The Open Society Justice Initiative uses law to protect and empower people around the world. Through litigation, advocacy, research, and technical assistance, the Justice Initiative promotes human rights and builds legal capacity for open societies. We foster accountability for international crimes, combat racial discrimination and statelessness, support criminal justice reform, address abuses related to national security and counterterrorism, expand freedom of information and expression, and stem corruption linked to the exploitation of natural resources. Our staff are based in Abuja, Amsterdam, Bishkek, Brussels, Budapest, Freetown, The Hague, London, Mexico City, New York, Paris, Phnom Penh, Santo Domingo and Washington, D.C.
Work in the area of Public Health. The goal of the program is to advance the health and human rights of vulnerable.
I am an Aryeh Neier Fellow at the Open Society Justice Initiative focusing on issues of economic justice, particularly on the interrelationship between debt and human rights. In the past year, I worked on the right to housing in Europe, using fundamental rights arguments to protect people in mortgage distress. Currently, I am expanding my focus outside of Europe, looking into microfinance and the potential human rights abuses attached to these small loans.
Cassandre Theano is an associate legal officer for the Open Society Justice Initiative, based in the New York office, focusing on citizenship and equality. Before joining the Open Society Foundations, Theano consulted on human rights reports for submission before the United Nations, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the Human Rights Commission for various nonprofit organizations. Previously, Theano was a litigation associate practicing complex commercial and insurance litigation at a national law firm. She holds a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center, with a concentration on international human rights law and a certificate in refugees and humanitarian emergencies. At Georgetown Law, she participated in the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic, where she successfully advocated for women’s land and property rights in Kenya. She was also the articles editor of the Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law. She earned her undergraduate degree in international relations and French literature and her master’s degree in French society, politics, and culture from New York University.
I studied Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University, focusing on refugee rights. From that, my focus has been working with civil society groups in improving the progress of human rights for all, in particular, the most targeted and vulnerable groups. I have worked in both refugee rights and with political dissidents, then moved to grassroots organizing, where I led campaigns for various nonprofit organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Doctors Without Borders, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Currently I work as a Program Coordinator within the Open Society Justice Initiative, within the Economic Justice and Civic Space project teams. Through both my past and current experience, I want to explore how economic justice and civic space issues affect women and refugees in particular, while using a participatory method to ensure the inclusion of affected communities in the work being done. I believe that engaging in community engagement and mobilization will not only create a more sustainable path in human rights progress, but is the most transparent, sincere method in ensuring that those working in this field know the needs of the vulnerable communities for whom we are working. Affected communities must be involved in decision making, after all, it is their lives who are affected the most.
I am a legal officer with Open Society Justice Initiative working on discrimination issues, especially ethnic profiling and discrimination against Travellers in the housing sector. I will be supporting 2 pilot projects making use of legal empowerment methodologies to monitor, document and litigate against problems in these areas. In joining the network, I would like to benefit from existing resources for collecting, storing and evaluating data so that it most effectively undergirds advocacy and litigation, and better understand the manner that legal empowerment supports community organizing. I would also like to learn lessons from other contexts, positive and negative.
Mariana Pena has been working in the field of international justice for the past ten years, focusing primarily on victims’ access to justice and reparations, and the role of civil society in transitional justice contexts. She’s currently a Legal Officer at the Open Society Justice Initiative. Prior to that, she was a consultant for national and international NGOs, and donors. She worked previously with the victims’ legal representatives in one of the Kenya cases before the International Criminal Court (ICC) and, before that, she was the International Federation for Human Rights’ Permanent Representative to the ICC. She held volunteer positions with the ICC’s Registry, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and the American NGO Coalition for the ICC. Ms. Pena is a qualified attorney in her native country, Argentina, where she handled domestic litigation and also worked as a tribunal clerk. She holds a law degree from El Salvador University (Argentina), a master’s degree in international and comparative law from Uppsala University (Sweden), and a master’s degree in international organizations from Paris I University (France). She is a published author of articles on international tribunals and victims’ access to justice, and is fluent in English, French, Italian and Spanish.
Resident Fellow with the Open Society Justice Initiative.
I have 12 years of progressively responsible experience working for UN, USAID, Government and other international development, Civil Society Organizations, justice support programs. I was also actively involved in the preparation of Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) and leading legal aspects (Legal framework) of Public Private Partnership as first initiatives in Afghanistan. My experience includes both specialized and senior level service in Project Management, M&E, Training, Legal Advisory, Consultancy and Local Governance. I also have extensive experience in developing project proposal and in the preparation of staffing plans, work plans and budgets to support project. In my past general work experience, I have been directly responsible for planning, organizing and directing the work of complex organizations that have been widely recognized for their efficiency and effectiveness. Throughout my career. My work experience includes numerous positions in which I have successfully developed the capacity of both individual staff members and the full organization. I am accustomed to living and working in a multicultural environment and have a proven record of adapting well to a wide variety of work place cultures. My tri-lingual language abilities (Dari/Pushto/English) and strong written and verbal communication skills allow me to communicate effectively with both local and international staff, professional colleagues and outside customers.
Focusing on rights related to forced displacement, citizenship and statelessness.
Working for Open Society Justice Initiatives
Working for legal empowerment with the Open Society Justice Initiative.
Open Society Justice Initiative
Sanjay Patil is a senior program manager for the Strategy Unit of the Open Society Foundations. He manages Global Board–approved shared frameworks, formal collaborations that cut across the organization. Patil joined the Open Society Foundations in 2011 as a program officer for the Open Society Public Health Program. His job was to improve police conduct towards people who use drugs. Prior to that, Patil served as a consultant for UNDP’s Police Reform Program in Bangladesh and has worked extensively on the issue of police reform in South Asia. He also helped set up the Rule of Law Program (South Asia) for the International Commission of Jurists and previously served as legal counsel to the Commission of Inquiry Into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar. Patil earned his JD from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Canada, and his bachelor’s in Environmental Studies at York University.
legal empowerment practitioner
Associate Legal Officer for the Open Society Justice Initiative