In Africa it is said that justice is open to all – and so is the Intercontinental Hotel. The hard reality is that most Africans do not know their legal rights and lack the means to obtain advice and representation. For example, in Uganda 90% of lawyers live in the capital Kampala, whilst 95% of the populace cannot afford to retain a private lawyer. Justice then becomes a luxury of the wealthy few. Hard won doctrines taken for granted by Australian lawyers such as the rule of law and judicial independence are still to be fought for. Injustice in the justice system is often the norm.
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8 and 9)
CLEAR International was established as an arm of the Lawyers Christian Fellowship in the United Kingdom to provide legal education, aid and research to and on behalf of the poorest in society within the developing world. To achieve that end CLEAR partnered together with lawyers in Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda. In 2011 the first joint mission trip to visit the CLEAR offices in Rwanda and Kenya was undertaken by lawyers from Australia and the United Kingdom and from that trip the vision for CLEAR International Australia was born.
CLEAR International Australia is an interdenominational charity that is a project of various State-based Christian lawyers’ societies in Australia which are partnering to support access to justice projects, particularly in Africa. Our aim, in partnership with the Lawyers Christian Fellowship in the United Kingdom and indigenous lawyers in Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya, is to educate poor and marginalised communities as to their basic human rights and to offer legal aid and advice to those suffering injustice. In carefully selected cases, CLEAR has sought to highlight injustices through public interest litigation and advocacy. CLEAR’s unique model emphasises partnership with local lawyers who run and manage each local CLEAR project, specialising in criminal justice, public law and family law.
- A selection of examples of those that CLEAR has assisted are:-
- Street children who are arbitrarily arrested by the police
- Accused people who have waited in jail for up to 10 years for trial (some who have been released with no case to answer)
- Widows who have been forced off their land and made destitute by their dead husband’s family,
- Families who would otherwise have been unable afford the services of a lawyer in drafting a will, such pro bono assistance effecting the desire of the deceased, providing certainty against disputes and ensuring adequate protection to loved ones. In so acting, CLEAR hopes to develop access to the rule of law for the majority of peoples who have hitherto been excluded from justice in the nations it works. Through this local involvement, CLEAR International seeks to make Christ known, through the outworking of His love and justice. In countries where there is little or no state-provided legal aid the work of our brothers and sisters in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda for justice is a wonderful signpost to the ultimate justice brought by Jesus.
What is CLEAR International Australia Ltd?
CLEAR International Australia Ltd is a company established in June 2012 as an initiative of state-based Christian legal societies in Australia. The company is a Registered charity in Queensland, number CH2193. CLEAR International Australia’s work is conducted in conjunction with the United Kingdom’s Lawyer’s Christian Fellowship and local Christian lawyers’ networks in Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda.
God’s exhortation can seem overwhelming to us when we see the scale of the injustice in the world. But His call will never take us where His grace will not supply our needs, He is not a hard task master, He does not expect to reap where He does not sow. The member societies of CLEAR International Australia have responded to that call of God by committing their support to the profoundly life-changing work of our East African colleagues in CLEAR. If you too feel burdened to respond to the call of God to love and justice, and would like to know more, then please read on to consider how you may use your giftings to join us in that call.