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International Human Rights Clinic I (Fall 2019)
- Course Number: LAW-849
- Class Number: 03603
- Instructor: Hannah Garry
INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS CLINIC
COURSE DESCRIPTION & APPLICATION INFORMATION
ACADEMIC YEAR 2019-2020
Application Deadline: April 5, 2019
In the International Human Rights Clinic, students engage, pro bono, in real-life
cases and projects addressing some of the most serious human rights issues of concern
today, at home and abroad. Under the close supervision and instruction of Professor
Garry, students learn the substantive law and develop the international lawyering and
human rights advocacy skills required for effectively engaging in the work.
The cases and projects are often undertaken in partnership with individual
advocates or organizations involved in human rights related work such as: international
and regional organizations; international courts and tribunals; non-governmental
organizations or non-profit groups; academic institutions; think tanks; and law firms.
Some of the work may require national and international travel. As such, the Clinic
provides substantial support to the critical work of the global human rights movement.
To get more of a sense of the Clinic, or to find out who are the current Clinic
students to talk to, please visit the website:
http://gould.usc.edu/academics/experiential/clinics/ihrc/introduction/ and check out the
USC International Human Rights Clinic on Facebook.
A. Cases and Projects
The Clinic’s docket of cases and projects varies from year to year. Since the
Clinic launched in 2011, students have represented clients and worked on cases and
projects addressing a broad array of serious human rights issues such as:
• international criminal justice for the Rwandan genocide (over 1 million deaths),
extermination and torture in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge (nearly 2 million
deaths), terrorism in Lebanon, crimes against humanity in Darfur, Sudan, and acts
of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s civil war;
• victims’ rights to participate and have effective assistance of counsel in
international criminal trials;
• advocacy before the United Nations and U.S. government regarding access to the
internet and freedom of information and respect for rights generally of minority
groups/ethnicities in Cameroon facing ongoing torture and persecution in
response to peaceful protests;
• transitional justice and peace mechanisms for Sudan and the Democratic Republic
of the Congo through U.S. legislation;
• recognition of the Armenian genocide in the U.S.;
• civil remedies in U.S. courts for amputee victims in Sierra Leone’s blood
diamond conflict under the Alien Tort Statute;
• torture, rape and gang violence as persecution/asylum claims;
• representation of woman human rights defenders seeking asylum in the U.S. from
El Salvador, Uganda and Cameroon;
• litigation before the Inter-American Commission on deportations from the U.S.
and Mexico of refugees fleeing gang violence in Central America;
• report investigation with Human Rights First on conditions of detention of asylum
seekers/refugees in Southern California;
• advocacy and litigation on U.S.’s restrictive refugee resettlement policies,
particularly from Muslim countries;
• representation of resettlement claims of vulnerable refugees from Syria before the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees;
• family reunification immigration pathways for Iraqi, Afghan and Syrian refugees
in the U.S.;
• human trafficking client representation—forced labor and sex trafficking--into the
U.S. from Latin America, Asia and Africa;
• report investigation on U.S. law enforcement Innocence Lost Initiative to end
child sex trafficking in the U.S.; and
• juvenile life without parole sentencing in California.
***Please see more specifics on the Clinic’s docket since 2011 at Annex I below.
The Clinic includes a seminar component in which the class meets once a week
for two hours to learn the substantive law, skills and rules of ethics and professional
responsibility for engaging in the Clinic’s cases and projects. Students will also: be
exposed to the various litigation and non-litigation strategies for conducting human rights
advocacy; lead class discussions on their cases/projects for group problem-solving and
feedback; reflect on their human rights lawyering experience in a structured context; and
engage in critical examination of the strengths and weaknesses of the global human rights
C. Clinic Benefit to Students
Through their Clinic experience, students will gain some or all of the following:
• knowledge of international law and its application in international and domestic
• international legal research and writing
• persuasive drafting of legal briefs & factual declarations
• drafting of bench memoranda and judicial opinions
• legal analysis and strategic problem-solving
• developing a theory of the case
• in-depth interviewing with active listening and effective questioning
• working with an interpreter
• cross-cultural lawyering
• zealous advocacy & client centeredness
• working with survivors of trauma
• practice and time management
• effective communication with clients and partner organizations
• application of rules of ethics and professional responsibility in the context of an
international practice with a focus on social justice
• educational, legislative and media advocacy
II. Administrative Matters
• Timeline/Units: Students enrolled in the Clinic must commit to the Clinic for both
the Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 semesters. The Clinic is five units per semester.
• Pre-requisites/Co-requisites: There are no pre-requisites or co-requisites to the
Clinic; however, prior or concurrent enrollment in a related International Law course
(Public International Law, International Criminal Law, International Human Rights
Law, etc.) or in Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Evidence or Professional
Responsibility is strongly recommended and will strengthen your application. Please
note in your application if you plan to do so.
• Grading: The first semester of the Clinic is graded CR/D/F. The second semester is
letter graded. There is no final examination.
The Clinic has a two-hour classroom component each week. Outside of class,
students will be assigned to work individually or on teams on specific cases or
projects and will be able to indicate their preference at the beginning of the semester
with respect to a case or project. Although not guaranteed, Prof. Garry will try to
make sure you get to do the work that you are most interested in. Clinic students will
be required to commit approximately 15-20 hours per week on average to
case/project work and supervision meetings with Professor Garry.
Additionally, at the beginning of the semester (most likely during the first 4 weeks of
the semester), the Clinic may have 3 or 4 supplemental class meetings in order to
cover some of the material necessary to be brought up to speed on the Clinic
cases/projects. The supplemental class sessions will be scheduled to fit into the
existing schedules of Clinic students, and the exact dates and times for them will be
determined by the beginning of the fall semester.
Student teams will meet on a weekly or bi-weekly basis as needed with Professor
Garry for case/project review. In addition, students will meet individually with
Professor Garry for supervision meetings as needed. Attendance at the regular
weekly class and other Clinic meetings is mandatory.
If you are considering applying to the Clinic, be aware of the possibility of a
scheduling conflict (course, employment). Some of the deadlines in the Clinic are
imposed by a court or are inflexible. Because of casework demands, Clinic students
who have significant or inflexible employment or other USC Law clinic
commitments will find it difficult to perform well in the Clinic. As such, students
planning on engaging in these commitments while working in the Clinic probably
should not apply to the Clinic. If this is an issue, please discuss this with Professor
Garry. Please note that per USC Gould policy, you are not allowed to enroll
concurrently in an externship with the Clinic.
• Application Enrollment Process: Students are enrolled in the Clinic via an
application and interview process. 8 students will be admitted.
In order to apply, students should send:
2) the name of one USC Law professor other than your legal research and writing
professor who would be willing to act as references for you (no need to submit
written reference letters at this time);
3) a short statement of interest; and
4) a RAP or grades sheet—unofficial is fine (which will not be seen by anyone other
than Prof. Garry).
The personal statement should be no longer than one-two single-spaced pages. It
should primarily explain why you are interested in participating in the Clinic and on
what (please reference Appendix I below). It should also include a brief summary of
any experiences/background (employment, classes, volunteer activities, travel) or
skills (e.g. foreign language ability—Spanish or Tagalog is particularly helpful in the
Clinic, cross cultural skills) that would be relevant to international human rights
work, particularly the Clinic’s current docket.
Please submit your entire application to Professor Garry (firstname.lastname@example.org) cc’ing
her assistant Lorena Roberts (email@example.com), no later than April 5, 2019. If
you’d like, you may submit your RAP/grades sheet separately to Prof. Garry’s email
address without cc’ing her assistant or in a sealed envelope with your name on the
envelope separately in the black bins outside of office #453. Please let me know by
email if you are doing so.
If you are selected for an interview, individual 15-20 minute interviews will be
scheduled with Professor Garry after April 5, 2019. Professor Garry will notify you
in advance of course registration for the Fall 2019 whether you have been admitted to
the Clinic so you can plan accordingly.
Feel free to contact Professor Garry if you have additional questions about the Clinic or
get in touch with any of the current Clinic students. Prof. Garry can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 213-740-9154 and the current Clinic students information is
found on the Clinic website: http://law.usc.edu/ihrc
Thanks for your interest in the Clinic!
CLINIC DOCKET: 2011-2019
1. Assistance to International Criminal Tribunals: International Criminal Court
(ICC)/Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC)/Special Tribunal for
Lebanon (STL)/International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)
In 2019-20, some students may continue to partner with Judges and legal staff in
Chambers at the ICC, ECCC and/or the STL. As detailed below, since 2011, students
have assisted international judges and legal officers at international criminal tribunals,
including the former International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 2011-12 by: 1)
reviewing the parties’ briefing; 2) conducting international legal research on questions of
law, fact and procedure; and 3) drafting 21 extensive reports and bench memoranda in 7
international trials involving 15 former heads of State and high level military leaders
alleged responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and terrorism
perpetrated against hundreds of thousands of victims often resulting in death. 9
convictions reached, 2 acquittals, and 4 still at trial.
In 2013-2014, the Clinic worked with the ICC, the first permanent international
criminal court with 123 States Parties, on the Ngudjolo appeal judgment with respect to
crimes against humanity and war crimes perpetrated in the Democratic Republic of the
Congo’s 16 year conflict resulting in the deaths of over 5.4 million. Currently pending
before the ICC are over 20 cases in 8 different African countries involving charges of war
crimes, crimes against humanity & genocide perpetrated since 2002. For more
information on the ICC and its caseload see: http://www.icccpi.
Since 2011, the Clinic has worked with the ECCC. The Clinic worked on the
appeals judgment in Case No. 001 against defendant Duch, the head of the S-21 torture
and interrogation center where over 12,000 individuals died; and the Case No. 002 pretrial
decisions and appeal judgment, in which the prosecution has charged the defendants
inter alia with crimes against humanity (extermination, imprisonment, deportation,
slavery, torture, persecutions); killing, torture, inhumane treatment as war crimes;
genocide; and killing, torture and religious persecution as Cambodian law crimes. All of
the defendants were high level government officials and politicians in the Khmer Rouge
allegedly responsible for participating in a joint criminal enterprise that resulted in the
deaths of 1.7-2.2 million persons in Cambodia from 17 April 1975-6 January 1979
(800,000 of which were violent). In addition, Cases No. 003 and 004, which will likely
involve five lower-level defendants, is in the pre-trial stage before the ECCC. To read
more about the ECCC and its cases see: http://www.eccc.gov.kh/
Since 2012, the Clinic also worked with the STL. The Clinic has assisted the Trial
and Appeals Chambers on research regarding defense rights, legal representation, due
process and evidentiary issues. Currently pending before the STL is the Ayyaash et al.
case, involving those alleged responsible for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime
Minister Rafiq Hariri and others in 2005, and related terrorist attacks. Among other
things, the crimes are charged as acts of terrorism. To read more about the STL and its
cases see: http://www.stl-tsl.org/
From 2011-2012, the Clinic assisted the International Criminal Tribunal for
Rwanda (ICTR) in finishing its remaining trials for the 1994 Rwandan genocide that
resulted in the deaths of over 800,000 individuals within the course of 100 days.
Specifically, Clinic students provided bench memoranda on modes of criminal liability
and issues of due process and judicial impartiality in the Prosecutor v. Bizimungu et al.,
Prosecutor v. Nizeyimana; and Prosecutor v. Karemera & Ngirumpatse cases. They also
reviewed witness testimony and drafted witness summaries for international judges,
advising on the relevance, probative value and weight to be given to the statements made
vis a vis the charges in the indictments.
2. Individual Client Representation: Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking
(CAST), Public Counsel & the International Refugee Assistance Project
The Clinic partners with CAST, an organization that provides legal assistance to
survivors of human trafficking in LA, with Public Counsel in its provision of legal
assistance to asylum seekers fleeing persecution and mass atrocity situations, and with
the International Refugee Assistance Project representing refugees abroad seeking
resettlement to safe 3rd countries of asylum.
So far, the Clinic has represented human trafficking/forced labor & commercial
sex victims, asylum seekers and refugees from: Cameroon, El Salvador, Ethiopia,
Guatemala, Honduras, Iran, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Syria and Uganda.
Students argue their client’s claims for recognition as trafficking victims or
refugees before the U.S. government by filing applications for immigration relief, work
permits, benefits, compensation, family reunifications with spouses and children in the
U.S. and eventual legal permanent residency.
Students also may travel abroad to represent refugees’ claims for resettlement
from a host border country to safe third countries because of serious security threats or
This involves in-depth interviewing, fact finding, drafting of declarations, drafting
of legal briefs, filling out immigration forms, gathering of corroborating evidence and
representation in interviews with immigration or UN officers.
For more information about CAST’s program, see: http://www.castla.org/homepage
For more information on Public Counsel, see: http://www.publiccounsel.org/
For more information on IRAP, see: https://refugeerights.org
3. Litigation: U.S. Supreme Court, 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals, CA Supreme
Court, Inter-American Human Rights Commission
• U.S. Supreme Court: Arzoumanian et al. v. Munchener Ruckversicherungsgesellschaft
Aktiengesellschaft AG, Brief of Amici Curiae Armenian Bar
Association et al.in support of Petition for a Writ of Certiori to the Supreme Court of
the United States, July 31, 2012 (appealing 9th Circuit’s striking of CA law as
constitutionally preempted by the federal foreign affairs power because CA law
recognizes the “Armenian Genocide”) (students provided memoranda and research in
support of brief-writing).
• United States District Court, Northern District of California: strategic litigation
challenging the Trump administration’s summary dismissal of nearly100 approved
refugee resettlement cases of religious minorities from Iran under the Lautenberg
program as in violation of federal statute establishing the program, federal due
process rights and the Administrative Procedures Act.
• CA Supreme Court: People vs. Gutierrez/People vs. Moffett: with USC Gould’s
Post-Conviction Justice Project, drafted and filed Brief of Amici Curiae in Support of
Appellants before the CA Supreme Court challenging Juvenile Life Without Parole
sentencing under CA Penal code 190.5(b) as in violation of international human
rights law standards, July 2013
• Inter-American Human Rights Commission: In 2015-16, Students drafted a
petition before the Inter-American Commission in Washington D.C. on behalf of a
class of refugees fleeing gang violence who are being deported at Mexico’s southern
border without having their asylum claims heard. The petition alleges violations of
international human rights law by Mexico and the U.S. (who has been providing
financial support to Mexico for this policy).
In the petition, students drafted an in-depth factual summary of the situation drawing
upon news reports, country reports and expert reports produced by organizations in
the field. In addition, students summarized the applicable international law binding
the U.S. and Mexico, and argued that certain provisions are being breached. Finally,
students conducted a fact-finding mission to the south of Mexico conducting
numerous in-depth interviews with the class of victims being represented and will
engage in media advocacy on the issue following filing of the petition to put pressure
on the US and Mexican governments in 2016.
4. Alien Tort Statute Pre-litigation:
Over the course of 2014-15, students researched and analyzed the facts, personal
jurisdiction and substantive law issues under U.S. and international criminal law for
bringing an Alien Tort Statute lawsuit on behalf of a class of war amputees in U.S.
district court against a U.S. individual and corporation for assisting convicted dictator
Charles Taylor in perpetrating war crimes in Sierra Leone’s blood diamond conflict in the
The Clinic’s client was a human rights non-profit organization, and students
presented to the board the findings of their research and assessment for the likelihood of
success should the case be brought, recommending that a complaint be filed. The Clinic
is seeking other partner organizations for bringing the lawsuit.
5. Advocacy Projects:
• UN Advocacy on Persecution and Repression in Cameroon with Access Now and
Foley Hoag: in partnership with an NGO and law firm, students prepared briefing
letters for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN Special
Rapporteurs. They also prepared a Global Magnitsky Act submission with Human
Rights First calling on the U.S. State Department, Treasury Department and Congress
to impose sanctions on high level leaders in Cameroon. These efforts have
documented ongoing serious human rights abuses and repression against minority
groups in Cameroon resulting in massive refugee flows, calling out the serious human
rights treaty violations being perpetrated by Cameroon against it’s own people and
requesting diplomatic pressure on Cameroon to stop the abuse as well as international
monitoring, investigations and documentation of ongoing abuses.
• Legislative/Congressional advocacy with Jewish World Watch & Enough
Project Advocacy Delegation in Washington D.C.: students invited to serve on
expert panel and prepared presentations educating 100+ delegates on transitional
justice options and pending legislation in Washington re Sudan and the Democratic
Republic of the Congo; students also designed flyers on Sudan and the DRC in
collaboration with advocacy partners making specific asks for Congressional briefing
packets; students met with several Congress members and legislative staff requesting
that legislation be endorsed and other action be taken to promote peace and justice in
Sudan and the DRC.
• Congressional advocacy with the Refugee Forum of Los Angeles: students
prepared a 1-sheet flyer for briefing packets and a report on groups under temporary
protected status and attended meetings with local congressional representatives to
challenge the Trump Administration’s anti-refugee/immigrant policies.
• Congressional advocacy on Sri Lankan War: students drafted a letter and met with
congresspersons in LA (in collaboration with Amnesty International) to call for U.S.
support for international investigations into potential war crimes and crimes against
humanity committed during the armed conflict in Sri Lanka.
• Educational advocacy: Legal Training Manual on International and Domestic
Refugee Law: students partnered with a human rights organization in El Salvador,
Cristosal, providing safe haven to families fleeing the violence to draft a legal training
manual for local advocates representing individuals seeking asylum in surrounding
host countries in Latin America—specifically Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and
Panama. The research and analysis provides guidance on domestic and international
law applicable to these countries in order to assist local lawyers in making refugee
claims on behalf of their clients.
• Educational advocacy: Legal Trainings for US Red Cross Legal Advisor’s
Office, Washington D.C.: In 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-2019, Clinic students
designed and taught a new module on war crimes and international criminal law for
the Red Cross international humanitarian law training manual which is used to train
military, legal professionals and humanitarians around the country in the laws of war.
• Clinic students also designed and taught a specialized course on protections under the
laws of war for humanitarian/health care workers and buildings in armed conflict
• Unaccompanied Children Advocacy Project—Central America: Students
coordinated with direct legal service providers in Los Angeles via monthly meetings
to draft flyer and letter making specific requests from immigration judges and the
Asylum Office on “Rocket Docket” procedures leading to denial of due process and
expedited deportation of unaccompanied children fleeing gang violence in Honduras,
El Salvador and Guatemala; attended meetings with officials from the Department of
Homeland Security, immigration judges and local LA officials where flyer was
distributed and specific asks made to ensure the children have legal representation
and due process in their filings for immigration relief.
• Trial Monitoring of Former Military Leader in Guatemala of War Crimes and
Crimes Against Humanity: two Clinic students partnered with the Canadian Centre
for International Justice to monitor and blog on the trial of Jose Sosa Orantes for
immigration fraud in U.S. district court in Riverside, CA. Orantes is charged in
Guatemala for war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated during the Rios
Montt dictatorship, specifically with respect to the Dos Erres massacre. This
monitoring was done to support Guatemala’s request for Orantes’ extradition to stand
trial for mass atrocities following sentencing in US court. Orantes was sentenced to a
maximum of 10 years in February 2014.
6. OTHER: International Human Rights Internships:
Following their work in the Clinic, students may also apply to work on-site with
the ICC or Mechanism for International Tribunals (MICT for the ICTY/TR) based in The
Hague, The Netherlands, the ECCC based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the STL based in
Leidschendam, The Netherlands, or the MICT (for ICTY/TR) based in Arusha, Tanzania,
as non-paid interns in the summer/after the bar exam or as externs with full academic
credit in the fall 2020 or spring 2019. For Clinic students interested in doing so, Professor
Garry will assist Clinic students with the application process and with seeking funding or
externship credit for their overseas work.
Because of the Clinic’s strong reputation, 35 human rights internship/legal
fellow placements have been offered to Clinic students since 2011 as follows:
• Cambodia Tribunal (7);
• International Criminal Court (2);
• International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (8);
• International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (5);
• Mechanism for International Tribunals (ICTY/TR) (1);
• Special Tribunal for Lebanon (10); and
• U.S. DOJ Human Rights and Special Prosecutions (2)
- Unit Value: 5
- Grading Options: Numerical or CR/D/F
- Exam: None
- Writing Requirement: Yes with submission of the Upper Division Writing Requirement Form.
- Skills/Experiential Unit Requirement: yes
- Participation: Required and Graded
- Enrollment Limitation: 8
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