As Deputy US Program Director, Maria McFarland helps to guide the organization's work on national security, immigration, and criminal justice in the United States, including mass surveillance and drug policy.
Previously, as Deputy Washington Director for Human Rights Watch, McFarland conducted advocacy before the US government on a wide array of global human rights issues, including in particular matters related to the Middle East and North Africa during the “Arab uprisings” of 2011, as well as South and Central Asia. Earlier on, McFarland held the position of Senior Americas Researcher, serving for over five years as the organization's primary expert on Colombia's internal armed conflict and working on international justice matters, including the extradition and trial of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori. McFarland has conducted extensive advocacy before the governments of the United States, Canada, and European and Latin American countries; has authored and edited numerous Human Rights Watch reports; has testified before the US Congress and Canadian Parliament; and is a frequent voice in the media.
Before joining Human Rights Watch, McFarland engaged in sovereign litigation as an attorney at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in New York, taught human rights law as a Crowley Fellow at Fordham Law School, and clerked on the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. She holds a J.D., magna cum laude, from New York University School of Law. McFarland is a native speaker of both Spanish and English.
"Deadly Threats: Successors to the Paramilitaries in Colombia ," (February 2010)
"Your Reaction to NSA Curbs," on BBC World Service’s “World Have Your Say” (January 2014)
Interview with PBSNewshour "Why Does U.S. Having Varying Responses to Mid-East Unrest?"
Interview with CNN en Español 'En Directo' on US Immigration Reform