Courtesy Reuters

For a poor person in the developing world, the struggle for human rights is not an abstract fight over political freedoms or over the prosecution of large-scale war crimes but a matter of daily survival. It is the struggle to avoid extortion or abuse by local police, the struggle against being forced into slavery or having land stolen, the struggle to avoid being thrown arbitrarily into an overcrowded, disease-ridden jail with little or no prospect of a fair trial. For women and children, it is the struggle not to be assaulted, raped, molested, or forced into the commercial sex trade.

Efforts by the modern human rights movement over the last 60 years have contributed to the criminalization of such abuses in nearly every country. The problem for the poor, however, is that those laws are rarely enforced. Without functioning public justice systems to deliver the protections of the law to the

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  • GARY HAUGEN is President and CEO of International Justice Mission. VICTOR BOUTROS is a Federal Prosecutor in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Both are lecturers at the University of Chicago Law School. The views expressed here are their own and not those of the U.S. Department of Justice.
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