Dr. Kathy Roberts, Senior Legal Advisor, is a U.S. lawyer and independent consultant based in Los Angeles, California. With more than a decade of experience representing victims and survivors of human rights violations and international atrocity crimes in litigation, Dr. Roberts’s practice focuses on providing respectful support to local practitioners seeking accountability for international justice crimes in their own country’s courts. With support from UN Women, Justice Rapid Response, and CJA, and in partnership with the Transitional Justice Clinic, Dr. Roberts has assisted local practitioners in international crimes investigations and litigation in Chile, Guatemala, Tunisia, and Kosovo. Her specialties include universal jurisdiction, foreign official immunity, and litigating international crimes in national courts, including genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture, and conflict-related sexual violence. She provides strategic litigation expertise and support for CJA’s ongoing cases, as well as advising CJA on strategy, project design, and partnership development.
Dr. Roberts served as CJA’s Legal Director from 2013 to 2018 and launched CJA’s Transitional Justice Initiatives program in 2017. During this time, Dr. Roberts led and supervised the investigation and litigation of impact cases on behalf of victims and survivors of atrocities from twelve countries spanning five continents. Her work on behalf of Somali victims has been covered widely in the United States and Africa, including by ABC’s 20/20, CNN Investigations, and a feature-length documentary Somaliland: Kill All but the Crows, in Al Jazeera’s People and Power series. Her work on behalf of the family of slain Chilean folksinger Víctor Jara was covered extensively in the United States and Chile, and was the subject of an hour-long special Anhelada Justicia of Chilevision’s En La Mira.
Dr. Roberts serves on the Advisory Board of eyeWitness to Atrocities, a project of the International Bar Association, and on the Board of Trustees for Just Theater. She received her BA with honors from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1992, her PhD in Philosophy from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2001, and her JD from the University of California, Berkeley in 2004. She is admitted to practice in California and speaks Spanish.
Nushin Sarkarati and Roberts, The Importance of Mass Trauma Evidence in Accountability before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, in Cambodia’s Hidden Scars: Trauma Psychology and the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia, 2d ed. (2016).
Roberts, The Long Road to Justice, Part 2, Journal of the Anglo-Somali Society, Issue No. 54, Autumn 2013.
Roberts, Yousuf v. Samantar: The Long Road to Justice, Journal of the Anglo-Somali Society, Issue No. 53, Spring 2013.
Roberts, 4th Circuit Again Denies Immunity in Samantar, Intlawgrrls.com, November 6, 2012.
Dr. Steven Reisner and Roberts, Will There Be Accountability? Medical Professionals Who Torture, Counterpunch, September 21-23, 2012.
Roberts, One Guantánamo Hearing That Did Take Place in New York, Intlawgrrls.com, April 11, 2011.
Roberts, Correcting Culture: Extraterritoriality and U.S. Employment Discrimination Law, Hofstra Journal of Employment and Labor Law, Volume 24, 2007.
Roberts, Note, The United States and the World: Changing Approaches to Human Rights Diplomacy Under the Bush Administration 2001 – 2003, Berkeley Journal of International Law, Volume 21, Number 3, 2003.
Roberts, Book Review: Sweatshop Warriors: Immigrant Women Workers Take on the Global Factory by Miriam Ching Yoon Louie, Berkeley Women’s Law Journal, Volume 17, 2002.