International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local governments to ensure victim rescue, to prosecute perpetrators and to strengthen the community and civic factors that promote functioning public justice systems.
IJM’s justice professionals work in their communities in 12 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America to secure tangible and sustainable protection of national laws through local court systems.
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.
IJM’s Response Today
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.
In the tradition of heroic Christian leaders like abolitionist William Wilberforce and transformational leaders like Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King, Jr., IJM’s staff stand against violent oppression in response to the Bible’s call to justice (Isaiah 1:17): Seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.
IJM seeks to restore to victims of oppression the things that God intends for them: their lives, their liberty, their dignity, the fruits of their labor. By defending and protecting individual human rights, IJM seeks to engender hope and transformation for those it serves and restore a witness of courage in places of oppressive violence. IJM helps victims of oppression regardless of their religion, ethnicity, or gender.
IJM has seen significant progress in its fight against oppression and injustice in the past 10 years, and remains committed to expanding its work in the next decade.
IJM continues to build networks with aftercare and other social service and government providers to ensure long-term care of clients. IJM will continue to secure prosecutions of perpetrators and contribute to positive structural change through on-the-ground involvement with the casework, courts and people of local justice systems around the world. Learn more about IJM by following our latest news from the field and get involved with the work of justice today.