Lunch seminar with Jeffrey Davis

Wednesday 29 November 2017

iLab - room 6B-4-66, Faculty of Law, Njalsgade 76, DK-2300 Copenhagen S

The False Choice: Human Rights or National Security, and the Importance of International Courts


This summer the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a case brought by six men who were imprisoned and abused for months without cause after the September 11 terrorist attacks.  U.S. officials arrested and detained hundreds of undocumented immigrants after the attacks without any suspicion that the detainees had connections to terrorism.  Six of these detainees sued the former attorney general and other officials for their unlawful imprisonment and abuse.  As in nearly every case brought against U.S. officials for human rights violations committed in counter-terrorism operations, the Court threw the case out.  Comparing cases from the U.S., U.K., and other European and Latin American nations, this research addresses the following questions:

  1. Have courts in the U.S., Latin America, and Europe enforced human rights law in counter-terrorism cases?

  2. Do legal doctrines such as sovereign immunity, public interest immunity, state secrets, political question, and act of state conflict with human rights law?

  3. Are international courts such as the European Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights enforcing human rights in counter-terrorism cases.

  4. How have human rights NGOs worked to enforce human rights law in counter- terrorism cases?

 The impunity wrought by domestic courts in cases of counter-terrorism abuse demonstrates the importance of international human rights courts.  State officials have an arsenal of legal doctrines with which to defeat attempts to hold them legally accountable. In many states, domestic courts have proved unreliable guardians of human rights.  Without the supervision of an international human rights court, human rights law becomes subservient to national expediencies. This teaches a fundamental truth about human rights – international human rights courts are essential for the construction of meaningful human rights law.

 All interested are welcome to attend. Registration is not necessary.