Criminal justice students visit the Hague for an academic trip

By Lauryn Ojore

The Hague Academic Field Trip (HAFT) stands as an unparalleled opportunity for Criminal Justice students at USIU-Africa. This week-long expedition held every Fall semester isn't just an annual excursion, it serves as a catalyst that propels students into a realm of a transformative venture bridging classroom learning with real-world insights and professional opportunities into the intricate landscape of global justice, echoing the very essence of our university's motto, "Education to take you places." This year, fourteen students accompanied by Professor Simeon Sungi participated in HAFT from November 18- 24.

The cornerstone of this transformative educational endeavor lies within the International Criminal Law and Procedures class. Students delve deep into the practicalities of international criminal law. From investigations to trial proceedings and punishments, dissecting the complexities of the international justice system. The canvas of this curriculum is painted with the hues of humanity's darkest chapters—genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. These aren’t just terminologies confined to history books or legal texts; they resonate in the fabric of contemporary society. In today's interconnected world, where the consequences of such crimes reverberate globally, understanding their intricacies becomes imperative. Through the class, with a focus extending to the role of the United Nations in global peace and security, students are equipped with the tools to comprehend and navigate the intricate web of legal, ethical, and humanitarian challenges posed by such atrocities in today's global landscape.

Building upon their foundational knowledge, the trip becomes the vessel through which theoretical understanding metamorphoses into tangible experiences. Throughout the trip, students extend their exploration beyond the obvious International Criminal Court (ICC). This year, they journeyed through a spectrum of institutions, including the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), the Kosovo Special Chambers, interacting with the Global Human Rights and Defense organization and even actively participated in an enriching lecture at Vrije University in Amsterdam, and visited the Kenyan Embassy. Students got to interact with judicial luminaries and experts across these diverse platforms. These interactions aren't passive observations; they're dialogues that breathe life into textbook knowledge molding students into informed and engaged professionals in the realm of international criminal law.

The trip isn't confined to the confines of legal proceedings; it's an immersive journey that expands horizons. Within the corridors of institutions visited during the trip lies a mosaic of career avenues awaiting exploration within the domain of justice, unveiling opportunities in forensics, law, IT, research, leadership, and more. This trip becomes a symbolic pivot point, shifting students from a conventional outlook toward a more interconnected and expansive vision of their professional trajectories. It's a realization that their contributions extend beyond the confines of a courtroom, reaching into the collaborative and interdisciplinary efforts that collectively sustain the foundations of justice on a global stage. HAFT empowers students to envision themselves as versatile professionals and embark on a journey of self-discovery. It guides them towards fulfilling careers that resonate with their passions and strengths within the intricate tapestry of justice, armed with a newfound appreciation for the diverse and collective nature of their future roles.

As the students come back from The Hague, it isn't merely a homecoming laden with memories but rather marks the culmination of an immersive journey that equips them with an invaluable investment toolkit for their futures. Students return armed with not only academic expertise but also finely tuned communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities cultivated through engagement with diverse institutions and interactions with legal luminaries. They carry with them the adaptability and resilience honed by exposure to unfamiliar environments. Students forge connections that transcend geographical boundaries. These networks aren't just social; they lay the foundation for future collaborations, internships, and professional opportunities on a global scale, providing them with a launching pad for their careers

In essence, the HAFT isn't just a chapter in students' academic journey; it's a transformative milestone that equips them to traverse the global landscape of justice, armed with knowledge, experience, and a global perspective—an embodiment of the university's promise to provide an education that truly takes them places, both personally and professionally.

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