The Guernica Academy - An Eye Opening Experience by Faouzia el Soudani



My experience as an intern has been incredibly eye-opening. It has gone beyond my expectations as I felt that I had great control over the work that I wanted to do. For the first 6 weeks, I was thrown into any reading and cases given to me, whereas during the second 6 weeks I was able to choose the work that I wanted to do. This has given me a deeper understanding on how human rights law is applied in domestic jurisdictions. Prior to starting my internship, I read the blogs written by previous interns Kerry and Chelsea. Their accounts have reassured me of the quality of the internship as well as the support that they received. It is fair to say that I never felt unsupported, I was able to ask any questions, no matter how small or silly.


What work did I undertake during my internship?


Guernica Academy allowed me to undertake a mixture of international and domestic work. I found this incredibly valuable. In the first week, I was sent a substantial amount of reading just to familiarize myself with the type of work they undertake.


Although domestic work builds your legal skills i.e. legal drafting, legal research and opinion writing, international work has really tested my intellectual strength. Whether you wish to become a solicitor or a barrister, I think that it is important to showcase your ability to undertake work which is intellectually challenging. For example, assisting on the case concerning Jonathan Taylor was a privilege as well as very intellectually challenging because the INTERPOL Red Notice system is per se quite unfair and sadly it is sometimes used by states as a tool for political vendettas.


Nonetheless, I’ve undertaken interesting and exciting domestic work which has taught me the importance of adopting a logical approach. For instance, I was asked to write an advice on the merits of pursuing a claim against the Secretary of Justice on the basis that HMP failed to provide Kosher food to the applicant. I acquired knowledge on PSI (Prison Instructions) policies and I assessed the ECHR jurisprudence as a way to establish whether there was a breach of Article 9 of the ECHR.


Reviewing the 13 witness statements from people that have been tortured and arbitrarily detained in Syria was harrowing but also a privilege to read their resilient stories. This particular experience will resonate with me for the rest of my life because their testimonies are the evidence that the establishment of international human rights law is needed more than ever when grave atrocities happen. For me, this was a reminder that people want and need justice; and the principle of justice should not only be an abstract idea but rather it should be made concrete by us, aspiring and current lawyers.


Other work that I’ve been involved with:


- Drafting a memo on Gambia appeal rights and principle of immunity.

- Research on the situation in Yemen, in particular on the accountability on Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia coalition.

- Application for interim relief.

- Assisting in writing the grounds for Judicial Review concerning the right to privacy.

- Lodging an Appeal Against Sentence to the Criminal Court of Appeal.

- Parole Board refusing an application for release.

- Defending an Application to Strike Out.

- Concept Note on Afghanistan concerning the investigation of human rights violations.


Overall, during this experience I was able to develop my legal writing skills which is something that you can only develop and learn by dealing with real life examples. The 3 months have been productive and it felt that I was actively making a positive impact on people’s lives. Guernica 37 is unique. I appreciated this because Guernica 37’s integrity is admirable and being part of a team that tirelessly fights for what is right was a privilege. I have a clear vision of the type of work that I want to undertake. This experience has definitely reconfirmed not only my passion for human rights but my goal in becoming a legal practitioner that is capable of challenging the state/government interference in people’s lives domestically and internationally. This experience has further inspired me to specialize in international work in a foreseeable future, because individuals suffering from grave treatment and atrocities need the attention of human rights lawyers more than ever.

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