Posted by: claerwenohara | December 19, 2013

The beginning of my time in New York!

Upon arriving in New York, I was absolutely shocked by the weather! Trying to get my bearings in a downpour of snow is something I certainly won’t forget- especially after just having been in Melbourne’s beautiful sunshine. However, I was soon in awe of this magical winter wonderland and very excited to explore.

My spare time has been lovely- hot soups and mulled wine in cafes and hours in amazing art galleries! My work with the CCR has also been incredible. After only two weeks I have already been working on three of the International Human Rights team’s cases.

The first case concerns a complaint made to the Committee Against Torture (CAT) on behalf of a number of victims of torture in Guantanamo Bay against Canada and its failure to arrest, investigate or prosecute George W. Bush when he visited in October 2011, as it is obliged to do so under the Convention. While seemingly ambitious due to the nature of the politics involved in this case, it is a very important case as it serves to alert to the world as to the gravity of the atrocities that have occurred in Guantanamo Bay, despite them having been perpetrated by a powerful State. My role was to help in the drafting of a response to Canada’s submissions to the CAT, an interesting task which involved research into the Convention and the commentary and jurisprudence surrounding it.

The second case that I have been working on is the CCR’s submission to the Committee for the Rights of the Child in response to the Holy See’s reply regarding its obligations under the Convention. Much of this submission relates to the child sexual abuse that has occurred throughout the world in Catholic-run institutions and the role of the Vatican and its high level officials in both the commission of, and its response to, these offences. Although reading the various Inquiries on this issue is certainly a very sad task, I have found this case incredibly interesting in a legal sense as it requires making analogies with States and command responsibility that are novel but at the same time very strong.

Finally, I have been working on a Freedom of Information Act case concerning the U.S. government and its role in the Gaza Flotilla Raid of 2010. This case essentially involves obtaining thousands of pages of information from various U.S. departments so as it to both inform the public of its role, as well as being prepared to assist in any cases that relate to this incident. Work on this case is often laborious, as it involves readings through hundreds of pages of cables and emails. However, it is also very rewarding when one eventually discovers something of interest as it resembles somewhat the piecing together of a puzzle.

The staff at CCR are also incredibly lovely and passionate, and continue to inspire me every day and remind me of why my dream is to pursue a career in the area of human rights and social justice. I am now off to attend our staff Christmas party this evening!

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