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TMCNet:  Carry the Seed and Legacy for Justice and Dignity, Human Rights Advocate Tells 2014 SCU Law Graduates

[May 24, 2014]

Carry the Seed and Legacy for Justice and Dignity, Human Rights Advocate Tells 2014 SCU Law Graduates

SANTA CLARA, Calif. --(Business Wire)--

Bringing a message that optimism, strong professional role models, and a "profound need to fix people's problems" can forge a meaningful career, human-rights lawyer Almudena Bernabeu spoke to the 300 graduating students from Santa Clara University School of Law.

The law school's commencement took place at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 24, in the University's Mission Gardens.

Bernabeu is the lead attorney with San Francisco-based Center for Justice and Accountability's (CJA) Latin America and Transitional Justice Programs. She is the lead private prosecutor on the high-profile case, under way before the Spanish National Court, against the Salvadoran officials alleged to be behind the massacre of six Jesuit priests, as well as their housekeeper and her daughter in 1989. She also represented survivors of the Guatemalan genocide (including Nobel (News - Alert) laureate Rigoberto Menchú Tum).

She said she got inspired in 2008 to use "universal jurisdiction" to prosecute in Spain the alleged Salvadoran killers of the Jesuits, after she worked alongside prosecutors of Chile's Augusto Pinochet, who also was indicted in Spain for alleged human rights violations. "Spanish professionals had changed the landscape of international criminal law with the Pinochet case, and I had been by their side, lerning, until my opportunity arrived," she said.

She thanked Santa Clara University for helping shelter the only witnesses to the 1989 crime, and for helping her locate them to help prosecute the case. The witnesses, Jorge and Lucia Cerna, were in attendance at Saturday's ceremony. "Santa Clara University makes of justice, not only a key piece of the syllabus, but a way of academic and personal life," Bernabeu said.

During the ceremony Saturday, University President Michael Engh, S.J., spoke to the graduates, challenging them with the questions "Who will bring justice to the innocent? Who will serve people who would not otherwise have legal counsel? Who will reinforce ethical decision-making across all industries?"

The 2014 graduating class comprised 48 percent women and 52 percent men. Forty-seven percent of the graduates identified as Caucasian, with 27 percent identifying as Asian; 12 percent Hispanic; 4 percent multi-ethnic, and 2 percent African-American. Forty-six graduates received certificates in various areas of high-tech law; another 24 received certificates in public-interest and social-justice law; and 21 specialized in international law.

Bernabeu received an honorary Doctor of Law degree at the event. She studied at the University of Virginia, received her law degree from the University of Valencia School of Law, and is a Ph.D. candidate in public international law at UNED University in Spain.

About Santa Clara University School of Law

Santa Clara University School of Law, founded in 1911 on the site of California's oldest operating higher-education institution, is dedicated to educating lawyers who lead with a commitment to excellence, ethics, and social justice. One of the nation's most diverse law schools, Santa Clara Law offers its 860 students an academically rigorous program, including graduate degrees in international law and intellectual property law; combined J.D./MBA degree; and certificates in intellectual property law, international law, and public interest and social justice law. Santa Clara Law is located in the world-class business center of Silicon Valley, and is distinguished nationally for our top-ranked program in intellectual property. For more information, see

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