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Training Session III: Understanding the Role of Statement Takers

  • The Role and Importance of Statement Takers
    • Presented by Massa Washington
  • Overview of a Statement Interview
    • Presented by Laura Young
  • Mock TRC Interview
    • Presented by Gboyee Seeyon, Jennifer Prestholdt, Ahmed Sirleaf
  • In depth review of forms & protocols, database
    • Presented by Laura Young
  • Documenting Human Rights and Humanitarian Violations
    • Presented by Robin Phillips

Webcam Session:   (2:31:12)
Photo by UNMIL (Photographer Michal Broza)

Time and Date:
April 20, 2007
12:00 PM

Faegre and Benson LLP
Century Room
2200 Wells Fargo Center
90 South Seventh Street
Minneapolis, MN 55402

2.75 Standard CLE credits have been granted (Event Code 108627).


Massa A. Washington is a journalist with more than twenty years of experience.  She holds a B.A. in Mass Communication with emphasis in Print Journalism from the University of Liberia and is currently a second-year graduate student with high honors at the Temple University School of Social Administration and Management in Pennsylvania.  She also obtained training in Broadcast Journalism from the Voice of America (VOA) and the Liberian Broadcasting System (LBS) in 1984.  Her past positions have included Public Relations Officer of the Liberian National Red Cross Society, Senior Reporter for the Ministry of Information New Liberian Newspaper, and News Editor for the Independent Inquirer. Ms. Washington has covered the Liberian crises extensively, reporting often from occupied territories and creating a column in the Inquirer dedicated to Liberian women.  She is a women's rights and civil society activists and is a member of the Liberian Women Initiative (LWI) which has been at the vanguard of peace advocacy in Liberia. She has also represented the women of Liberia at peace conferences, such as both of the Accra Clarification Conferences and the Abuja Conference. Ms. Washington has also worked with Liberians in the Diaspora, having represented and given sworn testimonies for Liberians seeking legal status in the United States.  She served as Chairman of the Association of Liberian Journalist in the Americas (ALJA), Delaware Valley Chapter, representing Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey and co-owned and published the Iwina Heritage Newspaper targeting the African immigrant community in the United States. Ms. Washington has received honors including; Press Union Reporter of the Year Award, Inquirer Reporter of the Year Award 1994, The Association of Liberian Journalist in the Americas Appreciated Award in 2003, Liberian Community Association of Pennsylvania Award in 2003 and Special Recognition for distinguished leadership by the City of Philadelphia Welcoming Center for New Immigrants in 2004. Ms. Washington is also one of sixteen Liberian peace activists featured in a recent UN Peace Building Book. 

Gboyee Seeyon:  Mr. Seyon came to the U.S. in 1998. In his native Liberia, he worked as a school teacher and for the Ministry of Health. He volunteered with the Red Cross during the conflict. Mr. Seeyon was a graduate student in counseling and psychological services at St. Mary's. Mr. Seeyon now serves as the Public Relations Officer for the Organization of Liberians in Minnesota.

Robin Phillips is the Executive Director of The Advocates for Human Rights. She formerly served as the Director of the Women's Human Rights Program and the Deputy Director of the organization. She has written on a variety of topics related to women's human rights including trafficking in women, employment discrimination, sexual harassment and domestic violence. She has taught courses on women's international human rights at the University of Minnesota Law School and a general introduction to human rights at St. Thomas University Law School. Ms. Phillips has conducted fact-finding missions to document human rights violations in Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Macedonia, Poland, Armenia, Moldova, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. She has organized international conferences and trainings on human rights and NGO development issues. She also helped lead Minnesota Advocates' delegation to the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China in September 1995. Prior to The Advocates, Ms. Phillips practiced law with the firm of Briggs and Morgan in St. Paul, Minnesota. She received her law degree from Northwestern University School of Law and her B.A., magna cum laude, from Pepperdine University.

Jennifer Prestholdt is the Deputy Director of The Advocates for Human Rights. Ms. Prestholdt has a B.A. in political science from Yale and a M.A.L.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where she studied international human rights law and international refugee policy. She graduated cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1996.

Ms. Prestholdt has worked on refugee and asylum issues for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland. She has also interned for the Reebok Human Rights Program and the United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination Against and Protection of Minorities. Prior to becoming Deputy Director of The Advocates for Human Rights, Ms. Prestholdt practiced asylum law for five years as the Director of the Refugee and Immigrant Program. As The Advocates’ Deputy Director, she assists in fundraising for and directing organizational operations. Ms. Prestholdt also supervises the development and administration of special projects dealing with emerging human rights issues, including the International Human Rights Monitoring Project. Ms. Prestholdt is an adjunct faculty member at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, where she teaches International Human Rights Law.

Laura Young is the Wellstone Legal Fellow at The Advocates for Human Rights.  Laura received her B.A. from the University of Virginia.  She received her J.D. magna cum laude in 2005 from the University of Minnesota Law School and received her Master of Public Health from Emory University in 1999.  Ms. Young has worked on criminal law and human rights issues throughout her professional career, specifically violence against women and the death penalty.  Ms. Young was a domestic violence educator and volunteer trainer at the Women’s Center of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, was employed by the Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Project, which provides legal representation to Mexican nationals facing capital punishment in the U.S, and most recently was a judicial clerk for the Hon. Wilhelmina M. Wright of the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Ahmed Sirleaf is a human rights advocate and scholar who has a special interest in efforts to implement transitional justice initiatives in societies that have experienced severe violence. His work includes study of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process in his native Liberia. In this connection, he has helped to lead the successful effort to include Liberians living in the Diaspora outside of Liberia in the truth commission process in Liberia. He holds an M.A. in International Law and the Settlement of Disputes from the University for Peace (United Nations mandated), San Jose, Costa Rica, and a B.A. in Legal Studies from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Additionally, Ahmed earned a Paralegal Certificate from Hamline University as well, and has briefly worked as a paralegal. He has studied at the International Center for Transitional Justice with its New York University’s School of Law’s joint transitional justice Essentials Course training in New York. He currently serves on the Board of Conflict Resolution Minnesota (CRM) and is working at The Advocates for Human Rights on the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission Project.