In 2002 the legal wing of the Sahyog Trust, ‘Human Rights and Law Defenders’ (HRLD), was established to intensify the work on issues related to Human Rights. HRLD has been set up in Pune as an independent unit and intervenes legally when there is a human rights violation.
HRLD defends human rights by opposing violations, strengthening enforcement mechanisms, sensitizing the public, and campaigning for constitutional and legal reforms. Since its initiation, it is the mission of HRLD to fight a broad battle against gross Human Rights violations.
HRLD works in following areas:
Areas of work
- Legal aid to under trial prisoners
- Womens rights
- Children rights
- Rights of the disabled
- Dalit Rights
- HIV/AIDS and Law
- Environmental Law especially “Forum Against Noise Pollution”
HRLD has developed effective and innovative solutions to achieve its aims and has been building specialized initiatives around issues. Recognizing the potential of effective partnerships, HRLD works closely with other human rights and development organizations. HRLD uses the following strategies:
- Legal Aid: Providing access to justice for the vulnerable through:
- Legal intervention and representation for individuals, as in filing suits for victims and defending their cases in front of the court (mostly pro-bono)
- Filing complaints to the various commissions set up for better protection of human rights like the National Human Rights Commission, the State Human Rights Commission, the National Commission for Women, etc.
- Empowerment of the peer group through:
- The creation of law literacy among potential or actual victims of rights violations and their stakeholders: via campaigns and workshops
- The provision of legal consultations and guidance: in direct dialogue, via phone or different forms of media advocacy
- Conducting and Raising Legal Awareness by:
- Specific trainings for the potential/actual rights violators (police staff, personnel of other official institutions) or persons whose jobs are dealing with rights violations (e.g. protection officers, lawyers, doctors)
- Public campaigning to promote Human Rights education in the civil society and official institutions: in the form of hearings/audits, media advocacy, demonstrations etc.
- Capacity Building and Expending the Access to Justice by:
- Building up a network of local NGOs that are dealing with various rights-linked issues and lawyers who are willing to provide a part of their services pro-bono (to provide help for people outside Pune)
- Interacting with the media and sensitizing them about human rights violations
- By educating and raising up an own cadre of social lawyers
- Promoting legislative changes by:
- Reviewing existing laws that pose threat to respecting human rights.
- Taking suo moto action and filing Public Interest Litigations (PIL’s) when there are rights violations that concern public interest
- Campaigning for constitutional and legal reforms and participating in drafts and re-designing of legislations
- Research and Documentation:
Documenting case studies and Human Rights-related developments, as well as paper clipping of concerned issues.