Human Rights Field Work

The Sanela Diana Jenkins Human Rights Project takes law students to locations around the world to study human rights issues and engage in the advancement of human rights.

The Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda 2014

In March 2014, Professor Steinberg, Jessica Peake and a group of students travelled to South Kivu province to undertake research as part of the Sanela Diana Jenkins Gender Violence in Eastern Congo Clinic.  The Clinic is involved in assessing which form of intervention (medical, psycho-social, judicial, micro-finance or ecumenical) is most effective in limiting the impact of mass rape on the villages that have been attacked. While there, the group visited remote villages within Fizi Province to conduct interviews and surveys in villages that have been subjected to an attack.  The group was able to observe all five types of intervention and to conduct surveys with villagers both pre- and post- those interventions.  The group then accompanied Luis Moreno Ocampo to Gulu, Uganda, and attended several events held by Invisible Children.  Moreno Ocampo and the group met with former child soldier victims of Joseph Kony.

The Democratic Republic of Congo 2012

In February 2012, Professor Steinberg led a group of students from the Sanela Diana Jenkins Human Rights Project on a research trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The trip was organized around three international human rights projects.

At the request of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, based in Geneva, they conducted a preliminary assessment of the extent of human trafficking in the Congo. Their report is available here.

At the suggestion of Human Rights Watch, the group assessed Congolese perceptions of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is currently prosecuting several militia leaders from the Congo. Their assessment is available here.

In conjunction with the Sanela Diana Jenkins Human Rights Project’s work with the ICC Office of the Prosecutor, they also assessed the types of reparations that are preferred by Congolese victims of mass atrocities. The ICC has several million dollars of reparations funds to pay out in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but there is no consensus on what form the reparations should take and who should receive them. The UCLA Law group decided to ask the victims, meeting with the regional chief, village chief and village elders in Bogoro, a village that had been victimized by mass murder and mass rape. The group’s findings are available here.

The group also had the opportunity to talk with recently demobilized militia combatants at the United Nations Demobilization, Disarmament, and Resettlement Camp in Goma. And, while working in Goma they unexpectedly came across the Congolese militia leader Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the ICC on war crimes charges, and ultimately located his compound, which they exposed in a subsequent press release that garnered substantial attention in the region.

Professor Steinberg returned to the Congo with students in October 2012 to conduct additional research. After meeting with the village elders in Bogoro, who are all males, the students returned to interview the women and children to see what kinds of reparations they prefer. The group’s conversations with the demobilized militia combatants in Goma have evolved into a project to help explain why militia combatants, particularly child soldiers, decide to demobilize and disarm, in order to propose policies that might facilitate more demobilization. Professor Steinberg and his students also visited several villages in an effort to identify anthropological evidence of mass rape; the hope is that evidence of that type might be introduced at the International Criminal Court as a substitute for victim testimony, which is traumatic and stigmatizing to the victims.

Bosnia-Herzegovina 2011

In 2011, law students visited Bosnia-Herzegovina, where human rights atrocities took place in the 1990s, most notably in Srebrenica, where 8,000 men and boys were brutally executed. The students interviewed survivors, met with local and national politicians, and worked with prosecutors to advance justice. They met with the chief war crimes prosecutor in Bosnia, and travelled to the Hague to work with prosecutors and judges at the ICTY.