How to create a clearing house

You can provide better quality legal representation for awaiting trial prisoners by creating a clearing house

Current prison statistics reveal that, of the 50,000 inmates in Nigerian prisons, at least 70% of them are awaiting trial. If a person does not have legal representation, they are less likely to be granted bail and also there is a greater risk that their case will not progress quickly through the system. Yet the majority of Awaiting Trial Prisoners are poor and many cannot afford legal representation. In some cases, ATPs spend more time in prison awaiting trial than they would have spent serving a sentence if convicted. And if an ATP is found innocent, then spending too long a time – usually many years – awaiting trial, is a clear injustice.

Justice for All (J4A), in collaboration with its partner Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), implemented two pilot projects in Enugu and FCT which aimed firstly to understand the causes of delays in the criminal justice system, and then to agree with local justice partners ways of reducing those delays. The Clearing House scheme was one initiative that emerged from this work. It is a mechanism for speeding up criminal trials by ensuring that accused persons being held on remand in prison have access to good quality, free legal representation, if they are unable to pay for such services themselves.

Please download our how to guide and tools on how to introduce a free legal aid scheme, we hope you find them extremely useful.

Good luck in implementing this worthwhile Initiative. If you have any queries please contact us