2006 Human Rights Fellows

The Human Rights Center has sponsored more than 100 graduate and professional students to work with nongovernmental organizations and human rights agencies in the U.S. and abroad.


Heidi Boas, a second-year student in the Boalt Hall School of Law will work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee Rights in Panama City, Panama. The internal armed conflict in Colombia has produced a significant refugee crisis in Central America and in the northern region of South America. Heidi will advocate for increased legal protections for refugees in Panama, especially those fleeing the armed conflict in Colombia. She will also educate refugee communities about their legal rights.

Ju Hui Judy Han, a PhD candidate in Geography, will work with the Korea Women's Studies Institute in South Korea to address the migration of North Korean women. Many North Korean women are forced to leave their country in search of food and work to support their families. Many enter China illegally where they face highly exploitive working conditions and/or are forced into marriages. Christian and evangelical missionaries assist some of these women to migrate to South Korea. Judy will examine the plight of these women and the religious motivations behind advocacy for North Korean migrants.

Benjamin Lessing, a PhD in Political Science, will spend the summer with the Viva Rio Program on Public Security in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As a Fulbright scholar, Benjamin conducted research on armed violence and the drug trade in Brasil. He plans to expand on that research to investigate the rise in extra-judicial killings by the police. In 2003, extra-judicial killings accounted for one-third of the total homicides in Rio de Janeiro. These killings disproportionately affect the poor who lack resources to protest and protect themselves. Benjamin will research police behavior and the structure of police institutions to better understand how police reform occurs and evaluate the effectiveness of human rights training and education efforts.

Stacey Murphy, a doctoral candidate in City and Regional Planning, will work with the Coalition on Homelessness in San Francisco to evaluate the effects of a new set of human rights policies for the homeless. An estimated 15,000 men, women, and youth are considered homeless in San Francisco, which has one of the most severe homeless problems in the United States. In response, Mayor Gavin Newsom has unveiled a series of new homeless policies. Stacey plans to study how the lives of homeless people have been affected by these new policies and how these policies compare to the policies of prior administrations.

Edwin Okong'o, a Master's student in the Graduate School of Journalism, will work with the nongovernmental organization Dick Tiger '72 Olympian Hero International (named after a Kenyan Olympic boxing medalist) that advocates for the rights of people with disabilities in Kenya. Although Kenya enacted the Persons with Disability Act in 2003, the lives of people with disabilities reportedly have seen little improvement. Edwin, who is Kenyan, plans to write a series of articles exposing the treatment of Kenyans with disabilities and the conditions in which they live. He seeks to encourage the Kenyan press to address the state's failure to uphold the new law and guarantee the rights of the disabled.

Juan Thomas Ordóñez is a doctoral student in the UCB/UCSF Joint Medical Anthropology Program. He will work with the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant in Berkeley, an organization that provides advocacy and legal services to immigrants and those seeking asylum. Juan will examine the social factors involved in deciding to seek asylum, what happens during the asylum application process, and how the outcome of the application may affect individuals and their relationships with family members. Above all, he will explore the lived experience of violence as it is projected socially and redefined legally through the asylum application process.

Noer Fauzi Rachman is a PhD in Environmental Science Policy and Management. Noer will spend his summer in Indonesia where he will investigate how the struggle for land rights and agrarian reform has been shaped by civil society actors, including grassroots peasant groups. He will explore how the national government's move toward decentralization has affected agrarian land reform in a variety of settings, including forestry and plantation, and what role state and non-state agencies, NGOs, and peasant groups have played in encouraging land acquisition, natural resource management, and legal reform.

Rohan Radhakrishna is in the UCB/UCSF Joint Medical Program. He will work this summer with the Concerned Parents Association (CPA) in the town of Kitgum in northern Uganda. He will assist the CPA staff to conduct a needs assessment to better understand the health needs of war-affected youth and children. Many of the youth are former members of the Lord's Resistance Army, a rebel group that abducts children to fill its ranks. Read Rohan's final report.

Elana Shever, a PhD candidate in Social-Cultural Anthropology, will work with a grass-roots political movement in the shantytowns that surround the oil refineries outside of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Elana will investigate how local residents pursue their right to health care through both protests against and collaborations with state, municipal, civic and oil corporation actors.

Megan Ybarra is a doctoral student in Environmental Science, Policy and Management. Megan will work with Coordinación de ONGs & Cooperativas, (CONGCOOP) in Guatemala. CONGCOOP assists people displaced by war and political violence in Guatemala regain title to their land. Megan will investigate whether market-based land reform, a policy advocated by the World Bank, protects individual property rights, particularly the rights of indigenous people and women in the face of conflicting land claims and interests.