We love partnering with countries and organizations to maximize their capacity to make change happen. Check out some of the things we are working on right now. If you are interested in hearing more, giving to these programs, or joining us on a trip, scroll down for links to engage in these things.
Over the years, our work in Uganda has expanded significantly. We have led initiatives related to anti-human trafficking, alternative dispute resolution, and women in leadership, but the majority of our resources are currently directed toward plea bargaining and the creation of Uganda's very first Public Defender's Office.
For several reasons, including a lack of judicial resources, many developing countries face a significant issue with case backlog in their courts. Plea bargaining is one solution to this issue. It brings clarity and closure to both the victims and the accused, and it saves the courts significant resources, allowing others who maintain their innocence to receive quicker access to justice.
We have spent over a decade partnering with the Ugandan Judiciary to implement plea bargaining and to train key stakeholders around the country on its use. Our team travels to Uganda several times a year, bringing along attorneys and Pepperdine Caruso Law students, to represent accused individuals in Uganda's prisons in plea bargaining negotiations. We believe with a strong conviction that, when used correctly, it is an essential component of an equitable justice system.
Public Defender Office
Providing accused individuals with the right to an attorney is perhaps the most crucial element of a fair justice system. Unfortunately, millions of people all around the world do not have that right. We do not think that is okay, so we are passionately working to change that one country at a time. In 2019, the Ugandan government permitted us to start a Public Defender Pilot Project, where we are working toward the goal of establishing Uganda's very first Public Defender's Office.
We started our work in West Africa through a relationship with the Supreme Court of Ghana in 2018. The following summer we sent two Pepperdine Law interns to the Supreme Court and one with International Justice Mission. In the Fall of 2019, Alan Collier (JD '90) moved to Accra with his wife Libby to pioneer an office there and currently acts as our Director for West Africa Programs. We now have virtual internships in the Fall and Spring with the Supreme Court, live Summer Internships with the Court and our West Africa Justice Center, and a year-long Legal Fellow based in Ghana.
In response to the need for tools for criminal justice reform, we partnered with the US State Department and local stakeholders to help draft legislation establishing plea bargaining in Ghana. The legislation is currently before Parliament and is scheduled to go into effect in 2022, after which we will assist the Ghana Bar and Judicial Training Institute with training and implementation of this important tool to help in dealing with court congestion, and the indigent who are incarcerated as remandees awaiting trial for years.
Prison Justice Clinics
In response to the lack of counsel for the indigent accused, we are partnering with the Legal Aid Commission to run legal clinics in the Ghana Prisons. Our Pilot Project is with the NSAWAM Female Prison where we are working to appeal cases of injustice. With the blessing of the Ghana Prison Service and the DPP, we plan of doing Prison Projects implementing plea bargaining beginning in 2022 as part of these efforts.
Public Defender Office
Through our Prison Justice Clinic work, we have learned that the central reason for many inmates being unjustly incarcerated is the lack of counsel for the indigent. We have therefore partnered with the Legal Aid Commission and the US Justice Department to help establish an efficient, effective, and sustainable Public Defender Office in Ghana.