USC Gould School of Law’s founding director of the International Human Rights Clinic, Professor Hannah Garry, was just 21 years old when she began investigating and documenting human rights abuses against refugees in East Africa.

As a field researcher hired by Oxford University and as a volunteer with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Garry spent 18 months assigned to interview, photograph and write reports on exploited refugees from Rwanda, Sudan and the Congo. Working in Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia, she lived in refugee camps and visited urban slums interviewing refugees fleeing from genocide and armed conflict. She documented rapes, recruitment of child soldiers, torture and forced labor.

After witnessing forced recruitment of boys from a refugee camp and later an entire Sudanese refugee village razed to the ground at gunpoint, Garry decided she no longer wanted to be a neutral observer on the sidelines.

“I was appalled to find that after fleeing from unspeakable atrocities, refugees were facing serious abuses in exile,” she said. “At this moment I knew I wanted to help them in a more tangible way. I wanted to be able to help them advocate for their rights through law.”

Garry graduated from Berkeley Law School, and within two years, was back in Africa and The Hague, working for the Appeals Chamber Judges at the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. For three years, she worked on cases trying perpetrators of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

“When I began working at the international tribunals, it was as if I had come full circle. In Africa, I sought to bring attention to the plight of refugees, many of whom were survivors of mass atrocities. In The Hague, I was able to participate in the trials of those responsible for making them refugees in the first place. Through this work, the goal was to bring justice to the victims and prevent such horrible crimes and massive refugee flows from ever happening again.”

Prior to joining USC in 2010, Prof. Garry was visiting faculty for three years at the University of Colorado School of Law where she taught international law courses and supervised students on cases involving Guantanamo detainee representation as well as Alien Tort Statute litigation.

Garry has been a visiting lecturer on human rights law at Peking University Law School in Beijing; a visiting scholar at the European Court of Human Rights researching deportation of asylum seekers from Europe; and a lecturer on refugee law and human rights for humanitarian aid workers at the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in San Remo, Italy.

She has spoken and written on protection of refugee rights in East Africa under national and international law; protection of refugee rights under the European Convention on Human Rights; asylum law and policy within the European Union; state responsibility and compensation for refugee flows under international law; victims’ rights and restorative justice in international criminal law; corporate criminal responsibility under international criminal law; and corporate social responsibility and international human rights law.

Garry earned her J.D. from Berkeley Law, a Master’s in International Affairs from Columbia University, and a graduate certificate in Forced Migration Studies with distinction from Oxford University, UK.

Garry joined USC Gould in August 2010 and, with the launching of its new International Human Rights Clinic, trained many law students to use their degree towards fighting human rights abuses. In 2023 she joined UCLA as the executive director of the Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA.