Access to Justice

Seven out of the 20 countries globally grappling with high pretrial detention rates are located in Africa.

The practice of pretrial detention contradicts the principles of fair trials and the prompt dispensation of justice. Particularly unsettling is the longstanding tradition that has transformed into a pattern of intentionally imprisoning suspects for extended periods under the guise of pretrial detention.

Despite earnest efforts to curtail pretrial detention and alleviate overcrowding, Nigeria's numbers continue to rise. Presently, a staggering 70% of inmates in Nigeria await trial, contributing to an occupancy rate of 136.7%.

Through our Access to Justice program, we engage with financially disadvantaged individuals within various detention or correctional centers, providing crucial legal aid services. Our focus extends to representing children in conflict with the law, women, individuals wrongly accused, and those who have suffered human rights violations at the hands of criminal justice actors

Objectives



A. Providing easy and free access to justice for the underprivileged, and marginalized individuals within prison walls.

B. Significantly reduce the time gap between the occurrence of human rights abuses and the provision of legal assistance.

C. Engaging in collective efforts through strategic litigation to uphold the fundamental human rights of citizens subjected to violations by the criminal justice system.

D. Incorporating innovative technology to facilitate improved access to justice.

Ongoing Projects


Justice Corner

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The Justice Corner Project is a transformative initiative poised to provide access to justice within Nigeria's local open market communities. By establishing mediation centers within local open markets, this project aims to empower market women by providing accessible and free legal support, fostering harmony, and bolstering economic stability.

At the core of this initiative is the provision of pro bono legal services facilitated by trained lawyers. These legal professionals and mediators will mediate and skillfully resolve disputes that commonly arise amongst market women. Additionally, the project seeks to educate and equip these individuals with vital knowledge on proper documentation, contracting, and compliance with regulatory authorities.

This multifaceted approach not only resolves immediate conflicts but also empowers market women with the tools to navigate legal intricacies independently. By embedding these centers within the heart of local markets, the project aims to cultivate a culture of peace and cooperation. It serves as a beacon of equitable justice, fostering an environment where fairness and legality are not elusive ideals but tangible realities.

Lawyers NowNow App

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Worldwide, the pervasive issue of police brutality has become increasingly normalized, with numerous cases of extrajudicial killings being reported. This stark reality was glaringly evident in October 2020 when Nigerian youths took to the streets, demanding the disbandment of the police unit known as SARS, resulting in the #EndSARS hashtag trending at number one globally for several weeks. While the unit was eventually disbanded, this did not bring an end to police brutality.

Headfort Foundation experienced a significant surge in reports of police brutality, extortion, arbitrary arrests, and harassment, both online and offline. This pressing issue prompted the development of the “Lawyers NowNow” App. Conceived as a digital extension of the Lawyers without Border project, the Lawyers NowNow App serves as an inclusive platform, allowing every indigent person to access justice anywhere in Nigeria without discrimination. Available for download on Appstore and Google playstore, the app can also be used on behalf of another person.

The application automatically connects users to the lawyer nearest to their location, facilitating contact via phone calls, SMS, or WhatsApp messages. Upon receiving a user's request, the lawyer is notified and commits to attending to the user free of charge. The app since launch in April 2021 has resolved over 360 cases through legal advice, legal service, mediation, and litigation. One major objective of the app is to facilitate access to justice from the roots of the criminal justice system, recognizing that most human rights abuses occur between arrest and the time of legal representation. The app aims to shorten this crucial time frame, ensuring swift and effective legal intervention.

Lawyers without Borders

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Headfort Foundation's Lawyers Without Borders project is transforming the lives of countless individuals affected by human rights abuses in Nigeria. With the approval of the Chief Judge of State and collaboration with state judiciary, we have established mobile offices within court premises, enabling us to station pro bono human rights lawyers who tirelessly represent and defend victims of human rights abuse free of charge. This project encompasses victims of all demographics, including children, women, and men, ensuring no one is left behind in the pursuit of justice. Since its inception in 2020, our project has expanded to six court premises across four states in Nigeria, making our services accessible to a larger population in need. The urgent need for our intervention is driven by the alarming rate at which Nigeria's prisons are burdened by a staggering 75% of awaiting trial inmates who are unable to afford legal representation. Through our efforts, we have successfully helped over 600 individuals secure their freedom, significantly alleviating the congestion plaguing these facilities. With this project, we effectively address the key issues of inaccessibility and unaffordability that hinder victims of human rights abuses from seeking legal assistance. Our project bridges the gap between impoverished individuals and quality legal representation, empowering them with the means to assert their rights and seek justice.

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ccess a professional lawyer anytime, anywhere within your locality!