[JURIST] The Detroit Free Press has posted a partial transcript of Tuesday's oral arguments before the US Supreme Court in the Grutter v. Bollinger [UM case materials] University of Michigan law school affirmative action admissions case.
[JURIST] C-SPAN [official website] has just posted recorded audio of oral arguments made Tuesday before the US Supreme Court in the University of Michigan affirmative action cases. The arguments run for slightly more than 2 hours. For purposes of convenience, JURIST has separated the recordings of Grutter v. Bollinger (the law school admissions case) and Gratz v. Bollinger (the undergraduate admissions case).
[JURIST] Tuesday's agency reports on humanitarian conditions in Iraq, generally governed by the terms of the Geneva Conventions and other instruments of international humanitarian law, are now online. The International Committee of the Red Cross [official website] says that its team of 15 delegates is visiting Iraqi prisoners of war held by Coalition forces: "This first visit is continuing and will probably last a number of days. Contacts with the Iraqi authorities on visits to coalition POWs held by them are being actively pursued." Read the full ICRC daily report, and learn more from the Red Cross about prisoners of war and humanitarian law [ICRC backgrounder] and the general practice of Red Cross prisoner visitation [ICRC backgrounder]. Recorded audio of Tuesday's UN humanitarian briefing from its field office in Amman, Jordan is also available.
[JURIST] Several reports out of Iraq since the outbreak of war have claimed that Iraqi forces have used civilians as involuntary "human shields" - see, for instance, this story from the Voice of America. Summing up the relevant law, a February 2003 briefing paper [text] by Human Rights Watch noted:
The use of civilians, including a state's own citizens, as human shields to protect military objectives from attack is a violation of international humanitarian law amounting to a war crime. The forcible use of civilians or other non-combatants as human shields also violates the prohibition on the taking of hostages. Customary humanitarian law and Protocol I [to the Geneva Conventions] prohibit encouraging or making use of volunteers as human shields.
The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favour or impede military operations.
Article 58 of the Protocol additionally obliges parties to a conflict to take all necessary precautions to protect civilians under their control against the dangers resulting from military operations, including by removing civilians from the vicinity of military objectives and avoiding locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas.
[JURIST] The New York-based monitoring group Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] says that feigning civilian or noncombatant status to deceive the enemy is a violation of the laws of war. In a statement released Monday following a weekend suicide bombing of American troops and a declaration by Iraq's Vice-President that such attacks would become "routine military policy", HRW noted that they constituted "perfidy" and were illegal under internationally-recognized legal norms:
International law prohibits attacking, killing, injuring, capturing or deceiving the enemy by resorting to what is called perfidy. A perfidious attack is one launched by combatants who have led opposing forces to believe that the attackers are really noncombatants. Acts of perfidy include pretending to be a civilian (who cannot be attacked) or feigning surrender (surrendering soldiers also cannot be attacked) so that opposing forces will let down their guard at the moment of attack. Other examples include feigning protective status by the misuse of emblems of the United Nations or the red cross and red crescent. Perfidy poses particular dangers because it blurs the distinction between enemy soldiers, who are a valid target, and civilians and other noncombatants, who are not. Soldiers fearful of perfidious attacks are more likely to fire upon civilians and surrendering soldiers, however unlawfully.
[JURIST] The Daily Pennsylvanian reports that law students from the University of Pennsylvania Law School [official website] and from other law schools across the country have headed to Washington DC to demonstrate [Daily Pennsylvanian report] - and perhaps get a seat in the courtroom - at today's Supreme Court oral arguments in the University of Michigan affirmative action admissions cases. Meanwhile, the Tallahassee Democrat says that Florida's public law schools are working to stay diverse [Tallahassee Democrat report] in a state legal environment that doesn't permit them to take race into account in admissions.
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