International Disability (IDL)
v. United States
The Association of Humanitarian Lawyers (AHL) was formerly
know as "International Disability Law." On behalf
of disabled victims in Grenada, Petition No. 9313 (United States)
was filed after the United States bombed a hospital for mentally
and mentally retarded patients. This was AHL's first case and
they were successful.
Ahmadi Muslims - Pakistan
AHL began addressing the situation of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan
in 1984, when in August of that year Mme Elizabeth Odio Benito,
then the Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance of the
United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination
and Protection of Minorities, showed AHL’s Karen Parker a copy
of Ordinance XX, promulgated by then dictator General Zia-ul-Haq,
that provided stiff criminal penalties for Ahmadi Muslims. In
1985, at the urging of Mme Odio-Benito, AHL’s Ilyas Khan and
Karen Parker raised the issue at the Sub-Commission on Prevention
of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities (now renamed
the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human
Rights. The Sub-Commission, in its resolution 1985/21, condemned
Pakistan for persecuting Ahmadi Muslims and highlighted the
risk of a mass exodus of Ahmadi Muslims and others from Pakistan
due to religious and political persecution.
The Burmese army ignored the results of a national election
and re instituted military rule in 1990. Widespread, horrendous
abuses against the country's ethnic minorities (including war
crimes and slavery) have been documented.
A statement at the 47th session of the U.N. Sub-Commission on
Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities (1995),
condemning slave porte rage in Burma and calling for increased
U.N. attention to the child victims of war.
AHL provided support for an action filed by Ms. Parker at the
then newly-formed United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary
Detention on Behalf of Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
The Working Group, in its second official opinion, found Mrs.
Aung San Suu Kyi's Detention arbitrary.
Police Cell Detention in Japan
AHL worked in partnership with the International Federation
of Human Rights (Paris) to investigate Japan's "Daiyo Kangoku"
(police cell) detention system at the invitation of the Japanese
Federation of Bar Associations. Under this system, criminal
suspects were held at the police station responsible for their
arrest, and were denied the right to counsel for up to 21 days.
Most were held incommunicado. During that time, most suspects
were subjected to treatment meeting the international law definition
of torture. Most suspects "confessed" after promises
of notification of family and provision of counsel. The report,
issued in 1989 in English by AHL, in French by the International
Federation and in Japanese by the Japanese Bar Association,
generated many reforms in Japan's criminal justice system. Copies
of the report are available from AHL, the Japanese Bar and the
Establishing the Right to a Sound
Environment as a Human Right
AHL began a partnership in 1989 with Earthjustice (then known
as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund) to incorporate the right
to a sound environment into international human rights law.
The 1977 Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions had
articles that protected the environment, but the issue had not
yet been raised strongly in the international and regional human
rights forums. Together we chose to investigate the use of toxic
defoliants by the Guatemalan authorities in the course of the
armed conflict then raging there and the encroachment into the
lands of Ecuador’s Huaorani Indians as the first “cases.” Both
were written up and presented to the United Nations in 1988.
Comfort Women Case in Japan
During World War II, the Japanese military, acting on government
policy, enslaved young women. Under the jugun ianfu
scheme, the government of Japan abducted or fraudulently induced
the recruitment of women and girls from territories under Japanese
occupation, transported them away from their homes, detained
them in special facilities, and allowed its soldiers to repeatedly
rape them. A significant number of women and girls were murdered
outright or allowed to die of injuries or starvation. The Japanese
government has expressed remorse and has issued apologies for
the suffering of people in many countries in Japan's advance
along the road to war. However, Japan, in the opinion of many,
refuses to fully acknowledge the jugun ianfu scheme
and provided full reparation to the victims.
Kashmir is boardered
on the east by Pakistan, China on the west and India on the
AHL has addressed the situation in Kashmir since 1990 when
renewed clashing between the Indian military forces and Kashmiri
people broke out in Indian-occupied Kashmir. The problem arises
because at the time of the withdrawal of the British colonial
power and then the partition creating the separate States of
India and Pakistan, the status of Kashmir was undecided. The
Free Kashmir forces were resisted by the Indian military, and
Pakistan was drawn into the conflict.
Conflict Around the World: A country by Country Review
An amicus curiae brief (1995), in support of a petition by the
Center for Constitutional Rights before the OAS Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights. CCR charged the United States with
violations of human rights law and the Geneva Conventions during
its invasion of Panama in 1989 (Salas, et al. v. United States,
Case 10.573, 1993 Inter-Am. C.H.R. 312 (Admissibility).
The case uses similar arguments to those presented in a 1983
petition to the Inter-American Commission, which called for
compensation of the victims of the U.S. bombing of Grenada's
mental hospital. This was the first time a case against the
United States had been admitted by any international forum.
For seven years (1994 through 2000), AHL supported the preparation
of an annual review of the many wars, in which were included all
UN references, as well as background and their current status.
The Parliamentary Human Rights Group (UK), headed by Lord Avebury,
co-sponsored this publication and printing. The review was also
issued in Arabic, through the participation of the UNESCO Chair
at the University of Oran (Algeria). The reports were prepared
by AHL's Ms. Parker and Anne Heindel. AHL hopes to partially revive
Rights of mentally Ill Persons
AHL began work on the rights of mentally ill persons in the mid
1980's when co founding attorney James Donald was invited by disability
rights activists in Japan to visit Japan's mental health hospitals.
Appalled at what he found, he presented a report to the Japanese
government on improvements necessary to comply with human rights
standards. At the same time, the United Nations Sub-Commission
was finishing its work on international standards, and sent its
draft to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. The Commission
set up a working group to prepare a final draft. AHL's Karen Parker
attended those sessions, and presented many drafts of Articles
eventually adopted by the Commission. The Commission draft was
formally adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 46/119
of 17 December 1991 with the name "Principles for the protection
of persons with mental illness and the improvement of mental health
care." You may read the resolution by clicking on "read