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Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law

Not Just Another Day in the Office

Sarah McKendricks; Kigali, Rwanda. 

It's hard to believe Susan and I already started our fourth week here in Kigali.  The time has flown by.  We are now pros at bargaining with the motorcycle taxi drivers, and I don't notice the stares I get for being a foreigner quite as much as I did when I first arrived.

I was tasked with doing a comparative study of the role of highest courts in East Africa in administering justice, and by my second week, I learned that there was frustratingly very little information available.  I had just settled in at work one morning, resigned to facing another day disappointment, when Susan and I were told that we had thirty minutes to get to Hotel Serena for the 10th Annual Conference of the East Africa Magistrates and Judges Association.

Hundreds of judges and magistrates, including the Chief Justices of each of the judiciaries I was researching, were all gathered in one conference room, and I could not have been more elated.  Susan wished she had taken before and after pictures of me that day because the images were so disparate.  I entered the office discouraged and left the conference beaming.  I met wonderful judges, got in contact with individuals who could help me with my assignment, and listened to the fascinating discussions on universal jurisdiction in Africa and Africa's relationship with the ICC.  I must thank Professor Goodno for teaching International Criminal Law this past spring because taking that course gave me a better appreciation for the discussions taking place.

We sat next to Justice Waki of the Court of Appeal in Kenya, who headed up a commission to investigate the post-election violence that occurred in Kenya a few years ago.  We also spoke with the President of the High Court of Rwanda, who explained that educated individuals were targeted and killed in the genocide, and because Rwanda is in the process of rebuilding itself, there are very few individuals today with both the ability and time to research and write.  His insights made me realize that the research I am doing is not only meaningful but also necessary to rebuild this country and this region.