The IHR Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School

The International Human Rights Clinic works for the promotion of social and economic justice globally, including in the United States. The Clinic uses international human rights laws and norms as well as other substantive law and strategies to draw attention to human rights violations, develop practical solutions to those problems using interdisciplinary methodologies, and promote accountability on the part of state and non-state actors.  The Clinic works closely with non-governmental organizations to design, collaborate, and implement projects, which include litigation in domestic, foreign, and international tribunals as well as non-litigation projects, such as documenting violations, legislative reform, drafting reports, and training manuals. Students work in teams on specific projects and will develop their international research, legal writing, oral advocacy, communication, interviewing, collaboration, media advocacy, and strategic thinking skills.  Additionally, students critically examine the substance and application of human rights law, as well as discuss and confront the ethical challenges of working on human rights problems globally, and develop new techniques to address human rights violations, including those involving economic and social rights and women's rights.

For information on IHR Clinic news and events, please join the clinic mailing list: ihrclinic@lists.uchicago.edu.

Recent IHR Clinic Student Achievements

Replacing Myths with Facts: Sex-Selective Abortion Laws in the United States

The IHR Clinic, in partnership with National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health(ANSIRH), researched and drafted a report titled “Replacing Myths with Facts: Sex-Selective Abortion Laws in the United States.” The report examines the recent proliferation of laws banning sex-selection abortion in the United States. It is the work of a multidisciplinary team, including two economists, led by IHR Clinical Professor Sital Kalantry and Miriam Yeung, Executive Director, NAPAWF. As the report explains, laws banning sex-selective abortion have been introduced and enacted based upon a combination of implicit bias, factual inaccuracies and harmful stereotypes about Asian Americans. Rather than to combat gender discrimination, the report shows that sex-selective abortion bans are intended to limit access to abortion generally. Read more . . .

Report on Women in Prison in Argentina

IHR Clinic students researched and drafted a report on the causes, conditions, and consequences of women’s imprisonment in Argentina. The report, titled "Women in Prison in Argentina: Causes, Conditions, and Consequences," is available here. The Report’s findings were based (among other things) on a survey of 30% of Argentina’s women prisoners in Federal prisons and field research in Argentina (including visits to women’s prisons) by a prior team of students. The Report was released at the University of Chicago Law School in May 14 at an event attended by the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Rashida Manjoo.  The Report’s findings were widely disseminated through numerous press reports in Argentina.  The Report was co-authored by the Public Defender’s office in Argentina, who is working to implement the Report’s findings. The Report includes a recommendation that Argentina should reduce the sentences faced by women that are low-level drug offenders. Read more . . .

Report to UN Human Rights Committee on Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners in the United States

IHR Clinic students researched, drafted and submited a “shadow” report on the laws and practices of shackling pregnant prisoners during childbirth and labor in the United States. The report, available here, was submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee prior to the Committees Fourth Periodic Review of the United States' compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (a treaty to which the U.S. is a party).  In undertaking research for the report, students interviewed women who had been shackled, conducted a 50 state survey of shackling laws and policies, and consulted with experts in the field. Read more . . .

Litigation Victory for Jamaican Man under the UN Convention Against Torture

IHR Clinic students argued and won a case in an immigration court in Cleveland, Ohio in July.  Our client’s parents were shot to death by a violent gang in Jamaica affiliated with a political party. The gang shot his parents because the parents supported the opposing political party. His brother was burned alive with a tire around his neck. The gang kidnapped the client, violently beat him, and told him that they were waiting until dawn to kill him in the same manner that they killed his brother. He escaped and fled to the United States. Two students clinic students, Tessa Walker and Kimberly Rhoten, zealously represented Mr. Henry in his immigration proceedings.  The immigration judge ruled that deporting our client violates the United States government’s obligation under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. As a result of our clinic’s efforts, the client was released from a county jail after spending 2 years in detention (awaiting resolution of his immigration case). Read more . . . 

Travel to India to Address National Conference on Sexual Violence Laws

IHR Clinic students traveled to New Delhi, India in March 2013 to present the findings of their comparative research on a sexual violence laws in India and the United States.  The students delivered remarks at a national conference organized by the leading public interest litigation law firm in New Delhi, India. The students research will be used in a report to be released by the law firm.  The project and trip to India coincided with a major legislative overhaul of laws against sexual violence in India. Read more . . .

Latest News and Announcements

IHR Clinic Submits Brief to the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights

The IHR Clinic submitted a brief to the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) in anticipation of its October 27, hearing "The Human Rights Situation of Migrant and Refugee Children in the U.S.” The hearing will focus on the human rights of Central American and Mexican child migrants in the United States.

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IHR Clinic to Appear Before Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

The IHR Clinic and several other human rights groups will appear before the Washington, D.C.-based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) Monday, October 27 for two hearings: (1) a hearing seeking justice for Colorado resident and domestic violence survivor Jessica Lenahan, as well as domestic violence policy reforms in the U.S.; and (2) a hearing on the “Human Rights Situation of Migrant and Refugee Children and Families in the United States” that will address the human rights violations experienced by migrant children and families from Central America and Mexico seeking protection in the United States. 

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IHR Clinic Spurs Chicago Domestic Violence Resolution

The IHR Clinic worked with City of Chicago attorneys on a resolution (PDF) that was adopted on October 8, recognizing that “domestic violence [i]s a human rights concern” and resolving “that the City is committed to respond diligently to acts of domestic violence, and that each of the City’s departments shall incorporate the principles embodied in this resolution into their policies and practices.” Chicago is the thirteenth municipality in the nation (and the largest) to adopt such a resolution.

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Welcome Caroline Bettinger-López, New Acting Director of the IHR Clinic

Caroline Bettinger-López is a Visiting Associate Clinical Professor in autumn 2014. She is an Associate Professor of Clinical Legal Education and Director of the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law. Her scholarship, advocacy, and teaching concern international human rights law and advocacy, violence against women, gender and race discrimination, immigrants' rights, and clinical legal education. 

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IHR Clinic Acting Director Joins Vice President in Effort to Address Violence Against Women

IHR Clinic Acting Director Caroline Bettinger-López joins Vice President Joe Biden in an effort to address violence against women. Professor Bettinger-López commented on the Supreme Court's invalidation of VAWA's civil rights provision, stating, "Individuals can still bring equal protection lawsuits against police departments, [but] the legal hurdles are high, a plaintiff must prove intentional discrimination." 

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Jezebel Covers IHR Clinic Report on Sex-Selective Abortion Laws

Jezebel has covered the IHR Clinic's new report "Replacing Myths with Facts: Sex-Selective Abortion Laws in the United States." The article ntoes that the report debunks several myths associated with the introduction and enactment of laws banning sex-selective abortion in the United States. It also discusses the the report's finding that sex-selective abortion bans are part of the movement to restrict access to abortion generally.

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Mother Jones Covers IHR Clinic Report on Sex-Selective Abortion Laws

Mother Jones has written about the IHR Clinic's new report "Replacing Myths with Facts: Sex-Selective Abortion Laws in the United States." The article discusses the report findings and asserts that it "demolishes the racist myths used to justify sex-selective abortion bans."

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IHR Clinic Releases Report on Sex-Selective Abortion Laws in the United States

The International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School, the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF), and Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco, released a groundbreaking report on sex-selective abortion laws and policies in the United States today. Legislation to ban abortion based on the sex of the fetus was the second most popular anti-abortion ban in 2013, and six states have passed bans in recent years. California, home to the largest population of Asian Americans in the United States, considered and rejected moving this ban out of committee just a few weeks ago. Opponents of the legislation assert it is unnecessary and misdirected, and that it stereotypes Asian Americans and restricts women’s access to health care.

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Emily Bazelon of Slate Discusses IHR Clinic Report on Sex-Selective Abortion Laws

Emily Bazelon on Slate.com has writtent about the release of the IHR clinic report titled "Replacing Myths with Facts: Sex-Selective Abortion Laws in the United States."  The article sitautes the findings of the report in the larger debate surrounding abortion in the United States. Emily Bazelon is a Slate senior editor and the Truman Capote Fellow at Yale Law School.

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Clinic Fellow Brian Citro Earns Delhi Center Grant

Clinic Fellow Brian Citro has been awarded a $30,000 grant from the newly opened University of Chicago Center in Delhi to help fight tuberculosis in India. Citro, who works in the Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic, is part of an interdisciplinary team that will develop a rights-based approach to prevent and treat tuberculosis, a global epidemic among the world’s poor. The project will explore how human rights, and particularly the right to health, can be used as tools to increase access to testing and treatment of tuberculosis in India. They will work to articulate the rights of people with the disease, and those at risk of contracting it, as well as the obligations of government and the private sector in providing treatment and prevention.

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Professor Kalantry to Participate in International Conference on Queer Discourses in India

Clinical Professor and IHR Clinic Director, Sital Kalantry, will participate in an international conference titled "Queer Discourses in India: Law and Limits of Normal" at Jindal Global Law School in Haryana, India this month. The conference is part of the Lecture and Conversation series of the Centre for Health Law, Ethics and Technology at the law school.

Professor Kalantry will deliver a Distinguished Public Lecture Tuesday, 18 March 2014 at 3:30 PM on her recent article in the UCLA Journal of International and Foreign Affairs titled "Sex Selection in the United States and India: A Contextualist Feminist Approach.” The article develops a contextualist feminist approch to the problem of sex-selection in the context of recent laws enacted in the United States at the state level and in Congress that ban sex-selective abortion. 

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Former IHR Clinic Student Kimberly Rhoten Blogs on Indian Supreme Court's 377 Decision

Former IHR Clinic student Kimberly Rhoten ('13) recently posted a blog, co-written with Professor Dipika Jain of Jindal Global Law School, analyzing the Indian Supreme Court's recent controversial decision recriminalizing consensual same-sex relations under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. The blog post can be read here and the Supreme Court's decision can be read here. Rhoten is currenlty a Research Fellow at the Center for Health Law, Ethics and Technology at Jindal Global Law School.

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IHR Clinic Fellow Brian Citro at Helm of Human Rights Database

For activists and lawyers working around the world, information is often one of the most important tools for promoting human rights. Knowing if the law protects people from abuse and mistreatment and whether it provides access to basic services is the first step to combating injustice. And that job, for the dedicated people who do it, just got much easier, thanks to a project managed by Brian Citro, ’10, Clinical Lecturer in Law and Fellow in the International Human Rights Clinic. Citro was Project Manager and is now Project Consultant for the Global Health and Human Rights Database, a free online collection of case law and other legal instruments concerning health and human rights. The database was launched on October 24 at the United Nations General Assembly session in New York.

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"Why International Human Rights Matter in the United States" Jamil Dakwar, Director of the ACLU Human Rights Program

Jamil Dakwar, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Human Rights Program (HRP), spoke at the University of Chicago Law School on Wednesday, October 30, 2013. HRP is dedicated to holding the United States government accountable to its international human rights obligations and commitments. Jamil leads a team of lawyers and advocates who use a human rights framework to complement existing ACLU legal and legislative advocacy primarily in the areas of counter-terrorism, racial justice, immigrants’ rights, women’s rights, and criminal and juvenile justice. HRP conducts human rights research, documentation and public education, as well as engages in litigation and advocacy before U.S. courts and international human rights bodies.

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UN Special Rapporteur Releases Report, Acknowledges Expert Input Received at University of Chicago Law School

UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Rashida Manjoo, presented a report to the UN General Assembly on October 28, 2013 examining the causes, conditions and consequences of women's incarceration. The report, available here, illustrates that there is a strong link between violence against women and women’s incarceration, whether prior to, during or after incarceration. In the report, Ms. Manjoo acknowledges the valuable input provided by participants at the expert group meeting convened at the University of Chicago Law School on May 14, 2013.

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Author and Prison Activist Jean Trounstine Discusses IHR Clinic Report on Shackling Pregnant Prisoners

Author and prison activist Jean Trounstine discusses the IHR Clinic's report on the shackling of pregnant prisoners in the United States on her website. She provides insight into the practice gained during her experience teaching in a women's prison and helps to situate the report in the larger context of the movement to ban shackling in the United States.

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Birthing Behind Bars on Nation Inside Posts the IHR Clinic's Report on Shackling Pregnant Prisoners in the United States

In a section titled Birthing Behind Bars, Nation Inside posted the IHR Clinic's recent report on the shackling of pregnant prisoners in the United States submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee.

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MomsRising blogs about IHR Clinic's Report on Shackling Pregnant Prisoners in the United States

Rachel Roth blogs on MomsRising.org about the IHR Clinic's recent report on the practice of shackling pregnant prisoners in the United States submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee. Roth links the report to a larger movement to eliminate the practice of shackling and discusses a bill recently introduced in the District of Columbia that would prohibit the use of restraints on pregnant women. 

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IHR Clinic Fellow Brian Citro on the Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners in the United States

IHR Clinic Fellow Brian Citro blogs on Penal Reform International about the shackling of pregnant prisoners in the United States. The IHR Clinic, in partnership with the ACLU National Prison Project and Chicago Legal Aid for Incarcerated Mothers, recently submitted a report to the UN Human Rights Committee examining the practice of shackling in the United States prior to the Committee's Fourth Periodic Review of the United States' compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The blog discusses the report and its findings.

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Coverage of Sital Kalantry's Letter of Allegation to the UN on Chicago Public School Closings

Common Dreams covers the IHR Clinic's submission of a Letter of Allegation to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights addressing the human rights implications of the Chicago public school closings.

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IHR Clinic and Midwest Coalition for Human Rights Urge UN Investigation into Chicago Public School Closings

The Huffington Post covers the IHR Clinic's submission of a Letter of Allegation to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights addressing the human rights implications of the Chicago public school closings.

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WBEZ Chicago Covers IHR Clinic Letter of Allegation of UN on Chicago School Closings

Linda Lutton of WBEZ Chicago covers the IHR Clinic's recent submission of a Letter of Allegation to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland addressed to several UN Special Rapporteurs, including the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Mr. Kishore Singh. The letter alleges that the closing of 49 Chicago public schools impacts the enjoyment of several human rights, including the right to education and the right to be free from discrimination.

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IHR Clinic Stops Deportation of Jamaican Man Likely to be Tortured

The IHR Clinic represented a Jamaican man in front of the Cleveland Immigration Court and stopped his deportation to Jamaica, where he was likely to be tortured. Professor Sital Kalantry and students Tessa Walker and Kimberly Rhoten successfully argued that their client could not be returned to Jamaica because, as party to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, the United States is prohibited from sending anyone to a country where he or she will be tortured.

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Alum Kimberly Rhoten and 3L Hannah Garden-Monheit Blog on Sex-Workers, HIV and The Constitution

Alum Kimberly Rhoten and 3L Hannah Garden-Monheit blog on sex-workers, HIV and the United States constitution. The issues are discussed in the context of AID v. Alliance for Open Society International, Inc., in which the Supreme Court held the “anti-prostitution provision” of the United States Leadership Act of 2003 unconstitutional. The Act required that non-governmental organizations in the United States and abroad  seeking US government funding for HIV/AIDS prevention adopt a policy “explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking.

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The Crime Report Covers the IHR Clinic Report on Women in Argentine Prisons

The Crime Report, an online news service that reports on the challenges and issues of 21st century criminal justice in the United States and abroad, discusses the IHR Clinic's report titled "Women in Prison in Argentina: Causes, Conditions, and Consequences," available here in English and Spanish. The article focuses on the report's findings concerning the so-called "war on drugs." It notes that the report discusses Argentina’s response to pressure from the United States to participate in the “war on drugs,” which has been to focus on low-level drug crimes in which women are disproportionately represented. 

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Spanish Language News Service Diario Popular Policiales Discusses the IHR Clinic's Report on Women in Argentine Prisons

Spanish language news service Diario Popular Policiales discusses the International Human Rights Clinic's Report "Women in Prisons in Argentina: Causes, Conditions, and Consequences."

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Spanish Language News Service Clarin Policiales Discusses the IHR Clinic's Report on Women in Argentine Prisons

Spanish language news service Clarin Policiales discusses the International Human Rights Clinic's Report "Women in Prisons in Argentina: Causes, Conditions, and Consequenecs."

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Spanish Language News Service UPI Espanol Discusses the IHR Clinic's Report on Women in Argentine Prisons

Spanish language news service UPI Espanol discusses the International Human Rights Clinic's report "Women in Prisons in Argentina: Causes, Conditions, and Consequences."

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Spanish Language News Service Argendiario Discusses the IHR Clinic's Report on Women in Argentine Prisons

Spanish language news service Argendiario discusses the International Human Rights Clinic's report "Women in Prisons in Argentina: Causes, Conditions, and Consequences."

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UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women Speaks at the Law School

UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Rashida Manjoo, delivered at speech in the Weymouth Kirkland courtroom at the University of Chicago Law School on May 14, 2013. The speech was titled "Violence Against Women Around the World: Trends, Challenges, and Solutions" and was presented in coordination with an expert panel discussion also held held at the Law School titled "Women in Prisons: Causes, Conditions, and Consequences Around the World." The panel discussion can be viewed in full here. The IHR Clinic released its report titled "Women in Prison in Argentina: Causes, Conditions, and Consequences" during the panel discussion. The report is available here in English and Spanish

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IHR Clinic Releases Report on Causes, Conditions, and Consequences of Women in Prison in Argentina

The IHR Clinic, in partnership with the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell University Law School and the Advocate General of the Public Ministry of Defense of Argentina, have released a report titled "Women in Prisons in Argentina: Cases, Conditions, and Consequences." The Report draws on data collected from a survey of incarcerated women in Argentina, on-site visits to two prisons in the country, and in-person interviews with women prisoners, scholars, activists, judges and other stakeholders in late 2012. Using survey responses from nearly 30% of the women currently detained in the Argentine federal prison system, researchers were able to specifically target the critical issues for women deprived of their liberty in Argentina. The report is available here in English and Spanish.

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Sital Kalantry Discusses Women in Argentine Prisons on WBEZ's Worldview

Sital Kalantry and Silvia Martinez, director of the Prison Commission of the Public Defender's Office, Defensoría General de la Nación Argentina, speak with Jermore McDonell on WBEZ's Worldview about the plight of women in Argentine prions. They discuss a report (available here in English and Spanish) by the IHR Clinic, which finds that the number of women in prison has increased in recent years. In fact, the population of female prisoners in Argentina's federal prisons has expanded nearly 200 percent in the past two decades, "a much higher rate than the increase in the number of incarcerated men."

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Sital Kalantry Discusses New Documentary "It's a Girl" on Slate

Sital Kalantry discusses the documentry "It's a Girl" on Slate.com. The documentary  examines the tragic practice of sex-selection abortions in India and China. Kalantry notes that pro-life groups have embraced the film and its director worked for a pro-life ministry. The story of the making of the documentary involves clever disguises on the part of financing sources. These sources managed to hide their involvement and pass off a movie about the horrors of sex-selection abortions as just a sympathetic movie about the plight of women in India and China.

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Sital Kalantry on Reforming Sexual Violence Laws in India

Sital Kalantry blogs on IntLawGrrls about the debate in India surrounding the reform of sexual violence laws in the aftermath of the brutal gang rape and death of Jyoti Singh Pandey and the Verma Committee report.

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Sital Kalantry on Women in Argentine Prisons

In a blog on IntLawGrrls, Sital Kalantry discusses a recent New York Times article about a physics professor who was duped into unknowingly transporting cocaine from Argentina by a bikini model he met over the Internet. She observes that the real story is the women "drug mules" who transport drugs across the Argentine border for little money, who face long criminal sentences, and are filling up Argentinian jails.

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