Access to Justice Institute Receives Grant

Office of Crime Victims Advocacy awards monies for Hague Convention Project

SEATTLE – December 9, 2002 – The Access to Justice Institute (ATJI) at Seattle University today was awarded a second $80,000 grant from the Office of Crime Victims Advocacy in Olympia, Washington. The grant supplements an initial $80,000 grant awarded to ATJI in April, and will allow the Institute to hire a full-time staff attorney to provide legal oversight to the ATJI Hague Convention Project.

The Hague Convention aims to return children who have been kidnapped across national borders by one parent, without the permission of the other, to their country of origin. When a battered woman flees from another country with her children to the U.S., as a citizen or immigrant, she may be subject to Hague Convention proceedings when her abusive partner seeks to use international law to take custody of the children or continue to harass her. Judges and attorneys are often unfamiliar with the intricacies of the Hague Convention and may make inaccurate representation or judgments as a result.

“We need to make change, not just learn about it and move on,” said Sudha Shetty, director of the Access to Justice Institute. “This project is a big step in involving students and the community in affecting serious positive change.”

This project will make the Access to Justice Institute the repository of all US based Hague Convention Cases that involve domestic violence. ATJI will develop training for judges and attorneys about domestic violence and how the Hague Convention may be used to harass a victim.

ATJI will also seek to establish a national database of lawyers and other experts willing to represent or testify on behalf of battered women in such cases, and will work closely with national organizations in Washington D.C. to coordinate these activities. When a battered woman involved in a Hague Convention proceeding is identified, students will provide extensive information, help her to assess her legal needs, and make referrals to appropriate domestic violence and legal services.

The initial $80,000 grant went to fund projects focusing on immigrant battered women in removal proceedings, Hague Convention cross-national child kidnapping cases, and a language bank of student interpreters to assist in these projects.

For more information on the Hague Convention Project, please contact the Access to Justice Institute at (206) 398.4173.

Seattle University, founded in 1891, is one of the nation’s 28 Jesuit colleges and universities. It is the largest, most diverse and most comprehensive independent university in the Northwest. Approximately 6,000 students are enrolled in 44 undergraduate and 23 graduate programs, including doctoral programs in law and education.

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