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The UT Amnesty International chapter will celebrate its third annual Human Rights Week March 11 through 20 with speakers on issues ranging from due process rights in foreign lands to reproduction rights to prisoners wrongly sentenced on death row.

The week will kick off with a lecture by Ndiva Kofele-Kale at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, March 11, in the University Center Ballroom. A former UT faculty member, Kofele-Kale is now a professor of public international law at Southern Methodist University. Kofele-Kale, who was born in Cameroon, is leading the defense team representing Marafa Hamidou Yaya, former Secretary General of the Presidency of Cameroon.

Marafa was imprisoned after he was accused of embezzling funds meant to purchase a presidential aircraft for Cameroon’s head of state, Paul Biya. Until his arrest and imprisonment, Marafa was perhaps one of the closest associates of Biya and was widely viewed as his likely successor. Marafa maintains the allegations were politically motivated and he has been wrongly imprisoned.

The lecture also will look at the enforcement of due process rights in post-colonial countries.

Marafa’s case has been described as the “case of the century in Cameroon,” said Rosalind Hackett, professor of religious studies. “Kofele-Kale is trying to enlist student interest and support, and his visit here is being publicized in a number of circles abroad, including those in France, Britain and Cameroon who are working on this case.”

There will be a question-and-answer session and refreshments following his presentation.

Other Human Rights Week events include:

  • “Painting for Palestine,” in the Mary Greer Room in Hodges Library at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 12. There will be a free dinner of traditional Palestinian food, followed by a presentation about the PALProject in Palestine by Carolyn Spelling from the UT Center for the Study of Youth and Political Conflict. Participants will be able to create art based on the presentation.
  • “Freed from Death Row: A Story of Wrongful Conviction,” a presentation by Stacy Rector, executive director of the Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, and Ray Krone, a death row exoneree, in the Hodges Library Auditorium at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 19. Rector will talk about the current logistics of the death penalty. Krone, the 100th U.S. death row exoneree, will share his story of being behind bars for a crime he did not commit.
  • “Reproductive Health as a Human Right,” a panel discussion in the UC’s Shiloh Room at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20. Representatives from the Knox County Health Center, UT Student Health, the Knoxville Center for Reproductive Health, Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, and the Reproductive Justice Coalition will discuss how birth control affects the female body, uses of birth control beyond contraception, stigmas surrounding birth control, and why access to contraceptives should be a basic human right.

The week’s events are sponsored by the campus chapter of Amnesty International, the International Law Society, Black Law Students Association, Africana Studies Program, African Students Association, the Undergraduate Anthropology Association, the Center for the Study of Social Justice, the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, the campus chapter of the Roosevelt Institute, the Middle Eastern Student Association, the Muslim Student Association, the College of Nursing, the Issues Committee; the departments of Religious Studies, Sociology, Political Science, Anthropology, Child and Family Studies, and Geography; Tennesseans for Alternatives for the Death Penalty; Witness to Innocence; the Center for the Study of Youth & Political Conflict; VOX, and UT Democrats.

For more information about Human Rights Week, contact

C O N T A C T :

Ashley Charest (865-974-2466,