Regional and Global Perspectives on Impunity for CIA Torture and the Right to Remedies and Reparation
October 22, 2015
On October 23, 2015, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights held a hearing on “human rights situation of persons affected by the U.S. Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Program.” The hearing, which was requested by the ACLU and the NYU Global Justice Clinic, focused on the right to remedies and reparations for survivors of the CIA torture program. In advance of the IACHR hearing, a coalition of human rights groups from the U.S. and Latin America held a public event at NYU Washington, DC, addressing the need for transparency and accountability for the CIA torture and secret detention program. What does U.S. failure to act in the face of well-documented acts of torture mean to global human rights and what are the consequences for endorsing impunity? What lessons could be learned from the Latin American experience in the search for truth and justice and ensuring non-repetition of torture and enforced disappearances?
Meg Satterthwaite, Director, NYU Global Justice Clinic, provided welcoming remarks.
Chris Anders, Senior Legislative Counsel, ACLU
Christopher Anders (@andersaclu) is senior legislative counsel in the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington Legislative Office, where he represents the ACLU before Congress and the Executive Branch. Since joining the ACLU legislative team in 1997, Anders has represented the ACLU on a wide range of civil liberties and civil rights issues. For the past eight years, Anders has led the ACLU’s Washington, D.C. advocacy on torture, detention, war authority, and Guantanamo issues. Since 2006, he has led a national coalition of human rights, civil liberties, and religious groups working on detention and Guantanamo issues. He also has served as a human rights observer at military commission proceedings held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Prior to joining the ACLU’s Washington office, Anders spent eleven years with Washington law and lobbying firms.
Jo-Marie Burt, Senior Fellow, WOLA
Jo-Marie Burt is a senior fellow at WOLA specializing in Peru. She teaches political science at George Mason University, where she is currently acting co-director of the Center for Global Studies. Her research focuses on political violence and state power, human rights and transitional justice, and social movements in Latin America.
She currently directs a research project on efforts to prosecute perpetrators of grave human rights violations committed in the context of Peru’s internal armed conflict (for more information see the project website at http://rightsperu.net) and in Latin America more broadly.
Professor Burt has worked closely with human rights organizations in Latin America and the U.S., including Peru’s National Human Rights Coordinator and the Institute for Legal Defense (IDL). In 2002-3, she worked as a researcher for the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
She was an international observer for WOLA to the trial of former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, who in 2009 was convicted for his role in grave human rights violations. In 2010, she was the “Alberto Flores Galindo” Visiting Professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru.
Juan E. Mendez, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture
Juan E. Méndez is a Visiting Professor of Law at the American University – Washington College of Law and the author (with Marjory Wentworth) of "Taking A Stand: The Evolution of Human Rights", New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2011. As of 1 November 2010, he was appointed the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
He was Special Advisor to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. He was also Co-Chair of the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute from 2010-2011
Until May 2009 he was the President of the International Center for Transnational Justice (ICTJ) and in the summer of 2009 he was a Scholar-in-Residence at the Ford Foundation in New York. Concurrent with his duties at ICTJ, the Honorable Kofi Annan named Mr. Méndez his Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, a task he performed from 2004 to 2007.
A native of Argentina, Mr. Méndez has dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights and has a long and distinguished record of advocacy throughout the Americas. As a result of his involvement in representing political prisoners, the Argentinean military dictatorship arrested him and subjected him to torture and administrative detention for more than a year. During this time, Amnesty International adopted him as a “Prisoner of Conscience.” After his expulsion from his country in 1977, Mr. Méndez moved to the United States.
For 15 years, he worked with Human Rights Watch, concentrating his efforts on human rights issues in the western hemisphere. In 1994, he became general counsel of Human Rights Watch, with worldwide duties in support of the organization’s mission, including responsibility for litigation and standard-setting activities. From 1996 to 1999, Mr. Méndez was the Executive Director of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights in Costa Rica, and between October 1999 and May 2004 he was Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Civil and Human Rights at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. Between 2000 and 2003 he was a member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States, and served as its President in 2002.
He has taught International Human Rights Law at Georgetown Law School and at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and he teaches regularly at the Oxford Masters Program in International Human Rights Law in the United Kingdom. He is the recipient of several human rights awards: the Rafael Lemkin Award for contributions to the prevention of genocide by the Auschwitz Institute on Peace and Reconciliation (2010); the Goler T. Butcher Medal from the American Society of International Law (2010); a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the University of Quebec in Montreal (2006); the inaugural “Monsignor Oscar A. Romero Award for Leadership in Service to Human Rights,” by the University of Dayton (2000); and the “Jeanne and Joseph Sullivan Award” of the Heartland Alliance (2003).
Mr. Méndez is a member of the bar of Mar del Plata and Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the District of Columbia, U.S., having earned a J.D. from Stella Maris University in Argentina and a certificate from the American University Washington College of Law.
Rev. Fred B. Morris, Methodist Pastor and Torture Survivor
Bio to come.
Claudia Paz y Paz, Former Attorney General of Guatemala
Claudia Paz y Paz grew up during the civil war which inspired her to study law, in order to help bring justice to her war-torn country. She took after her grandfather who was also a lawyer and earned a PhD in Human Rights and Criminal Law from the Salamanca University in Spain.
Throughout her career, Paz y Paz served as a judge in Supango, Guatemala. She was also the legal advisor for the Archbishop’s Office on Human Rights in Guatemala and a legal expert in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Claudia Paz y Paz quickly became a well-known supporter of women’s and indigenous groups’ rights. It was her tireless efforts on those two instances that led to her appointment as Guatemala’s Attorney General.
In the less than three years after she came to Office, Claudia Paz y Paz became globally renowned for standing up for impunity and for achieving significant improvements in the Guatemalan judicial system, which has been notorious for its corruption.
Claudia Paz y Paz established the Guatemalan Institute for Comparative Studies in Penal Sciences – an institute which defends and promotes the rule of law.
Paz y Paz was the first Guatemalan law enforcement official who prosecuted those who committed human rights violations during the military dictatorship of President Efrain Rios Montt, including those responsible for the genocide of more than 200 000 Mayans. Claudia Paz y Paz and her team built the case against former General Rios Montt for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. Paz y Paz was also successfully prosecuted the four Guatemalan soldiers who were found responsible for the 1982 Dos Erres massacre in which 200 villagers were killed.
Paz y Paz has also been credited for reducing violence in Guatemala by dismantling criminal networks, rather than through focusing on individual criminals.
Claudia Paz y Paz (Peace & Peace, in Spanish) has gained worldwide recognition from many human rights groups and media sources such as Forbes, the New York Times, Al Jazeera.
In 2011, she was honoured by Hillary Clinton and the International Crisis Group. She is the recipient of CJA’s (Center of Justice and Accountability) 2013 Judith Lee Stronach Human Rights Award.
Meg Satterthwaite, Faculty Director of the Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, Co-Chair and Faculty Director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ), NYU
Margaret Satterthwaite is the faculty director of the Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights and a co-chair and faculty director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ). She is a Professor of Clinical Law and director of the Global Justice Clinic. Her recent scholarship has involved cross-disciplinary work aimed at advancing the evidence base for human rights advocacy. This collaborative work includes A Social Science of Human Rights? A Conceptual Roadmap for Social Science Methods in Human Rights Fact-Finding (co-authored with Justin Simeone); Measuring What We Treasure and Treasuring What We Measure: The Promise and Perils of Global Monitoring for the Promotion of Equality in the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Sector (co-authored with Inga Winkler and Catarina de Albuquerque); and Persuasive Visualization: Can Visualized Data Change Users’ Opinions? (co-authored with Enrico Bertini, Oded Nov, Anshul Pandey, and Anjali Manivannan), as well as a series of articles on trauma and resilience in human rights work. She has published two books, Gender, National Security, and Counter-Terrorism: Human Rights Perspectives (co-edited with Jayne Huckerby, 2013; paperback, 2014) and Human Rights Advocacy Stories (co-edited with Deena Hurwitz and Douglas Ford, 2009), a volume in the Law Stories series. Her past scholarship focused on indicators and metrics, human rights in Haiti, and the human rights impacts of counter-terrorism measures.
Satterthwaite joined the NYU faculty in 2006 after many years in the human rights field. Her human rights career began before law school: between 1990 and 1996, she co-founded and then directed Amnesty International USA’s program on the human rights of those persecuted on the basis of their sexual orientation. Satterthwaite also completed a Master’s Degree and served as International Programs Coordinator for the human rights education organization Street Law, where she helped develop curriculum in human rights and legal literacy, as well as conducting workshops and training sessions for human rights advocates and legal professionals. In 1995, she was employed as a human rights investigator by the Haitian National Truth and Justice Commission.
After receiving her law degree magna cum laude from NYU Law in 1999, Satterthwaite clerked for Judge Betty Fletcher of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The following year she was the Furman Fellow at Human Rights First (then the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights), where she focused on emergency law and collusion in Northern Ireland. In 2002, Satterthwaite clerked at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Between 2002 and 2003, Satterthwaite was a human rights consultant for the United Nations, working with the human rights section of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). In 2003, she was hired as research director of NYU’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. She joined the full-time faculty in January 2006.
Satterthwaite has served as a consultant to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, the World Health Organization, and the World Bank. In 2009, she received the Pioneer of Justice and Equality for Women and the Law; in 2011 she was awarded the Podell Distinguished Teaching Award; and in 2014, she received the NYU School of Law Alumni Association’s Legal Teaching Award. She has served as an adviser or member of the board of directors of a range of human rights organizations, including Amnesty International USA, Digital Democracy, the Global Initiative for Economic and Social Rights, Haiti Corps, and the International Justice Resource Center. She is a member of the Human Rights Reference Group of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.