No fewer than 102 incarcerated women have been empowered while 420 destitute pre-trial inmates, within five impact years have been represented .
A group, Hope Behind Bars Africa said this while addressing a press conference on Wednesday in Abuja, while launching its 5 years impact report.
The group said it facilitated legal representation for nearly 90 peaceful protesters who were detained unlawfully.
The group noted that having recognised that destitute persons have been victims of the system and cannot afford good legal representation, it decided to leverage its legal network to foster access to justice.
Speaking, the Executive Director of the group, Oluwafunke Adeoye, noted that “we have represented 420 indigent pre-trial detainees so far. About 40% of this number were charged with simple offenses, 20% for misdemeanours, and the rest for felonies, capital crimes, and fundamental human rights actions.
“We have worked with 102 women. We have also supported the reintegration and reentry processes of some of our access to justice beneficiaries under our Back on Track Program.
“During the #ENDSARS protests, we provided legal representation to about 90 eaceful protesters who were unlawfully detained in Edo State.”
As an organisation that works at the intersection of human rights and criminal justice reforms, with its major program area providing access to justice to indigent pre-trial detainees, Adeoye further remarked that within five impact years, it has dedicated major aspects of its work to providing free legal services to destitute pre-trial detainees, engaging in welfare, empowerment, reformation, and reintegration interventions.
With its scope cutting across the Federal Capital Territory, Kano, and Edo states. Currently, a network of lawyers in Kaduna, Niger, and Nassarawa States, the Director pointed out that “we donated palliatives, groceries, and hygiene products, among other things, to both inmates and officers under our welfare interventions. During COVID-19, we also donated palliatives to inmates in Keffi and Oko custodial centres.
While presenting its strategic direction for 2023, she elucidated that her organisation will shift attention to access to justice, support for people behind bars, and criminal justice development.
She added “The Access to Justice program will focus on free legal service delivery for indigent pretrial detainees. The support for the people behind the Bars program will focus on every other intervention for incarcerated individuals outside of legal aid. The last is Criminal Justice Development, this program area interfaces with relevant justice stakeholders towards reforming the system.
She maintained that the organisation intends to achieve its objectives through leveraging technology, Policy Engagement and Advocacy, Campaigns, Capacity building training, and provision of direct services to those who need them.
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