The projects of the Human Rights Clinic cover the full range of human rights advocacy. Projects have focused on:
COURAGE (Community Oriented and United Responses to Address Gender Violence and Equality) in Policing
- The Human Rights Clinic works to strengthen the law enforcement response to domestic violence and sexual assault locally in Miami, nationally, and globally through the COURAGE in Policing Project.
- The Human Rights Clinic has authored an intervention before the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Toradze v. Georgia, focused on addressing officer-perpetrated domestic violence.
Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. United States of America
The Human Rights Clinic represents Jessica Lenahan, the petitioner in Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. United States—a groundbreaking decision from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) finding the U.S. in violation of its human rights obligations in the context of domestic violence.
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
The Human Rights Clinic advocates on behalf of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada, along with Canadian Partner Organizations.
- The Human Rights Clinic contributed to a written and oral submission before the Canadian National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, focused on the right to truth. Read the web story and partners' press release.
- From March 26-28, 2012, a Human Rights Clinic team presented at a thematic hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in British Columbia, Canada.
Discrimination, Violence, and Drug Policy
The Human Rights Clinic works to address discrimination and violence against women as a result of drug policy. The Clinic is collaborating with partners to ensure the rights of women who use drugs and women living with HIV in Estonia. This has entailed U.N. advocacy, including with the U.N. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, and U.N. Working Group on the Issue of Discrimination against Women in Law and in Practice. Please find a web story on this advocacy at Via U.N. Advocacy, Clinic Addresses Discriminatory Drug Laws Against Women. Thus far, advocacy has resulted in strong Concluding Observations protective of human rights from the U.N. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on both drug policy and HIV/AIDS in paragraphs 44-47. The Clinic further submitted a report to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, which outlines the impact of obstetric violence on women who use drugs, as well as recommendations to protect their human rights.
Additionally, the Human Rights Clinic made two submissions in response to the International Commission of Jurists’ call for civil society consultation to help develop “principles that address the detrimental impact on health, equality and human rights of criminalization with a focus on select conduct in the areas of sexuality, reproduction, drug use and HIV.” Please see Alternative Models to Punitive Drug Policy and The Impact of Criminalization on Women Who Use Drugs in Estonia.
Domestic Violence and Housing
In February 2014, the Human Rights Clinic submitted comments to the Miami-Dade Public Housing and Community Development’s Proposed Policies for Section 8 Housing and the Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy. The Human Rights Clinic recommended that these policies expand protections for victims of domestic violence and cite to Miami-Dade County’s Local Resolution (which the Clinic helped to draft in 2012) declaring freedom from domestic violence to be a fundamental human right.
The clinic’s suggestions were incorporated into the sections on domestic violence in Miami-Dade County’s Public Housing and Community Development’s FY 2014-15 Public Housing Agency Plan, Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy, and Section 8 Administrative Plan. For example, on page 131, the Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy (ACOP) states that “Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and Miami-Dade County Resolution…PHCD is required to implement internal policies to include provisions for protections of victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, sexual battery and stalking.”
Subsequently, Human Rights Clinic 3L student Charlotte Cassel testified before the Miami-Dade Board of Commissioners in early April, where she reiterated the Clinic’s concerns and advocated for increased protections in housing for victims of domestic violence.
Domestic Violence and Gun Laws
- Participating in a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
In March 2014, the Human Rights Clinic participated in a thematic hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to look at the impact of Stand Your Ground laws on minority groups throughout the United States. Clinic partners included the Dream Defenders, Community Justice Project of Florida Legal Services, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Free Marissa Now Campaign. Additionally, Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, and Ronald Davis, the father of Jordan Davis, both spoke as part of our delegation before the Commission.
The video of the hearing can be found here.
A copy of the Petitioners’ testimonies can be found here. Professor Bettinger-Lopez appeared on Jamaica Radio's Behind the Headlines on March 25, 2014 to discuss the hearing.
- Submitting a shadow report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
In September 2013, the Human Rights Clinic drafted and submitted a "shadow report" on Domestice Violence, Gun Violence, and "Stand Your Ground" Laws to the United Nations Human Rights Committee in anticipation of the review of the United States' compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in Geneva in March 2014.
- Participating in an ABA (American Bar Association) Task Force Hearing.
The Human Rights Clinic participated in the ABA National Task Force’s Hearing on Stand Your Ground Law – Miami Law 3L Charlotte Cassel discussed the application of the Stand Your Ground law to victims of domestic violence belonging to ethnic and racial minorities and framed the issue in terms of international human rights.
Domestic Violence Resolutions
The Human Rights Clinic has worked with law clinics and advocates across the country to develop Resolutions Recognizing Freedom from Domestic Violence as a Fundamental Human Right.
- HRC students' resolution declaring that "freedom from domestic violence is a fundamental human right" is approved by Miami-Dade County Commission.
- Read a Miami Herald op-ed co-authored by HRC student Michael Stevenson and Commissioner Sally Heyman about the resolution.
- Professor Margaret Drew and students from the University of Cincinnati prepared a toolkit on local DV resolutions.
Other Domestic Violence Resources
Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault in the United States: A Human Rights Based Approach & Practice Guide
In August 2104, the Miami Human rights Clinic, along with the Colombia Law School Human Rights Institute, and the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, published Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault in the United States: A Human Rights Based Approach & Practice Guide.
- Battered Women's Justice Project Webinar
In January 2014, the clinic hosted a webinar on “New Perspectives in Gender Justice in Clinic Teaching.” The webinar focused on the case of Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. United States of America, the clinic’s work on implementing the Inter-American Commission’s 2011 decision, and how local governments can resolve to recognize freedom from domestic violence as a fundamental human right.
Gender Justice Convening
The clinic worked to organize the first Gender Justice of the Americas Conference in February 2011. The event focused on revitalizing and challenging the transnational dialogue regarding sexuality, violence, reproductive and human rights. This event brought together 150 advocates from 20 countries in the Americas.
Asylum Claims at the U.S. Border
- The Human Rights Clinic is collaborating with Catholic Legal Services to advocate for asylum in the U.S. for victims of gender-based violence.
- The Human Rights Clinic filed a petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights alleging rights violations by the U.S. against asylum seekers who have been detained in harsh conditions and arbitrarily denied the chance to apply for asylum on the Southern border.
- The clinic was involved in representing a Haitian immigrant in deportation proceedings, arguing that deporting her would likely result in her being tortured back in Haiti, a violation of the Convention against Torture (CAT).
Human Rights in Post-Earthquake Haiti
The Human Rights Clinic co-organized an international “Stop Deportations to Haiti” Campaign in the wake of the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, with advocacy before the United Nations, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and U.S. and Haitian lawmakers.
- Shadow Reports to U.N. Treaty Bodies
On June 30, 2014 the Human Rights and Immigration Clinics contributed to a shadow report to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination regarding Deportation from the United States to Haiti: A Violation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
The Human Rights Clinic further contributed to a shadow report to the U.N. Human Rights Committee in anticipation of the review of the United States' compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in Geneva in October 2013 on U.S. Deportations to Haiti. In February 2014, the clinic submitted an update to their original shadow report. View our Congressional briefing flyer (March 2012) with the latest updates on Haitian deportations.
- Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Advocacy
The Human Rights Clinic, together with the Immigration Clinic and other partners, brought a “precautionary measures” case before the IACHR asking the United States to immediately stop deportations of Haitian nationals from the U.S. to Haiti in light of the ongoing humanitarian crisis there. The petition was granted for dozens of Haitian nationals. The Clinic worked on a follow-up “merits petition” to the IACHR.
- Engagement withthe U.N.'s Independent Expert on human rights in Haiti
The U.N.'s Independent Expert on human rights in Haiti, as well as UM Clinics and South Florida immigration advocates, have renewed their call on the United States, Dominican Republic and others to halt deportations to Haiti.
- Press Release
- UN report, Forced returns of Haitians from third states
- Read the statement presented on July 3, 2012 at the United Nations Human Rights Council by the ACLU, UM's Human Rights and Immigration Clinics, and others concerning Haitian deportations from the U.S. following the catastrophic 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
- ACLU delivered a statement on behalf of several groups at UNHRC urging US government to refrain from deporting Haitians (July 4, 2012).
Migrant Rights in the Dominican Republic
This project was initially focused on supporting efforts in the Dominican Republic to implement a regularization program for undocumented individuals. In the wake of a September 2013 decision by the Dominican Constitutional Court—which stripped citizenship from hundreds of thousands of Dominican citizens of Haitian descent—the Clinic quickly switched its focus to addressing the harmful consequences of the Court ruling. As part of these efforts, the Clinic submitted a press release and an amicus curiae brief in the case of Benito Tide Méndez et al., v. Dominican Republic before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, focused on the rights of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic.
Submissions to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights
Twenty second- and third-year students from Professor Carrie Bettinger-López’s International Human Rights Law and Advocacy class teamed with the law school’s Human Rights Clinic and South Florida anti-poverty organizations to produce six reports for the United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. The rapporteur, Professor Philip Alston, used the reports to supplement his official visits to several U.S. cities in December 2017. Alston presented his findings on the interlinkages between U.S. poverty and the realization of human rights before the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva in early 2018.
Click here for the six consolidated reports submitted to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights.
Click on the links below for the individual reports:
- Examining the Systemic Issues that Prevent Impoverished Women from Gaining Economic Security in Miami-Dade County (The Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade County and Miami Law Human Rights Clinic)
- Farmworker Poverty and Human Rights (Miami Law Human Rights Clinic, in consultation with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers)
- The Intersection Between Poverty and Florida’s Criminal Justice System: Homeless Rights, Bail Reform, Indigent Defendants’ Right to Counsel, and Restoration of Past Offenders’ Right to Vote (The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and Miami Law Human Rights Clinic)
- Immigrants and Extreme Poverty in South Florida (Catholic Charities Legal Services and Miami Law Human Rights Clinic)
- Access to Transportation, Health Care, and Disaster Preparations and Relief in South Florida (Catalyst Miami and Miami Law Human Rights Clinic)
- Human Rights at Home: Miami’s Housing Crisis and its Perpetuation of Poverty (Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc., Community Justice Project, and Miami Law Human Rights Clinic)
Right to Food
Collaboration with Coalition of Immokalee Workers
The Human Rights Clinic has partnered with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) over the years on projects related to housing and employment rights.
Youth Incarcerated in Adult Prisions
The Human Rights Clinic has engaged with local, state, and national juvenile justice advocates to develop advocacy and other strategies for rectifying some of the rights problems facing youth in the criminal justice system. Some of the Florida-focused topics the Clinic has focused includes: children being filed into the adult justice system without judicial review; pretrial detention of juveniles in county jails; and conditions of confinement of juveniles, including solitary confinement and other abuse allegations.
The Clinic provided research support for a shadow report on Youth Incarcerated in Adult Prisons in the U.S. to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
Criminalization of Minority Youth
On June 30, 2014 the Human Rights Clinic along with partner organizations submitted a Shadow Report to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination regarding Criminalization of Minority Youth: Youth Criminally Tried and Incarcerated as Adults.