Support for the rule of law is at the very heart of ISLP's global mission. It is essential to the maintenance of peace and security, sustainable development, and the protection of human rights.
ISLP has considerable experience with projects that promote access to justice. Volunteers helped to establish the first-ever public defender offices in Ukraine in 2006, advised the High Court in New Delhi, India on the implementation of that country's new plea bargaining law in 2009, partnered with NGO staff lawyers on public interest litigation strategies, trained those defending the media against abusive criminal libel charges, and lent drafting support on critical legislation aimed at halting domestic violence, human trafficking, and the gross misappropriation of property known as "land grabbing." ISLP volunteers have provided training in either criminal defence or prosecution in Bulgaria, Cambodia, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Liberia, Malawi, Mongolia and Ukraine.
Award-winning work with the Liberian Ministry of Justice
Since 2007, Canadian firm Blakes has supported the volunteer efforts of one of its senior lawyers, Jim Dube, in an ongoing ISLP project to provide assistance with the restoration of Liberia's legal system. With Blakes' sponsorship, Jim has made multiple long-term onsite trips to Liberia over the past six years where, as a general advisor, he is involved in many of the most significant and urgent matters affecting the work of the Ministry. Blakes received a Lexpert Zenith Award in 2010 for this project. <more>
Pictured: Jim Dube with Liberia's Minister of Justice, Christina Tah
Considering the future of public legal aid in Haiti
On July 5th and 6th, ISLP brought key stakeholders together in Port-au-Prince, Haiti for a discussion on the future of the country's national legal aid system. Organized by ISLP in collaboration with the Minister of Justice and Public Security and presided over by former Minister of Justice, Mr. René Magloire, the conference sought to build consensus on the future of Haiti's legal aid offices, or Bureaux d'Assistance Légale. During the opening ceremony, the General Director of the Ministry of Justice and Public Security acknowledged the importance of legal aid and the necessity of institutionalizing the system. He also stated that the Ministry awaited the resulting conference proposals in order to put together a plan for reinforcing legal aid.
Pictured: ISLP Volunteers Jean-Louis Libert (left) and Simone Santerre (right) with Minister Rene Magloire, Vice-President, Haitian Presidential Commission on Justice Reform, and former Minister of Justice.
Legal Aid Support in Cambodia
Legal Aid Cambodia (LAC) is a non-governmental, independent organization of lawyers that provides free legal services in both civil and criminal cases to indigent Cambodians. LAC's Women's Justice Program (WJP) provides direct legal services to Cambodian women in cases of gender-based violence including rape, domestic violence and violence associated with human trafficking. Although Cambodia has enacted laws that purport to prohibit trafficking and abuse, such laws are not well understood by judges and advocates and are often not implemented properly, thus leaving victims without meaningful access to legal recourse.
LAC asked for ISLP's assistance to produce a legal aid manual for survivors of gender-based violence that will help them understand their legal rights and provide guidance as they navigate the legal process. It also looked to ISLP for help in developing an advocacy strategy for the WJP which will identify short-, medium-, and long-term goals and benchmarks for combating gender-based violence in Cambodia. ISLP sent volunteer Cynthia Rollings, a partner at Beldock Levine & Hoffman LLP, to Cambodia for a month in March 2012 to assist WJP staff attorneys with these ongoing initiatives.