Thursday, February 11, 2016

Virginia Legislature Seeks Cause of Action for Trafficking Victims

The following blog post is written by Michael Aiello, whom the Center for Global Justice funded to be an International Justice Mission intern in Thailand.  Michael is also a legal graduate assistant and student staff member at CGJ.  Read his other blog posts here >
Last year Virginia took a big step forward to protect victims of human trafficking by passing a standalone sex trafficking statute, VA Code § 18.2357.1. However, that was only the first step. The law only applies to criminal cases. It did not create a civil remedy for victims to sue their perpetrator for damages in civil court.

Sex trafficking victims absolutely need to have the ability to sue their perpetrators for damages because it allows them and their families to be made whole and regain the dignity that was stolen from them. Virginia’s legislature is currently discussing such a law, SB 133 and HB 681.

Federal law serves as a model. Under 18 U.S.C. § 1595, victims of human trafficking have ten years to bring a civil action against their perpetrator.

If you want to get involved, please call your state representative and tell them that you support a civil remedy for victims of human trafficking that has at least a seven-year statute of limitations.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Journal of Global Justice & Public Policy Global Initiative Focus Nation: Turkmenistan

The Journal of Global Justice and Public Policy Global Initiative publishes bi-monthly reports targeting countries experiencing human rights violations. Each report briefly discusses that country’s history and population, and proffers specific prayer requests.
Demographics

  • Ethnic Groups: Turkmen 85%, Uzbek 5%, Russian 4%, other 6%.
  • Languages: Turkmen (official) 72%, Russian 12%, Uzbek 9%, other 7%.
  • Religions: Muslim 89%, Eastern Orthodox 9%, unknown 2%.
  • Population: 5,231,422.
  • Capital: Ashgabat. 

History

By the end of the 19th Century, the Russian Empire taken control of the region now encompassing Turkmenistan. However, the administration provoked revolts by the Turkmens. 

The Red Army took the capital in 1919, and in 1925 it formally became part of the USSR. Turkmenistan passed a referendum for independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. 

Justice Issues

  • Turkmenistan is a signatory of various international human rights treaties, but has one of the worst records when it comes to fundamental civil and political freedoms.
  • Freedom House rated Turkmenistan as one of the 12 least free countries in the world, tying for the worst overall score of any nation.
  • The electoral system remains very corrupt and media access is tightly controlled by the government.
  • Religious liberty is also very limited as religious groups must register with the government to exist or act in accordance with the law. 
Prayer Requests (prayercast.com/turkmenistan.html)
  • Pray for new Bibles for house churches whose literature has been confiscated and destroyed.
  • Pray for open doors for humanitarian organizations to meet practical as well as spiritual needs.
  • Pray for governing authorities to abandon the strict policies controlling religious activity.



Monday, February 1, 2016

Student Staff Update: Called?

by Carter Budwell ('16)

Having worked as a missionary before coming to law school, I particularly enjoy talking to others about the Great Commission. And when I do, I often hear people talk about how they are not “called” to that kind of thing. I understand where they are coming from – after the first mission trip I ever went on, in which I worked in the slums of Lima, Peru, I was very adamant that I was not “called” to that kind of work. It is not my intention to question what God is telling others; however, I honestly believe that we use spiritually sounding excuses like these when it comes to obeying the very clear commands of Christ. For many of us, the issue is not so much whether or not we have received a special calling, but rather whether or not we are walking in obedience to what Scripture already commands us to do.

In regards to spreading the word of God throughout the world, what calling do we really need beyond Mark 16:15 (“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation”)? When it comes to caring for the poor and hurting, should not Jeremiah 22:3 (“Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place") be all we need? In the face of these commands, how can we expect to stand before God and say that we were not called? We would do well to remember the words of William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army – “‘Not called!' did you say? 'Not heard the call,' I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father's house and bid their brothers and sisters and servants and masters not to come there. Then look Christ in the face — whose mercy you have professed to obey — and tell Him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish His mercy to the world.”

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Partner Organization Highlight: Land and Equity Movement in Uganda

Land Equity Movement of Uganda (LEMU) is a movement which aims to unite the efforts of everyone with a contribution to offer to make land work for the poor.

LEMU is a Ugandan non-profit organization dedicated to protecting community land rights through legal recognition and representation. To LEMU, the idea is simple: allow Africans to solve their problems in uniquely African ways. In much of Africa, including in the rural parts of Uganda, individual property rights are a foreign idea that have yet to take hold. Thus, LEMU works within the framework of traditional communal views of property, but updates them to the modern world.

Traditional clan groups, particularly in the rural north, are often exploited, marginalized, and ignored by the government. LEMU accordingly seeks to obtain legal recognition and protection of these community lands. To do this, LEMU supports these communities in several ways, including legal representation and advocacy, dispute mediation services, filing for title paperwork, and establishing formal community rules and property boundaries.

LEMU works with locals, government, civil society organizations, students, elders, volunteers, and anyone willing to help make land work for the poor. Ultimately, LEMU works to ensure that the right policies, laws, and structures are in place so that everyone can have fair access to land and land can be used as profitably as possible for all.

To see where some of our students have interned or worked on pro bono projects for LEMU, click here >

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

January 2016 Quarterly Update

Our January 2016 quarterly update is here!
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Administrative Director's Greeting

Greetings from the Center for Global Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law! We trust all of you enjoyed celebrating the miracle of the incarnation and the New Year. Each new year brings a fresh start. It really is amazing how something as simple as writing a new date can bring such hope.

For victims of injustice, however, writing 2016 instead of 2015 is not enough. Victims of injustice need something tangibly new—they need an advocate and deliverance. We at the Regent Law Center for Global Justice are grateful that God is doing something new and that He is using us to equip new voices for the oppressed and to serve those already working on their behalf. As He says in Isaiah 43, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19, ESV).

Student Staff
Last semester the Student Staff completed eleven legal projects for various organizations, including one legal memorandum for the Jerusalem Institute for Justice that will be sent to two United States Senators. We are grateful for the work the Lord allowed us to complete and look forward to what he has planned for us this semester.

Promoting Human Rights in Africa
At least twice per year, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, the body entrusted with protecting and promoting human rights across Africa, meets to address various human rights issues. Like many other places in the world, the anti-Christian and LGBT lobby are advocating before the Commission to advance their cause. But two attorneys fromAdvocates International, a global network of Christian attorneys dedicated to promoting a biblical view of human rights, are standing up for truth and justice before the Commission. We have the privilege this semester of helping these attorneys prepare legal arguments to present to the Commission to better protect Christians and counter the LGBT lobby across Africa. Please pray for wisdom as we work on this project.

Read more about our previous work with Advocates International »

Punishing Those Who Buy Sex with Children
For years, those who purchase sex, even sex with minors, have barely been treated as criminals. This semester, the Student Staff will be addressing this issue by completing a legal research project for Shared Hope International to determine the extent to which various state laws can be used to punish men who attempt to buy sex with children. To stop trafficking, a comprehensive approach is needed. Addressing the demand aspect of the commercial sex industry by imposing serious penalties on those who even attempt to buy sex with children is one way to do this. Please pray for this project.

Center Events
Live Ethics CLE Course and Symposium Friday, March 4, 2016 Regent University Campus 
Join us on March 4, 2016, for a live, two-credit CLE ethics course with Tom Spahn, renowned authority on legal ethics. Topics will include dealing with public policy disagreements between lawyers and their clients, lawyers’ public criticism of judges, the ethics of challenging existing law, and judges’ communications about public policy issues.

This CLE course is presented as part of the fifth annual symposium of the Center for Global Justice: Women's Rights: 50 Years After Griswold v. ConnecticutThe symposium begins with two morning panel discussions. The first panel will focus on the current state of women’s rights in the United States, discussing, among other things, whether women really are better off since Griswold, and where the Supreme Court might be headed in terms of women’s rights. The second panel will focus on advancing women’s rights in countries where the law and culture conflict. Following the panels, there will be a lunch and CLE course qualifying for two live ethics credits for Virginia MCLE. For more information and to register for the CLE and symposium, visit regent.edu/justice.

Spring Events

In addition to our March 4th CLE course and symposium, the Center for Global Justice is pleased to announce the following events:

February 15th: Jim Gash Luncheon (12:00 pm)
Jim Gash, Professor of Law and Director of Pepperdine’s Global Justice Program, will speak about his new book, Divine Collision: An African Boy, An American Lawyer, and their Remarkable Battle for Freedom, which details his incredible work of helping imprisoned juveniles in Uganda.
March 24th: Representation of Children as a Guardian ad Litem (8:30am - 5:15 pm)This seven-credit CLE course is required for all attorneys seeking to become certified Guardians ad Litem in Virginia.

March 28th: FBI Luncheon (12:00 pm)A local FBI agent will discuss Department of Justice investigations of civil rights violations.

Find all our events at www.regent.edu/centerevents>


Prayer

Paul reminds the Colossians to “[d]evote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Colossians 4:2, NIV). As you begin this year, we ask that you commit to pray for us. Your prayers matter, and they make a difference in our lives and in the lives of the oppressed around the globe. Pray for the upcoming symposium, our spring projects, for great internship opportunities this summer, continued funding, and most of all, pray against the rulers and principalities that perpetuate injustice on the earth.
In Christ,
S. Ernie Walton, Esq.
Administrative Director
757.352.4315
regent.edu/globaljustice


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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Case of the Bodnarius: Illustrating how a Rights-Based Framework Separates Children From Parents (Literally)

Photo of Bodnarius family by Lifenesitenews.com
Protecting children is one of the chief aims of international human rights law (IHRL) today. And rightly so. With children routinely being trafficked for commercial sex, millions living in institutions or on the streets, and others falling prey to ritual sacrifice in Uganda, the international community is absolutely right to focus on protecting children.

But the primary way in which IHRL seeks to protect children is actually undermining the very objective which it purports to uphold. IHRL seeks to protect children through a rights-based framework. This is accomplished through the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), a U.N.-sponsored treaty that effectively serves as a “children’s bill of rights.” And who doesn’t love “rights”? They sound great, and what harm could come from giving a group of people more rights?

Quite a bit, actually. Lynne Marie Kohm, Dean and Professor of Regent Law, persuasively argues in her article, Suffer the Children: How the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Has Not Supported Children, 22 N.Y. Int’l. L. Rev. 57 (Summer 2009), that the entire idea of a “rights-based framework” for children has been devastating. Rather than protecting children by imposing duties on adults and using the traditional “best interests” standard, a rights-based framework treats children as capacitated individuals, effectively imposing on children the impossible duty to be their own advocate. A rights-based framework also separates children from their caregivers, especially when corresponding duties are not imposed on them. As Dean Kohm states, “Children are protected only when adults have a duty to provide that protection, rather than cloaking children with the right to do so themselves.”

A recent example of the destructive effects of a rights-based framework is seen in the recent controversy surrounding the Bodnarius, the Norwegian family whose five children were taken by the state child welfare agency, the Barnevernet, because of “Christian indoctrination.” Apparently the Barnevernet first seized the older two children from school without the parents’ knowledge or consent. The agency then went to the Bodnarius’ home, took their two boys, and arrested the wife, who was taken to the police station for interrogation along with her baby. Officials also arrested the husband at his work and took him to the police station. After several hours, the Bodnarius were allowed to leave with their baby, but not with their other children. The next day, the Barnevernet returned to the Bodnarius’ home and seized the baby as well.

If this sounds more like the Soviet Union than a western democracy to you, you’re not alone. How could such draconian measures be taken in the 21st century, especially with an international treaty dedicated to protecting children? Unfortunately, this situation is a natural outflow of the CRC’s rights-based framework. Under the CRC, articles 13 and 14, children are granted the right to free expression and freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. And while the CRC references the “rights and duties” of parents, it does so only in connection with “provid[ing] direction to the child in the exercise of his or her own rights . . . .” Thus, the CRC effectively pits parents against their own children, requiring parents to facilitate their children’s “rights” while ignoring their own convictions and obligations.

Instead of strengthening the bond between parent and child, a rights-based framework separates them. And while the “separation” may often just be metaphysical, in the case of the Bodnarius, it was physical—and potentially permanent. Despite its popularity, it is high time to revisit the CRC and the use of a rights-based framework to protect children.

--S. Ernie Walton is the Administrative Director of Regent Law's Center for Global Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law and professor of International Law and National Security Law. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Student Staff Fall 2015 Semester Summary

To provide Regent Law students with practical experience in the legal protection of human rights, students volunteer with the center each semester for a minimum of 5 hours/week. Here is an overview of the projects that our 28 student staff members worked on this past semester:

Land and Equity Movement, Uganda

Drafted a legal memorandum that summarized the Ugandan approach to proving customary law in court and argued that Uganda should scrap its approach and adopt the approach used by South Africa. The approach used in South Africa makes customary law much more accessible for those who wish to live under it.

National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Began updating a 100-plus page legal manual that outlines how to constitutionally regulate sexually-oriented business. Once updated, the manual will be distributed free of charge to cities and other local governmental agencies wishing to adopt ordinances that effectively zone and regulate these businesses to help curb their negative secondary effects.

Shared Hope

  • Drafted a legal memorandum that summarized all federal and state case law regarding how prosecutors and judges have dealt with “bottom girls.” “Bottom girls,” pimps’ top prostitutes, often engage in trafficking-related activities, but the problem is that they are often trafficking victims themselves. Our memo will assist Shared Hope in deciding how best to advocate for these victims.
  • Drafted a legal memorandum that discusses the criminal law doctrine of merger under Hawaii law. The memo will be used as a resource to help pass Hawaii’s first sex trafficking statute, which has been defeated two years in a row, in part because of an improper understanding of the doctrine of merger.   

Alliance Defending Freedom International

  • Monitored all new cases before the European Court of Human Rights and sent ADF a weekly update outlining particular cases of interest.
  • Drafted summaries of various Resolutions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for ADF’s digital library.

Advocates International

Drafted a legal memorandum that outlines the legal frameworks with respect to adoption and foster care and recommended how Nepal and Bangladesh can improve their child welfare systems. The memo summarized U.S. law, international guidelines, Nepal and Bangladesh law, and then recommended what changes Nepal and Bangladesh need to make to better protect children. Advocates will use this memo at a conference run by World Without Orphans in February.

Universitas Pelitas Harapan

Researched and compiled all Indonesia laws that relate to human trafficking. The research is part of a “legal toolkit,” a document that is intended to be used by judges, police officers, prosecutors, and government officials to combat sex trafficking.

Jerusalem Institute for Justice

Drafted a legal memorandum that detailed how the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees receives funding and argued that the continued funding of the organization likely violates U.S and international law. JIJ intends to send the memo to two United States senators.

International Justice Mission

Drafted a comprehensive legal memorandum that summarized best practices for police accountability. Specifically, the memo looked high profile investigations and prosecutions of police officers in the United States and United Kingdom and discussed why they were or were not successful. The memo also looked at the various ways in which nations hold police officers accountable, whether internal affairs, independent oversight, or a hybrid method, and analyzed which is the best method.

Confidential

The project related to drafting a legal memorandum that will be used to help save unborn children.