Letter from the Director
As you may have seen, in October we filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Center Intelligence Agency in the U.S. District Court in Seattle, alleging that the agency has failed to meet its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). As part of the Center’s mission to conduct research in support of front-line human rights organizations around the world, our researchers are seeking the release of U.S. government documents relating to the 1981 Santa Cruz massacre in El Salvador, which is the subject of an open criminal investigation.
Shortly after filing suit, our offices were broken into under circumstances that remain unclear, although the investigation is ongoing. But the combined one-two punch of an unprecedented level of activity and an unanticipated criminal act at our Center last fall knocked us off our usual publications schedule; this is why we’ve been late in finalizing this Annual Report, which covers our work in the academic year 2014-15. But I hope you will still find these pages as brimming with promise as I do.
As you’ll see, human rights work at the University of Washington continues to develop in exciting new directions. In 2014-15 we helped inaugurate a new initiative, Rethinking Punishment, a project examining mass incarceration in the United States, conducted in partnership with the Law, Societies, and Justice program at UW; for a description, see p. 32. Under the supervision of Prof. Alejandra Gonza, the new human rights clinic at the UW School of Law has put down roots (see p. 14). As always, we are guided by our students’ energies and interests, which often lead us down unexplored paths: last year, for example, a team of UW undergraduates helped us harness new digital tools for use in justice efforts (see page 16); others, supported by our endowed funds for students, engaged in efforts with off-campus organizations, including labor and grassroots groups.
After six years of growth, we remain an organization young enough to have our sights set on achieving the unlikely, scrappy enough to seize new opportunities when they come, and yet wise enough to build on the unparalleled expertise of our faculty and students in establishing programs capable of driving long-term change. Thank you, as always, for sharing in our enthusiasm for this work, and for supporting the human rights work of our faculty, staff, and students.