Why This 29-Year-Old Left Her Desk Job To Prosecute War Crimes With Technology

Due to ongoing political turmoil and social unrest, the Middle East is not exactly everyone’s dream job destination right now.

Except for one daring woman, that is.

Sweet, polite, and just 29 years old, Raquel Vasquez Llorente doesn’t look like the kind of person you’d expect to see flying into military airports in the midst of war. But don’t let her appearance fool you — she packs a serious punch.

The lawyer and 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe honoree is an original team member behind the innovative app eyeWitness to Atrocities, developed by the International Bar Association (IBA), which aims to empower civilians to capture and report evidence of war crimes on their smartphones.

I caught up with Llorente about her taste for pursuing dangerous work on this week’s podcast episode, “Fueling Your Passion: When To Choose Anger Over Love w/ Raquel Vasquez Llorente”

Growing up in a tumultuous northern Spain during the 1990s, Llorente was exposed to the harsh face of reality from an early age. It was then that she developed an interest in civil violence and its implications for human justice and desired to pursue a law degree.

Her path to prosecute war crimes started out relatively peaceful, with a government internship at the National Commission of Energy in Spain checking algorithms for electricity prices. “It wasn’t something that kept me awake at night,” says Llorente.

It wasn’t until she ended up in Libya in 2013, at the start of their civil war, that she could see the impact of these crimes on civilians.

In that process, Llorente found that, “The things that drive me the most are things that make me really upset and angry. Impunity for war crimes really upsets me to my limits so I wanted to go into international justice and feel that upset all the time about the crimes that are being committed and going unpunished.”

Llorente’s anger became her fuel and instead of repressing it, she let that guide her forward. Ultimately, leading her to join as one of the first few team members of eyeWitness to Atrocities, where that fuel is used daily through channeling technology as a means for ending impunity for war crimes.

Since launching last year, eyeWitness users can download the app for free to their phones, to record, store, and send footage that can later be verified for use in media coverage or legal cases.

The app automatically records the GPS coordinates of where the image was captured and stores the image in a vault maintained by LexisNexis , the world’s largest electronic database for legal information and public records. It’s aiming to increase the number of successful prosecutions by eliminating the need for the person to show up in court especially if they are unwilling or unable to testify.

Through Llorente’s participation at eyeWitness, since joining in 2015 as a war crimes analyst, she is able to combine all of her passions into one form of self-expression- her love of law, love of being in the field, and love of seeing justice served.

Llorente says. “It is very important to love what you do, but almost more important that whatever you do or are trying to solve makes you upset and angry so you keep going. If love works then that’s fine and if it works better being upset then go there instead.”

It’s not every day a woman chooses to tackle the brutal offenses of war criminals through harnessing her anger. Yet, what a different world we might live in if expressing anger were not so uncommon.

How will you step up to create the kind of world you desire living in?

This article was originally published on Forbes

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