Human Rights House Foundation

Belarus

Electronic Human Rights Education for Lawyers

The Electronic Human Rights Education for Lawyers (EHREL) is a project under the Human Rights House Network program "International Law in Advocacy" prepared and implemented in cooperation with Human Rights House Foundation's partner organizations.

The project is designed to bring lawyers from CIS countries together via online human rights training material prepared by international and national experts. The learning process is supervised by a team of managers, regional partners and coordinators.

The project facilitates efforts to fulfill commitments made within the framework of the United Nations, the Council of Europe and other international organizations to support implementation of human rights (HR) obligations in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries.

OVERALL OBJECTIVE:

To strengthen the promotion, protection and enforcement of human rights under the rule of law by building the capacity of lawyers through training, networking and awareness-raising on direct application of human rights standards at the national level.

SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES:

·    To increase the knowledge of lawyers on human rights concepts and related jurisprudence;

·    To enhance the use of human rights based approach in daily practice and litigations;

·     To improve the access of lawyers to information on international human rights standards and case law; 

·     To strengthen a dialogue and cooperation between lawyers, human rights defenders and experts;

·     To develop a successful and replicable model of human rights education for lawyers;

·   To encourage judiciary to apply human rights standards in court practice;

·    To stimulate legal and human rights communities to demand government institutions to comply with the internationally accepted commitments on human rights.

ACTIVITIES:

Training of lawyers:

·    Conducting of regional seminars in each of the 4 countries which provide lawyers with an introduction to the training program;

·    Implementing of a 9- month Internet-based distance training, which give the lawyers access to study materials, consultations with experts and evaluations of their home assignments. The lawyers will also present legal essays on the topic relevant to constitutional protection and individual complaints to the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the European Court of Human Rights and will engage in elaborating the cases of strategic litigation;

·    Conducting of two international conferences which will provide selected lawyers with an advance training and will create a platform for a strong professional network;

·    Organizing of follow-up seminars in each of the countries which will encourage lawyers to apply international human rights standards in their daily practice and maintain stable network of cooperation with experts and human rights defenders.

Capacity building:

·    Recruiting the project team;

·    Conducting two working meetings for regional coordinators, managers and the Steering Committee;

·    Conducting training for regional coordinators, managers and national experts on Moodle;

·    Drafting curriculum with a reading list;

Information and awareness raising:

·    Developing of the Internet-based distance learning training model for human rights education for lawyers supplemented by on-site training provided in form of seminars and international conferences which can be used in other countries in need;

·    Professionalizing and maintaining of an information electronic platform E-library which will provide lawyers with sufficient access to study materials, full-text articles and other related materials on human rights standards and the relevant case-law through compilation of official texts of international human rights standards in Russian;

·    Maintaining of an online distance learning platform located at Moodle EHU which allows lawyers to access study materials and to take part in on-line consultations with international experts discussing the issues relevant to the content of the lectures.

Network building:

·    Creating and maintaining of online communication forums on Moodle EHU and E-library platforms which provide lawyers with a possibility to connect to one another and draw on each other’s knowledge, contacts and experience in human rights protection;

·     Facilitating of online consultations among lawyers and international experts which allow them to discuss issues relevant to application of human rights standards, arising during and after the implementation of the project;

·     Conducting of regional follow-up activities for the project alumni in each of the 4 countries which focus on actual implementation of the knowledge and skills received by lawyers during the training enable them to share the knowledge and expertise with other lawyers and human rights defenders and engage in a dialogue on the application of human rights standards in their respective countries. The implementation of the regional follow-up activities based on national implementation plans (NIP) is undertaken by the respective regional partners: Image: Electronic Human Rights Education for Lawyers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PROJECT:

The first stage of online training was launched in February 2010 and continued to be implemented until June 2010. 108 participating lawyers took part in drafting of legal essays and studying of the following online training courses:

·    HR development: history, philosophy, directions;

·    General principles, concepts and institutions in HR law;

·    HR standards within national legal systems;

·    Constitutional HR protection;

·    HR and international humanitarian law

In addition, lawyers attended seminars and forums, received access to an online library with a plethora of resources, and participated in the first international conference held in September 2010, in Vilnius.

The second stage of the online training was launched in September 2010 and continued until January 2011 with 53 participating lawyers from the 4 countries (Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and the Russian Federation). Lawyers received training in the following 6 online courses:  

·   The UN system of HR Protection;

·   The HR protection system established by the European Convention on HR;

·    Strategic Litigation, Compensation granted by the international quasi-judicial bodies to the victims of the violations;

·    Prohibition of tortures, inhuman and degrading treatment Right to Liberty and Security; v) Right to fair trial;

·    Freedom of expression, Freedom of association, Prohibition of discrimination and Right to private property

Lawyers completed the second stage of the training by delivering draft individual communications to international bodies with consultations by experts in that process. Twenty-four lawyers with the highest scores from each country were selected for participation in the 2nd international conference in March 2011. In addition to lectures by international human rights experts, discussions and roundtables, an important element of the conference was a moot court, which gave participants an opportunity to practice their newly learned skills using examples of two real cases at the European Court of Human rights. A competition of small projects aiming to implement the knowledge received during the study period was conducted on the last day of the conference. Six best projects were awarded grants provided by a Norwegian law firm.

CURRENT STATUS:

In August 2011 the first cycle of the EHREL Project for lawyers from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and the Russian Federation was completed. Twenty-eight participants successfully completed the training program and received official certificates.

The Human Rights Education Association (http://www.hrea.org/), renowned for having long-standing expertise in delivering and evaluating online and hybrid training programs for human rights defenders, carried out an impact assessment of the training component of the EHREL.

The HREA evaluation team concluded that as a result of participation in the training program the knowledge and skills (like, ability to carry out legal research, engage in human rights-related advocacy and in human rights-related litigation) of participants and alumni increased.

HREA experts noted that much of the impact reported by participants could be associated with such elements of the training program as: participation in the online courses and in the international conferences (which had both training, networking and planning components), and preparation of a legal small grant application for follow-up work (attempted by 17 learners).

The action area where the most impact was reported to date was “higher quality legal actions”. Work in this area will be continued in the framework of the follow-up activities and national implementation plans in the four countries (until December 2012). Alumni and those lawyers who did not complete the training program but stay in touch with regional organizations will be networking with national experts and colleagues and undertaking more legal actions related to human rights protection.

The second cycle of the EHREL Project will begin in September 2011. Two new countries - Moldova and Ukraine  - have been invited to take part in the project and will compete for a place in the second cycle with regional partners of the current participating countries.

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“Before, I knew there were conventions in abstract, but I did not pay attention to them. But here I learned which national laws have to correspond with which international conventions. This really helped me. The international laws are higher than the national [laws]. Now when I describe violations, I not only write that they violate national but also international standards.” (Participant from Belarus)

 "I am working on a complaint now. People who know that I had this education came to me with their case. We use the lectures, literature. I can always go back to them and it helps me to work on the cases that I have coming in.” (Participant from the Russian Federation)

I did write complaints before, but in the frame of the assignment it was all systematized. I remembered a text I wrote for the course and that text I can continue to use as a template, thanks to this course.” (Participant from the Russian Federation)

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