October 31, 2014

Legal Clinic to Serve Women and Girls in Guinea’s Rural Communities

October 2014

On October 13, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) and the Catholic Organization for Human Promotion—a non-profit organization locally known as Organisation Catholique pour la Promotion Humaine or OCPH—launched a legal aid clinic in Kankan, in the Haute Guinée region of Guinea’s interior. More than 40 people, including regional justice sector officials and representatives of civil society organizations, attended the event marking the opening of the Kankan clinic, which will provide pro bono services to women and girls in rural communities.

The legal aid clinic has a full-time attorney and will develop a network of pro bono attorneys who will provide free legal services to surrounding communities and supervise 10 community-based paralegals who will conduct outreach activities.

The clinic has a full-time attorney and will develop a network of pro bono attorneys who will provide free legal services to surrounding communities and supervise 10 community-based paralegals who will conduct outreach activities in Kankan, Kouroussa, Siguiri, Kafamoriah and Balandou to educate communities on the rights of women and girls, as well as on how women and girls can utilize the justice system to assert their rights. Additionally, the paralegals will mediate disputes at a local level and help to make the formal justice system, such as courts based in regional capitals, more accessible to rural communities by teaching citizens on how to report rights’ violations to local police and courts.

“ABA ROLI conducted community consultations in these target communities in November 2013 and found that most women are not motivated to seek redress when their rights are violated [because of] fear of being rejected by the community, lack of awareness of their rights, misunderstanding on the functioning of formal justice mechanisms, geographic remoteness and extreme poverty,” said Axel Etoundi, ABA ROLI’s program director in Guinea, “This is why the establishment of community paralegals is [necessary] to help them overcome these barriers.”

Prior to the launch of the clinic, ABA ROLI and OCPH trained the paralegals and provided them with a reference guidebook of relevant laws, mediation techniques and case-tracking forms. The paralegals were selected from a pool of 36 applicants based on their performance in written and oral exams. ABA ROLI’s program in Guinea is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

To learn more about our work in Guinea, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org.