Michael O'Flaherty appointed Professor of Human Rights Law at NUI Galway

The renowned UN human rights expert, Professor Michael O’Flaherty, has been appointed as Professor of Human Rights Law at the National University of Ireland Galway and will also serve as Director of the University’s Irish Centre for Human Rights. Professor O’Flaherty will combine the new roles with his current position as Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. During the period that Professor O’Flaherty remains at the Northern Ireland Commission the Irish Centre for Human Rights will be co-directed by Professor Ray Murphy.  NUI Galway has pioneered the teaching of human rights in Ireland and the Irish Centre for Human Rights is now one of the world’s premier university-based institutions for the study and promotion of human rights and humanitarian law.  Since its establishment in 2000 the ICHR has developed a global reputation for excellence in the field of human rights teaching, research and advocacy, which has enabled the institution to attract high quality students to its acclaimed masters programmes and its undergraduate programme as well as to build a thriving community of doctoral researchers.

Professor O’Flaherty has been Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission since Continue reading “Michael O'Flaherty appointed Professor of Human Rights Law at NUI Galway”

Michael O'Flaherty appointed Professor of Human Rights Law at NUI Galway

One of the Keys to the ECtHR Problems

It is sometimes forgotten that every international institution is made up of people – lawyers, judges, assistants, policy makers. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) is not an exception; it is built up of professional lawyers who go through extremely competitive selection procedures. The Court is careful in selecting its staff. The Court elected its new president (Dean Spielmann, Luxembourg) just three days ago. Judge Spielmann is one of the prominent members of the ECtHR bench. However, not all staff-related policies are decided as rationally and beneficially for human rights protection as this election of the President.

Continue reading “One of the Keys to the ECtHR Problems”

One of the Keys to the ECtHR Problems

Judgment in Charles Taylor Trial Due Shortly

Judgment in the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor will take place shortly in the Special Court for Sierra Leone.  You can see the judgment here.  Charles Taylor was charged with an 11-count indictment alleging responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by rebel forces in Sierra Leone during a decade long civil war.  

He faces 5 counts of war crimes of terrorising civilians – murder, outrages on personal dignity, cruel treatment and looting and 5 counts of crimes against humanity – murder, rape, sexual slavery, mutilating and beating and enslavement and 1 count of other serious violations of humanitarian law in recruiting and using child soldiers.   He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.  The Taylor trial opened on 4 June 2007 in the Hague and was adjourned immediately after the Prosecution’s opening statement when he dismissed his defence team and requested new legal representation. Witness testimony commenced on 7 January 2008 and concluded on 12 November 2010. Closing arguments took place in February and March of 2011.  The Court heard live testimony from 94 Prosecution witnesses, and received written statements from four other witnesses.  The defence presented 21 witnesses with the defendant giving evidence in his defence.   The delivery of the judgment had taken nearly a year due to the complexity of the case.  At the Special Court for Sierra Leone as with other international tribunals, both the Prosecution and the Defence have a right to appeal. If Charles Taylor is acquitted of all charges, the appeals process will begin immediately. If he is found guilty on any of the 11 counts the trial chamber will schedule sentencing proceedings.

Judgment in Charles Taylor Trial Due Shortly

European Parliament Recently Hosted International Seminar on Genetic Discrimination

We are delighted to welcome this guest post from Aisling de Paor, a Ph.D candidate in the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway, and Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) scholar. Aisling is a graduate of NUI Galway (BCL) and University College Cork (LL.M).  Aisling qualified as a solicitor and specialized primarily in employment law.

On 6th March 2012, Marian Harkin MEP and Phil Prendergast MEP hosted a seminar on the topic of Genetic Discrimination. The event was organised by the Centre for Disability Law and Policy, NUI Galway, in conjunction with the European Disability Forum, and took place in the European Parliament, Brussels. This international seminar, which was chaired by Andre Gubbels (Belgian Ministry), was the first of its kind in the European Parliament and brought together a diverse range of leading experts in the area, with the objective of exploring the case for a European level response to protect the privacy of genetic information and to prevent genetic discrimination. The seminar highlighted the interdisciplinary nature of this area and focused on the interaction between genetic science, technology, ethics and the law, and in particular, how best to address this complex area. The event also looked at the challenges and practical problems that arise when attempting to Continue reading “European Parliament Recently Hosted International Seminar on Genetic Discrimination”

European Parliament Recently Hosted International Seminar on Genetic Discrimination

World Mental Health Day

Today in World Mental Health Day – and it provides us in Ireland with a lot to think about in terms of the way in which mental health services are provided and how our mental health laws are constituted.  The key policy document on mental health is entitled “A Vision for Change” and the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy, which was established to monitor its implementation have been very critical to date in their five annual reports on the lack of progress in implementation.  See here.  In its most recent report it was critical of the absence of a recovery ethos within mental health services.  This is a major challenge that has to be addressed as principles of recovery are at the core of the philosophy underpinning “A Vision for Change”.  While there is much to be dismayed about we are at an important crossroads in Ireland in relation to our mental health laws.  The Department of Health is in the process of reviewing of the Mental Health Act 2001, while the Department of Justice is similarily reviewing the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006.  This provides a significant opportunity to rethink our mental health laws in light of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which the Government is working towards Continue reading “World Mental Health Day”

World Mental Health Day

President of the Seychells Appoints Mathilda Twomey as the First Female Judge

The Seychelles President James Michel has approved the appointment of Mrs. Mathilda Twomey as a Justice of the Court of Appeal, following the recommendation of the Constitutional Appointments Authority.  The President stated in the official press release that “Mathilda Twomey will become the first female judge in the history of Seychelles. I congratulate Mrs Twomey on her achievement, and wish her well in her new post. I hope that other young women will look to her for inspiration for a career in the judiciary in the future. Her appointment is timely as we have recently celebrated one hundred years of Women’s Day; it is another victory for Seychelles”.

Mrs Twomey is currently a student on the LL.M in Public Law at NUI Galway. She is a Seychellois Barrister-at Law, who practiced law in Seychelles between 1987 and 1995 as a Senior State Counsel and Official Notary, as well as a Barrister/Attorney undertaking Criminal and Civil Litigation in courts and tribunals.  Speaking to Human Rights in Ireland Mrs. Twomey stated that “I am grateful, very honoured and very humbled by the appointment and look forward to working in the Seychelles again. I am indebted to NUI Galway for all the support and the opportunity to read for the Masters this year.”

From 1992-93, Mathilda was a member of the Seychelles Constitutional Commission that drafted the Constitution of the Third Republic.  Since 1995, Mrs. Twomey has been living and working in Ireland, working as a regional coordinator for Multiple Sclerosis Ireland, a non-governmental organisation working in advocacy, policy development and legal advice for people with disabilities.  Mrs. Twomey has a Degree in French Law from the University of Paris Sud, France, as well a Bachelor’s Degree in English and French Law from the University of Kent.

President of the Seychells Appoints Mathilda Twomey as the First Female Judge

Ahern on Obama's Nobel Prize and his time as Taoiseach

It is reported in today’s Irish Examiner that former Taoiseach Bertie bertie_ahern_1013Ahern can not understand  the choice of President Obama for this year’s Nobel Prize. (I already posted on the surprise choice of the Nobel Commitee here). Mr. Ahern is quoted as saying that the choice ‘doesn’t make any sense’ and further that President Obama is probably embarrassed by his selection. The quotes come from an interview in Time Magazine with Mr. Ahern (It helpfully notes that Taoiseach is pronounced ‘Tea-shock’). In the article Mr. Ahern blames the media for his decision to step down as Taoiseach noting that they ‘kept after me’ though adding that he would have left office anyway in 2009 . He also considers that the recession can also be put at the media’s door. He asserts that when he attempted to introduce a property tax ‘the media killed me.’ While acknowledging there were mistakes made during the boom years, he would appear to be suggesting that this was largely out of his control and in the media’s. When questioned on whether he would consider running for Irish President he states that he has not considered it

It is in his remarks regarding President Obama that in many ways Mr. Ahern is at his most scathing arguing that if there were prizes for good mood music Mr. Obama would have won two of them and that the prize does not make sense. While I would agree with Mr. Ahern that the choice was ill-judged as I mentioned in the earlier post, it is strange that he is so virulent on the topic. The Examiner article notes that Mr. Ahern was once considered a possible winner of the Prize for his role in the Northern Ireland Peace Process, one wonders whether this is why Mr. Ahern is so concerned that it only be awarded to those who have achieved something and not on aspiration only.

Ahern on Obama's Nobel Prize and his time as Taoiseach