Legal Aid

11 Nov 2011

Survivors Fund (SURF), in partnership with Redress, has launched a new legal aid project in Rwanda. With four of our partner organisations – IBUKA, AVEGA, AERG and Solace Ministries – we have recruited interns (all of which are current or recently graduated legal students in membership of AERG) to assist with the documentation and follow-up of cases of survivors over an initial three month period.

The project is being coordinated by Léa Steinacker, who is interning herself with Survivors Fund (SURF) in Rwanda on a Labouisse Fellowship from Princeton University, USA.

The project has evolved because SURF recognises that seeking and securing justice is a critical component of holistic support to survivors. Many survivors of the genocide have not had the opportunity to bring their legal cases to court. Some who have brought them to a gacaca court have been awarded compensation which has not been enforced.

In meetings with our partners it became evident that organisations are largely overwhelmed by the amount of cases they have received. Thus, together we have identified the need to undertake a systematic recording and documentation of these cases and assist with the follow-up and pursuit of an initial 14 to 16 cases, with a view to advocate for further funding to ensure that survivors still requiring legal aid to secure post-genocide justice have access to it.

Through the legal aid project SURF aims to:
– assist the systematic documentation of outstanding legal cases filed by survivors
– development of an electronic database of these legal cases
– support necessary follow-up investigations
– identify particularly vulnerable and urgent cases to legally pursue them further
– utilise specific landmark cases to assist the advocacy efforts of partner organizations

We look forward to reporting further on the progress of the project here in due course.