Justice Centre Hong Kong is a non-profit human rights organisation working fearlessly to protect the rights of Hong Kong’s most vulnerable forced migrants: refugees, other people seeking protection, and survivors of torture, human trafficking and forced labour.
Launched in 2014, Justice Centre Hong Kong was formerly Hong Kong Refugee Advice Centre, which over seven years, helped more than 2,000 refugee men, women and children on the road to a new life.
Building on our expertise in refugee issues, we identified a clear need for an increased response to tackling forced labour and human trafficking in Hong Kong, and expanded our remit to fill this gap.
We advocate with and for forced migrants, bringing their voices into the public debate. We campaign for legislative and policy change, conduct research and work with the media and civil society to fight root causes and change systems and minds.
We provide people seeking protection in Hong Kong with free and independent legal information and specialised legal and psychosocial assistance.
We receive no government funding. Instead, we have spearheaded an innovative pro-bono working model that sees leading international law firms provide financial assistance and donate hours to help with legal research and support. We also harness funding from a variety of trusts and foundations and through individual donations.
Piya Muqit, Executive Director
Piya has been working in the field of human rights, child rights, human trafficking and refugee rights for over 20 years as a legal-aid lawyer and policy expert. She has worked for NGOs, including Freedom from Torture, REDRESS and Refugee Legal Centre in the UK, the Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana in the USA and Ain o Salish Kendra in Bangladesh. She has also served on the Board and worked for the Citizenship Foundation and Grampian Racial Equality Council. Piya is a qualified barrister having trained at Doughty Street, Garden Court Chambers and the Faculty of Advocates in the UK and holds an undergraduate degree in law from the University of Aberdeen, a Master’s in Human Rights Law from the University of London and a Master’s in Child Studies from Kings College London. She has led on change management projects for several NGOs, and been involved in training and capacity building, research, strategic litigation cases, and law and policy reform throughout her career. Her most recent post before joining Justice Centre was Head of Policy and Advocacy at UNICEF UK.
Melanie McLaren, Head of Fundraising & Development
Melanie has been at Justice Centre since 2015 and is responsible for Justice Centre’s fundraising strategy as well as running the Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize. Prior to working at Justice Centre she had over 10 years’ experience working in the UK and Hong Kong. Melanie’s most recent role prior to Justice Centre was Chief Operating Officer for Asia Pacific fundraising for Macquarie Group’s investment funds. Melanie was also on the Asia Pacific Steering Committee for the Macquarie Group Foundation’s Modern Slavery Project. Melanie is passionate about human rights, including the power of art as a catalyst for social change and holds a Masters from University College London
Jade Anderson, Head of Research
Jade has been working in human rights-based development since 2002. She has worked in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and South Africa for local and international NGOs. She has also worked with the UN Refugee Agency in Australia. Before joining the organisation in 2014, Jade worked with international company Statt, researching people who decide to seek asylum from Afghanistan through irregular channels. Jade holds a Masters degree in Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development and a Masters in International Development.
Isaac Shaffer, Legal Services Manager
Isaac Shaffer is a UK qualified lawyer with over a decade’s experience of directly representing asylum seekers and refugees before Courts and Tribunals. Before working for the Justice Centre, he worked for Wilson Solicitors LLP, one of the UK’s leading legal aid immigration firms, and for Refugee Legal Centre, a UK NGO providing direct representation for asylum seekers and refugees. He has particular experience in litigation, including complex applications for Judicial Review. He was co-convener of the UK’s Immigration Legal Practitioner Association’s specialist Asylum Working Group and was active in campaigns to preserve legal aid and access to justice. Until 2018 he was a founding member and Director of one of the UK’s leading independent publishing houses, Comma Press, and now remains a consultant to the Board.
Lynette Nam, Legal Officer
Lynette is an Australian qualified lawyer and holds a dual degree in Bachelor of Arts/Laws (Hon) from the University of Queensland. Before joining Justice Centre, Lynette worked at Fragomen Worldwide, an international immigration law firm, in Australia and Hong Kong. Previous to this, Lynette was a human rights trainer on the Thai-Burma border, where she developed and implemented a curriculum on non-violent social change for young Karenni refugees. Lynette began her graduate career at Nishimura & Asahi in Tokyo. She has also worked with Refugees International Japan in Tokyo, and various community legal centres in Brisbane, Australia in a volunteer capacity.
Nawin Santikarn, Linklaters Justice Fellow
Nawin is an English-qualified lawyer, and holds an LLB (Hons) from the University of Edinburgh. Prior to joining Justice Centre, Nawin worked in at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, an international commercial law firm, in London and Hong Kong. While in private practice, Nawin focused on litigation and international arbitration, and volunteered at a legal clinic in east London. As a graduate, Nawin interned on the Defence team of Nuon Chea at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.
Pritika Bhat, Legal Services Coordinator
Pritika is a law graduate from India and post graduate (LLM) in Corporate and Finance laws from The University of Hong Kong. Before working for Justice Centre Hong Kong, she gained good legal experience working as Manager (Legal) in Credit Recovery and Legal Services Department of an Indian Public sector Bank (Union Bank of India) for 7 years. She has also done her internships with various Non-Governmental Organizations, Law firms and companies in India.
Besides her interest in working in Financial sector, she has deep interest in working for the Human cause. She actively supports organizations doing work in the humanitarian grounds in India. An example is Kashmiri Medical Emergency Trust (KMECT) – which provides financial assistance to the needy for medical purposes.
Jessica Chan, Finance Manager
Jessica acquired her accountancy qualifications in Hong Kong and became a CPA in 2011. She has worked in different sizes enterprises, from SMEs to larger corporates such as BNP Paribas and Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Jessica obtained her bachelor degree in accountancy at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. During her time at University she was Vice-President of the English Club, and led several vocational trips to remote regions of Mainland China to teach English to Primary aged students. In addition to Hong Kong, Jessica has lived in Canada and the UK.
Louise Coulcher, Office Manager
Louise recently moved back to Hong Kong from London, UK, where she was working as the Client and MLR Services Manager for the Helen Bamber Foundation. Louise spent her earlier working life as an Executive Assistant in the Financial Corporate sector, whilst also volunteering for Amnesty and HBF. Louise transitioned into full time NGO employment initially working for the International Rescue Committee, after completing her LLM in Human Rights at the University of London. She also holds an undergraduate degree in Sociology and Social Policy from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Barbara Wibmer, Development Manager
Barbara worked in the NGO sector in Tanzania, South Africa and Rwanda as well as the Austrian Court System before joining the West Africa Regional Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Office focusing on rule of law and impunity in the region. She then worked in the Austrian Foreign Service on human rights, the West Balkans, and at the Austrian Embassy in Jordan. In 2014 she moved to Egypt where she joined St. Andrew’s Refugee Services, first as a Legal Officer and then as its Deputy Director. The organization provides legal, psychosocial and education services and is deeply involved in capacity building of refugee community-based organizations. Barbara holds a Masters Degree in Law and a Masters Degree in Political Science and studied at the University of Innsbruck and the University of Burgundy.
Simon Henderson, Senior Policy Advisor
Simon has worked in the field of human rights, international law, security studies and public policy advocacy for 8 years, in non-government organisations, government and industry bodies. Before joining Justice Centre he was Senior Policy Lawyer, Human Rights, at the Law Council of Australia. Prior to that, Simon was a Policy Officer, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in the Australian Government. Simon holds a Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws and Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from The Australian National University, as well as a Masters of Laws in International Law from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. Simon is admitted to practise as a barrister and solicitor in the High Court of Australia and the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court.
Annie Li, Research and Policy Officer
Annie has a Bachelor of Social Sciences (Government and Laws) degree and a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Hong Kong, including an exchange year at Sciences Po Paris. Before joining Justice Centre Hong Kong, she worked at local NGOs Hong Kong Unison and AIDS Concern in advocacy and communications on racial equality, LGBTI rights and the right to health.
Jake Mendrik, Policy Advisor
Jake has spent much of his working career focused on Chinese policy research and analysis starting with the Chinese Governance Innovation Research Centre at the Lau Institute, Kings College, UK, before a role at the Chinese Britain Business Council (CBBC) in Shenzhen publishing a number of reports on emerging Chinese market sectors. Previous to this he obtained a Graduate Diploma in Law at City Law School in London, before working and volunteering at several clinics and NGOs on issues related tenancy dispute and social security claims. He also holds a Master’s degree in Human Rights Law from the University of Vienna and has worked with a number of Chinese NGOs working on issues related to gender, human trafficking and the One Child Policy.
Raquel Amador, Welfare Advisor, Legal Team
Raquel is a UK qualified lawyer with a background in immigration, asylum and human rights law. In the UK, Raquel worked for Wesley Gryk LLP, one of the UK’s leading immigration law firms. Eleven years ago, she co-founded Hong Kong Refugee Advice Centre (now Justice Centre). Raquel has also worked at HELP, an NGO that assists domestic workers on cases involving employment, immigration and human rights. Born in The Netherlands and raised in Curacao, New York and Hong Kong, Raquel is a dual Filipino and Dutch national. She is the proud mother of two children.
Shinnie Stevens, Psychosocial Services Manager
Shinnie has been working as a psychotherapist in Mumbai, India over the last 12 years. She has a Masters in psychology from University of Madras, and is a trained therapist working with children and adults. Prior to working in Hong Kong, she worked as a counselor in an NGO, ACT, providing trauma-focused therapy to minors rescued from trafficking. She has also counselled staff of various companies and NGOs and had a private practice in Mumbai. She has supervised master level students and practicing counselors.
Noi Derkash, Psychosocial Coordinator
Noi obtained an undergraduate degree in nursing from Regis University and was a registered nurse at University of Colorado Hospital in the United States. Justice Centre Hong Kong serves as her first foray back into the workforce (after a seven-year hiatus), as well as into working with an NGO. Though it’s been quite an adjustment, Noi remains passionate about helping others and is grateful to be able to utilize her skills as a compassionate caregiver.
Rakhi Punjabi, Partnerships Manager (Asia Pacific)
Rakhi joined Justice Centre in January 2018. She is a qualified lawyer and prior to joining the organsiation, was practicing law in the litigation department at Tanner De Witt, Hong Kong. Rakhi also runs a boutique Corporate Social Responsibility consultancy, working with small to medium sized businesses to design and implement a sustainable and focused CSR strategy. Rakhi has volunteered with minority children in the U.K., and has volunteered with Amnesty Hong Kong. She holds a LL.M and LL.B from University College London, UK and an Executive Certificate in CSR from HKU Space.
Lisa Rizzo, Partnerships Manager (Middle East)
Lisa is an Australian qualified lawyer who holds degrees in law (LLB) from Macquarie University and commerce (B.Com) from and the University of New South Wales. Prior to her time in Hong Kong, Lisa lived in Bangkok, Thailand, where she had a unique opportunity to support Thai people in the infamous Klong Toey slums, particularly new mothers. She spent the early part of her career in Sydney, Australia, working as a human resources and employment law specialist for media and distribution companies.
Jane Lu, Legal Caseworker Intern
Jane is a recent graduate in law from University of Cambridge. She is a recipient of the Jardine Foundation Scholarship, a full scholarship aiming to assist Oxbridge students who have the potential to become outstanding citizens with a high commitment to the community. Prior to joining Justice Centre, Jane has interned in-house, as well as law firms and barrister chambers. In her free time, Jane enjoys volunteering and has previously volunteered in numerous capacities including distributing supplies in the refugee camps in Calais. In university, Jane was the student representative of Amicus, a charity that provides pro bono advice to prisoners on death row in the US.
Nathan Chan, Legal Caseworker Intern
Nathan holds a BA in Jurisprudence from the University of Oxford, and joined Justice Centre after graduation. During university, Nathan was a student researcher for the Oxford Lawyers Without Borders and the Oxford Human Rights Hub; a regular writer covering news and music for two major student publications (Cherwell and OxStu); and, during his gap year, served a five-month stint as a legislative assistant at the Hon. Dennis Kwok’s Legislative Council Office. Nathan is interested in public policy, community organising, and interfaith dialogue. In his free time, he can be found indulging in his tsundoku habits, listening to shoegaze, and watching (and rewatching) Stanley Kubrick films.
Craig Bowe, Policy and Advocacy Intern
Craig has over ten years’ experience working in various social work and advocacy based roles. In the last four years he has used this experience to work in the education sector implementing training and advice programs to support people from disadvantaged backgrounds. His recent experiences and studies involved working closely with people from migrant and refugee backgrounds and he has developed a strong passion in this area. Craig has been accepted to do a Master’s Degree in International Law which he will be working on over the next couple of years.
Cameron Sutherland, Communications Fellow
Cameron moved from Bristol to Hong Kong after graduating from a degree in journalism and public relations. He has worked with various companies increasing their online presence by utilising SEO through social media content. Cameron also worked with Waterstones building awareness of their book launch events and increasing attendance. Whether he’s writing about what’s happening in the world today or creating ideas for apprentice style competitions, there’s always a way to make a topic interesting or spoken about, especially when it’s important; that’s why he joined the team. When he’s not in the office you’ll catch him scrambling between jiu-jitsu classes, coffeeshops and comic book stores.