Blog of Rights


Jamil Dakwar (@jdakwar) is the Director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Human Rights Program (HRP) which is dedicated to holding the U.S. government accountable to its international human rights obligations and commitments.  He leads a team of lawyers and advocates who use a human rights framework to complement existing ACLU legal and legislative advocacy primarily in the areas of counter-terrorism, racial justice, immigrants’ rights, women’s rights, and criminal and juvenile justice. HRP conducts human rights research, documentation and public education, as well as engages in litigation and advocacy before U.S. courts and international human rights bodies.

HRP’s docket includes both domestic lawsuits and petitions before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of individuals sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for crimes committed when they were children; victims and survivors of torture, forced disappearance, trafficking and domestic violence; disenfranchised felons; domestic workers and low-wage undocumented immigrants; as well as a challenge to the Oklahoma constitutional amendment banning the use of Sharia and international law. Jamil also serves as the ACLU Main Representative to the United Nations, and has testified before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, United Nations human rights bodies, and the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), about human rights violations in the U.S.

Prior to joining the ACLU in 2004, Jamil worked at Human Rights Watch, where he conducted research, advocated, and published reports on issues of torture and detention in Egypt, Morocco, Israel, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Before coming to the United States, he was a senior attorney with Adalah, a leading human rights group in Israel, where he filed and argued human rights cases before Israeli courts and advocated before international forums. He is a graduate of Tel Aviv University and NYU School of Law.

Protecting the Constitution, At Home and Abroad

By Jamil Dakwar, Director, ACLU Human Rights Program at 6:18pm

Constitution Day serves as a reminder of the importance of this historical document, a document which embodies the concept of the rule of law and acts as the blueprint for the American people. Part of this blueprint includes the Framers' desire that the United States government respect international commitments made under treaties signed by the President and approved by the Senate. Indeed, the Supremacy Clause makes the Constitution, Federal Statutes, and U.S. treaties "the supreme law of the land."

When the incoming President takes or reaffirms the oath of office, they are committing themselves to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." In doing so, they are obliged to recognize and respect U.S. ratified treaties, at home and abroad. While this commitment is made to the American people at the inauguration ceremony, it echoes and resonates around the world, as the U.S. commitment to the family of nations to respect the rule of law and U.S. international and treaty obligations is vital to the preservation of international peace and security. The erosion of this commitment over the past seven years cannot be over exaggerated, especially in the area of protection and promotion of human rights at home and around the world.

Unlawful Command Influence

By Jamil Dakwar, Director, ACLU Human Rights Program at 8:47pm

Mohammad Jawad's military commission hearing last week was unusual for many reasons. Jawad was a minor when he was captured in Afghanistan and now faces life in prison if convicted for allegedly throwing a hand grenade that wounded two U.S. soldiers…

Guantánamo's Frequent Flyer Program

By Jamil Dakwar, Director, ACLU Human Rights Program at 4:45pm

Last week's Supreme Court rebuke of the Bush administration's attempt to preserve Guantánamo as a lawless place, a place where human beings are less worthy of protection under U.S. law than iguanas, brought newfound hope that this travesty…

Guantánamo Detainee Wants to Phone Home

By Jamil Dakwar, Director, ACLU Human Rights Program at 3:42pm

The events at today's hearing suggest distrust and suspicion from the handful of Guantánamo detainees who have been charged by the Bush administration toward the military commissions system. Guantánamo is a place where basic rights, like…


By Jamil Dakwar, Director, ACLU Human Rights Program at 1:54pm

Yesterday, another Guantánamo military commission ended in a fiasco when Mohammed Kamin declared he would boycott the proceedings. Kamin, a 30-year-old prisoner from Afghanistan, has been in U.S. custody since May 2003; today was the first…

Guantánamo: Back to Square One

By Jamil Dakwar, Director, ACLU Human Rights Program at 1:05am
Editor's Note: You can listen to a podcast of Jamil discussing Thursday's hearing at Guantanamo here. After close to five months of uncertainty regarding the future of the military commission system, hearings resumed today when Canadian national Omar…

Gitmo's Inconvenient Truth

By Jamil Dakwar, Director, ACLU Human Rights Program at 5:28pm
On the fifth anniversary of the creation of one of the most notorious detention facilities in the world, the Administration has declared its moral and legal bankruptcy, with the recent attack on lawyers representing Guantánamo detainees by Deputy Assistant…

The Beginning of the End or the End of the Beginning?

By Jamil Dakwar, Director, ACLU Human Rights Program at 1:57pm
Today’s hearing was perhaps the shortest of the military commission proceedings since they started in August 2004. Mr. Abdul Zahir (pronounced Thaher), a 34-year-old native of Hasarak, Afghanistan, and father of three sons, appeared for less than five…

"The Mouth That Prohibits Is the Mouth That Permits"

By Jamil Dakwar, Director, ACLU Human Rights Program at 9:37am
Guantanamo military commission proceedings will resume tomorrow in the case of U.S. v. Abdul Zahir. It's very hot and humid down here in Guantanamo and the heat is only expected to exacerbate by the end of June and early July when the Supreme Court delivers…

Impartiality and AG Gonzales

By Jamil Dakwar, Director, ACLU Human Rights Program at 5:59pm

After a long voir dire hearing, the defense team decided to challenge the presiding officer's fitness and impartiality on two grounds: 1) his extensive search and research of media articles regarding the case, in violation of the model code for judicial…

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