School of Law News

Clason Speaker Series at School of Law to Explore Torture and Human Rights

Posted Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Western New England University School of Law’s Clason Speaker Series will launch its 2011-2012 season with a talk on human rights issues by Jennifer Harbury on Tuesday, September 13 at noon in the Blake Law Center Commons. The talk, “US Torture Practices: The Guatemala Experience,” is free and open to the public.

Drawing on her compelling personal experience, Harbury will speak about the capture and detainment of her husband, Mayan resistance leader Efrain Bámaca Velásquez, and her subsequent fight for human rights. Velásquez was captured alive by the Guatemalan military in 1992, before being tortured and ultimately executed without trial. Harbury’s battle to save her husband’s life led to the disclosure of a close working relationship between the United States CIA and the Central American death squads that included the practice of torturing paid informants. Harbury has since fought and won a trial at the Inter-American Court on Human Rights of the Organization of American States, and continues to fight in the Guatemala court system.

Harbury is the author of three books about her experiences: Bridge of Courage (Common Courage Press, 1993), Searching for Everado (Warner Books, 1997), and Truth, Torture and the American Way (Beacon Press, 2005). She has received the Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award, the Cavallo Award for Moral Courage, and the Society of American Law Teachers Shanara Gilbert Human Rights Award.

Now in its 23rd year, the Clason Speaker Series hosts expert lecturers to enhance the academic environment at the Western New England University School of Law. The series is named after Charles R. Clason, a prominent attorney and member of the U.S. House of Representatives who served as Dean of the School of Law from 1954 to 1970. For more information, call 413-796-1431.

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