IJM’s founder Gary Haugen was a human rights attorney working for the U.S. Department of Justice when the United Nations asked him to lead its investigation of the horrific genocide that had engulfed the small African nation of Rwanda. As Haugen dug through mass graves and massacre sites, he remembers being struck by the terrible truth that the Rwandans who had perished in the violence “did not need someone to bring them a sermon, or food, or a doctor, or a teacher, or a microloan. They needed someone to restrain the hand with the machete—and nothing else would do.”
Compelled by the urgent needs they saw and inspired by their faith, Haugen and a small team envisioned a new kind of human rights organisation: a group that would leverage the skills of criminal justice professionals to protect the poor from violent oppression. Haugen left his job at the Department of Justice and launched International Justice Mission. He and a small DC-based team took on cases of desperate violence where impoverished victims could not depend on their justice systems to defend them. They met with obstacles and challenges. They faced disbelief that broken public justice systems could ever protect poor children, women and men. But slowly, the team saw their vision begin to take hold: rapists went to jail for assaulting impoverished children, families were freed from generations of slavery, young girls were rescued from the traffickers who sold them for sex. By 2000, IJM established its first long-term field office, in Mumbai, where a team of local professionals began partnering with authorities to rescue trafficked girls and women.
We’re now a global team of nearly 750 lawyers, social workers, investigators, community activists and other professionals. IJM field offices protect the poor from violence in 17 communities throughout the developing world. IJM Australia was launched in 2014. IJM Australia is one of five partner offices in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK sharing in the global mission. IJM Australia partners with IJM globally to deliver justice programs overseas and works locally to grow the movement of Australians seeking justice for the oppressed. Through the support of a global movement of friends and partners, we have collaborated with local authorities to rescue thousands of victims of everyday violence and put hundreds of violent criminals behind bars. And, each day, we see powerful proof that justice for the poor is possible.