March 31, 2014

Guinea Conference Addresses Access-to-Justice Challenges

March 2014

On October 24, 2013, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) held a stakeholders’ conference in Conakry to discuss challenges to access to justice in Guinea. More than 20 human rights organization representatives and government officials attended the conference to discuss ways to foster coordination between civil society organizations (CSOs) and government agencies working to improve access to justice.

Conference participants stated that the program should focus on Guinea’s remote areas, where women’s rights violations are most prevalent. 

Participants agreed on the principal challenges to access to justice for women in Guinea, including poor court infrastructure, corrupt public officials and a lack of knowledge within communities of women’s rights advocates. They also emphasized the importance of coordinating CSOs’ programming with the work of government agencies, particularly that of the Ministry of Justice’s National Directorate on Access to Justice. Attendees said that the directorate’s national access to justice action plan could serve as a coordination mechanism. Subsequent to the conference, ABA ROLI has begun to convene monthly working group meetings for local CSOs working on access to justice and legal aid issues. These meetings are often attended by international organizations and donors.

At the October conference, ABA ROLI also informed CSOs of an opportunity to apply for and participate in its U.S. Agency for International Development-funded program, which will support the efforts of Guinean CSOs to increase women’s access to justice by employing a range of legal strategies—including legal aid clinics, paralegal networks and strategic litigation.

Conference participants said that the program should focus on Guinea’s remote areas, particularly in the regions of La Guinée Forestière and La Haute Guinée, where women’s rights violations are most prevalent. Participants said that ABA ROLI’s program could have a significant impact because religious and community leaders in these regions have been supportive of past efforts to improve access to justice and well-functioning local CSOs are already working to promote women’s rights. Per the recommendations, ABA ROLI decided to focus its program on these two regions and, in November, conducted exploratory missions to determine those communities that would be the focus of the program.

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