Students Staff

3 October 2014

Landmark refugee project

Filed under: Latest news, Research impact — Tags: , , , , — Communications Office @ 2:37 pm

Professor Geoff Gilbert from our School of Law and Human Rights Centre has been awarded $50,000 for a project which could improve the welfare of millions of refugees around the world.

Professor Geoff Gilbert

Professor Geoff Gilbert

Professor Gilbert, an expert in international refugee law, will explore new solutions for dealing with refugee crises which, if implemented, could contribute to the protection of refugees from arrival to the eventual long-term solution to their displacement.

The project is funded by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and will culminate in December when Professor Gilbert, and Senior Research Officer Anna Magdalena Ruesch, will present their recommendations in Geneva.

Professor Gilbert explained: “Traditionally there have been three solutions to international refugee crises: placing people in refugee camps; repatriation, and resettlement in other countries. These solutions have not evolved since the UNHCR was founded in 1950, in the wake of World War II, and we are now seeing third generation refugees being born in camps, and people living their whole lives without proper access to basic human rights like health, education and work.”

He added: “We are at a point now where we need new solutions that really empower refugees, and that we can implement the minute they are displaced.”

Professor Gilbert and Ms Ruesch will make two field trips, to north Africa and south America, where he will meet with refugees and displaced people, agencies and non-governmental organisations, as well as government officials, judiciary and civil society.

They will explore how utilising different sets of laws can reshape UNHCR solutions and improve refugee prospects.

Dr Clara Sandoval and Lorna McGregor, both of the Human Rights Centre and School of Law, will advise as experts in the rule of law.

In February 2014 Essex became the first university in the UK to sign a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).


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3 April 2014

New online forum for human rights

Filed under: Latest news, Research impact — Tags: , , , — Communications Office @ 2:16 pm
Lorna McGregor, Director of the Human Rights Centre

Lorna McGregor, Director of the Human Rights Centre

Our Human Rights Centre has this week launched a new blog that will help break down disciplinary barriers and provide a forum for our experts to learn more from each other.

In its opening post, Director of the Centre Lorna McGregor and Managing Editor of the blog Daragh Murray highlight how the blog will help “the development of new and innovative solutions to human rights challenges.”

Describing how human rights inherently cut across many different disciplines they add: “translating this desire for inter-disciplinary activity into practice is often difficult to achieve. We all have our own unique histories and experiences: we speak different disciplinary languages. This blog is intended to help break down these disciplinary barriers, and to provide a forum where we can learn about each other’s research, work, and activities.”

The first post, by Professor Michael Freeman of the Department of Government, discusses this inter-disciplinary approach to human rights. Future posts will explore artistic representations of the death penalty (Robert Priseman) and the transition from dictatorship to democracy (Natasha Ezrow).

Keep up-to-date with the discussion through the Human Rights Centre blog.

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15 May 2013

Essex paper influences treatment of prisoners

Filed under: Latest news, Research impact — Tags: , , , — Communications Office @ 11:27 am

The latest development in the University’s long association with the UN has seen an Essex paper cited in a UN resolution on the treatment of prisoners.Image of a prison tower behind barbed wire

Written after a panel of independent experts met at the Colchester Campus in 2012, the Essex paper is the only non-governmental text to be cited in the resolution that was adopted in Vienna by the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

In line with the recommendations made in the Essex paper, the resolution agrees to continue the revision process for Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners which were adopted in 1957.

Lorna McGregor, Director of the Human Rights Centre, who along with Professor Sir Nigel Rodley, played a crucial role in the 2012 meeting and the resulting paper explained: “The current rules are now over 50 years old and although they were the earliest and most influential standards on the treatment of prisoners when they were introduced, there have been many developments in international law that now make updating them a priority.

“We convened an expert group of human rights academics and practitioners last September and produced concrete proposals on the revision of the Rules. It is testament to Essex’s reputation that those proposals were heavily cited by states, the UN and civil society at an expert intergovernmental meeting Buenos Aires in December and have now been one of only a few submissions cited in this latest UN resolution.”

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9 May 2013

Essex lawyers in landmark Chilean torture case

Filed under: Latest news, People pages — Tags: , , , , — Communications Office @ 1:49 pm

Two University lawyers have been representing a Chilean torture victim in what could prove to be a landmark case at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Leopoldo Garcia Lucero

Leopoldo Garcia Lucero. Picture courtesy of The Guardian and photographer Sean Smith

Clara Sandoval and Lorna McGregor are representing Leopoldo García Lucero,a member of Chile’s Socialist Party who was tortured following the military coup that toppled President Salvador Allende in 1973. In 1975 he was one of up to 200,000 deported by General Augusto Pinochet’s regime.

Speaking to The Guardian this week, Clara Sandoval of the School of Law said: Up until 2011, Chile did not initiate investigations into torture. So this is a fundamental case to test how a state has to respect victims of torture who have been exiled.”

Although Mr García has been officially recognised as a victim of torture by the now democratic Chilean Government, and is paid a small monthly pension, he has received no reparations for being sent into exile and is seeking £110,000 for “moral damages.”

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the continent’s equivalent to the European Court of Human Rights, will give its final judgement on the case within the next month.

Read the full story in The Guardian.

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