A team of students from the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic travelled with Professor James Cavallaro to Lima, Peru to investigate detention centers for the Peruvian Minister of Justice. The three students, Juan Pablo Perez-Sangimino (JD ’18), Christen Romero Philips (JD ’18) and Elena Rodriguez Armenta (JD ’18) worked with Professor Cavallaro and the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights of Peru to assess legal options in sentencing as well as best practices in prison organization. Before traveling to Lima, the team engaged in intensive desktop research on country conditions over the spring quarter. Once in Peru, the students and Cavallaro spent eight days visiting eight detention centers throughout the country.
The students visited detention centers holding up to 18,000 prisoners across the greater Lima region and in the coastal city of Chimbote. “The students put in tremendous effort analyzing studies on the efficacy of privatization and the impact of extended sentences on overcrowding,” said Professor Cavallaro. “Once in Peru, we visited detention centers every day. The students did a great job of documenting conditions. They met with people in detention, interviewed them individually and in groups, and spent many hours inside prisons to gain a robust understanding of the conditions and challenges.”
On Wednesday, May 10th, Perez-Sangimino, Rodriguez Armenta, Philips, and Professor Cavallaro met with President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski to discuss the initial research they had done and its relevance to the current crisis faced in Peruvian prisons.
“Our work is likely to have a direct impact on policy to improve the Peruvian criminal justice system,” said Cavallaro. “This was really a unique opportunity to take human rights principles and apply them in the real world, in a real context that can help people facing terrible challenges.”
On their return to Stanford Law School in late May, the students will prepare a final report informing the Minister of Justice of the conclusions of their prison study. Their research will be used by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights and the National Prisons Institute in the development of national efforts to respond to the prison crisis Peru faces.
About the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic
The International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic engages students in sophisticated and multi-disciplinary advocacy to advance the basic human rights and dignity of victimized individuals and communities globally. Students divide their time between an intensive clinical seminar and ongoing clinical advocacy projects. Students are exposed to a range of tools and strategies to promote respect for rights and dignity, including factual documentation, elaboration and distribution of reports describing rights abuse, traditional litigation before national and international institutions, community empowerment strategies, and conflict transformation techniques.