Barrister packs bags for Rwanda trials

Paul Hardy, of 18 Red Lion Court, has become the first English lawyer to be recruited by legal charity Avocats sans Frontieres (ASF), to take part in genocide trials in Rwanda.

Hardy contacted the Brussels-based organisation after reading about its appeal for French-speaking lawyers in The Lawyer in March.

He will spend a month this summer representing some of the 100,000 prisoners detained following the massacres during the 1994 civil war.

Many local lawyers were killed in the conflict or fled, leaving only about 30 native lawyers in Rwanda.

He admitted he knew little about Rwandan justice. 'I don't even know if they have an adversarial or inquisitorial system, or if there is a presumption of innocence,' he said.

He said other barristers had indicated they would go if more funding was made available.

ASF pays for travel and expenses but barristers – who must be of at least four years call – say they cannot afford to take months out of their practice.

The Department for International Development is considering an application from ASF for funds to be given to the Criminal Bar Association.