Human Rights and Protection of Lawyers

Letter from Jacqueline R. Scott, IROL Director General - The UIA’s support of the Central Kasaï Bar

My dear friends,

Greetings from Washington, DC!

I want to personally thank each and every one of you who so generously contributed to IROL’s efforts to support the Central Kasai Bar Association of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), led by Bar President Dominique Kambala. We raised 3000 euros to donate to the Kasaï Bar!  Our donation had an immediate impact, enabling the Kasaï Bar attorneys to expand their critical services by acquiring solar panels to operate their computers and by providing direct financial support to the efforts of its lawyers.  As discussed below, there still is much that needs to be done to support the Kasaï Bar, and I am hoping that each of you will continue your generous support – financial and otherwise -- in addressing these urgent needs.

Central Kasaï Bar Association faces dire circumstances

As those of you who attended the Annual Congress in Porto know, Bar President Kambala, in his remarks at the Protection of Lawyers session, shared the struggles that his bar members face in the course of representing accused war criminals, as well as victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity.  As he detailed, Kasaï is a region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the throes of crisis. There are bloody clashes between militias that have displaced thousands. The already weak judicial system has been devastated by the conflict while having to struggle with the cases that result from the violence. The Central Kasaï Bar Association is struggling to rebuild the judicial system and is actively working towards ensuring due process and fair trials for those charged with serious crimes.

The Kasaï Bar has taken the lead in building a legal aid system, currently nonexistent in Kasaï, and it has partnered with professional organizations and universities for the training of its lawyers, who are inexperienced in criminal justice for mass crimes.  The task is immense and the bar's limited financial resources do not provide sufficient resources to support their representation of legal aid clients.   There is need for a documentation center at the bar and a training program that would provide training, instruction and ongoing monitoring and mentoring by lawyers experienced in matters of international criminal justice and defence in international crimes (specifically atrocity crimes).

The UIA’s support of the Central Kasaï Bar

The UIA has embarked on a significant initiative to support the Kasai Bar and its efforts to ensure adequate representation for those who otherwise could not afford such representation.

We are off to a great start with the 3000 euros we raised while in Porto. As noted above, your generous donations were used to provide a small stipend to a team of lawyers who, up until now, have been working for free, and to purchase solar panels needed to generate electricity.  Although the Kasai Bar does have computers and a house it uses as its headquarters, lawyers’ efforts were hampered because the house lacked sufficient electricity to run the computers for more than a very limited period of time each week. Thanks to your generosity, the UIA purchased additional solar panels needed to generate sufficient electricity, and those panels were just recently installed (see picture below).

Additional UIA-led efforts to support the Central Kasaï Bar

Although we have made an immediate impact, there is much more that needs to be done to address the crisis in the DRC.  The UIA has three additional initiatives to support the Central Kasaï Bar, and I am asking each of you and your firms to continue your support of these initiatives:

1. Volunteers with experience in international law and procedural law (civil law) to serve as trainers:  The UIA is working to develop a training program, and we are seeking volunteers with experience in international criminal law/justice and procedural law (civil law). Training sessions are yet to be scheduled and will take place in the DRC and/or in Europe. If you are available to help, please contact Julie Goffin immediately at .

2. Donations of legal books to support the lawyers:  We also are working towards obtaining legal research resources. We are working with our partner, LexisNexis and another organization whose mission is to provide legal books to lawyers and bar associations in need.  If any of you have any current, up-to-date legal books in French or English on criminal law, international criminal law and procedural law that you would be willing to donate, they would be most appreciated. Please contact Romina Bossa-Abiven at and she can provide you with the correct address where you can send the books directly.

3. Monetary donations:  Finally, we are working to raise additional funds to support the Central Kasaï Bar. All donations, in any amount, will make a difference and are greatly appreciated.  Please email Ms. Bossa-Abiven ( ) if you wish to offer financial support. Remember, every euro helps, so don’t hesitate to make donations, large or small. 

In closing, I am so proud to be part of the UIA, as we work together, sharing our commitment to support our colleagues in need.  I look forward to working with all of you on the Central Kasaï Bar project, as well as on all our other projects to come. Your efforts truly make a difference, and together, we are changing the world. 

My best wishes to each of you for the holidays and for the New Year.  May you be graced with great health, much joy, and peace in the coming year.

Best wishes,

Jacqueline R. Scott
Director General, IROL