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After the draft of the Libya report was completed, I began two major projects: telemedicine research and an emergency investigation checklist.

After PHR completed the draft of Witness to War Crimes: Evidence from Misrata, Libya, I began researching the validity of video conferencing as a means to conduct a psychiatric or forensic evaluation.

The reasoning behind this new project, called telemedicine, was that telemedicine could be used instead of sending doctors to foreign countries to perform evaluations. Telemedicine would be especially helpful in countries that have travel bans. For example, Bahraini doctors have been detained for treating patients harmed during protests against the government. These detentions violate the principles of medical neutrality. If PHR could use telemedicine to determine that recently released doctors experienced trauma, it would have a stronger case to advocate for the release of the remaining doctors.

After an extensive search of academic articles and comparable studies, a fellow intern and I determined that telemedicine could replace in-person evaluations, opening a window of opportunity for PHR and potentially saving PHR several travel costs.

The other project I worked on after the Libya draft was a checklists of everything that goes into an emergency investigation. I made three checklists: trip preparation, packing lists, and research.

During this project, I learned the extent of work that went into an emergency investigation, from project planning stages to distribution of the report and advocacy. There were several items that I had not encountered before – the project proposal, ERB (ethical review board) approval, budgets, press, arranging interviews for investigators, contact with the UN and governments… the list goes on and on. To make the checklist, I began conducting interviews with many of the people in the office. I had the opportunity speak one-on-one with established professionals in several fields and get a sense of what they do on a daily basis.

This was one of my favorite projects because I know the checklist will be used long am I was gone. It also gave me chance to understand the roles and organization of a successful social enterprise. I am incredibly thankful for my experience and cannot wait to hear about all of yours!

If you have any questions or comments, please post!

 

-Erica Goldstein

 

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Hello all! My name is Erica Goldstein. I am a rising junior at Tufts University, double majoring in Engineering Science and Biology. I am passionate about global health and human rights. This summer, I have the pleasure of interning at Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) in Cambridge, MA. PHR uses science and medicine to advocate for human rights, performing investigations to prevent mass atrocities, protect civilians, and prosecute the guilty. Please see my blog for more detailed posts.

In January 2011, PHR published an epidemiological report on the prevalence of crimes such as murder, torture, rape, and group persecution in the Chin State of Western Burma, an area typically neglected by human rights organizations and news reporters. The governing junta in Burma has committed many of these crimes, targeting ethnic Chins. PHR surveyors interviewed 702 households and determined that forced labor was the most prevalent crime. The regime forced families to execute unpaid labor, giving them fewer working days, and forced some families to work on jatropha farms, decreasing the number of edible products.

Upon arriving at PHR, I began the sequel to that report, which will document how the crimes in Chin State have affected health and food security. I gathered research from the last year and a half from several sources: UN reports, human rights organizations’ reports, news reports, and Burmese government documents.

After this research was completed, the Burma project was momentarily set aside as a more urgent investigation – one to Libya – began. The UN began documenting reports of violations such as mass rape, attacks on civilians, the use of humans to shield weapons, and the use of indiscriminate weapons. PHR also began receiving first-hand reports from contacts in Libya. To validate reports and advocate for the appropriate next steps, PHR began an emergency investigation.

As the office prepared for the investigation, I helped prepare a list of contacts on the ground and gather recent statements from Libyan officials. Then, after the investigators left for Libya, I performed background research for the report and started to draft the following sections:

-a chronological narrative of the conflict in Misrata,

-a timeline of important international events regarding Libya

-Libyan domestic legal frameworks

-weapons used in Libya (landmines, phosphorous weapons, AK-47s…)

-background on previously documented violations

The research was different from anything I had done as an engineering student, but the work was rewarding. Soon after my internship concluded, I was able to see the final product from my internship. On 30 August 2011, PHR published the report on Libya, Witness to War Crimes: Evidence from Misrata, Libya. in which I was acknowledged for my contribution. Please check it out and contact me if you want to know more!

 

-Erica Goldstein