Since 2015, members’ contributions to LAP’s Justice Fund have supported projects around the world increasing access to justice and using the law to alleviate poverty. Read more below about the impact these projects have had and support the Justice Fund by joining a growing movement of lawyers around the world using the law to transform society.
Strategic Litigation Conference, Nairobi
Members will remember voting to support the inaugural conference in Nairobi on ‘Strategic Legal Mechanisms for Delivering Social and Economic Justice in Africa’ last October. The conference ran for 3 days at the University of Nairobi as a collaboration between Oxfam International and the University of Nairobi and was a huge success.
Emergency Legal Support, Lesvos
In 2018 members voted to provide a grant of £15,000 to Oxfam in Greece to support Oxfam’s continuing legal aid programme for asylum seekers on the Greek islands. This followed on from LAP’s earlier grant in 2017 of €10,000 which funded 1 Greek Council for Refugees lawyer for 5 months and managed legal fees for new and ongoing cases.
Legal Aid for Asylum Seekers, Lesvos
Members of Lawyers Against Poverty made a contribution of €10,000 to assist the work of Oxfam and the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) in Lesvos, a small island which receives the majority of sea arrivals (on average 1,300 asylum seekers in each month from October 2017 to February 2018). Most of the asylum seekers are from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria and many are extremely vulnerable, suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of sexual violence and torture.
A Fairer Society for All in Uganda
The project is enabling women to take on leadership positions and work to secure their basic human rights. Women have been supported to understand and take part in the day-to-day decision making processes affecting their lives, and demand that the government protect their rights to own land and live lives free from violence.
Strategic Litigation for Women’s Rights
On 17 May 2018, the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (the Court of Justice) ruled in favour of the complainants in ECW/CCJ/APP/26/15 – WARDC and IHRDA (on behalf of Mary Sunday v Nigeria. This is a very significant victory for victims of domestic violence in Nigeria and more widely.
The case was brought on behalf of Mary Sunday, a victim of a violent attack by her fiancé, by the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) and the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC). Lawyers Against Poverty supported them with a contribution from members of $30,000.
In August 2012, Mary was attacked and beaten by her fiancé, sustaining multiple and severe injuries and burns (she was set on fire by a stove he had thrown over her head and body). Because her fiancé was a serving police officer, police inquiries into the incident manifestly were not carried out in an impartial and independent manner and concluded that she had intentionally inflicted the injuries upon herself. Her fiancé was never charged.
The IHRDA and the WARDC submitted that the failure of state authorities effectively to investigate the allegations and prosecute the perpetrator constituted a violation of the victim’s rights under (inter alia) the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Maputo Protocol, including the rights to dignity and freedom from torture, the right to a remedy and the right to freedom from discrimination.
The Court of Justice held that Nigeria had violated the right to an effective remedy as well as the right of access to justice and the right to be heard (although, regrettably, not the right to freedom from discrimination). It ordered Nigeria to pay Mary compensation of 15 million Naira (approximately $41,500), which we understand will be used for reconstructive surgery.
The case affirms the principle that states are required to prevent violations by non-state actors, safeguard vulnerable individuals, investigate and prosecute perpetrators and compensate victims. Our hope is that it will make material advances in enforcing the rule of law, increasing state accountability and ending police impunity for violence against women and other offences.