2013 Past Headlines

Law School Welcomes State Department International Women of Courage Award Recipient

03/10/2014

First Lady Michelle Obama, Judge Iris Yassmin Barrios Aguilar, and Deputy Secretary of State Heather HigginbottomThe Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law welcomes Judge Iris Yassmin Barrios Aguilar on March 11 to celebrate her recognition from the U.S. State as a Secretary of State 2014 International Women of Courage award recipient. The Program in International Human Rights Law (PIHRL) will be her host during her appearance at the school, and her visit is supported by the International Center. She will participate in a law school roundtable discussion.

(In the photo from left are First Lady Michelle Obama, Judge Barrios, and Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom.)

As one of ten women leaders from around the globe, all of whom have advanced women's rights in their countries at great personal risk, Judge Barrios received the prestigious award from Secretary of State John Kerry, who was not present at the ceremony but was represented by his daughter Dr. Vanessa Kerry and Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom. First Lady Michelle Obama also was present to recognize Judge Barrios and other International Women of Courage awardees. The ceremony was held on March 4 at the State Department. All of these women are now traveling across the United States to share their stories.

Judge Barrios is the President of one of two of Guatemala's High Risk Court Tribunals. She has made a career of taking on the most difficult and politically-sensitive cases. Such cases have confronted high-profile corruption, organized crime and drug trafficking, and human rights abuses occurring during Guatemala's 36-year internal armed conflict (1960-1996). Most strikingly, in 2013, Judge Barrios served as Presiding Judge in the genocide trial of former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt. This was the first time a former head of state was tried for genocide in his home country by the national judiciary. By initiating the judicial process against the former dictator, Judge Barrios gave a voice to thousands of Ixil-Mayan victims, provided an important legal precedent for genocide cases worldwide, and demonstrated the importance of an independent judiciary.

Judge Barrios will participate in a roundtable discussion with IU McKinney students and faculty to talk about international law issues, learn more about the law school’s programs, and share her own experience and insights.  The discussion will be led by Professor George E. Edwards, PIHRL Director, and program participants will also include Dean Andrew R. Klein; Vice Dean Antony Page; Professor Yvonne Dutton; Professor Frank Sullivan, Jr.; 3L Paul Babcock, editor-in-chief of the Indiana International & Comparative Law Review, and representatives from the school’s student groups including the International Human Rights Law.

While in Indianapolis, Judge Barrios will also meet with a group convened by the Indiana Commission for Women, Attorney General Greg Zoeller, Judge Sarah Evans Barker, and high-ranking members of the Indiana judiciary. She will also participate in a roundtable discussion involving women's empowerment and equity, and volunteer at the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic.


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