MANILA, Philippines — The Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC) recently concluded its 2021 Summer Internship Program (SIP).
Part of the AHRC’s flagship Internship Program, the SIP sought to expose law students to human rights advocacy and the situation in the Philippines and enable them to expand their capacity to work actively within this field as they become lawyers.
As part of the Ateneo de Manila University’s continuing response to this challenge and faced with the inevitability of the limitations brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, AHRC conducted this year’s SIP through virtual means for the third time. True to the spirit of the Internship Program’s thrusts, the SIP focused on human rights in its wider sense – political, civil, social-cultural, and economic – and as it is experienced or lived by members of vulnerable sectors. In addition, the lecture series included special topics on hope-based communications and art advocacies.
The knowledge and skills, albeit virtually-delivered and obtained through the SIP will still be applied in the interns’ work in AHRC through online means and moving forward, once it is safe to return to the campus. As lawyers-in-the-making, law students are expected to continue to uphold people’s rights and the law which protects these rights.
Preparatory activities are significant in the value formation of the Interns. First, the interns underwent the Pre-Basic Orientation Seminar (Pre-BOS) where they were introduced to their co-interns and facilitators. A session on Faith and Justice was included to set the tone for the duration of the program. An orientation about the work and program of AHRC and its Internship Program was also provided to set their expectations and to inform them of the different phases of the program.
The participants also underwent an eight-day asynchronous and synchronous Basic Orientation Seminar (BOS). This is a lecture series where interactive activities are incorporated to provide them with an overview and basic knowledge of different human rights laws and issues. rights issues and the current situation of members of the vulnerable sectors. The topics discussed in this lecture series include the Human Rights Situation in the Philippines; Alternative Lawyering and Access to Justice; Children’s Rights; Women’s Rights; Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression (SOGIE) and LGBTQI+ Rights; Labor and Migrant Workers Rights; ASEAN and Human Rights; Business and Human Rights; Indigenous People Rights; Land Rights; Environmental Rights; Rights of Refugees, Stateless Persons, and Internally Displaced Persons; Criminal Justice System and Persons Deprived of Liberty; and, Election Laws and Accountability Training.
Afterward, the interns went through their 4-week internship proper, where they were assigned to different Alternative Law Groups (ALG) member organizations and other non-government organizations (NGOs) that work on different human rights issues. They were tasked to participate and assist in the activities and advocacies of the various ALG organizations and NGOs through online means. These include legal research, legal research, drafting of pleadings, virtual community consultations, client interviews, paralegal training seminars, and litigation work. Depending on the specific concerns of their host agencies, they would also deal with various groups/issues like workers, peasant farmers, fisher-folk, urban poor, women, children, the environment, indigenous cultural communities, detention prisoners, and migrants.
28 law student interns joined this year’s SIP. These interns include representatives from participating law schools such as Ateneo Law School, Saint Louis University – Baguio, Ateneo de Naga University, University of Cebu, Xavier University – Cotabato, and Notre Dame of Marbel University.
The Summer Internship Program was conducted in partnership with the Ateneo Law School, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABAROLI) Philippines, and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.