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Acclaimed Human Rights Advocate Discusses Ongoing Struggle in Haiti

October 13, 2011

Attorney Brian Concannon, founder and director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, discussed the state of human rights and the rule of law in the island nation during a visit on Oct. 13.

Concannon played a key role in prosecuting Haitian military leaders following a 1994 massacre. The prosecution, which led to the conviction of 37 military and paramilitary leaders in 2000, marked the first time members of the Haitian high command were tried for human rights violations.

The attorney cited numerous U.S. policies that have undermined the country’s economic, political and legal systems and outlined myriad opportunities for lawyers and law students to aid Haitians who have been devastated by natural and man-made disasters.

Students from the Earle Mack School of Law’s Haiti Justice Project have already made important contributions, Concannon said, citing their involvement in writing an influential report on the conditions faced by survivors of the 2010 earthquake.

The Georgetown University Law Center graduate said he wished he could have taken a class like the International Human Rights Advocacy course launched here at the law school last year and taught by Philadelphia lawyer and adjunct Professor Thomas Griffin.

Griffin will offer the course again in the spring, culminating with a trip to Port-au-Prince by students who will provide pro bono service to promote human rights in Haiti.

The International Law Society and the Drexel National Lawyers Guild sponsored Concannon’s visit.