The Human Rights Law Clinic is a specialist programme of the Legal Aid Clinic at the Hugh Wooding Law School. The Clinic’s vision is to train participating students to educate the public on human rights issues, and be equipped to promote respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms, and work for social justice.
The Clinic is coordinated by Mr. Jason Nathu, a Tutor at the Legal Aid Clinic of the Hugh Wooding Law School, and is held in the first term of each academic year. The main objective of the Human Rights Law Clinic is for students to learn important values, skills and attitudes through the medium of human rights education. Students should be able to inform the average person about their human rights and how these rights can be enforced.
The following is a summary of the work of the clinic for the current academic year:
1. ARTICLES FOR THE “LAW MADE SIMPLE” COLUMN
The students each chose a topic of interest for the “Law Made Simple” column in theTrinidad Guardian newspaper. These topics ranged from analysis of specific legislation, to general legal concepts.
The aim of this exercise was to teach the students how to write about complex legal issues, for the average newspaper reader. The articles will appear in the Trinidad Guardian newspaper over the next few months.
2. SCHOOL PRESENTATION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
The students of the clinic visited (in groups of 3 persons each), 10 secondary schools, wherein they delivered a one-hour presentation on human rights to fifth and sixth form students.
While the focus of these presentations was on human rights generally, several of the groups targeted specific issues such as the right to privacy, cyberbullying and freedom of expression.
The sessions were interactive, and the students used several methods for the delivery of their presentations, including skits, songs and electronic slideshows.
The aim of this exercise was to develop the public speaking and advocacy skills of the students, and to teach them how to break-down complex human rights issues to their target audience.
3. “COLOURING LIVES” OUTREACH PROJECT
A group of 5 students embarked on a project entitled “Colouring Lives”, which was intended to educate children between the ages of 7-13 on human rights in a way that was both fun and informative.
To this end, the group produced a colouring book comprising of 18 drawings depicting the rights of the child. These illustrations draw inspiration from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The colouring book was officially launched at the Just Because Foundation where they were distributed to children who are diagnosed with cancer.
Through sponsorship, 200 copies of the colouring book were printed and distributed to the Just Because Foundation and other organizations such as the Islamic Home for Children in Gasparillo and the Hope Centre in San Fernando. Crayons were also distributed with the colouring books.
Five families of patients at the Just Because Foundation were also identified and given food hampers. The hampers comprised of non-alcoholic beverages, snacks, cereal, canned food and other necessities. The children and parents were very happy to receive these items.
The students who completed this project are Gina Maharaj, Nazia Mohammed, Junior Nagassar, Orinthia Schmidt and Kavita Sirjusingh.
4. “LEARN AS YOU PLAY, PLAY AS YOUR LEARN” PROJECT
A group of 5 students embarked on a project entitled “Learn As You Play, Play As You Learn”. The group worked with the Amica House Children’s Home in Curepe on this project. This humble home is is managed under the watchful gaze of Sister Jude Marie Aird and was chosen because its need was evident.
The group spoke about human rights to a group of 25 children at the home between the ages of 3 and 5. The students also worked with the children to create a mural, depicting the rights of children. Materials such as paint, paintbrushes, wood, and containers were acquired through sponsorship, and the group allowed the children at the home to participate in the project by each placing a painted handprint on the mural. The group was also able to serve refreshments to the children at the home.
A library was also created by the students for the benefit of the home. A book-drive was set up at Hugh Wooding Law School and over 300 books were collected. The National Library of Trinidad and Tobago has also pledged book donations to this cause. The group also acquired book-shelves to house the collection.
The students who completed this project are Christie Borley, Tamara Evelyn, Cheyenne Lall, Narissa Leander and Yolander Persaud.
5. THE “RIGHT TO BAIL” PROJECT
A group of 5 students embarked on an education project on the right to bail. The project was chosen as there is a large number of persons in the nation’s prisons who are eligible for bail, but who are unable to secure same as they may not be aware of their rights and the procedures for obtaining bail.
The group organized a two-hour panel discussion at the Hugh Wooding Law School, wherein Attorneys-at-Law Wayne Sturge, Gerald Ramdeen and Inspector of PrisonsDaniel Khan spoke to students and invited members of the public about the importance of bail and the procedure required to complete a bail application.
The students also created a “Guide To Bail” outlining the factors to be taken into consideration in granting bail and the conditions thereto. This booklet will be distributed at Magistrates’ Courts throughout the country, as well as at the nation’s prisons.
In keeping with the charitable aspect of the group projects, the students held at ‘curry-que’ at the law school, the proceeds of which will be used for miscellaneous charitable ventures including the annual prison Christmas party for the children of inmates.
The students who completed this project are Krystle Alexander, Sunita Dairam, Anderson Modeste, Dayadai Harripaul and Jasseran Hosein.
6. SEMINAR ON “HUMAN RIGHTS, WOMEN AND CHILDREN”
The Clinic, in partnership with the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlandshosted an educational seminar in observance of International Human Rights Day, on the topic “Human Rights, Women and Children”.
The feature speaker was Professor Cees Flinterman, Professor Emeritus at Universities of Utrecht and Maastricht in the Netherlands. Professor Flinterman is at present a member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee and his areas of speciality include the United Nations system of human rights, human rights and foreign policy, public international law, and gender and human rights.
A panel including experts from the University of the West Indies, United Nations Information Centre and European Union Delegation to Trinidad and Tobago, also gave their perspectives in this area. The seminar was moderated by the Coordinator.
Students of the clinic assisted the Coordinator with all aspects of planning this event, including drafting press releases, compiling and sending invitations, meeting with the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on multiple occasions, decorating and providing support services such as ushering for the specially invited guests on the day of the event.