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Law Student Assists International Justice Mission in Rwanda

By Rachel Judy | September 18, 2012

Hoffman with IJM Rwanda staff members.

Just one year into his studies at Regent University's School of Law, Kevin Hoffman decided to put his education to work as a legal volunteer with the International Justice Mission (IJM). Based out of an IJM field office in Kigali, Rwanda, Hoffman spent six weeks this summer alongside IJM staff, working primarily with cases of child sexual abuse. Hoffman's internship was sponsored by the Center for Global Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law, housed in Regent's School of Law.

The field office receives case referrals from the local community and then works alongside the local justice system in Kigali to advance the criminal and civil cases against the perpetrator. Because court cases are tried in Kinyarwanda (the historical language of Rwanda), the American staff serves as support to Rwandan lawyers. As a volunteer, Hoffman worked with this team, meeting on a regular basis to go over strategies for open cases. He also performed a large variety of research projects dealing with issues including immigration visas and import duty exemptions.

During his first week at work, Hoffman sat in on the trial of an accused sexual offender. Before the trial began, he spent time with the victim and her father. "The magnitude of the work I was there to participate in washed over me in a way I never could have expected and stuck with me for the rest of my time there," he recalled.

While Hoffman certainly credits Regent Law with preparing him legally, he also admits that nothing could have truly prepared him for the experience with IJM. "The critical thinking skills learned in the classroom are transferable anywhere, and I was able to use those same research skills taught in Legal Writing to write memos based on Rwanda's Criminal Code and the East African Community's Customs Act," he said. "I doubt very much that I would have been able to complete many of my assignments without the legal education provided through Regent's first-year curriculum."

With two more years left in school, Hoffman isn't quite sure where he'll end up, but he knows that his time in Rwanda has fed a passion that has been there all along—the passion to help and support victims of human rights abuses, he explained. "My summer experience only served to deepen my respect for IJM as an organization and increase my passion for serving victims of human rights abuses around the world through the use of my legal education."

Learn more about the Center for Global Justice.


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