Monday, September 14, 2020
Prasanna Balasundaram
Prasanna Balasundaram is a refugee and immigration lawyer with U of T's Downtown Legal Services (photo by Nina Haikara)

The Law Foundation of Ontario is pleased to announce that Prasanna Balasundaram has received a 2020-2021 Community Leadership in Justice Fellowship (CLFJ).

Prasanna Balasundaram is a staff lawyer who supervises the Refugee and Immigration division at Downtown Legal Services, a community legal clinic and a clinical education program operated by the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto. His work focuses on complex refugee and immigration matters, particularly those involving inadmissibility, exclusion, and constitutional issues. Prasanna has an interest in advancing legal aid based clinical legal education. He instructs law students in a refugee and immigration law clinical course and supervises their casework.

Mr. Balasundaram will be hosted by the Centre for Refugee StudiesYork University, starting September 2021. He will work with Professor Sean Rehaag, who is Director of the Centre for Refugee Studies and an Associate Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School.

Through his fellowship, Mr. Balasundaram will conduct research and develop resources to empower refugees and refugee-serving organizations to become meaningful transitional justice actors. ‘Transitional justice’ means the post-conflict pursuit of accountability for gross violations of human rights or mass atrocities. Accountability measures can include criminal prosecutions, truth and reconciliation commissions, institutional reforms, and memorialization.

Mr. Balasundaram will carry out a literature review as well as original research based on interviews with refugee organizations and refugees in southern Ontario to explore the circumstances affecting the inclusion and exclusion of refugees in transitional justice. (Southern Ontario is home to refugees from Sudan, Haiti, El Salvador, Liberia, Rwanda, and Sri Lanka – all countries that have undertaken some form of transitional justice measures.)

Based on this research, he will create and disseminate resources, such as a toolkit, website, and webinars, and deliver training to refugee and newcomer organizations to increase their understanding of and capacity to pursue transitional justice, while rooted in best practices to safely and meaningfully involve refugees in the processes. Mr. Balasundaram will also connect regularly with the students, faculty, and partners of Osgoode Hall Law School and the Center for Refugee Studies, providing guest lectures, seminars, and consultation sessions.

Republished in part from the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) website