Majority of forced migrants live far from justice institutions and legal aid providers. They do not have the legal knowledge and financial capacity to effectively present their cases and demand their rights. Many are traumatized, disoriented, physically and emotionally vulnerable.
The Access to Justice Programme seeks to bring legal aid services closer to forced migrants, to empower forced migrants to advocate for their rights, to strengthen the capacity of justice institutions to deliver justice, and to improve the legal and policy environment for forced migrants in Uganda.
The Access to Justice Programme engages in the following activities:
- Legal representation: The Programme provides free legal assistance to forced migrants on a number of different issues -- criminal justice, employment and work environment, child rights and protection, refugee status determination, land rights, family rights, tenant rights, and deportation. We identify migrants in police stations and other detention facilities and represent them before courts of law.
- Capacity building for policy makers: The Programme conducts trainings to equip policymakers, service providers, magistrates, police officers, prison officials and local government authorities with knowledge of Uganda’s laws and international laws and policies relating to forced migration.
- Human rights awareness and community empowerment: The Programme empowers communities by providing information sessions, community policing sessions, English for Adult classes, RESPECT University courses, and information materials. We also train community interpreters and assist in the formation of support groups so that forced migrants can advocate for their rights.
- Research and advocacy: The Programme conducts studies on access to justice and uses findings to seek solutions by engaging with decision-makers in the police, directorate of public prosecutions, prisons, the judiciary, UNHCR, and Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).
Refugee Law Project has field offices in the western districts of Mbarara and Hoima, which provide legal assistance to forced migrants in the refugee settlements of Nakivale, Oruchinga, Kyaka II, Kyangwali and Kiryandogo.