A group of five Notre Dame Law students had the opportunity to attend a hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights last month in Washington, D.C.
The hearing on December 5 examined the situation of human rights defenders and migrants in the United States. The IACHR is an independent body of the Organization of American States. The commission’s mandate is to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region.
Professor Alejandra Gonza, a visiting scholar who spent the fall semester at Notre Dame Law School, and several prominent immigrant defenders from throughout the country testified at the hearing. The United Nations and the IACHR have expressed concern about U.S. actions against immigrant leaders and called for the adoption of measures to ensure that human rights defenders can work without the threat of retaliation.
The team of Notre Dame Law students helped Gonza prepare for the hearing and accompanied her to Washington, D.C.
The five students are Alyssa Slaimen and Lara Thiele, both of whom are third-year students in the Law School’s J.D. program, Gastón Frederico Blasi and Iuliia Emtseva of the LL.M. Program in International Human Rights, and Irish exchange student Aisling Carberry. All five students took Gonza’s course, International Human Rights Advocacy, in the fall semester.
The team of Notre Dame Law students collaborated with human rights leaders from the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Washington School of Law, the Northwest Detention Center Resistance, Migrant Justice, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and the New York University Immigrant Rights Clinic in preparing essential supporting documents for the hearing.
Gonza visited Notre Dame Law School for the fall semester from the University of Washington School of Law, where she is the director of the International Human Rights Clinic. The clinic’s report Surveil, Target and Deport: Defenders under attack in the United States and another report, Secret Police: Access to information about immigration enforcement in the contemporary United States, prepared by the University of Washington Center for Human Rights, were submitted in support of the testimony at the December 5 hearing.
Slaimen, Thiele, Blasi, Emtseva, and Carberry said they were grateful that Notre Dame Law School made it possible for them to attend the hearing.
“This has been an eye-opening experience that has reaffirmed to me how important it is to fight for people’s rights, and that it is our duty as attorneys to do so,” Thiele said. “Every person in the United States deserves equal protection and treatment before the law, and we are hopeful that this hearing will help the human rights leaders receive the legal protection that they deserve.”