The Center for Civil and Human Rights at The Notre Dame Law School has recently announced its Rita Bahr Scholars for 2012-13. Each of the three civil rights lawyers is an international student in the Center’s LL.M. program in International Human Rights.
Mr. Joseph Cari endowed the Rita Bahr Memorial Fund in 2001, with additional donations, to encourage advanced studies in international human rights law. The fund provides opportunities to students outside of the United States who wish to study at the Center by assisting with tuition and living expenses.
The 2012-13 Rita Bahr Scholars are:
Audrey Mena (Colombia) is an Afro-Colombian human rights lawyer who earned her law degree from the Technological University of Chocó in 2010. Ms. Mena’s research and advocacy focus on the human rights violations experienced by Afro-Colombians in Chocó, which result from poverty, socio-environmental conflicts that result from illegal gold mining, and violence from guerillas and paramilitaries. In 2009, the U.S. Embassy in Bogota awarded Ms. Mena the Martin Luther King, Jr. Fellowship for Young Afro-Colombian Leaders, recognizing her exceptional potential as an advocate for racial and environmental justice in Colombia.
Sara Milena Ferrer (Colombia), also an Afro-Colombian human rights lawyer, earned her law degree from the University of Cartagena in 2008. After graduation Ms. Ferrer received a clerkship with the Colombian Constitutional Court, one of the most highly regarded constitutional tribunals in the world. Her work includes writing draft decisions for cases involving economic, social and cultural rights violations. Ms. Ferrer also works for Racial Discrimination Watch in Bogota, providing guidance to Afro-Colombian organizations in their effort to seek reparations for victims of extrajudicial violence from Colombia’s armed conflict.
Christian Gonzalez (Guatemala) earned his LL.B. magna cum laude from the Jesuit Rafael Landivar University in 2010. Mr. Gonzalez became involved in human rights work when he assisted in representing the family of Florencio Chitay Nech, an indigenous Mayan political leader, before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights; the Court held Guatemala responsible for the 1981 forced disappearance of Mr. Chitay Nech. Mr. Gonazlez currently represents victims of human rights violations and government corruption before domestic tribunals. His pro bono work includes presenting workshops on HIV transmission on behalf of the National Council for the Prevention of HIV/AIDS.