Faculty of Law welcomes Samer Muscati as new director of the IHRP

Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Samer conducting interviews for Human Rights Watch

The Faculty of Law is pleased to announce that Samer Muscati (JD2002) has been hired to lead the International Human Rights Program (IHRP).  The IHRP, including its award-winning legal clinic, is one of the Faculty’s core experiential learning opportunities with a mission to advance the field of international human rights law through advocacy, knowledge-exchange and capacity building.

Samer will bring a wealth of experience and international perspective to his role as leader of the IHRP. For over five years, Samer has been a researcher with Human Rights Watch (HRW) and was profiled in the 2011 UofT Magazine article “The Watchman”.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the IHRP and returning home to the law school that gave me the skills and inspiration to advocate on international human rights issues over the last decade,” said Samer, “It’s really an honor to be part of this amazing program and I’m counting the days until I start!”

Most recently, Samer was the emergencies senior researcher in the women's rights division of HRW, where he monitored and documented women’s rights abuses during human rights crises. A lawyer, documentary photographer, and former journalist, Samer has conducted numerous fact-finding missions on issues such as:

·        violence against Indigenous women and girls in northern British Columbia by Canadian police;

·        sexual violence and exploitation of Somali women and girls by African Union peacekeepers and other men in uniform;

·        mass abductions of women and girls by the Islamic State in northwest Iraq and Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria;

·        sexual and gender based violence by South Sudan’s government forces in Unity State;

·        abuses against female activists and humanitarian aid providers by Syrian government and armed opposition forces;

·        indiscriminate aerial bombardment and shelling in Blue Nile by the Sudanese government; and

·        female political participation during Libya’s first national election in 40 years.

Before joining HRW in 2009, Samer worked in Baghdad as an adviser supporting the Iraqi government, and as a legal officer in the UN’s Serious Crimes Unit in East Timor. He also photographed and edited testimonials from survivors of sexual violence for a book commemorating the 15th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. 

Apart from his work in conflict and post-conflict countries over the last decade, Samer was a corporate lawyer at Bingham McCutchen in Boston and articled in Ontario with Barbara Jackman, specializing in immigration, refugee and national security law.

Samer is an alumnus of the Faculty (JD2002), and also holds an LL.M in international human rights law from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Prior to law school, Samer worked as a journalist with the Globe and Mail. 

Since graduating, Samer has remained connected to the Faculty in numerous ways, including lecturing through the LAWS and IHRP programs.  This past summer, he supervised Ashley Major (2L) during her summer internship at HRW.  Reflecting on her experience working with Samer, Ashley stated: “Throughout my internship, Samer continually inspired me with his research on sexual violence. I was incredibly honoured to be able to be a part of his team. Samer struck the important balance between guiding me and allowing me to make the internship my own. Samer is truly an inspiration to law students hoping to pursue a career in human rights.” Upon learning that Samer would be leading the IHRP, she added, “I know he will take his passion for social justice and human rights with him in his role as IHRP Director. We at the Faculty of Law are incredibly privileged to have him join us.”

Renu Mandhane, the outgoing IHRP Director is leaving the Faculty to take up the post of Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commissioner effective November 2, 2015.  Her last day at the Faculty will be October 16.  Samer will commence his duties at the Faculty on November 9.  Between October 19 and November 6, inquiries regarding the IHRP can be directed to ihrp.law@utoronto.ca