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2017 International Human Rights Fellow

Safia Sayed, BA Economics; Honors ‘18
Perseus Strategies, LLC

Washington, D.C.

I had the opportunity to intern at Perseus Strategies, a human rights law firm whose primary focus is the freeing of prisoners of conscience around the globe. Through a variety of assignments and experiences with the firm, I learned a great deal about the legal infrastructure in the realm of international human rights law, as well as the policymakers and actions that dictate how the law is applied.

My primary assignment at Perseus was to aid in drafting a report that analyzed the country of Myanmar’s compliance with The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the UN Convention on Women’s Rights, in the areas of human trafficking, education, and health. This assignment provided me with an understanding of the power of law at the international level: holding countries accountable to a certain set of standards concerning human rights.

At Perseus Strategies, I also had the opportunity to observe the applications of such law in freeing prisoners of conscience. I learned the process of submitting a case to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and then was able to assist in the subsequent diplomatic efforts required to free a client.

My favorite experiences aiding in political prisoners’ cases were ones that took me out of the office and into direct contact with the government officials able to exert real pressure on hostile governments.

I learned that things move slowly in government, but I was impressed by the genuine concern and desire for action I encountered in my dealings with public officials.