10/16/17

Defending the Right to Life

One of the CGJ's five Areas of Focus is protecting children. Whether children are abused, orphaned, sacrificed, or aborted, we must protect them. For the unborn, the CGJ is committed to advocating that they too are human beings who possess the most foundational human right: the right to life. 

Indeed, advocating for the unborn is a direct fulfillment of Scripture’s mandate to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.” Proverbs 31:8.



The United Nations Human Rights Committee recently submitted a new draft General Comment to Article 6’s guarantee of the right to life in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Shockingly, the Committee’s comment interprets “the right to life” to include an obligation that States provide women access to abortion in certain cases. Thus, rather than recognize that unborn children are included within Article 6, the Committee interpreted Article 6 to include a right to abortion.

Regent Law professors and CGJ directors Jeff Brauch and Ernie Walton, in conjunction with the CGJ Student Staff, submitted a comment to the United Nations Human Rights Committee arguing that abortion is not a protected right under Article 6, Right to Life, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and that unborn children should be included among the “human beings” to whom the right to life applies.

Several other countries, individuals, and organizations, including one of our partner organizations, ADF International, also drafted comments in an effort to persuade the committee to remove the language with respect to abortion.


10/15/17

Alumni Profile: John Balouziyeh

 Many of Regent Law's 2,500+ alumni have worked or are presently working to bring justice to the oppressed and promote the rule of law around the world. We hope you enjoy reading the following alumni profiles, which represent just a small portion of our many alumni literally changing the world.

John Balouziyeh
Class of 2008

John Balouziyeh is an attorney at the international law firm, Dentons, where he advises clients on international law, foreign investment, defense contracting and government procurements. His work with the Norwegian Refugee Council and International Refugee Assistance Project has been nominated for CSR awards by Legal Week / CCME, The American Lawyer and The International Financial Law Review, and won Legal Week / CCME’s “CSR Team of the Year” awards in 2015, 2016 and 2017. 

John is the author of Hope and a Future: The Story of Syrian Refugees (Time Books, 2016), which is available as a paperback, hardcover, eBook and audio book (Jechco Studios, 2017). John and the audio book narrator, Gary Roelofs, are donating all of their book royalties to humanitarian agencies assisting Syrian refugees.


10/13/17

Report from Regent Alum John Balouziyeh

Jeff Brauch
I’m pleased to pass on this encouraging and challenging report from Regent alum John Balouziyeh. John is a long-time Center supporter who personally models the caring advocacy for the poor, oppressed, and enslaved that the Center is all about. While at Regent, John worked tirelessly to develop international opportunities for Regent students.  As President of the International Law Society, he took what had been a strong but largely informational group and turned it into one that sent numerous students overseas for conferences and, more important, internships.  John personally served as an intern in Sudan, Costa Rica, and elsewhere.  John also donated his personal time to translate Regent faculty books into Spanish so that the ideas contained in them could have a global reach.

Since John left Regent, I have followed his progress with admiration.  Not surprisingly, John has continued to achieve success and serve others wherever he has gone.  Most recently he has served as a project lawyer with European Lawyers in Lesvos (Greece) serving refugees fleeing war and persecution, most coming from the Middle East. I think you will enjoy his report of that work.


Jeffrey A. Brauch
Professor
Executive Director, Center for Global Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law

* * *


John Balouziyeh, Attorney at Dentons Law Firm

I recently returned from Moria Refugee Camp in Lesvos, Greece, where I served as a project lawyer with European Lawyers in Lesvos (“ELIL”), a legal aid organization that serves refugees fleeing war and persecution in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and the broader Middle East and North Africa. The experience of working with refugees, who toiled for weeks or even months to reach the gateway to Europe, was moving on many fronts. These refugees landed on the shores of Lesvos after fleeing from the most atrocious crimes of the twenty-first century, including genocide, torture, sexual slavery and other war crimes. In this article, I will share my reflections on my experience and also ways that you can help.

Courtesy of John Balouziyeh: Some refugees in Moria have lived in tents such as this one for as long as eight or nine months, pending decisions on their asylum applications from the European Asylum Support Office

Background

The civil wars in Syria and Iraq, coupled with the war in Afghanistan and political unrest throughout the broader Middle East, has led to the greatest humanitarian crisis of the twenty-first century. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are 65.6 million displaced people globally, the highest level since the end of World War II. Famine, war and persecution have led millions of refugees to flee from their homes in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. For thousands of these refugees, their first steps on European soil are taken on the island of Lesvos, Greece, just a few miles from the Turkish coast.

Upon their arrival to Lesvos, refugees are registered and assigned to one of several refugee camps. They then receive their identity cards, a medical evaluation and a date for an interview with the European Union’s (E.U.) European Asylum Support Office or with the Greek Asylum Service.

Many of these refugees arrive without a clear understanding of the asylum process, or of the criteria for granting asylum under the 1951 Refugee Convention. ELIL assists them by providing information, counseling and legal assistance. A team of ELIL project lawyers, accompanied by translators and legal assistants, act as refugees’ legal counsel, advising them of their rights, the process for applying for asylum, and the criteria for international and subsidiary protection.

To date, ELIL has provided legal assistance to over 1,800 cases (over 2,500 people in total) fleeing persecution in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Algeria, Eritrea and other countries. Working with ELIL, I have been able to join other project lawyers in preparing asylum seekers for their first instance interviews, and helping ELIL reach a 64% success rate of first instance decisions in cases that were granted international protection. 

Courtesy of John Balouziyeh: A refugee boy fishes in Mytilene with some string and a bucket provided by UNHCR

Courtesy of John Balouziyeh: Children do not undertake the precarious journey to Lesvos carrying their favorite toys. Instead, when they reach Moria, they play with whatever improvised toys their imaginations surmise. Here, they have transformed some abandoned cartons and rope into makeshift wagons

Day in the Life of an ELIL Project Lawyer 

While at Moria, I worked with a team of attorneys from France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Spain and the U.K., as well as legal assistants from Germany and the Netherlands, and translators from Iran and the U.S. When our team reached ELIL’s container at Moria Refugee Camp each morning, we were greeted by a long queue of asylum seekers. Throughout the day, we were inundated with inquiries, clients and calls. We saw victims of torture fleeing their countries due to political or religious persecution; unaccompanied minors seeking to be reunited with their families; families that dodged bullets and bombs while fleeing to Turkey; asylum seekers that have been kidnapped and held in ISIS indoctrination camps before being released; Iraqis who have been captured, detained and flagellated by militias because they belonged to the wrong religious sect or ethnic group; Yezidis who have been raped and forced into sexual slavery. These clients come to us with visible scars of war, but their hope for a future is unconquerable.

Volunteers in the camp work six days a week to keep up with an ever-increasing caseload, preparing applicants for their first instance interviews with the European Asylum Support Office. We run mock interviews, advise refugees on the criteria that will be used to evaluate their cases under the Refugee Convention (a reasonable fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion, if forced to return to the last country of residence), and assist applicants in preparing evidence to support their applications. This evidence often consists of letters, photos, newspaper articles and medical reports. We have also prepared at least 90 cases that have been accepted under the family reunification mandate of the Dublin III Regulation.

Although I have been heavily involved in refugee work since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, nothing has prepared me for serving as a Project Lawyer with ELIL. Project attorneys must garner strength and mental toughness when sitting in a room with a refugee family, listening to them recount why they fled Iraq or Syria when their cities came under occupation and indiscriminate shelling, and how they witnessed the deaths or drowning of their brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers or children as they undertook the precarious journey to Europe. It is one thing to review a medical statement corroborating lung damage caused by gas chambers and other evidence of barbaric torture; it is another thing to witness for oneself the flagellation marks, the bullet holes and the burn scars of clients fleeing from war. Nothing can prepare you for a child who recounts how both his parents and sister were murdered by a militia in cold blood, and how he felt helpless and unable to go to the authorities for help. I have had several clients break down in tears while speaking with me. I always try to keep my composure, but on more than one occasion, I could not hold back my tears.

Challenges of Working at Moria Refugee Camp

Work at Moria Refugee Camp is deeply rewarding, but it is not always easy. Tensions often mount among refugees who have been waiting eight to nine months for asylum decisions. Many of them feel imprisoned while awaiting their decisions in the camp. When tensions boil over, riots ensue.

It was a sad moment when ELIL’s legal clinic container was burned down in riots last year, and an even sadder moment when the replacement container was again incinerated in riots earlier this summer. Undeterred, ELIL project lawyers rolled up their sleeves after each incident and got right to work on restoring what was lost. Their determination in serving refugees, even when it means putting themselves in harm’s way, is inspiring.

Importance of ELIL’s work

Most asylum seekers attend their first instance interviews without having consulted a lawyer. ELIL is the only organization that provides asylum seekers with information and tailored advice at the first stage of the asylum process. Believing that the provision of independent pro bono legal assistance is a vital human right, ELIL offers legal consultations to help applicants prepare for their first instance interviews. The project aims to ensure that every person seeking international protection is able to consult an independent lawyer at no cost.

ELIL’s legal service is invaluable because the first instance interview is the most critical stage in the asylum application process. Asylum seekers only have one chance to make their case for international protection, yet most applicants attend their first instance interviews without ever having spoken with an attorney. Without ELIL’s pro bono legal assistance, many refugees might not give full accounts of their stories, or might hold back critically important details of torture or other traumatic episodes, since recounting these details can be so emotionally taxing. Others might fail to present the evidence required to meet their burden of proving the persecution that they fear. For many refugees, ELIL’s important work could thus spell the difference between asylum and deportation.

What You Can Do 

The needs of the humanitarian community are overwhelmed on the island of Lesvos. There are not enough doctors, lawyers, protection officers, search and rescue teams and first aid volunteers to address the dozens—and sometimes hundreds—of refugees that land on this island each day. There is no shortage of organizations that seek staff and volunteers to assist with their ever-growing caseloads. For example, ELIL seeks attorneys licensed to practice law in Europe to assist with asylum applications. ELIL also seeks interpreters, with Arabic, French and Dari skills being the most critical needs at the present time. Other organizations requiring assistance include the Boat Refugee Foundation, which seeks doctors, including general practitioners and specialists in emergency care, intensive care, pediatrics, surgery and internal medicine. Emergency Response Center International also seeks volunteers for its search and rescue team, as well as Arabic-language interpreters. Whatever your skills or experience, there is a place for you at Lesvos, whether it is in emergency medicine, legal aid, administration, social media, IT or fundraising.

The possibilities for engagement are limited only by the imagination. For example, my law firm, Dentons, provides pro bono legal assistance and strategic advice to ELIL. Being led by our offices in Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin, Dentons is offering a wide range of pro bono assistance to ELIL, including, most recently, incorporating ELIL’s legal entity, Gemeinn├╝tzige Gesellschaft mit beschr├Ąnkter Haftung (gGmbH) - a German limited-liability charitable organization, which will be established in Germany and registered in Greece. Dentons also provides pro bono legal services to the Norwegian Refugee Council and other non-governmental organizations through our offices in Riyadh, Dubai, Amman, Beirut and Istanbul.

Courtesy of John Balouziyeh: The author (second from the right) with ELIL’s team of project lawyers



A Call to Action

Let us not turn a blind eye to the suffering of refugees and retort with indifference, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Let us instead reaffirm our common humanity and respond as though these refugees were our own mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. When a child is left orphaned by a war, it should be as though our own child has been left to fend for himself in a cold, indifferent world. There is a role for each of us to play in alleviating his suffering. This role can be as simple as writing a check, but it can be much more. Whether you are an architect, attorney, carpenter, engineer, entrepreneur, journalist, photographer or teacher, there is a role you can play in relieving suffering and restoring normalcy to lives impacted by war.

In joining refugees in rebuilding their lives and reclaiming their dreams, we restore their hope and revive their faith in the future. In sowing bountifully, we will reap bountifully, for seeds of hope generously planted will yield a generous harvest—a bright future, a world that guarantees the dignity and worth of all people and secures their fundamental rights and freedoms. Let us all work together towards a world where hope overcomes all things.

About the Author 
John Balouziyeh is an attorney at the international law firm, Dentons, where he advises clients on international law, foreign investment, defense contracting and government procurements. His work with the Norwegian Refugee Council and International Refugee Assistance Project has been nominated for CSR awards by Legal Week / CCME, The American Lawyer and The International Financial Law Review, and won Legal Week / CCME’s “CSR Team of the Year” awards in 2015, 2016 and 2017. John is the author ofHope and a Future: The Story of Syrian Refugees (Time Books, 2016), which is available as a paperback, hardcover, eBook and audio book (Jechco Studios, 2017). John and the audio book narrator, Gary Roelofs, are donating all of their book royalties to humanitarian agencies assisting Syrian refugees.

Works Cited

“Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2016,” UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency (2016), available at < http://www.unhcr.org/statistics/unhcrstats/5943e8a34/global-trends-forced-displacement-2016.html>.

European Union Regulation No. 604/2013, which determines the EU Member State responsible for examining an asylum claim and provides for the transfer of the asylum seeker to that State.

10/5/17

Regent Law Ranked Top 15 Law School for Human Rights by the National Jurist

Regent University School of Law was one of 11 law schools in the country to receive an "A" rating in Human Rights law and ranked in the top 15 of all law schools for human rights law by the National Jurist. 



Center for Global Justice Academic & Administrative Director and Assistant Dean of Admissions, S. Ernie Walton, who is a Regent Law grad himself, was thrilled to see the rating: “We are honored to receive this recognition, and we praise the Lord for what He has done,” said Walton. “In just seven years, Regent Law has grown from a school with only a few human rights-related programs to a school with a thriving human rights Center that is equipping students for a career in human rights and providing invaluable support to front-line human rights organizations.”

The Back to School 2017 issue of PreLaw Magazine, a National Jurist publication, ranked the top schools for Criminal Law, Human Rights, and Health Law. An "A rating" represented a score of 90% or higher for schools who earned percentages for a human rights concentration, clinic, center, journal, student group, and certificate.

The Regent Law Center for Global Justice, founded in 2010, equips students and supports human rights organizations in the following ways:

  • 90 Regent Law students have joined the CGJ student staff and logged over 11,500 hours of pro bono hours for human rights organizations around the world, donating an estimated value of $865,575 in legal work.
  • 160 Regent Law and Handong International Law students have been sent out as CGJ summer interns by the Center, logging approximately 43,200 hours of pro-bono legal work at an estimated value of over $3.2 million.
  • The CGJ just sent out its first two Regent Law graduates on fully funded fellowships to work in Uganda for one year.
  • The CGJ sponsors 25 Regent Law courses that will help prepare students for a career in human rights.
  • Almost 3,000 people have been educated on topics related to human rights and the rule of law through symposia and other events.





10/4/17

IJM Kenya Project Update

By CGJ Student Staff Member Destinee Easley

This Fall I’m working on my second project for International Justice Mission (IJM). I first heard about the work of IJM my freshman year of college, and I went to D.C. to tour their office the following year. As I listened, I remember being amazed by this “novel” idea that mission work could include legal work, and, even more than that, by the fact that I could be a missionary who brought a tangible form of justice to hurting people. This was a truly life-changing realization, and it impacted the choices I made for my future, including going to law school.

So, for this reason, when I read “IJM” on the list of project options during my first semester as an intern for the Center, I jumped at the opportunity. Last spring I worked on a project for IJM that dealt with Domestic Violence and Custody issues, and the research was heartbreaking and enlightening all at the same time.

Of course, this fall when the new semester rolled around and, yet again, I saw the option to work on a project for IJM, I jumped even quicker. Now, here I am, a month into the new school year, helping to lead the research for another IJM project. The awesomeness of this moment is not lost on me. Realizing that four years ago, when I was touring the IJM offices, the Lord foresaw this very moment makes me smile, big time, and reminds me that no matter how small an event in my life may seem, it is not insignificant—it’s all a part of shaping my story.

Due to confidentiality issues, I cannot share much detail about the research. For more information, see one of my team member’s posts here. But what I can say is that researching the law in foreign countries can be challenging, and often we find that we are investigating somewhat “novel” issues or cases of first impression for these courts. However, by sacrificing a little bit of time to scour the internet and critically apply the sources we can find, we save valuable time for the IJM staff. This translates to a more effective ministry for a staff that has important and time-sensitive work to do. And for the opportunity to contribute in this way, I am so very grateful.

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice student staff member.  The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.

9/29/17

Student Staff Update from Courtney Knox


I am spending this semester helping Shared Hope International, one of our partner organizations, with the Protected Innocence Challenge. This is the second time I have had the privilege to work on this project. I love that it continues to challenge me and open my eyes to the many issues that child sex trafficking victims face every day. There is much work to be done in this field and I am honored to be even a small part in the fight against the atrocity that is human trafficking.

The specific issue we are tasked with this semester is identifying each states alternative processes to dependency and delinquency laws. Many states have what are called child-in-need-of-supervision (CHINS) laws, or something similar to CHINS. Our focus is on reviewing those laws and identifying the process and procedures associated with them. Our goal is to determine the consequences of going through the CHINS (or CHINS-like) process in order for Shared Hope to determine whether it will be a good thing for child sex trafficking victims to go through rather than a delinquency or dependency proceeding.

So far most states we have reviewed do have an alternate process, whether it is explicitly CHINS or just CHINS-like. It is very encouraging to know that there may be better avenues for trafficking victims to go through rather than traditional juvenile proceedings that might not always promote the best interests or needs of a child sex trafficking victim. I love this project because if we do identify that CHINS will best serve child sex trafficking victims, Shared Hope can then advocate on behalf of them and encourage states to move sex trafficking victims through this process. That encourages me to always work diligently and enthusiastically, trusting in the Lord to know that He will continue to bless our work and use it to serve the Shared Hope team and the trafficking victims they fight for every day.

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice student staff member.  The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.

9/28/17

CGJ Welcomes Julie and Allen Anjo

On September 19, the Center for Global Justice welcomed guest speakers Julie and Allen Anjo, General Counsel for YMAM.  The Anjos have close connections with Regent Law: Julie worked in the Regent Law Admissions department and Allen is a Regent Law and Government grad (’13), and the Anjos often host Center for Global Justice summer interns.

Allen and Julie Anjo (and their children) with (L to R) Professor Jeffrey Brauch and CGJ Law Staff Members
Anna Colby, Moriah Schmidt, Lorri Ann Drazan, Courtney Know, and Destinee Easley
The Anjos spoke to the group on their mission of bringing justice for the least of these and how they live it out day-to-day through the General Counsel’s office at the University of the Nations Kona (UNK) (a ministry of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Kona).

Julie spoke of how she was drawn to law school after seeing problems that she could not fix as a layperson. As General Counsel for a non-profit missionary organization, they are making a huge difference by keeping the organization compliant with legal standards and policies, among other things.

Center for Global Justice intern Moriah Schmidt was especially excited to welcome the Anjos. Moriah interned for the Anjos this summer at the UNK General Counsel’s office, in Kona, Hawaii. “I can’t tell you just how encouraging it is to hear that the work we are doing in law school really does matter,” said Moriah. “It’s so easy to lose sight of that while drowning in 1L Contracts and Property law, or sinking in the work that piles on during 2L and 3L year. Some of us (like myself) were drawn to law to help those who are needy, the oppressed, the poor, but find it much harder to visualize how we are going to act on it.”

Read Allen’s profile story at http://bit.ly/allenanjo.