Law students Priscilla Bowens (left) and Eilidh Reid (right) at the United Nations in Geneva while traveling for the Human Rights Clinic in May 2016.

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.

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Cases and Projects

Austin Police Shootings During Mental Health Calls

The Clinic collaborated with the Austin Community Law Clinic in addressing the way with which the Austin Police Department (APD) responds to mental health-related calls for service.  Currently, APD has one of the highest rates in the country of fatal police shootings of people suffering from mental health issues.  This was documented in a September 2018 report from the City Auditor’s Office, which attributed it to APD’s failure to adhere to several best practices adopted by other police departments.  In response, APD convened a “Mental Health Stakeholder’s Group” to come up with solutions.  The Clinic reviewed existing data, described how the APD’s current practices violate human rights norms and standards, and made recommendations to comply with human rights norms.  The Clinic and its partner distributed the final report to key stakeholders and developed pertinent advocacy strategies.

Promoting the Development of the Right to Memory

The Clinic, together with the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association, developed, at the request of Memoria Abierta, a project to strengthen the work of the inter-American and other human rights systems on the right to memory for serious human rights violations. During 2018, the work focused on the preparation of an annotated version of the Fundamental Principles for Public Policies on Memory Sites developed by the Institute of Public Policies on Human Rights of MERCOSUR (IPPDH).


Fortalecimiento de las medidas cautelares de la CIDH / Strengthening the IACHR’s Precautionary Measures

Las medidas cautelares son el mecanismo que utiliza la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos en situaciones de gravedad y urgencia, por medio del cual la CIDH solicita a un Estado adoptar medidas con el propósito de prevenir daños irreparables a personas.  La Clínica como parte de la Coalición Internacional de Organizaciones por los Derechos Humanos en las Américas decidió contribuir al fortalecimiento de las medidas cautelares a través de un análisis en términos de fortalezas, desafíos y oportunidades en las distintas etapas del proceso como también repensar prácticas de la Comisión y proveer una serie de recomendaciones.  El Informe Prevenir Daños Irreparable: Fortalecer las Medidas Cautelares de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos es el fruto de ese proceso colaborativo con la Coalición.  La  investigación  se  construyó principalmente a partir de entrevistas a distintos actores que intervienen en el proceso de medidas cautelares: solicitantes, personas  beneficiarias,  representantes  de  la  Comisión  (tanto  Comisionados/as  como  personal  de  la Secretaria) y representantes de los Estados miembros de la OEA; la elaboración de una base de datos con  fines  de  análisis estadístico,  basada en  la  información  que la  Comisión publica  sobre  medidas cautelares otorgadas en el periodo 2007-2017 y, revisión documental y bibliográfica.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights uses the mechanism of precautionary measures in grave and urgent situations.  They are a means by which the IACHR requests that the State adopt measures to protect persons from irreparable harm.  As part of the Coalición Internacional de Organizaciones por los Derechos Humanos en las Américas (International Coalition of Organizations for Human Rights in the Americas), the Clinic decided to contribute to strengthening precautionary measures by analyzing the strengths, challenges, and opportunities in the different stages of the process, rethinking the practices of the Commission, and making several recommendations.  The report, Prevenir Daños Irreparable: Fortalecer las Medidas Cautelares de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, is the result of a collaboration with the Coalition.  The investigation is built on interviews of various actors involved in the precautionary measures process, including applicants, beneficiaries, representatives of the Commission (Commissioners and Secretariat staff) and representatives from the Member States of the OAS, along with a statistical analysis based on a database from information on precautionary measures during 2007-2017 published by the Commission, and a review of source material.

The report is currently available in Spanish.  An English version is coming soon.

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