New ABA President Pledges to Work on Legal Jobs and ATJ, Call for Human Rights Conference Proposals, Rape Victims Legal Redress in Kenya & The Farm Worker Labor Debate

New ABA President Pledges to Work on Legal Jobs, Access to Justice

SilkenatCHICAGO (Legal Newsline) — James Silkenat, a partner in the New York office of Sullivan & Worcester, took office Tuesday as president of the American Bar Association.

The ABA held its annual meeting in San Francisco. It wrapped up Tuesday.

Silkenat, who is a member of the law firm’s corporate department, will serve as the association’s president until the close of its meeting next August.

Silkenat said he plans to help develop a Legal Access Job Corps, which will seek to address the country’s growing unmet legal needs and the underemployment of recent law graduates.

“Instead of looking at the dearth of jobs and the large number of unmet legal needs as two separate silos, we will find ways to match young lawyers who need practical job experience with disadvantaged clients who need legal assistance,” the new president said. Continue reading here.

US Human Rights Network Call for Conference Proposals

Advancing Human Rights ConfAre you working on a human rights concern that receives little to no attention? Do you need more champions and foot soldiers to advance your work or campaign?  Have you experienced a recent victory?

If so, then now is the time to Submit a Proposal Application to share your experiences and stories with other conference attendees and to strengthen a growing people-centered movement to secure dignity and justice for all in the U.S.

In preparing the proposal application we ask you to reflect on how race, gender, sexuality and class impact your work. We encourage you to use the Framing Questions on Intersectionality as a guide to assist you in developing your proposals. We hope that the Framing Questions will also serve as a good tool for assessing how an intersectionality approach can strengthen your current human rights work. PROPOSAL DEADLINE IS SEPTEMBER 5!

REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE TODAY: Join fellow human rights activists in Atlanta in December as we celebrate USHRN’s 10th Anniversary and gather to learn, share and organize. Click here to register. 

Registration Discounted for Members! Early Bird Registration Ends October 22. Limited Travel Scholarships Available: Click here to learn more and apply.

Debate Continues Over Farm Labor Contracting

Apple Picker Andy Sawyer Yakima HeraldAugust 12, 2013–By Mike Faulk, Yakima Herald, Photo courtesy by Andy Sawyer, Yakima Herald-Republic

YAKIMA, Wash. — Legal advocates for employees and employers are engaged in a public debate over whether the state Farm Labor Contractor Act is serving its original purpose to protect employees, or if it’s eliminating jobs by running unsuspecting companies out of business.

The debate follows two decisions in state and federal courts in recent years that haven’t settled the contention over what constitutes farm labor contracting, fees for service and how penalties and damages should be applied to those held liable for violating the law.

Legal advocates for employers say there could be hundreds of companies and farmers currently operating as unlicensed farm labor contractors under state law. Farm labor advocates, meanwhile, say the law is unambiguous and has successfully provided recourse to workers who were denied basic information about their wages and other terms of their contracts.  Continue reading here.

Kenyan Rape Victims Seek Compensation

nairobi_high_court_-_t_chenGroup of women who suffered sexual attacks during mass violence five years ago to sue officials.

August 14, 2013–By J.J. Wangui, Photo courtesy of Ting Chen/Flickr- International Justice – ICC, ACR Issue 358,

Eight Kenyan women who were victims of rape and sexual violence during months of unrest in 2007-08 are to bring a civil case against some of the country’s highest-ranking officials, accusing them of failing to investigate their cases.

The women say they have lost faith in seeing the perpetrators face prosecution, and argue that police, in particular, have been largely immune from prosecution for rape and other crimes.

An independent inquiry into the post-election violence carried out by the Waki Commission indicated that police were responsible for 405 shootings and hundreds of injuries and rapes during the violence.

Many of the women who were attacked, however, say they were turned away by police when they tried to report assaults by a member of the force.

“A number of victims have [attempted to lodge] criminal cases against the police who either shot or raped them but the latter has failed to document these cases,” Christine Kungu, a lawyer at the NGO Federation for Female Lawyers, FIDA, which is representing the women.

Kenya descended into chaos when violence broke out along political and ethnic lines following the disputed outcome of the December 2007 general election. More than 1,100 people were killed and 3,500 injured before calm was restored in February 2008 by an internationally-brokered agreement between the rival Orange Democratic Movement and the Party of National Unity. Continue reading here.