9/22/17

Student Staff Update from Aja Mallory


Student Staff Member Aja Mallory

This semester I have the privilege of researching statutes and case law for one of our partner organizations. Due to confidentiality, I cannot share the name of the organization or the place they are working. However, I am really excited to be a part of this project. The thought of people not having access to justice because of their socio-economic status is frustrating, but I am thankful that I get to be a part of the solution.

Specifically, I am researching the requirements for bringing class action lawsuits in a certain country. The question is whether the individuals who have lost relatives to police shootings that have never been investigated can sue as a group. In this nation, police officers often act with impunity and are not held accountable for injuring or killing the poor.

So far, I have found the relevant civil procedure statute that communicates the necessary rules to bring a class action lawsuit and who is eligible to be a part of those suits. Importantly, I noticed that the requirements for suing the government are governed by a different statute, so that will need further research. Lord willing, we will determine that a class action lawsuit can be brought so the government can be held accountable for taking advantage of the poor.

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. 


9/20/17

Uganda Fellowship Update from Chelsea Mack

During my first week of work in Uganda, I was able to spend a day with Peter from one of the Center's partner organizations, Kyampisi Childcare Ministries (KCM). Our time together was filled with planning work projects for the next year, meeting the KCM staff, and touring the 14-acre campus owned by the ministry. There is a lot of construction happening right now for new facilities for the children they serve. I was completely blown away by the depth of services that the ministry provides to child sacrifice victims.



One of my favorite parts of the tour was visiting their prayer mountain. Kyampisi, the location of the ministry, was once the primary area where witch doctors lived and this mountain was the area where they performed many human sacrifices. When KCM settled in, they were able to purchase the land, placed a cross on top of the rock where sacrificing took place, and now have intercessors pray from the mountain every week. They eventually plan to relocate their church to the mountain. This mountain is a true example of the light of Christ entering into the darkest places to bring hope and life.



I am honored and humbled to be able to serve alongside this ministry as well as alongside the faithful staff members of the DPP.

Learn more about the Center for Global Justice Fellowship Program >

Donate to Chelsea's page >

9/18/17

Constitution Day

This post was written by CGJ Academic & Administrative Director S. Ernie Walton.  Click here to read Ernie's post on Citizenship Day >



Today is Constitution day. It was on this day that the delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed our great Charter. While perhaps not apparent at first glance, the United States Constitution embodies the very principles that the Center for Global Justice exists to advance: human rights and the rule of law.

As the several States decided to form a Union, they needed to figure out how to create a government that could fulfill its functions without infringing on the rights of the states and the rights of individuals. Contrary to popular belief, however, the primary way in which our Founders sought to protect the states and the rights of individuals was not through the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights was an afterthought, added after the adoption of the Constitution by the First Congress. How, then, did the initial Constitution protect individual liberty without a Bill of Rights? The answer is through constitutional structure—separation of powers and checks and balances.

By separating power and allowing the separate powers (the three branches of government) to check each other through overlapping functions, tyranny would be eliminated. The esteemed Montesquieu stated it best: “Again, there is no liberty, if the power of judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers. Were it joined with the legislative, the life and liberty of the subject would be exposed to arbitrary control, for the judge would then be the legislator. Were it joined to the executive power, the judge might behave with all the violence of an oppressor.” Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws, vol. 1 (1748). In that same vein, the Supreme Court stated:

“Liberty is always at stake when one or more of the branches seek to transgress the separation of powers. Separation of powers was designed to implement a fundamental insight: Concentration of power in the hands of a single branch is a threat to liberty. . . . So convinced were the Framers that liberty of the person inheres in structure that at first they did not consider a Bill of Rights necessary. It was at Madison’s insistence that the First Congress enacted the Bill of Rights. It would be a grave mistake, however, to think a Bill of Rights in Madison’s scheme then or in sound constitutional theory now renders separation of powers of lesser importance.” Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417, 450 (1998) (Kennedy, J., concurring) (internal citations omitted).

To human rights advocates today, governmental structure as a means to advance liberty is often an afterthought. Today, human rights advocates around the globe advance the idea that the best way to protect human rights is through a bill of rights in a national Constitution, new legislation, or ratification of another human rights treaty, guaranteeing individual “right” after individual “right.” These “paper” rights, say the advocates, are what will really protect individuals.

While paper (constitutional) rights are certainly needed, they are meaningless if they cannot be secured. (And if they cannot be secured, they are not only meaningless, but actually harmful to human rights themselves. See Craig A. Stern, Human Rights or the Rule of Law --The Choice for East Africa?, _ Mich. St. Int'l L. Rev. _ (forthcoming 2015).)  

To secure individual rights, a nation must have a strong rule of law. The government itself must be made to follow the laws and uphold the rights of the people. But humans in power don’t just willingly follow the law. No, as sinful beings, humans in power often exploit that power at the expense of individual rights. Our founders understood this well, and for that reason they created check upon check in every power in the Constitution. As James Madison stated in Federalist 51:

“Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” The Federalist no. 51 (James Madison).

What, then, leads to the difference in strategies of advancing human rights through structure/separation of powers vs. human rights legislation? A person’s belief about human nature. If humans are sinful, the only way to effectively guarantee human rights is to “obligate the government to control itself.” But if government is filled with good-natured humans who really want to protect people, we simply need to legislate more human rights guarantees so the government can secure those rights and protect individuals. Obviously the latter is a flawed approach. Our Constitution is based on the belief that humans are sinful, and human rights advocates today would do well to remember this basic fact. Join with us in celebrating our Constitution and the worldview it embodies. 

by Ernie Walton

8/29/17

Fellowship Update: Pam in Uganda

In the midst of a lot of terrible news, I bring you some beautiful stories that I hope will you fill you with as much joy and excitement as they have filled me!


I have often spoken of “cultural change” in theoretical terms. Truthfully, it takes both good strategy (theory) and individuals who engage in gritty, hard work. Last week, I had a front row seat to actual, cultural change, and it was pretty incredible.
I jumped in to work just over two weeks ago, during what was the busiest two weeks of the year for our office. It felt a bit like jumping into a river and getting swept away by the current! But it was fun to immediately get to work and to build relationships quickly with many of the national staff here. Last week, especially, included major events for several of the departments here at IJM, and I had the privilege of participating in a few.
Judiciary & Prosecutors’ Training:
For the past three years, IJM has hosted, in conjunction with the DPP (Directorate of Public Prosecutions—comparable to the Attorney General’s office), an annual training for public prosecutors. IJM hosted a team of Australian barristers and judges to provide training in trial advocacy, as well as training in plea bargaining, and property grabbing offenses. Overall, we were able to provide prosecutors with incredible training, tools and resources.
This year, in addition to the DPP training, we hosted a training with Uganda’s Judicial Studies Institute (JSI) for judges and magistrates from across Uganda. As this is the first year, the training was two days long. Again, we were able to help facilitate incredible training sessions, tools and resources for judges and magistrates.
It’s exciting to see how IJM hosted these events in conjunction with the DPP and JSI. So, it is not IJM hosting the events alone, but rather providing support as the Ugandan government itself seeks to shape its future. At IJM, we use the phrase “bridge-builder.” I saw that in action last week, as the office was able to add value to the Judiciary, the DPP, and JSI simultaneously. These prosecutors, judges, and magistrates are over-worked, with little thanks and few resources, and it was exciting to be able to provide support to them.

Community Celebrations:
When I thought the week couldn’t get any better, I was invited to participate in a “Community Celebration” with IJM’s training team on Friday.
As background, the crime of “property grabbing” provides a different challenge than, for example, the crime of human trafficking. Society generally understands human trafficking and condemns it. In contrast, many communities don’t know of the protections the laws in Uganda provide for widows, and there are some deep cultural understandings around the idea of land inheritance.
In order to combat this challenge, the IJM training team has facilitated community leaders (LCs) in leading “community dialogues”—once a week for the last ten weeks in five different sub-counties. These community dialogues focused on sensitizing the communities to the plights of widows, as well as proper inheritance under the law, and they culminated in a day-long celebration for each sub-county. On Friday, I joined in on the final sub-county’s Community Celebration.
I was overwhelmed as I saw this community take ownership over the protection of widows’ rights. The celebration started with a parade in which hundreds of people marched (along with a high school marching band!), carrying signs (pictures below!) and dancing. The parade ended in a community gathering that lasted all day and included dancing, speech-giving, performances, skits, and a special time to honor widows (IJM clients) in the community.





I was especially overwhelmed to see the men in the community who proudly marched and gave speeches in defense of widows.

It is amazing to me how IJM is working toward transformation from the top-down, and from the bottom-up … literally in the same week. I had a front row seat—as the magistrate asked why property grabbing is a criminal offense and not a civil court issue; as the prosecutor asked for more copies of “Handbook on Property Grabbing Crimes”; as the young man passionately told his community that cultural heirs have no legal right to take widows’ property.
Good strategy, and gritty, hard work. I am truly working in an office full of superheroes—incredible Ugandans who are working tirelessly to make Uganda a better place.
A more personal update is to come… just wanted to share this work update while it was fresh in my heart!
Sula bulungi!
***If you interested in knowing more about “property grabbing,” this might help!



8/25/17

CGJ to Respond to Draft Comment by United Nations Human Rights Committee


The United Nations Human Rights Committee has 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 that mandates that States provide women access to abortion in certain cases. Article 6 guarantees that “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.” Despite the guarantee of the right to life for all, and the complete lack of a right to abortion under international law, the Human Rights Committee has overstepped its bounds and mandated that states allow women to abort their children:
States parties must provide safe access to abortion to protect the life and health of pregnant women, and in situations in which carrying a pregnancy to term would cause the woman substantial pain or suffering, most notably where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or when the foetus suffers from fatal impairment.[1] States parties may not regulate pregnancy or abortion in a manner that runs contrary to their duty to ensure that women do not have to undertake unsafe abortions.
The General comment will be used by the committee as the authoritative guide on how to interpret Article 6. The Center for Global Justice intends to submit a response to the draft comment in an effort to persuade the committee to remove this language.




[1]   See Concluding Observations: Ireland (2014), para. 9.

8/24/17

The Center for Global Justice Launches New Fellowship Program

The Center for Global Justice is excited to announce the launch of its fellowship program. Through this program, two Regent Law graduates will be employed for one year with one of the Center’s partner organizations. This year, Pam Dodge and Chelsea Mack, former Center for Global Justice Law Clerks and interns, will work in Uganda.

Chelsea (L) and Pam (R)

Pam started her fellowship with the International Justice Mission in August. Pam will assist IJM in its work to protect widows from having their property stolen, protecting women from domestic violence, and building a just and fair legal system so that the rights of all people are protected.

Chelsea starts her fellowship on September 4th with the Uganda Directorate of Public Prosecutions (the equivalent of our Attorney General). Chelsea will be assisting the DPP in prosecuting cases of child sacrifice, thinking about how to create a juvenile division, and reviewing the relatively new plea bargaining initiative, which Prof. Jim Gash helped to implement. The plea bargaining initiative has been directly responsible for ensuring that children do not languish in prison beyond the terms of their sentences. Chelsea will review the initiative to ensure it is running effectively and make recommendations on how to improve it.

The Center is very excited to see the fruit of this program. With these fellows, we will now be providing year-round support to IJM and the Uganda DPP through Student Staff projects, summer internships, and now year-long fellowships. Please pray for our students and consider giving to support their great work!



8/13/17

Fellowship Update: Pam Arrives in Uganda

For full disclosure, it is with some hesitation that I enter the blogging world. But, alas, here I am!
IMG_8559
I have been overwhelmed by the support of my friends and family as I begin this adventure. I would be silly not to take you up on the offers for prayer, and I am blessed and humbled by those who have shared a desire to hear about my journey. So, here we are! I hope this blog will provide a window into the work of justice that God is doing in the world.
A few short days ago, I traveled to Kampala, Uganda, to begin my one-year Legal Fellowship with International Justice Mission.
My first flight left Phoenix at 6:30am, so I began my traveling journey with only a few hours of sleep. As I settled into my seat on that first flight, I felt extremely exhausted. My mind was racing—questioning my packing choices, worrying about my airport arrival, desperately trying to shake that I-forgot-something-important feeling. In the midst of this, I opened my devotional book for a few moments to just sit and breathe. The reflection was on Psalm 27—words that are so familiar, and yet so easily forgotten by my heart.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?
…One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek—that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.”
It was a sweet and personal reminder from the Lord that I am not alone, that I have nothing to fear, and that my utmost goal is to dwell in the presence of the Lord. My fears (big and small) fall away in the presence of my God, who is my light, my salvation, and the defense of my life.
After about 30 hours of travel, I arrived safely in Kampala. (Other than frantically removing a few pairs of shoes from my checked bag so that it would meet the weight requirement, the travel was without incident!) In the next few days, I will be settling in to my new home, and I will begin work after that. I am living in beautiful apartment complex with several other IJM interns and fellows. As the last to arrive in our intern/fellow group, I get the benefit of gleaning all the practical tips and wisdom from those who have already been here several weeks!
As for prayer,
  • Good health
  • Transitioning into a new job, and a new culture and community
  • Strength and vision for the IJM team in this busy season