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Two professors at New York Law School (NYLS) and the director of the Tokyo Advocacy Law Office are engaged in initiatives with the potential to have major influences on the study of law, criminology, and criminal justice: the creation of a Disability Rights Tribunal for Asia and the Pacific (DRTAP), and expansion of NYLS’s online mental disability law program (OMDLP) to include numerous Asian venues.

DRTAP seeks to create a sub-regional body (a Commission and eventually a Court) to hear violations of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This will explicitly inspire scholarship about issues such as treatment of forensic patients, relationships between mental disability and criminal lawenforcement, and connections between mental disability and criminal procedure.

NYLS’s OMDLP offers 13 courses to criminologists and criminal justice scholars and will host DRICAP (Disability Rights Information Center for Asia and the Pacific), providing Internet access to important disability rights developments from at least ten nations in the Asia/Pacific region. We believe that this program has the potential to have a significant impact on how criminal law, criminal justice, criminology are taught and studied in all of Asia.

This paper first discusses the development of distance learning, online legal education in this context, next describes the NLYS courses and the DRTAP project, explains their significance to the Asian legal advocacy/criminology/criminal justice communities, and shows how these ventures can foster new research, training and teaching initiatives in this area.