Across the world, women are abused, trafficked, raped and killed. Violence against women is a grave violation of human rights, negatively affecting women’s well-being and precluding women from fully participating in society. It not only leads to severe physical, sexual and mental consequences to each individual victim, but tears their families, community and society apart.
Children encounter unique obstacles to accessing justice mechanisms for seeking remedies to human rights violations. Providing access of justice for children requires “child sensitive mechanisms” that identify their needs and integrates their voices in justice systems. As a result of the challenges children face when accessing justice, The United Nations passed in April 2014 a third optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (OP3) enabling children to bring complaints about violations directly to the committee on the rights of the child if they have not found a solution at a national level. Improving access to justice for children can occur by examining the challenges faced by children, the use of alternative dispute mechanisms, collective litigation strategies, tactics to help child victims through the court process and how to use regional and international complaint mechanisms. This conversation took place in October 2014.
For many communities access to justice represents a near impossibility because of cost, distance, lack of knowledge and the fear of reprisal. Paralegals utilize rapport and trust to increase access to justice for their clients. Despite possessing knowledge and expertise in the legal field they engage in diverse responsibilities in their communities. They advise elders and community leaders, assist individuals find lodging in cases of domestic abuse and conduct fact finding for remedies to rights violations.
Until a few years ago, there were no legal firms in Brazil that offered free services to people in need. The Pro-Bono Institute has created a new legal tradition in São Paulo, convincing major law firms to donate their legal services and connecting them with NGOs in need of legal services. The Institute has recruited about 140 lawyers and is offering a variety of free services to all kinds of NGOs, including support for important human rights cases. It has achieved a rapid change in attitude in the legal community and pro bono work has become steadily more popular.
Pro-bono lawyers provide an important service to the protect of human rights. But how do you engage them? Th tackled the issues of defining what a pro-bono lawyer is, what they do, how to develop a network of partnerships and volunteers in pro-bono work, how to train lawyers interested in pro-bono work, what issues of security existed in pro-bono work, and finally, how can pro-bono work be sustainably maintained.