Class of 2022
Esther Akhigbe (Nigeria)
Esther Akhigbe holds a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B Hons) degree from University of Abuja, Nigeria. As undergraduate, she offered Human Rights Law, which contributed so much to her enlightenment, exposing her to the intricacies of human rights laws in Nigeria, the defaulting enforcement procedure as well as the many abuses in the system; It was this eye-opener that endeared her to human rights, as an advocate for the enforcement of equality, equity, and fairness in the society. She passionately joined the Law Clinic of the University, where she was functioned in different capacities, including working under various Directorates of the Law Clinic; She was trained on access to Justice, pre-trial education, client interviewing mechanisms, detainee/awaiting trial defense, advocacy strategies and the workings and functionalities of the Nigerian Correctional Centres (the Prisons). In 2016, She graduated among the top 30 best in a class of 250 students. She proceeded to Nigerian Law School, Abuja, in 2017, and was called to the Nigerian bar as Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 2018.
Afterwards, she participated in the one-year mandatory National Youth Service Scheme, necessary for all Nigerian graduates. During this period, Akhigbe spent her one year working with the Securities and Exchange Commission, under the Collective Investment division. While there, she was trained on different aspects of investments and the collective investment schemes of other countries. In the course of this one year's Youth Service, she was a fellow of the Legal Aid Club, where Lawyers meet to take up human rights cases pro bono, as their contributions to community development services. Also, during this Youth Service year, she volunteered with Hope Behind Bars Africa (HBBA) a human rights NGO on prison reform and pro-bono services to awaiting-trial inmates. In recognition of her passion and commitment, the Board of Trustees of HBBA, headed by the Executive director and founder Funke Adeoye, appointed her as the Programme officer in 2020. With this position, Akhigbe and her team successfully organized Human Rights courses on Capital Representation, for Law Students and young lawyers on ''Mitigation investigation to issues on mental health and intellectual disability.’’ a workshop sponsored by Accountability Lab, in partnership with Cornell Centre on the Death Penalty Worldwide, in July, 2020.
Between 2019-2020, Akhigbe worked as Research Assistant to her University thesis supervisor, Dr Hadiza Hamma (Associate Prof.), during Dr. Hadiza's study in Harvard University, US.
Prior to commencing her LL. M. Akhigbe joined International Media and Legal Consult, a media outfit which houses a subsidiary organisation, Ogbeide Associates, as a Human Resources Manager and an Associate of the Law Firm. Akhigbe founded her Law Firm, where she practiced with the name and style of "Meireer Attorneys."
Akhigbe is convinced that LL.M Degree in International Human Rights at Notre Dame Law School will build her up professionally, equip her intellectually and sharpen the focus of her interest in human rights advocacy and awareness creation; she is attracted to the core values of Human Rights Advocacy, embodied in the statement of former President of the University, Fr. Hesburgh: “Compassion without competence would be a cruel hoax upon those they serve.” Likewise, as it is stated on the web page, the Notre Dame Law School “embodies the characteristics of exceptional moral and ethical standards, extraordinary ability and compassion for others."
Finally, she hopes to build a career in academics. Gaining these myriads of uncommon experiences would enable her to become a different kind of Lawyer in the Nigeria society and beyond, it is Akhigbe's wish to be that Lawyer that changes the narrative.
Nicolás Buitrago Rey (Colombia)
Nicolás Eduardo Buitrago Rey earned his law degree with a Diploma in International Law and Human Rights from the Universidad del Rosario (Colombia). During his undergraduate studies, he was part of international law moot court competitions and the Public Actions Group, a public interest legal clinic. After this, Buitrago obtained a Master's Degree in International Studies and a Master's Degree in International Law at Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia). He was granted both degrees with the Cum Laude distinction. Mr. Buitrago has worked as a Research Assistant at the International Law Group of Universidad del Rosario Law School and has been a Lecturer in International Law and Constitutional Law at the same University. Also, he has published articles and book chapters related to International Law and Human Rights. His research interests are Transitional Justice, International Criminal Law, and International Human Rights Law, especially LGBTQ+ Human Rights. He has enrolled for the Human Rights LLM at Notre Dame because of his interest in international mechanisms of human rights protection.
Mariam Koroma (Sierra Leone)
Mariam Koroma is a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of Sierra Leone, a member of the Sierra Leone Bar Association and a junior partner at Marrah and Associates Law Firm, a private law firm in Sierra Leone. She has experience in general legal practice and specializes in civil and human rights practice. She served as an intern on a rule of law project at the Sierra Leone Information Institute (SierraLii) a not for profit-organization in Sierra Leone, providing free access to Sierra Leone’s legal information.
Koroma supervises the Marrah Law Hub Report, which seeks to digitize all reported cases in Sierra Leone and make them accessible online. She is the co-founder of the Feminist Cohort, an outfit whose vision is to promote gender equality initiatives through advocacy for women’s representation in leadership spaces and increased women’s access to opportunities and inclusion in governance. She is currently part of the legal team that is filing an amicus brief on behalf of Institute for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA) in a suit at the ECOWAS court against the Government of Sierra Leone.
Koroma holds a degree of Utter Barrister (Bar License Certificate) from the Council of Legal Education, Sierra Leone Law (2018), and a Bachelor of Laws (LLB Hons.) from Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone (2017).
Simba Mubvuma (Zimbabwe)
Simba Mubvuma is a lawyer and access to justice entrepreneur from Zimbabwe. A self-taught coder, Mubvuma was Head of Innovation at LawBasket, a legal technology company that connects small businesses and start-ups with legal help they can afford. Named by Forbes Africa as 30 under 30 in technology, Mubvuma attained his law degree from the University of Zimbabwe, where he represented the University in the Jessup International Law Moot Court and served as editor on the student law review. After finishing law school, Mubvuma worked with a human rights non-profit organization and later as a litigation attorney in a human rights law firm in Zimbabwe. Mubvuma also served as a law clerk for Advocate Firoz Girach of the Advocates’ Chambers in Zimbabwe and was selected as a Mandela Washington Fellow in 2019. He has spoken at the Stanford Law School Future of Law Conference, the Innovating Justice Forum in the Hague and at the Africa Law Tech Festival in Kenya. Mubvuma is passionate about technology driven access to justice and plans to unleash the skills and network from his time at Notre Dame to accelerate technology driven access to justice in Africa.
Nontobeko Ngubane (South Africa)
Nontobeko Ngubane is an Admitted Attorney of the High Court of South Africa. She graduated with Merit from the University of Zululand, 2011 and was awarded Best Law Student Award by the KwaZulu Natal Law Society. She has worked as a Law Researcher to the Head of the Judiciary, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng at the Constitutional Court of South Africa and has also served her articles of clerkship thereafter. She was admitted as an Attorney in May 2015. She is currently a Law Advisor and Researcher (Legal Services and Litigation) in the Public Service Commission of South Africa, which is a Chapter 10 Constitutional Body in terms of the Constitution, 1996, based in the Head Office in Pretoria. She has taken time out to do her LLM in International Human Rights Law and has since been placed on sabbatical leave by the PSC. The Public Service Commission is a Constitutional body established to promote the values and principles in Section 195 of the Constitution and adherence to the Bill of rights in Chapter 2 enshrined in the Constitution. She is employed to advise the Commission on various Constitutional matters as per the mandate of the PSC in the Constitution, i.e the rule of law, Constitutionalism, etc. Ngubane has a strong passion for a career in human rights especially focusing on humanitarian, service provision and service delivery by the government hence her research experience into the efficiency of service provision by national and provincial governments in South Africa.
Angella Ngwalo (Malawi)
Angella Ngwalo holds a law degree (LL.B) and she is admitted to practice law in the courts of Malawi. Her interest is in human rights law, especially on issues related to inclusion of marginalized groups especially women. Prior to commencement of her LL.M (International Human Rights) at University of Notre Dame, she worked with Malawi Judiciary as a Judicial Officer. She also worked with international organizations as consultant in law, human rights and elections across ten countries. Ngwalo has worked with International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute (NDI) as Inclusion Analyst. She has also worked with African Union Commission (AUC) and Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) as legal expert and international observer in several countries for a period of six years. Her work with AUC focused on legal analysis, elections observation and human rights assessment guided by various national, regional and global instruments. Ngwalo’s interest remains in promotion of human rights of women and other marginalized groups through programs’ development and implementation, management of democratic elections, development of inclusive policies and litigation. She loves working with international teams, learning new perspectives and sharing lessons from other jurisdictions.
Paloma Núñez Fernández (Dominican Republic)
Paloma Núñez Fernández earned her Law Degree from Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre & Maestra in 2017. During her undergraduate studies, Núñez Fernández worked as a legal assistant at one of the Civil and Commercial Chambers of the Court of First Instance in Santiago de los Caballeros, and later became a paralegal at Fermín & Taveras, a private law firm focused on Administrative Law, Commercial Litigation and Economic Criminal Law. In 2013, she earned a scholarship to do a short-term academic program on Public Policy and Government Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University, as part of the Study of the U.S. Institutes for Students Leaders (SUSI). While studying, Núñez Fernández participated in several international moot court competitions about International Human Rights Law, as well as two student research conferences at Virginia Commonwealth University. Because of these competitions, Núñez Fernández became passionate about Human Rights and decided to present her final degree essay on the international responsibility of States for the extraterritorial violations of Human Rights in the context of the transnational extractive industry. Upon earning her Law Degree, she worked as an associate attorney for Fermín & Taveras, handling civil, administrative, and commercial cases as well as constitutional claims. In 2019, she redirected her practice towards Human Rights and received a one-year scholarship from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to work as a Junior Lawyer. She continued working for the Inter-American Court until July 2021. Núñez Fernández is particularly interested in extraterritorial jurisdiction, the international responsibility of private corporations, and the enforcement of social and economic rights.
Grace Oladipo (Ireland)
Grace Oladipo is a 2020 Bachelor of Civil Law European Graduate from University College Dublin. Born in Nigeria, Oladipo grew up in Ireland and takes pride in being African and Irish. While at UCD, Oladipo was the Co-Founder of the UCD Gospel Choir, the International Students Campaign Co-Ordinator and the Founder of The Inner Room. Oladipo studied at the University of Sheffield as part of an ERASMUS Programme, and was the ENACTUS Sheffield International Innovation Project Leader. At the age of 22, she is the recipient of the Bronze President's Award, UCD President’s Award, Arthur Cox Contribution to University Life Award, and the 2019 winner of the Unilever UK Individual Purpose Competition. Passionate about social entrepreneurship, Oladipo is the Co-Founder of The Student Collective, a mentoring initiative which brings university students and Leaving Certificate students together. Her research interests include human rights, criminology, penology, and recidivism. During her undergraduate dissertation, Oladipo completed a comparative study on female imprisonment in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and Finland and proposed changes to the current prison regime. As a Fulbright Scholar and George Moore Scholar at the University of Notre Dame, Oladipo will research the factors that influence overrepresentation of minority groups in prison populations, measures that facilitate the reintegration of ex-prisoners into society and the role of social entrepreneurship on the realisation of human rights. Oladipo will also serve as the Notre Dame Law School LL.M Representative at the Student Bar Association. Outside of law school, Oladipo has a deep passion for songwriting, poetry, and content creating.
Roqia Samim (Afghanistan)
Roqia Samim obtained a law degree from Law and Political Science Faculty of Herat University, Afghanistan in 2014. While in law school, she participated in Global Right’s Young Lawyers-in-Training Program. After graduation, she participated in the Women Leadership Development (WLD) program, leading a volunteer group to provide basic health services for girls’ schools in Herat province’s remote areas. She worked as Human Rights Volunteer in Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) assisting in promotion of human rights and advocating for victims and survivors of human rights violations in Herat Province. In 2018, she worked as Provincial Coordinator for the Women Leadership Development (WLD) program in Herat province enhancing 1,000 young women’s leadership skills and supporting them to have an active role in the community. Samim served as a United Nations Young Volunteer in the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). As Associate Political Affairs Officer in UNAMA Herat Field Office she supported Sustainable Development Goals for Gender Equality and Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions in the western region of Afghanistan. After serving two years as a United Nations Volunteer, she started her work in UNAMA’s Human Rights Services as Human Rights Assistant promoting human rights in the western region of Afghanistan as well as monitoring, fact-finding, investigation and reporting on human rights and international humanitarian law violations in the western region of Afghanistan.
Shambhavi Shekokar (India)
Shambhavi Ajay Shekokar is a law graduate from Government Law College, Mumbai. She has in the past, volunteered actively through the Legal Aid Committee at her law school to promote access to justice for marginalized and vulnerable communities. She has worked with the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission, the apex institution in the state entrusted with the responsibility of promoting and monitoring human rights. At the Commission, she engaged with academics and lawyers working on issues like child trafficking, bonded labour, refugee crisis, juvenile law reforms and statelessness. Moreover, she submitted recommendations on existing policies and assisted the commission in taking suo-moto cognizance of alleged violations by public authorities. She developed a specific interest in the area of Statelessness and explored it in a professional setting under the guidance of Dr KM Parivelan at Centre for Statelessness and Refugee Studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences established in collaboration with the UNHCR. She researched about the Bangladeshi enclave dwellers on the Indo-Bangladesh borders, the displaced community of Pakistani-Hindu migrants in Jodhpur-Rajasthan, the Sri Lankan Tamils, the Chinese immigrants in Kolkata. Shekokar has a specific interest in the study of the cross-cultural approach to human rights and their application to non-western societies like India where discrimination is reflected through dominant patterns of social behaviour. During and upon completion of her program, she wishes to be involved in academia and wants to set up a South Asian think tank dedicated to Human Rights policy research and advocacy.
Anshu Raj Singh (India)
Anshu Raj Singh graduated with a Bachelors of Law (B.A.LL.B) from Chanakya National Law University, Patna in 2015. After this, he joined Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) as a public interest and legal aid lawyer. Here he provided legal representation to persons from marginalized sections of the society and litigated on issues of public importance. While working with HRLN, Singh was a part of the prison inspection team of the Bihar State Legal Services Authority which inspected all the 58 prisons of the State and suggested reforms. He took part in the inspection of 43 prisons.
During this period Singh also worked with Bihar Bhoodan Yagna Committee, giving legal representation to the small landless peasants, trying to retrieve the meagre landholdings awarded to them in the form of land grants which thereafter were usurped by powerful landlords. From June 2018 till July 2021, Singh worked with Project 39A, New Delhi as a capital defence lawyer. The work involved mitigation interviews with the convicts and their acquaintances for the sentencing hearing and strategic litigation aimed at securing the rights of the accused.
Andisiwe Sipamla (South Africa)
Andisiwe Sipamla is an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa. She holds a Bachelor of Laws (Summa Cum Laude) from the University of the Western Cape. Following the completion of her Bachelor of Laws in 2017, she commenced articles of clerkship at Bowmans, a prestigious corporate law firm in Africa. During her time at Bowmans, she became a member of the Employment Equity Committee (forum that considers employment equity within the workplace in compliance with the South African labour legislation) and was actively involved in domestic violence, children’s rights as well refugee pro bono related work. In 2019 she applied for the Constitutional Court of the Republic of South Africa’s law programme 2020 and was selected to be a Judicial Law Clerk to Justice Steven Arnold Majiedt, whose clerkship was extended for a further six months. Her interest in law are transformative constitutionalism, with a particular focus on race and gender equality as well as competition law.
Angélica Suárez Torres (Colombia)
Angélica Suárez Torres is a Colombian Lawyer interested in International Human Rights Law and Transitional Justice. She earned her law degree from Universidad del Rosario, graduating third place in her class. While in Law School, Suárez Torres focused on studying constitutional law and international law, and participated in the Inter-American Human Rights Moot Court Competition organized by American University, where her team placed second, and she was individually awarded as third best speaker. After Law School, Suárez Torres worked as Research Assistant in the Center of Studies of Law, Justice and Society (Dejusticia), on projects related with land restitution and enforced disappearance. She has also worked as Project Manager in the NGO People in Need, implementing human rights projects in Latin-American countries with authoritarian regimes. Suárez Torres was an intern in the Inter-American System as a legal intern in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), and the National Agency for the Legal Defense of the Colombian State.