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Human Rights Institute

Fact-Finding Project

The Human Rights Institute's Fact-Finding Project engages in systematic human rights fact-finding and prepares research reports analyzing human rights violations and proposing law and policy reforms based on documentation - including interview testimony - of the lived experience of those whose human rights have been violated.

Each year, HRI pursues work on one human rights issues with a small team of students, giving them the opportunity to research a human rights problem in depth, conduct extensive interviews on the subject, draft a comprehensive report on their findings, and engage in related advocacy.

Students selected to join the Fact-Finding Project are supported by a full-year, six-credit practicum taught by expert practitioners. In the fall semester, HRI trains students in the substantive law and policy, as well as fact-finding skills and methodology, interviewing skills, ethics, and security planning. In January, during Georgetown Law's "Week One," the research team travels either internationally or domestically to conduct extensive interviews with those affected by and knowledgeable about the issue. In the spring semester, HRI publishes a comprehensive report that lays out findings and recommendations, and then engages in extensive federal-level advocacy with government decision-makers.

Students interested in joining the 2017-2018 Project team and practicum course should contact Dash/Muse Fellow Patrick Griffith (pwg7@law.georgetown.edu). Criteria to be considered include but are not limited to: a demonstrated commitment to human rights; experience interviewing or working with individuals affected by human rights violations; ability to work independently, in a group, and to complete complicated tasks on a deadline; and language skills.

Each year, HRI works with students to identify the focus of work pursued by our Fact-Finding Project and Legal & Policy Advocacy Project. If you have an idea for a potential project, contact Dash/Muse Fellow Patrick Griffith (pwg7@law.georgetown.edu).

2017

2017 HRI Fact-Finding Report Cover

In 2016 – 2017, the HRI Fact-Finding Project investigated institutional violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals in El Salvador. The report, Uniformed Injustice: State Violence Against LGBT People in El Salvador, was released on May 21, 2017 during a report launch and expert panel event organized by the students on the same day that an op-ed from team members appeared in the Washington Blade. A Spanish translation of the report and additional information about the findings and recommendations are available here.

2016

2015-16 HRI Fact-Finding Report Cover

In 2015-2016, the HRI Fact-Finding Project and practicum course examined the right to education and access to public education for undocumented immigrant children in the United States. The report, Ensuring Every Undocumented Student Succeeds: A Report on Access to Public Education for Undocumented Children, was published in the spring of 2016 in partnership with the Women's Refugee Commission. The student members of the investigation team presented their findings and recommendations during the 2016 Samuel Dash Conference on Human Rights. More information about the project and HRI's recommendations and advocacy on the issue is available here.

2015 

cost of stemming tide cover image

In 2014-2015, the HRI Fact-Finding Project and practicum course examined the rights of migrant children in the Americas. Our report, The Cost of Stemming the Tide: How Immigration Enforcement Practices in Southern Mexico Limit Migrant Children's Access to International Protection, was published in April 2015. Members of our student research team presented their report at the Tenth Annual Samuel Dash Conference on Human Rights. More information about the project and HRI's recommendations and advocacy on this issue is available here.

2014 Report2014

In 2013-2014, the HRI Fact-Finding Project and practicum course examined statelessness and the right to education in the Dominican Republic. Our report, Left Behind: How Statelessness in the Dominican Republic Limits Children's Access to Education, was published in April 2014. Members of our student research team were quoted in Associated Press coverage of the report, presented on our findings at the first Global Forum on Statelessness in The Hague and were honored with a special certificate of appreciation for outstanding student research by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Tilburg University. More information about the project and HRI's recommendations and advocacy on this issue is available here.

Tilted Scales2013

In 2013, HRI published a report on social conflict and criminal justice in Guatemala following joint research and fact-finding with the American Bar Association's Center for Human Rights and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights. The report, Tilted Scales: Social Conflict and Criminal Justice in Guatemala, is available here.  

2013 Report

In 2012-2013, the HRI Fact-Finding Project and practicum course examined the human right to water in marginalized communities, including in Detroit and Boston. Our report, Tapped Out: Threats to the Human Right to Water in the Urban United States, was published in April 2013. In 2014, one of the student co-authors of the report was interviewed on HuffPost Live. More information about the project and HRI's recommendations and advocacy on this issue is available here.

2012 Report2012

In 2011-2012, the HRI Fact-Finding Project and practicum course examined the right to education of children in the United States in conflict with the law through fieldwork in Los Angeles. Our report, Kept Out: Barriers to Meaningful Education in the School-to-Prison Pipeline, was published in April 2012. More information can be found here.

2011 Report2011

Sent "Home" With Nothing: The Deportation of Jamacians with Mental Disabilities

Researchers visited Jamaica in January 2011 and conducted more than 50 interviews with deported persons, mental health professionals, civil society representatives, and government officials. The report is available here. You can also watch the webcast of the report launch, view the corresponding PowerPoint presentation, and read answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the project.

2010 Report2010

A Prescription for Failure: Health and Intellectual Property in the Dominican Republic

Researchers visited the Dominican Republic in January 2010 and conducted more than 50 interviews with patients, healthcare providers, government officials, members of non-governmental organizations, representatives from multinational and domestic pharmaceutical industries, trade negotiators, lawyers, and others. The report is available here. You can also watch a webcast of the students' report launch, and read answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the project.

2009 Report2009

Refugee Crisis in America: Iraqis and Their Resettlement Experience

Through this project, researchers conducted extensive interviews with refugees, policy makers, state refugee coordinators, and NGOs in Washington D.C., Detroit, San Diego, and Amman, Jordan. The report examines and assesses the United States' policies, practices, and legal framework with regard to the resettlement of Iraqi refugees.  The report is available here. You can also watch a webcast of the students' report launch.

2008

Moving forward: Recommendations on U.S. HIV Immigration Policy

Through this project, students traveled to Haiti to document the experiences of HIV-positive spouses, children, parents, and siblings of U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) affected by the "HIV bar." The report is available here and was also published by the Georgetown Immigration Law Journal and is available at 34 Geo. Immigr. L. J. 33 (2009).

2007

Between The Border and The Street: Migrant Youth on Margins. A Comparative Look at Gang Reduction Policies and Migration in the U.S. and Guatemala.

This report examines the rise of gangs in Guatemala and the United States, compares the anti-gang strategies in each country, discusses the relative successes and failures, and offers recommendations for more sensible, humane, and effective policies to reduce youth violence. The report is available here.

2006

Unintended Consequences: Refugee Victims of the War on Terror (Ecuador)

This report examines the unintended consequences of the material support bar on Colombian refugees. The report is available here.

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