Avocats Sans Frontières France (ASF France) and the Nigerian Bar Association have provided free legal services to 120 victims of human rights violations relating to torture, arbitrary detention and extra-judicial killings.

This was disclosed during a meeting organized by ASF FRANCE under the European Union and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) funded, “Strengthening the National Actors Capacities and Advocation for Ending Severe Human Rights Violations in Nigeria project” (SAFE) project. The project is targeted at addressing human rights violations in relation to torture, extra-judicial killings and arbitrary detention.

The one-day legal aid coordination meeting is the third Legal Aid Coordination Meeting organized in collaboration with NBA to foster ASF France mandate of promoting the enjoyment of human rights in Nigeria. It provided an opportunity for the project support lawyers to provide updates on the status of legal aid delivery in their respective states as regards the third year of the project. It also provided the opportunity for them to share experiences and exchange learning based on the cases being handled. The cases bother on provision of free legal assistance on the SAFE project to victims of torture and family members of victims of extra-judicial killings and arbitrary detentions.

The Country Director of ASF France, Angela Uwandu Uzoma-Iwuchukwu highlighted the importance of the engagement, saying “the legal aid coordination meeting is a very important avenue for us to re-evaluate our pro-bono legal aid processes and learn from each other towards improving the effectiveness of the legal aid component of the SAFE project”.

According to a statement made available to CITY LAWYER, the support lawyers delivered presentations on legal aid delivery under the SAFE project while recommendations were made to tackle the challenges highlighted by the support lawyers during their presentations.

The forum rounded off with deliberations aimed at improving results of the legal aid delivery component of the project. During the deliberations, Aïssatou Kumagangue, Project Officer at the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) commended the support lawyers, saying: “I am immensely proud of the pro-bono legal aid delivery of this project. Thank you for the silent but impactful work of you lawyers; please keep it up”. Esmé Stuart, Programme Manager, Human Rights and Gender, European Union (EU) also highlighted the importance of the legal aid component of the project, saying: “The legal aid component of this project helps to consolidate the outcomes of the entire project; we have to keep up the good work to ensure that we bring justice to where it is underserved.”

The SAFE project is implemented by Avocats Sans Frontières France in partnership with the Nigerian Bar Association and the Carmelite Prisoners’ Interest Organization. ASF France aims to sustain the impact of the Situation Room by virtually convening more frequently to monitor and review the implementation of the adopted strategies.

In attendance at the meeting were the SAFE project support lawyers, nominated NBA pro-bono lawyers, the NBA SAFE project focal person, and representative of the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria.

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