In 2016, I received my doctor of jurisprudence (J.D.) from Indiana University McKinney School of Law, where I studied international human rights law and was active in many human rights and civil rights projects, in the U.S. and overseas.
Now, I am part of the law school’s Military Commission Observation Project (MCOP), which was founded by Professor George Edwards. The MCOP, among other things, sends students, faculty, staff and graduates to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to serve as observers or monitors for military commissions that were created to try alleged perpetrators of war crimes.
As a monitor, it is my job to (a) attend; (b) observe; (c) analyze; (d) critique; and (e) report on military commission war crimes hearings at Guantanamo Bay.
I have many reasons for wanting to travel to Guantanamo Bay for live hearings, or to travel to Ft. Meade, Maryland where the hearings are simultaneously broadcast via CCTV from Guantanamo to a secure facility on the Ft. Meade army base. I will talk more about those reasons in my next blog post.
For now, I am focusing on the hearings I am scheduled to attend on 26 February to 3 March 2 017 – against a man named Hadi al Iraqi (or Nashwan al Tamir).
Hadi al Iraqi is a 51- or 52-year-old Iraqi citizen. He was taken into custody in late 2006, spent some time in Central Intelligence Agency custody, and was transferred to Guantanamo in April of 2007. He is considered a high-valued detainees (HVD), and is accused of, among other things, cross-border attacks against US and coalition troops from 2002 to 2004.
More on my background
I was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I moved to the United States at the age of ten (10). In addition to my J.D. from IU McKinney, I also hold a master’s degree in public administration from Florida A&M University (FAMU) and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Bethune Cookman University.
During law school, I was a part of the Program in International Human Rights Law (PIHRL) which was founded by Professor George Edwards. Through this program I was able to travel to South East Asia, Southern Africa, and Western Africa where I worked on access to legal justice, child marriage/women’s rights, and electoral reforms. With my exposure through our world renowned human rights program at IU-McKinney, I further developed an interest in international laws and politics. In particular, I am interested in how international law and politics help shape domestic and international policies regarding immigration, trade, and other aspects of relationships between countries.
I look forward to contributing to the work of the MCOP, specifically the Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual that the project has been working on.
Johanna Leblanc, J.D., Indiana University McKinney School of Law
Observer, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Military Commission Observation Project
Program in International Human Rights Law
Indiana University McKinney School of Law