Dear Editor of the Daily Mail,
I read with amusement your May 7 story entitled, “Henry’s lawyer may have boobed.” There was indeed boobing, but it was by your source, attorney Kelvin Bwalya, and your reporter who apparently accepted Bwalya’s misinformation without checking.
The story contends that Robert Amsterdam, international attorney for Mr. Henry Banda, misdirected his letters to the United Nations by sending them to a special rapporteur rather than to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights “Navanethem Pilly.” (Her name is in fact Pillay, not “Pilly.”)
Apparently both Bwalya and your reporter are unaware that all urgent communications to UN special rapporteurs are properly addressed to the rapporteurs at Ms. Pillay’s office, via her special email address designated for such purposes. Mr. Amsterdam’s letter on behalf of Mr. Banda, as well as the letter I co-signed on behalf of Mr. Amsterdam, were both directed to the proper recipients, namely the special rapporteurs at the High Commissioner’s office.
Your journalist further reports, uncritically, Mr. Bwalya’s claim that good criminal lawyers “would never address a criminal matter to a civil court.” I don’t know what kind of law Mr. Bwalya practices, but he is clearly not an experienced international human rights lawyer, as is Mr. Amsterdam. When purported criminal proceedings and threats, such as those made by Zambian officials against Messers. Banda and Amsterdam, violate their human rights to freedom of association (Mr. Banda) and to defend human rights (Mr. Amsterdam), the appropriate international remedy is precisely to appeal to the UN rapporteurs on those subjects, via the High Commissioner’s office.
I have taught international human rights law for more than two decades at university law schools in the United States (currently Notre Dame Law School) and I lecture in universities in many countries. If your reporter would care to check his facts the next time he ventures into the subject, I would be happy to address any questions he may have.
Professor of Law