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.
Electronic education program
First stage: human rights and international standards implementation
Second stage: human rights protection mechanisms and compensation for damage resulting from any human rights violation
Training of lawyers
Information and awareness raising
HISTORY OF IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FIRST FULL CYCLE OF THE PROJECT (2010-2011)
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.
- 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.
A new cycle of the project began in 2011 and a new group of lawyers from five participating countries -- Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine -- was selected for participation on a competitive basis.
Electronic education program
The purpose of the electronic education offered as part of the project "Electronic Human Rights Education for Lawyers" is to give the participants of the course - lawyers and attorneys with legal education and practical experience in national legal systems - an opportunity to learn new legal instruments for the effective protection of human rights in national courts and through international institutions.
International law - is a dynamic branch of law which is constantly developing and changing. Many protection mechanisms that would have been unthinkable ten or twenty years ago, are available now.
Complaints to the European Court of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Committee from the former Soviet Union countries were not possible, and international criminal justice did not really exist. In the present situation where the sovereignty of the state, which previously was regarded as absolute, may be limited, knowledge of international law and human rights is essential for a good lawyer.
The program does not aim to provide specific answers to complex questions related to the protection of human rights, the main objective of the project is to familiarize participants with basic concepts and approaches in the field of international human rights law and to provide a platform for discussion. Moreover, the courses on the implementation of international standards in the national legal system and national human rights protection mechanisms provide a logical link between international standards and the possibility of their application in national courts.
All materials presented in the framework of this project provide a basis for more in-depth self-study by the participants.
The program is divided into two parts. The first part of the program covers human rights in general: human rights concept and its meaning. The emphasis is done on freedom from torture, liberty and security of person and the right to a fair trial. The first stage ends with a course on how to implement international human rights standards at the national level.
As an elective course participants are invited to refer to those human rights which are protected by the European Convention on Human Rights and the Covenants, but which are not covered in the main unit of the first part: freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, right to property and the prohibition of discrimination.
In the second part various human rights mechanisms, both national and international are considered. This part focuses on the procedural aspects of human rights protection, including the existing protection mechanisms within the UN system, as well as on the rules of submission and acceptance of complaints to the European Court of Human Rights.
National mechanisms can also provide an important and effective way of protecting human rights. A special course of the second part of the project is devoted to such mechanisms. This course presents both most common fundamental aspects of such protection and national characteristics of the participating countries. The program ends with the course on compensation for damage caused by human rights violation. A course on international humanitarian law is offered as an optional course. It highlights most important international standards that should be followed during interstate and internal wars.
- Human rights: history and doctrine. Expert Oleg Bresky, Ph.D.
- Freedom from torture, right to liberty and security and the right to a fair trial. Experts Oksana Preobrazhenskaya and Arkady Bushchenko.
- Implementation of international human rights standards. Expert Ludmila Ulyashyna, LLM.
Optional course: other human rights protection. The course has been prepared by Hermine Masmeyer. Optional course will not be judged and will not affect the ranking of program participants. However, each participant will have to choose one of the rights provided in this course and self-study it.
The first phase of the project will take place from March to July 2012 in the distance format. Each course of the program will be evaluated based on the evaluation of the test (maximum 4 points), a short writing assignment (max 5 points) and the activity to date (1 point). For each course participant will receive a maximum of 10 points. During the first phase, each participant will be able to collect a maximum of 30 points. The course is passed, if the party won at least 5 points in this course.
After the first stage regional conferences are planned on the time and venue of which will be announced later. (Presumably in August 2012)
Only those participants who passed all required courses of the program will be transferred and participate in the second stage. In exceptional cases, if the participant was unable to take a course for legitimate reasons, the Committee may allow such a project participant to continue studies in the second stage of the project.
- Human rights protection system established by the UN. Expert Krassimir Kanev.
- Human rights protection system established by the European Convention on Human Rights. Expert, Dr. Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou.
- National human rights protection mechanisms. Expert, Dr. Karin Bechet-Golovko.
- Compensation for damages. Expert Sergei Volochay.
- Optional course. International humanitarian law. The course has been prepared by Colin Smith, BL.
The second stage will be conducted in distance format from September 2012 to January 2013. After completing the second phase top 25 participants will be invited to an international conference in Vilnius (Lithuania), which is scheduled for February - March 2013. The Conference will address burning issues of human rights protection of the participating countries, will summarize the project and program, and participants will be awarded diplomas.
Lawyers of the European Court of Human Rights, UN Human Rights Committee, and other well-known lawyers and human rights defenders will be invited to participate in the conference.
Tutors of the program (experts who will assist participants in developing courses) are the lawyer of the European Court of Human Rights Andrew Esin, LLM and specialist in human rights Golosceapov Eugene, LLM.
- Conducting of regional seminars in each of the 4 countries which provide lawyers with an introduction to the training program;
- Implementing of a 1 year Internet-based distance training, which gives the lawyers access to study materials, consultations with experts and evaluations of their home assignments. The lawyers will also present assignments on implementation 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 a final international conference and countries 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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 5 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: Azerbaijan: Legal education society and Human Rights House in Azerbaijan; Belarus: Belarusian Human Rights House; Moldova: Human Rights Embassy and Memoria; Russia: Russian Research Centre for Human Rights; Ukraine: Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
- Human Rights House Foundation (Norway)
- Legal education society (Azerbaijan)
- Human Rights House in Azerbaijan (Azerbaijan)
- Belarusian Human Rights House in Vilnius (Belarus/Lithuania)
- Human Rights Embassy (Moldova)
- Karelian Centre for Gender Studies (Russia)
- Memoria (Moldova)
- Russian Research Centre for Human Rights (Russia)
- Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (Ukraine)
- European Humanities University (Belarus/Lithuania)
- Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland)
HISTORY OF IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FIRST FULL CYCLE OF THE PROJECT (2010-2011)
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;
- НR 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.
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, 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.
“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)
Thank you to the project donors:
- Matra/KAP Small Embassy Projects Programme, Netherlands Embassy in Warsaw
- National Endowment for Democracy, USA
- Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- The German Marshall Fund of the United States
- The Nordic Council of Minister's Support Programme for NGOs in the Baltic Sea Region