2005 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.


Elizabeth Barnert is a first year student in the UCB/UCSF Joint Medical Program. Liz will spend the summer in El Salvador helping to harness the power of forensic science to benefit human rights on behalf of young adults seeking to discover their family identities and families seeking to discover the fate of their missing children. As a fellow with Asociación Pro- Búsqueda de Niñas y Niños Desaparecidos (The Organization in Search of the Missing Children) a Salvadoran NGO, she will work on a project to identify children (now young adults) who during the Salvadoran "civil" war (1980 -1992) were separated from their parents or abducted by the military during military sweeps of villages, handed over to the Salvadoran Red Cross and later placed in orphanages or adopted. Liz will assist to implement an ambitious plan to interview and collect DNA samples from family members who are searching for children who had gone missing during this time of conflict.

Tanya Clark Jones is pursuing a PhD in Sociology. Tanya has worked extensively in Senegal, Togo and Ghana. She plans to return to Africa to examine how the human rights of HIV-infected South Africans are addressed through the development of a broad-based social movement, of which Treatment Action Campaign, her sponsoring NGO, is a part. Tanya plans to assist Treatment Action Campaign with strategic planning, communications and the delivery of treatment literacy workshops while carrying out ethnographic research on the staff's and members' perceptions of the government's management of the roll-out of antiretroviral treatment, their view as to their role in advancing the goal of universal access to antiretroviral drugs and their assessment of participation in Treatment Action Campaign.

Shelley Cavalieri is in her second year of law school at Boalt Hall. Shelley will work with the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom to evaluate the U.S.'s protection of refugee rights under the Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. In her previous work with the Commission, Shelley helped to examine whether the law's process of expedited removal, which allows for the summary removal of non-citizens who arrive at U.S. borders without proper travel documentation, is undermining the rights of asylum seekers by preventing a proper screening of their claims of persecution. This summer, she will face the challenging task of helping to reconcile the Commission's recommendations with the Department of Homeland Security's implementation concerns while maintaining a focus on the protection of refugee rights.

Sapana Doshi is a PhD student in Geography. Sapana will work with Pukar (Partners for Urban Knowledge Action and Research) in Mumbai India to study how water is accessed by urban poor women and girls. At a critical juncture, the City of Mumbai is being pressured to privatize the management of the water supply system in an effort to improve efficiency, cost recovery and distribution. Sapana proposes to study the struggle for water in the daily lives of Mumbai's residents to formulate appropriate water sector and wider urban development policies to guarantee the right to water access. In particular, she is interested in examining the role of water provision in the lives of low-income women and girls and whether inequitable water distribution has an effect on their rights to education, health and freedom from violence.

Catalina Garzón is a PhD student in Environmental Science Management and Policy. As a fellow, she will work with the U'wa Defense Project, an NGO that supports U'wa (indigenous peoples in Columbia) led community-building and development work. Due to escalating violence, often over land rights, the U'wa and other indigenous people in Columbia find it imperative to develop mechanisms to articulate a vision for their lands. Catalina will research the development of one innovative mechanism, Planes de Vida (Life Plans) currently being used by other native nations in Columbia. Planes de Vida are used to advance ambitious indigenous human rights agendas, addressing education, health, ceremonial practices, the security of indigenous leaders as well as the protection of sacred sites, harvest calendars and other indigenous land uses often excluded from national planning priorities.

Rob Harris and Tovin Lapan are students with the Graduate School of Journalism. The pair plan to investigate the human rights abuses, including murder, torture and disappearances of key union activists in Coca-Cola's Colombian bottling plants. One question they hope to explore is whether Coca-Cola had any knowledge of or played a role in the planning or perpetration of these abuses. As part of a United Students Against Sweatshops fact-finding delegation, Rob and Tovin will travel to Columbia to visit Coca-Cola's bottling plants and to interview representatives from Coca-Cola, the union seeking to represent workers, union members who have been threatened and community members who live near the bottling plants. Their goal is to create a multi-media, web-based story that will serve to educate the U.S. public.

Sylvia Nam is pursuing a Master's Degree through City and Regional Planning. Sylvia will work with the Economic Institute of Cambodia to examine the effect of garment trade liberalization on the Cambodian garment industry, its largest manufacturing base, and on the lives of garment workers, 90% of whom are women. January 1, 2005 marked the end of a forty-year quota system for the global textile and apparel industry that had allowed the garment industry to flourish in countries such as Cambodia. Sylvia will research whether these industry -shifting conditions have hastened the collapse of the garment industry and whether an increase in labor abuses has resulted. Given the feminization of the garment industry, Sylvia will explore the effect of the global quota's end on women and whether women are now at greater risk for not only labor abuses but other types of human rights abuses, including violence in the home and human trafficking. Read Sylvia's final report.

Sunita Puri is a first year student in the UCB/UCSF Joint Medical Program. Sunita will partner with Narika, a Berkeley-based South Asian women's organization that offers services to immigrant women who are survivors of domestic violence. She will examine the reasons why South Asian immigrants in the Bay Area make use of new reproductive technologies to conduct fetal sex selection, a practice that has been well-documented in India but not at all documented in the immigrant population in the U.S. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some South Asian immigrant women are coerced to have male children and/or undergo forced abortion of female fetuses, implicating a women's right to reproductive health. Women who resist or choose to have a daughter may be harassed or battered in the home by their husbands or other family members. Sunita seeks to examine this phenomenon, its frequency, the risk of human rights abuses, and the role of medical professionals and emerging medical technologies.

Malini Ranganthan is a PhD student with the Energy and Resource Group. Malini will spend the summer in Dakar, Senegal with Environment et Développment du Tiers Monde (Environmental Development Action in the Third World) to examine the physical and economic challenges poor urban dwellers face in accessing electricity. Senegal is an interesting case with which to probe the questions of energy access and social exclusion. In 1999, the state electricity utility was sold to a multinational corporation in response to conditions placed by the World Bank. However, shortly after the sale, the newly elected government was forced to reclaim ownership after the privatized utility failed to meet supply targets causing widespread social upheaval. Senegal continues to contemplate privatization. Malini's goal is to understand the challenges faced by poor urban dwellers in accessing electricity in Dakar and to determine whether it is feasible to incorporate consultative and participatory approaches into the process of electricity reform.

Katherine Schlaefer is pursuing a Master's Degree in Public Health. Katherine will work with Mi Cometa in Ecuador to continue her work with Ecuadoran street youth. She estimates that roughly 10,000 children live in shelters and institutions throughout Ecuador due to extreme poverty or abuse. Katherine will document the connection between human rights violations and the lives of street youth, particularly with regard to conduct disorder behaviors that often characterize street youth. Katherine will build on last summer's work when she conducted a qualitative study of street youth throughout Ecuador to investigate their health status, personal histories, substance abuse and sexual behaviors. Katherine's research on street children will be made available to organizations, researchers and government entities to develop a better understanding of street youth. Read Katherine's final report.