Law, human rights programs earn 2011 ‘Angel of Freedom’ awards

Shown representing SMU at the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas’ 2011 'Angel of Freedom' awards dinner in Dallas Nov. 7 are, from left, Bill Tsutsui, dean of Dedman College of Humanities & Sciences; Rebecca Greenan, director of the Dedman School of Law’s Public Service Program; professor Jeffrey Kahn, who supervises public service externships at Dedman School of Law; and Rick Halperin, director of the Embrey Human Rights Program in Dedman College.SMU’s Dedman School of Law and Embrey Human Rights Program received 2011 “Angel of Freedom” awards from the Human Rights Initiative (HRI) of North Texas.

As HRI’s highest honor for people or groups committed to helping victims of human rights abuses, the awards were given during a “Thanksgiving dinner” at HRI’s headquarters near downtown Dallas Nov. 7.

HRI provides legal services to people who have suffered human rights abuses. Their clients range from people seeking asylum in the U.S. to victims of human trafficking.

The Dedman School of Law “has a long and rich history” of helping HRI since the service organization’s start in 1999, says Rebecca Garza Greenan, director of the law school’s Public Service Program. Since 1992, after a law faculty-sponsored resolution, SMU’s law students have been required to complete a minimum of 30 hours of uncompensated and not-for-credit public service.

Since 1997, SMU Dedman School of Law students have assisted HRI attorneys in their representation of clients through public service as well as paid summer internships and academic externships, currently overseen by law professor Jeffrey Kahn.

“SMU law students have had the opportunity to assist HRI attorneys in representing clients from around the world, allowing them to learn the importance of, and the fulfillment from, championing human rights one client at a time,” Greenan says. “The students are enriched and the community is helped.”

“We are proud to both support the work of HRI and to provide students to support the work and mission of HRI,” says Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin. “It is imperative that our students get involved in human rights work here in Dallas because human rights work truly begins at home.”

(Above, representing SMU at the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas’ 2011 Angel of Freedom awards dinner are, from left, Bill Tsutsui, Dedman College dean; Rebecca Greenan, director of the Dedman School of Law’s Public Service Program; Professor Jeffrey Kahn, who supervises public service externships in Dedman Law; and Rick Halperin, director of the Embrey Human Rights Program in Dedman College.)

> Read more about the 2011 Angel of Freedom awards from SMU News

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