Doug Kilday

As Interviewed by Lincoln Kilday, March 20, 2019

Doug Kilday: In His Own Words

International Justice Mission is an international organization that combats human trafficking and slavery. It's an organization that I didn't know anything about until early 2016 -- and when I learned about it was through our church. We were looking at providing some funding to an organization that did anti-trafficking work and we learned about IJM. They're the world's largest international antislavery organization, but we wanted to find a way for our church to do more than just supply funds. We wanted to find a way for our church to be able to provide volunteer assistance as well. We asked IJM what volunteer assistance opportunities they had for people who wanted to help with the work that they did, and they told us about these programs where you could send lawyers or other professionals out into the field to volunteer with them for about a year -- and we thought that would be really interesting to find someone from our church who might be willing to do that.

As soon as I was saying that I had this sort of tingle go down my spine -- it seemed like a really exciting thing for me to do. It seemed unrealistic because our kids were in school here and everything. We decided to go for it, and so we spent a year with IJM. We were stationed in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which is one of IJM's 18 field offices. The focus of their casework is on labor trafficking. It's illegal in every country in the world, including Cambodia, but the laws are not enforced all that stringently in Cambodia. So IJM is there to help the public justice system tackle this problem more actively. They've got a team of lawyers within IJM’s office who work on cases and tried to get the prosecutor to bring criminal charges and then to participate with the prosecutors at trial to try to secure convictions against people who were involved in the slave trade, either recruiting people by telling them lies or illegally transporting people or people who were actually doing the exploitation of the laborers directly. So we handled a number of criminal cases over the course of the year.

My work was really just to assist the lawyers in the office. I'm not licensed to practice law in Cambodian courts. I don't speak the local language, which is Khmer, so I was really more in the background doing a lot of writing. I wrote closing arguments, I wrote cross examination questions, direct examination questions -- I wrote a lot of correspondence to prosecutors and judges on the cases that we had in the office.