About Us

Our Team

Rawan Arraf – Executive Director & Principal Lawyer

Rawan Arraf has ten years of legal experience in refugee protection, administrative law and international human rights law.  Rawan most recently worked as a refugee lawyer at community legal centre, Refugee Advice & Casework Service providing a wide range of protection advice to people seeking asylum in Australia. She is actively engaged with lawyers and organisations working in universal jurisdiction litigation abroad and in 2018 trained with the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), Berlin, working closely with the International Crimes and Accountability team on universal jurisdiction matters.

Rawan is an arts and law graduate of the University of Sydney and has completed specialist human rights and international law courses at the European University Institute in Florence. Rawan is completing a Master of Laws from the University of New South Wales. She is a fellow of the Centre for Australian Progress.

Fiona Nelson – Director of Legal Advocacy

Fiona Nelson previously worked at the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, a Berlin-based NGO that uses strategic litigation to challenge human rights abuses. Her focus was on accountability for torture and war crimes committed in the context of counterterrorism operations and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She worked on legal actions concerning states’ complicity in unlawful drone strikes in Yemen and torture in Guantanamo and CIA blacksites as well as the abuse of detainees during the Iraq War. She has also worked as a researcher in international law at the University of Potsdam. She studied Law and German at Trinity College Dublin and holds a Master of Laws from Humboldt University Berlin, where she specialised in international law and international criminal law.

Melissa Chen – Senior Lawyer

Melissa Chen is an Australian lawyer with experience in the community, government and private sector. She began her career as a trainee solicitor at Fitzroy Legal Service in Melbourne, followed by work as a criminal lawyer at the Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission in Darwin. Immediately prior to joining ACIJ, Melissa was a legal officer in the Royal Australian Navy where she advised command in relation to administrative, discipline and international law.

Melissa is an Arts and Law graduate of the University of Sydney where she obtained first class honours and the university medal in law in 2016. She has lectured in transnational law at Charles Darwin University, been a seminar leader/tutor in Foundations of Law at the University of Sydney, assisted as a law tutor at both Women’s and Wesley Colleges, and worked as a PASS facilitator in criminal and public international law at the University of Sydney. Her pro-bono commitments include work as a volunteer solicitor at a community legal centre in Sydney and mentoring law students.  

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