Regent Law Uganda Study Abroad Program Welcomes Six UCU Students

Regent Law’s Uganda Study Abroad Program in International Human Rights and the Rule of Law is for students who want to engage in an informed relationship with the people and legal challenges of East Africa.

The program is based in Uganda. Uganda provides a rich learning environment for students who are passionate about global justice and are interested in understanding how legal systems work in East Africa. In Uganda, fights against corruption and for the establishment of the rule of law are vital. Struggles for human rights and legal empowerment are critical. The program is hosted by Uganda Christina University.

This year, six Uganda Christian University law students joined the Regent Law Human Rights course. Hear what UCU students had to say about being part of the course:

Alumni Profile: Michelle Hughes

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.

Michelle A. Hughes
Class of 1996

Michelle Hughes is the Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of VALRAC Innovation, LLC, a company dedicated to preparing the next generation to restore and strengthen the rule of law at home and abroad. She is also Chief of Global Strategy for, Inc., Senior Development Advisor to Loyola University Chicago School of Law’s L.L.M. program in Rule of Law for Development, a Fellow with the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, and a Senior Fellow with the National Defense University Joint Forces Staff College.

Ms. Hughes was formerly a Senior Executive in the U.S. Department of Defense, where she was the only designated “Highly Qualified Expert” for Rule of Law and Security Sector Reform (SSR). Her work focuses on building capacity for multi-national, interagency, civil-military and public-private cooperation to build and strengthen the rule of law, resolve violent conflict, and enable sustainable peace. She has field experience in 12 conflict countries across four continents, to include a succession of deployments to Afghanistan where her role was to advise Senior Military Commanders on how to connect security force development to governance and justice. From December 2010 to December 2011, she was the Senior Rule of Law Advisor to the NATO Police Training Mission in Afghanistan. She is the principal author of the Joint Force Commander’s Handbook on Military Support to Rule of Law and Security Sector Reform.

In 1996, Ms. Hughes graduated at the top of her class from Regent University School of Law. While in law school, she was an editor of the Law Review, and received numerous academic honors and awards. She has practiced complex civil litigation, prosecution, and criminal defense in 14 State and Federal jurisdictions. She has special expertise in real property law, alternative dispute resolution, and government and military structures, and has served on drafting committees for uniform commercial codes. Her clients have included multinational corporations in the extractive, manufacturing and maritime industries, Fortune 500 Companies, municipalities, and the Commonwealth of Virginia.


CGJ Summer Intern Update: Olga Pazilova

I have been interning in Sofia, Bulgaria, with the Rule of Law Institute for several weeks now and it has been an amazing learning experience. I have had the chance to work with international clients, research laws and cases, attend legal events, and hear cases in the Supreme Court of Bulgaria.

But the most unforgettable and valuable experience was an annual conference held by the Rule of Law institute that I attended last weekend. This year’s conference was held in the beautiful city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second largest city and the European Capital of Culture of 2019. The topic was “Rule of Law and the Truth,” and the main agenda was to discuss and share opinions on how Christian truth should move the behavior of legal professionals in their practice.

The best part was that I didn’t just attend the conference; I was one of the speakers. The panel included a lot of great speakers, including judges, lawyers, professors from Bulgaria, a pastor from Canada, and attorneys from the United States. It was a huge honor to be on a panel with so many knowledgeable and experienced speakers.

Because I am Russian, my supervisor wanted me to incorporate some examples of Russian legislation in my speech, as he thought it would be interesting to give the audience a view on the subject from an international prospective.

In my presentation I discussed how in most legal cases determining who is right or wrong and which party has a truth on its side is never “cut and dried.” Usually, each side has some truth in their argument that is usually supported by law, and it is up to the court to decide which argument is stronger. As an example I talked about a few cases from the European Court of Human Rights brought against the Russian government where the applicants claimed to be discriminated based on their religion. I examined both sides of the argument and explained how the government’s actions could be justified in certain situations.

My speech received a great feedback and engaged the audience in further discussion. I was told I presented a very interesting and unusual point of view on that subject. It definitely gave me a great boost of confidence since I don’t have a lot of experience with public speaking.

The overall experience was great. I saw a beautiful historical city, met legal professionals from other countries, heard different views on this interesting subject, presented my own point of view, and practiced my public speaking skills.

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

Alumni Profile: J. Matthew Szymanski

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.

J. Matthew Szymanski '91

J. Matthew Szymanski is a senior advisor for the US-Asia Institute and a self-employed consultant. From 1990-2002, he practiced law and served in government in the Washington, D.C. area. From 2002-2007, he served the U.S. Congress as chief of staff for both the House Small Business Committee and the U.S.-China Interparliamentary Exchange. In the latter role, he helped manage U.S.-China relations by organizing 20 U.S. delegations to China and hosting many Chinese delegations in the United States.

From 2007-2014, Mr. Szymanski was vice president for corporate relations at Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) at its headquarters in Shanghai, China. He resided on SMIC’s Shanghai campus with his family and together they traveled widely. To promote U.S.-China relations, he hosted U.S. and Chinese delegations at work and at home and volunteered time teaching U.S.-style rule of law (ROL) courses at East China University of Political Science and Law, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Fudan University, and Peking University School of Transnational Law. He also served as an adjunct professor for Council on International Educational Exchange, teaching international business law to American undergraduates studying abroad at East China Normal University. In 2010, the City of Shanghai awarded him Leading Professional status.

In 2008, Mr. Szymanski partnered with USAI to establish the USAI-Szymanski ROL Program for Chinese Students to host top Chinese law students in Washington, D.C. For four weeks each summer, a handful of students experience the U.S. system firsthand, observing legislative and judicial proceedings and meeting with officials from all three branches of the U.S. Government. In 2015, he partnered with USAI to establish the USAI-Syzmanski ROL Program for U.S. Students. The inaugural program occurred in May-June, 2016 in China. For more information on Mr. Szymanski, see his LinkedIn profile.

Constitutional Guarantees for Women and Children in Uganda

Blog Post from Linda Waits-Kamau, interning with Land & Equity Movement of Uganda (LEMU)
This past week, while I was here serving in an internship with Land & Equity Movement of Uganda in Kampala, the U.S. celebrated Independence Day. So, although it was not a holiday in Uganda, I was thinking about and thankful for those who made freedom possible and about our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.  Freedom, security, rights, and justice are not something to take for granted, of course.  Rights are supposed to be protected in our justice system based upon our Constitution.

Here in Uganda, it is the same—the Constitution stands as a guarantor of rights of men, women, and children! 

I am learning that the rights of widows and their children to remain in the marital residence after the death of the widow’s husband are sometimes abused even though, under the Uganda Constitution, the rights of women and children are guaranteed, just as rights are supposed to be protected in the United States.  On June 27, I was reading a Ugandan daily newspaper called “New Vision,” and I saw a very disturbing photo of a middle-aged woman, standing next to her two sons.  The woman had no hands because they had been chopped off allegedly by one of her own husband’s relatives whom the article related as having tried to force the woman and children out of their home following the husband’s death. 

Then I was imagining the grief and suffering she experienced of losing her husband and her children losing their father, as well as the husband’s extended family members’ grieving the loss of their son or brother.  Then one of the husband’s relatives comes around and demands that the woman leave her own home.  Then, because she didn’t evidently leave, she was viciously attacked and could have easily lost her life, possibly from the trauma, shock, and loss of blood from having her arms and hands cut off. 

This was almost too much for me; but the worst part was that evidently the case of this unfortunate woman had been dropped by the local Magistrate’s Court and the only reason given according to the newspaper report was because the police officers had to attend a conference about one hour away in Gulu on the same day as the court date.  So the case was just dropped!  Not only that, but according to the newspaper report, evidently the male relative had been let out on bail even before the case went to court—and that after being implicated by witnesses!  I was glad for the news report to at least let others know what happened, but will there ever be a court case to determine who did this and will there be any help for the woman and her sons?

I wondered how this woman could ever get justice if cases are dropped because police officers have to attend a conference in another city?  I wonder even in our country about how people get justice when authority is overstepped by those who have more power or money?  I would like to see Constitutional guarantees actualized through proper justice.  The way to handle this in the United States as well as in Uganda is if those who have more power also have to submit to the system of justice.  One thing I am learning during my externship with LEMU is that while Uganda, like America, has a wonderful Constitution, these rights need to be accessible to everyone—especially those who are more vulnerable to those who have political or authoritative power over others. 

Now, of course, the person who committed this crime in Uganda also has rights, but evidently more rights than this woman does, because no one is even being made to account for this crime through a proper handling of witnesses and a court hearing to bring out the evidence.  And worse, who will help this widow now that she has no hands?  She does have two sons who may be able to help her, but what can she do now for herself without her hands? 

Although under the Ugandan Constitution the woman whose hands were cut off does have rights, how can her rights be actualized for justice?  I am hoping that the Prosecutor’s office will take note of her right not to have to undergo threats for her life and liberty; and for her right to be able to go on living in her own home with a garden will be actualized.  Of course, now she will have to pay someone else to tend to her home and garden.  Might may make right in the law of the wild kingdom, but not for people living under Constitutional protections, including those who are less able to protect themselves or are vulnerable to those with more power and authority. 
*LEMU provides advocacy, support, and mediation based on the customary laws in Uganda and assists widows and orphans in protecting their interests, rights, and access to family land and in gaining clear rights of the marital home and property usage after the death of a spouse.

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

CGJ Summer Intern Update: So Heon Park

I interned with the Alabama Attorney General’s Office for the first half of my summer. I was assigned to the Criminal Trials Division because I expressed my interest in combatting human trafficking during the interview. I wanted to help the needy, poor, children, and vulnerable group in our society with my legal skills, and the Criminal Trials Division was the perfect fit this.

When I started my internship, there was one human trafficking case that attorneys in my division had been working on. The case involved an attorney and an eighty-three-year-old man, who took advantage of and sexually abused young female victims. Attorneys in my division gave me a permission to review and study the case file. The case file included all valuable information regarding this case.  Reviewing the file and consulting with the attorneys helped me learn how prosecutors plan and study cases. Moreover, I travel the city where the crime has been happening to attend interviews of witnesses and victims. By attending these interviews, I learned how female victims were victimized because of their vulnerable position. The attorney and the old man used their resources to take advantage of young female victims.

Through this case, I learned how prosecutors and investigators work together, question victims and witnesses to build their case, and try to protect vulnerable victims in our society, especially in human trafficking issues. Furthermore, I worked on legal research and writing to support the attorneys for this case.

Getting hands-on experience to protect the needy and vulnerable in our society was certainly valuable experience that I had not yet received in law school. This internship experience motivated me to think of my future career in criminal law, and I am very grateful that I got to know attorneys who seek justice and have hearts for the victims.

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

Summer Intern Update from Jenitza Castro in Indonesia

Isaiah 65: 1“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’

This summer, I am interning for the International Justice Initiative (IJI) in the “Universitas Pelita Harapan” (UPH) in Lippo Karawaci, Indonesia. IJI is a joint venture between UPH and the Indonesia Christian Legal Society.

Since I arrived I heard stories of child sexual abuse by school staff and peers, women and children prostituted against their will, migrant workers forced to labor, girls sold by their relatives, and even the story of a young lady raped by 21 men. Some of these stories bring an incredible sense of helplessness, and I am quickly reminded that the magnitude of this organized crime is too big and too organized to be tackled alone.

However, serving with others in Indonesia has greatly encouraged me. I am not combatting human trafficking alone; I am doing so along with many God-fearing, committed advocates, who provide endless hours of pro-bono work to see change in this country.  Although the stories are tragic, we are witnessing significant change and we are ever-more encouraged to work harder to combat this form of slavery.

I am currently working on two different projects. First, I am collaborating with the International Organization of Migration (IOM) of Indonesia to complete the 2016 Guidelines for Law Enforcement and the protection of victims of trafficking in handling trafficking-in-persons cases. The IOM Guidelines is a comprehensive response to the prevention of human trafficking. I am in charge of the research and summary of various international and domestic regulations pertaining to regulations on women, children, and human trafficking laws that will be included in such guidelines. Furthermore, I am supervising legal interns at UPH to identify relevant regulations, assist in the completion of their summaries, and provide opportunities to improve performance going forward. Furthermore, we are performing a focused factual research on the ‘Modus Operandi’ (MO) of perpetrators. Mainly, How do perpetrators manage to move victims across borders despite so many regulations? We are studying the falsification of documents, corruption of officials, lack of ethics of civil servants in issuing legal documentation, money laundering, and fraud.

Second, I am collaborating with the Children at Risk Network of Indonesia. The Children at Risk Network is a network composed of different human rights organizations working for the Children’s Ministry of the government of Indonesia. Lawyers and members of organizations such as World Vision, Compassion, and ICLS are working to provide training, raise awareness, and complete a Manual for Teachers and School staff to help them identify potential victims of child abuse and neglect. These efforts will discuss different legal regulations that identify children’s rights and the responsibility of school personnel in the protection of children.

Please continue praying for all of these projects and for all the advocates who desire to be the hands and feet of God in the service of a vulnerable population who has no voice.

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