The Open Society Justice Initiative uses law to protect and empower people around the world. Through litigation, advocacy, research, and technical assistance, the Justice Initiative promotes human rights and builds legal capacity for open societies. We foster accountability for international crimes, combat racial discrimination and statelessness, support criminal justice reform, address abuses related to national security and counterterrorism, expand freedom of information and expression, and stem corruption linked to the exploitation of natural resources. Our staff are based in Abuja, Almaty, Amsterdam, Brussels, Budapest, Freetown, The Hague, London, Mexico City, New York, Paris, Phnom Penh, and Washington, D.C.
In addition to the project on the Bemba trial, the Justice Initiative undertakes a number of activities in relation to the International Criminal Court. Since January 2009, we have run a project monitoring the first trial at the ICC against DRC militia leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo. The website, www.lubangatrial.org, similarly monitors the daily events of Lubanga’s trial with additional commentary and analysis. In February 2011, we launched a website, www.katangatrial.org, covering the trial of Congolese militia leaders Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui. We also follow the ongoing proceedings in the situation in Kenya through our ICC Kenya Monitor website. Helping the International Criminal Court to ensure its cases are strong and it can provide fair trials, protect victims and witnesses (without whom cases would not exist), listen to communities on the ground most affected by the crimes being prosecuted, and end impunity for international crimes are all priorities for the Justice Initiative.
Wairagala Wakabi is a Ugandan journalist who has previously covered the trial of Thomas Lubanga for the Open Society Justice Initiative, and for Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR-The Netherlands). He has covered the Congo war since 1998, reporting for The Star (South Africa), The EastAfrican (Kenya), The Lancet (UK) and New Internationalist (UK). A holder of an MA in Journalism and Media Studies from Rhodes University (South Africa) and an MSc in Informatics from Örebro University (Sweden), Wakabi has also reported from Burundi, the Central African Republic, Rwanda, and Uganda.
Alpha Sesay is the legal officer for international justice based in The Hague. Prior to joining Justice Initiative full time, Mr. Sesay held several positions including Trial Monitor on Justice Initiative’s Charles Taylor Trial Monitoring project; as National Director of the Sierra Leone Court Monitoring program; as legal assistant/officer of the Morris Kallon Defense Team at the Special Court for Sierra Leone; as human rights lecturer at the University of Sierra Leone and as consultant for Human Rights Watch. He holds an LL.M. in international human rights law from the University of Notre Dame, USA and an LL.B Honors from the University of Sierra Leone.
Kelly Dawn Askin is senior legal officer for international justice. Prior to joining the Open Society Justice Initiative, Ms. Askin served as a legal advisor to the judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda from 2000-2002. For over ten years she has also served as an expert consultant, legal advisor, or international law trainer to prosecutors, judges, and registry at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Serious Crimes Unit in East Timor, the International Criminal Court, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. Since 1995, Askin has taught or served as a visiting scholar at Notre Dame Law School, American University’s Washington College of Law, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Yale Law School, and Oxford University. She also served as executive director of the International Criminal Justice Institute and American University’s War Crimes Research Office. In 2005, Ms. Askin was awarded the ASIL’s prestigious Prominent Woman in International Law award. She was also 2004-2005 Fulbright New Century Scholar on the Global Empowerment of Women. Ms. Askin serves on the executive board of the American Branch of the International Law Association, the International Judicial Academy, and International Criminal Law Services. She holds a JD and PhD (law), and is the author of a number of books and law review articles.
Taegin Stevenson is the associate legal officer for international justice with the Open Society Justice Initiative. Ms. Stevenson earned her undergraduate degree in International Affairs at Florida State University and her Juris Doctor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, where during her final year, she was the managing editor of Human Rights Quarterly.