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For Immediate Release

Karen Naimer Joins PHR as Program Director for the Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones

Cambridge, Mass - 10/18/2011

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today announced that Karen Naimer has joined the organization as Program Director for the Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones. In this role, Naimer will be responsible for spearheading and coordinating this new training and advocacy initiative which will forge coalitions and build capacity among legal, medical, and law enforcement experts to support and bolster accountability for sexual violence in East and Central Africa. Naimer will be based in PHR’s Cambridge, Massachusetts office.

Naimer has an extensive background in international human rights and criminal law and a successful track record of working with international networks of prosecutors and judges. She has experience addressing the problem of mass atrocities, including sexual violence, working in both academic and applied settings in the US, Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

“We had the pleasure of collaborating with Karen recently while working with prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) and we were immensely impressed with her knowledge and insights,” said Susannah Sirkin, Deputy Director at PHR. “Karen will be an excellent addition to the PHR team as we work to use PHR’s expertise in forensic science to address this crisis and help end rape in war and bring about accountability and justice for the victims.”

Prior to joining PHR, Naimer consulted in human rights and international law with The International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life at Brandeis University, where she designed programming for a series of unique meetings between international judges and national judges in the Middle East and Asia.  Previously, she taught international law at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs and served as the Edmond J. Safra Faculty Fellow at Harvard University’s Center for Ethics. Prior to that, she served as Deputy Counsel at the Independent Inquiry Committee into the United Nations Oil-For-Food Programme, where she investigated UN and national government officials as part of a multinational inquiry into widespread corruption among the most senior UN personnel, and Security Council member states. Naimer also clerked for Theodor Meron, former president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, where she helped draft judgments concerning mass atrocities in both the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

“I am so pleased to be joining PHR and helping to launch this important program,” said Naimer.  “This ambitious initiative will leverage new networks of legal and medical experts to combat sexual violence in completely innovative ways.”

A native of Canada, Naimer received a J.D. and an M.A. in International Relations from the University of Toronto, and an LL.M. in International Legal Studies from New York University. She has previously worked on domestic violence issues at the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic in Toronto and at the New York Asian Women's Center.  She also worked as an associate at the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in NYC.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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