Victoria Liu, a dedicated and passionate student, is embarking on her final year of undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto. As she approaches the culmination of her international relations degree next year, Victoria has already made significant contributions to the field of human rights through her impactful experiences and initiatives.
This past summer, Victoria demonstrated her commitment to human rights by undertaking an internship at the Institute of Human Rights and Development in The Gambia. Alongside two other unpaid interns, Victoria delved into critical work, focusing on cases intended for submission to the African Commission of Humans and Peoples’ Rights and the International Court of Justice.
As a exemplary scholar, Victoria was able to leverage her position and connect with the leading human rights litigation program that represents Pan Africa. This opportunity enabled her to volunteer for six weeks with international rights attorneys, granting her invaluable insights into the pressing need for an effective social welfare system. During this time, Victoria forged meaningful connections and witnessed firsthand the necessity and impact of this vital work.
Victoria worked on a range of distressing cases, highlighting the dire human rights challenges faced in various African regions. One such issue is witchcraft accusations in Ghana, where women in villages endure horrifying persecution, including limb amputation and murder. These accusations force victims into refugee camps, abandoned by their own communities.
Another harrowing problem Victoria addressed was child exploitation and premature marriage, stemming from a significant portion of Africa’s economy being reliant on tourism. Young girls and boys are coerced into early marriages to secure economic stability, subjecting them to emotional and physical abuse. Victoria advocated for these victims and shed light on the brutal consequences of such exploitation.
Corruption cases, too, held a prominent place in Victoria’s efforts. Witnessing the legal process where reparations were awarded to survivors of murder by former dictators, she realized the distressing reality of a low implementation rate due to a lack of political will. Victoria emphasized the need for education, healthcare, and food security as essential priorities for African communities. She suggested a need to reevaluate international support, emphasizing that focusing on gender inequality and corruption could prove more impactful.
Despite the gravity of her work, Victoria took a moment to appreciate the beauty of Africa. She visited the Sierra Desert, basking in the breathtaking sunset and partook in Tabaski as a guest, immersing herself in the local culture.
In addition to her global contributions, Victoria also devoted her time to local causes. In the previous year, she served as the Vice President of the University of Toronto’s Student Union, dedicating her efforts to provide shelter and legal support to the local homeless population. Continuing her commitment to community well-being, this year she plans to establish a mental health initiative with her colleagues, extending much-needed support to University of Toronto students.
Victoria Liu’s journey in the realm of human rights advocacy is far from over. Her unwavering dedication and invaluable experiences have paved the way for her next endeavor: attending law school. With aspirations to become an international human rights lawyer, Victoria Liu is poised to bridge the gap and champion social justice and human rights on a global scale.