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Human Rights Policy Seminar

The seminar will offer students the opportunity to engage in non-litigation strategies and collaborate with state, national, and international human rights organizations on legislative and rule-making proposals, policy matters, research papers, and amicus briefs. Topics may include immigrant rights, trafficking, domestic workers, gender violence, police and prison reform, U.S. obligations under the Convention Against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights with regard to specific local issues, and various other human rights treaty obligations and compliance. Students work with organizations currently seeking to reframe domestic issues as human rights issues, and engage in various law-related campaigns aimed at addressing economic, social, and cultural human rights violations.

Recent Research & Reports

Obligations and Obstacles: Holding North Carolina Accountable for Extraordinary Rendition and Torture

Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States dramatically expanded the use of extraordinary rendition, an intelligence-gathering program through which individuals suspected of terrorism were abducted and transported beyond the reach of the law, held incommunicado and interrogated by torture. Detained for years, many victims of the extraordinary rendition program were never formally charged with any crime, never given the opportunity to contact their families or an attorney, and were eventually just discarded once the CIA realized that these individuals had nothing to do with the actual terrorist threat against the United States. These acts of kidnapping and torture occurred despite international treaties, federal statutes, and judicial precedents that prohibit such acts under any and all circumstances. Although the victims have sought redress in the federal courts of the United States for the harms they have suffered, they have been denied their day in court.

North Carolina is a hub for extraordinary rendition. In a report released in January 2012 and endorsed by international human rights experts, the ways in which North Carolina, its political subdivisions, and Aero, a corporation based in Johnston County, NC were directly and indirectly responsible for carrying out the kidnapping and torture have been demonstrated. This Policy Report builds on the January 2012 report. Part One of this report establishes the legal basis for North Carolina’s obligation to investigate Aero Contractors and for its own accountability for facilitating extraordinary rendition. Part Two demonstrates that although international, federal, and state laws require a mechanism of accountability for extraordinary rendition and torture, the federal government’s invocation of the State Secrets Doctrine has effectively barred victims of torture and the extraordinary rendition program from obtaining any form of judicial redress through the U.S. court system. In light of these obstacles, this Report offers recommendations toward achieving accountability.

Full Report PDF

Picking Empty Pockets

The Immigration/Human Rights Policy Clinic announces the release of its report, Picking Empty Pockets. This policy paper documents the phenomenon of wage theft through the stories of North Carolina workers, while also offering an overview of federal, state, and local remedies. The report finds that some of the worst wage theft occurs with immigrant and undocumented workers, who are often threatened with or fear being reported to U.S. officials, and thus refrain from filing complaints against their employers. The policy report uses a human rights framework by which to encourage legislators and policy makers to implement new protections and offer improved avenues of recourse to those who have suffered wage theft.

Full Report PDF

A Call to Uphold The Core Principles of Responsibility and Protection of Human Rights: Extraordinary Rendition, Torture, and North Carolina

The Immigration/Human Rights Policy Clinic presents its Briefing Book, A Call to Uphold the Core Universal Principles of Responsibility and Protection of Human Rights Extraordinary Rendition, Torture, And North Carolina. This Briefing Book provides an analysis of international human rights law, federal law and other accountability mechanisms in support of two main goals:

  1. to provide support for the creation of a North Carolina Commission of Inquiry to bring human rights home and make meaningful international laws and norms by encouraging and facilitating institutional change to end abusive practices that occur in our own backyard
  2. to document research and reports that bear on the issue and compile legal and policy analyses for use by the Commission.

Part One summarizes the factual background of North Carolina’s involvement in extraordinary rendition and torture. Part Two describes the applicability of relevant provisions applicable extraordinary rendition and torture found in international law. Part Three explores domestic legal avenues for achieving accountability including federal statutes, civil suits, and proposed legislation. Part Four draws on the principles explored in the Parts II and III and demonstrates the theories that establish liability for the state of North Carolina and its political subdivisions including Johnston County and the Johnston County Airport Authority, Aero Contractors, and private citizens as bystanders. Part Five summarizes international accountability measures, compares those measures with domestic calls for accountability, and provides recommendations for the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture. Full ReportPDF

Wage Theft and U Visas: A Guide to Analyzing Federal and State Crimes Relevant for Undocumented Workers

The Immigration/Human Rights Clinic is pleased to release its Wage Theft and U Visas: A Guide to Analyzing Federal and State Crimes Relevant for Undocumented Workers.This document identifies the relevant federal crimes listed in the U visa statute that are most likely related to wage theft. Following the federal statutes, the document lists the relevant state statutes and elements that most closely track federal crimes (using North Carolina as an example). The document also suggests preliminary interview questions that would be likely to solicit relevant and helpful information to demonstrate that a victim of wage theft might be eligible for a U visa.

This document should be helpful to lawyers and advocates who work with immigrant workers who suffer the crime of wage theft.

A Legal Advocacy Guide to Building Integrated Communities in North Carolina

The Immigration/Human Rights Policy (IHRP) Clinic has released its briefing book on Community Integration as part of the Building Integrated Communities Project, a collaborative endeavor designed to create and implement a comprehensive community integration plan with municipalities and immigrant communities. In light of the increasing immigrant population, integration of immigrants into North Carolina communities is a critical issue.

The briefing book consists of both legal analyses and applied legal policy proposals which are intended to serve as resources for community integration efforts. Part One of this report, entitled "Making the Legal Argument for Integrated Communities: Immigrants in North Carolina," provides a legal foundation for mounting local integrated community efforts which is tailored to North Carolina municipalities, and seeks to explore what municipalities in North Carolina must, can, and should do to facilitate community integration. (Part One)

Parts Two and Three of this report apply the legal concepts explored in Part One in the context of two discrete community integration efforts in which IHRP Clinic took part. Part Two, "Community Integration and Day Laborers in North Carolina," chronicles the challenges faced by day laborers in the Chapel Hill and Carrboro communities, and provides comprehensive policy and legal analysis of potential solutions to these problems. (Part Two) Part Three, "Local Law Enforcement: A Vital Part of Community Integration," analyzes the complex relationship between immigrants and local law enforcement, including an examination of how local law enforcement should assist immigrant victims of domestic violence and how local police departments may be approached by the IHRP Clinic to discuss community policing policies. (Part Three)

It is the intent of IHRP Clinic to engage in the policy projects described in Parts II and III in order to help further the abstract goals of the Building Integrated Communities Project, and also so that these discrete projects can serve as models in their own right, demonstrating proactive efforts which may be taken on behalf of immigrants and inspiring future efforts by the IHRP Clinic and other groups.

The North Carolina Connection to Extraordinary Rendition and Torture

Immigration/Human Rights Policy clinic released a report on North Carolina's connection to extraordinary rendition and torture. The report undertaken on behalf of North Carolina Stop Torture Now, is based on evidence obtained from a review of hundreds of documents including declassified and other U.S. government materials; investigative reports from international institutional sources, journalists' sources, public documents pertaining to airports located in Smithfield and Kinston, NC and the testimony of individuals who survived extraordinary rendition. It sets out a factual record about Aero Contractors, a company based in North Carolina, and its role in the program known as extraordinary rendition and details the ways in which the state of North Carolina and its political subdivisions have facilitated Aero's participation in this program. The report has been endorsed by international human rights specialists including Prof. Manfred Nowak, past UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Prof. Martin Scheinin, past Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms While Countering Terrorism, and Senator Dick. Marty who served as president of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly. Full ReportPDF

Analyzing the Problems with Foreign Language Interpretation in the North Carolina Court System and Potential Solutions.

North Carolina has witnessed a dramatic demographic shift. In addition to a growing Hispanic community, North Carolina has also seen an influx of Vietnamese and Burmese populations in recent decades. While it is difficult to identify what percentage of these individuals speak a language other than English, data indicates that a sizeable portion of the state's population cannot communicate fully in English. As the state's Limited English Population (LEP) grows in size, so does the frequency with which these individuals must interact with our court system. Currently, there is no state statutory or administrative guarantee to a foreign language interpreter. North Carolina's policies and practices with regard to interpreters in the court raise a number of legal concerns that range from a denial of interpreters to lack of quality control relating to the use of interpreters.

Read UNC IHRP clinic's report analyzing the problems with foreign language interpretation in the North Carolina court system and potential solutions:

UNC Immigration/Human Rights Policy Clinic Releases New Study That Finds Dramatic Problems with the 287(g) Immigration Program

A federal law granting local police and sheriffs the power to act as immigration officials when faced with dangerous criminals or terrorists has instead created a climate of racial profiling and community insecurity, according to researchers at UNC School of Law. A team of law students, led by Deborah Weissman, Reef C. Ivey II Distinguished Professor of Law and director of Clinical Programs at UNC School of Law, and Katherine Parker and Rebecca Headen, lawyers with the ACLU in North Carolina Legal Foundation, released a report on the 287(g) Program in North Carolina titled, "The Policies and Politics of Local Immigration Enforcement Law." The report found that the agencies most closely reviewed have failed to comply with contracts governing the program, and proposes solutions, including greater transparency and a functional system for complaints or appeals.

Reply to U.S. Response to Specific Recommendations Identified By the CERD: The Rise of Racial Profiling, Discrimination and Abuse in Immigrant Communities as a Result of Local Enforcement of Immigration Laws

The clinic contributed to the written response to the Congressional Oversight Committee for International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination on the rise of racial profiling, discrimination and abuse in immigrant communities as a result of local enforcement of immigration law.

Interrogation & Detention Reform Act of 2008: A Critical Analysis

This report demonstrates the critical need for legislation that will fully foreclose the possibility of torture and extraordinary rendition from occurring in the future. One such effort is the Interrogation and Detention Reform Act of 2008 (IDRA), H.R. 591, introduced by Representative David Price of North Carolina. This paper provides a comprehensive analysis of the gaps in the existing legal framework that this legislation seeks to fill. Additionally, it provides suggestions on issues not addressed by this legislation relating to the treatment and detention of terror suspects that must be addressed, including a more explicitly defined prohibition on torture and a prohibition of extraordinary rendition. Finally, it addresses the issue of accountability for human rights violations that have occurred in recent years.

Read UNC IHRP clinic's report on proposed legislation on Interrogation and Detention:

Dangerous Detention: Human Rights Standards & Enforcement in Immigration Detention

Across North Carolina, increasing numbers of immigrants are being apprehended and locked up in county jails for months or even years pending the final outcome of their immigration cases. In response to increased detention, this report aims to provide advocates with the knowledge and tools to hold government authorities accountable for violations of immigrant detainee rights.

Read the clinic's report on Human Rights Standards and Enforcement in Immigration:

UN Oversight Committee (ICCPR) on Protecting the Rights of Domestic Workers in the United States Interrogation & Detention Reform Act of 2008: A Critical Analysis

The Cost of ICE's Policies and Practices

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