Saturday, September 7, 2013

Tribute to Justice

Monday September 9, 2013 @ 583 Park Avenue, NYC

The Charles Horman Truth Foundation brings together champions of justice whose efforts led to the detention and prosecution of coup leader Augusto Pinochet for crimes against humanity. This historic effort and the dynamic new legal doctrines which resulted, will be discussed at the afternoon panel discussions. Then join us for a Dinner Awards Ceremony honoring those who brought Pinochet to justice. Artists and activists whose work contributed to the exposure and investigation of Pinochet’s crimes over the years, and helped to foster a worldwide human rights movement, will present the Tribute to Justice awards to those being honored.

Evening Dinner Ceremony
Award Recipients
Center for Constitutional Rights
Peter Weiss, Nancy Stearns, John Corwin, Rhonda Copelon (posthumously)
Juan Garcés 
Judge Baltasar Garzón 
Sir Geoffrey Bindman, QC 
Ambassador John O'Leary (posthumously)
Peter Kornbluh 
Judge Juan Guzmán Tapia 

Award Presenters (Pending)
Joyce Horman, Patricio Guzmán, Costa Gavras, Joan Jara, Chris Lemmon, Elizabeth Farnsworth, Deborah Shaffer 

Event Co-Hosts
Michael Ratner, Amy Goodman 

Honorary Co-Chairs
Michael Ratner, President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
Joyce Horman, Board Chair, The Charles Horman Truth Foundation
John Cavanagh, Director, Institute for Policy Studies
Cynthia Soohoo, Director, International Women's Rights Clinic, CUNY School of Law

7pm - Dinner festive dress
8pm - Award Ceremony
9pm - Music by Chilean singer-songwriter Claudia Acuña

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here

Dear Friends and Allies,

Warm summer greetings. I wanted to share with you the good news that my book, "Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism," has just been published, at last. 

Inspired by my father Mahfoud Bennoune's work in Algeria, it tells the stories of progressive people (journalists, artists, women's rights activists, etc...) who have risked everything to stand up to extremism and terror - stories rarely heard in the West.   For the book, I interviewed nearly 300 people of Muslim heritage from almost 30 countries - from Afghanistan to Mali.  Thank you so much to all of you for your support with this project during the writing and research.  Now, I am writing to ask for your support and advice in spreading the word about the book any way you can.
I would be most honored if you might consider reading "Your Fatwa", giving the book to friends, sharing the link with any friends, family, colleagues, bookstores, websites, listservs and libraries near you. If you do modern things involving social media (unlike this dinosaur), please feel free to share that way too.  (If you do forward this email, please don't send my Email address along with it... thanks.) If you have ideas about places where I could give talks or readings, or booksignings, that would be great too. Whether or not the book is translated into other languages will depend on how well it does in English, so any and all support greatly appreciated. If you have time to read the book, and happen to like it, please consider writing a review on the amazon or barnes and noble sites - or "liking" the book on their sites.

You can also visit to see additional material not in the book in case you are interested.

Once I get through the book tour, I hope that I will get to catch up with you all. I have missed friends and colleagues during all this wandering and writing - though it has been the most amazing adventure - like three years of studying in the university of the world....  Thank you so much for any ideas you have on getting the word out - this is a rare opportunity for our perspectives to be heard, but I know you are all very busy.

warm wishes and thanks, karima

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Haiti's Draft GBV Law

Dear Anita,

We write to you with some unprecedented and wonderful news----that reflects the culmination of work in Haiti by Rhonda Copelon. 

Haiti’s Ministry of Justice is currently considering a draft penal code revision law that, if approved by the Haitian Parliament, would be a major advancement in legislation addressing gender-based violence and includes a landmark provision on LGBT rights both in Haiti and much of the world. Although not public yet, among its advancements, this penal code revision would change the discourse for women’s rights in Haiti through three critical provisions:

1. Legalize first trimester abortions that threaten the health of the mother and in instances of rape and incest; criminalize marital rape;

2. Modernize the definition of rape, including specific codification of marital rape as a crime; 

3. Protect Haiti’s LGBT community by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. 

While the penal code revision process is public, the specific provisions are not, and we ask that you keep these provisions confidential until the MOJ decides to make them public. 

In partnership with the Haitian women’s organization KOFAVIV, MADRE and the IWHR Clinic have been working diligently for the past two years with Haitian civil society and specifically, Haitian grassroots women’s groups on the substance and mobilization of this draft law. Now that the law is complete it will be submitted to Parliament in January and voted on for passage this spring. 

As the final step in this two-year process, the IWHR Clinic and our partners worked to put together a civil society workshop to generate the civil society support and build the momentum needed for its passage. This workshop was supposed to take place on October 25, in Port-au-Prince Haiti. Unfortunately hurricane Sandy hit Haiti before heading to New York and forced us to cancel the event. With international speakers already in town and the event venue paid for in advance, we lost the funding we had secured to make the event possible.

We are urgently writing in hopes of raising the $16,000 needed to host the event again on February 6, 2013 in Port-au-Prince. We are working in partnership with the Ministry of Justice, and grassroots Haitian organizations and believe that this conference is crucial and is the final action needed in order to get this law passed. 

As you know, Rhonda laid the groundwork for the current efforts to end sexual violence in Haiti. In 1994, after Haiti experienced a surge in politically motivated sexual violence, the IWHR Clinic, under Rhonda’s leadership, pulled together a team to file a brief with the Organization of American States arguing that the rape of Haitian women by State actors that was underway amounted to torture under international law. Nearly fifteen years later, when Haiti suffered another surge in sexual violence, this time due to the devastating earthquake in 2010, the same organizations that Rhonda had rallied in the 1990s, came together to file our petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The decision was striking as the Commission expanded on Rhonda’s work to call attention to the State’s due diligence obligation to end sexual violence committed by private actors. The Commission not only called on immediate measures to be implemented, it also implored the Haitian government to draft law that would strengthen women’s rights and eliminate inconsistencies that exist around the prosecution of sexual violence crimes. In response, the Government started drafting such a law. 

The total estimated cost for this workshop is $16,000 and any amount of support you may be able to give would greatly help. The IWHR Clinic, MADRE and our other partner groups have formed the Gender Law and Policy Project as a coalition of organizations who are working to educate lawmakers on this draft law. Checks can be made payable to the CUNY Law School Foundation with Gender Law and Policy Project written in the memo. The address is 2 Court Square, Long Island City, NY 11101. Donations are tax-deductible.

If you have any questions feel free to contact us at anytime and thank you for your consideration.

In Solidarity,

Lisa Davis                                                Yifat Susskind
Clinical Professor of Law                     Executive Director
IWHR Clinic, CUNY Law School      MADRE

Friday, May 25, 2012

On March 30, 2012, a packed auditorium of human rights advocates, lawyers, students, and others gathered for the CUNY Law Review symposium "Looking Forward: Rhonda Copelon's Legacy in Action and the Future of International Women's Human Rights Law" (see March 16 post, below). The day-long event looked at how Rhonda's work helped to define and shape the field of international women's human rights and described how her vision continues to influence and inspire advocates and practitioners.

The CUNY Law Review has posted the program, a slideshow of photos and video footage of the symposium online at, where you can watch the full day of panels on YouTube or as a free download from iTunes U.