Making the Unthinkable Understandable: David M. Crane, Ken Harper Create Media & Atrocities Course

Uncovering and communicating the truths about human conflict, human suffering, and human rights violations is a complicated but vitally important task that often falls to those who write the “first rough draft of history”—that is, journalists operating on the front lines of conflict zones or under cover.

“These students will become young professionals who are trained to seek and present information on atrocities, genocide, disaster.”

Training communicators to make sense of atrocity and humanitarian disaster was the motivation behind Media & Atrocities, an interdisciplinary course offered for the first time this semester at Syracuse University. The course was co-taught by David Crane, Professor of Practice at the Syracuse University College of Law and member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, and Ken Harper, Associate Professor of Multimedia Photography and Design at the Newhouse School and director of the Newhouse Center for Global Engagement.

The course examines the critical roles that law, policy, and communications play in ensuring truth-telling and securing justice for victims of atrocity, often by providing international law organizations with the raw information they require to bring humanitarian law violators to justice. Harper says he and Crane believe it’s the first university course of its kind.

“These students will become young professionals who are trained to seek and present information on atrocities, genocide, disaster … basically, making the unthinkable understandable,” says Harper.

Among the required readings were “A Problem from Hell” by Samantha Power and “A Long Way Gone” by Ishmael Beah. Several non-fiction films were also recommended, including “Restrepo: Injured Boy” and “Jim: The James Foley Story,” as well as fictional films such as “Blood Diamond,” “Bridge on the River Kwai,” and “Judgement at Nuremberg.”

Special guests—including Ploughshares Fund president Joseph Cirincione, CNN senior UN correspondent Richard Roth, and Physicians for Human Rights researcher Christine Mehta ’11—participated in class discussions via Skype.

Course content was constantly shifting, Harper says, “adapting to the reality the world presents.”

Students in the course included both undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of programs across campus, such as international relations, broadcast and digital journalism, public affairs, photography, and law. They began the semester by examining the meaning and history of atrocity, reviewing legal developments over the past century, and learning about the modern international criminal law system.

Most of the semester was spent building a mock postconflict justice tribunal for Syria. Students chose various roles—such as prosecutor, journalist, public relations officer, or activist—and carried out a series of practical exercises in preparation for the final exercise, held on the last day of class: a press conference called by the mock tribunal’s chief prosecutor (played by Crane) announcing an indictment against Syrian President Bhashr Hafez Al-Assad.

Students also set up a public relations office; organized a PR plan; staged a news broadcast; and developed a coordination plan for NGOs working in Syria, as well as a model for the organizations to work together into the future.

Zach Krahmer, who is earning a master’s degree in photography from the Newhouse School and an executive master’s degree in international relations from the Maxwell School, says he chose to enroll in the class because he is interested in conflict resolution and has worked with communities that have experienced trauma. “I wanted to think critically about the way we produce and consume media that involves atrocities, and the responsibility that implies,” he says.

He notes a particular assignment that had him and his classmates explore the ways social media have been used in various campaigns, with the resulting presentations touching on everything from the Colombian plebiscite to Buddhist extremist groups in Myanmar to Assad. “I was surprised by the innumerable ways that perceptions of events had been manipulated by tactful use of media,” he says.

Krahmer, along with fellow students Katie Conti and Maggie Mabie ’16, acted as Crane’s media team for the mock tribunal. They staged the public release of an indictment against a sitting head of state; wrote, edited and delivered a press release; and crafted the chief prosecutor’s press briefing. “It was valuable to experience the deliberation that goes into crafting public messages such as these,” he says. Mabie, who earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the Newhouse School and is now a joint J.D./M.P.A. student in the College of Law and the Maxwell School, says the final exercise was one of the most powerful parts of the class. “Everyone treated the simulation as if it were real.”

Following the class, Krahmer says, “I have a greater appreciation for the way media can be leveraged by different actors to achieve their goals.”

Crane knows intimately how important good journalism and good public relations are to the success of postconflict justice. As the founding chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone—an international war crimes tribunal set up after a devastating civil war—Crane held frequent press conferences and town hall meetings with ordinary citizens seeking justice for war crimes and crimes against humanity, helping them to engage with a lengthy and esoteric process and to accept its findings.

Today, Crane and his law students in the College of Law’s Syrian Accountability Project (SAP) rely on ground reports from reporters, photojournalists, and others in the field. SAP is an internationally recognized, cooperative effort to document war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Syrian Civil War. The students log reports of crimes in their “Crime Matrix,” which is filed with international clients such as the United Nations and International Criminal Court. The intent is that the Crime Matrix will help form the basis of a prosecution of those most responsible for humanitarian crimes after the conflict ends.

Crane and Harper have collaborated on several recent SAP projects, including the event Running for Cover and the white papers “Looking Through the Window Darkly”; “Covered in Dust, Veiled by Shadows”; “Idlib Left Breathless”; and “Report on the Yazidi Genocide.”

“In a conflict zone, the free press is often another victim of tyrants and unscrupulous warriors, and journalists must do their work in extremely dangerous conditions. Certainly, Ken and I know first-hand the difficulties reporters face when documenting human suffering, and the Syrian Accountability Project has recorded many crimes against journalists during that conflict,” says Crane. “Nevertheless, throughout the world there are brave reporters who risk their lives, not only filing reports so the world can witness atrocity but also acting as advocates for those who have no voice. In this course, Ken and I worked together from different disciplines to instill a sense of the responsibility communicators in war zones have, how their work can bring hope and eventually justice to the afflicted, and the importance of professionalism in extreme conditions.” 

Update: David M. Crane Appears at NCCIT Public Inquiry into Black Sites & Rendition

NC Involvement in US Torture Program More Extensive Than Previously Known

(Nov. 30, 2017) The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture (NCCIT) uncovered new information concerning the depth of North Carolina’s involvement in US torture at a public hearing in Raleigh, NC, on Nov. 30, 2017.

“The United States has yet to turn the page on the dark chapter in our history when illegal detention and torture was carried out on suspects.”

The new findings, produced in partnership with The Rendition Project, reveal that nearly 30% of all acknowledged CIA black-site prisoners –34 individuals — rendered from 2001-2006 were transported on planes that originated in North Carolina. The Senate torture report has detailed the abuse detainees were subject to at these CIA sites.

Aero Contractors, founded in 1979 and headquartered at the Johnston County Airport in Smithfield, NC, operated a Gulfstream V jet nicknamed the “Guantanamo Express” to transport dozens of prisoners to black site prisons and proxy countries where many were subjected to torture, including waterboarding, painful stress positions and prolonged sleep deprivation, in their interrogations following 9/11. Aero also operated a Boeing business jet from a hangar it built at the Global TransPark, a state development project in Kinston, North Carolina.

The role of Aero Contractors and how North Carolina’s tax dollars, aviation infrastructure, and other public resources may have been used to directly or indirectly support the CIA’s rendition and torture program are the primary focus of NCCIT’s investigation. The public hearings held this week served as an opportunity for international experts, witnesses, and participants in the program to provide testimony to the Commission.

Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who was wrongfully accused of involvement in 9/11, appeared before the commission remotely by video and told the story of how he was transported on an Aero-operated flight which originated in North Carolina, brutally tortured, and detained at Guantanamo for more than 14 years. Slahi stated, “I am personally inspired to see citizens of North Carolina organize to demand accountability especially in an environment where the use of torture is still openly advocated.”

Although many of the details about the torture program remain classified, Dr. Sam Raphael, co-founder of The Rendition Project, has managed to uncover significant new findings regarding the role of North Carolina’s aviation infrastructure. Raphael says that “Aero Contractors, based in the state, operated two aircraft which played a central role in the CIA’s torture program, rendering at least 34 individuals to secret detention at CIA black sites, and at least 15 others to foreign custody, for interrogation and torture – including rape, genital mutilation, water torture, and electro-torture. Horrific details of the treatment of prisoners held by the CIA continue to emerge, and North Carolina’s public airports are now known to have been implicated in many more of these cases than previously understood. Now is the time for full accountability and justice.”

Catherine Read, Executive Director of the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture, stated, “No one has been held accountable for the heinous human rights violations committed in our country’s name and whose consequences continue to be felt. On the contrary, many of the key individuals involved in designing and executing the torture program continue to be given appointments within the federal government. NCCIT seeks to do the job our government has refused to do by investigating the links between the U.S. torture program and NC tax dollars and state resources that may have been used directly or indirectly to support the supply chain of torture and seek transparency and accountability.”

 David Crane, NCCIT Commissioner and international chief war crimes prosecutor, said, “The United States has yet to turn the page on the dark chapter in our history when illegal detention and torture was carried out on suspects. The work of NCCIT serves as a unique and innovative model of citizen-driven accountability. Only with transparency can the public engage in an informed discussion of how to keep abuses like these from occurring again using our soil and tax dollars.” 

The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture is continuing to investigate following the public hearing and will issue a report in 2018 with findings and recommendations.

See Also:

CIA rendition flights from rustic North Carolina called to account by citizens” (The Guardian | Jan. 17, 2018)  … Seven years later, Cowger sat in the front row of a makeshift hearing room in the Raleigh Convention Center as 11 volunteer commissioners of the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture “upped the ante”, as she put it, on that pledge. Over the course of two days, this “citizen-led truth seeking commission” called 20 witnesses to testify on the damage done by Aero’s rendition operations …

Smithfield-based company accused of flying terror suspects across globe(WNCN| Nov. 30, 2017)

“David Crane, a former intelligence officer and federal prosecutor, claims 9/11 pushed the U.S. into the dark, slippery shadows of interrogation. ‘The United States did not torture individuals until after 9/11. It was against policy, and it just wasn’t the way we did business,’ Crane said.”

Syrian Accountability Project Works to Document Ongoing Yazidi Genocide

(Re-published from The Daily Orange | Nov. 28, 2017) Since August 2014, the Islamic State group — also known as IS — has targeted the Yazidi community in the Middle East, primarily throughout Syria.

“After having met with the Syrian National Council in The Hague in March of 2011, I saw the need to create an NGO that would build a case against not only President Bashar al-Assad and his henchmen but all groups involved in the Syrian Civil War.”

Yazidi men are murdered by the thousands and women are sold into sex slavery by the militants, according to the Syrian Accountability Project. Yazidi people are a Kurdish-speaking religious minority.

The Syrian Accountability Project — established in 2011 at the Syracuse University College of Law — documents war crimes and crimes against humanity related to the Syrian crisis.

The Daily Orange spoke with David Crane, an SU College of Law professor of practice and the founding chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and Joseph Railey, executive director of SAP, to discuss the ongoing Yazidi genocide.

The Daily Orange: What inspired you to become the project leader of SAP?

David Crane: After having met with the Syrian National Council in The Hague in March of 2011, I saw the need to create an NGO that would build a case against not only President Bashar al-Assad and his henchmen but all groups involved in the Syrian civil war.

Using techniques that I used in Sierra Leone as chief prosecutor for the international war crimes tribunal in West Africa — called the Special Court for Sierra Leone — I started building a case against all warring parties for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

It will be seven years in March 2018. The Syrian Accountability Project is the oldest NGO working on the conflict — staffed by Syracuse College of Law students who are building a conflict map, a crime base matrix and other ancillary documents for our clients: the U.N., the International Criminal Court and various governments.

The D.O.: What are the SAP’s goals — in the short- and long-run?

Joseph Railey: Our primary goal is to hold actors accountable for the crimes they have committed in Syria since the start of the conflict. We are working to prepare data to assist in prosecution efforts in the International Criminal Court, different nations’ domestic courts and eventually a U.N.-sanctioned tribunal in Syria.

The D.O.: Why isn’t the Yazidi genocide more prevalent in popular news media?

D.C.: Like any situation that involves atrocity, the new media in the U.S. generally refrain from covering these crimes due to cost and lack of interest by the American consumer.

J.R.: To some degree in 2014, when the genocide started, it was. However, I think the reason why it really isn’t all that heavily reported is the fact that the genocide is very heavy stuff to talk about, and when the media discusses ISIS, there are generally other angles that they take.

Unfortunately, I feel like it is hard to get Western media consumers to really empathize with the horrific violence that the Yazidi people have faced.   

The D.O.: Can you describe some of the acts of genocide inflicted upon the Yazidi community?

J.R.: ISIS committed genocide through systemic rape, forced marriages — in the Yazidi religion, if a woman marries someone who is not Yazidi, she is no longer a member of the community — forced abortions to prevent Yazidi children to be born, murder and kidnapping.

Many Yazidi women have also been sold into sex slavery via markets in Mosul, Raqqa and other places throughout the region. In our view, all of the events when taken together demonstrate genocide …

To read the full article, click here.

David M. Crane, Other NCCIT Commissioners to Further Explore North Carolina’s Role in US Torture Program at Public Hearings

The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture (NCCIT) will hold public hearings in Raleigh, NC, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 1, 2017, as a part of its ongoing investigation into how North Carolina’s state tax dollars and public resources may have been used to facilitate aspects of the CIA’s post-9/11 Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation (RDI) program, which potentially violated national and international laws.

The 11-member panel of commissioners, which includes INSCT Affiliated Faculty Member David M. Crane, will receive testimony from a diverse lineup of scholars, military officers, legal experts, and those with firsthand experience and knowledge of the CIA’s torture program, including both interrogators and detainees. 

Witnesses will address the links between the US torture program and North Carolina, in particular the role of a CIA-associated company based in the state, Aero Contractors. The commission will hear testimony about how Aero Contractors used the state’s infrastructure—including taxpayer-funded public airports—to station and deploy planes that picked up suspects abroad and transported them to black site prisons or third party countries where they experienced torture.  

In particular, Mohamedou Ould Slahi will testify about his experience being wrongfully accused, tortured, and detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base for more than 14 years, which he wrote about in his international bestseller Guantanamo Diary.  Slahi’s case is one of more than 40 documented to involve North Carolina-based jets and pilots.  Many of these cases appear in the declassified executive summary of the US Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture released in 2014. 

Confirmed witnesses appearing before the Commission at the hearings include:

  • Juan Mendez, former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Faculty Director of the Anti-Torture Initiative at the American University Washington College of Law
  • Glenn Carle, former CIA interrogator and Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Carr Center for Human Rights
  • Jayne Huckerby, law professor and Director of the International Human Rights Clinic at Duke Law School
  • Alberto Mora, former General Counsel of the US Navy and Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy
  • Lt. Col. Sterling Thomas, active US Air Force and counsel to two Guantanamo detainees

This event is open to the media and will be live streamed at nccit.org.

William C. Banks to Discuss “Fighting at the Legal Boundaries” During Georgetown Law Workshop

INSCT Director William C. Banks—an expert on new battlefields, asymmetric warfare, enemy combatants, and other jus in bello issues in modern warfare—will be a discussant at the Georgetown Law Center workshop on “Fighting at the Legal Boundaries: Controlling the Use of Force in Contemporary Conflict.”

The workshop addresses a book by Kenneth Watkin, QC, which offers a holistic approach toward the application of the various constitutive parts of international law and that reviews case studies on how international law addresses insurgents, terrorists, and transnational criminal gangs.

The Nov. 17, 2017, workshop is sponsored by the Georgetown Law Center, Center of the Study of the Legal Profession at Georgetown Law, and Human Rights First.

Workshop Commentators are:

  • Geoffrey Corn, Presidential Research Professor of Law, South Texas College of Law
  • Laura Dickinson, Oswald Symister Colclough Research Professor of Law, George Washington University Law School
  • Noam Lubell, Professor, School of Law, University of Essex
  • Marko Milanovic, Associate Professor in Law, University of Nottingham
  • Tom Ruys, Professor, Department of European, Public, and International Law, University of Ghent
  • Rachel Van Landingham, Associate Professor, Southwestern University School of Law

Workshop Discussants are:

  • Ken Watkin, author, Fighting at the Legal Boundaries: Controlling the Use of Force in Contemporary Conflict
  • William C. Banks, Director, INSCT
  • Gabriella Blum, Rita E. Hauser Professor of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Harvard Law School
  • Audrey Kurth Cronin, Professor, American University School of International Service
  • Janina Dill, University of Oxford
  • Charles Dunlap Jr., Executive Director, Center on Law, Ethics and National Security, Duke University
  • Josh Geltzer, Executive Director, Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, Georgetown Law
  • CPT Todd Huntley, Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, Charlottesville, VA
  • Richard Jackson, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University Law Center
  • Marty Lederman, Associate Professor, Georgetown Law Center
  • Dan Mahanty, Senior Adviser, Center for Civilians in Conflict
  • Jens David Ohlin, Vice Dean and Professor of Law, Cornell Law School
  • Deborah Pearlstein, Professor, Cardozo School of Law
  • Stephen Pomper, former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs, Multilateral Affairs, and Human Rights, National Security Council
  • Charles Sabga, Acting Deputy, New York Delegation, International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Gary Solis, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown Law Center
  • Emily Spencer, Director, Education and Research Centre, Canadian Special Operations Forces Command
  • Jane Stromseth, Professor of Law, Georgetown Law Center

Moderators are:

  • Mitt Regan, McDevitt Professor of Jurisprudence, Georgetown Law Center
  • Rita Siemion, International Legal Counsel, Human Rights First
  • Heather Brandon, Advocacy Counsel, National Security, Human Rights First

“Living Proof”: Syrian Accountability Project Publishes White Paper on the Yazidi Genocide

Yazidi Genocide CoverCrimes committed against civilians during war can be especially heinous, but when those crimes are committed with planned intent to destroy an ethnic or religious community, international law applies the unique label of “genocide.” It is not a charge used lightly by the international community, although in recent times it has been applied to crimes committed during the Bosnian War (1992-1995) and Rwandan Civil War (1994).

“Narratives about sexual violence as a war crime are difficult to collect, and whole villages have disappeared, so those people cannot tell their stories.”

Now, a white paper published by the Syracuse University College of Law-based Syrian Accountability Project (SAP) asserts that war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in 2014 against the Yazidi community by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) also should be considered genocide. The report documents crimes perpetrated against the Yazidi community and calls on the international community to take “proper care of the living proof” of the Yazidi genocide and to begin the “strategic preservation” of forensic evidence that could be used in an international court.

As with past SAP special reports, the “Report on the Yazidi Genocide: Mapping Atrocity in Iraq and Syria” draws on the project’s six-year-long effort to document war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by all sides during the Syrian Civil War and associated conflicts. Working with open-source materials from available media and contacts within the region, SAP students are responsible for maintaining the project’s two main deliverables, the Conflict Narrative and the Crime Base Matrix. The former is a legally relevant historical narrative of the conflict, while the matrix’s intent is to provide case facts of representative crimes (as well as the relevant international or national legal standard for each crime) to guide a future prosecution team. In this way, SAP both advocates on behalf of victims and provides legal analysis to aid in the eventual administration of postconflict justice.

The “Report on the Yazidi Genocide” has been sent to SAP’s international clients, including the International Criminal Court, the United Nations, the US Congress, and leading human rights organizations. The report also joins related documents requested of SAP by London-based law firm Doughty Street Chambers and barrister Amal Clooney, who acts as legal counsel to Yazidi victims of ISIS’ crimes and to Yazda, a non-governmental organization that supports the Yazidi community. 

“The Syrian Accountability Project has become a relied-upon legal investigatory tool for the delivery of justice for the people of Syria and the Levant,” says Syracuse University College of Law Professor of Practice David M. Crane, who supervises the project. “The capacity of a College of Law student with a focused, properly supervised plan is unlimited.”

The Yazidis—an ethno-religious group of between 500,000 and 1.2 million people living primarily in Northern Iraq—are Kurdish-speaking and follow their own syncretic religion that combines aspects of Zoroastrianism, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. The “Report on the Yazidi Genocide” alleges that, beginning in summer 2014, the group was targeted by ISIS and its campaign to “purify” the region of non-Islamist influences. The report details what it calls “grim incidences” of “incomparable brutality” during this campaign. More than 2,800 Yazidis were killed in this short time; 4,600 community members were abducted; 1,950 children were victimized; and towns and villages were blockaded or emptied of their residents. Women were kidnapped, raped, forced to abort fetuses, and sold into sexual slavery, while in a particularly abhorrent episode in August 2014, many children died of exposure on Mount Sinjar, where up to 50,000 Yazidis were seeking refuge.

“This has been a harder project to track than crimes committed in Syria during the civil war,” says SAP Executive Director and third-year law student Joseph Railey. “Narratives about sexual violence as a war crime are difficult to collect, and whole villages have disappeared, so those people cannot tell their stories. Nevertheless, this white paper helps clarify for our clients what kinds of information the Syrian Accountability Project has recorded beyond the case facts stemming specifically from the Syrian Civil War.”

While the report cross-references individual representative crimes with the articles of the Geneva Conventions, Rome Statute, and/or Iraqi Penal Code that they violate, it is the systematic nature of the crimes, along with ISIS’ stated intent to convert Yazidis to Islam, that raises the atrocities collectively to genocide. “The stories underlying these crimes provide the evidentiary support necessary to demonstrate that ISIS executed a systemic plan to destroy, in whole or in part, the Yazidi people,” the report states. “ISIS soldiers regularly demonstrated a specific intent to destroy the Yazidi people through their ideology and unabashed assertions for eliminating the Yazidi community.”

The report recognizes that many of the circumstantial evidence and news reports that SAP has collected are not legally sufficient to support a declaration of genocide, but it hopes that publishing these narratives will spur the international community to make an effort to preserve physical evidence of crimes. “Bringing ISIS to justice for genocide against the Yazidi community, at the domestic or the international level, will depend on the strategic preservation of forensic evidence,” the report concludes.

“What we are asking is that more recording of actual criminal evidence be done by the international community,” asserts Railey. “We are essentially saying, what happened was horrific, yet few people are talking about it. So we want to help draw people’s attention to the Yazidi situation and start a dialogue about what can be done.”

See also: “UN: Islamic State Atrocities in Mosul Need International Justice” (Voice of America/Reuters, Nov. 2, 2017)

Geospatial Intelligence Hall of Fame Inducts Robert B. Murrett

Robert B. Murrett

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) inducted the Geospatial Intelligence Hall of Fame Class of 2017 during a ceremony at the agency’s headquarters in Springfield, VA, Oct. 3, 2017.

Among the inductees was INSCT Deputy Director Vice Adm. Robert Murrett (Ret.), Professor of Practice, Public Administration and International Affairs, SU Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. A former NGA director, Murrett was cited for having pushed to get more analysts and support staff into theater during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which deployed highly-trained geospatial intelligence analysts to combat zones to support war fighters.

“Murrett also ensured NGA provided a common operating picture in Haiti following the earthquake and tracked the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He oversaw the construction of NGA Campus East, which consolidated the agency’s East Coast operations into a central location,” according to the NGA press release. 

Murrett’s tenure as Director of NGA was the culmination of a distinguished career as a US Navy intelligence officer. Among his other appointments, Murrett was Commander of Atlantic Intelligence Command; Director for Intelligence, US Joint Forces Command; Vice Chair Director for Intelligence, Joint Staff; and Director of Naval Intelligence. 

“[The] induction into our Hall of Fame is the absolute pinnacle of achievement and recognition for anyone who has ever served in a part of the geospatial intelligence enterprise,” says NGA Director Robert Cardillo. “The 65 phenomenal names inscribed in our Hall of Fame before today each represented pioneering spirits and hard work. They persisted and reached the pinnacle of our profession, not for themselves, but for the United States and our allies.”

https://www.nga.mil/MediaRoom/PressReleases/Pages/2017-Geospatial-Intelligence-Hall-of-Fame-inducts-six-former-leaders,-geospatial-pioneers.aspx

 

Turning the Law on Its Head: William C. Banks Reviews the New Supreme Court Session with WAER

(WAER | Oct. 3, 2017) A Syracuse University Law Professor says President Trump’s appointment of new Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch should not be significant in the Justice’s decisions moving into his official first term. Professor William Banks thinks that Gorsuch’s values will be much more impactful.

“I think Mr. Gorsuch is going to prove himself to be one of the most, if not the most conservative Justice on the court. Probably more conservative than Justice Scalia, or at least as conservative.”

Professor Banks adds that while the Supreme Court will face multiple important decisions down the line, a few already stick out to him.

“One that will decide the availability of remedies for big time political gerrymandering in legislative districts. Another one that will decide the rights of business owners to decline the rights of gay or lesbian customers.”

Banks feels even stronger about one particular topic than impacts most Americans, smartphones. This decision will decide if police are allowed to monitor the location of cell phone users through site location data, a decision Banks thinks could have a strong impact on recent law history.

“The Fourth Amendment case on cellphone site location – if it comes out in favor of those whose location was given up – is a change in Fourth Amendment doctrine that will turn about 50 years of law on its head” …

To read the full article, click here.

David M. Crane Speaks at Conference on the Qatar Blockade & Human Rights

INSCT Faculty Member and Professor of Law David M. Crane was a keynote speaker at a conference on human rights and the embargo of Qatar at a side event at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York City on Sept. 21, 2017.

Also speaking at “The Human Rights Dimension of the Unprecedented Blockade Against the State of Qatar” was Professor Ken Harper of the Newhouse School. “I was asked to speak on the critical role a free press plays in a civil society and the great sacrifices journalists make to bring us the stories of our shared humanity,” says Harper.

A diplomatic row over alleged funding of terrorism has led several neighboring countries to cut ties with Qatar, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and critics says the resulting Qatar blockade is adversely affecting the civilian population of the Persian Gulf state.

 

“New Opportunities for International Justice”: David M. Crane Hosts the International Humanitarian Law Dialogues

SU College of Law students Sarah Lafen 3L and Anna Patton 3L, members of Impunity Watch, stand with Professor David M. Crane at the 2017 IHL Dialogues in Chautauqua, NY.

As a Director of The Robert H. Jackson Center, located in Jamestown, NY, INSCT Faculty Member David Crane, Founding Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, was on hand to open the International Humanitarian Law Dialogues on Aug. 27, 2017, at the Chautauqua Institution in Western New York. The annual event, now in its 11th year, gathers current and former international war crimes tribunal prosecutors, renowned academicians, and law experts to speak on current issues in international criminal law.

The theme of this year’s Dialogues is “Changing Times: New Opportunities for International Justice and Accountability.”

The event opened with the conferring of The Joshua Heintz Award for Humanitarian Achievement, bestowed on Zainab Hawa Bangura in recognition of her distinguished service to mankind and her achievement in the field of international justice. As the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict from June 2012 to April 2017, Bangura worked—and continues to work—in the pursuit of justice for victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity, both in her native Sierra Leone and around the world.

University at Buffalo School of Law Dean Aviva Abramovsky—a former faculty member at Syracuse University College of Law—accepted the award on behalf of Bangura, who was not able to travel due to a recent humanitarian disaster in her native country.

A second keynote event was a first-time group interview with Andrew Cayley, Robert Petit, and Nick Koumijian, former and current chief international co-prosecutors for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). The ECCC—referred to as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal—was established by the UN and the Cambodian government to bring to trial those responsible for atrocities committed during the Khmer Rouge regime, during which an estimated 1.7 million people were killed.

The Dialogs conclude on August 28 and 29 with public seminars and lectures held on the grounds of Chautauqua Institution.

The Robert H. Jackson Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting liberty under law through the examination of the life and work of Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, Chief US Prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials following World War II.

The 10th Chautauqua Declaration

The culmination of the IHL Dialogues was the issuance of the 10th Chautauqua Declaration. The ceremony was moderated by James Silkenat, representing the American Bar Association. The Declaration was executed by representatives of all the International Criminal Tribunals, including Professor David M. Crane.