the racialized nature of the criminal justice system in our country. In my work, I encounter a lot of police brutality and misconduct cases in Washington D.C. and the unfortunate truth is that police in this country are given an enormous amount of discretion on how to treat everyday people. That is why the recent death of Trayvon Martin – a young unarmed African American teenager who was shot by a neighborhood watch organizer for the Sanford PD while walking home, with candy in his hand – comes as no surprise to me. Perhaps I am desensitized…

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criminal justice, human rights, international development, non-profit, public interest law, social change

A vision to end torture

I’m incredibly excited that one of my favorite organizations – International Bridges to Justice – has launched a TED talk by Founder & CEO, Karen Tse. IBJ is also featured as #3 on Huffington Post’s “Best of TED 2011 Countdown.” Take a few minutes to watch Karen’s talk below — and to join us in the movement to end torture. During my time interning with International Bridges to Justice and speaking with Karen, I have been truly inspired by their vision to end torture in our lifetime — and their model of strengthening legal systems, training and funding lawyers and…

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criminal justice, human rights, innovation, public interest law

Karen Tse at TEDxZurich: On how to end torture worldwide

I was thrilled to find this TEDxZurich talk by Karen Tse, Founder and CEO of International Bridges to Justice (IBJ). I previously interned with IBJ and to this day, credit my time there for sparking my passion for access to justice issues. IBJ is an incredible and innovative organization that works to end torture worldwide by helping countries strengthen their criminal justice systems and train effective criminal defense lawyers. Karen is the recipient of so many awards – Skoll, Echoing Green, Ashoka, and the list goes on. More importantly, her work is truly inspiring and fills a necessary gap. IBJ…

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criminal justice, non-profit, public interest law, social change

Let’s make this a movement: Holistic Advocacy

My work with legal and access to justice non-profits has starkly highlighted to me the importance and necessity of holistic advocacy, and yet the unfortunate rarity of the practice. As I’ve written here before, holistic advocacy is simply the idea that social problems are all deeply interrelated and thus require service delivery non-profits to focus on an individual as a whole, in a comprehensive manner, in order to effectively solve their problems, help pull them out of poverty, and affect true change. I’ve drawn this model from the Bronx Defenders, who have a brilliant “Center for Holistic Defense.” They define…

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criminal justice, human rights, innovation, international development, international justice, women's rights

New mobile gender justice court tries rape case in Congo

My inspiring story of the day (other than, you know, all the protests happening in Bahrain, Wisconsin, etc..) was about an innovative mobile gender justice court prosecuting perpetrators of sexual violence and rape in Congo. The court is trying eleven soldiers, responsible for a mass rape on New Year’s Day of dozens of women and girls in the town of Fizi, DRC. The court, run by the Open Society Institute, is charging them with rape as a crime against humanity. Find below, some excerpts from the OSI blog post written by Kelly Askin: I first came to eastern Congo in…

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criminal justice, international development, social change

Why the divide? The case for greater collaboration.

This quote from an article I read a few weeks ago, “Making Good on the Girl Effect” truly stuck with me. It echoed thoughts that have been rattling around inside my brain for quite a while, but which never quite made it to the computer screen. We must globalize the local and localize the global. While sex slavery is certainly a critical issue in Cambodia, it’s also a problem in Cleveland. Education can uplift the girls of Afghanistan, but it can also be a launching pad for girls in Louisiana. Our realities are intertwined and so must be our approach…

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