The Center for Civil and Human Rights welcomes its new class of international human rights lawyers for the 2016-17 academic year.
The LL.M. class of 2017 includes 22 lawyers from 18 countries, who have come to Notre Dame to deepen their theoretical foundation and broaden their advocacy skill set. The CCHR-sponsored program continues to attract dedicated human rights advocates from around the world, and this year five new countries will be added to the alumni roster: Latvia, Taiwan, Jordan, Ireland, and Jamaica are all represented for the first time in the program’s 29-year history.
The CCHR also welcomes a new student into its J.S.D. program, Bushra Khan of Pakistan, who will join four continuing students in the multi-year doctoral program.
Sean O'Brien, director of academic programs at the CCHR, sees the diversity of this year's group as one of its greatest strengths. "We are thrilled to welcome this year's class of human rights lawyers to Notre Dame," he says. "These lawyers come to us with experience working in international tribunals, grassroots human rights organizations, and key governmental positions. With interests ranging from transitional justice and the economic, social, and cultural rights of migrants, to the human rights obligations of transnational corporations and other non-state actors, these lawyers will fully engage our faculty's expertise and enrich the quality of the classroom experience for all Notre Dame law students.”
The LL.M. Program in International Human Rights Law was founded at Notre Dame Law School in 1987 under the direction of Fr. William Lewers, C.S.C., as a response to the social and political injustices resulting from the apartheid system in South Africa. Now considered among the finest of its kind, and one of the few offering an LL.M. degree focused exclusively on human rights law, the program has educated nearly 400 lawyers from over 90 countries.
Profiles of the new students can be found below.
In the J.S.D. Program
Bushra Khan (Pakistan)
Bushra Khan earned her LL.B. from the International Islamic University Islamabad, Pakistan (IIUI) in 2009, and her LL.M. in international human rights from the same institution in 2012. While earning her LL.M., she was appointed Teaching/Research Associate at the Faculty of Law, IIUI, and in September 2015, she was appointed Lecturer of Law. Her research interests include international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and international criminal law. In her doctoral studies she will focus on the limitations to the right of free speech under international human rights law and Islamic law. Ms. Khan is the recipient of a scholarship from the prestigious Fulbright Foreign Student Program.
In the LL.M. Program
Miguel Angel Abdiel Barboza Lopez (Peru)
Miguel Barboza earned his law degree from the Universidad Católica de Santa Maria, Arequipa, Peru, in 2013. In 2011, he became Director of International Affairs at the Foreign Affairs Institute in Colombia, developing training workshops based on international human rights law focused on youth and other vulnerable groups. In 2014 he was appointed as a member of the Advisory Council of the Institute of Human Rights and Development Universidad de San Martín de Porres. Since 2015, he has been working as a lawyer at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in the Registry Section, responsible for the preliminary study of petitions from different thematic portfolios. Mr. Barboza has also done research into economic, social, and cultural rights in Colombia, Mexico, and Peru.
Martins Birgelis (Latvia)
Martins Birgelis earned both his law degree and an LL.M. from the University of Latvia, graduating at the top of his class in both programs. During his studies he spent a semester studying international and human rights law at Utrecht University, Netherlands. He has worked as a researcher at the Parliament of Latvia and the American Bar Association in Washington D.C., and participated in multiple moot court competitions, United Nations Summer School, Model United Nations and Model Asia- Europe Meeting (ASEM). Mr. Birgelis is a One Young World Ambassador and recipient of a scholarship from the Baltic – American Freedom Foundation. Currently Mr. Birgelis is a legal adviser at the Ombudsman's Office of the Republic of Latvia on civil and political rights, and a founder of the Bureau of Human Rights, an NGO which conducts human rights monitoring, research and policy analysis, and provides training and legal aid to victims of human rights abuses. He is the recipient of a scholarship from the prestigious 2016-2017 Fulbright Foreign Student Program.
Kai-Jung Karen Cheng (Taiwan)
Kai-Jung Karen Cheng studied law at the National Taiwan University, and has extensive experience in civil society groups promoting human rights at home and abroad on a number of fronts, including women’s rights, environmental protection, sustainable development, peacemaking, internet freedom, and new media. Ms. Cheng has served as the Secretary General of several Taiwan NGOs, including the Taipei Association for the Promotion of Women's Rights (TAPWR) and the Taiwan Grassroots Alliance for Peace (TGAP). She is also one of the Directors of the International Department in the “2014 Sunflower Movement” in Taiwan.
Rachana Chhin (United States)
Rachana Chhin received his J.D. and M.A. in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas School of Law in 2015. Prior to law school, Mr. Chhin attained his B.A. in International Studies from Baylor University. He served clients at UST’s Immigration Clinic, was Publications Director for the Journal of Law and Public Policy, and President of Lex Vitae. After graduation, Mr. Chhin worked as the Murphy Legal Fellow to the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York, where he was a delegate to the UN General Assembly’s Sixth (Legal) Committee. Additionally, Mr. Chhin is a Blackstone Fellow with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Murphy Scholar with the Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy, and an alumnus of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture’s Vita Institute. He is a licensed attorney admitted to the Minnesota State Bar.
Ruth Ellen Cormican (Ireland)
Ruth Cormican obtained her LL.B. from the National University of Ireland, Galway, in 2016, and holds a B.A. in Legal Studies and French from the same university. She interned with the Emergency Risk Management and Humanitarian Response Department at the World Health Organization and with the New England Innocence Project and Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts. She has also worked with Community Law and Mediation in Dublin, a public interest law center focused on providing free legal advice and legal representation to the local community. Ms. Cormican is the recipient of a scholarship from the prestigious 2016-2017 Fulbright Foreign Student Program.
Leigha Crout (United States)
Leigha Crout earned her J.D. with a focus on international human rights from the University of Notre Dame Law School in 2016. During law school, she worked as a legal intern assisting victims of employment, housing, and public accommodations discrimination within the Office of the West Virginia Attorney General, Civil Rights Division. Prior to law school, Ms. Crout received a B.S. in Public Policy and B.A. in History from the University of Charleston in 2013, graduating summa cum laude.
Adriana Elizabeth Domingo Cabrera (Guatemala)
Adriana Domingo received her law degree from Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala in 2014. She has worked with many governmental, non-governmental and inter-governmental institutions focused on defending and protecting human rights. During law school, she worked with CIPRODENI, an NGO researching the rights of children, as well as COPREDEH, the Presidential human rights commission, where she monitored the implementation of the precautionary measures from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. In 2012, Ms. Domingo began to work at the human rights office of the General Prosecutor as a legal assistant for the armed conflict cases. She has also been an activist for women’s rights, working with Guatemala’s observatory against street harassment, where she was in charge of legal and political issues. She also completed an internship at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Prior to coming to Notre Dame, Ms. Domingo worked as a legal assistant and attorney at the Bufete Jurídico de Derechos Humanos, a human rights law firm, where she brought cases against former members of the military for forced disappearances and crimes against humanity.
Teng Feng (China)
Teng Feng received his LL.B. from East China University of Political Science and Law in 2013 and then worked as a legal intern in the Litigation Department of King & Wood Mallesons. He obtained an LL.M. in U.S. Law from the University of Texas School of Law in 2015, where he cultivated a strong interest in constitutional law and human rights. He conducted legal research for the Prison Justice League and assisted in connecting jail house lawyers in Section 1983 claims. As an expert team member of the United Nations Development Program Uzbekistan, he analyzed the application of various international human rights treaties in China. In 2016, Mr. Feng joined Vote Smart and conducted research on current legislation and wrote original state bill summaries, as well as entered key vote data published on votesmart.org.
Alejandra Carolina Fernández Sáder (Venezuela)
Alejandra Fernández earned her law degree from Universidad Católica Andrés Bello in 2016. While in college, she interned at the firm of Ayala, Dillon, Fernandez, Linares & Chavero, where she assisted in the presentation and litigation of several cases before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. During her last year of law school, she provided legal aid to refugees and immigrants while working in her university’s human rights clinic. After graduation Ms. Fernández did an internship at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and later at the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL, Washington D.C.).
Imsuk Ha (South Korea)
Imsuk Ha obtained her J.D. from Handong International Law School in 2015. She began her human rights career in 2010 as a founder of the North Korean Political Prison Camps Exhibition “Where Love Does Not Exist.” During law school she worked at the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, and interned in Geneva at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and at Human Rights Watch. Ms. Ha has a particular interest in international criminal law and North Korean human rights, and seeks to deepen her understanding of international judicial/quasi-judicial processes including criminal prosecution in post-conflict and transitional periods.
Aysar Hamoudeh (Jordan)
Aysar Hammoudeh earned his law degree from the University of Jordan in 2008. He was assigned as a National Coordinator at the United Nations Volunteers Program under the auspices of the United Nations Development Program in Jordan, where he founded a local steering committee of NGOs and organized public campaigns focused on vulnerable rural populations and Palestinian refugees in Jordan. In 2012, he joined the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as a Senior Protection Assistant in response to humanitarian crises in Jordan’s neighboring countries, providing legal protection services to persons of concern to UNHCR. Mr. Hammoudeh has attended legal courses and training workshops in Amman, Istanbul, and Geneva, focusing on international law, international criminal law, Palestinian refugees, Islamic law, and counterterrorism. In 2016, he joined Syracuse School of Law in New York as a visiting scholar researching human rights violations in connection with the Syrian conflict.
Lea Lemay Langlois (Canada)
Lea Lemay Langlois holds a LL.B. in Civil Law and a B.A. in International Relations and International Law from the University of Québec in Montréal (UQAM). Through her studies, she participated in the International Clinic for the Defense of Human Rights (CIDDHU) as an intern and a case manager. She also assisted Prof. Bernard Duhaime (ND LL.M. ’01) in his position as Vice President of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. In 2013, she volunteered for Lawyers without Borders Canada to support their local partner in Guatemala in litigating cases of massive human rights violations at the national and international levels. She was also Assistant Chief Editor at the Quebec Journal of International Law. Ms. Lemay Langlois is the recipient of a scholarship from the prestigious 2016-2017 Fulbright Foreign Student Program as well as a 2016 John Peters Humphrey Fellowship Award from the Canadian Council on International Law.
Lara Maddah (Lebanon)
Lara Maddah received her law degree from Lebanese University in 2014, and a postgraduate degree in business law in 2015. During law school, she worked as a development officer at NAHNOO, an NGO focused on the right of people to public spaces in Lebanon. Her work there involved promoting a participatory approach to decision-making between citizens and municipalities and promoting government accountability and transparency. In 2014, Ms. Maddah volunteered to coordinate the "Peaceful Rocket" project in collaboration with WorldChild Holland. The project aimed to promote peace among 30 children from different cultural and religious backgrounds in Lebanon through the use of robotics technology. Ms. Maddah is the recipient of a scholarship from the prestigious 2016-2017 Fulbright Foreign Student Program.
Souad Martin-Saoudi (Canada)
Souad Martin-Saoudi received her LL.B. in 2013 from the University of Québec in Montréal (UQAM), where she acted as a case manager for the International Clinic for the Defense of Human Rights (CIDDHU). At CIDDHU, she supervised the drafting of a report on the impact of Canadian mining policy on human rights in Latin America. She has worked as an intern and volunteer in local and international human rights organizations, including the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) in San José, Costa Rica. From June 2014 to June 2016, she worked as a Law Clerk and Legal Researcher for Justice Chamberland of the Court of Appeal of Quebec. Ms. Martin-Saoudi holds a B.A. in International Relations and International Law and is a member of the Québec Bar.
Kennedy Masiye (Zimbabwe)
Kennedy Masiye received his LL.B. from the University of Zimbabwe in 2010. In 2014, he was named “Human Rights Lawyer of the Year” by the Law Society of Zimbabwe, and in 2015 received an award from Giraffe Heroes Zimbabwe in recognition of his human rights work. That same year he was selected to attend the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and Mandela Washington Fellowship in the United States under the Civic Track at Rutgers University, and was named Zimbabwe Human Rights Association’s Human Rights Lawyer of the Year. He currently works for Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights as a Senior Projects Lawyer.
Ivanna Molina Peña (Dominican Republic)
Ivanna Molina Peña received her law degree from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education in 2013, graduating summa cum laude. She also holds a Diploma in Migration and Refugees from Universidad Iberoamericana of Santo Domingo and in International Defense of Human Rights from the University of Zaragoza and the Latin American Center for Human Rights. She interned at Amnesty International Mexico with the Social Mobilization Unit, where she was responsible for accompanying and training activists on migration, use of force, and sexual and reproductive rights issues. In 2014, she returned to the Dominican Republic and started working at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as a Protection Associate in the Statelessness Unit. She has also been a human rights advisor for local NGOs regarding LGBTI rights. Ms. Molina is the recipient of a scholarship from the prestigious 2016-2017 Fulbright Foreign Student Program.
Natalia Mora (Colombia)
Natalia Mora obtained her law degree at Universidad del Rosario in 2013, with a specialization in human rights and international law. During law school, she represented her university at the Inter-American Human Rights Moot Court and was honored with the Academic Excellence Diploma on two occasions. From 2013 to 2015, Ms. Mora worked for the Colombian Ministry of Mining and Energy, focusing on environmental and social issues that arise from the mining sector. She also worked with vulnerable communities, collaborating in the design of public policies for the protections of human rights in the extractive industries. In 2013, she completed a Professional Visit at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San José, Costa Rica. In 2016, Ms. Mora started working in the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace of the President of Colombia, where she developed policies related to the Colombian transition to peace.
Ugochi Okpe (Nigeria)
Ugochi Mercy Okpe obtained her law degree from the Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Enugu, Nigeria in 2004 and was admitted into the Nigerian Bar in 2006. In 2010, she joined the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in Nigeria, where she now serves as a staff attorney prosecuting public interest cases in both Nigerian courts and the ECOWAS Court. She advances transparency and accountability and respect for economic and social rights through media advocacy, public impact and strategic litigation, capacity building, education, and public awareness. Ms. Okpe also heads the Women’s Socio-Economic Rights Department at SERAP. In 2016, she visited the U.S. to participate in the International Visitors Leadership Program on Accountability in Government. She previously worked for the Access to Justice and Legal Defense and Assistance Project, and currently represents Sub-Saharan Africa at the UNCAC Coalition Coordination Committee.
Edgar Alfredo Ortega Franco (Guatemala)
Alfredo Ortega received his LL.B. from Universidad Rafael Landívar in his native Guatemala in 2012, and is pursuing a master’s degree at Universidad Francisco Marroquín on politics and international law. Throughout his academic career, he has worked on human rights-related issues with both national NGOs and the National Ombudsman Office. As a staff attorney at the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), he litigated cases before the Inter-American Human Rights System mainly related to Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala, dealing with judicial independence, freedom of expression, economic, social and cultural rights, and gross human rights violations.
Jodi-Ann Quarrie (Jamaica)
Jodi-Ann Quarrie received her LL.B. from the University of the West Indes, with honors in 2012, and her Legal Education Certificate in 2014 from Norman Manley Law School. In 2015, she was a Rómulo Gallegos Fellow at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and obtained an Advanced Certificate in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights from American University Washington College of Law. Ms. Quarrie worked as part of a committee to have language rights included in the Jamaican Constitution, assisted prisoners detained in Jamaica for over 30 years without conviction, and assisted the Caribbean Court of Justice in their first human rights decision. She has participated in several moot court competitions, including the Jessup. Ms. Quarrie is a member of the Barbados and Jamaica Bars.
Michael Talbot (United States)
Michael Talbot received his J.D. from the University of South Carolina as well as a B.A. from the Catholic University of America and an M.A. from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. From 2007-2010, he served with the U.S. Peace Corps in The Gambia, West Africa, working in public health and community development. In 2012, he was a summer fellow at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, where he defended low-income clients undergoing eviction and foreclosure. He currently works as Associate Director, Master of Global Affairs for Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs and volunteers as a mediator for the Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program at the Center for Community Justice in Elkhart, Indiana. He is a member of the South Carolina Bar.
Israel Tibebu Taye (Ethiopia)
Israel Taye received his LL.B. from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia in 2011, concentrating on international law and pan-African issues in particular. His career in international law began with an internship at the African Union Commission Office of the Legal Counsel, where he assisted its Commission on International Law on research pertaining to human rights and the international juridical system. From 2014 to 2015, Mr. Israel served as a legal assistant to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights under the African Union’s youth volunteer program. He focused on issues relating to extractive industries and environmental rights, as well as other human rights violations in Africa. As a 2015 Mandela Washington Fellow, Mr. Israel studied Public Management at Howard University.