The First 10 Months of The Pro Bono Network for Human Rights

09.11.2015 / 00:12 / Access to Justice

dartsWe have been active for 10 months now, which is just enough to give us something to talk about. Here are some results of our work together with our Pro Bono Lawyers work in the past 10 months, as well as some testimonies of those involved in this project: beneficiaries of pro bono legal assistance, for whom the Pro Bono Network meant solving some of their serious legal problems and improving their quality of life; and Pro Bono Lawyers, who shared with us the satisfaction brought by their pro bono work and the reasons for which they are voluntarily involved in this project.

The Pro Bono Network for Human Rights in numbers:

  • 10 months of activity – the official launch of the Pro Bono Network for Human Rights was on 18 December 2014
  • 43 Pro Bono Lawyers from 7 counties in Romania
  • 3 Attorneys at Law partners
  • 100% percent of acceptance rate of eligible cases by Pro Bono Lawyers, on a voluntary basis
  • 62 legal assistance requests from all over Romania and even from aboad (France, Spain, Turkey)
  • 33 cases have fulfilled the eligibility criteria to receive pro bono legal assistance and/or representation
  • 17 human rights areas approached: violence against women, forced evacuations, discrimination on grounds of ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, HIV/AIDS, gender, religion, involuntary internment of mentally-ill persons, rights of children with disabilities, sexual harassment, domestic violence, hate speech, establishment of parentage, parental rights and obligations, detention conditions
  • 4 working meetings with NGOs from 3 counties which offer support services to vulnerable groups
  • 2 human rights trainings (on national and European legislation, legal instruments and institutions) organised with the help of our partners, attended by 38 lawyers from 3 counties
  • 1 public debate on access to justice for vulnerable groups, attended by more than 70 participants

 

What the Pro Bono Lawyers are saying

Providing pro bono legal advice to individuals or non-profit legal entities (NGOs) is, in our opinion, the responsibility of the legal profession. We believe that lawyers have an important role: they must defend not only the most powerful and successful members of the society, but also the vulnerable ones. As lawyers, we have a duty to help strengthen the community we live in. Wishing to contribute actively to the development of pro bono legal practice in Romania, David & Corcheş SCA joined the Pro Bono Network for Human Rights Action poject initiated by the Equality and Human Rights Action Centre – ACTEDO – Lawyer Diana Corcheș (David & Corcheş Attorneys at Law)

I appreciate and commend ACTEDO’s initiative to protect human rights, especially of the disadvantaged people in Romania. I had only heard about pro bono lawyers in American movies and it seemed a highly magnanimous gesture. I became myself a Pro Bono Lawyer of the Pro Bono Network and I can say that satisfaction is highest when I can be of real help to disadvantaged people. – Lawyer Paula Petean (Paula Petean Attorney at Law)

I joined the Pro Bono Network for Human Rights because it is a brave project, through which its members [Pro Bono Lawyers – ed.] are involved in community affairs. By promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, the Pro Bono Network contributes significantly to strengthening democracy. To conclude, this center of legal assistance, through its lawyers, is a mouthpiece for vulnerable groups (persons with disabilities, persons living with HIV / AIDS, victims of domestic violence, victims of sexual violence, LGBTQ persons etc.) whose rights and fundamental freedoms were violated. – Lawyer Roxana Mândruțiu (Mândruţiu Roxana Cristina Attorney at Law)

The number of vulnerable social groups in Romania is alarming and a pro bono lawyer interested to remedy this believes too much in his/her cause not to successfully deal with the case. In these circumstances, I find that our involvement, as lawyers, is imperative. […] The underlying reason for starting the defence process as a lawyer is not to charge fees, but to do good.– Trainee lawyer Dora Călian

What do the beneficiaries of the Pro Bono Network for Human Rights say

I would recommend the Pro Bono Network because they are professionals and extremely useful. […] What I liked the most was how quickly they responded to our requests and the effectiveness in communicating with us. Thank you for existing!– M. T., deprivation of liberty and degrading treatments

Yes, [I recommend the Pro Bono Network – ed.] for its readiness to assist vulnerable groups. I liked the fact that I was guided by phone to access their online services, the support given to the beneficiary during the trial and the fact that the lawyer showed to represent me in Court at the set time and date. – C. D., discrimination on grounds of ethnicity

Of course [that I recommend the Pro Bono Network – ed.]. In Romania many human rights violations occur. Many citizens are discouraged to defend their rights in the absence of legal assistance available. – M.I., violation of the space made accessible for persons with disabilities

[What I liked most in relation to the Pro Bono Lawyer] was his willingness to help. Unfortunately, the beneficiary represented by our organisation has decided not to go to court, but for us it was important that we found people available to help. […] The offered legal advice service is extremely important especially regarding the specific issues of vulnerable groups who do not have the financial resources to pay a lawyer. – A.A., member of an NGO offering support services to persons with HIV/AIDS

I worked very well with the Pro Bono Lawyer in all the legal steps taken, and what I liked most was that we also participated in drafting the action plan. – E.V., member og an NGO defending the rights or Roma persons

 The [Pro Bono – ed.] Lawyer was extremely fair, transparent and permanently kept in touch with me. – V.G., discrimination on ground of religion

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The Pro Bono Network for Human Rights is the legal clearinghouse in Romania, specialized in human rights and non-discrimination. It was created by the Equality and Human Rights Action Centre – ACTEDO in order to facilitate access to justice for vulnerable groups of society. Through this project, ACTEDO connects individuals discriminated against or whose fundamental rights have been violated or NGOs who have contact with vulnerable groups, on the one hand, with lawyers who are members of the Pro Bono Network, on the other hand, who analyse the cases received and share their legal expertise voluntarily.