Legal Aid Ontario Blog – What can Canadian lawyers contribute to a legal conference in Kenya?

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What can Canadian lawyers contribute to a legal conference in Kenya?

October 30, 2013

By Ann McRae

This question initially crossed my mind when I was invited to speak about the use of paralegals in delivery of legal services. Conference organizers felt that as an Ontario legal aid lawyer, I had much knowledge and experience to share with conference participants. Through research and preparation, I came to learn how much Ontario’s legal aid structure and administration of justice has useful lessons for other jurisdictions.

In partnership with law societies from Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) is providing support and resources to a conference titled “Supporting Access to Justice for Children and Youth in East Africa”. The topics at the three-day event have been chosen to meet the needs and interests of the law societies, judges, court administrators, policy makers and non-government agencies, all of whom are working to improve the awareness and protections of children’s rights in the participating East African countries. A small group of Canadians are sprinkled into the panels and presentations to provide a unique and more established perspective.

The CBA has sponsored three Toronto clinic lawyers to cover three topics at the event taking place in Naivasha, Kenya, from October 29 to October 31. Mary Marrone, Director of Legal Services at the Income Security Advocacy Centre will speak on “The how and why of community engagement in needs assessments – strategies.” Emily Chan, Community Development Lawyer at Justice for Children and Youth will give a presentation on “Public Legal Education for Children and Youth”. As Director of Legal Services at the Rexdale Community Legal Clinic, my talk will be on “Strengthening Access to Justice through Non-Lawyers in the Canadian Legal Aid System”. I plan to focus on the use of paralegals in legal service delivery, including staff offices and community legal workers at clinics.

Ontario enjoys a better-funded judicial system and a better-funded scheme of legal assistance than many around the world. In other jurisdictions, particularly those in developing countries, duty counsel and community legal assistance is provided mostly by pro bono lawyers or non-government agencies. The quality and accessibility of these services varies widely. The structure and range of services offered by Legal Aid Ontario is of great interest to our counterparts in East Africa, and we are looking forward to sharing our knowledge and experience with them.

At the end of three days with the African delegates, we will learn what parts of the Ontario experience are most valuable in an East African context, and undoubtedly bring home valuable lesson to share.

Ann McRae is the Director of Legal Services at the Rexdale Community Legal Clinic. 

Legal Aid Ontario Blog

Strengthening Access to Justice for Children and Youth in East Africa – Naivasha, Kenya 2013

Enashipai Spa & Lodge, Naivasha, Kenya, site of the conference.

Enashipai Spa & Lodge, Naivasha, Kenya, site of the conference. ANN MCRAE

On the third day of the conference on the rights of children and youth, participants from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda listened with rapt attention as Emily Chan distributed and commented on educational materials on the rights of children and youth. Emily outlined her tips for making sure that one’s efforts get to the right people, using the most attractive and appropriate medium, and that they are understood by the intended audience. Each national working group brought its own samples, to compare and discuss. Much of the material prepared for youth in Ontario resonated with East African professionals working with youth in the justice system, in corrections, in probation services and state prosecutor offices. Piles of samples melted away faster than ice cream in the African sun.

Canadian Bar Association SAJCEA Project Director Darren Thorne, flanked by the Canadian Bar Association's Needs Assessment Specialist Mary Marrone (far left), and CBA Gender Issues Specialist Elizabeth Wilson, with Margaret Mbsiro from Cradle, an NGO supporting children's rights, and, at far right, specialist in Public Legal Education in children's issues Emily Chan.

Canadian Bar Association SAJCEA Project Director Darren Thorne, flanked by the Canadian Bar Association’s Needs Assessment Specialist Mary Marrone (far left), and CBA Gender Issues Specialist Elizabeth Wilson, with Margaret Mbsiro from Cradle, an NGO supporting children’s rights, and, at far right, specialist in Public Legal Education in children’s issues Emily Chan. ANN MCRAE

In the afternoon Ann McRae gave a presentation on the use of non-lawyers in service delivery in Legal Aid Ontaro’s environment. Each of the terms “paralegal” and “community legal worker” has a significantly different meaning in East Africa from the ways those terms are used in Ontario. Two of the three participating countries are discussing the issues associated with paralegal regulation. Conference participants echoed the concerns that drove the process of paralegal regulation in Ontario a decade ago: quality of work, discipline, restrictions on practice, educational processes.

Almost all community legal workers in East Africa are volunteers. Most non-lawyers in the criminal justice system work for the state prosecutor or for Non-Government agencies working with accused or convicted persons. The term “paralegal” has a variety of meanings, which shift from one country to another. This adds to the difficulty of agreeing on who is to subject to regulation, and what level of education is required.

Representatives spoke on the range of duties and roles to which the term “paralegal” is applied in their countries. They bemoaned the poor performance by some “bush lawyers”, which causes paralegals to be held in low esteem. They laughed over the anomalies in their own legal structures (some of which have Canadian parallels), and confusion which the word generates in their own law societies.

Resources for legal services are much more scarce in East Africa than in Canada. Funding sometimes comes from donor governments and foundations. Non-lawyers are an essential element in the effort to extend services to areas of deep need and to areas of remote geography in a cost-effective way. Primarily, non-lawyer services in urban areas serve to explain the law to accused persons, assist with bail, explain police process and the law, both before and after conviction.

Kenyan Deputy Attorney General making closing remarks

Kenyan Deputy Attorney General making her closing remarks to the conference. ANN MCRAE

The Deputy Attorney General of Kenya closed the conference by conveying the appreciation and encouragement of the Attorney General, for the shared work of improving the welfare of children and youth.

Ann McRae is the Director of Legal Services at the Rexdale Community Legal Clinic, Toronto ON, Canada.

Mary Marrone is the Director of Advocacy and Legal Services at the Income Security Advocacy Centre, Toronto ON, Canada.

Emily Chan is the Community Development Lawyer with Justice for Children and Youth, Toronto ON, Canada.

Darren Thorne is the Canadian Project Director for Strengthening Access to Justice for Children and Youth in East Africa, Ottawa ON, Canada.

Elizabeth Wilson is the Manager of Operations and Gender Programing with the Canadian Bar Association’s International Development Committee, Ottawa ON, Canada.

Strengthening Access to Justice for Children and Youth in East Africa – Naivasha, Kenya 2013

STOCK PHOTO : SXU.HU

STOCK PHOTO : SXU.HU

Plenary sessions and working groups on Tuesday, day one of the conference, discussed the barriers and the possibilities for access to justice in East Africa. The participants, from the law societies and NGOs in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, compared their shared issues related to gender. Many of the topics might have occupied a whole session: marriages involving girls between 14 and 18, child sexual and physical abuse in rural areas where there are neither police nor legal assistance, crime among the growing population of street youth, legal supports and due process for these children when arrested, inadequate correctional services for youth, an absence in many places of separate detention facilities for women and girls. Judges and those from government ministries shared in the spirited discussions.

The Canadian participants found that most of these issues resonated with the Canadian experience, although different in scale as well as in the resources to address the issues in Canada.

Girl in Kenyian Villiage

STOCK PHOTO : SXC.HU

Reporting on Gender Issues from Day One flowed over into Wednesday’s agenda.

The persistent practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) was an example of an issue needing its own conference! Social and legal approaches exchanged by the East Africans, and suggestions for social change were both daunting and  enlightening for the Canadians. We did not presume to enter this discussion but listened avidly. This issue is alive among populations recently migrated to Canada. As the East African participants emphasized, changes must come, but they will evolve over time, with education and community leadership from those with influence.

Mtaib Mtaib, CEO of the Zanzibar Law Societyn addresses delegates on needs assessment work in Tanzania. To his right, Joan Onyango, staff lawyer of Kenya Law Reform Commission and Elizabeth Wilson, Manager, International Development, Operations and Gender program, Canadian Bar Association.

Mtaib Mtaib, CEO of the Zanzibar Law Society addresses delegates on needs assessment work in Tanzania. To his right, Joan Onyango, staff lawyer of Kenya Law Reform Commission and Elizabeth Wilson, Manager, International Development, Operations and Gender program, Canadian Bar Association. ANN MCRAE

East African organizations, both NGOs and governments, typically have very limited resources, but they have opportunities to partner with funding organizations from the family of United Nations agencies such as UNICEF. Also, there are foundations and government aid agencies in almost all developed countries (such as DFATD, former known as CIDA, in Canada). Support for this conference provided by Canada’s DFATD through the Canadian Bar Association means that the local law societies can gain tools for needs assessment, outcome measures and planning processes. Such skills and tools will ensure the effectiveness and impact of each development dollar brought by funders.

Mary Marrone lead off the discussion of needs assessment, defining the goals and terms used, for those unfamiliar with conducting a detailed assessment of need. The local working groups then described how this plays out in their regions: How long will it really take to travel to each village? How and when can one  interview the women if they are not expecting you, and they are in their fields doing farm work? How does one identify which local leaders, men and women, can provide information about children’s issues? When is it appropriate to send the adults away, and ask the children about their concerns?

The depth and breadth of unaddressed social and legal needs could easily lead one to despair. The stories of sexual abuse and assault of children, as gathered by a modestly-resourced group in Uganda, and recounted by the conference participants, were only a narrow slice of a much wider socio-legal need. In the face of this, the commitment of the working groups to gather this data, to assemble it into persuasive reports, is impressive. They understand how necessary these data and reports are to lever systemic changes and funding for services. They also accept that access-to-justice projects cannot proceed everywhere at once, so they aim to make changes in installments: pilot projects to extend information and rights-based advocacy may lead to more wide-spread access to justice in the future.

Mary Marrone describes how the needs assessment model used by the CBA in various countries was developed during the expansion of legal clinics in Ontario in 2000 -2001.

Mary Marrone describes how the needs assessment model used by the CBA in various countries was developed during the expansion of legal clinics in Ontario in 2000 -2001. ANN MCRAE

For some relief from the weighty discussions, the conference site offers unparalleled nature-watching. The air is filled with coos, whistles, warbles and shrieks. Large and tiny birds are walking around, twittering in the trees, and soaring overhead in dozens, maybe hundreds of varieties, from the tiniest finches to eagles, pelicans, storks and cranes. A small  herd of waterbuck and a few gazelles and antelope wander through the grounds. A group of hippos comes ashore from Lake Naivasha daily (and nightly) to graze at the resort, to the fascination of conference guests.

Gazelle, impala, topi & hartebeest at Masai mara

STOCK PHOTO : SXC.HU

Ann McRae is the Director of Legal Services at the Rexdale Community Legal Clinic, Toronto ON, Canada.

Mary Marrone is the Director of Advocacy and Legal Services at the Income Security Advocacy Centre, Toronto ON, Canada.

Mtaib Mtaib is the Chief Executive Office of the Zanzibar Law Society, Zanzibar, Tanzania.

Joan Onyango is a Staff Lawyer with the Kenya Law Reform Commission, Nairobi, Kenya.

Elizabeth Wilson is the Manager of Operations and Gender Programing with the Canadian Bar Association’s International Development Committee, Ottawa ON, Canada.

External Links:
Lawyers call for harsh laws to curb sexual offences
Regional Lawyers Champion Childrens’ Rights
What can Canadian lawyers contribute to a legal conference in Kenya?
Kenya Law Reform Commission
East Africa Law Society

Strengthening Access to Justice for Children and Youth in East Africa – Naivasha, Kenya 2013

Conference attendees gathered at the end of day one.

Conference attendees gathered at the end of day one. FACEBOOK / AARON BESIGYE, UGANDA LAW SOCIETY

Legal experts are meeting in Naivasha, Kenya, this week to discuss strengthening access to justice for children and youth in East Africa. The forum, organized by Supporting Access to Justice for Children and Youth in East Africa (SAJCEA), the Canadian Government, and the Canadian Bar Association, is joined by our own Director of Legal Services, Ann McRae. She took some time today to let us know how the first day of the conference shaped up:

The conference began on the bus trip along the rift valley: participants from East African countries had gathered with the Canadian visitors at the offices of the Kenya Law Society in Nairobi. Lively conversations had already begun before the bus was loaded for the trip to Lake Naivasha, the conference site.

Legal aid here is largely provided by pro bono lawyers, or by non-government agencies (NGOs).

The focus of this conference is the protection of the rights of children and young people in the criminal justice process, as well as other areas of law. What legal services are available are a combined effort of the bar, the governments and partner agencies. The result is a patchwork with many gaps, with great variation from one country to the next. For example, some “legal clinics” and “community legal workers” exist, but often not working with lawyers.

Mary Marrone (Income Support Advocacy Centre) and Aaron Besigye (Uganda Law Society)

Mary Marrone (Income Support Advocacy Centre) and Aaron Besigye (Uganda Law Society) ANN MCRAE

Kenya has a new constitution as of 2010, and with that comes new social and political priorities. Efforts of projects like this one are needed to extend legal and constitutional protections to the most vulnerable. Today the East African working groups are reporting on progress so far in their respective countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda), whether on law reforms, coordinated training for paralegals or access to government supports. Tomorrow Mary Marrone, Income Support Advocacy Centre, leads a discussion on needs assessment as an essential phase in any planning for change and improvement of access to justice. Later in the conference, Emily Chan, Justice for Children and Youth, will share techniques and best practices in public legal education on access to justice for children. A panel on the use of paralegals, on the third day, will give Ann McRae of Rexdale Community Legal Clinic (Legal Aid Ontario) an opportunity to compare the Ontario model with those of other jurisdictions.

A visit to the conference grounds by three hippos on the first evening was a slight distraction.

Hippo in the water

STOCK PHOTO SXC.HU

Everyone at Rexdale Community Legal Clinic is proud and excited that Ann is joining this international group of experts deliberating on Access to Justice for youth in East Africa. Access to Justice is a world-wide issue, and was a major focus of the Canadian Bar Association’s 2013 Canadian Legal Conference in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. We look forward to hearing more from Ann in the coming days.

Ann McRae is the Director of Legal Services at the Rexdale Community Legal Clinic, Toronto ON, Canada.

Mary Marrone is the Director of Advocacy and Legal Services at the Income Security Advocacy Centre in Toronto ON, Canada.

Emily Chan is the Community Development Lawyer with Justice for Children and Youth, Toronto ON, Canada.

Aaron Besigye is an Advocate with the Legal Aid Project of the Uganda Law Society, Kampala, Uganda.

External Links:
Daily National (Kenya): Children’s rights conference set for Naivasha

TORONTO STAR: #KnownToPolice

Carding on the Rise Again
The Toronto Star questions Toronto Police Services’ tactics on TCHC property as well as the controversial and racially disproportionate practice of ‘Carding’ in a 3 part feature: #KnownToPolice

PT.1 As criticism poles up so do the police cards

PT.2 One officer, five years: 6600 contact cards

PT.3 Tense times in policing on TCHC property

http://www.thestar.com

 

INFORMATION SESSION: YOUTH CRINIMAL JUSTICE

Youth Justice  July 2013

CANADIAN RED CROSS – WEEK OF YOUTH

Red Cross Week of YouthRed Cross Week of YouthRed Cross Week of Youth

DOWNLOAD REGISTRATION FORM

SOMALI COMMUNITY CONDEMNS DIXON ROAD RAIDS

Press Conference

After meeting and preparing statements last night, members of the Rexdale Community, largely members of the Somali community affected by the raids conducted by Toronto Police Services and police from across Southern Ontario on Dixion Road last Thursday, held a press conference at the Rexdale Community Hub today to condemn police actions during the raids.

“Community members are angered by the destruction of property and disrespectful remarks made by some officers and the police brutality that they were subject to,” said Mahad Yusuf, executive director of Midaynta Community Services.

“The community has been further stigmatized by the careless actions of some officers involved in the raid, and the irresponsible conduct of Toronto’s disgraced mayor,” Margaret Parsons said. Parsons also made the allegation that the police choice to target the Dixon community was based on recent media attention connecting Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to residences suspected to be bases in Rexdale’s drug trade, and the now infamous video which allegedly shows Rob Ford smoking from a glass pipe, although the video’s existence has still yet to be proven. Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair had disclosed previously that investigators had herd subjects of their investigations discussing the video several weeks ago over wire-taps that had been in place for nearly a year.

Dixon residents in attendance accused police of kicking down doors at random, carrying out unlawful assaults of building residents not subject to arrest warrants, carrying out unlawful arrests without warrants, uttering racial slurs, and needlessly destroying property.

However, not all Somali residents were in agreement with the panel. Margaret Parsons’ call for residents to thank the leaders of the Somali community prompted one woman in attendance to vocalize her distrust of Somali leaders, urging those in attendance to ‘recognize and address the corruption within the Somali community’. This created a huge uproar among those in attendance with many of them calling for the woman to be removed from the public gathering.

Mike McCormack, President of the Toronto Police Association,  stated in a televised interview following the press conference that the police take all allegations of misconduct seriously, but that many of the residents were ‘victims of their own families’, asserting that drug traffickers intentionally resided with family members to shield them from police investigations. McCormack went on to say that the community at large ‘thinks we did a good job’.

Toronto Police Services 23rd Division’s Community Relations Officer, Constable Parm Rai, could not be reached for comment.

As a result of Project Traveller 44 arrests were made, 224 charges laid, 40 weapons seized, $500,000 in cash and an estimated $3,000,000 (street value) in narcotics. How much of those arrests and seizures took place on Dixon Road is unclear, with raids being conducted on nearby residences on Mercury Road, and at least eight of those arrested being residents of the City of Windsor.

The African Canadian Legal Clinic, after meeting with members of the community, Somali community services agencies, and the Rexdale Community Legal Clinic, prepared this press release prior to today’s conference:

AFRICAN CANADIAN LEGAL CLINIC
PRESS RELEASE:
SOMALI COMMUNITY CONDEMNS DIXON ROAD RAIDS
Toronto: June 17, 2013

At 3:00 a.m. on June 13, 2013, units located at 320, 330, 340, 380, and 390 Dixon Road were raided by Toronto Police, as part of a police investigation dubbed “Project Traveller”. “In the aftermath of the raids, many community members feel victimized, vilified and traumatized as a result of the reckless manner in which officers forcibly entered their homes. Community members are angered by the destruction of property and disrespectful remarks made by some officers and the police brutality that they were subject to,” says Mahad Yusuf, Executive Director of Midaynta Community Services.

While the raids were intended to target criminal elements in the Dixon community, the actions of the TPS labeled and profiled the entire Somali community on Dixon Road as possible criminal elements. “This is particularly hurtful to a community already reeling from systemic barriers to services due to the combined impact of anti-Black racism, and Islamophobia. The community has been further stigmatized by the careless actions of some officers involved in the raid, and the irresponsible conduct of Toronto’s disgraced Mayor,” stated Margaret Parsons, Executive Director of the African Canadian Legal Clinic.

Residents shared stories about the raid with community leaders at a Town Hall meeting held at 320 Dixon Road on June 15, 2013. “Instead of providing additional resources, or hiring trauma counselors from within the community to heal the collective wounds caused by the raid, an increased level of policing has been deployed in the community. This only serves to further perpetuate fear in an already victimized and traumatized community,” says Yusuf.

At the community meeting several disheartening stories were shared. In one horrifying example, a 100 year old community Elder was so shocked by the raid on her unit she fell to the ground and was not assisted by officers. Her daughter, who is also a senior citizen, was cuffed, pushed to the ground and kicked by officers while her pleas for water to control her high blood pressure were ignored. Another 65 year old woman, who recently immigrated to Canada just 3 months ago, was also cuffed. Children as young as 10 years old woke up to guns pointed at their heads. “All of this has caused near irreparable damage to community police relations and has entrenched the feelings of indignity amongst residents,” says Yusuf.

In July 2012 the African Canadian Community responded to the Danzig Street and Eaton Centre shooting by calling for sustainable funding to the African Canadian community for social development programs. “Rather than heeding the call made by community leaders and organizations, the response has been further criminalization and racial profiling of our community. Clearly, nothing has changed,” said Parsons.

For further information contact:

Mahad Yusuf, Executive Director
Midaynta Community Services
(E): mahad@midaynta.com
(T): 416-544-1992 Ext. 229
(C): 416-702-8056
Roger Love, BA., J.D. Advice Counsel
African Canadian Legal Clinic
(E): lovero@lao.on.ca
(T): 416-214-4747 Ext. 25
(C): 647-294-1583

18 KINO STREET EAST, SWTE 901, T0RONTO, ONTARIO M5C1C4 TEL: (416) 214-4747 FAX: (416) 214-4748

Somali Canadians…
Fact Sheet

Canada has one of the largest Somali populations in the western world, with the census reporting 37,785 people claiming Somali descent, though unofficial estimates place the figure as high as 150,000. Somalis tend to be concentrated in the southern part of the province of Ontario, especially the Ottawa and Toronto areas. The Albertan cities of Calgary and Edmonton have also seen a significant increase in their respective Somali communities over the past five years. In addition, the neighborhood of Rexdale in Toronto has one of the largest Somali populations in the country. In the early 1990s, Canada saw an increase in the total number of Somali immigrants entering the country, with some secondary migration from the United States.

As with many other immigrant groups in the Toronto area, Somalis have faced some barriers to employment despite counting many qualified professionals; This has been attributed to enclave economies, self-employment, language unfamiliarity, and various public policies and social programs.

The Drop out Rate
•        The Toronto District School Board Grade 9 cohort study looking at Fall 2000 students found that the highest dropout rates (according to student 9 language) were Portuguese, Spanish and Somali speaking students.
•        Somali community has a 36.7% drop out rate which is the second highest in Toronto

Criminal Justice
•        Generation 1.5 – are the second generation Somali youth who came to Canada at a young age
•        Because of the various forms of discrimination faced by their parents, Somali second generation youth have difficulties integrating into Canadian society
•        High Unemployment Rate: Even with high school diploma or university degree, Somali males were unemployed (Gariba, 2009)
•        Unemployment is significant barrier for young Somali community, as a result, many Somalis migrated west
•        Unfortunately, a result, over 59 Somali male5 who moved to Edmonton for employment opportunities have died
•        This puts the homicide rate in the Edmonton Somali community higher than the national homicide rates in high-risk countries like Panama, Brazil and the Dominican Republic.

Social Housing: The issues
•        10 year wait list for affordable housing. Affordability: families spend 50% or more of income on rent.
•        Overcrowding: small spaces housing 6 people
•        TCH property aging and in deplorable condition, while the landscape outside is poorly maintained and offers no space to socialize.

“When you live in a bad neighborhood, not even the advantages of family, intellect, and ambition can protect you from the violence that threatens your community.”

Unemployment

Parents
•        Long-term implication of the initial settlement experience.
•        English proficiency a deterrent.
•        Lack of affordable child care Foreign skills hard to get accredited.

Youth
•        Over 80% of the Somali-Canadian community is under 30.
•        Negative perception oft he community.
•        Institutionalized discrimination based on name or address.
•        Unemployment rate hovers at 70 % in Toronto alone.
•        Lack of opportunity = Endemic disenfranchisement
•        No networks/human capital to tap in.

For more information please contact:
Amina Noor
Somali Youth outreach Worker
Midaynta Community Services
(416) 544-1992 or anoormidaynta.com

External links:

http://www.680news.com/2013/06/18/somali-canadian-community-condemns-project-traveller-raids/
http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/members-of-toronto-s-somali-community-speak-out-against-raids-1.1330664/
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/06/18/toronto_somalis_say_they_were_victimized_by_police_in_dixon_road_raids.html

Rexdale Conflict Resolution Clinic

Rexdale Conflict Resolution ClinicAn integrated program of the Rexdale Community Hub, with Rexdale Community Legal Services and St. Stephen’s Conflict Mediation Services.

Please call and book an appointment to talk about your case or drop-in for free information and referral.

When: Last Monday of the Month, Upcoming 2013 Dates: May 27, June 24, July 29, August 26, September 30…

Time: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Where: Rexdale Community Hub (21 Panorama Court)

For more info, please call:

St. Stephen’s Mediation Services: 416-663-2733 ext 255
Jayne Mallin (Rexdale Legal Clinic) 416-741-5201 ext 225