Southern Africa benefits from DLA Piper’s human rights plan

DLA Piper’s human rights plan” />DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary lawyers have helped to set the standards of human rights advocacy in southern Africa with the publication of a new litigation manual.

Thirty DLA Piper lawyers spent 500 hours compiling the manual, which was launched in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare at the end of October. Human rights barristers Sudanshu Swaroop and Hemma Ramrattan also contributed by providing pro bono guidance on complex issues.

DLA Piper head of corporate social responsibility Elaine Radford said: “Delivering such a vital tool to lawyers, enabling them to progress human rights cases, has been a most worthwhile project.”

Although there are instruction guides on international human rights law, this is the first international human rights litigation manual to target specifically the southern Africa region.

The guide covers both domestic and international human rights treaties and remedies and aims to provide a step-by-step guide on how to undertake this type of litigation while also explaining the origins and weight of international human rights law.

The manual follows the launch of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), a collaboration between the International Bar Association, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa and DLA Piper.

The SALC is dedicated to the training and support of lawyers litigating human rights and rule of law issues in the nine southern African states of Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It will provide support, resources and training to lawyers representing litigants in areas which advance human rights, as well as on the rule of law and constitutional cases.

SALC executive director Nicole Fritz said: “There’s an increasing appreciation of the critical need for good governance in sub-Saharan Africa and the strengthening of domestic institutions and infrastructure. The SALC feeds into that model by supporting regional lawyers.”

The compiling of the manual is part of ‘New Perimeters’, DLA Piper’s global pro bone initiative involving lawyers on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition to the guide, the organisation will also be offering training and case support.

The SALC is currently working on nine cases and has worked with 10 lawyers in the region on specific matters. It forecasts that it will assist at least 20 lawyers during its first year.