June 7, 2010
Honorable Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Clinton:
We are deans of American law schools. As legal educators, we believe we have an obligation to nurture in our students the core values of the legal profession. These core values are threatened by the arrest in Rwanda of William Mitchell College of Law Professor Peter Erlinder. We are writing to respectfully request your assistance in ensuring his safety and release.
Prof. Erlinder was in Kigali to pursue a legal defense for Madame Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, an opposition candidate for President of Rwanda. Previously, Prof. Erlinder represented Rwandans accused of conspiracy and genocide before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Clearly, this work has not endeared him to the regime in Rwanda, which has arrested, interrogated, and imprisoned him for simply doing the work of the lawyer: advocating on behalf of his client.
The U.N. Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers state that lawyers “shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions” and that “governments shall ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.” These principles also provide that “lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly.”
Secretary Clinton, we respectfully ask that you urge the government of Rwanda to abide by these principles, to refrain from harassment of lawyers practicing law consistent with their professional obligations, and to release Prof. Erlinder forthwith.
Very truly yours,
(Affiliations are listed for identification only and do not represent institutional endorsement.)
R. Alexander Acosta, Florida International University
William E. Adams, Jr., Western State University College of Law
John B. Attanasio, Dedman School of Law Southern Methodist University
Martin H. Belsky, University of Akron School of Law
Paul Schiff Berman, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Arizona State University.
Douglas Blaze, University of Tennessee College of Law
Jeff Brand, University of San Francisco School of Law
David A. Brennen, University of Kentucky College of Law
Shelley Broderick, University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law
Doris DelTosto Brogan, Villanova University School of Law
Penelope Bryan, Whittier Law School
Judge John L. Carroll, Cumberland School of Law, Samford University William Mitchell College of Law
875 Summit Avenue St. Paul, Minnesota 55105
Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch
Welcome to Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch Blog. Our objective is to promote the institutions of democracy,social justice,Human Rights,Peace, Freedom of Expression, and Respect to humanity in Rwanda,Uganda,DR Congo, Burundi,Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya,Ethiopia, and Somalia. We strongly believe that Africa will develop if only our presidents stop being rulers of men and become leaders of citizens. We support Breaking the Silence Campaign for DR Congo since we believe the democracy in Rwanda means peace in DRC. Follow this link to learn more about the origin of the war in both Rwanda and DR Congo:http://www.rwandadocumentsproject.net/gsdl/cgi-bin/library