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Supporting Children Detained in Adult Jails

A team of seventeen lawyers from DLA Piper Africa member firms recently travelled to Copperbelt Province in Zambia to support Undikumbukire Project Zambia (UP Zambia). The Zambian human rights organization is expanding its services to reach children detained in adult facilities in the region and assists imprisoned juveniles obtain legal representation and social support. It also advocates for a more restorative justice system.

With the cooperation of the Zambian judiciary and its Ministry of Home Affairs, the team of lawyers DLA Piper Africa member firms joined UP Zambia staff for a week-long visit to prisons and courts in Copperbelt Province. Team-members interviewed, counselled and drafted case plans for over one hundred children. They then traced critical files and documents to accelerate the disposition of cases, contacted and counselled parents, drafted submissions and advocated for the children in court.

The information gathered by the team will allow UP Zambia to expand its services - previously largely confined to Lusaka Province - to children in the Copperbelt. The data which included interviews with Judiciary and Corrections officials, will also be shared with the Government of Zambia to inform its ongoing review of child justice systems.
This is an on-going pro bono engagement for DLA Piper Africa, which will continue to support UP Zambia in its advocacy for child-friendly criminal justice laws and policies.

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Asia Pacific

Partnering With UNICEF To Assist The UN Global Study On Children Deprived Of Liberty

DLA Piper has partnered with UNICEF in East Asia and the Pacific to respond to the United Nations Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty.

The Global Study, led by Independent Expert, Professor Manfred Nowak, was established by the UN in response to evidence that, despite the almost universal ratification of 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, children deprived of liberty are often forgotten. Globally, most countries lack data on the number of children deprived of liberty.

The Study will provide recommendations for law, policy and practice to safeguard the rights of children and help to reduce the number of children deprived of liberty. The findings will be presented to the UN General Assembly in October 2019.

Approximately, 35 DLA Piper lawyers across 11 offices are involved in preparing country specific reports through research and legislative analysis, and are working closely with UNICEF country offices. This important study is critical to quantify the extent of this issue globally, and to identify steps that can be taken to uphold children’s rights. In many cases children are deprived of liberty as a result of problems outside of their control, whether they’re living on the street, victims of trafficking, prostitution, organised crime and conflict situations, or as a result of a disability, mental health or drug abuse, or because of their migration status. In the Asia Pacific region, there are many troubling practices of children being detained but also promising examples where deprivation of liberty is prevented including through the use of diversion and community based justice. The Global Study will highlight these good practices and importantly provide opportunities for improvements within this region, and globally.

Strengthening Access to Justice in the Pacific

Strengthening Access to Justice in the Pacific

DLA Piper has a longstanding pro bono commitment to supporting the rule of law in Pacific Island nations. As part of this, the firm develops the legal knowledge and skills of lawyers from countries including Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Tonga to help them better assist their local communities to access legal help.

Recently 21 Fijian and Tongan law students gathered at the University of the South Pacific (Suva) for a week-long seminar conducted by DLA Piper. The emphasis of the course was on both pro bono work and improving access to justice, as well as legal ethics and working with vulnerable clients.

For many law students in the Pacific, their only opportunity to study law is online so these kinds of face-to-face seminars are invaluable. The students meet experienced practitioners from different jurisdictions and are given the chance to discuss social justice issues and practice legal drafting and interviewing skills in an interactive setting.

It is intended that these students will take their enthusiasm for pro bono work back to their local and wider communities and, when they graduate and contribute to a generational shift.

Some countries - like Fiji - have had their legal processes interrupted in recent times; any initiatives that practically assist human rights and strengthen societies are important. Just as vital, for these Fijian law students, is being able to help individuals locally, in their own neighbourhoods.

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Europe and Middle East

Conclusion of the Second "Know Your Rights" Training in the Netherlands

Conclusion of the Second Know Your Rights Training in the Netherlands

The 2019 Dutch edition of DLA Piper's 12-week legal empowerment pro bono programme "Know Your Rights," recently wrapped up with a closing ceremony in our office in Amsterdam.

"Know Your Rights" was first launched in the Netherlands in October 2018, and this year's students, NGO partners, teachers and mentors will celebrate the end of a successful programme, sharing their experiences results of their work.

The firm continues to expand "Know Your Rights" across Europe, with sessions in Germany, Italy, Luxemburg and France. The programme seeks to empower asylum seekers and refugees by increasing their core legal knowledge and associated soft skills. The firm provides weekly training on various legal issues and their rights, to help attendees integrate better into society, become better advocates for their own interests, and pursue their professional and personal goals.

The course covers immigration, housing, employment, contracts, negotiation and sports. Each session seeks to empower attendees to navigate and make a success of their life in the Netherlands or their next destination, and this year writing and advocacy training was added to the programme.

Feedback has been very positive, one participant noting: "I am glad that I was part of this year's project. "Know Your Rights" is a springboard for the refugees and asylum seekers to achieve their dreams and aspirations" he said.

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Serving veterans at San Diego’s Stand Down

In July, our San Diego office participated in Stand Down, a three-day, grassroots event that provides homeless veterans with food and clothing, medical care, job resources and legal assistance. DLA Piper has been participating in Stand Down since 2008.

This year, a group of 25 DLA Piper volunteers prepared and served dinner to approximately 900 Stand Down participants. The firm contributed the food, and San Diego office lawyers and staff worked together to prepare and serve the meal.
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DLA Piper also ran a communications tent, where veterans were able to work with our lawyers and staff to research the location and contact information for lost loved-ones and then use complimentary long-distance phone services to place phone calls to friends and family. Every year, this enables veterans to connect with someone from their past – a mother, sibling, friend – and this year was no exception. One DLA Piper participant shared:
“On Saturday morning a man and his son stopped by the communications tent to say hello and to thank us for what we were doing there. He told us that several years ago at Stand Down the communications tent volunteers helped him get back in contact with his family, including his twin sons and daughter.”

DLA Piper also hosted an expungement clinic where we screened more than 30 veterans to see whether they would be eligible for an expungement of prior misdemeanor offenses. Following Stand Down, our lawyers conduct further screening, and those who are eligible are given the opportunity to work with a DLA Piper lawyer to have their records expunged.
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