Work in Africa a ‘defining’ experience for new U.S. attorney general

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Loretta Lynch has the education and, with two decades as a prosecutor, the experience to be America’s next top lawyer. But something that sets the new U.S. attorney general apart from her predecessors is the global perspective she gained working for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Lynch, who became the first female African-American attorney general on April 23, served as a volunteer legal adviser to the tribunal from 2001 to 2005. During that time, she traveled often to Africa to train lawyers who were prosecuting those responsible for the 1994 genocide. She also investigated claims of witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

“This opportunity to provide independent scrutiny necessary to ensure the rule of law and the integrity of the court system was one of the most meaningful experiences of my professional life,” Lynch told the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee at her confirmation hearing on January 28.

“Loretta has spent her life fighting for fair and equal justice that is the foundation of our democracy.” — President Obama

The attorney general is the nation’s top law enforcement officer and runs the U.S. Department of Justice. The department’s work has become increasingly global in recent years as countries cooperate to fight corruption, human trafficking and cybercrime.

Lynch says her experience in Africa left a powerful impression and deepened her appreciation of international legal systems. “My work there was defining for me in many ways,” she said.