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Penn Law Human Rights Fellow Cochav Elkayam-Levy will combat human trafficking

June 19, 2013

Cochav Elkayam-Levy, who graduated with distinction from Penn Law’s LLM graduate program in May, has been awarded the Law School’s LLM Rule of Law and Human Rights Fellowship to support work in her native Israel and the U.S. on behalf of victims of human trafficking.

Elkayam-Levy will be working with AEquitas: The Prosecutors’ Resource on Violence Against Women, a nonprofit project of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape. As a visiting researcher, she will develop an anti-trafficking collaboration between government agencies and civil society organizations in the U.S. and Israel, where she will work to establish an Institute on the Prosecution of Human Trafficking (IPHT).

The Institute, modeled on similar institutes AEquitas has established in the U.S. and several other countries, will provide training for officials involved in prosecuting human trafficking crimes.

The project will include the implementation of anti-trafficking programs and strategies developed by AEquitas in Israel. “The Institute will explore the complex issues faced by prosecutors in balancing offender accountability and the impact of criminal prosecution on victims,” Elkayam-Levy said.

In addition to establishing the IPHT, she will use the fellowship to develop professional exchanges and dialogue on human trafficking issues among practitioners and policymakers in both nations.

Elkayam-Levy had been a Penn Law Human Rights Scholar this year and is one of more than 100 LLM students – internationally trained lawyers, judges, NGO leaders, government officials and other legal professionals – who enroll at Penn Law for a year of study to enhance their understanding of American law and its global connections.

“I chose to continue my academic path in the U.S. in pursuit of a comprehensive and comparative global perspective on human rights issues and international law,” she explained. “To that end, my year at Penn Law exceeded all my expectations. It has been extremely fruitful and enriching, both personally and professionally, and tremendously expanded my intellectual and cultural viewpoints.”

A 2009 graduate of Bar Ilan University with a degree in law and political science, Elkayam-Levy served as legal counsel for the Human Rights Division in the International Agreements and International Litigation Department of the Israeli Ministry of Justice.

“I was fortunate to advocate for, consult on and promote human rights issues at the State level.  I also specialized in the combat against trafficking in persons and have been involved in shaping national policies and developing the state’s human rights agenda,” she said of her work there.

Previously she served as an associate in the High Court of Justice Department of the Israeli Attorney General’s Office and worked as an associate at a Tel Aviv law firm.

As an LLM student at Penn Law, where she received a human rights scholarship, Elkayam-Levy established the first LLM Organization for International Human Rights and led the first two LLM pro bono projects.

“As the president of this organization, I was proud to represent more than 20 members of our LLM class who were strongly committed to promoting human rights’ actions and providing pro bono support to NGOs,” she said.

As a result of her work, she recently received the Toll Public Interest Center’s 2013 Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Leadership, Exemplary Pro Bono Service and the LLM Public Service Award. Earlier this year, she was also awarded the Philadelphia Bar Association Award for Outstanding Achievement in Human Rights.