Khuraisha Patel is a human rights lawyer and legal researcher at the nonprofit organisation Open Secrets. Open Secrets is an NGO that uses investigation, strategic litigation and advocacy to promote private sector accountability for human rights violations. Patel conducts legal research on, strategises around and uses legal and quasi-legal interventions to operationalise investigations on historic and contemporary domestic and transnational corporate economic crimes.
Before joining the organisation, she worked on research and litigation in areas of business and human rights, gender and access to information as a candidate attorney at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (Cals). She considers her involvement in South African social grant cases during her tenure at Cals great learning curves and worthwhile moments that have contributed to domestic jurisprudence and bettering the lives of many disenfranchised people.
Patel holds a LLB and an LLM from the University of Pretoria, specialising in human rights and democratisation in Africa. In 2015, she was an intern at the Refugee Law Project (RLP) at Makarere University in Kampala, Uganda. While there, she provided legal assistance to refugees and unaccompanied minors seeking asylum and resettlement. “The staff and clients at RLP have taught me the value of deferring to lived experience, the resilience and agency of people whose lives the system tries to reduce to a collection of papers and the importance of infusing kindness into your work,” she says. It is an experience which emboldened her passion to engage with the law while using it to pursue justice.
Today, Patel continues to use the law to defend human rights at Open Secrets, where she is part of a legal project that tests the boundaries of an international legal mechanisms for corporate accountability that simultaneously compels alleged contributors to apartheid to confront the continuing harm arising from their conduct. — Welcome Lishivha