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Current Issue : 2008 Fall

International Reach

Two new international public service fellowship programs were launched last summer: The International Human Rights Fellowship, funded by the Law School; and the International Law Society Global Justice Fellowship, through the fundraising efforts of the student-run International Law Society.

The creation of these fellowships expands opportunities for students who have a passion for social justice and want to work beyond the domestic borders. This past summer, more students than ever before worked abroad. One student went to Israel with a group that addressed domestic violence, and in Switzerland, another pressed for bioweapons prevention. Others went to The Netherlands to work on gender justice issues and traveled to Chile to focus on justice studies.

When they returned to campus, several students delivered inspiring talks about their externships. Others wrote articles on the legal issues underlying their work, penned personal essays, blogged on the Law School's Web site at http://blsx.brooklaw.edu/studentblog or posted videos on MySpace.

2008 INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS FELLOWS

Katharine Bodde '09 - Community Development in Thailand
Katharine Bodde '09

Katharine Bodde spent her fellowship working with Bridges Across Borders (BAB) in Southeast Asia as an international legal studies intern, helping to implement programs in community development, child protection and education, and community legal education. This NGO was formed to address the root causes of hatred and violence in the world and seeks to address disparities within the communities of developing nations with the overarching goal of promoting human rights. Bodde worked with the Community Legal Education Initiatives Program team at BAB as well as local lawyers, law professors, legal educators, and BAB’s NGO partners in Chiang Mai, Thailand and elsewhere in the Southeast Asian region. Bodde, a member of the Human Rights Committee of the International Law Students Association and the International Committee of the Legal Association for Women, said she enjoyed the opportunity to study foreign law. “This fellowship provided an invaluable opportunity to gain practical experience in a different legal culture and community,” she said.

Jared Watkins '09 - Accountability for Khmer Rouge Crimes in Cambodia
Jared Watkins '09

Jared Watkins worked as a legal associate at the Documentation Center for Cambodia (DC-Cam), an organization that promotes awareness of and accountability for crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge era from 1975 to 1979. A resource for the new international tribunal for Cambodia that conducts work related to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, DC-Cam was established in 2006 to try senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge. Watkins was responsible for reporting daily on proceedings in the Extraordinary Chambers and drafting trial reports that were distributed through daily blogs, listservs and print newsletters. He also prepared educational materials for translation as part of DC-Cam’s outreach to Cambodian society in Phnom Penh and beyond. “I was humbled by the opportunity to work with DC-Cam and serve the truth and memory needs of the Cambodian people as they work towards national reconciliation,” said Watkins, who is a fellow in the Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Law Program.

INTERNATIONAL LAW SOCIETY GLOBAL JUSTICE FELLOWS

Seher Khawaja '09 - Right to Adequate Housing in South Africa
Seher Khawaja '09

Seher Khawaja, a Sparer Public Interest Law Fellow in the summer of 2007, worked in the Grahamstown regional office of the Legal Resources Centre, a nonprofit that addresses discrimination and promotes democratic governance and human rights. In 2008, her focus was on land and housing rights. She worked with the Hogsback village association to secure low-cost housing for its landless population. Its goal was to provide 214 families with homes, but the government had authorized only 50 units. After meeting with several of the landless residents, she wrote an appeal of the government decision. “It was a challenge trying to balance practical land constraints, principles of land planning, environmental conservation priorities, statutory requirements and constitutional rights,” she said.

Deirdre McGuigan '10 - Assistance to Refugees and Asylum Seekers in South Africa
Deirdre McGuigan '10

Deirdre McGuigan’s externship in Johannesburg was with one of South Africa’s largest NGOs, Lawyers for Human Rights. She worked with the Refugee Rights Project, which focuses on giving legal assistance to refugees and asylum seekers. Last May, as she was about to travel to South Africa, violence against foreign people broke out across the nation. The xenophobic attacks were predominately limited to the townships — impoverished areas outside the city. Over 25,000 people were displaced. “If there ever was a time when refugees and asylum seekers needed legal assistance and someone to advocate on their behalf, this was it,” said McGuigan, who decided to continue with her plans. She worked on permanent residence applications, police brutality complaints, research and drafting of status appeals, and social assistance referrals.

John Bhuta '09 John Buhta '09 "I was fortunate enough to be awarded a BLSPI Fellowship that allowed me to work at the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. Since I have always been interested in economic justice, this externship really helped set my law school career on the right path." John Buhta is a founder of the Civil Legal Advice and Resource Office (CLARO) Student Action Group, which helps debtors represent themselves effectively in civil court. He has also externed with Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., and the Staten Island Legal Services Homeowner Defense Project, and he was a judicial intern with Hon. Michael H. Dolinger, Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court (SDNY).