Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Center Intern Update: Kraig Smikel

In front of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul
As I woke up on my last day at the Rule of Law Institute, I began to reminisce about my time here in Bulgaria and with the Institute. It’s crazy to think that just a little over five weeks ago I arrived in Sofia, and now it is my last day in the office, and after tomorrow I will be flying back home. The Institute has been a blessing. I have been able to do some real work that has made an impact. As promised, I will now provide some details about one of the projects that I consider the highlight of my work during my internship.

At first, this project was supposed to be a quick response to a request from the Sofia Bar Council about proposed amendments to the Bulgarian Law on the Judiciary, but it turned out to be something much larger. During a meeting with another Justice from the Supreme Court of Cassation, the Justice brought up one of the proposed amendments that we were writing a response for. The issue the Justice brought up was that the amendment required judiciary members to submit information about their religious affiliations to a committee that inspects their backgrounds to see if there are justifiable doubts as to the impartiality of a judicial member “arising from participation in a personified or unincorporated non-profit organizations (societies, clubs, lodges, etc.).” The apparent issue with this statement is that it is ambiguous, and the Justice was concerned that this committee could use religious affiliations as a reason to remove members from their positions by stating that they are a member of a “society, club, lodge, etc.” 

With the Egham RFC
Because of these concerns, I wrote a memorandum discussing these issues. The memorandum discussed how this amendment was ambiguous, as well as unconstitutional based upon the Bulgarian Constitution, and in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. The memo also provided definitions of “secret societies”, and applicable statutes from other European jurisdictions were provided to further address the issues. The memorandum experienced great success after its presentation at the Republic of Bulgaria Supreme Bar Council. Such success that the Bar Council published the memo on their website.

As stated, this project was the highlight of my work. In Bulgaria, there are issues with corruption in government authorities, especially the Judiciary. The proposed amendment would have been another way for corruption to occur, so if the memo made a difference in the battle against corruption, then I say that’s a major win and a move in the right direction against corruption and an improved Bulgaria.
In front of the Alexander Nevski Cathedral
As the famous phrase goes, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” With all of the hard work I have put in, I have had the honor of enjoying multiple experiences along the way. For example, I had the honor of presenting at the Rule of Law Institute’s 20th Anniversary Jubilee Forum, where I received an Honorary Diploma for my efforts. As stated in my last post, I was blessed with the opportunity to meet Justice Furnazhieva of the Republic of Bulgaria Supreme Court of Cassation and have a tour of the Palace of Justice. Also, I had the privilege to attend an exclusive lecture given by Justice Salim Joubran of the Supreme Court of Israel at the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice.

Along with the educational experiences, I have been blessed with the opportunity to adventure around Bulgaria and Europe. Other than exploring Sofia, I spent a weekend at the Black Sea visiting Burgas, Promorie, and the historic city of Nessebar. I had an amazing weekend in Panichishte, Bulgaria at Rila Mountain, where I was able to attend a camp for underprivileged youth where Latcho’s wife Lucy gave presentations to the youth. Also at Rila Mountain, I hiked to the Skavavitsa Waterfall and visited the Rila Monastery. Also, I spent a weekend—not long enough at all—in Istanbul, Turkey. I can definitely say that it’s been a great balance of hard work and fun, but overall an amazing experience.
At the Black Sea in Burgas

In conclusion, I have to say my time spent here has been a once in a lifetime experience. It’s amazing to look back and see how much I’ve done in six short weeks. I came across the globe and met Latcho, someone I truly call a dear friend. I was able to create work product that is actually making a difference in a culture that I have learned so much about. I also was overloaded with different types of experience.

In the end all I can is that God has honestly, truly, and undoubtedly blessed me with the life I have. He has shown, and continues to show me what he has planned for me, while providing me with the tools and mentors to achieve this goal. This internship with Latcho has been one small, but amazing step in that plan. I cannot wait to see the rest.


Here are some additional photos from my time here in Sofia:

At the Skavavitsa Waterfall at Rila Mountain



At the Rila Monastery


Latcho and I

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Twenty Days of Interns: So-Heon Park

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.

So-Heon interned with Advocates for Public Interest Law (APIL) in Seoul, South Korea. APIL is a public interest lawyers' organization that works to defend refugees, victims of human trafficking, stateless persons, long-term detained migrants, and human rights victims committed by Korean corporations abroad. 

So-Heon mainly researched EU law to assist attorneys who are working for refugees. She also translated a UNHCR guideline on "Prima Facie Recognition of Refugee Status" from English to Korean.


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 >

Monday, July 27, 2015

Twenty Days of Interns: Joshua Charles

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.

Joshua interned at the Jerusalem Institute of Justice (JIJ) in Israel. JIJ focuses on largely Israel-centric issues, but particularly the state of Palestinian human rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Joshua focused on expanding JIJ's relationships with various Palestinian contacts, as well as on a land dispute issue between Israel and a Christian Palestinian farmer south of Bethlehem.



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 >

Friday, July 24, 2015

Twenty Days of Interns: Kate Sawyer

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.
Kate spent her summer in Washington, D.C. working with the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that seeks to educate policymakers on issues related to adoption and foster care in an effort to remove policy barriers that hinder children from finding families. CCAI is dedicated to raising awareness about the millions of children around the world in need of permanent, safe, and loving homes.  Kate assisted with researching foster care and adoption issues and policies. She also assisted with CCAI's Foster Youth Internship Program by advising one of CCAI's Foster Youth Interns with a policy paper to be presented in a Congressional briefing.

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 23, 2015

Twenty Days of Interns: Julianna Battenfield

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.
Julianna interned with Advocates International South Africa, a branch of the international non-profit that links over 130,000 Christian legal advocates and jurists in over 156 nations. Advocates International works to promote the rule of law, justice, religious freedom, rights for families and children, and advocates for victims of abuse in order to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Julianna's primary project was working with the African Commission for Human and People's Rights to create a snapshot of where each African nation's Constitution and case law currently stands in the areas of family life and religious freedom (including Sharia law) that will be used all over Africa by advocates so that they may strategically encourage nations to work together in matters of religious freedom and family law. She also researched and wrote briefs and participated in cases involving religious freedom, hate speech, sexism, and race-relations issues while also working at an orphanage on the weekends.

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 22, 2015

Twenty Days of Interns: Kraig Smikel

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.
Kraig interned with Advocates International Europe's Rule of Law Institute in Sofia, Bulgaria. The Rule of Law Institute works to protect human rights through the rule of law. During his internship, Kraig's primary project was to draft a legal memorandum on what changes Bulgaria needed to make to its Criminal Code to better align it with the European Convention on Human Rights.  Kraig also had the incredible opportunity to present at the Rule of Law Institute's 20th Annual Jubilee Forum on how the rule of law has successfully worked in the United States to protect human rights. According to Kraig, "This internship has truly been a blessing, and I am so thankful for all the experiences I received."
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, July 21, 2015

Twenty Days of Interns: Natasha Delille

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.

Natasha started off her summer interning with ADF International, a Christian law firm based in Vienna, Austria that works to develop legal strategies that protect religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage and family around the world. Natasha was primarily responsible for researching topics such as the rights of the unborn child and drafting letters to the European Court of Human Rights.
Natasha later interned at Freedom Firm, a non-profit organization that works to combat sex trafficking in India by rescuing minor girls who have been sold into the commercial sex trade, restoring their identities, and seeking justice against those who perpetrate these crimes. Natasha is interning at Freedom Firm's office in Pune where Regent Law alum, Evan Henck, is the Regional Director. Natasha has travelled to different cities in India to hear Freedom Firm's cases argued in the High Courts, conducted legal research, and she has drafted a letter to the Commissioner of Police.

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 >