October 31, 2013

ABA ROLI’s Newest Program in Guinea to Increase Women’s Access to Justice

October 2013

On July 29, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) launched its program to promote women’s access to justice in Guinea. More than 30 representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs) and government agencies, including Minister of Justice Kalifa Gassama Diaby, attended the kick-off event in Conakry.

The new program will focus on building the capacity of CSOs to recruit, train and supervise a network of paralegals that will provide general legal advice, counseling and mediation services to women seeking justice.

Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the program 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—to protect and enforce women’s rights under Guinean law.

Emphasizing the importance of addressing systemic human rights issues, especially those related to women and youth, Nancy Estes, USAID’s mission director in Guinea, encouraged ABA ROLI and its partners “to use the funds provided by my institution to utilize legal and paralegals strategies and advocacy in the fight against serious and systematic violations of women’s rights in the targeted communities.” She said that such efforts would help to fight impunity for human rights abuses and ensure gender equity.

ABA ROLI has been working in Guinea since 2010 on a range of human rights and access to justice issues, from educating pretrial detainees on their rights to helping to protect the rights of mining communities through mining law reforms. ABA ROLI’s current program will focus on building the capacity of Guinean CSOs to recruit, train and supervise a network of paralegals that will provide general legal advice, counseling and mediation services to women seeking justice. ABA ROLI will also work alongside local organizations to build connections with isolated rural communities and to provide community education on women’s rights, enabling traditional justice systems to better protect the rights of women.

Minister Diaby said that the government of Guinea supports the ABA ROLI-led program to ensure access to justice and legal aid for women, especially in rural areas, where there is a higher need. Noting that protecting human rights was “absolutely essential” for Guineans’ dignity and status as human beings, the minister said, “We are ready to work together to ensure that the Guinea idea of human rights is not just a theoretical idea and so we can promise each of our citizens their natural rights.”

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