Post by: Kim Kham
The second half of this summer I had the opportunity to intern at an organization called Project Expedite Justice (PEJ). This organization was founded, and is currently directed, by Cynthia Tai, a former prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC). PEJ was founded to hold perpetrators of serious human rights abuses and other atrocities accountable for their crimes. PEJ provides training, mentoring, and independent legal consulting in conflict and post-conflict situations. These situations include situations in which individuals are persecuted based on their gender, race, political affiliation, or religious beliefs. PEJ also represents victims of these atrocities in court or in alternative judicial mechanisms.
Without trying to sound cliché, this experience was truly an experience of a lifetime. Being Burmese and growing up, I heard all about international crimes such as crimes against humanity (CAH), war crimes, and genocide but I never had much exposure to the legal side of these atrocities. However, during this internship, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of the world of international criminal law.
The first project that I worked on involved analyzing and managing evidence from the conflict zones in which PEJ has been involved in helping. A majority of the evidence I reviewed and managed came from Dr. Tom Catena, a graduate of Brown University’s medical school. Dr. Catena is a missionary who has dedicated his medical profession, thus far, to the people in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan who have been deeply affected by the conflict. Dr. Catena has been working as a volunteer medical doctor and is the only doctor within hundreds of miles of Nuba. Seriously injured victims of bombings and the conflict come from all over the area in hopes of receiving treatment for their life-threatening injuries. While making this trek, many victims of these atrocities become deceased by the time they reach Dr. Catena. Dr. Catena’s dedication to the people of Sudan is extremely admirable because even in the midst of his hospital being targeted and attacked by bombs, Dr. Catena has continued to work endlessly to help these victims.
The second project I worked on dealt with legal research and writing on the gender-based violence committed by members of ISIS in Iraq. There is currently a group of attorneys based in the States that is trying to prosecute members of ISIS who are nationals of States Parties to the Rome Statute which governs the ICC. In my research, I came across horrific atrocities that ISIS has committed against individuals who do not confine themselves to gender norms. These atrocities include execution by gunfire, throwing individuals off buildings to their deaths with bags full of weights tied to their necks, burning individuals alive, etc. Though Iraq and Syria are not States Parties to the Rome Statute, this group of attorneys wants the ICC to hold these individuals accountable for their actions by prosecuting ISIS foreign fighters who are nationals of States Parties.
I am extremely thankful for this opportunity to intern with such an amazing organization and have high hopes for the future of PEJ and its endeavors.
This post was written by a Center for Global Justice Intern. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.