Saturday, January 31, 2009

Human Rights and Gaza: Sign the petition!

Hours before Israel announced a ceasefire, an Amnesty International fact finding mission gained access to Gaza. Their initial reports are disturbing: the team found first hand evidence of war crimes, serious violations of international law and possible crimes against humanity by all parties to the conflict.

AI researchers continue investigating attacks against southern Israel and are currently documenting the true scale of devastation wrought on civilians in Gaza. The stories they report are harrowing. In the early afternoon of January 4th, three young paramedics walked through a field on a rescue mission to save a group of wounded men in a nearby orchard. A 12-year-old boy, standing by his house, assisted the operation by pointing to where the men could be found. An Israeli air strike on the area killed all four.

The bodies of the four victims could not be retrieved for two days. Ambulance crews who tried to approach the site came under fire from Israeli forces. Our researchers later traveled to the scene of the strike with the two ambulance drivers who witnessed the attack. They met with the boy’s distraught mother and found the remains of the missile. The label of the missile read, “guided missile, surface attack” and cited the United States as the country of origin.

Under the Geneva Conventions, medical personnel searching, collecting, transporting or treating the wounded must be protected and respected in all circumstances. Clearly, this was not the case on Jan. 4th. Since we last emailed you, more than 87,000 of you have written Congress and former administration officials. These emails, along with the massive outpouring of letters from around the world from other Amnesty sections, are making an impact.

Just this week:

the United Nations pledged $613 million in aid for Gaza

60 members of Congress signed a letter to Secretary of State Hillary of Clinton calling for humanitarian support for Gaza

And hours ago, the US pledged $20 million in aid1-2 We have a small window of opportunity to build on this momentum:

urge Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Susan Rice to push for a full-fledged independent investigation.

This investigation is critical for many reasons, not the least of which is the clear evidence of the use of white phosphorous, as well as the mounting evidence of the misuse of US arms3. As you read this, Amnesty researchers continue documenting the use of arms, and we expect an action specifically calling on Congress to investigate the misuse of US weapons in this conflict in the coming weeks. Everyone is responsible for the protection of international law.

The US government must not turn a blind eye to possible war crimes and crimes against humanity. It should support an independent international inquiry by the United Nations into allegations of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law - by all groups participating in the conflict.The story of the paramedics and the young boy is not an anomaly.

Write Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice today and urge accountability for abuses in Gaza and southern Israel now.

Thank you for your continuing support,

Zahir Janmohamed
Advocacy Director Middle East and North Africa

P.S. For comprehensive information on the conflict, go to For late breaking updates, visit our blog, Human Rights Now. For organizing resources on the conflict, visit the Gaza Resources page

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Human Rights Watch: United States

January 2009

country summary

United States

US criminal justice policy continues to raise serious human rights concerns. 2008
saw the resumption of executions after a seven-month hiatus and continued growth
of the US prison population, already the world’s largest. Also in 2008, Human Rights
Watch confirmed that there are more than 2,500 US prisoners serving sentences of
life without possibility of parole for crimes committed when they were under 18; no
other country imposes this penalty on juvenile offenders.

In positive developments, the US Supreme Court struck down a law that barred
Guantanamo detainees from challenging the legality of their detention, and the
Department of Justice brought its first prosecution under a 1994 law allowing courts
to try torture committed abroad by US citizens or anyone present in the United States.

Death Penalty
From September 2007 until May 2008 there were no executions in the United States
while the Supreme Court considered whether lethal injection—the method used by
all US death penalty jurisdictions—constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. In
April 2008 the Court ruled in Baze v. Rees that it does not, and executions quickly
resumed. Between May and October 2008 there were 30 executions, half of which
were in Texas.
Nevertheless, courts and legislatures continue to narrow the scope of capital
punishment. In December 2007 New Jersey abolished the death penalty, becoming
the first state in more than 40 years to do so. In June 2008 in Kennedy v. Louisiana
the US Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty may not be imposed for any crime
against another person that does not result in death. US courts pronounced 110 new
death sentences in 2007, the lowest number since capital punishment was
reinstated in 1976.
Between January and October 2008, four prisoners were exonerated and released
from death row, bringing to 130 the number of death-sentenced prisoners released
since 1973 due to evidence of their innocence.
2008 saw a step backward for non-citizens sentenced to death without being
allowed to contact their consular officials as required by the Vienna Convention on
Consular Relations. On August 5, Texas executed Mexican national José Medellin
despite an International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision directing the United States to
reexamine such cases, and a directive from President George W. Bush that state
courts comply with the ICJ ruling.

Juvenile Life without Parole
In 2008 Human Rights Watch revised upward to 2,502 our estimate of the number of
persons in the United States sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for
crimes committed when they were under age 18. We also verified that there are no
juvenile offenders serving this sentence anywhere else in the world.
Efforts to end juvenile life without parole in the United States continue with reform
legislation pending in Congress and in state legislatures in California, Florida,
Louisiana, Michigan, and Nebraska. In 2008 the United Nations Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination recommended that the United States, “in light of
the disproportionate imposition” of the sentence on racial minorities, discontinue its
use for crimes committed by individuals under 18 and review the status of people
already serving such sentences.

A June 2008 report by the US Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics found
that the incarcerated population had reached an all-time high of 2.3 million, or 762
per 100,000 residents. The United States continues to have both the largest
incarcerated population and the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world.
The burden of incarceration falls disproportionately on members of racial and ethnic
minorities. Black men are incarcerated at six times the rate of white men, and 10.7
percent of all black males age 30 to 34 are behind bars on any given day. A 2008
Human Rights Watch report, “Targeting Blacks,” found that racial disparities are
even worse for drug offenders, with a black man almost 12 times more likely than a
white man to enter prison with a new drug conviction, despite similar rates of drug
use among blacks and whites.
In March 2008 the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination expressed “concern with regard to the persistent racial disparities in
the criminal justice system … including the disproportionate number of persons
belonging to racial, ethnic and national minorities in the prison population,” and
urged the United States to “take all necessary steps to guarantee the right of
everyone to equal treatment before tribunals and all other organs administering
One out of five state prisoners in the United States is incarcerated for a drug-related
offense. Many prisoners, particularly those convicted of drug possession or property
crimes, have histories of substance use and addiction. The prevalence of diseases
related to injection drug use such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C is significantly greater
among prisoners than in the general population. Yet US prisons and jails remain
resistant, even hostile, to evidence-based practices such as condom distribution or
methadone therapy, which have proven to reduce transmission of HIV, hepatitis C,
and sexually transmitted diseases and to treat drug addiction.
The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) of 1996 creates a variety of obstacles for
prisoners seeking to vindicate their rights in court. These restrictions—which apply
only to prisoners—have resulted in dismissal of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse and
other significant injuries. In November 2007 a bill was introduced in the House of
Representatives to amend or repeal some provisions of the PLRA.

Corporal Punishment in Public Schools
According to the US Department of Education, more than 200,000 public school
students received corporal punishment at least once during the 2006-2007 school
year. Corporal punishment—which typically takes the form of one or more blows on
the buttocks with a wooden paddle—is legal in public schools in 21 states. A 2008
Human Rights Watch report, “A Violent Education,” focuses on corporal punishment
in Texas and Mississippi, two of the states where it is most prevalent. The report
found that corporal punishment can result in serious injury and is used
disproportionately against black students and special education students.

Women’s Rights
Struggles to achieve pay equity for women continued in 2008, with members of
Congress working to overturn a 2007 Supreme Court decision that narrowly
construed the statute of limitations for pay discrimination lawsuits against
employers. Despite widespread mobilization by women’s rights groups, the Lilly
Ledbetter Fair Pay Act died in the Senate after passing the House of Representatives.
Nonetheless, the gender pay gap narrowed to its smallest size in history, with
women earning 78 cents for every dollar earned by men.
US international aid remains laden with restrictions that undermine the sexual and
reproductive rights of women. Congress in 2008 reauthorized the President's
Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief for another five years, but continued to direct funding
toward abstinence-only programs and retained the requirement that organizations
pledge their opposition to sex work before receiving US funds. Similarly, the “global
gag rule” continues to prohibit foreign organizations receiving US funding from
providing abortions, counseling women about abortion, or engaging in advocacy for
abortion rights, even if no US funds would be used in those efforts.

Sexual Violence
In the United States, the crime of rape has one of the lowest arrest, prosecution, and
conviction rates among serious violent crimes. In 2008 Human Rights Watch began
an investigation into the failure of law enforcement authorities to preserve and test
evidence in rape cases. When reporting a sexually violent crime, a victim is asked to
submit to a four- to six-hour exam to collect DNA evidence that, if tested, may aid in
the criminal investigation. But the Justice Department estimates that up to 500,000
of these rape kits sit untested in crime labs and police storage facilities across the
United States. In Los Angeles alone there are over 7,300 untested rape kits, with the
backlog growing by about 30 a month.

Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
US law continues to offer no national protections against discrimination based on
sexual orientation or gender identity, in employment or other areas of life.

Rights of Non-Citizens
There are some 38 million non-citizens living in the United States, of whom nearly 12
million are undocumented. In 2008 this population faced human rights problems
largely similar to those in previous years.
As documented in our 2007 report, “Forced Apart,” legal immigrants who have lived
in the United States for decades, including lawful permanent residents, are
summarily deported under laws passed in 1996 if they have been convicted of a
crime, even a non-violent offense such as shoplifting or low-level drug possession.
During the deportation proceedings, judges are not permitted to balance the
seriousness of a non-citizen’s crime against his lawful presence in the US, family
relationships (including with a US citizen spouse and minor children), business
ownership, tax payments, service in the US military, or likelihood of persecution after
deportation. In 2006, the most recent year for which data are available, the number
of non-citizens deported increased yet again, to 95,752 from 90,426 in 2005,
bringing the total number of persons deported under these laws to 768,345.
In 2008 US Immigration and Customs Enforcement continued a pattern begun in
2007 of large-scale workplace raids in search of undocumented workers. In August
2008, in the largest such raid in US history; nearly 600 non-citizens were arrested in
Laurel, Mississippi.
Similarly, in May 2008 immigration agents rounded up 389 undocumented workers
at a meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa. After the raids, Iowa’s attorney general
filed more than 9,300 criminal misdemeanor charges against the plant’s owners and
managers for labor law violations including child labor and long shifts without
overtime pay. Prosecutors, however, also threatened to charge workers—some of
whom had used false IDs to obtain work—with aggravated identity theft, a charge
that carries severe penalties and is aimed at persons committing theft by fraud
rather than undocumented immigrants seeking jobs.
The United States detains approximately 300,000 non-citizens each year at an
annual cost of US$1.8 billion, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(ICE). Non-citizens are held in some 300 detention facilities: about two dozen are
directly under the control of ICE, although some are operated by private companies,
and the remainder are state and local prisons and jails that contract with ICE to
provide bed space for ICE detainees.
The large number of detained non-citizens in the United States raises multiple
human rights concerns. In a December 2007 report, “Chronic Indifference,” we found
that ICE fails to monitor adequately the medical care of detainees with HIV, and does
not comply with international or national guidelines for appropriate HIV treatment.
Research by Human Rights Watch into medical care for women in immigration
detention facilities similarly found inadequate provision of routine gynecological
care, cervical and breast cancer screenings and diagnosis, family planning services,
pre- and post-natal care, and services for survivors of sexual and gender-based
A series of articles published in the Washington Post in May 2008 revealed that 30
non-citizens died in detention between 2003 and 2008 as a result of actions taken
or not taken by medical staff.
In a positive step, Congress repealed the 15-year-old law barring HIV-positive noncitizens
from entering the United States. Although President Bush has signed the bill,
at this writing the administration had not yet passed regulations to fully implement
repeal of the travel ban.

Guantanamo Bay, Indefinite Detention, and Military Commissions
Although President Bush said he would like to see the detention facility at
Guantanamo Bay closed, 255 men remained there at this writing, and no steps to
close the facility were expected before the end of the administration. The vast
majority of these detainees have been held for nearly seven years without charge.
More than half are held in high-security facilities where they spend 22 hours a day in
small cells with no natural light or fresh air and few diversions.
In June 2008 the Supreme Court in Boumediene v. Bush struck down a law that
denied Guantanamo detainees the right to bring federal habeas corpus challenges to
the legality of their detention. Nearly all of the detainees filed habeas petitions, but
these cases have been delayed by a host of procedural and legal questions such as
whether hearings can be conducted in secret.
More than two dozen detainees who were cleared for release cannot be returned to
their home countries due to the likelihood that they would face torture upon return.
In October 2008 a federal court ruled that the United States must release 17 Chinese
Uighurs detained at Guantanamo into the United States. The US government had
acknowledged that the men posed no threat but could not be returned to China
because they face persecution there. A federal appeals court issued a stay of that
order, and the fate of these men remained undecided at this writing.
The United States has continued to repatriate other Guantanamo detainees without
meaningful or independent assessment of the risk of torture or abuse they faced
upon return. While some detainees obtained court orders requiring advance notice
of any transfer, many detainees do not have such orders in place. The United States
has claimed that “diplomatic assurances”—promises of humane treatment—from
the receiving governments are sufficient protection against abuse, despite
compelling evidence to the contrary.
The US government continues to detain Qatari citizen Ali Saheh Kahlah al-Marri in
the United States as an “enemy combatant” without charge or trial. Al-Marri was first
declared an enemy combatant in 2003, just weeks before his scheduled trial for
financial fraud and giving false statements. In 2007 a federal appeals court panel
ruled that al-Marri’s detention was unlawful, but the full court overturned the
decision. Al-Marri has appealed that ruling to the US Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the administration continues to prosecute Guantanamo detainees
before military commissions that lack fundamental due process guarantees. In May
2008 the US government filed military commission charges seeking the death
penalty against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other detainees accused of
responsibility for the September 11 attacks. All five were held in secret CIA prisons
before they were brought to Guantanamo, and were reportedly subject to years of
torture and other abuse. No trial date has been set. The United States is also
pursuing cases against 15 other detainees, including Omar Khadr and Mohammed
Jawad, who were juveniles when they were first brought to Guantanamo nearly seven
years ago.
Only three detainees had been convicted by military commissions at this writing.
Australian David Hicks was convicted by plea agreement in March 2007 and is now
free in Australia. The first military commission trial took place in July 2008 against
Salim Ahmed Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s former driver. Hamdan was acquitted of
conspiracy and convicted of providing material support to terrorism, and sentenced
to five-and-a-half years with credit for five years’ time served. As it has said with
respect to all Guantanamo detainees, the Bush administration contends that
Hamdan can be detained even after his sentence is completed. In November 2008
Ali Hamza al Bahlul was convicted on terrorism charges and sentenced to life in

Torture Policy
Over the past three years Congress and the courts have repudiated the Bush
administration’s reliance on torture as an interrogation technique. In September
2006 the Pentagon announced new rules applicable to all US military interrogations
and disavowed abusive techniques, such as waterboarding, forced nudity, and
induced hypothermia. In February 2008 Congress passed legislation mandating that
the CIA adhere to these same rules, but it was vetoed by President Bush.

Secret CIA Prisons
In April 2008 the Department of Defense announced the transfer to Guantanamo of a
detainee previously held in CIA custody, indicating that the CIA’s secret prisons were
still operational as of that time. Two to three dozen former CIA detainees remain
“disappeared,” their whereabouts unknown. Many of them are believed to have
been unlawfully rendered to countries such as Syria, Libya, Pakistan, and Algeria.

Denial of Refugee Protection
US law allows authorities to deny refugee protection to persons believed to have
associated with or provided “material support” to certain armed groups. The broad
terms of the law have led authorities to bar persons who qualify as refugees under
international law, including rape victims forced into domestic servitude by rebel
groups. In January 2008 Congress passed legislation that gave the administration
the power to waive these bars in deserving cases, but the exercise of this discretion
has been painstakingly slow.

Domestic Prosecution of Torture Abroad
In a positive development, the Department of Justice brought its first case under a
1994 law allowing courts to try torture committed abroad by US citizens or anyone
present in the US. A Miami jury in October 2008 convicted Charles "Chuckie" Taylor,
Jr., the son of the former Liberian president and a US citizen, on several counts of
torture for crimes committed by the elite military unit he headed in Liberia from 1997
to 2003.

Key International Actors
At the conclusion of his June 2008 visit, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial,
summary or arbitrary executions called on the United States to improve its military
justice system and to ensure that the death penalty is applied fairly and without
racial discrimination. The special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial
discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance expressed concern about
residential racial segregation and the poor state of public education after his visit in
Although the European Union has called on the United States to close the
Guantanamo detention facility, it has not publicly criticized the military commissions
or made concrete proposals regarding trial or release of Guantanamo detainees. By
contrast, the EU and member states have intervened and attempted to halt
executions in a number of US death penalty cases.

Guest Speaker: Father Scott Seethaler

Fellow peace-makers in Christ:

Below is a message from Senorita Kenrick. Anyone who is available during a free period to attend this lecture, please feel free to stop in Room 402.


Hola amigos,

I just wanted t
o invite you to hear Father Scott Seethaler speak next week to my classes.

He will be speaking to periods 1-4 and periods 7 & 8 next Wednesday, February 4th, 2009.

He will be speaking about his ministry in Oaxaca, Mexico as well as the political and economic situation there. You are welcome to drop by at the beginning of any period to hear him. He is a very good speaker and a wonderful person. I think you will find the experience worthwhile if your schedule permits.

Senorita Kenrick

Sunday, January 25, 2009

advocating for the rights of children -- crc

cchrist fellows and all women and men who love justice and mercy:

become involved in the natinal effort for ratification of the u.n. convention on the rights of the child. it is a catholic and lasallian issue of concern for which we must advocate.

Participant Action Commitments- 10 Activities

  1. Join the Campaign for U.S. Ratification of the CRC. Click here to signup.
  2. Continue to educate yourself on the Convention, including its compliance with U.S. law, claims of and responses to the opposition, proposed benefits of ratification, and how the CRC has been used to improve children’s welfare around the world.
  3. Involve others- educate friends, families, colleagues, religious and faith-based groups, community leaders, and parent-teacher associations on the Convention and why they should get involved in the Campaign for U.S. Ratification of the CRC.
  4. Incorporate the CRC into your organization’s advocacy agenda or your course curricula.
  5. Include information about the CRC in your newsletters and conference workshops and presentations.
  6. Raise awareness in your community- write Letters to the Editor and Op-Eds. in support of the CRC.
  7. Post a link to the Campaign for U.S. Ratification of the CRC on your Web Site.
  8. Use the CRC as a tool to evaluate and guide the development of your organization’s policies and programs.
  9. Enact a Local/State CRC Resolution.
  10. Host a local event, such as an educational presentation. Use the Campaign’s PowerPoint Presentation, show a film, or invite an expert from the Speakers Bureau to discuss the CRC with participants.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The WATCHTower

Ok Bros:

As discussed at today's meeting, CCHRIST will release its first issue of The Watchtower, a monthly publication on human rights issues throughout the world,on February 17, 2009, the day after President's Day.

Deadline for first drafts is February 6, 2009. They are due to my e-mail address by the end of the day on Friday. My e-mail address:

Here is the run-down of articles assigned:

Brother Peach

- Catholic Social Teaching
- UN Declaration of Human Rights
- An editorial on why human rights matters

Kieran Colman

- Middle East conflict/resolution

Dante Odorisio

- Israeli/Gaza conflict/resolution

Mike Noel

- Human rights and the Obama presidency
- Congo conflict/resolution

Matt O'Donnel

- Horn of Africa conflict/resolution

Matt Kizior

- Human rights abuses in China

James Farrell

- Poverty/hunger and the CRS
- Preview of speaker on March 20

Jack Devine

- Darfur
- North Korea

Otherwise, next Thursday, January 29, 2009, we will have a poster-making party to highlight human rights issues around the world. Snacks and sweet beats will be provided.

Posters will be displayed in case on second floor. If space is unavailable, we will place them in the library or elsewhere in the school (cafeteria entrance?).

To find information about abuses in a specific region, refer to the following website: or (you will have to sign-up, which is free).

The following gentlemen have agreed to research information on major human rights abuses taking place in the world's continents:

Luke Larkin - Australia

Steve Joyce/
Steve Pergantis
- South America

Brother Peach - North America

Colman Bros - Africa

James Farrell - Europe

Dan Murtha - Asia

? - Antarctica

Lastly, we will have a feature film presentation of Hotel Rwanda on Thursday, February 5, 2009. Be there. Food and drink will be provided. Bring a friend.

I think that's it!

Keep the peace.

In CChrist,

Monday, January 12, 2009

Support Peace in the Holy Land: Ecumenical Letter to Obama about Gaza


TAKE ACTION NOW! Thanks to the incredible efforts of Catholics around the country, our Church has provided more than 2,300 signatures to date to an ecumenical letter signed by Most Reverend Howard Hubbard, Bishop of Albany and Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Ken Hackett, President of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) that urges President-elect Barack Obama “to make achievement of Israeli-Palestinian peace an immediate priority” during his first year in office. But there’s still time to act in support of peace. Visit now to add your signature before January 16.

WHY IS THIS ACTION IMPORTANT NOW? As we start the New Year, we renew our hopes for the day when our sisters and brothers can live in peace in the Holy Land. As the conflict in Gaza reminds us, violence cannot bring peace; what is needed are negotiations. With the incoming Obama Administration, there is a renewed opportunity for the United States to help achieve a just and lasting peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

During his campaign, President-elect Obama promised to work for peace between Israel and the Palestinians from the beginning of his Administration. Given the global financial crisis and the many challenges facing Americans today, the President-elect will be balancing many competing priorities when he is sworn in on January 20, 2009. It is therefore critical that he hear from us now in large numbers that Holy Land peace cannot be delayed and that we fully urge his leadership in resolving this long-standing conflict.

WHAT DOES THE LETTER ASK PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA TO DO? The letter we are asking you to sign was circulated by the Churches for Middle East Peace, an ecumenical coalition of churches and faith-based organizations. The letter urges President-elect Obama to provide immediate diplomatic leadership toward the clear goal of a final status agreement establishing a viable Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel. The opportunity for achieving a two-state solution is supported by majorities of Israelis and Palestinians as the best way to end this tragic conflict. However, the prospects for this solution are narrowing and must be seized soon.

The deadline for signatures is January 16, 2009. A version of this letter signed by national Christian leaders was sent to the Obama transition team on December 1, 2008. The final letter signed by leaders and individual church members, such as us, will be delivered to President Obama upon his inauguration. Sign the letter now.

WHAT DOES PEACE IN THE HOLY LAND HAVE TO DO WITH MY FAITH? Our Catholic faith teaches us to be peacemakers. The U.S. Bishops wrote in their 1983 pastoral letter, The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response, “Peacemaking is not an optional commitment. It is a requirement of our faith. We are called to be peacemakers, not by some movement of the moment, but by our Lord Jesus.”

Pope Benedict XVI reiterated the Catholic Church’s commitment to peace in the Holy Land when he stated that “it is necessary to explore every possible diplomatic avenue and to remain attentive to even the faintest sign of dialogue or desire for reconciliation if long-standing conflicts are to be resolved. When all the people of the Holy Land live in peace and harmony, in two independent sovereign states side by side, the benefit for world peace will be inestimable […]” (May 12, 2008)

WHAT IS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH DOING TO PROMOTE PEACE IN THE HOLY LAND? In 2005, the USCCB launched the Catholic Campaign for Peace in the Holy Land to promote understanding and support for a just resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. CRS has worked in the Holy Land for nearly 50 years, supporting peace with justice for all people, while responding to the humanitarian and sustainable development needs of Palestinians. To learn more visit: and

For more information contact:

Dr. Stephen Colecchi, Director, International Justice and Peace, USCCB,, (202) 541-3196

Tina Rodousakis, Grassroots Advocacy Manager, CRS,; (410) 951-7462

Sunday, January 11, 2009

War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity

CCHRIST Fellows and All Men and Women of Goodwill:

In the architecture of international law, two main categories of international jurisprudence are
war crimes and crimes against humanity. Listen to a story from Sunday's Weekend Edition, NPR's Sunday morning news broadcast. What you will hear is described are war crimes and crimes against humanity.

If more than 700 Israelis had been killed in 12 or 13 days times, what do you think would be the so-called international community's cry? Yes, all life is sacred. And Israel is due its right to live in peace and safety. However, what is happening in Gaza, only twice the size of Washington, DC, is a wholly disproportionate response to what Hamas has done and continues to do in regards to shooting rockets in southern Israel.

Let us pray for peace which is not merely the absence of war. Let us pray that the Obama administration may exercise good courage and move towards a more just, indeed prophetic, stance towards this vexing problem that is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Listening to Jimmy Carter is a start.

Last Wednesday, Cornel West gave a biting critque during an interview on the BBC Newshour (GMT 2000). The link is
The interview is towards the end of this broadcast. Listening just to this item does not appear (GMT 2000) possible.