Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights (CLIHHR)

Blasphemy Law Enforcement Project

Summer 2019 Law Internship

 Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights

The Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights (CLIHHR) is a leading global center for the study, teaching, and promotion of human rights. Specifically, CLIHHR strengthens laws, norms and institutions to prevent mass atrocities, protect human rights and rebuild communities globally.

Blasphemy Law Enforcement Project

In collaboration with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), the Clinic is working on a project to map and analyze blasphemy law enforcement globally. Laws that prohibit blasphemy are generally deemed inconsistent with universal human rights standards and violate international standards of freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief. USCIRF’s 2017 Report Respecting Rights? Measuring the World’s Blasphemy Laws found that blasphemy laws exist in 71 countries globally as of mid-2016 and analyzed their texts against international human rights principles. The report confirmed that all blasphemy laws on the books deviate from at least one internationally recognized human rights principle. Most were vaguely worded and carried unduly harsh penalties for violators.

The 2017 Report did not assess which countries enforce these laws and the manner of enforcement. In order to capture the full extent of the human rights abuses that blasphemy laws generate and identify the patterns that emerge from the implementation of these laws, this research project will map the enforcement of countries with publicly reported criminal blasphemy cases over the past five years, the number of such cases, and key indicators to understand the context surrounding their implementation. The research project will result in the creation of a Mapping Database that includes key information related to the enforcement of national anti-blasphemy laws and a questionnaire that can be used to compare the enforcement of blasphemy laws worldwide. The research project will further identify key findings and trends in enforcement, which will support future reform advocacy and policy analysis related to these laws.

Scope of Work

Students will work with two Human Rights Clinic supervisors during their summer internship. They will be responsible for tasks including but not limited to:

• Development of method for research study that outlines the process for collecting cases and information;

• Collection, verification, and analysis of legal cases from 2014-2018 related to states’ enforcement of blasphemy laws based on information that is publicly available in primary and secondary sources pursuant to research method;

• Identification of countries with cases, including the number of cases found and their circumstances;

• Creation of a “Mapping Database” of anti-blasphemy cases that includes key information related to the enforcement of national blasphemy laws;

• Creation of visuals to be included in the Mapping Database that comparatively assess the level of enforcement of blasphemy laws in a country in relation to other countries;

• Identification of rule of law indicators to be included in a questionnaire to assess the enforcement of the laws;

• Development of questionnaire to compare the enforcement of blasphemy laws worldwide that integrates some of the human rights indicators selected in the 2017 Report;

• Development of recommendations for further research and identification of priority countries for potential additional phase of project to further examine enforcement of blasphemy laws;

• Monthly research status updates on progress to USCIRF;

• Making any logistical arrangements including domestic and international travel arrangements as needed for completion of project deliverables;

• Consulting with USCIRF on any challenges or opportunities as they arise, whether related to technical or financial implementation of the research project.

Internship Program

The summer internship program is ten (10) weeks long and will begin at the end of May 2019. Student interns are expected to work 35 hours/week. As part of the work, they are also expected to attend training sessions on relevant skills to conduct the necessary legal and other research in furtherance of the project. The internship is based at the Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights (CLIHHR) at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York, N.Y. CLIHHR has stipends for four positions. The stipend for the summer is $5000.

Applicants are expected to have strong legal research and writing skills. Students with prior knowledge of and/or a demonstrated interest in international human rights law or atrocity prevention are strongly encouraged to apply.

To apply, please send: (1) a cover letter, (2) resume, (3) unofficial transcript, (4) contact information for two references and (5) a writing sample to Ali Cain at Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until positions are filled.


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