IU McKinney Law Students Present Report at the UN on Corporal Punishment and Sexual Abuse of Kids in Cape Verde
Students from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law have teamed up with a nongovernmental organization in Cape Verde to write a shadow report for the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee on that country’s failure to combat corporal punishment and sexual abuse of school children.
The report provided to the UN was authored by law students and representatives of the NGO Delta Cultura Cabo Verde, an organization which seeks to help marginalized children in Tarrafal, island of Santiago, Cape Verde.
Key recommendations in the report include the establishment of governmental mechanisms for the mandatory reporting and investigation of corporal punishment and sexual abuse cases and the integration of the “best interests of the child” principle in those mechanisms.
The law school’s Program in International Human Rights Law (PIHRL), led by the program’s director, Professor George Edwards, endorsed the report entitled “Cape Verde Breaches its Duty to Prevent and Combat Corporal Punishment and Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse of Tarrafal, Santiago School Children, and Thus Violates Articles 2, 7 & 24 of the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (ICCPR).”
Unlike periodic reports submitted by states parties, shadow reports provide UN human rights treaty bodies with various forms of information independently prepared by NGOs, including victims’ personal stories and statistical data that show violations by states parties of a specific treaty.
This report states that Cape Verde has breached its obligations under the ICCPR by failing to protect children from corporal punishment and sexual abuse, especially by teachers. The committee seeks to determine whether states that are party to the ICCPR appropriately implement and enforce the ICCPR.
The Indiana University student participants who initiated the project were part of the law school’s International Human Rights Law Society (IHRLS). The report’s principal authors, editors and researchers included Florian Wegenstein, founder and project manager of Delta Cultura; Dirce Helene Bettencourt Gomes, Delta Cultura volunteer; and the following J.D. students from IU McKinney Law: Leontiy Korolev, IHRLS president, who served as the student team leader and coordinator; Kate Cook; Aimee Heitz; and Timothy Weber. Other J.D. students who participated in the project included Ritu Chokshi; Mark Shope; Jessica Topor; David Wesche; and Guang Yang. IU McKinney School of Law Professor Lahny Silva also contributed to the report along with William Kurtz and Zuo Quan (visiting scholar from Southeast University, China). Law school staff who assisted in various ways included Boyet Caparas, David Plough, Kathy Roell, Christina Terkhorn, Jason Yavor, Cheri Bauder and Wendy Fisk.
Students were very enthusiastic about the experience of working on the report. According to Mark Shope, graduating J.D. student and former PIHRL intern, “Working with this team to write the shadow report has been great. From a legal education standpoint, it's all there - data mining, analysis, work-product development, review and faculty evaluation, and presentation. But what's more important is that we have utilized our education to provide access to the UN to those who would otherwise not have access. That is no small matter. I am thankful for the opportunities that the Program in International Human Rights Law has provided me.”
Caparas said, “The introduction and integration of the issue-rule-analysis-conclusion (IRAC) structure and system to UN shadow reporting, with modifications, were designed to complement and reinforce further our law students’ training in legal writing and analysis as future lawyers.”
J.D. candidate Timothy Weber said, “My experience with this shadow report has been inspirational. I feel that the children in Cape Verde deserve to have NGOs and individuals dedicated to improving their standard of living, and this report represents the cumulative efforts of a team dedicated to bringing the corporal punishment and sexual exploitation of Cape Verdean children by their teachers to light so that these serious issues might be addressed. For me, the goal of this report is, and has always been, to improve the lives of children in Cape Verde. The long hours put in by everyone involved wer worth it knowing that such an improvement may come about thanks to those hours.”
“Shadow reporting enables grassroots human rights defenders to engage in United Nations human rights monitoring and enforcement mechanisms,” Caparas explained.
With his experience as an investigative journalist and international human rights lawyer, Caparas conceptualized and established the Pro Bono UN Shadow Reporting Program and provided comprehensive training on human rights reporting and supervision to J.D. and international LL.M. students.
Students working on internships have also been a vital part of the PIHRL’s shadow report efforts. Leontiy Korolev, a third year law student, serves as the IHRLS president. In 2011, he received a PIHRL scholarship to work as an intern with the Centre for Civil and Political Rights (CCPR), based in Geneva, Switzerland. An NGO, CCPR works with the Human Rights Committee on reports that detail human rights violations by many countries.
The PIHRL’s work with the UN took on a whole new dimension in 2011 when it received special consultative status from the UN Economic and Social Council, allow easier access to UN proceedings for the law school’s students and supervising faculty.
The PIHRL has submitted the following shadow reports from 2006-2010:
• The United States of America: Juvenile Life without Parole (2010)
• Australia’s Breach of its Obligations Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to Protect the Rights of Women (2009)
• Chad's Breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: Failure to Protect the Rights of Women and Girls (2009)
• Panama Shadow Report on Indigenous People, Human Rights Committee, New York (2008)
• USA Shadow Report on Hurricane Katrina, Race Committee, Geneva (2008)
• Zambia Shadow Report on Press Freedom, Human Rights Committee, Geneva (2007)
• Chile Shadow Report on Sexual Minorities, Human Rights Committee, New York (2007)
• USA Shadow Report on Hurricane Katrina, Human Rights Committee, Geneva (2006)
• USA Shadow Report on Sexual Minorities, Human Rights Committee, Geneva (2006)
A compilation of the reports can be accessed at http://indylaw.indiana.edu/humanrights/UNshadow.html