International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression.
Founded in 1997, IJM began operations in response to a massive need. Historically, humanitarian and missions organizations worked faithfully and courageously to bring healthcare, education, food and other vital services to those who needed them. But little had been done to actually restrain the oppressors who are a source of great harm to the vulnerable.
Concerned by this need, a group of lawyers, human rights professionals and public officials launched an extensive study of the injustices witnessed by overseas missionaries and relief and development workers. This study, surveying more than 65 organizations and representing 40,000 overseas workers, uncovered a nearly unanimous awareness of abuses of power by police and other authorities in the communities where they served. Without the resources or expertise to confront the abuse and to bring rescue to the victims, these overseas workers required the assistance of trained public justice professionals.
Gary Haugen, working as a lawyer at the U.S. Department of Justice and as the United Nations’ Investigator in Charge in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, founded International Justice Mission as a response to this massive need. Today, IJM has grown to more than 300 professionals working in their own communities to fight injustice.
Through individual casework, IJM confronts aggressive human violence: violence that strips widows and orphans of their property and livelihoods, violence that steals dignity and health from children trafficked into forced prostitution, violence that denies freedom and security to families trapped in slavery.
Violence against the poor is not driven by the overwhelming power of the perpetrators – it is driven by the vulnerability of the victims. This violence can be stopped when the power of the law is brought to bear on behalf of those who need it, and when people of good will contribute their financial and professional resources to insisting it stop.
IJM’s casework model combats victimization and violence on the level of the individual, and supports functioning public justice systems where the poor urgently need an advocate.