In recent years, several human rights legal centers, often working in conjunction with law school legal clinics, have pursued civil lawsuits against torturers and other abusers who can be found in the United States. Their clients are refugees, immigrants, and others with access to the U.S. court system. In addition, criminal prosecutions against individuals responsible for the commission of international crimes are increasingly proceeding in a network of international, hybrid, and national courts (including military commissons) around the world.
Lawyers and clinicians have discovered that plaintiffs and witnesses involved in such cases have a profound need for treatment support. Most crucially, victims and witnesses need medical and psychological services prior to filing suit and during the long process leading up to finally testifying and potentially facing responsible individuals in court. The experience of pursuing such litigation is greatly enhanced where victims and witnesses have access to these essential services.
In addition, lawyers, investigators, translators, and support staff working closely with victims of grave human rights abuses are also vulnerable to various forms of secondary, or vicarious, trauma that can impact their ability to be effective advocates for their clients in the legal process.
The Institute for Redress and Recovery at Santa Clara University (IRR or Institute) establishes a collaboration between the University and these lawyers and clinicians to provide support services both nationally and internationally.