Negina Khalili, a groundbreaking Afghan lawyer who worked as a professor and prosecutor, evacuated the country last year and came to the U.S. after spending seven months as a refugee in Albania, according to the university.
She was the first female prosecutor in Ghor Province and served under the first female attorney general, prosecuting cases of violence against women. She is joining the university through a partnership with the College of Law and undergraduate College of Arts and Sciences, teaching an undergraduate class on human rights and lecturing law students.
"I came from a situation where there are no fundamental rights for females, and the people are struggling with poverty and the girls are fighting for their rights," Khalili said in a statement through the university. "I hope by teaching here I can raise the voice of my homeland, so the world will learn what is going on in my country."
In announcing her hire, the university referenced a quote from a BBC interview in which Khalili said the Taliban freed prisoners she and others had investigated who were "looking to, you know, take their revenge."
She received her law degree in Afghanistan and got a Master of Laws from Ohio Northern University in 2018, where she focused on law and democracy.
Professor Davida Finger, director of the university's Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice, and Gillis Long Poverty Law Center led the school's effort to bring Khalili to New Orleans. The law firm Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy provided pro bono assistance for the process.
Finger told Law360 on Tuesday that the "lengthy process" to bring Khalili to the university began about a year ago and required "a lot of coordination." She said the university was interested in partnering with a visiting professor with experience in fields related to gender and human rights, which matched up directly with Khalili's background.
"She's able to give, of course, a personal perspective and personal reflection on what we read about in the news," Finger said in the interview. "She's able to share her personal perspective on what it was like to be a prosecutor and the first female prosecutor in her province, and the role she played, how the process and procedures worked when she was there, and then, of course, what her hopes are for her country now."
In a statement on Tuesday, Madeleine Landrieu, the dean of the law school, called Khalili a "young woman with strength beyond measure."
"She has already taught us so much, not the least of which is to care dearly about our democracy and the rights afforded to us," Landrieu said.
--Editing by Janice Carter Brown.