International human rights and U.S. civil liberties experts at seven law school clinics across the United States formed the Protest and Assembly Rights Project in January 2012. This joint project investigated official government responses to Occupy Wall Street in light of international legal obligations.

Under the leadership of Harvard Law School Clinical Instructor Deborah Popowski, HLS’s International Human Rights Clinic is participating in the project alongside: Global Justice Clinic, NYU School of Law; Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic, Fordham Law School; International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic, Stanford Law School; Civil Rights Clinic, Charlotte School of Law Community Justice section; Loyola Law Clinic-New Orleans Constitutional Litigation Clinic; and Rutgers School of Law-Newark.

On July 25, the first report in the Protest and Assembly Rights Project series was released, calling on New York City authorities to stop the pattern of abusive policing of Occupy Wall Street protests.

Lead authored by clinic partners at NYU and Fordham, the report (pdf) documents in detail how the New York police and other city officials violated the rights of Occupy protestors. It also provides background on the national movement and outlines the international legal framework that protects the human rights of assembly and expression, which the United States is legally bound to respect, protect, promote and fulfill.

The report calls for state action, including:

  • The creation of an independent Inspector General for the New York Police Department;
  • A full and impartial review of the city’s response to Occupy Wall Street;
  • Investigations and prosecutions of responsible officers; and
  • The creation of new NYPD protest policing guidelines to protect against rights violations.

Within hours of its release, this first report generated  media coverage, with articles in The New York Times, NPR, Reuters Legal, Reuters, New York Magazine, Alternet, The Atlantic, The Guardian, CNBC, Gothamist and Democratic Underground.

Reports focusing on other cities–including one on Boston authored by HLS’s International Human Rights Clinic–are expected to be released later this year.

Read more on HLS’s International Human Rights Clinic Blog.