Summer Intern Update from Michaela Pannell

The following blog post is written by Center for Global Justice student intern Michaela Pannell, who is working on human rights with Jerusalem Institute of Justice in Israel.

Summer Inters at the Jerusalem Institute of Justice
This summer I have the opportunity to travel to Jerusalem, Israel, and work with the Jerusalem Institute of Justice (JIJ). 

JIJ is is dedicated to cultivating and defending the rule of law, human rights, freedom of conscience, and democracy for all people in Israel and its adjacent territories. JIJ works to advocate for Israel in the conflict with Palestine.

When I first arrived, JIJ was getting ready for a women’s rights committee meeting and asked me to put together a short memo on online prostitution, which was presented at the meeting. The research was then turned into a short article that is in the process of being edited to submit to Times of Israel for publication.

After that short project was completed I started my bigger research project. I will be writing an informational memo on Palestine. Most people don’t know that there are two political parties in Palestine that hate each other more than they hate Israel. The chances of Palestine being one state are very slim. So I am putting together a basic memo/article to inform people about the conflict within Palestine.

I look forward to the rest of the summer and learning more about Middle Eastern politics.

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. 

Student Staff Project Update by Angela Kim

After completing a significant portion of the project with regards to the restriction on speaking about God in schools in Mongolia, I have faced many obstacles, but through the encouragement of Professor Ernie Walton and my team member So Park, I was able to get a step closer in completing my portion of the project.

My portion of the project required researching facts and situations in different countries that deal with proselytization. In the beginning, I did not know where to begin, but slowly realized that the countries were divided up to three levels in terms of proselytization. Some countries prohibit proselytization through promulgated law, whereas other countries prohibit proselytization de facto. And of course, in some countries, proselytization is permitted. Libya serves as an example of a country that prohibits proselytization by law. In Libya, proselytization is considered a criminal offense and punishable by the death penalty. Churches, in order to comply with the law in Libya, sign “tacit agreements” with the government not to proselytize. As recently as 2013, four Christian missionaries were arrested for printing and distributing Christian books and proselytizing.

Prohibiting proselytization de facto occurs when a country does not prohibit proselytization through actual law, but through the practice of the government. This occurs in countries, like Egypt, for example, which does not legally forbid proselytization, but in practice it is not permitted. This is seen through the acts of police officers, such as detaining or harassing those accused of proselytizing. And finally, many countries do not prohibit proselytization either through the law or de facto and allow their citizens to freely share their faith.

Unfortunately, I have yet succeeded in finding a specific happening in Mongolia that shows the view of government with regards to proselytism. Therefore, my portion of the project suggests that because Mongolia grants freedom of religion in its Constitution, and neither statutory law nor government practices prohibit proselytization, Mongolia should fit under the category of countries that do not limit proselytization.

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. 

Human Trafficking and Massage Parlors

Moriah Schmidt, Class of 2018
What do you think of when you see a massage parlor? Hot rocks? Relaxation? Spa days? Human trafficking?

Odds are, human trafficking is not what jumps to the forefront of your mind when you see a massage parlor. The stark reality is that these places are a top spot for human trafficking legal or illegal immigrants, many of whom cannot speak English and have no way of escaping this unwelcome lifestyle. This issue has touched the Hampton Roads area, with arrests being made on human trafficking counts from raids at massage parlors just this year. I had the privilege of working on a project with the Virginia Beach Justice Initiative which evaluated the laws and ordinances of the seven cities in the Hampton Roads area to determine what measures they are taking to crack down on human trafficking at massage parlors.

The good news is, some of the seven cities have good ordinances made to ensure that massage parlors are being operated safely and humanely, for appropriate purposes. If more cities took it upon themselves to update their zoning ordinances and local laws to provide stricter regulations for massage parlors, we would be taking steps in the right direction.

However, this is a problem not likely to go away even with stricter regulations. In my home state of Ohio, human trafficking at massage parlors has been recently discovered as a prevalent monstrosity. Raids have become commonplace. Many people are shocked to find that trafficked people have been trapped in their hometowns, sometimes just down the street or across the road. Ohio’s law enforcement has realized that even when catching traffickers and shutting down massage parlors in one place, they just spring up someplace new with a slightly different name. We cannot just force these places closed and end this trade by mere efforts. This evil requires something more.

As Christians, we have a major weapon in prayer. We can attack this battle in the place where it really originates – the spiritual realm.

I believe an Ohio detective said it best:

“In order to attack demand, you’re going to have to attack a culture and society in terms of how women are viewed and how prostitution is viewed. When we start to do that, that’s when it’ll start to change.”

The Center for Global Justice works alongside organizations like Virginia Beach Justice Initiative in researching laws and ordinances to see where the law can change in order to fight against atrocities like human trafficking. But one thing we can all do – and must do – is pray. This is more than a legal battle. It’s a cultural battle, a spiritual battle, and a battle with our human nature. But by the strength of God, nothing is impossible. We can win this war.

(Sources and quotes from “The Stubborn Cycle of Human Trafficking” The Columbus Monthly, Justin McIntosh, May 2015,

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. 

Strengthening Sex Trafficking Legislation

Chelsea Mack, '17
My project this semester was assisting Shared Hope International with analyzing the efficacy of certain statutes relating to child sex trafficking.  

This project was quite the task.  Those of us on the team learned very quickly that we no longer understood the meaning of words because every time we thought a word meant something, then we would look at another statute in a different state and discover that the statute implicated a different definition.  

Reviewing multiple statutes in fifty-one jurisdictions (including Washington D.C.) provided a broad perspective of legislation in the United States.  I was surprised that certain states that hold larger populations possessed statutes containing weaker, or simply broader, language regarding child sex trafficking than other states with smaller populations.  

This project definitely pushed me to a new level of legal analysis than I expected at the beginning of the project.  

I hope and pray that Shared Hope will be able to utilize our summaries to communicate with legislators around the country to amend existing statutes and pass new ones to effectively criminalize and prosecute more individuals who offer to buy sex with minors.

Chelsea Mack, '17
CGJ Student Staff Member

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. 

Fighting for Constitutional and Human Rights in Africa—Free Speech and Freedom of Religion

Linda S. Waits-Kamau
I have had the privilege of serving with an amazing team of student volunteer staff this semester at the Center for Global Justice, which has inspired me to work on a full-time basis for human rights in Africa.  During the summer, several Regent Law School interns will be going to Uganda and South Africa to work on projects involving citizen’s rights.

Many African states have elaborate Constitutions that spell out most of the rights of individuals that are also represented in documents such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights  (ACHPR) as well as the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which most African states have also become signatories.  What happens when their rights are ignored or worse trampled?

My concern has been for citizens whose rights need to be protected based upon their own state Constitutions or in the ACHPR as well as the UN treaties states have signed.  In some cases, free speech and freedom of religion have been thwarted but can be defended under the human rights of the state’s Constitution and/or the ACHPR and ICCPR.

One such case in South Africa that a CGJ student intern had worked on the previous year involved a young South African student who was a student council leader and deprived of her right to free speech and freedom of religion.  The student made a comment on Facebook that had nothing to do with her school or even her country.  She was making a statement about her faith, not out of hatred, but out of concern.  She expressed an opinion, which under South African Constitutional Law was her prerogative, as well as under AUPCR and ICCPR.  As it turned out those who opposed her opinion, which was not at all directed to any other student or persons in particular, broke into her student office and posted lewd pictures of themselves online basically trying to humiliate her.

They demanded that the student’s position as leader of the student council be taken away.  If advocates had not helped her and defended her rights to free speech and religious freedom, these students who posted hateful photos and desecrated her office by breaking in and causing havoc would have been allowed to express ‘hatred’ for her when she was not expressing ‘hatred’ but a religious opinion on an issue.  The case never went to court, but without legal advocates she would have lost her scholarships and maybe even dismissed from her position as a student council leader.  A South African MP who had joined in berating this student decided to publicly apologize after the events about the break-in to her office and online antics were exposed as hateful acts of vengeance.

This case inspired me to fight for the rights of those whose voices are being silenced just because they are speaking about their faith or what they believe without defaming anyone.  Actually, the student was being defamed and harangued.  The freedom to believe and the freedom of expression and free speech must be protected.

by CGJ Student Staff Member Linda Waits-Kamau

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. 

Student Staff Update from Olivia Graef

Olivia Graef, '17
At the Center for Global Justice, I have learned that “fighting for human rights” often looks different than the glorious pictures we conjure up in our imaginations. The students at the Center do not make raids out in the field or physically go out and rescue those who are enslaved. But we are hard at work nonetheless. We provide research so that countries can implement better legal systems, which will better serve justice and protect people. We write briefs to defend laws to hold criminals accountable. We compose manuals so that municipalities know how to preserve a safer environment for people. We conduct legal research for cases to ensure violent criminals are convicted.

How you “fight for human rights” will probably look different from our work. But I have realized that a fight so broad requires every effort whether that is donating, volunteering, writing letters to legislatures, or making a meal for a victim of injustice. It even includes sharing stories and ways to contribute on social media or setting up an Amazon Smile account so that a percentage of your purchase price goes to an organization fighting for to protect people from injustice. Please join us regardless of what it looks like.

Olivia Graef, '17

Student Staff Project Update: So Heon Park

So Heon Park, Class of 2017
I joined the Center for Global Justice (Center) student staff in August 2015. The Center provides free legal work to NGOs that defend the poor, the oppressed, and the abused in the world. My experience with the Center helped me develop legal skills such as researching and writing legal memoranda by working on projects in different countries. Moreover, it is such a privilege to be a part of the Center with men and women who recognize the importance of human rights and have compassion toward people who are in need.

This semester I am working on a project for Handong International Law School (HILS). HILS is located in Pohang, South Korea, and HILS shares a similar mission to that of Regent University School of Law. The project involves a religious liberty issue in Mongolia. In Mongolia, the government bans proselytization in religious institutions and requires them to register with local authorities. However, the registration procedure is not clear, and local authorities have great discretion in the registration process. There are only approximately 2% of Christians in Mongolia, and Mongolians view Christianity as “foreign” religion. Christians face difficulties to share their faith even in Christian schools.

To support religious liberty in Mongolia, I have been researching the Mongolian Constitution, international laws, and international human rights cases, which protect the human right to manifest one’s faith. Although the Mongolian Constitution and international human rights laws, which Mongolia is bound by, protect the freedom to manifest one’ religion and share one’s faith, in reality, such freedom is taken away by local authorities. I pray that our work could influence, and hopefully change, the current Mongolian system so that Christians in Mongolia can freely share and practice their faith without any restrictions. 

So Heon Park, Class of 2017