How to Get a Career in Human Rights Leeds 7 March 2012

How to Get a Career in Human Rights
7 March 2012
How to Get a Career in Human Rights
In association with the Human Rights Lawyers’ Association
7 March 2012
About the Human Rights Lawyers‟ Association ......................................................... 3
The Law Society‟s International Action Team ........................................................... 4
HRLA Bursary .......................................................................................................... 5
Alison Gerry .................................................................................................. 6
Nick Williams ................................................................................................. 7
Ruth Pogonowski .......................................................................................... 9
Jonny Butterworth ....................................................................................... 11
Shamshuddin Makkan ................................................................................. 12
Jesse Nicholls ............................................................................................. 14
Tim Moloney ............................................................................................... 16
Rachel Robinson ......................................................................................... 18
Matthew Jury ............................................................................................... 20
Angela Patrick ............................................................................................. 22
Saadia Khan ............................................................................................... 24
Sarah Smith ................................................................................................ 26
Murray Wesson ........................................................................................... 28
Felicity Williams........................................................................................... 30
Al Mustakim ................................................................................................ 32
Human Rights Organisations .................................................................................. 33
human rights lawyers association
About the Human Rights Lawyers’ Association
The HRLA‟s principal objective is to promote, protect and develop effective legal
protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms within the UK legal framework
and system of government.
The HRLA is a forum for those involved in the law and legal professions to discuss
human rights issues. It facilitates the sharing of knowledge and ideas about human
rights law and fosters the exchange of views between specialists from different areas
of expertise and the wider legal community.
The HRLA aims to further research, education and training in all areas of human
rights law; it collaborates with organisations whose objectives are similar to those of
the HRLA; it supports students in their human rights work in the UK and abroad; it
organises critical and constructive seminars, lectures, workshops and debates about
topical human rights issues.
The HRLA seeks to respond quickly to any developments that affect human rights
law in the UK. This may be a judgment of the House of Lords or the European Court
of Human Rights, or evolving Government policy. The events based on these
developments are free, or subsidized, for HRLA members and strive to create a
forum for interactive discussion and debate.
Past events include Sexual Apartheid, Political Islam and Women’s Rights; Inquests,
Inquiries and the Right to Life; Torture Team: The Lawyers who Authorised Torture;
Complicity with Apartheid; The Future of Children’s Rights in the UK; Human Rights
and the Environment.
For upcoming events see
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous
acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a
world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and
freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of
the common people
Preamble, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948
The Law Society’s International Action Team
The Law Society's International Action Team (IAT) is a network of pro bono lawyers
and law students who assist with the Society‟s human rights work.
The aim is to provide international human rights opportunities for all, regardless of
your level of qualification or previous human rights experience, if any.
There are 2 main ways to participate: interventions or working groups.
Members of the IAT are involved in researching or drafting interventions. A
dedicated group of researchers (mostly students) monitors for violations,
investigates them and alerts the network. One volunteer (usually non-student) drafts
a letter that will be signed by the President of the Law Society on behalf of the
The Law Society writes interventions to governments and responsible authorities:
in support of lawyers whose human rights have been violated;
opposing restrictions on the freedom and independence of the legal
challenging threats to the independence of the judiciary and the proper
administration of justice; and
opposing systemic or gross violations of the rule of law.
For examples of interventions, see
To join the IAT, you will first have to attend our intervention training. To receive
notification of the next training session, volunteering/job opportunities, other events
[email protected] or [email protected]
Working Groups
IAT members are encouraged to form working groups of volunteers to research,
monitor and act upon human rights issues of common interest. Working groups have
included: Events, Lawyers at Risk, Independence of the Legal Profession, Russia,
Colombia, Iraq, Malaysia, and Pakistan.
The work of each working group is primarily driven by its members with logistical
support from the Law Society. Their work very often informs the Law Society‟s
overall human rights policy.
For examples of working groups, see and
human rights lawyers association
HRLA Bursary
The Human Rights Lawyers Association is pleased to announce the launch of the
2012 HRLA Bursary Scheme.
The HRLA recognises that those without independent financial backing can
sometimes be unable to take up internships, work placements and other either
unpaid or poorly paid work in human rights law. They may therefore miss out on
these opportunities and this can lead to their being disadvantaged when applying for
jobs within the human rights field. To assist people in this position, in 2006 the HRLA
established a bursary scheme to assist law students, either those currently studying
(either undergraduate degree, postgraduate studies or LPC/BVC/Law Conversion
Course) or those who have recently graduated, in undertaking such work.
Each year the HRLA will provide around 5 awards from a maximum annual bursary
fund of around £6,000, provided there are suitable applicants. A single award will not
normally total more than £1,000.
Please see the bursary section of the website (
for the detailed policy document and application form, and for reports from previous
bursary recipients. If you have any questions about the scheme, please, in the first
instance, consult the policy document, which should answer all your questions.
Best of luck with your bursary applications.
HRLA Bursary Committee
Alison Gerry
Doughty Street Chambers
Alison Gerry specialises in prison law, mental health, actions against the police,
inquests and related public law. Alison has particular expertise in international
human rights law, and the European Convention on Human Rights. She has
conducted human rights training on behalf of the Council of Europe, in Albania,
Turkey and in Serbia, and for the British Council and for the Foreign and
Commonwealth Office.
Alison‟s notable cases include the House of Lords case of Van Colle and another v
Chief Constable of the Hertfordshire Police (Secretary of State for the Home
Department and others intervening) [2008] 3 WLR 593 in which she was junior
counsel for the NGO interveners. The joined cases concerned claims in negligence
and breaches of Article 2 where the police were alleged to have failed to protect the
lives of the victims of crimes. She has also appeared as junior counsel in the Privy
Council in Atain Takitota v. The (1) Attorney General, (2) The Director of Immigration
(3) Minister of National Security, Appeal No 71 of 2007, where she represented a
Petitioner who had been unlawfully detained for over 8 years in prison in the
Alison was junior counsel in the successful group litigation claim against the Home
office concerning the treatment of opiate dependant prisoners, in which the Home
Office conceded liability in negligence, breach of human rights and assault. Alison
was also junior counsel in a group litigation claim being brought by nearly 30,000
claimants in the Ivory Coast for personal injuries following the dumping of toxic
waste at various sites in Abijan, Ivory Coast.
Alison has also appeared in the Privy Council in death penalty cases, including in
Boyce & Joseph v R (2005) 1 AC 400 (challenge to the mandatory death penalty in
Barbados) and successfully before the Inter American Court of Human Rights in
Costa Rica. She is also now advising African lawyers who are bringing similar
challenges to the death penalty in Malawi, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya and
Before joining Doughty Street, Alison Gerry was the Human Rights Adviser to the
Consular Directorate at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. She is the
Chair of the Human Rights Lawyers Association.
In July 2007 Alison was awarded the LAPG Young legal aid barrister of the year
award and in December 2006 she was also short listed for the Peter Duffy Award
(formerly the Young Human Rights Lawyer of the Year Award). She was nominated
for “her tenacity and dedication to grassroots human rights issues", and "for her work
in representing vulnerable people and for her battles on behalf of the families of
prisoners and mental health patients who have died in detention".
Nick Williams
Amnesty International
I am a solicitor and Legal Counsel at Amnesty International (at Amnesty‟s
International Secretariat based in London). My role as Amnesty‟s in-house lawyer is
primarily operational, but is diverse - I provide legal support to all parts of the
organisation on libel, litigation, governance, intellectual property, compliance and
supporting Amnesty‟s international operations and membership work.
Previous roles:
Save the Children UK: legal adviser (2008-2009) worked as a full-time in-house
Hogan Lovells – associate in litigation team. Worked on international commercial
disputes; gained higher rights of audience (2003-2007)
Masters in Human Rights at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences
Postgraduate Diploma in Law, Nottingham Law School (2001- 2003)
BA (joint hons) Russian and German languages, University of Leeds (1996-2001)
Volunteer work / membership
Previous volunteer work at the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (London),
Global Witness (London) and OHCHR (Geneva)
Member of RAW in WAR
Member of Human Rights Lawyers Association and Amnesty International.
1. Which human rights practitioners do you find most inspiring?
I find all sorts of people inspiring, but incredibly inspiring are those whose work as
human rights practitioners puts them (and their families or friends) at serious
personal risk, for example the lawyers who work for the Russian human rights group
Memorial. I also went to a recent talk by Gareth Peirce on Shaker Aamed at LSE;
Gareth is an inspiring speaker.
2. When did you decide to follow a career in human rights? Was there one
defining moment?
I have always been interested in human rights issues, but a defining moment was a
visit to Burma/Myanmar while a law student. I met some members of the political
opposition movement whose ongoing work demonstrated required huge bravery and
personal sacrifice.
3. Did you do any internships or voluntary placements on your route into
human rights work?
Yes, I did placements at Global Witness, and European Human Rights Advocacy
Centre (EHRAC, London), and an internship at OHCHR (Geneva)
4. What has been the high-point of your human rights career so far?
There are a lot of high-points; recent highpoint work with a report on oil spills in the
Niger Delta – we release our latest report in November 2011 entitled „the True
Tragedy‟; we are now launching a campaign.
5. What has been the low-point?
No real low points so far working in NGO sector, quite a few previous low points in
corporate law career (working one Christmas day afternoon is one example)
6. Is there a current human rights debate that you are particularly interested
The debate around the deportation of Abu Qatada and the ECHR.
7. What is your favourite human right?
Right to liberty and security of the person
8. Do you support the work of a particular human rights NGO?
I‟ve been a long time supporter of Amnesty International (and still a member!)
9. What is your dream job?
I am really enjoying my current job (but to work in human rights at the UN is
something I‟ve always dreamed of)
10. When was the last time that you pulled an all-nighter?
Not since my days in corporate law (5 years ago)
11. What was the last book you read?
The Challenge for Africa (Wangari Maathai)
Ruth Pogonowski
Ministry of Justice
"After graduating from Brunel University, Ruth worked as a research assistant at the
Law Commission before being called to the Bar in 2006. Ruth initially worked as
a self employed barrister specialising in criminal work before joining the Ministry of
Justice in 2008. Since joining the Ministry of Justice Ruth has been a member of
the Criminal Law Team and most recently the Information and Human Rights Team
where she currently leads on the co-ordination of human rights litigation across
Government. Ruth is also a keen triathlete and represented the United Kingdom at
the Triathlon World Championships in Budapest in 2010."
1. Which human rights practitioners do you find most inspiring?
Two people in particular have really shaped my career.
The first was the late Anthony Jennings QC who remains the best criminal advocate
I have ever seen in court. His untimely death was a huge loss to the criminal Bar.
The second is my current boss Daniel Denman. His knowledge of human rights law
is at times astounding, but he is also one of the nicest people I have ever worked
with and has the patience of a saint! If I could have one super power it would be to
be able to copy his corporate memory to my own brain!
2. When did you decide to follow a career in human rights? Was there one
defining moment?
I started out life as a criminal law practitioner and initially joined the criminal law
team at the Ministry of Justice. However, one of the nice things about working as a
Government lawyer is that we are encouraged to gain experience in as many areas
of law as possible during our careers. I joined the information and human rights
team at the Ministry of Justice in 2010 and was a data protection lawyer before
taking over responsibility for human rights law last year.
3. Did you do any internships or voluntary placements on your route into human
rights work?
I worked as a Citizen‟s Advice Bureau Advisor at university.
4. What has been the high-point of your human rights career so far?
The first time I sat in the officials‟ box during a committee debate on a Bill and heard
a speech I had helped draft read out by our Minister. Realising that that speech
would be recorded in Hansard and become part of history was a real “I can‟t believe
I‟m doing this” moment.
5. What has been the low-point?
Pupillage in general!
6. Is there a current human rights debate that you are particularly interested in?
I think the current relationship between our domestic courts and Strasbourg is
7. What is your favourite human right?
The right to education, so fundamental but so easily overlooked.
8. Do you support the work of a particular human rights NGO?
None in particular but I have a lot of time for those who are willing to engage
constructively with the Government to work towards finding solutions to human rights
9. What is your dream job?
Professional Triathlete.
10. When was the last time that you pulled an all-nighter?
Either I‟ve led a sheltered life or been very lucky because I‟ve never actually stayed
up all night, I value my sleep far too much anyway.
11. What was the last book you read?
I asked for a Kindle for Christmas fully intending that I would use it to download
some books that I “should” have read…. I‟m currently reading the Shopaholic series!
Jonny Butterworth
Jonny is a Public Law Teaching Fellow at University College London (UCL), and a
Guest Teacher at London School of Economics (LSE). He currently acts as an
advisor to the British Institute of Human Rights on their „Human Rights in the
Community‟ project, which aims to empower individuals and communities with
human rights language and tools. The project directly supports local community
groups, through pilot projects in the South East (including London), North East and
North West England regions. Jonny also acts an Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights Consultant for Age UK on their „Older People and Human Rights Project‟which aims to empower disadvantaged older people to use human rights to influence
decisions affecting their lives and wider public policy.
Jonny also co-founded, and was President of, the UCL Student Human Rights
Programme (UCLSHRP) from 2007 to 2009. The UCLSHRP is a student lead
human rights organisation which seeks to foster a vibrant culture of human rights
within UCL and wider communities by initiating awareness, instigating debate and
inspiring action. (For further information see: In February
2009 he worked with a team of UCLSHRP students to draft the Convention on
Modern Liberty report entitled “The Abolition of Freedom Act 2009.” The report
examined the human rights compatibility of over 550 pieces of primary and
secondary legislation enacted since 1997. Jonny has also presented seminars,
published articles and given lectures on human rights law. He read law at
Undergraduate and Master‟s level, specialising in human rights and international
Shamshuddin Makkan
Divisional Crown Advocate
Shamshuddin Makkan was called to the Bar of England & Wales in 1987. He spent
time at the European Court of Human Rights and the Commission in Strasbourg.
He currently is a Divisional Crown Advocate in England & Wales ensuring human
rights compliant investigations and prosecutions – e.g. handling cases ensuring
proportionate surveillance and other intrusive investigative techniques are used,
deprivation of liberty decisions and the imposition of conditions are proportionate.
His day to day role is to ensure that the fair trial provisions in article 6 ECHR are
achieved – balancing and ensuring that the rights of the accused, victims and
witnesses are not unjustifiably imperilled.
During his time as a prosecutor he has been involved in training prosecutors, police,
defence advocates, magistrates, local authority personnel, medical profession and
others. He was involved in training human rights in Northern Ireland during the Good
Friday Agreement. He advised in the case of Lambert, Ali & Jordan which were
conjoined appeal cases and in the very early days of the Human Rights Act 1998 –
the cases involved reverse burden of proof in murder/homicide cases.
Sam has also worked as a Rule of Law and Judicial Reform consultant in
international development projects. In this capacity he has worked in 10 different
countries – almost always the work involved taking human rights based approach to
development, rule of law and judicial reform. He worked with Ministry of Justice
lawyers in Georgia preparing the inter-state case of Georgia v The Russian
Federation at the admissibility stage. The case was subsequently admitted and is
currently awaiting determination in the Grand Chamber.
He is author of two books - on The Human Rights Act and the Equality Act. He has
written articles on different human rights topics. He has been involved in many
human rights conferences, capacity building work, training, workshops, and focus
1. Which human rights practitioners do you find most inspiring?
Those in the field and on the ground dealing with human rights issues in conflict
affected areas and countries.
2. When did you decide to follow a career in human rights? Was there one
defining moment?
No, there was no defining moment. I read international law in the course of which I
spent time in Strasbourg at the Commission and the ECtHR. That greatly inspired
me – another milestone was the Human Rights Act 1998.
3. Did you do any internships or voluntary placements on your route into human
rights work?
I did a lot writing, training, conferences when the 1998 Act was passed. I delivered
training to a diverse range of practitioners both legal and non-legal nationally and
4. What has been the high-point of your human rights career so far?
Being consultant on the inter-state case of Georgia V Russian Federation – a case
which was contested at the admissibility stage. The Case was admitted and is now
awaiting determination in the Grand Chamber.
5. What has been the low-point?
The media story that the citizens of UK could refuse to put out their rubbish bins
because they had such a right under ECHR!
6. Is there a current human rights debate that you are particularly interested in?
Environmental and developmental rights issues as a tool to poverty reduction.
7. What is your favourite human right?
The right to left alone (privacy – Article 8)
8. Do you support the work of a particular human rights NGO?
I am a Rule of Law and Judicial Reform consultant, which inevitably leads me to
work with different NGO‟s and CBO‟s. I am also a practicing barrister with a
predominantly criminal law practice.
9. What is your dream job?
10. When was the last time that you pulled an all-nighter?
2 years ago – but no more!
11. What was the last book you read?
Prosecuting George Bush for War Crimes – a book written by an American
Jesse Nicholls
Tooks Chambers
Jesse recently completed pupillage at Tooks Chambers and undertakes a broad
mixture of prison, inquest, immigration and employment law work, as well as some
criminal appeal work. Jesse completed the Bar Vocational Course at BPP and the
law conversion course at City University. Prior to that he did a History degree at
Trinity College, Cambridge, and worked for a year as a political lobbyist. Jesse
currently takes on cases for Bail for Immigration Detainees, and previously
volunteered at the Islington Legal Advice Centre and at the Citizens Advice Bureau
in the Principal Registry of the Family Division. He also interned at the Independent
Jamaican Council for Human Rights before starting pupillage.
1. Which human rights practitioners do you find most inspiring?
The people I‟ve worked with at places like the Independent Jamaican Council for
Human Rights and the Citizens Advice Bureau I found particularly inspiring. They are
committed to upholding and defending the human rights of ordinary people on a daily
basis, often in the absence of adequate resources and in the face of really difficult
obstacles. I‟m also inspired by those human rights defenders around the world who
face very real risks of personal harm while protecting vulnerable people and
speaking out.
2. When did you decide to follow a career in human rights? Was there one
defining moment?
There was never a single moment I don‟t think. After university I was keen to try and
find a job I‟d find intellectually interesting and of some wider benefit beyond myself
but wasn‟t really sure what that was. I eventually did the law conversion, I think
because I had an unformed sense that legal activism had become an important part
of holding government to account, and from there I realised I was particularly
interested in trying to take on human rights and public law work for people in need of
representation, often at very difficult times in their lives.
3. Did you do any internships or voluntary placements on your route into human
rights work?
I volunteered one day a week at the Citizens Advice Bureau in the Principal Registry
of the Family Division in London during my conversion course, and one evening a
week at the Islington Legal Advice Centre during my BVC. In the summer after my
conversion course I also spent 6 weeks at the Independent Jamaican Council for
Human Rights.
4. What has been the high-point of your human rights career so far?
There have been a few cases that were particularly satisfying, mainly because they
were in situations where had I not been able to take on the case, it‟s likely that the
people involved would have had no representation at all. I recently represented a
family at the inquest into the death of their son/brother, who had been found hanging
in the showers of the mental health wing of a prison. The inquest took place over
four years after the death and lasted seven days, and all the family wanted was to be
able to ask questions, find out what had happened, and gain some sort of closure.
In completely different circumstances, I represented a single mother, who had
suffered from domestic violence, at an appeal into the removal of her benefits which
was going to leave her destitute. Succeeding in that appeal was a high-point.
5. What has been the low-point?
Walking around the main remand centre outside Kingston, Jamaica. There are 6
people to a cell, no natural light, 40 degree temperature, virtually 24 hour lock down,
and this applies to people who have yet to face trial. Some had lived in those
conditions for upwards of 4 years.
There have also been a few of my own cases where I‟ve been left with the feeling
that the gap between what is lawful and what is just can be enormous, and the
clients‟ clearly felt the same.
6. Is there a current human rights debate that you are particularly interested in?
The scope of the positive operational duty under Article 2; essentially, in what
circumstances the state is under a duty to take all reasonable steps to guard against
a real and immediate risk to an individual‟s life, including a risk from themselves.
7. What is your favourite human right?
Article 2. It‟s vital to controlling state force and ensuring state accountability for the
use of force and resultant deaths.
8. Do you support the work of a particular human rights NGO?
9. What is your dream job?
My mum used to tell me I should run the train timetabling for London Transport
because I hated being late for things – she‟s very disappointed by my current career
10. When was the last time that you pulled an all-nighter?
At the end of November 2009 – my time management skills in relation to a piece of
coursework on the BVC went awry. I‟ve had a few late nights and early mornings
during pupillage and practice but no all-nighters thankfully.
11. What was the last book you read?
I‟m currently reading Jane Eyre, and I think the last thing I read before that was
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.
Tim Moloney
Tooks Chambers
1. Which human rights practitioners do you find most inspiring?
Those who get on with the job without talking about it all the time.
2. When did you decide to follow a career in human rights? Was there one
defining moment?
I decided to become a lawyer when I was about 18. I saw how people I grew up with
had far fewer opportunities than more privileged people. I also saw unprovoked
violence from police officers against striking workers and demonstrators. But it
wasn‟t called „human rights‟ law then. It was about the struggle against injustice.
3. Did you do any internships or voluntary placements on your route into human
rights work?
I did one day a week voluntary work at a Trade Union Resource Centre during the
final year of my first degree. As a volunteer, I produced reports on the activities of
British companies in apartheid South Africa.
I completed a mini-pupillage.
4. What has been the high-point of your human rights career so far?
The case of K [2008] QB 827. Until that decision, many muslims were being
prosecuted for the possession of books which were not of any practical use to
terrorists. K changed that and in doing so had a practical effect on the freedom of
expression of ordinary muslims.
5. What has been the low-point?
Losing a case where there had been allegations that my client had been the victim of
torture in Pakistan and the UK authorities had been complicit in it.
6. Is there a current human rights debate that you are particularly interested in?
The lawfulness of the targeting of suspected terrorists by armed forces around the
7. What is your favourite human right?
8. Do you support the work of a particular human rights NGO?
Not any particular one over others.
9. What is your dream job?
My job.
10. When was the last time that you pulled an all-nighter?
Many years ago.
11. What was the last book you read?
„On Evil‟ by Terry Eagleton
Rachel Robinson
Rachel Robinson is a Policy Officer at Liberty (the National Council for Civil
Liberties). As a member of the policy team she is responsible for the organisation‟s
parliamentary lobbying and policy development. Since joining Liberty she has
worked on a range of human rights issues including privacy rights, police powers,
counter-terror and legal aid reform. As a Liberty spokesperson she has also spoken
on a number of these issues. Prior to joining Liberty, Rachel practised as a legal aid
lawyer, both at the criminal bar and as a Legal Officer for the charity Refugee and
Migrant Justice.
1. Which human rights practitioners do you find most inspiring?
Gareth Pierce for a career spent tirelessly defending the rights of some of the most
unpopular people in the country. If human rights are to mean anything they must be
applied universally – that means no matter what crimes you are accused of or have
in fact committed.
2. When did you decide to follow a career in human rights? Was there one
defining moment?
The only reason I studied law was to pursue a career in human rights – I‟ve never
wanted to do anything else.
3. Did you do any internships or voluntary placements on your route into human
rights work?
Yes, at University I was Co-ordinator of Student Action for Refugees and Amnesty
International Rep for my college. After graduating I did a six month internship with
the UN Refugee Agency and a three month internship with the Refugee Law Project
in Kampala, Uganda. I volunteered at the weekend with the Medical Foundation for
the Care of Victims of Torture for two years and was also one of Liberty‟s Advice and
Information Volunteers.
4. What has been the high-point of your human rights career so far?
Liberty‟s policy team wrote a pamphlet called „Human Rights or Citizen’s Privileges‟
at the end of last year. It was in response to a Discussion Paper produced by the
Commission on a Bill of Rights and was our attempt to correct the myth and
misinformation surrounding the Human Rights Act. It was a massive piece of work
and when we‟d finished we wrapped up 1500 copies and sent them out to all
Parliamentarians in time for Christmas. We received lots of appreciative responses
which was very heartening.
5. What has been the low-point?
Seeing human rights denigrated in the media and by politicians – even senior figures
in Government - day in day out. People in the Middle East are fighting and dying for
their fundamental freedoms – we undermine their struggle when we attack rights
protections in this country.
6. Is there a current human rights debate that you are particularly interested in?
I am very interested in the debate around Article 8 of the Convention on Human
Rights which protects the right to respect for private and family life. Article 8 gets a
very bad press because it can be relied on by foreign nationals seeking to join family
members in the UK or resist deportation. What rarely comes across in the media is
the fact that Article 8 is a qualified right that is always weighed against the wider
interests of society including the need to prevent crime and disorder and protect
national security.
7. What is your favourite human right?
Article 3 – no torture, no compromise.
8. Do you support the work of a particular human rights NGO?
Liberty of course, but I also support the work of a number of grass-roots human
rights organisations, especially those working with refugees and asylum seekers.
Medical Justice is a small but dedicated organisation staffed by health professionals
who work tirelessly to protect the rights of those in immigration detention. Kalayaan
is another small but effective organisation fighting to protect the rights of migrant
domestic workers.
9. What is your dream job?
At the risk of sounding smug, it‟s my job now! If I wasn‟t working for Liberty though, I
have always wanted to work on the ground with those fleeing conflict in some of the
world‟s trouble spots. When I was younger I worked with refugees living in Uganda
and found it massively rewarding.
10. When was the last time that you pulled an all-nighter?
I pretty much pulled an all-nighter when trying to finalise Liberty‟s briefing on the
Government‟s disastrous proposed cuts to legal aid.
11. What was the last book you read?
Londoners by Craig Taylor. The book tells the stories of ordinary people living and
working in London and reminded me of all the things I love (and love to hate) about
the city.
Matthew Jury
McCue & Partners LLP
He undertook his law degree (LLB) at the University of Southampton and his
postgraduate degree (LLM) at Trinity College Dublin and is licensed to practise as a
solicitor as well as an attorney in New York. He is an expert in counter-terrorism
litigation, domestic and international human rights law, and public international law.
Matthew currently assists in the representation of hundreds of victims of terrorism
worldwide in a number of groundbreaking civil prosecutions against the perpetrators,
supporters and financiers of global terrorism.
He has been involved in the representation of a number of individuals detained
overseas in circumstances absent of due process and/or in breach of international
standards of detention. While in the US, Matthew worked in a dual role as a lawyer
and as an investigator and has particular expertise in the application of international
law in the context of US state lethal injection protocols and the execution of the
mentally ill.
1. Which human rights practitioners do you find most inspiring?
The human rights practitioners I have found to be most inspiring are those that I
worked for and alongside during my time spent in the US assisting on Death Row
appeals. It is a low-paid career that receives little to no positive recognition from the
community in which these people live and practice. They do it only because it the
right thing to do and it has to be done. These are the two most important reasons to
choose a career in human rights.
2. When did you decide to follow a career in human rights? Was there one
defining moment?
There was no one defining moment. I always knew that wanted a career grounded
in some form of public service. This was reinforced by the fact that, during the
course of my legal studies, commercial law held no interest for me. The combination
of these two factors made my decision to follow a career in human rights an easy
one. I had the qualifications and I felt that it was my responsibility to use them for
the public benefit.
3. Did you do any internships or voluntary placements on your route into human
rights work?
Yes. I undertook a six month internship assisting on Death Row appeals under the
administration of Reprieve at the Virgina Capital Representation Resource Center
(VCRRC) in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA.
4. What has been the high-point of your human rights career so far?
There have been a number of high points. My work directly contributing to the
preservation of the lives of a number of Death Row inmates have included some of
them. Here in the UK, the highest point for me was securing a judgment against the
Real IRA for 1.6 million on behalf of the families of the victims of the bombing of
Omagh, Northern Ireland, by the RIRA in August 1998.
5. What has been the low-point?
The execution of a number of Death Row inmates on whose cases I assisted.
6. Is there a current human rights debate that you are particularly interested in?
Traditional human rights mechanisms, such as the ECHR, are but one way to
enforce human rights standards. I am interested in the use private justice via the
civil and criminal courts as another means to enforce these rights. These are forums
where I believe real change can be effected and I the government should not restrict
our access to them.
7. What is your favourite human right?
The right to life. There is nothing more important and it is from this that every
other right flows.
8. Do you support the work of a particular human rights NGO?
No. There are too many to choose from.
9. What is your dream job?
I‟m doing it.
10. When was the last time that you pulled an all-nighter?
Thankfully I have managed to avoid all nighters for a long time now. Most of our
cases are slow burners and if I have to pull an all-nighter to meet a deadline then I
am disappointed in myself for not having been more organised.
11. What was the last book you read?
A Pefect Spy by John le Carré
Angela Patrick
1. Which human rights practitioners do you find most inspiring?
It‟s a close-call between the human rights defenders working on cases in
countries where abuse is rife and their work is both life-saving and life
endangering and anyone still working in a law centre or a citizens advice
However, if you get a chance to see Albie Sachs speak, go.
2. When did you decide to follow a career in human rights? Was there one
defining moment?
A thoroughly unhelpful career guidance computer once told me that I should
be an “artist” or a “judge”.
After deciding I wasn‟t going to be the next Tracey Emin, I thought that
something practical with an income was a good idea. Law was the sensible
choice. It seemed to have something to do with social justice and changing
unfair “stuff”. A fair few years down the line, I‟m glad to know that it does
3. Did you do any internships or voluntary placements on your route into human
rights work?
No. I was hard-up and nervous about debt while studying, so I worked most
summers and evenings. I tried to do paid work in the field, for example,
doing research for solicitors working on human rights cases. However, there
was also a fair share of waitressing, dry-cleaning kilts (a long story) and call
I regret doing no voluntary internships, which would have been far more
interesting, rewarding and valuable to society, but I only took pro-bono and
voluntary work once I had an income. The latest project I‟ve been working on
is an International Bar Association programme on the rule of law and human
rights for parliaments in developing countries. It‟s been an amazing
opportunity to meet and work with human rights campaigners across the
world and learn about challenges that we don‟t see in the UK. It has been an
inspiring learning experience.
4. What has been the high-point of your human rights career so far?
Either helping persuade a particularly resistant Conservative member of the
House of Lords that the Human Rights Act 1998 was a “good thing” he
should champion OR convincing legal colleagues at the Ugandan Parliament
that asking their Government to justify why legislation complies with their
constitution and international human rights standards was a proper job for the
legislative branch.
5. What has been the low-point?
Failing to persuade the same group of Ugandan parliamentary lawyers to
recognise that the international human rights framework was key to the
debate on their Anti-Homosexuality Bill…
6. Is there a current human rights debate that you are particularly interested in?
The politicisation of the debate on the protection of human rights in the UK
under the Coalition Government – both at home and away – is both
interesting and worrying.
7. What is your favourite human right?
From someone who has always liked to talk too much, freedom of expression
must be up there. Without it, for example, you can‟t take to the streets to
complain that your neighbour has been wrongly arrested and savagely
beaten for being a religion/colour/sexuality (delete as you like) that the
majority object to.
8. Do you support the work of a particular human rights NGO?
JUSTICE does an excellent job working on access to justice, the rule of law
and human rights…
On a global scale, Plan is currently running an inspirational campaign to keep
girls in developing countries in education.
9. What is your dream job?
I‟ve only been here for four months, but I think that my new role at JUSTICE
has the perfect combination of public interest litigation and public policy work
to out-match all of the other jobs out there. I feel very privileged to be part of
our team.
(I‟m not going to be turning my bed into an installation anytime soon…)
10. When was the last time that you pulled an all-nighter?
I‟d love to say I‟m too organised to have ever done anything as silly as work
all night, but that would be a lie. Working all night is bad for your health,
unproductive and incompatible with a happy home life.
Thankfully, the last time I saw the sunrise in front of my PC was a few years
ago. I was juggling two projects for the JCHR which were time sensitive:
producing draft reports on the Government‟s proposed reservations to the
UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and on the
Coroners and Justice Bill (which dealt with restrictions to the National DNA
Database, to address the judgment in Marper, reform of the Coronial system,
and a host of other challenging procedural and substantive reforms to the
criminal law). Both were subject to strict parliamentary timetables, both were
important and there weren‟t enough hours in the day.
11. What was the last book you read?
For the law geeks (of which I am one), I am currently re-reading Lord
Bingham‟s Rule of Law. For the rest of you, I have just finished Starlight by
Stella Gibbons (who wrote Cold Comfort Farm), which, set in 50s post-war
London, incorporates an amusing and unusual combination of pacifism and
Saadia Khan
Bindmans LLP
Saadia studied Economic and Social History at Liverpool University. She took a law
conversation course and LPC at Nottingham Law School. Saadia joined Bindmans
as a trainee in the Human Rights and Public Law department in 2006. She
completed her training with the department and qualified in 2008. Saadia
specialises in public law, and has a particular interest in discrimination and human
rights claims in the public law field. In 2011 Saadia was awarded „Junior Lawyer of
the Year‟ by the Law Society.
1. Which human rights practitioners do you find most inspiring?
Gareth Peirce of Birnberg Peirce. I respect her work and her lack of interest in
media attention. I am also constantly in awe of immigration practitioners who
regularly go well beyond the call of duty.
2. When did you decide to follow a career in human rights? Was there one
defining moment?
When I was at Nottingham Law School I didn‟t know a single person who wasn‟t
heading for a magic circle firm. There was no one defining moment, but I
realised pretty soon that I wasn‟t like them.
3. Did you do any internships or voluntary placements on your route into human
rights work?
I didn‟t do any internships. But I‟ve always tried to do voluntary work in the
community, for example, I volunteered as an appropriate adult while I was in
4. What has been the high-point of your human rights career so far?
Winning a case against the Legal Services Commission (who funds legal aid) in
respect of the outcome of the family legal aid tender, which cut family legal aid
providers by half and which would have had a devastating impact on family
practitioners and their clients. There were no human rights arguments, but this
case was essentially about access to justice for very vulnerable clients, including
children in care proceedings and victims of domestic violence.
5. What has been the low-point?
Losing a case in the Court of Appeal which resulted in the slaughtering of a
sacred bullock.
6. Is there a current human rights debate that you are particularly interested in?
Prisoner voting rights.
7. What is your favourite human right?
That‟s a difficult one. But probably Article 2, because it is so important.
8. Do you support the work of a particular human rights NGO?
I try to assist with Liberty‟s advice line. I also do some work with the Children‟s
Rights Alliance England.
9. What is your dream job?
To be a concert pianist. But I‟m not very good at the piano, so I suppose that I
am lucky enough to say that I‟m doing it.
10. When was the last time that you pulled an all-nighter?
During the case against the Legal Services Commission. It got to 8am and I had
to lie down as I was seeing bright lights.
11. What was the last book you read?
The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz
Sarah Smith
The Law Society
Sarah joined the human rights unit at the Law Society of England and Wales in
2011. Prior to that, she completed an LLM in international human rights law, with a
dissertation in the use of private military security companies in conflict zones. Sarah
has worked on various pro bono human rights projects including running the
International Action Team for the Law Society.
1. Which human rights practitioners do you find most inspiring?
I am inspired by lawyers such as Alec Muchadehama (Zimbabwe), Alirio Uribe
Munoz (Colombia), Arnold Tsunga (Zimbabwe), Iyas Maleh (Syria), Edre Olalia
(Philippines) and Mohammad Mostafaei (Iran). I was extremely honoured by meeting
these lawyers at the Lawyers for Lawyers seminar in Amsterdam on the
effectiveness of lawyers' solidarity work.
These lawyers have courageously carried out their duties as lawyers, defending the
human rights of others, in the face of intimidation, threats and physical violence.
2. When did you decide to follow a career in human rights? Was there one defining
I was always very interested in human rights but it was when I was working on a
community health project in Peru in 2004 that I decided I wanted to pursue a career
in human rights.
3. Did you do any internships or voluntary placements on your route into human
rights work?
Yes I did a stint with the Metropolitan Police Authority as part of their Independent
Custody Visiting Scheme this involved visiting detainees in custody and checking
that they had been treated fairly upon arrest and in subsequent detention.
I also carried out regular voluntary work in the human rights unit at the Law Society
whilst taking the LLM. My role was managing a network of pro-bono lawyers and
students, drafting & reviewing intervention letters, setting up & monitoring projects,
liaising with volunteers/colleges & committees, preparing briefing papers and
researching and applying International law.
4. What has been the high-point of your human rights career so far?
I worked on an amicus curiae brief filed in the US Supreme Court opposing the
imposition of life sentences without the chance of parole for juveniles.
I was key in galvanising international support for this rule of law issue and managed
to persuade 19 bar associations around the globe to be co- signatories to the brief.
The oral argument is scheduled for 19 March and I will be following the outcome
very closely.
5. What has been the low-point?
I worked on an amicus curiae brief to the US court stating that excessive length of
time on death row (33 years) amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. The
submission was regarding Cuban citizen Manuel Valle who was convicted and
sentenced to death for the murder of a police officer in Florida. Despite the
dissenting judgment from Justice Breyer who described the justifications for
execution as 'close to non-existent' the majority decision was to deny a further stay
and the execution went ahead.
6. Is there a current human rights debate that you are particularly interested in?
I am particularly interested in the legal aid reforms specifically in relation to the effect
they will have on victims of domestic violence.
7. What is your favourite human right?
The right to life.
8. Do you support the work of a particular human rights NGO?
I am on the steering group for the Colombia Caravana. The Colombia Caravana
raise awareness of human rights issues in Colombia. They advise, protect and
support lawyers, judges, individuals and organisations working in the Colombian
human rights field.
I am also an observer on the Solicitors International Human Rights group (SIHRG)
9. What is your dream job?
My dream job would be working on human rights violations whilst based in South
10. When was the last time that you pulled an all-nighter?
Luckily I have yet to do so – although probably shouldn‟t speak to soon!
11. What was the last book you read?
Tom Bingham – the rule of law
Murray Wesson
University of Leeds
Murray completed his LLB at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, before
winning the KwaZulu-Natal Rhodes Scholarship which took him to the University of
Oxford. At Oxford he read for a Bachelor of Civil Law as well as an MPhil. Murray
went on to complete a DPhil on the equality and socio-economic rights jurisprudence
of the South African Constitutional Court. Murray has been a lecturer at the
University of Leeds since 2005, teaching jurisprudence, constitutional law and
human rights. He is a visiting lecturer at the Central European University in
Budapest, Hungary.
1. Which human rights practitioners do you find most inspiring?
I have particular regard for Justice Edwin Cameron of the South African
Constitutional Court. Edwin turned down an academic career at Oxford to return to
apartheid South Africa where he became a leading human rights lawyer while also
managing to publish a series of outstanding academic articles on aspects of the
South African legal system. Before being appointed to the Constitutional Court he
was a judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal. He is openly gay and was also the
first senior South African official to declare publicly that he is HIV positive – difficult in
any context, but even more so in a country where the disease is stigmatised, and
during a period when HIV/AIDS denialism had taken hold of the highest levels of the
South African government.
2. When did you decide to follow a career in human rights? Was there one
defining moment?
I had the good fortune to study law in South Africa during the mid 1990s when the
country was emerging from apartheid and embracing a new democracy. The South
African Constitution – which includes a Bill of Rights – was central to the transition
and Constitutional Law was among the most exciting and intellectually stimulating
courses that I studied at university. I‟ve never really lost my interest in constitutional
and human rights law and I‟m fortunate to have a job that allows me to spend my
time teaching, thinking and reading about the subject.
3. Did you do any internships or voluntary placements on your route into human
rights work?
I‟ve done work in the voluntary sector and for pro bono organisations but this wasn‟t
particularly important in obtaining an academic position. Far more crucial were
opportunities to teach at university level and securing publications in peer-reviewed
4. What has been the high-point of your human rights career so far?
Academia has its frustrations but it does provide opportunities to travel to interesting
places – and meet interesting people – for conferences and other purposes. In
recent years some of the more interesting destinations I‟ve travelled to are Tallinn,
Moscow and Mexico City. I‟m also a visiting lecturer at the Central European
University in Budapest on the comparative human rights LLM program. This attracts
students from around the world and hearing their diverse perspectives on human
rights issues is a fascinating and rewarding experience.
5. What has been the low-point?
I regret not having qualified as a lawyer. I have a South African LLB, and
postgraduate qualifications from Oxford, which means – somewhat bizarrely – that
while I‟m in the UK I‟m entitled to teach LLB students but I‟m not entitled to apply for
training contracts or pupillages (unless I complete the law conversion course). This
is a source of frustration as I would ideally like to have explored more practical legal
work. However, as the Rolling Stones advise, „you can‟t always get what you want.‟
6. Is there a current human rights debate that you are particularly interested in?
I‟m currently interesting in socio-economic rights and the extent which
constitutionalising these rights is compatible with democratic disagreement about
distributive justice. This relates to the difficult question of how courts should enforce
socio-economic rights once they‟re in constitutional form. More broadly, I‟m working
on a bigger project on constitutional law and social justice.
7. What is your favourite human right?
If human rights are interdependent and indivisible selecting a „favourite‟ human right
seems rather artificial. However, I think the right not to be subjected to torture,
inhuman and degrading treatment is particularly important. The notion that human
beings have an irreducible worth – that cannot be violated in any circumstances –
seems to sum up the very essence of what human rights are about. I‟d also mention
the right to equality or non-discrimination. This right has obvious resonance in the
South African context and is also, from a conceptual point of view, almost endlessly
8. Do you support the work of a particular human rights NGO?
I don‟t currently support of a human rights NGO but there are several whose work I
9. What is your dream job?
What I do now on double the salary.
10. When was the last time that you pulled an all-nighter?
A few weeks ago marking exam scripts. With better organisation this would have
been entirely avoidable.
11. What was the last book you read?
The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee. It doesn‟t have much to do
with law but is a fascinating account of the history of cancer, covering both its
cultural significance and the development of treatment and scientific understanding.
It might not sound like a promising topic but it‟s highly recommended.
Felicity Williams
Tooks Chambers
1. Which human rights practitioners do you find most inspiring?
Phil Shiner at Public Interest Lawyers, Nuala Mole at the AIRE Centre, Edward
Fitzgerald QC at Doughty Street, Michael Mansfield QC at Tooks.
2. When did you decide to follow a career in human rights? Was there one
defining moment?
Completing an LLM in International Law and Human Rights at Durham University no one defining moment just realising that it provided real scope to protect
vulnerable individuals against abuse of power.
3. Did you do any internships or voluntary placements on your route into human
rights work?
Yes I spent a summer as an intern at the AIRE Centre and completed a stage (work
placement) in the European Commission in the US Unit.
4. What has been the high-point of your human rights career so far?
Working as junior counsel on the Al Jedda case and any time I represent someone
released from prison.
5. What has been the low-point?
Seeing local authorities refusing to accept responsibility for the care of vulnerable
children or adults.
6. Is there a current human rights debate that you are particularly interested in?
Yes free speech v property rights – I have recently represented one of the Occupy
London protestors in the Court of Appeal and they have been an inspiration!
7. What is your favourite human right?
From my perspective Article 8 as it has the most scope to expand to protect
individual‟s broader welfare rights.
8. Do you support the work of a particular human rights NGO?
Amnesty International
9. What is your dream job?
The one I‟m doing!
10. When was the last time that you pulled an all-nighter?
Yikes - I only make it to about 4am these days at best!!.....
11. What was the last book you read?
Alice in Wonderland - a bit of escapism is definitely necessary in this job!
Al Mustakim
No 3 Fleet Street
1. Which human rights practitioners do you find most inspiring?
Lord Bingham and Lady Hale
2. When did you decide to follow a career in human rights? Was there one
defining moment?
During university I became a member of the civil liberities society
3. Did you do any internships or voluntary placements on your route into human
rights work?
4. What has been the high-point of your human rights career so far?
Winning against the government last year in the Supreme court in the case of
Quila and Bibi
5. What has been the low-point?
Early years of practise!
6. Is there a current human rights debate that you are particularly interested in?
The case of Abu Qatardar and removing suspected terrorists
7. What is your favourite human right?
Article 8
8. Do you support the work of a particular human rights NGO?
Human rights foundation UK
9. What is your dream job?
To be a judge of the supreme court
10. When was the last time that you pulled an all-nighter?
Last month
11. What was the last book you read?
The pupil by Caro Fraser
Human Rights Organisations
Access to Justice Alliance
The campaign for civil legal aid: the AJA fights for civil litigants to enjoy the same
access to representation as criminal defendants by protecting, reviewing and
publicising the need for such funding. Activities include demonstrations, debates,
marches and government lobbying.
Advice Services Alliance
The umbrella body for independent advice services in the UK. Its members are
national networks of voluntary organisations providing advice and help on the law.
Advocates for International Development
Lawyers with an international conscience. Poverty and inequality are the order of the
day, and organised action is the response. Comprehensive network of ways to
involve yourself, including campaigns for Millennium Development Goals. Focused
towards practitioners, A4ID operates through organised work groups.
AIRE Centre (Advice on Individual Rights in Europe)
Advises individuals on the punch that European Human Rights law can pack. Their
support spans the micro (case by case guidance, provided you aren‟t trying to
skewer the Little Guy) to the macro (expert materials for those organising
conferences etc).
Works on death penalty cases in the US. Offers internship opportunities as well as
case-work volunteer positions and publishes Amicus Journal, covering death penalty
issues worldwide.
Amnesty UK
The old favourite. Justice, freedom, fairness and truth. Universal values. Often
quoted, often given short shrift in the real world. Amnesty organise truly international
campaigns championing human rights wherever they are trampled upon. Current
causes include abolishing the death penalty, ending internet repression, the China
situation and violence against women worldwide. Extensive volunteering
Bail for Immigration Detainees
This charity adopts a two-prong approach to protect individuals detained as asylum
seekers. First, campaigning in the political sphere to amend human rights provisions
for detainees and requiring more robust protection mechanisms. Secondly, recruiting
volunteers to handle detainees‟ applications to end their detention. Volunteers
recruited in London, Oxford and the South East.
Bar Human Rights Committee
Network for human rights-concerned barristers, organising legal research, advocacy
training and publicity in Africa, America, Asia, Europe, Middle East and Russia.
Particular focus on protection of the rule of law and the people upholding it.
Bar Pro Bono Unit
Barristers have social consciences too. They established an organisation to prove it.
Volunteer a minimum of three days of time and expertise per year and bridge the
gaping gulf between private funding and the legal aid purse. Short registration
process, then an apparently unlimited licence to make law work for people, by
working for free.
British Institute of Human Rights
BIHR seek to bring human rights to life by producing and shaping human rights
tools, public policy and practices that empower people to improve their own lives and
the lives of others. They focus on working with the voluntary and third sectors, as
well as lobbying government, running research projects and promoting human rights
awareness. BIHR offer many internship and volunteering opportunities.
British Irish Rights Watch
BIRW aims to monitor, support and publicise the people and groups affected by
conflict in Ireland. No affiliations with politics, religion or community. Activities include
seminars, publications, ad hoc consultation for lawyers, third party interventions and
attending public inquiries. Formidable body of work, recognised via the Beacon Prize
for Northern Ireland 2007.
Campaign Against Criminalising Communities
Opposing laws based upon a pretext of counter-terrorism, campaigning for such
laws to be repealed and defending the right to dissent.
Campaign for Freedom of Information
The rubber stamp of secrecy is the enemy, statutory right is the weapon and
sustained campaigning is the bread and butter of this group. Sign up for email
updates and prove that millions of voices are louder than singular action.
Centre for Capital Punishment Studies
Project based at the University of Westminster. Chiefly aimed at researching the
death penalty. Based on the notion that statistics speak louder than assertion, CCPS
aims to co-ordinate NGOs, civil society and the state through research and
publication. Attractive internship programme to places including Jamaica, Malawi
and Uganda.
Child Poverty Action Group
Does what it says on the tin; a major force for social and economic justice in the UK.
For lawyers, it is a major publisher of leading reference books, particularly on welfare
rights, and it provides both telephone advice and training courses to welfare rights
Coalition for the International Criminal Court
Network of NGOs supporting the ICC, via a Universal Ratification Campaign and
general work to keep constituent states informed and alive to the workings of the
Court. Internships available in Summer and Autumn in New York and The Hague.
Constitutional and Administrative Law Bar Association (ALBA)
Interesting, varied and up-to-date lectures offered in the Temple in London.
Worthwhile speakers, usually free attendance and no need to be a fully fledged
lawyer to participate. Advance registration required for some events, but turning up
early is usually the best guarantee.
1 Crown Office Row's Human Rights Update website
Barristers' chambers 1 Crown Office Row runs a website providing details of
developments in human rights law, and articles on topical matters.
Death Penalty Project
Campaigns focus upon the Caribbean and Africa with palpable results: 500 lives
saved since 1992. Two pronged approach to legal intervention, via helping individual
prisoners and strategic litigation on the public law stage. Plus the research,
information dissemination and publication.
Discrimination Law Association
Membership available to anyone who cares about preventing discrimination.
Activities concentrate on conferences, publications. Particularly useful „Responses‟
section setting out the DLA position on legislative instruments impacting on
discrimination law.
Doughty Street Chambers Human Rights Bulletin
A periodic publication summarising important UK and European human rights cases.
Subscribe at -
Employment Lawyers Association
Extensive roster of events with comprehensive topics without the usual Londoncentric locations. Essential for employment law practitioners. Membership heftily
discounted for golden-hearted people working in the voluntary sector.
Equality and Diversity Forum
Networking organisation bringing together previously disparate groups. Core issues
include age, disability, gender, race, religious and sexual orientation discrimination,
all set against a broader human rights backdrop. Consistently active with e-bulletins
and frequent online news of previous and future events. Formidable body of
publications. Notables include the long term Human Rights and Justice Seminars at
London Metropolitan University.
Equality and Human Rights Commission
Ensures the Human Rights Act couples bark with bite. Where once the Equal
Opportunities Commission, the Commission for Racial Equality, and the Disability
Rights Commission paved the way for human rights monitoring in the UK, the EHRC
now treads. Aimed at ensuring protection and publication for individuals‟ right to
participate fully and equally, this non-departmental government body is responsible
for its own public funding but politically independent.
European Criminal Bar Association
Aimed at monitoring the European Union influence on national criminal justice
matters, the ECBA encourages defence lawyers to contribute, share information and
make public submissions on prospective legislation. Current projects involve the
European Arrest Warrant, Cross Border Financial Crime and the death penalty in
Free Representation Unit
FRU - touchstone for the aspiring law student. Undertake the training course, grasp
employment or social security law and help litigants (who would otherwise be flying
solo) navigate the system. Personal support from qualified case workers. Hugely
Global Rights
Based at a grass roots level of local activism via field offices in Asia, Africa, Latin
America, Europe and the United States, Global Rights includes volunteers as staff,
fellows and interns.
Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
Monthly lectures on diverse and on-the-pulse topics, delivered by in-the-know
practitioners, plus a great publication, Socialist Lawyer.
Housing Law Practitioners Association
Heavily involved in responding to legislative proposals for housing law, the social
justice aspect of housing needs no drum roll. Essential for practitioners representing
homeless and vulnerable tenants, HLPA facilitates information sharing between
members in addition to campaigning.
Howard League for Penal Reform
Current campaigns include „Community Sentences Cut Crime‟, „Real Work in Prison‟
and the obvious „Prison Overcrowding‟. Independent and pro-active, the Howard
League offers one internship each year and has extensive support for students
interested in establishing a society at their university come September.
Human Rights Lawyers Association
Excellent, constant stream of lectures on contemporary human rights issues.
Bursary scheme for students seeking funding of related placements and helpful
vacancies links to fellow organisations. Events are free or heavily subsidised for
members, students are welcome and interaction is encouraged. Free student
Human Rights Watch
Defending human rights on a country-by-country basis, the sheer breadth of the
organisation‟s influence is awe-inspiring. Extensive employment and internship
opportunities for the human rights devotee.
Immigration Law Practitioners Association
Dedicated to co-ordinating immigration law specialists through training, a robust
body of publications and political updates of Government briefings. Boasts a list of
immigration related job vacancies for those wanting to jump from the volunteering to
the professional boat.
Innocence Network UK
Students helping prisoners overturn wrongful convictions.
Provides support and advice to people concerned about contentious deaths and
navigating the inquest system. Targeted both towards lawyers and bereaved
families. Tri-annual in house magazine supplements individual campaigns.
INTERIGHTS - the International Centre for the Legal Protection of
Human Rights
Strategic litigation – focusing upon areas of human rights law (on a global stage)
where there is most potential for development or protection. This work is bolstered
by publishing and disseminating legal information to anyone in need. Amazingly
comprehensive news review, covering hoards of global human rights cases.
International Commission of Jurists
Sixty eminent jurists represent different legal systems of the globe, dedicated to
advancing human rights via the rule of law. Prides itself on impartiality and objectivity
and has a strong international slant (five regional projects). Unfunded internships
programme with rolling deadline.
International Federation of Human Rights (Fédération Internationale des
ligues des Droits de l'Homme)
Multi-lingual website, advocating four statutory priorities: assisting victims of human
rights abuses, mobilising member states participation, supporting local NGOs and
raising awareness. A notable thematic priority is prioritising human rights in the fight
against terrorism.
International Lawyers Project
Aims to link willing skills of solicitors and barrister and the huge need for pro bono
human rights advice and representation. Operates via a centralised database onto
which interested individuals sign up, then await a request for their help (reasonable
expenses are reimbursed). Dual international and local emphasis.
Joint Council for the Welfare of Refugees
Aims to combat racism and discrimination in asylum and immigration cases by
providing support and advice to practitioners with Legal Service Commission
contracts. Does not offer representation directly to applicants. Publishes reasoned
responses to legislative initiatives and organises training courses and one-off
Possibly the most lawyerly of the UK's campaigning human rights organisations. A
law reform-motivated group focusing on criminal justice matters, privacy, asylum and
discrimination. Aims to see that the Human Rights Act is worth more than the paper
its written on. Get involved via an annual intern programme, ad hoc volunteering or
full-time employment.
Law Centres Federation
Central support body for all pro bono Law Centres, offering representation to
society‟s most disadvantaged. Offers support and advice to those brave enough to
attempt opening a centre in their own community. Affiliated to the LawWorks project,
now run by the Solicitors Pro Bono Group – see below.
Solicitors working for free. Yes, really. Includes support for those wanting to
establish a pro bono society within their law school (and compete for a spot in the
prestigious Law School Pro Bono Awards prize-giving), training courses, and
volunteering (for practitioners and students). Regional and London projects.
Legal Action Group
Never lagging behind, promoting equal access to justice to those who need it most.
Extensive publications and a very wide ambit (crime, housing, mental health and
more), an excellent journal and frequent specialist legal updates. Register your
interest for free updates, or join for £30 per year.
Looking for a legal internship? Want it to exactly fit your interests and abilities?
Search the Legalternatives database, gather a wealth of organisation specific
information and read feedback from people who have personal first hand experience
of the options listed.
Including the Liberty Guide to Human Rights ( Omnipresent,
tirelessly campaigning organisation aiming to keep civil liberties a practical aspect of
modern living, chiefly by influencing government. Student membership from just £1
per month.
Medical Justice
Seeks basic medical rights for detainees and failed asylum seekers in the UK;
publishes a worrying list of case studies in which rights have been denied to
individuals. Research projects allow the Foundation to make submissions to the UN.
The Habeas Corpus Project aims to challenge the legality of indefinite detention
through applications to the High Court, fertile grounds for reform.
Mental Disability Advocacy Centre
Working on the human rights of children and adults with actual or perceived
intellectual or psycho-social disabilities. A European Central Asian focus.
Volunteering opportunities in its Budapest office.
Mental Health Lawyers Association
National Critical Lawyers Group
This single-issue group aims to curb government‟s pre-occupation with recording
and monitoring its citizens‟ movements and activities. Sign up for free updates, make
the No 2 ID pledge and hope no more liberties are taken.
Oxford Pro Bono Publico
More than just a proof reading organisation: the OPBP supports those preparing
submission documents for a wide variety of purposes. Volunteers must be affiliated
with the University of Oxford and can expect to work closely with high profile NGOs
and be exposed to world class academics.
Prison Reform Trust
Aims to ensure prisons are just, humane and effective. Provides critical comment on
prospective prison reform and criminal justice issues. Become a friend of Prison
Reform Trust to receive their Magazine prisonReport and enjoy discounts on
specialist publications.
Prisoners' Advice Service
Provides practical advice (free and confidential) to prisoners in England and Wales,
aiming to ensure they are treated according to Prison Regulations. Direct
opportunities to volunteer as an advisor or support worker.
Privacy International
Fights to protect the fragile right to privacy, usually the first casualty in the
surveillance state. Based in London, with offices in Washington DC. Campaigns
include border security, anti-terrorism measures, policy laundering and identity
Public Law Project
PLP aims to increase public authority accountability by providing legal advice directly
to people affected. Opportunities for specialist practitioners to volunteer on the
telephone advice line and students in administrative or legal research capacities.
Refugee Council
One stop shop for refugees‟ needs – through four regional offices, the Council offers
representation and advice to those arriving in the UK with no support network and
facing legal proceedings in order to stay. Over 300 volunteers cover everything from
football coaching to serving lunch and teaching English.
Refugee Legal Centre
A national organisation and charity offering legal advice and representation to
asylum seekers and refugees.
Drugs, the law and human rights: Release aims to guide those affected by drug use
through the mire. Offers both a Legal helpline and Legal Outreach project in London.
The innovative Bust Card reminding drug users of their legal rights.
Internationally campaigning for prisoners denied justice by various governments
through litigation investigation and public education. Excellently regarded US
Internships allows law students to work directly on death row projects. Wealth of
experience with Guantanamo Bay detainees.
Rethinking Crime and Punishment
Prison has never been a hotter agenda topic – this strategic initiative of the Esmée
Fairbairn Foundation aims to implement findings about how effective our punishment
system is. Follow the Project‟s progress by reading reports online.
Rights International
Fights for protection of the rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights. Campaign methods include a Brief Bank, with downloadable model human
rights appeal templates, research guide and on going publications programme.
Boasts the Frank C Newham Internship programme and Law School consortium,
allowing educational establishments to be directly involved.
Rights of Women
Maintains a popular telephone helpline advising the public and publishes information
sheets on every legal issue impacting on women‟s lives specifically. Sports the two
hallmarks of a support charity: free and confidential, and is currently recruiting legally
qualified volunteers.
Solicitors' International Human Rights Group
Supporting human rights protections by herding solicitors into a hive of voluntary
activity. A massive twelve separate working groups, including the death penalty and
human trafficking. Online forum for members and free entry to compelling monthly
speaker event, covering up-to-the-minute legal issues.
Social Security Law Practitioners Association
Organises meetings and other happenings for lawyers and specialist advisers
working in the social security law field.
Keeps an eye on the State whilst it keeps an eye on us. Dedicated to maintaining
civil liberties and democratic standards in Europe, by campaigning and publicity.
Services include a database of 24,000 articles whilst current projects relate to CIA
rendition, border wars and asylum crimes.
Well known organisation that aims to ensure equal treatment for lesbian and gay
people, by raising awareness, campaigning against/for legal reform and providing
Diversity Champions to over 300 organisations. And counting.
Unlock Democracy
What once was Charter 88, now different label on the same constitutionally
concerned tin. Aims to put the people power back into democracy, through
campaigning for a written constitution, elected House of Lords and Citizens‟
Convention (direct democracy).
Young Legal Aid Lawyers
But you don't have to be young - just committed to legal aid and either a student or
of no more than ten years' qualification or call. Membership's free.