This summer I will conduct research for the nonprofit International Bridges to Justice in Geneva, Switzerland from May 31, 2010 to August 11, 2010. International Bridges to Justice (IBJ) is a nonprofit organization that strives to uphold human rights globally, but specifically in developing countries. IBJ's programs aim to protect the right to competent legal representation, the right to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment, and the right to a fair trial. Its innovative approaches to meeting these goals include Public Defender capacity building, criminal justice reform, and generating more awareness of human rights among the population. To foster the sharing of ideas about criminal justice and cooperation among Public Defenders of the world, the IBJ has created the online JusticeMakers program. This program essentially provides an online support structure that facilitates networking among criminal justice stakeholders around the world. Additionally, each year the IBJ hosts a JusticeMaker competition to provide funding and support to someone in a developing country to improve that country's criminal justice system. Winning proposals (from professionals including public defenders, human rights officers, and police officials) offer the greatest innovation, efficacy and sustainability, and fellows are rewarded with funding, additional training, and a documentary photojournalist to record their efforts. The 2010 JusticeMakers Fellows is focused on Asian rule of law, and some winners will be trained at the Singapore Criminal Justice Training Center, with many others heading to locations all over Asia to implement their projects.
I will primarily conduct legal research enable me to compile a legal "course-pack" that Fellows would read in advance of the Singapore training. This could include fact patterns and other scenarios demonstrating relevant laws and issues that fellows will discuss during their training. Since the JusticeMakers program this year is focused on enhancing and promoting human rights in Asia, I will want to research regional human rights issues and rule of law initiatives. Additionally, I will coordinate with the IBJ Legal Training Resource Center in contributing to multimedia, web-based eLearning courses on the basic tenets of criminal defense, focusing on skills particularly applicable to Asia.
Another critical area of the JusticeMaker fellowship program is the promotion of the fellows' ideas and efforts through the media. To accomplish this, I will conduct research to assist participants in IBJ's documentary journalist program. This will include creating a documentary journalist guide for JusticeMakers fellows to facilitate cooperation. I will also find press and media contacts in each country where we are sending journalists in coordination with the JusticeMaker team. I will research the prevailing news stories/events related to human rights within the country, creating a primer for each documentary journalist placement. This research will be critical in helping journalists understand the major news issues related to human rights/rule of law in the specific assigned country. Finally, I will have to learn enough so that I can create key themes and concepts (related to the JM Fellow and project) for participants to capture at each placement. Overall, I will be conducting various kinds of research, including legal as well as political issues, in order to facilitate the IBJ in training future human rights leaders in Asia and the world at large.