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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 gave us permission 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. After a successful summer partnership, Alan Collier (JD '90), moved to Accra with his wife Libby as our Director for West Africa Programs. Our main focus outside of our internship program is assisting in the implementation of plea bargaining. We have now helped draft plea bargaining legislation which goes before the Ghana Parliament in early 2021, after which we will partner with the Ghana Bar and local NGO's to assist with training and implementation. We have found that pairing plea bargaining with a strong public defense office is crucial for long-term sustainability so we are also partnering with the US Embassy and the Legal Aid Commission of Ghana to establish a public defender office across the country. Finally, we are excited to announce that we have established a Justice Clinic partnering with Legal Aid to serve the unrepresented indigent in prison either as remandees or those unjustly incarcerated.
Due to the pandemic, the Ghana internship was done virtually in 2020 but was so successful it has continued as an externship during the fall and spring semesters. We now offer year-round externship opportunities with the Supreme Court and our legal aid projects.