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IJM's founder Gary Haugen was a human rights attorney working for the U.S. Department of Justice when the United Nations asked him to lead its investigation of the horrific genocide that had engulfed the small African nation of Rwanda. Compelled by the urgent needs they saw and inspired by their faith, Haugen and a small team envisioned a new kind of human rights organization: a group that would leverage the skills of criminal justice professionals to protect the poor from violent oppression. Haugen left his job at the Department of Justice and launched International Justice Mission. He and a small DC-based team took on cases in which impoverished victims could not depend on their justice systems to defend them. They faced numerous obstacles and challenges. But slowly, the team saw their vision begin to take hold: rapists went to jail for assaulting impoverished children, families were freed from generations of slavery and young girls were rescued from the traffickers who sold them for sex. By 2000, IJM established its first long-term field office in Mumbai where a team of local professionals began partnering with authorities to rescue trafficked girls and women. They are now a global team of nearly 600 lawyers, social workers, investigators, community activists and other professionals. They have field offices in nearly 20 communities throughout the developing world.
IJM's vision is to rescue thousands, protect millions and prove that justice for the poor is possible.