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Adelaide Law Students experience of Human Rights Internship Programme in Malaysia

Over the summer break, I spent eight weeks interning at the Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (MCCHR) in Kuala Lumpur, in conjunction with Adelaide Law School’s Human Rights Internship Programme. MCCHR is a non-partisan and non-profit organisation aiming to bring about pro-human rights changes in Malaysia. With only five permanent staff members and very limited funding, it was incredible to see the impact of this NGO.

Sarah Kapadia (right) with another Law School New Colombo Plan scholarship winner who also undertook an internship in Malaysia over summer, Ashwina Krishnan (left).

Sarah Kapadia (right) with another Law School New Colombo Plan scholarship winner who also undertook an internship in Malaysia over summer, Ashwina Krishnan (left).

Through its strategic litigation program, MCCHR takes cases with a view to not only ensure constitutional rights are legally enforced, but to achieve results with precedent-setting value. The civic education program runs a range of projects, events, and social media campaigns in order to create public awareness on human rights issues in Malaysia.

During my internship, I had opportunities to work closely with inspiring and incredibly passionate people, and be involved in a variety of interesting, challenging, and often confronting work.

I was lucky enough to be involved in MCCHR’s campaign promoting democratic rights and youth participation in the democratic process in the months leading up to the recent change of government. Other projects included developing proposals for legislative reform to more effectively address the issue of online sexual harassment, and representing my NGO at a forum for LGBTIQ rights.

Beyond the opportunities I had as part of my internship, living in Kuala Lumpur was a truly fantastic experience. I was amazed by the city’s diversity in terms of culture and religion, as well as its sprawling skyscrapers and tiny streets lined with colourful stalls selling the most incredible food.

I would strongly recommend the Human Rights Internship Programme to students wanting to combine a challenging work experience opportunity with adventure whilst broadening their understanding of human rights on an international level.

I would like to thank the New Colombo Plan Mobility Program and the Law Foundation of South Australia Inc for providing scholarships to students undertaking the Law School’s Human Rights Internship Programme. Award of these scholarships enabled me to add depth and context to my university studies, to develop connections with Malaysian lawyers and human rights advocates and to gain an experience invaluable to the development of my legal career.

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