Those who have trained with us as lawyers and paralegals provide critical legal services within their community.
Like overseeing legal offices, file tracing, advocating on individual cases, collaborating with pro bono partners for court appearances, conducting alternate dispute resolution, and seeking diversion from the formal court system.
By 2019, our legal awareness sessions have reached more than 100,000 attendees. And our work has led to 150 convictions being overturned, with wrongly sentenced prisoners pardoned.
This practice takes place across Africa’s prisons, where we staff our legal offices with prisoners and prison officers alongside our team and volunteers. Some offices occupy their own building, newly built or repurposed, within the prison’s walls. Others take place under a tree or tarpaulin, or in a cell block where prisoners will sleep that night.
We are equipping the judiciary to make more effective decisions, because they get to hear both sides of the story. We are not acting as judges. Rather, we’re helping the judges to follow due process, by ensuring that each defendant can effectively engage at their hearing.
When we imprison only guilty people, we do right by victims of crime. We reduce the number of future victims. And we help governments invest more resources in those who truly need to be rehabilitated.
We want to see justice served; it’s vital for all of us. What we don’t want to see is the poor and most vulnerable filling our prisons simply because there was no one to equip them to fight for justice.
The law is seen as a profession for the privileged, the elite. We want to change that thinking, to recognise that the law is here to serve all of us. We will not let the absence of wealth equal the absence of defence.