Don’t execute Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Years ago, a local journalist offered me, as a representative of Amnesty International, to take part in a radio programme on the death penalty. He told me he wanted to talk about this punishment through three personal stories. He said he’d let me choose the cases, but suggested some options: an unfaithful wife stoned to death in Nigeria, a political dissident in North Korea or a child offender in Iran. For example.

I loved the idea. The programme had many listeners and it was going to be a great opportunity to raise awareness. I discussed it with the death penalty expert in my local group, a committed volunteer since 1981. He liked the idea too, but with a caveat. The cases had to be different. More than 600 people were executed in 22 countries in 2014 (probably many more since Chinese and North Korean numbers are not reported), hundreds more were sentenced to death, and currently about 19,000 people await their execution in 58 different countries (find detailed data from Amnesty International here). And the hard truth is that most of the people in death corridors have committed awful blood crimes. Continue reading “Don’t execute Dzhokhar Tsarnaev”


Un hombre cualquiera… dos veces pobre

dos veces pobreApareció en El País Semanal del domingo pasado, día 13, pero no la había visto hasta esta mañana. Llevaba un tiempo medio incómodo. Hacía ya tres semanas que no dejaba nada escrito en este humilde blog. Y, de pronto, me desayuno con esta fotografía.

La estampa es tan difícil de creer que perfectamente podría no ser real. Pero, aunque no lo fuera, lo es. Podría ser la viva imagen de aquel que ha visto, sin ver, que la crisis le ha adelantado por la derecha, sin intermitente ni advertencia alguna. La realidad le ha pillado a contrapié, con el cojín bajo las nalgas, la mochila Nike del gimnasio a un lado y la caligrafía impoluta entre las piernas. Continue reading “Un hombre cualquiera… dos veces pobre”

¿Cómo se puede iniciar una carrera a 800 metros de donde ha muerto gente?

Por primera vez desde la primera edición en 1970, el maratón de Nueva York ha sido suspendido. Tras unos pocos días de incertidumbre desde la llegada del huracán Sandy a la ciudad, finalmente el alcalde Bloomberg anunció su decisión ayer viernes. 47.000 personas se han quedado sin participar en la carrera. Al parecer, no se les devolverá el dinero. Tan sólo 48 horas antes, Bloomberg había manifestado su intención de mantener la carrera como símbolo de resistencia ante las adversidades. Sus palabras generaron una gran polémica. El periodista Michael Skolnik avisó de que los generadores del maratón podrían dar electricidad a 400 familias. Por su parte, James Oddo, líder republicano en el Ayuntamiento de Nueva York, se hacía la siguiente pregunta: “¿Cómo se puede iniciar una carrera a 800 metros de donde ha muerto gente?”

Finalmente, Bloomberg dijo: “no se puede permitir que una controversia sobre una prueba deportiva distraiga la atención del trabajo de importancia vital que se está haciendo para recuperar la ciudad de la tormenta”.

Yo mismo me hago la misma pregunta que se hace el concejal Oddo: ¿Cómo se puede iniciar una carrera a 800 metros de donde ha muerto gente? Continue reading “¿Cómo se puede iniciar una carrera a 800 metros de donde ha muerto gente?”

Which is the key to Olympic success: Competitiveness or public investment?

London Olympics are finally finished and Britons have two things to celebrate: first, everything went quite well and London didn´t collapse; and second, Team GB made an outstanding performance, their highest achievement ever in Olympic history. British athletes got a total of 65 medals, 29 of which were gold, 17 silver and 19 bronze. Only the Americans and the Chinese got back home with more metal around their necks.

The debate about the reasons for this success began some days before the closing ceremony. Everybody agrees that the crowd played an important role cheering with their Union Jacks for their newly appointed heroes (most of whom, let´s be honest, were perfectly unfamiliar to the average Brit until last month). But, what else made a difference apart from this environmental factor? And, therefore, what policies should the UK Government pursue to continue along this path of Olympic glory? Continue reading “Which is the key to Olympic success: Competitiveness or public investment?”

Interactions between International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law for the protection of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Published in Revista Electrónica de Estudios Internacionales, Vol. 23, June 2012



Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) are at risk on the battlefield. Thus, human rights lawyers must look for legal means to guarantee the best possible protection of these rights in case of war. It is generally accepted nowadays that both International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and International Human Rights Law (IHRL) are applicable during armed conflicts. Adding on that and based on a procedural and substantive legal analysis, this paper claims that both IHL and IHRL constantly interact in a relation of synergy or norms. Continue reading “Interactions between International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law for the protection of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”

“Reintegration – Evolution or Revolution?”, by Salma Yusuf and Dominique Mystris


A focus on reintegration requires consideration of the economic, political and social aspects of the process. In addition to the broader definition of reintegration, it is proposed that any definition of ex-combatant should be broad enough to cover as many individuals involved and directly linked, as in the families of the combatants, to bring them back into the community.

In this paper, some of the challenges and obstacles to reintegration are considered, culminating in an analysis of best practices and recommendations to inform the work of practitioners, thereby complementing the ongoing discourse on reintegration of excombatants in post-war contexts. The obstacles and challenges to the reintegration process have been explored from four perspectives, namely, third party, ex-combatant, community and general. Continue reading ““Reintegration – Evolution or Revolution?”, by Salma Yusuf and Dominique Mystris”

“The rule of law revival in transition States”, by Salma Yusuf and Dominique Mystris


This paper explores the concept of the rule of law and how it has been applied by nations in transition. The rule of law is understood in broad terms incorporating democratic ideas such as supremacy of law, equality, and separation of powers as well as human rights principles.

Consideration has been given as to whether there is in fact a revival. The paper demonstrates that the rule of law is increasingly being used as a tool by the international community through incorporation into mission statements and aims in addition to terms of aid. This however has not pointed to the fact that all States in transition are embracing the rule of law in its true sense. On the contrary, what is apparent is the use of the concept by some States to restrict the rights of its citizens and consolidate semi-authoritarian powers that are in control. Continue reading ““The rule of law revival in transition States”, by Salma Yusuf and Dominique Mystris”