6/22/12

Intern Update, 6/22/12 (Gregory Lush)


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Gregory Lush, 3L

Peace and Reconciliation Project 
Rule of Law Development
Uganda

Kirk and I have been in Uganda for a few days now, getting acclimated to our new environment.  We were expecting a phone call around 9:00 AM to tell us the plan for the day.  No call came until after 1:00 PM, when our contact told us we were wanted near the center of the city, about 5 kilometers from our room.  We were told we needed to be dressed nicely because we would be meeting the Attorney General.  We quickly put on our suits and ties, despite the heat and knowing we would have to take boda-bodas, which are low-powered motorcycles with skinny tires.  On the way out we asked Henry, the hotel employee who faithfully attends to us in our many times of need, how much we should pay for a boda-boda ride to our destination. You don’t want to be unprepared when you enter into a negotiation with a boda driver, especially when you are wearing a suit and appear to have money.  The price was negotiated, and we made our way to our destination.

We arrived in good time at one of the nicest buildings in Kampala, the Worker’s House, which I think serves as a hotel and office building.  Waiting there was our boss, the Ambassador Dickson Ogwang, who greeted us with a big smile and huge hugs.  He introduced us to the Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions and the Director of Public Prosecutions, the top two prosecutors in Uganda.  It was difficult to understand their names when we were introduced, and the fact that Ugandans normally give their surname first, does not help. Thankfully they gave us business cards, which have their names nicely spelled out.  We learned girls are being trafficked into the Middle East and Asia, with the promise of jobs.  To a trusting Ugandan girl, this offer probably sounds too good to refuse.  This problem has existed for a while, but is just coming to light here.  Our current internship in Uganda will most likely not be involved with human trafficking, but I hope that Regent will be able to send interns and lawyers to Uganda who are experienced in prosecuting traffickers and helping victims.  My understanding is that the Ugandan penal code is not ready to deal with the problem of human trafficking, because it did not know the problem existed until recently.  This is an area in which I am sure Regent can help.

Dickson explained to our hosts that we were law students from Virginia who were here to learn about the Ugandan legal system.  We would be learning about the commercial courts, the criminal courts, hopefully the Supreme Court, as well as litigation-avoiding mediation. Dickson also explained that we were the first two students from Regent to be doing this internship, and that Regent would like to have an ongoing relationship with Ugandans and their legal system.  This statement gathered a pleasant response, assuring that the feeling was mutual.

After our meetings, we had to negotiate once again for boda-boda drivers to return us to our hotel.  This negotiation proved to be much more difficult, as our new potential drivers wanted more money than we paid the old two drivers.  Two men in a van navigating traffic overheard our negotiation, said they knew where we were going, and said they would take us there.  In the passenger’s hand, I noticed some official-looking government envelopes, and I asked them if they were government employees.  They said that they were.  I had a good feeling about it, so I turned to Kirk, we shrugged our shoulders, and got in.  It turns out that our good Samaritans were prosecuting attorneys, and we had just happened to have met with their bosses.  They were very friendly, very talkative, and very interested in us.  We got their contact information, thanked them for their generosity, and returned to our hotel. 

          - Greg Lush, 6/18/12

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