The Impact

A radical approach to community capacity-building within the criminal justice system. We’re making wrong things right. 

In Numbers

Justice Served

24,000

imprisoned clients without access to justice, served with free legal advice.

1 mil

people in conflict with the law will get a fair hearing (our 10-year target).

341

auxiliary paralegals running legal practices at 46 prisons in Uganda and Kenya.

102,000

attendances by defenceless people at legal awareness sessions.

91%

pass rate by our students in the University of London law degree programme.

68

prisoners & prison officers in the University of London law degree programme.

150

convictions overturned, with wrongly sentenced prisoners pardoned.

12,600

prisoners released as a result and returned to their families.

Rahab Nyawira: From inmate to Justice Defenders legal aid officer. 

Rahab was an armed robber who spent six years in Kenya's largest women’s prison, with all categories of offenders. She was described as one of the most difficult prisoners until a prison officer recognised her potential.

She then began to learn legal skills through our programme and became a paralegal providing basic legal awareness and handling the cases of others. She now works with us as a legal advisor and an active campaigner against crime, as a result of her positive impact in prison.

"I will never regret the time spent in prison. I have transformed in ways that I probably would never have outside. People do not know their rights, so their rights are violated. Now, I want to create legal awareness in society."
Justice Defenders Rahab Nyawira
Assistant Legal Aid Officer, Justice Defenders, Kenya.

John Bosco Oryem: A bleeding heart for the underprivileged.

Arrested in 2009, Oryem was sentenced to nine years imprisonment and recently released in 2019. At Luzira Prison, Kampala, he took his secondary education exams and went on to become a Justice Defenders law student with the University of London.

He was one of two students representing Justice Defenders at the 28th African Human Rights Moot Competition – a groundbreaking opportunity to compete against law students from across Africa.

"My desire was to equip myself with the relevant legal knowledge and skills to enable me to contribute towards justice and order in Uganda and the world at large. I was equally overwhelmed by the need to defend the underprivileged because my heart bleeds seeing such categories being imprisoned without legal representation.”
Justice Defenders John Bosco
Legal Advisor, Justice Defenders, Uganda.

Jimmy Mtawa: Changing the narrative between prisoners and prison guards.

Who would imagine prison officers going to court to advocate for prisoners and win them their freedom? Jimmy is just that – an unlikely ally. With a degree in Criminology, he is one of our highest performing students, completing his Bachelor of Law degree in December 2019.

He wakes up at 4am on weekdays to study for two hours. And then for another three hours between 2pm–5pm amidst a busy work day.

“For me this was an opportunity of a lifetime. Now as a law student, I’m able to advise inmates who have no understanding of the law in regards to some of their cases. For every 10 students completing their high school education, you find that only two will proceed to the university. I hope to one day change the narrative.”
Justice Defenders Jimmy Prison Officer
Prison Officer, Kimiti Maximum Security Prison, Kenya.
In Society as a whole

The ripple effect of
individual impact.

A Diagram showing the ripples of change starting from the individual, to families and prisons, to communities and court systems, and finally to societies.
IN AFRICA, WITH AMBITION FOR SCALE

A model that’s people-centered, affordable, adaptable, collaborative, and sustainable.

Our communities are often found outside more comfortable parameters. Today, we work within 40+ prison communities across Africa. In the future? The model is scalable to sex workers in Thailand, street children in Brazil, migrant and refugee communities across Europe, or immigrant construction workers in the Middle East. We want to take legal knowledge and services to these margins of society. And ensure that 1,000,000 defenceless people in conflict with the law get a fair hearing by 2030.

In Words

Creating bridges in justice systems and working for everyone. Without breaking fellowship with anyone.

Honourable Justice Dr. Winfred Nabisinde (Uganda)

“The way Justice Defenders has been operating in this area should be emulated across Uganda. It has been very successful in ensuring that people access justice and that the prisoners, and their rights, are respected.”

Gilbert Niwamanya, Rehabilitation Officer at Luzira Prison (Uganda)

"The training they provide helps the inmates understand the law and where they came into conflict with it. I haven’t seen any prisoners who have been supported by Justice Defenders return to prison.”

Michael Kagika, CEO Power of Mercy Committee (Kenya)

“Justice Defenders have a high level of rehabilitation and make straightforward candidates for potential presidential pardon. I would even like the paralegal training program for staff in my team."