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International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC)
- INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS CLINIC (IHRC)
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Ali Al-Sarraf, 3L
Ali Al-Sarraf has dedicated himself to helping victims of the Iraqi refugee crisis since witnessing the plight of Iraqi refugees while visiting families in Jordan and Lebanon.
"Ali Al-Sarraf has dedicated himself to helping victims of the Iraqi refugee crisis since witnessing the plight of Iraqi refugees while visiting families in Jordan and Lebanon. In his first year of law school, Ali founded the USC chapter of the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP)"
"Since the 1980's, Iraqis have faced oppression and persecution at the hand of a brutal dictator, foreign terrorist organizations, a foreign military, and domestic militias," he said. "In the last decade, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis fled Iraq as refugees into neighboring countries where they currently live in a state of limbo."
In his first year of law school, Ali founded the USC chapter of the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), a student organization dedicated to assisting Iraqi refugees escape from harm and persecution. The group provides legal representation and policy advocacy on behalf of Iraqi refugees through partnerships with local law firms. "We help them navigate the rules and process of resettlement to the United States," said Ali, who served as its president during his second year of law school."
As an international studies major at DePaul University, Ali studied countless human rights abuses across the globe. He wants to use his law degree to prevent future abuses.
Ali spent his first summer in law school working with Paul Hoffman, a prominent international human rights and civil rights attorney in Los Angeles. He worked on several high-profile cases brought under the Alien Tort Statute involving human rights abuses committed by multi-national companies.
"The Alien Tort Statute is a mechanism that has been used to penalize perpetrators and compensate victims of human rights violations," he said. "It is one of the tools used to disincentivize companies or individuals from committing such violations."
Ali hopes to gain further insight into the breadth of human rights work at IHRC and gain the skills necessary to fight for justice around the world.
"I feel blessed to join this invaluable program, and I hope to use this experience to, as said by the late Steve Jobs, make a dent in the universe," he said.
Margaret Buckles, 2L
Maggie Buckles has a long history with international human rights work as both a student and an activist. Her interest began in high school when she became involved with Amnesty International.
"My involvement with Amnesty International led me to study international relations at USC," she said. "My Senior Honor's and Master's theses focused on the resolution of the Guatemalan Civil War."
"I conducted original research in Spanish in Costa Rica and Guatemala," Maggie said. "I interviewed the actual negotiators of the Central American and Guatemalan peace accords. As a result of these interviews, I saw the impact international human rights lawyers had in shaping the future for millions of Central Americans."
Instead of attending law school immediately after completing her undergraduate program, Maggie worked on a master's degree program at USC in international relations.
"For my theses, I conducted original research in Spanish in Costa Rica and Guatemala," Maggie said. "I interviewed the actual negotiators of the Central American and Guatemalan peace accords. As a result of these interviews, I saw the impact international human rights lawyers had in shaping the future for millions of Central Americans."
With her extensive knowledge in the international realm, Maggie worked on behalf of misrepresented groups in Cuba. "I began work with progressive groups in Cuba, helping them to gain access to information and technology that would better enable them to advocate on behalf of the women, Afro-Cubans and religious minorities they represented," she said.
In order for her work to continue in Central America, Maggie founded HAD Assistance, a non-profit start-up. "I founded an organization that works on socio-economic development issues in Central America and continues to operate in Guatemala and Nicaragua," she said.
She came to USC Law for its strong international law focus. "USC Law offers many opportunities in international human rights work," she said. "My future goal is to do pro bono human rights litigation and work for an international legal organization. The International Human Rights Clinic is the best way to continue my work in law school."
Rosemary DiPietrantonio, 2L
Before entering law school, Rose spent two years in the Peace Corps in the Republic of Moldova, where she witnessed beatings, human rights violations and civil unrest.
" While in the Peace Corps, Rose also saw the devastating effects of human trafficking on families and communities. She is interested in using her legal knowledge and skills to stop slavery and human trafficking in post-Soviet Union countries "
"I saw first-hand a group of people being beaten and tortured just for protesting a communist presidential election victory," said Rose. "The civil unrest that followed these protests and the lack of worldwide media attention the human rights violations received inspired me to study international human rights law. I gained a unique perspective on how other people in the world live."
While in the Peace Corps, Rose also saw the devastating effects of human trafficking on families and communities. She is interested in using her legal knowledge and skills to stop slavery and human trafficking in post-Soviet Union countries.
Rose was attracted to the International Human Rights Clinic because it offers practical skills in an environment that fosters creative thinking. "It also opens dialogue among students and professors," she said.
Over the summer 2012, Rose worked in the IHRC on a human trafficking case. She also conducted research for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. During her 1L year, Rose became involved in the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) and is now the current treasurer.
Joel Frost-Tift, 2L
From a young age, Joel was fascinated with books about the Holocaust. He was particularly interested in stories about the Resistance Movement, which arose in Axis and occupied countries and fought back against the Nazis. As he grew older, he became aware of other cases of genocide that had occurred around the globe, despite promises like "never again" and "not on my watch."
"As an undergraduate, Joel arranged two independent studies the following year - one on the international community's failure during the Rwandan genocide and the other on the trial of the former Serbian leader Radovan Karadzic in the International Criminal Tribunal of Yugoslavia. "
As an undergraduate, Joel took a class in international humanitarianism, where he learned about the international justice system and the various international courts that try people accused of genocide and crimes against humanity. In an effort to continue looking at the subject, he arranged two independent studies the following year - one on the international community's failure during the Rwandan genocide and the other on the trial of the former Serbian leader Radovan Karadzic in the International Criminal Tribunal of Yugoslavia.
During this independent study, he interviewed a Bosnian government official.
The official Joel interviewed was frustrated that the International Court of Justice had acquitted Serbia of genocide in 1997, despite the fact that the same court had found that genocide had occurred in Srebrenica. "How can you argue that the same group of people had intent to commit genocide, but only committed it in Srebrenica and not elsewhere?" he asked Joel.
"I realized that while international courts have, in many cases, been successful trying genocide and crimes against humanity, the standards haven't always been consistent and it is an area of law that is definitely still developing," Joel said.
KyraAnne Gates, 2L
KyraAnne Gates passion for international human rights was sparked after spending several summers volunteering in Latin America.
"KyraAnne Gates passion for international human rights was sparked after spending several summers volunteering in Latin America."
"I lived on Vieques, an island used as a bombing range by the US Navy, and even met the chiefs of Kuna Yala, an indigenous group in Panama that is struggling to retain its autonomy," she said.
In Costa Rica, KyraAnne lived without running water or electricity for months, and bonded with hard-working people who didn't have basic necessities. "I couldn't shake the feeling that I have a responsibility to help those suffering in other parts of the world," she said.
As an undergraduate, KyraAnne majored in Global Studies with an emphasis on Latin America. Additionally, she volunteered at a bilingual preschool and tutored Spanish-speaking elementary schools students.
As an incoming 2L student, KyraAnne was exposed to the criminal side of human rights when she volunteered at the LACBA Barristers Domestic Violence Project. "I conducted client intake interviews of domestic violence victims, explained legal procedures and service requirements to clients, and prepared and filed temporary retraining orders," said KyraAnne.
She is hoping that her experience as a volunteer in Latin America and work in LACBA will make her a qualified advocate for international human rights.
"I believe that my commitment to international public service enables me to contribute to the clinic's mission and I cherish the opportunity to be a part of these important legal decisions," said KyraAnne.
Peter Goldschmidt, 2L
For Peter Goldschmidt, it was his family history and his personal experience with Bhutanese refugees that led him to join USC Law's International Human Rights Clinic.
"For Peter Goldschmidt, it was his family history and his personal experience with Bhutanese refugees that led him to join USC Law's International Human Rights Clinic. "
"My father escaped from East Berlin with his family after World War II," Peter said. "He only survived through the help of an American refugee camp, and at 19 years old, he immigrated to the United States."
Given his family's background, Peter believes he has a duty to take on the role of advocate. "I am committed to helping victims of international human rights atrocities," he said. "Working in the IHRC will be an amazing opportunity to use my legal training to make a true difference in people's lives."
His mission to make a difference drove him to volunteer with an organization that facilitates the advancement and immersion of young refugees in the United States. "I worked with Bhutanese refugees, and I learned about their home country and ambitions in the United States. My work with PAIR has taught me about the lengthy, tedious, and sometimes painful process that a person undergoes in order to immigrate to America as refugee."
Not only has Peter's volunteering given him the ability to empathize with victims of human rights abuses, but he has seen how proper legal representation can increase the chances of refugees to successfully claim asylum.
"It makes me sick to think about the applicants who have no representation, and for this reason, I want to be part of the Clinic so I can provide victims with a fair chance at justice, safety, and freedom," he said.
Peter believes his work in the IHRC will help give victims a voice while providing them with a fair chance at justice, safety and freedom. "I want to work with the Clinic to help the downtrodden escape discrimination, torture and unjustified punishment. While I may not be able to put an immediate stop to intolerance based on gender, religion or sexual orientation, I know the IHRC's work sends a message that human rights violations will never be tolerated."
Ian Henry, 2L
Ian Henry found a passion for international law and human rights while working for the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs. He researched bilateral and multilateral arms control agreements, and found a particular interest in the important role that security plays in development.
"Under the mentorship of Ambassador John Hirsch, Ian got a first-hand look at international criminal justice by analyzing the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the successes and failures of UN peacekeeping operations"
Under the mentorship of Ambassador John Hirsch, Ian got a first-hand look at international criminal justice by analyzing the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the successes and failures of UN peacekeeping operations,
As an undergraduate, Ian majored in diplomacy and world affairs. "I'm really excited about the IHRC's work, and am looking forward to advocating for victims of human rights abuses through law, and contributing to the efforts to bring perpetrators of atrocity crimes to justice," he said.
Ian is co-president of the International Law and Relations Organization, and is a board member of the USC Law Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), which helps refugees avoid persecution by partnering with local law firms and providing legal representation and advocacy to assist in the resettlement process.
Michelle Shaffie , 3L
Michelle spent many of her childhood summers in Iran with her grandparents, where she witnessed social injustices that can occur in countries across the globe. Whether she was witnessing violent crackdowns on peaceful protests or hearing stories of friends who had been imprisoned without trial, Michelle decided at a very young age that she would use public service and education to fight against those sorts of injustices.
"Michelle spent many of her childhood summers in Iran with her grandparents, where she witnessed social injustices that can occur in countries across the globe. As an international relations major at UC Davis, Michelle raised money for refugees, lobbied for changes in Washington, D.C. and Sacramento, and taught other students about mass atrocities and genocide issues in Darfur and Chad."
As an international relations major at UC Davis, Michelle raised money for refugees, lobbied for changes in Washington, D.C. and Sacramento, and taught other students about mass atrocities and genocide issues in Darfur and Chad. At USC Law, Michelle has actively represented her Iraqi clients through The Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP).
She sees the experience at USC Law's International Human Rights Clinic as the perfect opportunity to complement her previous experiences and future goals. "I want to learn more about the development of international legal systems," she said. "I believe that the solutions to many of the world's human rights abuses require holistic approaches that integrate multiple sectors. I really appreciate that the IHRC not only does direct legal work, but also works on advocacy tools and lobbying."
Michelle is most interested in the areas of law where child advocacy, criminal law, and international human rights intersect, such as in human trafficking and refugees fleeing from conflict. She spent her 1L summer at the Alliance for Children's Rights, and was a certified research clerk at the Santa Clara County Office of the Public Defender during her 2L summer. Working at the Public Defender's Office reaffirmed her belief that the justice system and due process rights are not to be taken for granted, she said.
"I look forward to applying my educational background in international relations and law to real cases through the clinic," she said. "I not only hope to gain practical skills, but to also contribute my enthusiasm and distinct viewpoint to the areas of international human rights and international criminal law."
Professor Hannah Garry, Director
USC Law's Director of the new International Human Rights Clinic, Professor Hannah Garry, was just 21 years old when she began investigating and documenting human rights abuses against refugees in East Africa.
As a field researcher hired by Oxford University and as a volunteer with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Garry spent 18 months assigned to interview, photograph and write reports on exploited refugees from Rwanda, Sudan and the Congo. Working in Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia, she lived in refugee camps and visited urban slums interviewing refugees fleeing from genocide and armed conflict. She documented rapes, recruitment of child soldiers, torture and forced labor.
After witnessing forced recruitment of boys from a refugee camp and later an entire Sudanese refugee village razed to the ground at gunpoint, Garry decided she no longer wanted to be a neutral observer on the sidelines. "I was appalled to find that after fleeing from unspeakable atrocities, refugees were facing serious abuses in exile," she said. "At this moment I knew I wanted to help them in a more tangible way. I wanted to be able to help them advocate for their rights through law."
Garry graduated from Berkeley Law School, and within two years, was back in Africa and The Hague, working for the Appeals Chamber Judges at the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. For three years, she worked on cases trying perpetrators of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.
"When I began working at the international tribunals, it was as if I had come full circle. In Africa, I sought to bring attention to the plight of refugees, many of whom were survivors of mass atrocities. In The Hague, I was able to participate in the trials of those responsible for making them refugees in the first place. Through this work, the goal was to bring justice to the victims and prevent such horrible crimes and massive refugee flows from ever happening again."
"Garry joined USC Law in August 2010 and, with the launching of its new International Human Rights Clinic, is now training the next generation of law students to use their degree towards fighting human rights abuses."
Prior to joining USC in 2010, Prof. Garry was visiting faculty for three years at the University of Colorado School of Law where she taught international law courses and supervised students on cases involving Guantanamo detainee representation as well as Alien Tort Statute litigation.
Garry has been a visiting lecturer on human rights law at Peking University Law School in Beijing; a visiting scholar at the European Court of Human Rights researching deportation of asylum seekers from Europe; and a lecturer on refugee law and human rights for humanitarian aid workers at the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in San Remo, Italy.
She has spoken and written on protection of refugee rights in East Africa under national and international law; protection of refugee rights under the European Convention on Human Rights; asylum law and policy within the European Union; state responsibility and compensation for refugee flows under international law; victims' rights and restorative justice in international criminal law; corporate criminal responsibility under international criminal law; and corporate social responsibility and international human rights law.
Garry earned her J.D. from Berkeley Law, a Master's in International Affairs from Columbia University, and a graduate certificate in Forced Migration Studies with distinction from Oxford University, UK.
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