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Student Works to Curb Human Rights Abuses in Peru

Published: September 26th, 2005

Category: News

Law student Ray Dieppa spent the summer in South America, helping in the prosecution of Peruvian soldiers accused of human rights abuses.

Dieppa worked with Peru’s Institute for Legal Defense, or IDL, a non-governmental organization dedicated to curbing corruption in the Latin American nation.

“Peru is an incredible place for anyone who wishes to study or work in international law,” said Dieppa. “This is a country which only a few years ago was plagued by civil war, terrorism, and large scale human rights abuses. It was fascinating to work in a place where these issues were day to day reality and not just a part of history.”

Dieppa was among several UF students selected to participate in the UF International Center’s (UFIC) World Citizenship Program. Each year the program, headed by UFIC Dean and former U.S. Ambassador to Peru Dennis Jett, awards fellowships to students from an array of disciplines to work and live in countries across the developing world.

The program sent Dieppa to Lima, where he spent the summer working with a team of IDL attorneys and former military officers, urging the government to use the country’s civil code to prosecute military members accused of crimes against civilians.

“Unfortunately, in Peru soldiers often commit crimes like robbery and murder knowing they won’t be tried in civilian courts,” said Dieppa.

Dieppa said much of his work involved doing research in both English and Spanish and providing summaries of that research in Spanish to IDL lawyers. He also advised IDL on issues related to American foreign policy and political culture. More exchanges like Dieppa’s IDL internship may be in the works, thanks to the law school’s newly created Law and Policy Issues in the Americas Program.

Part of the Center for Governmental Responsibility, the new program will do research on topics related to rule of law throughout the Americas and will provide technical support to judicial reform efforts throughout the region.

Program director Meredith Fensom, recently returned from a Fulbright fellowship in Chile, said the program will forge more student exchanges between UF and Latin American institutions.

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