Tag Archives | children

Kony 2012 and the Fallacy of Slacktivism – My Guestpost on Opinio Juris

I was asked to contribute to a roundtable discussion on Opinio Juris, a premier international law blog, about the future of international law given the effect of social media.


If you followed Kony 2012, you know that the implications of the social media craze run deep.  As Opinio Juris put it: “Kony 2012 was a YouTube sensation, spreading faster than any video in history. Although the details are airbrushed, the central theme of the video is about international law. The key idea of the video is that the indicted fugitive Joseph Kony should be brought to justice before the International Criminal Court to face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

In “The Fallacy of Slacktivism: Konly 2012 and Disruptive Activism,” I argue that “slacktivism” is merely a termed coined by those afraid of how the Internet has disrupted traditional activism.  We need to eliminate the word from our vocabulary.

If you’re interested or have a view on the matter, I encourage you to join the roundtable discussion on Opinio Juris over the next few days and respond to the Article.


May It Please the Court?

Yesterday, I wrote about the juvenile justice project we’re conducting at the remand home.  This effort, like so much of the work well-meaning organizations do, is only a bandage.  In many ways, the Uganda legal system feels, metaphorically, like the levees I see on CNN holding back the Mississippi floodwaters.  The Ugandan legal system is flooded with work.  It’s backlogged.


With the juvenile justice project, we’re just put our pail in the floodwaters and throwing it to the side.  It barely makes a dent and the waters continue to rise.  The answer is to build a new structure to better manage the water before the levee breaks.

This is where Pepperdine can come in to help.  We are good at thinking through new STRUCTURES.  We’ve been hard at work on implementing plea bargaining, but it’s going to take a lot of thought.  Much has to be done before a new, efficient structure can be fully integrated.  Pepperdine needs to collaborate with the judiciary on projects such as writing sentencing guidelines that will direct the plea bargaining process.


On the juvenile front, we’ve been asked to work with the Uganda Judiciary to help them revamp the juvenile justice system.  It needs to be overhauled and Pepperdine students have the capacity that the judiciary doesn’t due to its load and limited manpower. 

Together, we can build a new system that effectively manages the flood.  Hopefully we can prevent the backlog, especially for kids, and see that justice is done in a way that we no longer have to return to help with children’s cases.

And, to answer the question I posed in the title of this blog entry, YES, it does please the court.

The continuation of our work was once again confirmed by today’s important meetings with the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice, and Principle Judge.  All are pleased with the collaboration between Pepperdine and Uganda have asked for more.  We are in a position to truly achieve the structural change that matters.


How did we get here—to a place that many justice-seeking organizations envy?  Relationships.  We became friends.  Our partnership with Uganda, in my mind, is characterized by friendship.  We serve them through the assistance we can provide and they serve us in many, chiefly by giving our students the incredible experience of working in Uganda.

To achieve meaningful and lasting change, we must first start as friends.


Jail for Kids in Africa: A Photo Essay

This afternoon we started our juvenile justice project at the Naguru Remand Home (jail for kids) in Uganda.  This is a repeat of the juvenile justice project I did in Masindi a year ago, but with new cases and a different prison.  We will be working on these cases over the next three days.  Today, I thought I would start with a short photo essay as I had the opportunity to shoot this afternoon.



Entrance to the Naguru Remand Home in Kampala.  Our team waits inside.



I’m often asked what “remand home” means.  This photo captures it. 



If you live at the remand home, you’ve got to work.  There’s a hierarchy among the kids and you’re voted to perform certain jobs, such as fetching water.



The “dormitry,” as spelled on their wall.  There are two nearly identical wings for the boys.



Even though you’re surrounded by 150 kids, remand can be a lonely experience.



Jail for kids is still jail no matter what title you give it.



Collaboration at work: Pepperdine students, faculty, and alumni; students from Uganda Christian University; and lawyers Uganda Christian Lawyers Fellowship.  "The Team" interviews children from the jail.


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