Heather Barr is the Afghanistan researcher in the Asia division of Human Rights Watch. Prior to joining Human Rights Watch, she managed the Afghanistan anti-corruption and criminal justice programs of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the justice and human rights portfolio of the Afghanistan office of the UN Development Program.
Before moving to Afghanistan in 2007, Heather was a human rights specialist in Burundi with the UN Development Program. She began her legal career at the Urban Justice Center in New York where she represented people with psychosocial disabilities in the criminal justice system. During this time, she brought a successful class action lawsuit against New York City, compelling it to provide discharge planning for people with psychosocial disabilities leaving city jails. She also worked with the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services, founding the Nathaniel Project, an alternative to incarceration program for people with psychosocial disabilities who have committed felonies. This work, which she began as a Soros Justice Fellow, earned Barr a Reebok Human Rights Award.
Barr graduated from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Columbia Law School, and the London School of Economics, which she attended on a Fulbright.