The most distinguished living specialist in international human rights law, he served as a judge at the International Court of Justice for 10 years, until his retirement in 2010. Born in the former Czechoslovakia, but now a US citizen and Professor of Law at George Washington University, he lives in Maryland with his wife Peggy.The author Joseph Heller once wrote a chapter called, “Every Change is for the Worse”. It’s a notion that must have some resonance for Buergenthal when he watches the news.”The terrible plight of these refugees from Syria and Iraq,” he says, “isn’t that different from the Thirties, when people were trying desperately to flee from Germany to the UK and the USA. It’s extremely hard for me to see these images, given my experiences. But think of how things were in 1938, say, in terms of European anti-Semitism and racial prejudice in the USA.””It still seems relatively easy for a white officer to shoot a black man in broad daylight.””If I were a bigoted white policeman in the US today, I’d think twice. Of course things will never be perfect. Innocent people still get convicted. Criminals still escape.”
Southern Poverty Law Center
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