2004 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.


Liza Buchbinder is completing her first year of the UCSF/UCB Joint Medical Program. Before returning to school, Liza spent two years in the Peace Corps in Togo, West Africa where she volunteered as a Community Health and AIDS Prevention worker. This summer, Liza will return to Togo to address the issue of child labor and migration with the organization, Action Pour La Jeunesse D'Afrique (AJA). Liza hopes to explore the underlying forces driving the phenomenon of child migration by gaining a better understanding of the cultural and social factors that influence a parents' decision to send their child away to work. She plans to meet with members of organizations dedicated to issues of child labor and migration and will interview families that have sent their children to work in other countries. Liza will also explore whether trafficking is a dimension to this migration.

Michael Burstein is a first year law student at Boalt Hall. Mike will work this summer with the Budapest-based European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) to advocate for the equal treatment of the Roma. Mike will assist ERRC staff attorneys in preparing for litigation before national courts and the European Court of Human Rights. He will also be assisting in the preparation of testimony before the UN Committee Against Torture, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the UN Commission on Human Rights.

Elizabeth Havice is pursuing a Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy and Management. On the tenth anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Elizabeth will examine increased human dislocation and migration brought about by trade liberalization. Many migrants who leave their homes seeking the benefits of economic integration under NAFTA can potentially fall victim to several human rights violations. In conjunction with Sin Fronteras, a Mexico City-based NGO, Elizabeth will study the human perils of migration as well as recommend strategies for the human rights protection of migrants. Read Elizabeth's final report.

Stephanie Kim is working toward a Masters degree in City and Regional Planning. Prior to returning to school, Stephanie worked with several non-profit organizations serving the Asian Pacific Islander communities in the San Francisco Bay Area and Hawaii. In combining her academic and grassroots-based interests in community and economic development, Stephanie will work this summer with the Canadian Centre for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI) in Vietnam . As a transitioning society, Vietnam is undergoing economic, social and political change. Stephanie hopes to better understand how these rapid change s are affecting the rights and livelihood of ethnic minorities who inhabit mountainous and remote highland areas. She hopes to gain an understanding of how development is impacting the human rights of rural minorities and to work on an NGO level to improve these conditions.

Kristen McDonald is a Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Science , Policy and Management. Kristen will work this summer with International Rivers Network in China to study that country's dam building policies. In particular, Kristen will be studying the proposal to build 13 dams on the Upper Salween River, a currently undamed river, in western China. This area, designated as a UNESCO world heritage site, is remote and undeveloped and home to members of China's ethnic minorities. Kristen plans to research the potential social costs and benefits of Upper Salween development on local communities and the ability of local activists and scientists to gain access to information that would allow them to analyze the impact of the dam and to communicate with government officials. Read Kristen's final report.

Jigar Mehta is a student at the Graduate School of Journalism. Jigar will work with The American Anti-Slavery Group (AASG) and plans to address the issue of modern day slavery in the West African country of Mauritania where approximately 3% of the population, mostly Haratines, (otherwise known as "Black Moors"), still live in bondage. Through interviews in Mauritania and with Mauritanian immigrants in the U.S. and in France, Jigar plans to create a video oral history of former slaves, former slave owners, current slaves and abolitionists. Jigar intends to use the documentary as a way to place faces and voices on modern-day slavery in an effort to end slavery in Mauritania.

Michel Sam is completing his first year in the UCSF/UCB Joint Medical Program. Prior to returning to school, Michel worked as an engineer in a prosthetics research laboratory where he helped to develop prosthetic devices for patients with disabilities, some of whom were survivors of land mine explosions. Based on this experience, Michel will work with Handicap International, an NGO in Cambodia that provides rehabilitation, education and vocational training to survivors of land mines to assist them to reintegrate into their communities.

Natoschia Scruggs is pursuing a Ph.D. in African Diaspora Studies. Although Natoschia is interested in the plight of global refugees, she has a particular interest in the challenges faced by Somali refugees in the United States. To learn firsthand about the experiences of refugees and their families when they resettle in the U.S., Natoschia will work with the International Rescue Committee in San Francisco where a majority of IRC's current clients are African (Ethiopian, Somali and Liberian). Natoschia will examine what are some of the daily obstacles Somali refugees face, what psychological and social strategies do they employ to survive in new communities and how do these immigrants and refugees perceive and incorporate themselves into American society?

Anne Short is a candidate for a Masters of Science in the Energy and Resources Group. According to a recent food assessment by the U.C. Cooperative in Alameda County, West Oakland residents face a severe food insecurity due to lack of access to healthy and affordable foods. Anne will work with the West Oakland Food Project Collaborative, lead by the Environmental Science Institute, to develop a soil testing protocol as part of a campaign to increase the conversion of blighted properties into community gardens. She will also develop a community pamphlet outlining the guidelines for safe urban gardening practices and help lay the foundation for the establishment of a West Oakland community-based urban gardening center.

Simeon Tegel is pursuing a Masters degree in Latin American Studies. Prior to coming to U.C Berkeley, Simeon worked as a journalist covering environmental and human rights issues in Latin America. This summer, he will work with Amazon Watch in Peru where he will study the social and environmental repercussions of the Camisea gas project, a multi-billion dollar operation to extract natural gas in the remote Urumbamba Valley, in the south-eastern Peruvian Amazon. Simeon will assist Amazon Watch and the national Peruvian indigenous organization AIDESEP develop a media campaign around the Camisea project. Through contacts with these two NGO's, he plans to interview members of indigenous communities in the Urumbamba Valley to document the social, cultural and environmental effects of the Camisea. Read Simeon's final report.