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Rita Siemion

International Legal Counsel

As International Legal Counsel at Human Rights First, Rita Siemion advocates for national security and counterterrorism policies that respect human rights and the rule of law. She is an expert in the intersecting legal frameworks that govern counterterrorism operations at home and abroad, including the law of armed conflict, international human rights law, and state sovereignty law. She leads the organization’s effort to ensure that US national security policies comply with these bodies of international law as well as with domestic law limitations on the authority to use force and conduct war.

Rita is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center and Associate Adjunct Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law. She teaches courses on covert action, targeted killing, the law of armed conflict, and international human rights law in the national security and counterterrorism context. Before joining Human Rights First, Rita worked on a range of national security issues as Senior Counsel at The Constitution Project, including surveillance and privacy rights in the digital age, and spent several years in private practice litigating civil and human rights matters.

Rita holds an LL.M. in National Security Law, with a certificate in International Human Rights Law, from the Georgetown University Law Center, where she graduated with distinction and was a peer review editor for the Journal of National Security Law & Policy.  Rita received her J.D., with honors, from the George Washington University School of Law, where she has also taught as an Adjunct Professor of Legal Research and Writing.  While in law school, she co-founded the Human Rights Law Society, worked on targeted killing and extraordinary rendition litigation with the International Human Rights Clinic, and studied human rights and counterterrorism at Oxford University.  She has a B.A. in English, with a minor in Philosophy, from Seattle University, where she graduated from the Honors Program.

Featured Work

February 16, 2018
Washington, D.C.—Following the indefinite suspension of the military commission proceedings against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, Rita Siemion issued the following statement: “Today’s decision is a...
November 16, 2017
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today applauded a number of measures in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act that will enhance national security by strengthening protections for civilians...
October 30, 2017
Washington, D.C.—As Congress considers a war authorization for military force following the deaths of U.S. service members in Niger, Human Rights First urges representatives to only...
October 30, 2017
Download The recent deaths of 4 U.S. service members in Niger have prompted members of Congress to give renewed attention to the scope of war authorities that govern U.S. counterterrorism military...