Miami Law Human Rights Clinic

Human Rights Clinic: Projects

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Gender Justice
Stand Your Ground Laws
Human Rights in Post-Earthquake Haiti
Migrants’/Immigrants’ Rights
Juvenile Justice
United Nations (UN) Advocacy

Gender Justice

Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. United States of America
The Clinic represents Jessica Lenahan, the petitioner in Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. United States—a groundbreaking decision from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) finding the U.S. in violation of its human rights obligations in the context of domestic violence.

Domestic Violence Resolutions
The Human Rights Clinic has worked with law clinics and advocates across the country to develop other "Freedom from Domestic Violence" local resolutions. These include resolutions in Albany, NY; Austin, TX; Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Cincinnati, OH; Jacksonville, FL; Miami Springs, FL; Miami-Dade, FL; Montgomery City and County, AL; Seattle, WA; Travis County, TX, and Washington, DC. To see a compilation of these resolutions please click here.

  • HRC students' resolution declaring that "freedom from domestic violence is a fundamental human right" is approved by Miami-Dade County Commission.
  • Read a Miami Herald op-ed co-authored by HRC student Michael Stevenson and Commissioner Sally Heyman about the resolution.
  • Professor Margaret Drew and students from the University of Cincinnati prepared a toolkit on local DV resolutions. It can be found here.

Missing Aboriginal Women

In Fall 2011, the Human Rights Clinic began working on the project of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls in Canada with partner organizations the Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) and the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA).



Advocacy before the UN on Gender Justice
The Human Rights Clinic recently contributed a "shadow report" submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Committee in anticipation of the upcoming review of the United States' compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in Geneva in October 2013. Click here to read the shadow report on Domestic Violence, Gun Violence, and "Stand Your Ground" Laws.

Click here and here for two web stories about the HRC’s trip to Geneva in March.

Gender Justice Convening
The clinic worked to organize the first Gender Justice of the Americas Conference in February 2011. The event focused on revitalizing and challenging the transnational dialogue regarding sexuality, violence, reproductive and human rights.

Battered Women’s Justice Project Webinar
In January 2014, the clinic hosted a webinar on “New Perspectives in Gender Justice in Clinic Teaching.” The webinar focused on the case of Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. United States of America, the clinic’s work on implementing the Inter-American Commission’s 2011 decision, and how local governments can resolve to recognize freedom from domestic violence as a fundamental human right. For more information, and access to the webinar, please click here.

Housing and Domestic Violence
In February 2014, the Human Rights Clinic submitted comments to the Miami-Dade Public Housing and Community Development’s Proposed Policies for Section 8 Housing and the Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy. We recommended that these policies expand protections for victims of domestic violence and cite to Miami-Dade County’s Local Resolution (which the Clinic helped to draft in 2012 ) declaring freedom from domestic violence to be a fundamental human right.

Our suggestions were incorporated into the sections on domestic violence in Miami-Dade County’s Public Housing and Community Development’s FY 2014-15 Public Housing Agency Plan, Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy, and Section 8 Administrative Plan. For example, on page 131, the Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy (ACOP) states that “Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and Miami-Dade County Resolution…PHCD is required to implement internal policies to include provisions for protections of victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, sexual battery and stalking.”

Subsequently, Human Rights Clinic 3L student Charlotte Cassel testified before the Miami-Dade Board of Commissioners in early April, where she reiterated the Clinic’s concerns and advocated for increased protections in housing for victims of domestic violence.

Resources
Click here to read Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault in the United States: A Human Rights Based Approach & Practice Guide, published by the Miami Law Human Rights Clinic, Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute, and the ACLU Women's Rights Project.

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Stand Your Ground Laws

In March 2014, the Human Rights Clinic participated in a thematic hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to look at the impact of Stand Your Ground laws on minority groups throughout the United States. Our partners included the Dream Defenders, Community Justice Project of Florida Legal Services, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Free Marissa Now Campaign. Additionally, Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, and Ronald Davis, the father of Jordan Davis, both spoke as part of our delegation before the Commission. The video of the hearing can be found here. A copy of the Petitioners’ testimonies can be found here. Professor Bettinger-Lopez appeared on Jamaica Radio's Behind the Headlines on March 25, 2014 to discuss the hearing. Click here and here for blog posts by Professor Deena Hurwitz (UVA) about the hearing.

In September 2013, the Human Rights Clinic drafted and submitted a "shadow report" to the United Nations Human Rights Committee in anticipation of the review of the United States' compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in Geneva in March 2014. Click here to read the shadow report on Domestic Violence, Gun Violence, and "Stand Your Ground" Laws.

Miami Law Human Rights Clinic Participates in the ABA National Task Force’s Hearing on Stand Your Ground Law – Miami Law 3L Charlotte Cassel spoke at the ABA Task force on SYG Laws hearing in October 2013, where she discussed the application of the Stand Your Ground law to victims of domestic violence belonging to ethnic and racial minorities and framed the issue in terms of international human rights.

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Human Rights in Post-Earthquake Haiti

Stop Deportations to Haiti

The Human Rights Clinic, together with the Immigration Clinic and other partners, brought a “precautionary measures” case before the IACHR asking the United States to immediately stop deportations of Haitian nationals from the U.S. to Haiti in light of the ongoing humanitarian crisis there. The petition was granted for dozens of Haitian nationals. The Clinic is currently working on a follow-up “merits petition” to the IACHR.

On June 30, 2014 the Human Rights and Immigration Clinics contributed to a Shadow Report to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination regarding Deportation from the United States to Haiti: A Violation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

The Human Rights Clinic recently contributed to three "shadow reports" submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Committee in anticipation of the upcoming review of the United States' compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in Geneva in October 2013. Click here to read the shadow report on U.S. Deportations to Haiti. In February 2014, the clinic submitted an update to their original shadow report. Click here to read the update on U.S. Deportations to Haiti.

PDF iconView our Congressional briefing flyer (March 2012) with the latest updates on Haitian deportations.

Forst Report
The U.N.'s Independent Expert on human rights in Haiti, as well as UM Clinics and South Florida immigration advocates, have renewed their call on the United States, Dominican Republic and others to halt deportations to Haiti.

  • Press Release
  • UN report, Forced returns of Haitians from third states
  • Read the statement presented on July 3, 2012 at the United Nations Human Rights Council by the ACLU, UM's Human Rights and Immigration Clinics, and others concerning Haitian deportations from the U.S. following the catastrophic 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
  • ACLU delivers a statement on behalf of several groups at UNHRC urging US government to refrain from deporting Haitians (July 4, 2012).

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Migrants'/ Immigrants' Rights

Stop Deportations to Haiti

Convention Against Torture (CAT)
The clinic is involved in representing a Haitian immigrant in deportation proceedings, arguing that deporting her would likely result in her being tortured back in Haiti, a violation of CAT.

Migrants Rights in the Dominican Republic
This project was initially focused on supporting efforts in the Dominican Republic to implement a regularization program for undocumented individuals. In the wake of a September 2013 decision by the Dominican Constitutional Court—which stripped citizenship from hundreds of thousands of Dominican citizens of Haitian descent—the Clinic quickly switched its focus to addressing the harmful consequences of the Court ruling. As part of these efforts, the Clinic submitted a press release and an amicus curiae brief in the case of Benito Tide Méndez et al., v. Dominican Republic before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Border Rights/Refugee/Asylum Seeker Rights
The Clinic’s third new project began as a collaboration with other immigrant advocacy organizations to investigate and respond to unfair treatment and inadequate due process of asylum seekers and migrants at the United States’ borders.
      U.S./Mexico - The Clinic’s work on this issues is initially focusing on conducting advocacy before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in the form of a petition alleging rights violations against asylum seekers who have been detained in harsh conditions and arbitrarily denied the chance to apply for asylum by U.S. authorities on the Southern border.

Coalition of Immokalee Workers
The Human Rights Clinic partnered with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers on new fair food crop CROP project.

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Juvenile Justice

The Clinic is engaging with local, state, and national juvenile justice advocates to develop advocacy and other strategies for rectifying some of the rights problems facing youth in the criminal justice system. Some of the Florida-focused topics the Clinic is focusing on include: children being filed into the adult justice system without judicial review; pretrial detention of juveniles in county jails; and conditions of confinement of juveniles, including solitary confinement and other abuse allegations. The Clinic provided research support for a shadow report on Youth Incarcerated in Adult Prisons in the U.S. to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

On June 30, 2014 the Human Rights Clinic along with partner organizations submitted a Shadow Report to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination regarding Criminalization of Minority Youth: Youth Criminally Tried and Incarcerated as Adults.

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United Nations Advocacy

Shadow Reports
The Human Rights Clinic recently contributed to three "shadow reports" submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Committee in anticipation of the upcoming review of the United States' compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in Geneva in October 2013.

Human Rights Committee Review of the United States’ Compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in Geneva
Professor Caroline Bettinger-Lopez and three students (James Slater (3L), Charlotte Cassel (3L), and Daniella Peterson (3L)) of the Human Rights Clinic traveled to Geneva in March 2014 to participate in the UN Human Rights Committee's review of the United States' compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Together with other organizations and law school clinics, the Miami Law Human Rights Clinic presented the findings of their shadow reports (above) to members of the Committee and representatives of the U.S. government. We were pleased to see the Committee ask the government specific questions on our areas of focus: deportations of Haitian nationals from the U.S.; efforts to prevent domestic violence; the implications of Stand Your Ground laws in Florida; and solitary confinement of juveniles. More information on the trip can be found here and here.

The UN Treaty Body Webcast of the UN Human Rights Committee's review of the U.S. can be found in its entirety here. Parts of the review where the Human Rights Committee directly addresses the Human Rights Clinic’s focus areas are highlighted below.

  • Committee member Kaelin addresses controversial “Stand Your Ground” laws [Part 1, from 1:13:38 to 1:14:43].
  • Committee member Kaelin asks the United States how it justifies deportations to Haiti despite its ongoing humanitarian crisis and despite an explicit directive from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights [Part 2, from 2:23:01to 2:23:55].
  • Committee member Rodriguez-Rescia addresses the Jessica Lenahan case and domestic violence in the United States [Part 3, from 1:35:10 to 1:39:10].
  • Committee member Majodina addresses issues regarding juveniles detained in adult prisons and jails [Part 3, from 1:47:25 to 1:49:18]

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OUR DIRECTOR

Caroline Bettinger-LópezCaroline Bettinger-López, former Deputy Director of the Human Rights Institute and Acting Director of the Human Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School runs the Human Rights Clinic. Read article about Bettinger-López joining Miami Law.

Watch video and presentation of Bettinger- López discussing the clinic.

Kelleen CorriganKelleen Corrigan is Practitioner-in-Residence/Lecturer and Supervising Attorney at the University of Miami School of Law Human Rights Clinic.


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  • PHOTOS

    Flickr See more photos of the Human Rights Clinic in action on Flickr.

    Miami Law Human Rights Clinic students with Professor Bettinger-López

    Miami Law Human Rights Clinic students Lea Dartevelle and Miya Patel discuss the plight of Haitian deportees from the U.S. with a representative of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) at UNHCR headquarters in Washington, DC.

    Our delegation, consisting of Professor Caroline Bettinger-Lopez and 3L Charlotte Cassel from the University of Miami School of Law Human Rights Clinic; Ahmad Abuznaid from Dream Defenders; Meena Jagannath from Community Justice Project of Florida Legal Services; Niaz Kasravi from NAACP; and Alisa Bierria and Aleta Alston-Toure from Free Marissa Now Coalition, pose for a photo after the hearing with Sybrina Fulton, Ron Davis, and IACHR Commissioner Rose Marie Belle Antoine.

    Charlotte Cassel, 3L, makes opening remarks during a thematic hearing before the IACHR.

    James Slater, 3L, delivers statement on immigration and deportations to Haiti before the UN Human Rights Committee

    Human Rights Clinic students Daniella Peterson, James Slater, and Charlotte Cassel, together with Professor Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, Marleine Bastien from Haitian Women of Miami (FANM), and Meena Jagannath from the Community Justice Project of Florida Legal Services, stand in front of the UN Palais des Nations, Geneva.

    Flickr See more photos of the Human Rights Clinic in action on Flickr.