Friday, July 3, 2015

Twenty Days of Interns: Daniel Tirle

This summer, 20 Center for Global Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law interns are spread across four states and ten countries, going not only with the Gospel, but also with legal training and a passion to see the Lord’s justice carried out on a fallen earth.


Daniel interned with People to People Romania, a Christian charity that helps institutionalized and poor children with their basic needs (e.g., food, health care, good quality education) and with opportunities to transition into the workforce once they leave the social system. Daniel, a rising 2L, was primarily responsible for assisting institutionalized young men transition into the workforce and/or college once they finish high school by helping with their applications and securing economic support until they are financially independent--all this, while encouraging these young men to seek and meet the One true Provider of all needs.

Whether fighting sex trafficking in India and Indonesia, advocating against partial-birth abortion in Europe, advancing the rule of law in Uganda, or securing religious freedom in Bulgaria and South Africa, our interns are making a difference.

See where all of our interns are working here >

Donate to our Internship Grant Program >

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Twenty Day of Interns: Andrea Atkinson

This summer, 20 Center for Global Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law interns are spread across four states and ten countries, going not only with the Gospel, but also with legal training and a passion to see the Lord’s justice carried out on a fallen earth.


Andrea worked for the National District Attorneys Association, which is located in Alexandria, Virginia. The NDAA was formed in 1950 by local prosecutors to give a focal point to advance their causes and issues at the national level. The issues NDAA focuses on include child abuse, animal abuse, and gang violence.
In addition to representing the views of prosecutors at the national level, the NDAA also provides prosecutors with various resources and training seminars. Andrea's primary project was to research and compile sentencing guidelines for various crimes, including those against minors, for prosecutors to use in every state.

Whether fighting sex trafficking in India and Indonesia, advocating against partial-birth abortion in Europe, advancing the rule of law in Uganda, or securing religious freedom in Bulgaria and South Africa, our interns are making a difference.

See where all of our interns are working here >

Donate to our Internship Grant Program >

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Twenty Days of Interns: Joseph Kohm III

This summer, 20 Center for Global Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law interns are spread across four states and ten countries, going not only with the Gospel, but also with legal training and a passion to see the Lord’s justice carried out on a fallen earth.


Joe spent six weeks in Tangerang, Indonesia at Universitas Pelita Harapan (UPH), a Christian undergraduate university that is part of a network of Christian schools directed and funded by the Lippo Group. Joe worked for Professors Patrick Talbot and Jamie Williams of the law faculty by examining Indonesia's human trafficking laws and creating a legal toolkit to educate judges and lawyers about the relevant authorities in sex trafficking cases and to combat corruption. Joe also assisted Professor Williams in researching what Indonesian laws apply to centers that provide education for refugees who were persecuted for their faith. 
Finally, he also aided Professor Talbot in finalizing and publishing Professor Talbot's law review article, "Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty Clashes in the U.S.: An American Constitutional Challenge." Joe considers this experience to be something "God paved the way for" and he is "thankful to be blessed with this chance to help bring justice to vulnerable people in a small way.

Whether fighting sex trafficking in India and Indonesia, advocating against partial-birth abortion in Europe, advancing the rule of law in Uganda, or securing religious freedom in Bulgaria and South Africa, our interns are making a difference.

See where all of our interns are working here >

Donate to our Internship Grant Program >

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Center Intern Update: Chelsea Mack

The following is a personal summer intern update from Chelsea Mack, who is interning with Land and Equity Movement, Uganda, a movement which aims to unite the efforts of everyone with a contribution to offer to make land work for the poor.

The Human Rights Centre Uganda Session
Hello from Kampala, Uganda!  I am completing an internship this summer with the Land and Equity Movement in Uganda (LEMU).  LEMU focuses on establishing and protecting land rights for individuals.  The organization acts as a liaison between communities and the Government and policymakers to communicate what laws exist and what laws need to be enacted to better protect land rights.

LEMU deals primarily with the problem of land grabbing, which is defined simply as the illegal taking of another’s land. Likely victims of land grabbing include orphans, widows, the elderly, and the poor.  Men who are able to use physical force to protect their land are those who triumph in these situations.  These men run the weak and poor off their land through means of violence, witchcraft, crop destruction, and other means.  This is where LEMU comes in, stepping in as an advocate for these victims to protect their land rights. 
Hotel Africana

The organization strives to protect these rights through the customary tenure system, which is a means of promoting and supporting the clan and community structures.  The objective is to build the clans’ capacity to handle land disputes between themselves, rather than the parties of a case going to the state courts.  The clans know the history of the land of their members and are capable of clarifying confusion over the land rights.

My first week of the internship was spent reading LEMU’s policy briefs, presentations, and other documents to get acquainted with their work.  The majority of my work right now is consisting of completing a report that LEMU began a few years ago that explains the organization’s work and research results.  During my second week, I traveled with my supervisor to Lira (northern Uganda) and Soroti (eastern Uganda) for a workshop.  LEMU is one of nineteen partner organizations of a group, TECLARA, that is focused on land grabbing issues in the Teso region (eastern Uganda).  TECLARA convenes for occasional workshops to discuss the work that they want to accomplish as individual organizations and as a whole body.  The objective of the meeting was to create a 6-month/1-year work plan for the organizations to carry out and allow the organizations to share their current and future capabilities to complete the work.

Working at the National CSO Fair
This past week I attended the National CSO (Civil Society Organization) Fair with a coworker on behalf of LEMU.  The two-day event was held at Hotel Africana, a popular location for conventions and important events in Kampala.   The Fair shared similarities with a professional business fair in the US, except for the song and dance performances throughout the first day.  During the fair, individuals and members of the NGOs walked around to the booths to inquire about the work of each NGO.  I am grateful for the opportunity to attend because I was pushed to know enough about LEMU’s work to inform the individuals and answer questions.  There were many NGOs present and their work covered a plethora of concepts including HIV/AIDS awareness, ending child marriage, youth empowerment, women and girls’ health, land rights, and women empowerment, among other things.

Visiting a Craft Village
I was also able to attend a session at the Fair that was hosted by the Uganda Human Rights Centre.  The discussion was about the protection and promotion of human rights being the propeller for sustainable development.  The panelists included an Advisor from the Justice Law and Order Sector Secretariat, the Executive Director from the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights, and the Commissioner of Human Rights of the legal department of the Uganda Police.  They commented on ways to reduce the corruption taking place in the country, gender issues, youth empowerment, and the need for cooperation between the police and NGOs/CSOs.

Uganda is a beautiful country (land and people included) that I am blessed to be able to experience!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Regent University School of Law Excels in Bar Exam Preparation

In its spring 2015 edition, The National Jurist, a publication for aspiring law students, listed Regent University School of Law among schools such as Duke University, Wake Forrest University and Syracuse University as having highly effective practical training in the legal fields.

The National Jurist also listed Regent as among 33 schools in the nation for its stellar bar exam preparation, listing its 80.91 percent bar pass rate among its competitors such as the University of Virginia, Penn State Law, and Baylor University.

Read the full National Jurist article.

"These objective measures validate the excellence of our curriculum, faculty and students. A school cannot excel without excellent students, and we are blessed with a quality student body. Our curriculum does an exceptional job of preparing our students both substantively and practically to excel in the practice of law," said Michael Hernandez, dean of Regent's School of Law.

Programs within the school, such as the university's moot court competition teams and the Center for Human Rights, Global Justice, and the Rule of Law, along with proximity and access to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), contribute to Regent's consistent ability to provide students with ample courtroom and writing experience before they are launched into the legal field.

This year's Moot Court program finished 8th in the nation. Students who attend law school at Regent are assured that they are receiving the best education in and out of the classroom, a fact that Hernandez does not take for granted.

"Our faculty has stellar credentials and has been ranked for two consecutive years in the top 10 in Princeton Review surveys of American law students. I am blessed to lead a team of such exceptional people, supported by excellent programs," said Hernandez.

Learn more about Regent University School of Law.


By Brett Wilson

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Center Intern Update: Kraig Smikel

My internship with the Rule of Law Institute in Sofia, Bulgaria, has been an “experience” from the minute I arrived. The phrase, “hit the ground running,” perfectly defines my first hour in Sofia. Within the first hour I went from the airport to my flat, signed the lease, and then headed to a meeting with my supervisor, Latchezar “Latcho” Popov, and other local Christian attorneys. The meeting was an excellent moment to discuss the legal atmosphere of Bulgaria and reflect on how we felt as Christians in the legal profession.

The next day I was given my first project. The project required me to look at proposed legislation for the Bulgarian Criminal Code and compare it among neighboring jurisdictions such as Germany, Great Britain, Italy, and Spain. Currently, Bulgaria does not provide alternative sentencing for criminals with drug addictions. Because of this, the therapeutic community of Betel Bulgaria used our research to petition the Criminal Code to establish alternative sentencing for drug addicts who have performed minor criminal actions under the influence of drugs.

Beyond this, I am currently working on two projects. The first is a case the Institute is appealing to the European Court of Human Rights (“ECHR”); the second is a memorandum that analyzes proposed amendments to the Judiciary Act of Bulgaria. These being more long-term projects, I will address them in my next post, so stay tuned folks.

Latcho has been a great supervisor. Even with my short time here I have already begun to see him as not only a mentor, but truly a friend. His conviction towards integrity and the rule of law is beyond impressive. It is amazing to see a man who has dedicated his life’s work to these concepts and how hard he works every day. Latcho has also been a great host—such a great host that he scheduled for me to meet Justice Furnadzhieva of the Republic of Bulgaria Supreme Court of Cassation. This was an amazing experience as the Justice not only gave me a tour of the Palace of Justice in Sofia, but also shared her personal testimony with me on how truly anything can happen. When she began studying law in '83, she never imagined she would ever become a judge because of her Evangelical Christian background and the control of the USSR and Communism in Bulgaria. Then, communism fell in ‘89, and because of that she now sits on the highest court in the nation. It was truly a great experience that educated me and left me extremely grateful for the opportunities presented to me.

So far the work and experience I have received have been very beneficial. It’s one thing to do legal work, but when you get to do that work and understand the culture that surrounds that work, it makes that work much more meaningful. Thanks to people like Latcho and Justice Furnadzhieva, and to God, true meaning has been brought to the work I am doing.

Read more intern updates >

Center Intern Update: Courtney Marasigan

The following is a personal summer intern update from Courtney Marasigan, who is interning with the Department of Public Prosecutions in Uganda (the equivalent of our Attorney General/Department of Justice).

Last Monday, instructions to write a report on torture awaited me at the headquarters of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP). Having come to Uganda for the purpose of pursuing a legal internship in human rights, my heart leapt for joy at this opportunity.

The Ugandan legislature enacted the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act, or Anti-Torture Law, in 2012. Since the law’s enactment, over 1,000 civil complaints of torture have been made, yet only 1 case of torture (Uganda v. Tumuhiirwe) has been tried criminally. However, the charge for Torture in this case was even downgraded to a charge for Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm based on a technicality. In other words, there have not been any criminal cases of torture tried in Uganda since the Act’s inception. A “Public Dialogue on the Implementation of the Anti-Torture Law” conference was scheduled for 24 June 2015 to examine the gaps in implementing the Act. 

Justice Mike Chibita, who is responsible for instituting criminal proceedings in all Ugandan courts as the Director of the DPP, tasked my fellow interns and me with collaboratively writing a multi-faceted report. The report included researching the history of torture in Uganda and the legal basis for the Act, surveying anti-torture laws in other countries, analyzing the pitfalls of the Act as well as the Tumuhiirwe case, and offering suggestions to improve the Act’s implementation.

The report bolstered Justice Chibita’s presentation as one of the conference’s keynote speakers. Among the attendants were representatives from several human rights organizations such as the Uganda Human Rights Commission, the Human Rights Centre of Uganda, the United Nations Convention against Torture, and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

One of my major takeaways from this project was getting to research the status of eradicating torture in other countries around the world. It was very interesting to learn that an anti-torture bill failed to pass in India because torture methods used by law enforcement are viewed as effective in the eyes of the public. On the other hand, the United Kingdom is thriving in establishing a National Preventive Mechanism as promoted by the United Nations.  The UK currently has 18 independent organizations that inspect places of detention where torture is most likely to occur. Having these independent bodies is imperative to combating ill-treatment since most acts of torture are committed by law enforcement agencies. Without this check on the system, many cases of torture would be swept under the rug.

I also found much excitement in examining where the Tumuhiirwe case went wrong. First, one co-worker and I went on an investigation that took us to probing the memory of the lead state prosecutor of the case. Then, my co-workers and I took turns advocating for opposing sides in order to better understand the nuances of why the torture charge was dropped. Ultimately, the facts of the case neither lined up with the spirit of the law nor met the elements of torture under the Act.

Last but not least, it was a great privilege for my co-workers and me to attend the conference. Our research came full circle when it was presented by Justice Chibita and then responded to by representatives from the various organizations. The dialogue between the attendants was very spirited and thought provoking due to the presence of so many pioneers in the field of curbing torture in Uganda. 

Overall, it was an invaluable experience that taught us firsthand the importance of broadening one’s perspective to learn from the systems and ideals of other countries—especially in the realm of human rights.

Read about our other Center interns >