Monday, November 30, 2015

The Rights of the Unborn

The following blog post is written by 2L student staff member Stefani Goodnight.
Abortion is a human right. I repeat that statement over and over in my head. I try to think about it objectively and see if there is something I am missing.

Amnesty International (AI) launched a campaign entitled “My Body, My Rights.” “My Body” refers to the mother and “My Rights” refers to her right to choose to end the life of her baby. Am I the only one who sees a disconnect here? In its report “She is Not a Criminal, the Impact of Ireland’s Abortion Law” AI declares that human rights apply only after birth and that Ireland's constitutional recognition of the right to life for unborn children is "inconsistent with international human rights law.” [1]It is not until the baby passes through the birth canal that it is entitled to life and rights as a human?

The other day I read an article in the news about an ABC TV show I do not watch called “Scandal.” In the latest episode a woman has an abortion while Silent Night (a hymn celebrating the birth of Jesus) is playing in the background.[2] I felt angry. Is this what the leading country on human rights glorifies? Of course Planned Parenthood commended the show and said they hope that Congress and the nation are taking note.

I think we are taking note and we are saying enough is enough. I don’t believe Planned Parenthood speaks for the Nation as a whole. We have seen the evil that has come from Planned Parenthood under the guise of “women’s reproductive health.” I believe that the tide is turning on abortion. Christian or not Americans do care about human rights and we aren’t buying the lies put forth by AI or Planned Parenthood that an unborn child does not have a right to life. Neither are we persuaded by the gross irreverence of ABC.  

As far as I can see, international laws are silent on the issue of abortion and it is ludicrous to claim that this silence creates a right to abortion that supersedes the rights of the unborn. [3]

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Journal of Global Justice & Public Policy Global Initiative Focus Nation: France

The Journal of Global Justice and Public Policy Global Initiative publishes bi-monthly reports targeting countries experiencing human rights violations. Each report briefly discusses that country’s history and population, and proffers specific prayer requests.


  • Population: 66,553,766.
  • Ethnic Groups: Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque minorities.
  • Languages: French; rapidly declining regional dialects and languages (Provencal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish).
  • Religion: Christian (overwhelmingly Roman Catholic) 63-66%, Muslim 7-9%, Jewish .5-.75%, Buddhist .5-.75%, other .5-1.0%, none 23-28%.

November 2015 Attack

On November 13, 2015, Paris was attacked by members of an Islamic State group, which killed 129 people. The victims were mostly French; however, more than twenty foreigners were from the UK, Belgium, Germany, Algeria, and Latin America. Seven attackers died in the course of the attacks, and one suspect is on the run. The attackers appear to have worked in three coordinated teams using the same type of assault rifles and wearing the same type of suicide vests in different locations, including the Stade de France, the Bataclan concert hall, restaurants, and bars. Although some public and cultural venues in Paris reopened after the attacks, the city mourns for the lives of victims.

Prayer Request from Sophie Tatot, Regent University School of Law LL.M., French citizen and Paris native

“I am far away from my country…I am far away from my French friends. But I can pray for them who are suffering at this moment.

I invite you all to pray for the persons, French and others, who died in Paris because of the terrorist attacks, those who were wounded and their families.

I invite you all to pray for all the people who were the victims of terrorism recently in Lebanon and Turkey.

I invite you all to pray for the Christians all over the world being the victims of religious extremism.
God blesses France, America and their allies.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Family Restoration for Unaccompanied Minors

The following blog post is written by student staff member and Regent Law 2L, Maitte Barrientos.
The number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border into the United States (and other industrialized countries) has significantly increased in the past couple of years.  Unaccompanied minors are children (or a person under a country’s legal age of majority) separated from both parents, and are not with and being cared for by a guardian or other adult who by law or custom is responsible for them.  Research shows that the average unaccompanied minor in the United States is fifteen years old, although some have been as young as eighteen months old.  These children seek asylum as they are either abandoned in their homelands, sent away by their families, fleeing from military service, or child marriage, or female genital mutilation, or gang violence/forced recruitment, or are victims of smuggling and sex trafficking. Upon arrival into the United States, they are apprehended by the government and sent to detention centers (sometimes for months) where they will be placed in removal proceedings without a right to appointed counsel. Similarly, even if they happen to be released to a family member or sponsor to wait for an immigration hearing they are still in removal proceedings and not offered a green card or granted any kind of legal status.  Martin-Mendoza v. INS, 499 F.2d 918, 922 (9th Cir. 1974).  (Professor Kohm has written about this a bit in her article on immigration reform for children.) These lack of due process rights and long detention periods, in a confusing and restrictive jail-like setting, not only exacerbates the child’s trauma but encourages them to seek voluntary departure (which may impact their immigration eligibility in the future) exposing them to the violent persecution they were fleeing in their home country.

Understanding the procedures & available remedies for unaccompanied minors is a key to assisting these children. While every legal matter regarding children must be handled according of the best interests of the child, the procedures set in place for minors seeking asylum in the United States are governed by federal law, and are largely not in accordance with the best interest of the child standard.  An unaccompanied minor may obtain lawful permanent residence status in one of three ways: (1) as a special immigrant juvenile; (2) victim of trafficking under the Violence Protection Act of 2000; or (3) asylum.  The first two remedies are for children who played no active role in their migration journey and the third is the only remedy for children who did play an active role.  As a special immigrant juvenile the child will be in the custody of a state’s juvenile system and left to the judge to determine whether the child has faced abuse, neglect or abandonment in another country.  Only once that predicate order is made can the Attorney General allow for an application for special immigrant status.  If the child is a victim of trafficking, and suffered physical/mental abuse, they would qualify for a U-Visa and be allowed to remain.  Similarly, if the child has suffered a severe form of trafficking in persons and can demonstrate unusual and severe harm if removed from the U.S., they would qualify for a T-Visa (which is essentially a nonimmigrant visa and only after three years may the child apply for permanent resident status). 

This leaves the last recourse, asylum, to children who do not fit into the first two categories.  Asylum, however, is not an easy task to prove as the child may only bring a claim if they can prove a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group.  It is difficult for children fleeing gang recruitment and violence to establish these elements without any legal representation in this complex area of law.  Further, these kids find themselves making life impacting decisions in a new culture where the language barrier and stressful factors play a coercive part.   

Legislation tailored to the rights of child refugees and unaccompanied minors is key to accomplishing what is in the best interest for a child in the U.S.  One potential solution might be to categorize unaccompanied minors as a particular social group capable of persecution.  Secondly, the initial reason these children are persecuted is because they either lack parents or their government refuses (or is unable) to protect them from the violence.  This vulnerability should distinguish minor children from other youth and serve to define them as a particular “group.”  Another solution might be for the United States to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child (hereinafter “CRC”), the international legal document on children’s rights.  Though scholars disagree on the effectiveness of the CRC, others argue it gives children the right to a legal identity (Article 28), family unity (Article 9), freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention (Article 37), and protection to children in vulnerable conditions (such as those seeking asylum) under Article 22 of the CRC.  Some scholars, however, disagree and argue that a rights framework does not protect children as well as the best-interest-of-the-child standard.  A third solution might be to provide a right to counsel for unaccompanied minors. Children generally have no rights because of their legal incapacity to make informed decisions.   While the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) has made efforts to recruit pro bono legal aid for unaccompanied minors, they do not allow organizations to conduct presentations on a child’s legal status (in their native language), they restrict access to detention centers, phone calls to attorneys, house children in facilities which are too far from near legal services or may transfer a child to another center without legal notice to their attorneys or agents.  None of this is in a child’s best interest and there needs to be substantial legislative reform that makes it a due process violation for children to not be afforded right to adequate counsel. While there have been acts in recent years which serve as a starting point for unaccompanied minors, legislative reform should encourage not only child protection, but also some sort of more suitable foster care rather than life in a detention facility. 

The best interest of the child standard should be afforded to refugees who come from all over the world fleeing violent persecution and have no other place where their legal identities may be established and respected.  Although immigration reform may be controversial, the rising surge of unaccompanied minors can no longer be ignored.  Recognizing and respecting the best interests of refugee children and helping them heal from trauma may afford them a better future.  

Monday, November 23, 2015

Why did I come to law school?

The following blog post is by student staff member Oliva Graef.
Organ trafficking. This has to stop. It makes my stomach sick; I can only do so much research on it at one time before I must stop. I can only handle so many stories of children having their eyes gouged out,[1] of organ harvesting done without anesthesia,[2] and of people debilitated from having their organs taken.[3] A desperate person willing to sell his kidney may get as little as $2,500.[4] Others have their organs simply cut out of them with no pay. For instance, China harvests an estimated 11,000 organs a year, and many of these come from political prisoners and a targeted religious group, Falun Gong.[5]

Still it is an extremely difficult challenge due to the extremely high demand; people in wealthy countries demand organs. Their lives are at stake. However, other lives are at stake as well. Who survives? This has resulted in “transplant tourism” or “organ tourism. China has become a huge destination for transplant tourism.[6] Mr. David Matas is a prominent immigration and human rights lawyer who is trying to further expose and end these tragic crimes.[7] “The practice made international headlines in 2006 with a report by Winnipeg-based human rights lawyer David Matas, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. He turned that study into a book, Bloody Harvest: The Killing of Falun Gong for Their Organs.”[8]

The worries of law school pale in comparison, and I become ashamed for ever having harbored so many anxieties over exams, briefs, footnotes, and other deadlines. I forgot why I came to law school as I stumbled through the rule against perpetuities and multiple levels of hearsay exceptions. I never thought I would go to law school. I never saw myself writing up contracts or practicing tax law. But then I encountered the Center for Global Justice. When I realized that lawyers could fight human and organ trafficking through their legal work, I was hooked. I came to law school and am working for the Center for Global Justice in the hopes that they will better prepare me to be more effective in combatting this horrible, bloody trade of human organs. However, the wonderful aspect of the Center for Global Justice is that I do not have to wait to get a J.D. to do legal work on serious human rights issues!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Student Staff Update from Courtney Marasigan

The following post is by Courtney Marasigan, a CGJ intern and student staff member at CGJ.
Courtney (far left) and Professor Brauch (center)
during last year's  Regent Law Ice Bucket Challenge
I learned of the Center for Global Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law (CGJ) long before I ever stepped foot on the Regent University campus. The law school Dean at the time, Jeffrey Brauch, called me during my senior year of undergraduate education because he noticed my interest in human rights, as indicated on my law school application. I do not recall much from our conversation because everything related to law school was still very new to me at the time, but I do remember that the CGJ’s mission intrigued me.

During my first year of law school, I attended as many informational meetings as possible. Naturally, I sat in on the CGJ interest meeting without even realizing it was the same group Dean Brauch had introduced to me months before. Everything about the CGJ enticed me to apply to serve on the Student Staff—what it stands for, how it equips students through practical experience, and how it helps those in desperate need.

Since joining I have worked on various legal projects, honed my classroom-taught research and writing skills in a real-world setting, and even interned in Uganda with the help of a grant obtained through the CGJ. Though there are moments class work feels both mundane and overwhelming, working for the Student Staff keeps me grounded through it all.

The realm of human rights has transformed from an interest to a passion to a lifelong calling. With Regent’s guidance and the many opportunities it provides, I have unearthed a deeper sense of purpose for my life.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Why I Chose Regent Law and the Center for Global Justice

The following blog post is written by Michael Aiello, whom the Center for Global Justice funded to be an International Justice Mission intern in Thailand.  Michael is also a legal graduate assistant and student staff member at CGJ.
Michael in Thailand during his 2014 Internship
It is rare that an individual can identify a day, a moment, or a single sentence that oriented his life’s trajectory. However, that is exactly what happened to me.

I just completed my bachelor’s degree and wrote two senior theses on human trafficking. I received an internship with International Justice Mission, who is a leader on combating human trafficking around the world. IJM has a robust mentorship program, so I asked one of their VPs for some career advice.

He told me, “If you want to make a real difference in the lives of the oppressed, you need to use the law.

In other words, he told me that I should go to law school to gain the legal skills necessary to become an advocate for the oppressed. I was already thinking about going to law school. So I went back to my desk and googled, “law school & ‘human trafficking.’” The second hit was for Regent Law’s Center for Global Justice.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. I found exactly what I was looking for: a law school with expertise on using the rule of law to combat human trafficking. Therefore, I decided to find out more about Regent Law and the Center.

I learned that Regent is one of a few law schools that offers a class on human trafficking. In addition, the Center offers two ways to gain tangible skills. First, their student staff works on meaningful projects during the school year by providing free legal support to various organizations such as Alliance Defending Freedom, Advocates International, Shared Hope International, and other quality organizations. Second, the Center provides grants to students so they can complete summer internships with these organizations and gain skills on the front lines.

Since joining the student staff, I have written many legal memos and briefs. For example, I wrote a memo on how Oregon could amend their hearsay laws to make prosecuting human traffickers more efficient; I compiled and annotated all of Thailand's laws on child sexual assault; and I am currently writing a brief on how municipalities can regulate a sexually-oriented business using time, place, manner restrictions under the First Amendment. The Center also provided me with two summer grants that allowed me to intern with IJM in Thailand and intern with a local prosecution office.

It is amazing how one piece of advice can change your entire life. In my case a single sentence led me to Regent Law and the Center for Global Justice. Now I am gaining the legal skills necessary to be an advocate for the oppressed.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Partner Organization Highlight: International Justice Mission

International Justice Mission is a global human rights organization that seeks to protect the poor from violence throughout the developing world. IJM partners with local authorities to rescue victims of violence, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors, and strengthen justice systems. Specifically, they work on combating slavery, sex trafficking, sexual violence, police brutality, property grabbing, and citizen rights abuse.

Their global team includes hundreds of lawyers, investigators, social workers, community activists, and other professionals at work in nearly 20 communities. In 2010, US News & World Report ranked IJM 1 out 10 “service groups that are making a difference.”

The Center for Global Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law completes legal projects on behalf of IJM, particularly for their work in East Africa.

To see where some of our students have interned or worked on pro bono projects for IJM, click here >