{ subscribe_url: '/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/law.php' }

Human Rights and the Miranda Warning in Eastern Europe

Congressional Research Service Deputy Director T.J. Halstead introduces the panelists for the Law Library's Human Rights Day presentation on the impact of the Miranda Warning on human rights in eastern Europe, December 9, 2016. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Congressional Research Service Deputy Director T.J. Halstead introduces the panelists for the Law Library’s Human Rights Day presentation on the impact of the Miranda Warning on human rights in Eastern Europe, December 9, 2016. Photo by Shawn Miller.

On Friday, December 9, 2016, the Law Library of Congress celebrated Human Rights Day and marked International Anti-Corruption Day with a panel discussion on human rights in Eastern Europe. The event featured a distinguished panel of American and European politicians, scholars, and practitioners. Panelists discussed how the U.S. Congress helped to develop human rights in this region and addressed specific human rights violations and advances in Romania and the former Soviet republics. They also made remarks on how the Miranda warning has influenced human rights in these regions.

After a brief introduction by T.J. Halstead, deputy director of the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the Law Library’s director of Global Legal Research, Peter Roudik, who served as the moderator, began the program with a brief history on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights . He highlighted the Law Library’s 2016 Law Day and Depiction of Law in Film events, which also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Miranda warning.

The first panelist, Kyle Parker, a senior member of the professional staff of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, shared his involvement in the Library of Congress’s Open World Leadership Center, which began under the leadership of Dr. James Billington, now the Librarian of Congress Emeritus. Mr. Parker described how this program helped to bring human rights issues to the attention of post-Soviet leaders.

Based on his professional experience working for the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the Helsinki Commission), Mr. Parker addressed achievements of the Commission in implementing the principles of the Helsinki Act. He described the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe statement on human rights as one of the “richest declarations on universal human rights.” He also expounded on the Helsinki Commission’s accomplishments in addressing human rights concerns in Russia, including its work relating to the Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, which was developed in to response to the imprisonment, later death of Russian lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, who exposed tax fraud among Russian government officials.

Parker concluded his remarks by discussing the role and efforts of the United States Congress in advancing human rights and responding to human rights abuses around the world today.

The second panelist, William Pomeranz, deputy director of the Kennan Institute for the Advanced Russian Studies of the Woodrow Wilson Center, focused his remarks on a “Miranda-Style Warning” in Russia and the Criminal-Procedural Code of the Russian Federation. He discussed Russia’s high conviction rate, citing that “99 percent of persons who go to trial are convicted.” He explained how corruption among prosecutors, the judiciary and courts’ dependence on government results in Russia’s high conviction rate. For example, he stated that prosecutors are judged by how many acquittals result from their prosecutions and evidence submitted by defense attorneys on behalf of defendants is usually assumed to be biased by the judges. He argued that corruption leads to police and prosecutorial abuses and hinders Miranda-type warnings from being effective in protecting the accused in Russia. On the other hand, he pointed out that there are a high number of civil cases in Russia, indicating that people still have faith in the system.

Additionally, Pomeranz mentioned lack of division of power and the rule of law as causes of systemic human rights concerns in Russia. He also spoke about human rights violations in Crimea and a newly passed Russian law that can overturn human rights decisions made by the European Court of Human Rights. He emphasized the importance of human rights in U.S.-Russian relations but expressed uncertainty regarding the role they may play in the future.

The third panelist, Monica Macovei, member of the European Parliament, spoke about the importance of anti-corruption laws to address human rights violations. “You cannot talk about civil rights in a corrupt country,” she said.

Macovei discussed her work as a civil rights attorney for the European Court, where she stated that she represented about 20 legal cases involving human rights violations in Romania. She explained that many Romanian citizens at the time of her work on the Court, were beaten up or killed by police, and journalists were being imprisoned for criticizing political figures.

Furthermore, Macovei highlighted that Miranda rights are similar in Eastern Europe, noting that the warning is given at the time of interrogation. She also discussed the Human Rights chapter of the European Union. In conclusion, Macovei remarked on the importance of change agents working to fight corruption and advance human rights.

The fourth panelist, Natella Boltyanskaya, a Russian journalist and historian of the Soviet dissident movement, provided a presentation on Americans who worked to advance human rights in the Soviet Union. She reviewed U.S. assistance to Soviet dissenters since the 1950s stating that before Stalin’s death it was impossible to advance human rights because repression was so prevalent.

Boltyanskaya cited George F. Kennan, a diplomat and historian, in particular for working to combat Soviet propaganda. Furthermore, she discussed the role of U.S. government funded broadcasting organizations such as Radio Free Europe and Voice of America role in sharing news to Soviet countries. Overall, Boltyanskaya concluded that American support helped Russians greatly.

Roudik concluded the Human Rights Day event with a question and answer period with each of the panelists.

A video of our Human Rights Day will be posted to the Law Library’s YouTube page and this blog as soon as it becomes available.

 

 

 

 

An Unlikely Founding Father — Michael Signer’s Biography of James Madison

On Tuesday, December 6, the Law Library of Congress and the Center for the Book hosted a book talk with Michael Signer. Signer is an author, political theorist, attorney, and the mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia. He discussed his book, Becoming Madison: The Extraordinary Origins of the Least Likely Founding Father (Public Affairs, 2015). Signer said he wanted […]

Law and Literature Event—Lawyer and Poet Monica Youn

What is the relationship between law and literature? The Law Library of Congress and the Poetry and Literature Center recently explored that question during an evening event on Thursday, October 20. The event featured lawyer and poet Monica Youn, who read from her new book of poetry, Blackacre, and participated in a discussion with law […]

Law Library of Congress and Poetry and Literature Center to Host Award-Winning Poet Monica Youn

On the evening of Thursday, October 20, 2016, the Library of Congress will host award-winning poet and attorney Monica Youn. Youn will read from her latest collection of poetry, Blackacre (Graywolf Press, 2016), which has been longlisted for the National Book Award in Poetry. Youn will also participate in a conversation with Martha Dragich, professor […]

Hispanic Heritage Month 2016—Hispanic Americans: Embracing, Enhancing, and Enriching America

Each year, from September 15 to October 15, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month with the aim of celebrating the contributions of our fellow Americans of Hispanic ancestry. This year’s theme is Hispanic Americans:  Embracing, Enhancing, and Enriching America. The observation of this month—in which we bring forth the histories and cultures of people whose […]

On Describing the Law Library’s Hispanic Legal Documents Collection

This is a guest post by Patience Tyne. Patience is working in the Collection Services Division of the Law Library of Congress as part of the Library of Congress’s Junior Fellows Program. The program’s focus is to increase access to our collections for our various patron groups. The project that I am working on in […]