Lawyers in bid for Africa centre

TOP Scots lawyers are campaigning to bring justice and social change to Africa.

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Evening Times columnist Austin Lafferty along with Mike Dailly want to launch the continent's first community law centre in the Cameroon city of Bamenda.

The pair are trying to raise £150,000 to create an African model based on Scotland's successful law centres. Mike is based at Govan Law Centre in Glasgow, while Austin runs three legal practices in Giffnock, East Renfrewshire, as well Hamilton and East Kilbride in South Lanarkshire.

They hope the Bamenda centre will be the first in a network across Africa to help promote justice and drive social change. Mike said: "The law centre would help tackle human trafficking, secure criminal prosecutions, recover unpaid wages and protect the rights of women and children."

He's already helped secure funding for a child protection unit in the region which has re-united victims in an area where child and adult trafficking is rife.

Austin, a past president of the Law Society of Scotland, said: "There is an over-whelming need and widespread national support for a comm-unity legal centre in Bamenda.

"Scottish solicitors have trail-blazed legal remedies and campaigns which have benefited Scots and I'd like to see those successes replicated in Africa.

"The project would provide a pilot to demonstrate the value of the model with a view to securing repetition in the country, continued funding from alternative sources and the viability of law centres being deployed in other sub-Saharan African countries."

Cameroon Human Rights Commissioner Laura Anyola Tufon welcomed the campaign.

She said: "This project will be a lifetime reward for our poverty stricken, legally uneducated and destitute populations in demand for justice."

The lawyers hope to launch the Bamenda Community Law Centre by raising £150,000 over the next three years. The centre will be supervised by Ms Tufon and supported and independently audited by the Govan Law Centre.

gordon.thomson@eveningtimes.co.uk

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