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Op Eds

Purvi & Chuck: Community Lawyering

Joseph Phelan, Organizing Upgrade,

Joseph Phelan of Organizing Upgrade sat down with Purvi Shah and Chuck Elsesser of the Community Justice Project based at Florida Legal Services in Miami in early April to discuss the role of lawyers in grassroots organizing, social movements, and building another world. The Community Justice Project was founded in 2008 to provide legal support…

Bringing justice close: an experiment in accessing justice with technology

Shreya Sen,

Legal empowerment enables poor and marginalized communities to be partners in development and decision-making. New technological tools are one type of innovation that helps legal empowerment groups reach difficult spaces. Nazdeek—a grassroots rights organization focusing on access to justice in India—has been working with tea plantation workers in Assam and slum dwellers in Delhi since…

Why Simplifying the Law is Important in India

Sumeysh Srivastava,

An article that addresses the concepts of access to justice in India, with a specific focus on issues of access, language and digitization.

Access to Justice For All? Now That Would be a Measurably Good Thing

Stacey Cram, Vivek Maru,

This article written by Stacey Cram and Vivek Maru discusses the importance of indicators when assessing the progress of goal 16 of the SDGs, which commits to “access to justice for all”.

How to pay for legal empowerment: alternative structures and sources

Lotta Teale,

This resource is an article written as a contribution to openGlobalRights’ new models for human rights series. The article focuses on financial sustainability within legal empowerment, specifically that taking a hybrid approach to legal funding recognizes that different issues require different types of funding. This article can also be accessed in Spanish and French.

Digitization of Violence Against Women

Saraban Tahura Zaman,

This resource is an Op-Ed in The Independent (Bangladesh Newspaper) from April 3, 2015. Gradually, over past few years people seem to have more access to the modes of communication and technology and both men and women in Bangladesh use internet and digital instruments to communicate with others. At present, over 33 million people in…

“Put Lawyers Where They’re Needed” – NY Times Op-Ed

Theresa Amato,

This resource is an Op-Ed piece for the New York Times commenting on the lack of legal aid lawyers, the underserved public and the resulting justice gap in the United States.

Mobile Enhanced Participatory Budgeting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Felipe Estefan,

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are helping increase citizen participation, positively transforming the relation between citizens and their government, ultimately resulting in more effective public service delivery.  Mobile phones are performing a key role in enhancing transparency and accountability. Mobile penetration in the DRC is increasing rapidly, from…

Women and Children’s Access to Community Justice (Child Protection) Programme, UNICEF evaluation

Catherine Wilson,

This resource explains a community justice programme rolled out in Papua New Guinea’s vast village court system, bringing international human rights-based laws to rural communities and boosting the protection and empowerment of women and children.    Village courts wield immense influence within the mainly rural population in Papua New Guinea. Many live in areas too remote…

Documents in Action: FOI Success Stories in Mexico

Emilene Martinez-Morales,

Mexico’s civil society have maximized the potential of its Federal Access to Information Law to affect policies in local communities, advocate for citizens’ rights, and expose corruption at the highest levels of state. Openness advocates have utilized two key institutional features of Mexico’s access-to-information system. The electronic system for sending information requests to federal agencies,…

Digital IDs Make Systemic Bias Worse

Posted by Denis Kimathi in Citizenship, Namati News

Over 5 million Kenyans from various minority groups have to go through discriminatory processes to get ID cards. This essay in WIRED is on how a marginalized community equipped with the power of law fought back against an exclusionary digital identity system in Kenya and won. The case was not unique; judiciaries of other nations…

OPINION: Care about the climate crisis? Support legal empowerment

Posted by Kaitlin Hansen in General

It is essential that during the UN General Assembly, global action plans meant to tackle climate change include funding and protection for grassroots justice and land defenders.  On Monday, world leaders will convene at the UN Climate Action Summit to discuss their plans for preventing 1.5 degrees of global warming by 2030 – the ‘tipping point’ precipitating…

Public is absent in India’s environmental policymaking

Posted by Namati in Advocacy & Systemic Change, Environment, Land & Natural Resources, Namati News

“Public participation [in policymaking] is a sign of a healthy democracy,” yet with very narrow timeframes to participate, the public is crucially absent in environmental policymaking in India, writes Kanchi Kohli, CPR-Namati’s Legal Research Director on Environmental Justice, in this DNA India op-ed.

Op-ed: Unrestrained resource exploitation in Sierra Leone is a “dangerous gamble”

Posted by Namati in Advocacy & Systemic Change, Environment, Land & Natural Resources, Namati News

In an op-ed in the Sierra Express Media, Sonkita Conteh, Director of Namati Sierra Leone, calls “unrestrained resource exploitation” in Sierra Leone a “dangerous gamble,” and calls on the new government to commit to environmental regulation that puts people ahead of profits, and justice ahead of development.

Passing on regulatory burdens to people is a recipe for disaster

Posted by Manju Menon, Kanchi Kohli in Advocacy & Systemic Change, Environment, Land & Natural Resources

In the following opinion piece, Manju Menon and Kanchi Kohli of the CPR-Namati Environmental Justice Program offer their thoughts on India’s environmental regulation plans. The article was originally published on India’s DNA news website. India’s environmental regulatory failure is now official. Activists and environmental groups had pointed to this much earlier but now all governmental…

The New York Times: “India’s Barefoot Lawyers”

Posted by Namati in Community Paralegals, Environment, Land & Natural Resources, Namati News

In the August 8th copy of the New York Times,  Pulitzer Prize-winning writer TINA ROSENBERG captured the work of paralegals working for environmental justice in India. An Excerpt follows below. The full Article CAN BE READ here. BOGRIBAIL, India — A David and Goliath story: Two years ago, a road-construction company called IRB Infrastructure Developers established…

Financing Justice – an article by Namati’s CEO in Foreign Policy

Posted by Namati in Advocacy & Systemic Change, General, Namati News, Post-2015 Agenda

The law should be accessible to everyone. The international community agreed to this when they adopted the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but the funding needed to make it a reality has not materialized. With authoritarianism on the rise worldwide, finding a solution to the funding gap is now more critical than ever. Namati’s CEO, Vivek…

Why Norway Should Lead a Global Fund for Legal Empowerment

Posted by Vivek Maru in Advocacy & Systemic Change, Community Paralegals, Post-2015 Agenda

This article was originally published in the Norwegian news outlet Aftenposten, on August 12, 2016. The Norwegian version can be read here.    Since World War II many countries have come to respect fundamental liberties, at least by the letter of the law. But for billions of people around the world those laws aren’t worth…

Liberia is at a crossroads: recognising land rights can safeguard against violence

Posted by Jennifer Duncan and Jaron Vogelsang in Advocacy & Systemic Change, Community Land Protection, Land & Natural Resources

This article was originally published by Thompson Reuters Foundation.   The government of Liberia has an unprecedented opportunity to pass progressive land reform legislation that could positively impact millions of people, but the window of opportunity is rapidly closing. If Liberia’s legislature doesn’t vote to adopt the draft Land Rights Act before it goes on recess…

India’s Coastal Law Got a Skewed Review – and Now, an Opaque Revamp

Posted by Meenakshi Kapoor in Environment

By allowing construction closer to the sea, waiving building regulations for coastal towns and limiting decentralisation to states, coastal conservation and livelihood protection in India have been swept aside. In June this year, the Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change disclosed the report of the committee constituted to review the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ)…

It’s time Canada makes access to justice a reality for all

Posted by Adrian Di Giovanni, Vivek Maru, and Lotta Teale in Advocacy & Systemic Change, Post-2015 Agenda

When a child is denied access to school, or an ailing person is shut out of a hospital, the media are quick to expose the injustice. Denial of health care or an education is unthinkable for most Canadians, yet access to justice, particularly for non−criminal issues, is out of reach for millions in this country,…

Mining is in the Way of Adivasi Forest Rights, Not the Other Way Round

Posted by Kanchi Kohli in Environment, Land & Natural Resources

In February 2016, reports emerged of the startling and potentially illegal decision by the Sarguja district authorities in Chhattisgarh state, India to revoke the community forest rights titles of Ghatbarra village. The reason stated in an official letter, dated January 8, 2016, was that the exercise of these rights was coming in the way of…

Burying the Law to Make Way for a Coal Mine

Posted by Kanchi Kohli and Alok Shukla in Environment

The cancellation of the community rights of Ghatbarra village over the Hasdeo Arand forest – to make way for a coal mine – raises many questions. When the Forest Survey of India’s 2011 report celebrated Hasdeo Arand as the largest unfragmented forest in central India outside the official protected area system, there was another process…

OpEd: Access to justice for all? Now that would be a measurably good thing

Posted by Vivek Maru and Stacey Cram in Post-2015 Agenda

When a housing programme in the Indian state of Haryana guaranteed land to impoverished families in Raniyala, a village in Mewat district, it seemed like welcome news. Instead, government officials seized the land and refused to hear the villagers’ objections. Could a newly agreed global framework support this community and others fighting injustice? Of the…

Myanmar faces fresh hurdle in land rights and justice

Posted by Caitlin Pierce in Land & Natural Resources

Download Namati’s report Returns of Grabbed Land in Myanmar: Progress After Two Years (in English or Burmese) UMyint Tun was working in his field in Sagaing when four officers pulled up in a military jeep with the bad news: his land now belonged to the government. He could no longer farm it. This was April…

India’s New Environmental Regulations: Waiting Until the Damage is Done

Posted by Kanchi Kohli in Environment

In this article Namati-CPR’s Kanchi Kohli looks at the changes proposed by India’s Government in the Draft Environment Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2015 which was recently opened to public scrutiny. A major thrust of the changes is a dangerous reliance upon ‘on-the-spot’ fines for supposedly ‘minor’ environmental infringements and the removal of many pre-development processes to protect…

Namati Welcomes Sierra Leone’s Progressive New National Land Policy

Posted by Sonkita Conteh in Land & Natural Resources

Sierra Leone’s new National Land Policy, recently approved by the cabinet, presents a progressive and ambitious plan for protecting land rights that will strengthen women’s access to land, give communities a bigger say over land management and create a better framework for major land investments. All of which is urgently in need if Sierra Leone’s…

CRZ: Why coastal communities are troubled by these three letters

Posted by Vinod Patgar in Environment

The coastline of Uttara Kannada district in Karnataka is poised at a critical juncture. Both the government and the private sector are looking out for opportunities and have begun setting up resorts, ports, and industries signalling “new” opportunities. In this context, sustaining common use areas like beaches and creeks and access to the shore for…

TerraNullius profiles the Community Land Rights CaseBase

Posted by Rachael Knight, Naomi Roht-Arriaza and Melissa Riess-James in Land & Natural Resources, Legal Empowerment Network

TerraNullius – a leading blog on topics of land rights, human rights, and rule of law – has published a profile of CaseBase, Namati’s new online database of community land rights case law. Read the blog on TerraNullius to learn about the goals and development of the Community Land Rights CaseBase. Explore CaseBase CaseBase – Namati’s  free, online,…

Justice in the SDGs for Nepal’s Women and Dalits

Posted by Namati in Post-2015 Agenda

The Kathmandu Post is running an OpEd by Som Niroula and Neetu Pokharel, of the Alliance for Social Dialogue in Nepal, that argues for the inclusion of justice targets in the new development goals. This, they argue, is the best way  of ensuring enforcement of Nepal’s obligations to women and those who suffer caste discrimination. “A large number of Nepali…

OpEd: A Citizenship Sea-Change in Bangladesh

Posted by Bremen Donovan in Citizenship

The Daily Star in Bangladesh printed an OpEd by Namati’s friend Bremen Donovan to coincide with a conference on Statelessness attended by Namati and its partner the Council of Minorities. It is one of the first times the wider Bengali public have been exposed to the work of paralegals from the Urdu-speaking community. The OpED…

India’s Quest for Power

Posted by Kanchi Kohli in Environment

Namati’s Kanchi Kohli on how India’s ‘balance’ of industrialisation and ecological protection actually looks at the ground level. “The lives of people living in coastal or forest ecosystems are likely to change drastically if one is to go by the number of power plants going up in India today. Each company seeking permission to operate a coal mine…

Exploring the community level impact of paralegals in rural Sierra Leone

Posted by Sonkita Conteh in Community Paralegals

This article originally appeared in Sierra Express Media. Introduction A previous article by the author explored the work and impact of community-based paralegals in the lives of ordinary people in rural areas, through the lens of a number of case studies depicting real life justice problems of individuals and how paralegals helped resolve them. That effort…