Through their research assistantship with Assistant Professor of Historical and Political Studies Roland Adjovi, Zachary Sturiale ’17 and Ryan Mills ’18 prepared preliminary reports for and attended a press conference during the United Nations’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s first visit to the United States from Oct. 11 to 24.
Prior to the conference, Sturiale and Mills worked with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), examining pretrial detention and bail systems, abuses inflicted by prison workers, the privatization of prison systems, and immigration detention issues to create comprehensive country assessment reports for the Working Group. Sturiale, a Political Science major, focused on cases in California and Federal systems, while Mills, a graduate student in Arcadia’s International Peace and Conflict Resolution program, was responsible for researching those issues in Texas and Illinois.
The students then accompanied Adjovi, who serves as Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group, to Washington, D.C., to proofread drafts of the findings, assist in the preparation of press releases, and determine possible routes of reform.
“This was an important interaction—the first-ever UN human rights investigation in the U.S.,” said Mills. “I translated Middle Eastern government documents regarding arbitrary detention opinion responses from Arabic to English, and was able to get a good grasp on the international dialogue that was taking place.”
“The day before the press conference, a member of the United Nations Secretariat, Ryan, and I holed up in a hotel room and worked on whatever the Working Group needed help with throughout the day,” said Sturiale. “It was exciting to see so much work by so many people, including myself, come to a head. This will hopefully move the United States in the right direction in terms of detention practices.”