About Us

PEJ, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, was founded in 2016 by Cynthia Tai, a former prosecutor in the U.S., and at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. With an increase in mass atrocities worldwide, PEJ believes now more than ever that there is an overwhelming need to empower local populations seeking justice. By partnering with local organizations, we train local lawyers and investigators to have the skills necessary to collect and preserve evidence in a manner that meets international legal standards.


PEJ applies a novel, victim-centered approach to addressing mass atrocities. We only engage in cases where requested to do so by the survivors, their families, or local community members and where we have the appropriate expertise. Before engaging in any case, we evaluate the situation to identify the best possible chance of success. We believe that professional, impartial, and prompt investigation contributes to holding perpetrators of atrocities accountable, reducing risks for survivors and witnesses, ending cycles of violence, creating more accountability mechanisms, deterring future perpetrators from committing atrocities, and giving victims a sense of justice.

 

Together, PEJ’s staff and Board have decades of experience in international legal matters. Working in partnership with local organizations, we bring evidence of atrocities to the forefront in legal arenas.

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Image by Patrick Fore

PEJ Administrative Team

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​​​​Cynthia Tai, Esq. – Executive Director

Ms. Tai has over two decades of experience in international and domestic litigation. She served as a trial lawyer for the International Criminal Court, Office of the Prosecutor, 2007-2013. At the ICC, she was a principal member of the case of Jean-Pierre Bemba (CAR) and lead counsel on the case of William Ruto (Kenya). She was a pivotal member of the investigation strategies of both cases and conducted dozens of interviews. As a domestic prosecutor, she conducted numerous jury trials (violent crime, cold case homicides, and sexual assaults), over 500 bench trials, and thousands of contested evidentiary hearings. Ms. Tai has also served as trial counsel in civil litigation cases domestically. 

Melissa Harry – Operations Manager 

Ms. Harry has worked in the non-profit sector for 15 years. Before joining PEJ, she was the Operations Supervisor for the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) in South Africa, where she was responsible for the oversight of Human Resources, Finances, and Operations. Ms. Harry's areas of responsibility include management of all budgets, proposals, and human resources. 

Arison Mahureva – Finance Manager 

Mr. Mahureva is a development finance practitioner with 13 years of experience. He has worked as a senior-level financial and administrative manager. He has experience in accounting and operations management of multimillion, multi-partner, donor-funded contracts, cooperative agreements, and grants.  Arison brings expert skills in organizational financial management, donor financial reporting and grant compliance, capacity building of local organizations in financial and contract management, operations, donor policy, procedural and reporting requirements, and significant financial analysis and risk assessment expertise. In his previous roles, he oversaw financial and sub-recipients management of multi-year, Gender-Based Violence prevention and Sexual HIV/AIDS Prevention project in Africa, including financial oversight of sub-grants located all over Africa.

Laura Rubio Krohne – Executive Assistant & Communications Officer 

Ms. Rubio is a Colombian lawyer with experience handling administrative and organizational tasks. Ms. Rubio has four years of experience managing and coordinating legal research groups and projects and handling administrative tasks related to the work of NGOs and public offices. She has worked in public management, justice administration, criminal law, and criminal policy. Proficient in managing large information flows, Ms. Rubio assists the PEJ team in its administrative functions, including grant proposals and reporting requirements.

Board Members

Brett Carey - President


Dr Carey is a physical therapist hailing from Kona, Hawaii, and is the CEO of Kalo Physical Therapy and outpatient multi-speciality group. He has a background in software development and served as the Vice President of Irehab.com from 2011 - 2019. In 2013, Irehab.com was featured as a top 100 noteworthy app. He also has served as the Board chairman for the West Hawaii Community Health Centers from 2017-2019 and as of 2021, he is the President of We Make HI INC - a 3D printing non-profit group focused on decreasing medical supply costs for underserved communities. His family originates from County Tipperary, Ireland. Dr Carey is involved with the Friends of St Patrick, Hawaii, and was recently awarded Irish Person of the Year in 2021. He is recognized as an International Homecoming Ambassador for Belfast, Northern Ireland and is actively engaged with the Biden Administration on selecting a Special Envoy for Peace Keeping activities in Northern Ireland. Dr. Carey has been recognized as a 40 under 40 entrepreneur by both Pacific Business News as well as the Irish Echo Newspaper.




Jennifer Busch - Treasurer





Jennie Montaño - Secretary


Jennie Montaño is an Associate Director of Clinic Supply at BeiGene USA, Inc. She has over twelve years experience in biotech and clinical trials supporting external manufacturing companies for packing and labeling of small molecule and device combination products. In all her roles, Jennie provides leadership by creating safe spaces for stakeholders to have authentic conversations about business process development and improvement. Jennie holds a BS in Business Administration from University of Phoenix and MS in Electrical Engineering from San Francisco State University. She is a member of the Society of Women Engineers, participating in committees for scholarship fundraising and communications. Jennie is an avid cook and road cyclist / fitness enthusiast who thrives on bringing people together both personally and professionally.




Tony Tate - Board Member


Tony Tate organically farms coffee and other fruits and vegetables in South Kona, Hawaii. From 2010 to 2020 he worked at the Fund for Global Human Rights as the program officer for Sub-Saharan Africa. There, he oversaw the Fund’s grant making programs in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. Before joining the Fund, Tony was a program officer at Unbound Philanthropy, responsible for the development of the organization’s international programs. Prior to his work at Unbound Philanthropy, Tony worked for seven years as a researcher at Human Rights Watch, first as their in-country researcher in Burundi, later as the Africa researcher in the Children’s Rights Division. At Human Rights Watch, he investigated and published reports on human rights violations in numerous countries in central, eastern and southern Africa. In the 1990s, Tony worked as a case manager at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Comoros Islands. He has a J.D. from the City University of New York School of Law, an M.A. in international affairs and African studies from Columbia University, and a B.A. from the George Washington University. Tony is a member of the advisory committee of the Children’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch and is fluent in French and conversant in Swahili.




Rebecca Villegas - Board Member


Born and raised on the Big Island, Rebecca Shute Villegas is a graduate of Konawaena High School, holds a BA in Business Management from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a Certificate of Completion from Ulumau, A Hawaii Island Leadership Series. Rebecca has a long history of working for and with Hawaii’s non-profit and for profit organizations. During her 14 years with the Kona Brewing Company, as their Hawaii Marketing Manager, she championed their Sustainability, Event Sponsorship and Community Partnership Programs. As President of the Kohanaiki Ohana, she worked with a team of community advocates, the developer and government agencies to create Kohanaiki Beach Park. In her current role as Hawaii County Council’s District 7 Representative, Rebecca has focused on finding solutions for Kona’s growing Houseless/ Homeless issues, presented Herbicide legislation to protect our County parks and roadways from the use of toxic herbicides, and represented the Big Island and the United Nations Global Assembly & Climate Week in New York City. Working hand in hand with community leaders and walking side by side with constituents and health officials, Rebecca has worked tirelessly to navigate this unprecedented health crisis. She is a strong voice advocating for the unique needs of West Hawaii . She is a passionate, credible, and proven public servant, with a heart for the people vs the politics. Her track record of working collaboratively and diplomatically with local businesses, political leaders, and community advocates exemplifies her values, vision and vested interest in the future of Hawai’i Island.





Advisory Board

Kay Sides


Ms. Sides is a fashion innovator fueled by her passion of fashion, art, and philanthropy. Over the last 30 years, she has fueled her passion through HATCh Showroom, a progressive and multi-dimensional environment that includes contemporary jewelry, fine jewelry, footwear, and large commercial projects based in Los Angeles, NYC, and Dallas. Branding and innovation is Ms. Sides’ forté. Through HATCh, she has had the great privilege of launching, building, and managing brands like James Perse, Rick Owens, Katayone Adeli, Victoria Beckham, Giles and Brother, Kelly Wearstler, Lacoste, Alexander McQueen MCQ, Yohji Yamamoto – Coming Soon, Aviator Nation, Madeworn, Woolrich, JRB, PRPS, to name a few. Similarly, Ms. Sides’ passion for a better and safer world has included significant contributions to clean water development around the world, in addition to funding annual events to lift the spirits of children diagnosed with life-threatening diseases. Her steadfast belief in equal rights for all, including access to safe water, food, and accountability anchors her commitment to PEJ.




Gilbert Nuwagira


Gilbert Nuwagira is a graduate with a degree in Economics and Management from Uganda Christian University. Currently, he is the Personal Assistant to the Director at the Refugee Law Project. In this role, in addition to daily interactions with of refugees from different countries within the great lakes region, he is involved in developing, consolidating and data analysis of the systematic screening data on experiences of war that Refugee Law Project is currently undertaking. He also plays an administrative role and inputs into the convening efforts of the Refugee Law Project around topics such as Human Trafficking, Conflict-Related Sexual Violence and Force Migration. He is particularly enthused by data; its collection, analysis, and the connections it allows us to make to policy, legal and practice frameworks from a Human Rights perspective. He is intrigued by the intersection of international legal instruments and humanitarian practice in forced migration contexts and how healing, justice and accountability can be curated from them.




Gregory Jackson


Mr. Jackson has extensive experience as an international advisor on human rights, the military, and security sector reform. He worked in South Sudan advising the South Sudan Ministry of Defense, and in Iraq advising the Iraqi High Tribunal prosecuting former Baathist Regime members for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Mr. Jackson has fifteen years of experience as a military attorney and as a foreign advisor in Africa, the Middle East, and in places as culturally different as South Korea and Burkina Faso. Mr. Jackson also served as the Hawaii Director for the Office of Veterans Services during the Abercrombie Administration. He currently works as a judge advocate for the Hawaii Army National Guard and as a civilian at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay.




Linda L. Walton


As an advisory board member, Ms. Walton provides the board with legal support and advice. She is an experienced prosecutor having spent over twenty-four years (1990-2014) at the Hawaii County Prosecutor’s Office. Her trial experience includes various areas of criminal law including homicide, child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, and drug cases. She also volunteered to arbitrate matters in the Hawaii arbitration program from 2000-2010. Prior to these positions, Ms. Walton worked for the Alaska Attorney General litigating civil, eminent domain, and construction contract matters, and prosecuting sexual assault cases. She also represented the Department of Environmental Conservation and Natural Resources on gasoline pipeline proposals in Alaska. In 1980, she gained further policy experience and drafted legislation for the United States Trust Territory of Palau, now the country of Belau. She worked at Rice, Hoppner and Hedland as a civil litigator and criminal defense attorney in remote Alaskan villages.




Aymen Korika


Mr. Korika was born in war-torn Nuba (aka South Kordofan State, Sudan) and relocated to the United States in 1999 as a Sudanese refugee to escape the persecution and warfare. He has studied in Sudan, Egypt, and the US. After moving to the US, Mr. Korika participated in a Maine statewide organization leadership training as part of a refugee initiative before studying Advanced Leadership and Politics at Husson College and Engineering at University of Southern Maine. In 2006 he started his first business with investment properties and his second business in 2019. He supports his family in the US and back home. Mr. Korika’s active advocacy for the people of Nuba and Sudan and his personal knowledge of the region make him a valuable advisor for PEJ.




Joyce Seelen


Ms. Seelen brings over 30 years of legal experience to the advisory board. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Minnesota and a Juris Doctor from the Denver School of Law. She began her career as a Colorado Public Defender in 1980 and has focused her career on defending the indigent and protecting the abused against institutions including the Catholic Church. In 2003 she moved to the Big Island of Hawaii and became a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the County of Hawaii. Her contributions to defending human rights have included defending children who were victims of pedophiles connected to religious institutions and representing children who were the victims of negligence by medical and psychological professionals.




Silvain Sana


Mr. Sana is a magistrate from Burkina Faso who has extensive experience in domestic and international criminal investigations. He first served as a juge d’instruction in his country before joining the International Criminal Court in 2007, where he is currently an investigation team leader in the Office of the Prosecutor. He has been working and leading investigation in various cases at the ICC. M. Sana is very passionate about international law and justice. He is a contributor to the Commentary of the Rome Statute article by article (Cour pénale internationale, 2ème Edition, Pedone, Nov 2019). He is also involved in capacity building on criminal law, criminal investigation and prosecution by providing training to lawyers, prosecutors and investigators of various African countries.




Akingbolahan Adeniran


Prior to joining the team of Prince Dapo Abiodun, the Governor of Ogun State, as the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of the State, Akingbolahan Adeniran served as the Tracking Team Leader at the United Nations International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, where he coordinated an international effort to locate and apprehend eight genocide fugitives. Before this, he was the pioneer Rule of Law Advisor to Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He previously served as the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Lagos State on Legal Matters where he was instrumental in setting up the Lagos Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT), Public Interest Law Partnership and Community Service Unit among others. Before serving in Lagos State, he worked as an investigator and a trial lawyer for over eight years at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, The Netherlands, where he investigated some of the world's most dangerous international crimes suspects. He holds an LL.B. from the University of Lagos and an LL.M. from Harvard Law School.




Ravic Huso


Retired Ambassador Huso served most recently as the U.S. Ambassador to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, directing all aspects of the U.S.-Lao bilateral relations. Prior to his service in Laos, he was the Foreign Policy Advisor to the Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. Ambassador Huso’s previous assignments were to the U.S. Embassies in Burkina Faso, Burundi, Malaysia, and Niger. He also served as the State Department’s Deputy Director and then Director for Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam Affairs.