HRC-Studentgettingspeechtranslated

Human Rights Clinic

The Human Rights Clinic brings together an interdisciplinary group of law and graduate students in a course that incorporates both classroom study and hands-on participation in human rights projects and cases.

Students taking questions at a press conference.
Students Alex Goeman (left) and Samantha Chen (right) take questions from journalists at a press conference about the Clinic’s report “Deadly Heat in Texas Prisons” on April 22, 2014.

Working from the advocate’s perspective, students collaborate with human rights organizations worldwide to support human rights claims in domestic and international fora, to investigate and document human rights violations, to develop and participate in advocacy initiatives before the United Nations, regional and national human rights bodies, and to engage with global and local human rights campaigns.

Clinic students stand in front of the Organization of Ameican States building.
Human Rights Clinic students Andrew Nicholson and Tania Lara Ortiz visit the Organization of American States in Washington, DC, in spring of 2012 as part of a project on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

By taking on primary responsibility for their cases and projects and working under the guidance and mentoring of Clinic Director Ariel Dulitzky, students develop both theoretical and practical skills. The range of cases and projects handled by the Human Rights Clinic illustrates the breadth of human rights practice, including fact-finding, reporting and using the press, and other public advocacy. Through this work, students learn substantive human rights law, develop important professional techniques, and explore different models for ethical, responsible, and effective promotion and protection of human rights.

 

Cases and Projects

USA: Extreme Heat in Texas Prisons (Spring 2015)

In April 2015, the Clinic published the report “Reckless Indifference: Extreme Heat in Texas Prisons” and revealed the ongoing, dire conditions that inmates and guards alike are exposed to in Texas prisons, which have claimed the lives of at least 14 inmates since 2007. This report expanded on the Clinic’s previous work by adding inmate testimony as well as inmate grievances, and it established that pleas to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) have been largely ignored. The Clinic urges the TDCJ and the Texas Legislature to implement the recommendations enumerated in the report before the federal government inevitably intervenes. In doing so, the Clinic joins the calls of other national and international organizations that consider these dangerous conditions to be a violation of the inmates’ constitutional and human rights.

USA: Extreme Heat in Texas Prisons (Spring 2014)

Clinic students Alex Goeman (center) and Samantha Chen (right) present the Human Rights Clinic report “Deadly Heat in Texas Prisons” at a press conference on April 22, 2014.
Clinic students Alex Goeman (center) and Samantha Chen (right) present the Human Rights Clinic report “Deadly Heat in Texas Prisons” at a press conference on April 22, 2014.

In 2014, the HRC published a report, entitled “Deadly Heat in Texas Prisons” (below), challenging the current situation in Texas prisons and on domestic and international standards addressing extreme heat. The HRC concluded that extreme heat in prisons endangers the health of inmates and employees, that such conditions are a violation of inmates’ constitutional and human rights, and makes short- and long-term recommendations on how to solve this unacceptable, ongoing problem.

Clinic students present the Human Rights Clinic report “Deadly Heat in Texas Prisons” before the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights on October 27, 2014.
Clinic students present the Human Rights Clinic report “Deadly Heat in Texas Prisons” before the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights on October 27, 2014.

Hearing before the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights, October 27, 2014

USA: Freedom from Domestic Violence as a Human Right in Travis County and Austin, Texas (Spring 2014)

The Clinic, in partnership with the Domestic Violence Clinic, the Legislative Lawyering Clinic and the Austin/Travis County Family Violence Task Force, is promoting the adoption of City of Austin Council and Travis County Resolutions on Freedom from Domestic Violence as a Human Right. On April 8, 2014 the Travis County Commission and on April 17, 2014, the City of Austin Council approved those resolutions. The City Council Resolution was introduced by Council member Laura Morrison. The resolutions seek to declare that the local governments have an obligation to “respect and ensure” the right to be free from domestic violence on behalf of their residents. This project is part of a national movement to encourage local authorities at state, county, and city levels to adopt similar resolutions. Among others, Baltimore, Seattle, Albany, and Miami have adopted such resolutions. Clinics nationwide have been engaged in these initiatives. This movement, in part, builds on the report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the case of Jessica Lenahan v. U.S.

HRC-2014-StudentsatTravisCountyCouncilMtg-williams-addison-quillen
Human Rights Clinic students Danny Williams (left), Amanda Addison (center) and Domestic Violence Clinic student Brian Quillen (right) at the Austin City Council Meeting on April 17, 2014.

 

Clinical Professors Ariel Dulitzky and Jeana Lungwitz with their students at the Travis County Commissioners Court on April 8, 2014 after the resolution was passed making freedom from domestic violence a human right in Travis County, Texas.
Clinical Professors Ariel Dulitzky and Jeana Lungwitz with their students at the Travis County Commissioners Court on April 8, 2014 after the resolution was passed making freedom from domestic violence a human right in Travis County, Texas.

 

View All Cases and Projects