Annual Report 2019
In 2019, Legal Action Worldwide consolidated its position as one of the leading global human rights NGOs. The year ended on a high, with our participation in the genocide case brought by The Gambia against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice. LAW worked in partnership with the international community to bring three Rohingya survivors of the Myanmar military’s “clearance operations” to The Netherlands to bear witness to the trial. LAW was featured in scores of international news outlets including the BBC and the Guardian newspaper, with a global reach of tens of millions of people.
2019 has been a year of continued growth and consolidation. LAW drafted “Strategy 2022” – a four-year plan that adjusts the focus of the organisation to reflect key lessons learned over the past six years. Our original goals remain unchanged. LAW always asks victims what justice means to them. That simple question ensures survivors and their needs remain at the centre of our legal approach.
The Middle East office made a big impact in 2019. Just one year after it was established, the Lebanon team provided legal advice and representation in 784 cases. The majority of these cases involved Syrian mothers registering the births of their children or trying to gain access to the family after divorce. The lawyers also dealt with 29 cases of domestic migrant workers who were being subjected to serious human rights abuses. Five of those cases were closed and the woman safely returned home to Africa. LAW’s Syria program got underway in earnest this year. LAW is working with local partners to support victims and survivors of gendered crimes. I’m eager to shepherd this vital work throughout 2020.
Moving to South Asia and the camps of Bangladesh. LAW support the women’s group “Shanti Mohila” and helped its leader, Hamida Khatun, fly to Geneva to personally address the Human Rights Council. It was a special moment – the first time she’d been on an aeroplane; the first time she’d seen snow. LAW also submitted a victim impact statement to the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber on behalf of men and boys subjected to sexual violence. In Sri Lanka, LAW trained 69 state prosecutors. As a result of our training and advocacy, victim impact statements are now admissible in Sri Lankan courts.
The Africa office was very busy in 2019. In South Sudan, LAW supported the establishment of a victims association of women and girls who were subjected to rape and gang rape by the South Sudan military. In Somalia, we’ve received 800 complaints from IDPs. As a result of our work, a male perpetrator of domestic violence has been ordered by the Daynille court to pay his wife money to feed their family.
It’s stories like this inspire us to work harder in 2020. I’m extremely proud of LAW and the lengths our lawyers go to represent vulnerable communities. I continue to be humbled by the bravery of resilience of our clients.