2016 News

Berkeley International Law Faculty in the News — December 2016

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal (December 21, 2016) on China’s ‘social credit’ system: Turning big data into mass surveillance:  “The current effort to expand control of personal conduct is the latest in a series of moves to control behavior that now include campaigns against corrupt officials, rights lawyers and others whose conduct and actions are considered ‘subversive’ both in person and otherwise—such as in social media.”


Berkeley International Law Faculty in the News — November 2016

Rachel Stern interviewed by China File: Sinica podcast (November 30, 2016) on The intersection of Chinese law and politics:  Rachel talks … about her recent research, the Chinese bar exam and its politicization, the ways in which environmental litigation works (or doesn’t), and the anxious uncertainty behind much of the self-censorship in media.

Andrea Lampros and Alexa Koenig quoted by New Scientist (November 11, 2016) on Human rights squad detects abuse in warzone social media images: “The use of smartphones has basically proliferated, and so too has the amount of potential evidence. But the actual verification of that is critical,” says Andrea Lampros at the University of California, Berkeley’s Human Rights Center (HRC). “That’s what makes it valid and usable—and that requires a tremendous amount of people power. We can help sift through those vast amounts of material and make them really useful to human rights groups and, potentially, courts.”

At the HRC, corps members are also trying to gather evidence in support of ongoing human rights cases. “Lawyers are beginning to realise the value of doing research through publicly available information for legally related purposes, but when you’re talking about actually trying to bring that information into court as evidence, there are additional considerations,” says Alexa Koenig at the HRC.

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal (November 7, 2016) on Reform needed in how Chinese judges think: “Wrongful convictions are well-known examples of some of the egregious problems in the criminal justice system. Professor He Jiahong, of Renmin University in Beijing, documents a number of wrongful convictions, such as the case of one man executed for the murder of a woman who was discovered to be alive six years later.”


Announcement of the 2017 Miller Institute-ASIL Fellowship Recipients

Lydia Sinkus (JD ’17) and Vittorio Davide De Medici-Rodrigues (JSD ’18) are the 2017 recipients of the Miller Institute-American Society of International Law Student Fellowship.  The Fellowship, established in 2012, funds the participation of a Berkeley Law student to attend the annual meeting of the American Society of International Law (ASIL) in Washington DC. This year, in collaboration with Berkeley Law’s Advanced Degree Program Office, we are able to sponsor tw0 students to attend the April 2017 meeting in Washington DC.


Berkeley International Law Faculty in the News – September 2016

linos-wash-post-article-09-29-16-photo Katerina Linos (with Tom Pegram) writes for The Washington Post (September 29, 2016) on “Strong words make treaties more effective.  So is the Paris climate accord worded too flexibly?”:  “[D]evising multilateral agreements is painstaking work. Typically, negotiators from hundreds of states deliberate for many years. Any agreement they reach often involves major compromises, which means provisions that experts consider important tend to be watered down. Nowhere is this more apparent than the case of the Paris Climate Change Accords. To break decades of multilateral gridlock on climate change, negotiators followed the mantra don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Kim Thuy Seelinger quoted by The Guardian (September 18, 2016) on ‘I told my story face to face with Habré’: Courageous rape survivors make history: “It went from a case where there was zero sexual violence in the charging recommended by the investigating judges to a verdict that was really heavy with sexual violence,” Seelinger says. “It’s great, it’s astounding, and it’s quite dramatic in terms of international jurisprudence.”

Roxanna Altholz interviewed by The New York Times (September 10, 2016) on The secret history of Colombia’s paramilitaries and the U.S. War on Drugs: “It’s crazy,” said Roxanna Altholz, the associate director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, who represents the Henríquezes. “These individuals are the worst of the worst. They are drug lords and war criminals. Why should they be getting any benefits?”


Berkeley International Law Faculty in the News – July 2016

Eric Stover and Alexa Koenig interviewed by KQED-FM (July 29, 2016) on Prosecuting war criminals in the era of the war on terror:
Eric Stover: “Before you can have a trial, you actually need to have an accused. So, how do you go after those war crime suspects? And when you look at the post-9/11 environment, going after suspected terrorists, how did the United States conduct that pursuit? And was it illegal?”
Alexa Koenig: “How do you actually muster the political will to have countries aid and search for these individuals, or when they are–as our book is called–hiding in plain sight, when they’re right in front of us? How do you break down the political protections around them to make them vulnerable enough to get them into courts?”

Alexa Koenig, Eric Stover and Victor Peskin write for Foreign Affairs (July 13, 2016) on Arrest Bashir:  “In 2009, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for the Sudanese leader for crimes against humanity, including the killing of 300,000 people and the displacement of 2.5 million more in Darfur. A year later, the court added the charge of genocide. Since then, Bashir has made more than 75 trips to nearly 30 countries, including to seven states that are members of the ICC and are therefore legally obligated to arrest him.”

Alexa Koenig interviewed by PBS: The Open Mind (July 2, 2016) on Genocide with impunity:  “One thing that you realize when you look at the arc of justice from, say, the 1940s to the present day, is that sometimes it takes 20-30 years to actually get the highest level people to be accountable for their crimes.”

Jamie O’Connell Named Fulbright Scholar

Congratulations to Jamie O’Connell, Miller Institute Senior Fellow and Berkeley Law Lecturer in Residence, who has been selected as a Fulbright Senior Scholar for Spain. He will teach at the University of Valencia School of Law for the 2016-17 academic year.

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Berkeley International Law Faculty in the News — May 2016

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal (May 25, 2016) on China’s new law on international NGOs—and questions about legal reform:  The thrust of the new law is very clear: It is consistent with a vigorous neo-Maoist campaign launched by President Xi Jinping against foreign ideologies and other influences on Chinese social and political development, and is intended to strengthen control by the Chinese Communist Party over Chinese society.

Jamie O’Connell quoted by Al-Monitor (May 17, 2016) on Will Turkey let UN officials snoop in the southeast?: “ Even [US President Barack] Obama saying something wouldn’t transform a government’s behavior,” said Jamie O’Connell, a senior fellow at the University of California, Berkeley law school. “But the difference between leading rights groups like Amnesty [International] or Human Rights Watch making such comments and a UN official doing so is considerable,” he told Al-Monitor in an interview.


Berkeley International Law Faculty in the News — April 2016

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal (April 19, 2016) on Political psychiatry: How China uses ‘Ankang’ hospitals to silence dissent:  “Notably, human rights groups have long charged that one of the crudest examples of illegality in Chinese criminal procedure is the political use of psychiatry to detain, imprison, and forcibly medicate dissidents and activists.”

Roxanna Altholz interviewed by USA Today (April 15, 2016) on Killings, deaths at the border:  “We are alleging that the United States used excessive force against Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, that agents tortured Anastasio Rojas, and that the investigation was delayed and that it lacked impartiality and independence. That’s the core of our case against the United States.”

Roxanna Altholz quoted in Salon (April 8, 2016) on Death on the border: Family suing US for “torturing and killing” Latino father at California-Mexico line, botching investigation: “Unless the United States holds agents accountable for excessive use of force, they are allowing them to continue committing these crimes; they are signaling that violence against the most disenfranchised and vulnerable members of our community is permissible.”


Victory for International Human Rights Law Clinic

The International Human Rights Law Clinic and Roxanna Altholz are celebrating another major victory. On March 14, a federal judge granted victims of Colombian paramilitary leader Hernan Giraldo Serna the right to participate in the accused’s criminal proceedings.

Read the article on the Berkeley Law website.

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Roxanna Altholz with Wilson Sonsini lawyers Leo Cunningham and Melissa Manino and former student Yasmin Emrani ’15

Congratulations to Katerina Linos

Katerina Linos has been named to the Board of Editors of the American Journal of International Law for a four-year term.


Support for Student Travel to ASIL Annual Meeting

The Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law established the Miller Institute-American Society of International Law Student Fellowship in 2012 to fund the participation of a Berkeley Law student to attend the annual meeting of the American Society of International Law in Washington, DC. This year, in collaboration with Berkeley Law’s Advanced Degree Programs Office, we were able to sponsor one student from the JD and JSD programs to attend the April 2016 meeting.

Jessica Caplin (JD ‘16)

caplin webJessica is Co-Director of the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). She is currently working with the Human Rights Center on a project investigating trafficking of urban refugees in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.


Ivana Stradner (JSD ‘16)

stradner webIvana’s major legal interest concerns the amalgamation of international law and international security – a result of global, European, regional and local issues which influenced her while growing up in Serbia. After finishing her JSD, she plans to return to Serbia to teach international law and establish the Legal Clinic for National Security Law.


Saira Mohamed Joins ASIL Executive Council

mohamedSaira Mohamed has been nominated to join the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law (ASIL) in April. The Executive Council is the chief governing body of ASIL and oversees adoption of regulations, appropriation of money, the Society’s publications, and other activities.  Saira will co-chair the 2017 Annual Meeting Program for the American Society of International Law and looks forward to the chance to work with former Berkeley Law professors and Executive Council members David Caron and Andrew Guzman again.

Her paper on “Leadership Crimes” has been selected for the fifth annual Junior Faculty Forum in International Law, to be held this summer at NYU.  The Forum is “closely modeled on the Yale/Stanford Junior Faculty Forum”; it pairs each junior faculty member who is selected to present with a senior scholar in the field who comments on the paper.


Berkeley International Law Faculty in the News — March 2016

Roxanna Altholz quoted in HuffPost Politics (March 31, 2016) on Family seeks justice at human rights panel for man who died after border patrol altercation: “Part of this effort is to expose for the first time the very serious problems in the criminal investigation,” Roxanna Altholz of International Human Rights Law Clinic told reporters. “Not just the excessive use of force that ended Anastasio’s life, and not just the allegations of torture, but also the problems with the way these cases are investigated.”

Roxanna Altholz interviewed by Los Angeles Times (March 30, 2016) on Family asks multinational human rights panel for help in taser death at border in San Diego: “This is also an opportunity for the US to reform its criminal justice system and ensure these kinds of violations aren’t repeated,” Altholz said in a telephone interview.

Roxanna Altholz interviewed by Democracy Now! (March 30, 2016) on Family of Mexican man “tortured & killed” by US Border agents seeks justice at international tribunal: “We are submitting this suit to prevent the US government from sweeping this horrific crime under the rug, and to ensure that the United States is held accountable for violence and impunity at the border.”

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal (March 11, 2016) on China’s highest court eyes judicial reform, while a lawyer criticizes TV confessions: Mr. Zhu has criticized the common practice of using televised confessions, which are used “to humiliate human rights advocates, lawyers” and others as part of the current crackdown launched by President Xi Jinping. Dozens of televised confessions have recently been broadcast before court proceedings by persons detained for stirring up trouble, corruption and endangering state secrets.


Berkeley International Law Faculty in the News — February 2016

Alexa Koenig and Eric Stover write for Salon (Feb. 25, 2016) on “When I returned home, it was another hell”: Now’s the time to talk about what we do after Guantánamo: Right now, as we take first steps toward finally closing Guantánamo, we have a choice: Do we continue to transfer individuals with little to no social, economic or psychological support, leaving them desperate for a productive future? Or do we make a relatively tiny investment in their future to set them on a path toward productivity? Even as Guantánamo finally and rightfully closes, the damage endures—as does our responsibility.

Kim Thuy Seelinger quoted in The Guardian (Feb. 8, 2016) on Defense lawyers begin summing up in Hissène Habré war crimes trial: “We are glad at least that it seems our submission will influence the court’s work indirectly,” said Kim Thuy Seelinger, director of the sexual violence programme at the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley, who led the team that drew up the brief.


Berkeley International Law Faculty in the News — January 2016

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, China RealTime blog (Jan. 23, 2016) on Beijing’s war on rights lawyers and activists continues:  “The current crackdown appears to be a continuation of relentless pressure by Beijing to expand its authoritarian rule, which makes any of its invocations of the rule of law a travesty.”


Richard Weir (’16) Awarded Human Rights Watch Fellowship

Richard Weir (’16) has been awarded the 2016-2017 Human Rights Watch (HRW) Alan R. and Barbara D. Finberg Fellowship. The Finberg Fellowship  — HRW’s only position open to all US law students — is known as the Supreme Court clerkship for human rights professionals. “It’s the golden ticket,” said Laurel Fletcher, clinical professor of law and director of Berkeley Law’s International Human Rights Law Clinic.   “Being able to start your career at Human Rights Watch straight out of law school is a phenomenal opportunity.”

Richard was also the 2015 recipient of the Miller Institute-ASIL Student Fellowship.

To read more about on Richard’s award, click here.