Legal Aid as integral rights to the poor and needy victim and Right to legal representation justifies universally guaranteed fundamental human rights. Article 20(10) of the Constitution of Nepal, 2015 guarantees right to unrestricted legal assistance as fundamental rights and Article 20 (10) and obliges the state to provide free legal Aid service to the needy people. Promulgation of the Legal Aid Act, 1999 is a landmark step taken by Nepal in this regard.
A lot of institutions are working with the mission of providing access to justice to the poor and needy people; still a lot of people are the victims of human rights violation and are deprived of the fair criminal trial.
Kathmandu School of Law (KSL) takes an initiative of all sort of legal proficiency and society-based programs of legal education and its responsibilities towards society and nation and is committed to prove itself as the center of excellence. Kathmandu School of Law has established Human Rights and Criminal Justice Clinic to uphold the respect for human rights, promote democracy, development, social justice and communal harmony through Distributive justice and Preferential Approach and respecting the principles and binding provisions of Article 20 (2), Article 20 (10) of the Constitution of Nepal and the norms set by the twin covenant ICCPR and ICESCR 1966, regarding fair trial and access to justice. The clinic is an initiative to fulfill institutional social responsibility by serving the needy people in society and enrich the practical approach of educating law students.
Objectives of the Clinic:
- To provide Free Legal Aid to indigent prisoners, victims of crimes, especially women, children and other marginalized groups, and victims of human rights violation.
- To provide a pure academic discussion platform on legal issues to students, teaching faculties and professional lawyers.
Desired Impact and Outcome of the Clinic:
The clinic intends to impart access to justice to the poor and needy people. The desired impact and outcome of the project are:
- Serving 100 clients a year
The student interns, young Lawyers and Panel of Lawyers in clinic has mandate to serve about 100 (one hundred) clients during the one-year term by providing representation in court, assistance with transactional challenges and counseling and mediation services. The Clinic has the target to provide free legal aid services including paralegal services, specially cases relating to women, issues of foreign employment and citizenship
- Preparation of 24 fine practitioner human rights friendly law professionals.
Clinic aims at engagement of about 24 law students as intern in one year. The main aim of involving students as interns is to equip them with practical knowledge to cope up with the practice in field after internship. The interns are provided with the practical knowledge of sensitive human rights violation cases and the approach to defend them in court.
- Assisting government Responsibility & International obligation.
Providing Victims Legal Aid, in cases of the human rights Violation, in cases of Criminal Justice system assist to fulfill government responsibility under International Laws (ICCPR & ICESCR) and National Laws (Constitution of Nepal).
- Filing of writ petitions to serve public interest and fulfilling community responsibility.
Kathmandu School of Law being a community college, not only has the direct responsibility towards students but also to fulfill its community responsibility. Thus, the clinic also serves the need of community by filing writ petitions in the matters of Public Interest Litigation.
Along with it, the clinic also sensitizes the critical issues of procedural violations including those occurring at the investigative stage of criminal case proceedings, human rights violations and deficiencies in the judicial system.
Kathmandu School of Law is institutionally taking the charge of the clinic where there is abundance of human resources to serve the clinic. The projects sustainability is under the institutional responsibility and the desired impacts and outcome is the fulfillment of one of the community responsibilities of the institution.
Strategies of the Clinic
To achieve the proposed objective, the Human Rights and Criminal Justice Clinic has adopted following strategies:
- Victim Legal Aid through clinic.
From the last years’ experience, the clinic felt the necessity of specialized departmentalization of the clinic. Four departments have been formed for the smooth functioning and achievement of the target. Each department has one Clinical Attorney and three interns to assist.
- Department to look after cases of Women
- Department to look after cases of Foreign Employment
- Department to look after cases relating to citizenship
- Department to look after other cases (Fair trial, Writ, Human rights Violation)
- To conduct awareness programs, consultation, street law program, seminars and meetings as a part of legal education.
- Mobilization of students and faculties in research activities, documentation, client handling, engaging in court procedures focusing the areas like criminal justice, human rights, access to justice, good governance etc. and standardizing professional skills of students.
- Engaging law students as interns, engaging young advocates as legal officers and the experienced practicing lawyers as Panel of Lawyers for academic discussions and providing Legal Aid.
- Holistic responses to legal needs