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The Commission

Katia talks about how an international law commission works in the Americas.
Todd: Most countries' lawyers have to pass a certain exam. To be a lawyer in this court system do you have to pass some special exam?

Katia: Actually, well first you have to be a lawyer from a particular country. Then after that you study human rights in an international context. For international law you do not have an exam as long as you are already a lawyer in your own country and have passed your national tests. After that you can become an international lawyer.

Todd: So when cases are brought to this international court, is it a jury, is it just one judge, is it a group of judges?

Katia: It's a group of judges. There are, I believe, seven judges from different countries of America.

Todd: OK and you never have two judges from the same country?

Katia: No, it's very rare, very rare. It's mostly different countries.

Todd: And what was the Commission? You said there was a Commission.

Katia: Yes. The Commission is the first entity that you bring a case to. You do not go to the Court right away. First the Commission sees the case and after they review it, if they believe that there is a mistake done by the state then they can take it into the Court, but first you have to come from the Commission.

Todd: So if somebody has a problem they go to the Commission, the Commission then will verify if it should go to the courts and then it goes to the courts?

Katia: Well the Commission will give a sentence or will say what the country should do or not if it's not involved. After that, after giving the decision, if the state ignores it the person that brought the case can continue into the Court but not necessarily all the time it goes into the Court. So there is actually one decision before going into the Court.

Todd: Fantastic. And then usually when something goes, somebody brings a court case, how long is the process usually from start to finish.

Katia: Long time. Many years. Unfortunately many years. In the Commission right now it takes if you bring a case right now there are so many cases that it can take up to five years before the Commission can look at your case. So this is many years.

Todd: Yes that is a long time.

Katia: Yes.

Learn Vocabulary from the Lesson

human rights


You study human rights in an international context.

Human rights are basic rights that many countries think people should have; such as a fair justice system, freedom of speech, the right to vote, etc.  Notice the following:

  1. Various countries interpret human rights differently.
  2. They are regularly cited for human rights abuses.



So when cases are brought to this international court, is it a jury, is it just one judge?

A jury is a group of citizens from the general population who decide the outcome of a court case.  Notice the following:

  1. I once served on a jury.  It was interesting.
  2. Do you use juries in your country?



Is it a group of judges?

A judge is the person who is in charge of a trail in court.  Notice the following:

  1. The judge was quiet for most of the time.
  2. He's been a judge for twenty years.



The Commission is the first entity that you bring a case to.

A commission is a formal group whose job is to find out information about a legal problem.  Notice the following:

  1. The city formed a commission to investigate corruption.
  2. There were six people on the commission



You do not go to the Court right away.

Court is the building or place where legal cases are heard.  The people present include the judge, jury, lawyers, etc.  Notice the following:

  1. We go to court on 19th of August.
  2. Excuse me, please.  I'm due in court shortly.

Vocabulary Quiz

human rights • jury • judge
commission • court
  1. The was tasked to handle the initial investigations.
  2. Have you ever been called to serve duty?
  3. The called the lawyers to his chamber.
  4. The military is often cited for violation of .
  5. You can't be late for your appointment tomorrow.
Answer the following questions about the interview.

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