This is CCR's weekly "Frontlines of Justice" news round-up, keeping you in the loop about what we've been up to and what's coming soon. Check it out every Monday, your one-stop-shop for CCR opinions, news coverage, reports from court appearances, upcoming events, and more!
Fordham Students to Court: University is stalling until graduation so case will be null
Fordham students on Friday filed an order with the Supreme Court of the State of New York to show cause why a preliminary injunction should not be issued against the university directing it to recognize Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) as an official club. Represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, Palestine Legal, and cooperating counsel Alan Levine, the students argued they will suffer irreparable injury if the court does not reinstate the student government’s approval of their club status, which was vetoed by the dean of students. Without injunctive relief, the students will graduate before their right to advocate for Palestinian human rights on campus can be vindicated. Petitioners' also seek expedited discovery against Fordham.
The students first filed suit in April, and the university has since moved to dismiss the case.
"The Fordham administration has prolonged this matter by leading us to believe that they were willing to work with us while actually running out the clock until student organizers graduated or became disillusioned," said Sofia Dadap, one of the petitioners and a senior. "If the court does not intervene now, our opportunity will pass to ask Fordham to reconsider their selective protection of political speech and to stop having completely one-sided conversations about Palestine."
The filing reasserts that the Fordham administration's veto of the student government’s approval of SJP was arbitrary and capricious, violating its own policies guaranteeing free expression and relying on unfounded justifications. Fordham attempted to justify its decision by asserting that the purpose of SJP, which is to promote justice and human rights for Palestinians, leads to polarization, and because of reports that some separate SJP groups on other campuses have engaged in disruptive activities, without regard for whether those reports were accurate, or the fact that SJP groups operate independently. Fordham disregarded evidence that countered university officials' stated concerns about SJP, instead basing its decision on materials from individuals hostile to SJP's views.
"In a time when discerning the truth and defending human rights could not be more crucial, Fordham lacked the courage to do either by banning Students for Justice in Palestine based on false information and in violation of its own commitment to free expression," said CCR Deputy Legal Director Maria LaHood. "The mounting call for Palestinian rights cannot be silenced: we are asking the court to affirm that Fordham must recognize Students for Justice in Palestine and extend it the same rights as other clubs at Fordham."
ICC to open investigation into situation in Afghanistan, proving no one is above the law
After a decade-long preliminary examination, the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Friday gave formal notice that she will submit a request to open an investigation into the situation in Afghanistan, potentially allowing for impunity for international crimes committed since May 2003.
The ICC Prosecutor will seek authorization from the ICC Pre-Trial judges to open an investigation into crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by all parties. In her last report on preliminary examinations of November 2016, the Prosecutor said her Office was about to take a decision on whether to open an investigation into international crimes allegedly committed by the Taliban and affiliated armed groups, the Afghan authorities, and members of the US military forces and the CIA since May 1, 2003 on the territory of Afghanistan, and since July 1, 2002 on the territory of other States Parties to the ICC Statute. The alleged crimes include: murder; persecution; gender crimes; intentionally directing attacks against humanitarian personnel and against protected objects; and conscription of children, and sexual violence. The formal notice made public today confirmed these parameters for the investigation.
"With the opening of a comprehensive investigation into the Afghanistan situation, it would be the first time that U.S. nationals from the military, the CIA, or private contractors could be held criminally accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Afghanistan or at other locations where detainees arrested in Afghanistan were tortured," said Center for Constitutional Rights’ Senior Staff Attorney Katherine Gallagher. "This long overdue message that no one is above the law is particularly important now, as the Trump administration ramps up military machinations in Afghanistan and embraces endless war with no plan for and end in sight."
GTMO Attorneys: Only Reason Trump Suggests Sending Attacker to GTMO Is Because He Is Muslim
In response to Trump telling a the press that the assailant in Tuesday's attack in New York City should be sent to Guantanamo, the CCR, which has represented Guantanamo detainees for 15 years, issued the following statement:
"Guantanamo Bay is and always has been a prison exclusively for Muslims, which is undoubtedly the only reason Donald Trump made the idiotic suggestion to send Sayfullo Saipov there. Fifteen years has proven no one will ever be successfully tried or 'brought to justice' at Guantanamo, and the president and his supporters within his own party are deluded if they believe otherwise.
"Trump's hatred of immigrants and Muslims emboldens white supremacists and strengthens terrorist groups like ISIS. He cares little for the escalating violence inspired by his statements or the damage to institutions of democratic government he is intent on undermining.
"The Center for Constitutional Rights has led the fight to close Guantanamo Bay and end torture there since the prison was established more than fifteen years ago. If Trump sends additional detainees there, we will represent them and fight for them as we continue to fight for the men held there today."
CCR Celebrates Changemakers
If you have an activist, a lawyer, and a storyteller, you can change the world. We invite you to join us in NYC at 6:30 p.m., Nov. 8 as CCR Celebrates Changemakers! This exciting and memorable event will include live performances, great food & beverage, and an after-party dance at 9:30 p.m. The highlight of the evening's activities will be a Q&A/conversation with the 2017 CCR Changemakers: activist Opal Tometi, attorney Robert LoBue of the law firm of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, and artist Mariam Ghani. We hope you will join us.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the CCR website.