Lawyers from the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Timor-Leste have descended on Washington, DC, as part of an ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) program that boosts their ability to advocate for and provide legal services to women, particularly those who have experienced violence. The young professionals are spending six weeks working with domestic violence non-profits to learn about U.S. approaches to addressing domestic violence. They will also participate in the U.S. Department of State’s Professional Fellows Congress, hosted by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), which gathers more than 250 professional fellows program participants from over 50 countries for a three-day congress in Washington, DC. The event is part of the State Department’s engagement of civil society worldwide and provides current and past fellows the opportunity to discuss their work and network.
ABA ROLI’s 11 fellows are currently working with six DC-based domestic violence organizations. During the course of the fellowship, they will work with their host organizations to develop one or more projects that have potential for direct application in their home countries. As part of past exchanges, projects included a tool kit for lawyers representing a domestic violence victim; a pamphlet for Tongan citizens traveling to the U.S. on their rights in instances of domestic and sexual violence; and a bench card for judges outlining how current Fijian laws are applicable in domestic violence cases.
The ABA ROLI program, which is funded by ECA, is part of the larger State Department Professional Fellows Program. The Professional Fellows Program brings emerging leaders from around the world to the United States for intensive short-term fellowships designed to broaden their professional expertise. Participants are placed in non-profit organizations, private sector businesses and government offices across the country to learn first-hand how issues in their field are addressed in the United States. Thousands of Americans host, work with and learn from the foreign fellows while they are in the United States.
Several of ABA ROLI’s current fellows share their projects below. They also invite you to offer suggestions and correspond with them about their work.