International Human Rights Clinic Projects 2014-2015

Report on Human and Civil Rights Violations Due to Medical Neglect of Women with Mental Health Conditions in Los Angeles County Jails

In Spring 2015, the students of the International Human Rights Clinic drafted and released the first report documenting human and civil rights violations due to medical neglect of women of color with mental health conditions in Los Angeles County jails. The Los Angeles County jail system is the largest in the United States. Estimates of the proportion of incarcerated persons with mental health conditions are so high that this jail system is often referred to as the largest de facto mental health institution in the country. On behalf of Dignity and Power Now, clinic students documented human rights violations resulting from medical neglect of women incarcerated in the LA County jail system. The report focused on abuses committed by LA County officials against women of color with mental health conditions, highlighting how race and gender heighten their vulnerability to this abuse. Clinic students conducted interviews with formerly incarcerated women. Students also conducted extensive legal and secondary social science research on the human rights harms that incarceration generates especially with respect to mental health. Additionally, the students participated in informative meetings with community activists and formerly incarcerated women, which greatly impacted the students’ analysis of the violations and their advocacy strategy. Final report produced by the Clinic.

Syrian Refugee Access to Information Project

To improve Syrian refugee access to legal and other services, the International Human Rights Clinic developed a guide on best practices for information dissemination strategies in refugee crisis. By mid-2015, the conflict in Syria had displaced close to four million refugees, making it among the most pressing humanitarian crises of our time. Most of the Syrians who have been displaced from their homes as a result of the Syrian civil war are concentrated in Turkey Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt. These refugees face dire conditions while host governments, communities, and aid agencies struggle to provide them with the protection they need. A key challenge faced by both refugees and their advocates is access to vital information. This includes access to reliable information about the rights of refugees in their host countries, the social services available to refugees, and the status of the conflict in Syria. The International Human Rights Clinic, on behalf of the Syrian League for Citizenship (a Syrian-led non-governmental organization in Lebanon), created a guide detailing information dissemination strategies that have been successful in improving access to vital legal and other information during refugee crises. Clinic students researched various communication strategies, and identified those most effective in the context of crisis. Students also students conducted extensive research on the varying characteristics of different refugee populations in the host countries, and how best to improve their access to information regarding their rights. This guide will be translated into Arabic by the Syrian League for Citizenship, and distributed widely to refugees and their advocates in Lebanon.