Kenya / AHRAJ During 2001-2009 ICJ-Sweden cooperated with ICJ-Kenya in the African Human Rights and Access to Justice Programme, AHRAJ. ICJ-Kenya was responsible for the implementation of the project while ICJ-Sweden assisted with knowledge, coordination support, capacity building and the contact with Sida. The goal of this project was to contribute to improving the protection of human rights at a national level in 16 African countries south of Sahara. Within the project, lawyers and nonprofit organisations could seek legal and financial aid when working on cases within one of the following areas;
• access to the judicial system • women’s rights • labour right • the right to a fair trial • the right to healthcare
The result from the AHRAJ-project was spread through workshops with lawyers and nonprofit organisations, where participants discussed the cases supported by the project.
Russia Together with the organisation Citizens’ Watch in St. Petersburg, ICJ-Sweden supported a training programme in Russia. The aim was to increase the awareness and promote the application of Article 6 of the European Convention. The article guarantees the basic human rights principles which, i.a. is to have the right to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an impartial court established by law. Russia became members of the Council of Europe in 1997, and therefore approved the European Convention and other international agreements on human rights. Unfortunately, knowledge about the application of the new legislation has been missing among the courts in Russia.
The project was running 2000-2008 and the aim was initially to provide the basics of a fair trial. The next phase of the project was later to strengthen the implementation of Article 6 of the European Convention in the Russian court process. The project also completed an educational and training purpose with the establishment of local Peace Courts in the St. Petersburg area. The Peace Courts were established in 2001 and is tasked to determine less serious crimes. Often, judges and lawyers in those courts are very young and lack knowledge of the new legislation and which human rights that must be followed in connection with legal processes.
ICJ-Sweden assisted in the training of those responsible for the Peace Courts and thereby ensured that more people got a fair trial. This was done through the acquisition of knowledge and practical examples. In addition, training material regarding the new legislation was created.
South Africa Between 1992 and 2007, ICJ-Sweden co-operated with South African human rights organisations. The goal was that the country’s constitutional rights would be applied in accordance with human rights and international law. The works focus was to increase opportunities for disadvantaged groups in the country to access justice through counseling, legal assistance and independent courts. ICJ-Sweden assisted with financial support to the projects whose primary purpose was to increase access to justice for vulnerable groups, monitor human rights, lobbying and running processes. Support included five areas of law: access to justice, children-, women-, and refugee rights and criminal justice.
During the 15 years of the project, support was given to nine organisations whose planned program activities were accomplished. The work resulted in a larger number of people getting access to legal aid and some important cases gained attention in the media. A number of workshops on topics related to the organisations projects were carried out. The efforts to encourage greater cooperation between paralegals, legal organisations and other stakeholders in South Africa resulted in the creation of a national steering committee for paralegals. Its function is to support the coordination of the paralegal sector through a national-wide network structure. The strengthened cooperation increased the opportunities to influence government’s involvement in related matters.