I really enjoyed my summer working with Open Society Afghanistan in Kabul. I spent the first half of my summer researching the role of Afghan civil society organizations in the peace and reconciliation process, which involved interviewing dozens of human rights organizations and activists in Afghanistan, and drafting a report that evaluated their progress and offered recommendations for the way forward. During the second half of my summer, I helped the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission – the government’s independent watchdog entity – draft the country’s first legislation offering compensation and assistance to civilian victims of the conflict. In addition to these projects, I also helped with the monitoring and evaluation of Open Society’s grantees, which took me to a number of interesting locations, including Herat where I visited Afghanistan’s only law school clinical program.
Everyone in my office was incredibly welcoming, and while I hadn’t given much thought beforehand to the fact that I’d be the only ex-pat working in the office, it was something that I truly came to appreciate. Both in and out of the office, I took every chance I could to practice Dari with Afghans, which was a great way to learn more about the country’s politics, history, and culture. Working in Afghanistan wasn’t without its challenges, but it was an incredibly rewarding experience, and I am grateful to the Chayes fellowship program for its support.
Twenty-three Harvard Law School students have been awarded the 2013 Chayes International Public Service Fellowship this summer. They are working abroad in Afghanistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, Cambodia, France, India, Italy, Hungary, Japan, Myanmar, the Netherlands, Portugal, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Yemen, as well as in New York City and Washington, DC. Please click here to read brief biographies and descriptions of their summer placements submitted by the students
During her LL.M. year at HLS, Kati greatly valued her work with the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Rights Clinic. Her winter term independent clinical with the Refugee Rights Clinic at Tel Aviv University brought her to Israel at a critical time: Kati explained that Israel has only recently become a country of destination for refugees, and the country is in the process of developing its laws, policies and indeed its positions on refugee rights. More urgently, her first client, a HIV-positive South Sudanese man with three young children, was facing immediate deportation. The Clinic’s efforts were successful, resulting in a temporary residence permit for the family on humanitarian grounds. “The strategy for an eight-month case is very different from what happens when someone is facing a two-week order,” Kati said. “It was great that I could make a contribution in two weeks.” Her work in Israel involved both direct client service (drafting affidavits, researching country conditions and precedents, and preparing clients for hearings) and policy research (helping with a position paper that advocates for the development of a Convention Against Torture procedure in Israel). Kati recognized the challenges of translating classroom and clinical work into the field: “I had to learn to walk a very fine line respecting religious, cultural and political sensitivities to be able to help our clients,” she remembered. Still, her winter term in Tel Aviv has “greatly reaffirmed [her] commitment” to working with refugees after graduation: “That’s why I came to Harvard, and that’s why I’m a lawyer.”
“I just got back from a day in court where my organization was defending two cases. The first was for a group of Druze sheikhs who were indicted for traveling to Syria and the second was for the Arab member of the Knesset who helped organize the trip for them (and was claiming parliamentary immunity). This is the third case so far this summer where Adalah has represented members of parliament; it’s been really interesting. Above is a picture of Jerusalem from ourfirst trip to the Supreme Court last month.”
“Refugee law is in a constant state of flux in Israel, and at the clinic our work focuses on both representing individual clients as well as challenging administrative regulations that we believe violate the rights of asylum-seekers. Last week our clinic argued a petition before the Supreme Court challenging the prohibition on work. We are now deciding how best to challenge other new policies, such as the detention of asylum-seekers when they present themselves to register, and the lack of a meaningful appeals process.”