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Students make strides as research assistants on hard-hitting legal topics

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Should terrorists have human rights too? Five Brunel Law School students are reflecting on this and other topics as research assistants working on the ‘Knowing Our Rights’ project.

The paid internships, which started in November under the leadership of Brunel University London’s Dr Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, place the students at the forefront of researching and commenting on big societal changes.

Final-year undergraduates Amirah Choudhury, Daniel Proctor and Gabrielle Laurin, second-year Martina Caloi and Monika Selimovic, who is studying for a Graduate Diploma in Law, were selected for their roles on the basis of academic merit, expertise and enthusiasm for engaging with human rights.

The students have started to research recent jurisprudence from the European Court of Human Rights, and their analysis and case summaries are being published on the ‘Knowing Our Rights’ website and on Facebook and Twitter.

They are also starting to participate in human rights workshops delivered in schools across London, led by Brunel alumnus Matteo Bergamini of Shout Out UK, as part of the project’s intention to bring human rights issues to the attention of young people, and will make contributions to research seminars and to public debates.

The first event the students covered tackled the thorny issue of whether terrorists should have human rights. The sell-out debate was held on 23 November at the Frontline Club as part of the Being Human festival, and was introduced by Dr Giannoulopoulos and chaired by Professor Roy Greenslade of City University London.

Brunel’s Professor of Contemporary Thought Will Self shared the panel with Tasnime Akunjee, a legal expert working on terrorism cases; Professor Anthony Glees, an expert of security and intelligence studies from the University of Buckingham; and Pat Magee, a former member of the IRA, convicted for his part in the bombing of the Brighton Grand Hotel.

The students’ summary of the insightful debate, their reactions to it and a video of the event are all available in their blog post.

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"A key aim of the Knowing Our Rights project is to bring young people face to face with major societal challenges of our times, through the medium of European human rights,” said Dr Giannoulopoulos, who is a Brunel Law School academic, an Associate Dean in Brunel’s College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences, and the founder and director of both ‘Knowing our Rights’ and the Britain in Europe think tank.

“This inherently valuable intellectual process goes into overdrive when young people are not just at the receiving end of ‘knowledge delivery’, but actively engage in its production, and further dissemination, themselves. 

"This is what we’re setting out to achieve with appointing five new student research assistants in this project. Their engagement in our recent ‘terrorism and human rights’ event, and the afterthoughts that have come out of our conversations since then, are a wonderful illustration of what genuine partnerships between students and academics can achieve, and what it means for students to put theory into practice, before they have even left Brunel."

Find out more about the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes offered by Brunel Law School.

Main image: Back row, left to right: Tasnime Akunjee, Profesor Julian Petley (Brunel academic, and ‘Knowing Our Rights’ project co-investigator), Pat Magee, Professor Roy Greenslade, Professor Anthony Glees and Dr Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos. Front row, left to right: Daniel Proctor, Gabrielle Laurin, Martina Caloi and Monika Selimovic.

Reported by:

Joe Buchanunn, Media Relations
+44 (0)1895 268821
joe.buchanunn@brunel.ac.uk