Working in partnership through mentoring

Our intensive bespoke legal mentoring enables our partners to learn through experience how to effectively use international mechanisms (predominantly the European Court of Human Rights) to reform and protect individuals’ human rights. Through our mentoring, together with partner lawyers we identify and litigate human rights cases which are strategic and have the potential to effect systemic change, combining our partners’ expertise of the local context with our knowledge of the Strasbourg and other international human rights systems.

Our partnership and mentoring is an innovative way of ensuring that human rights lawyers in the former Soviet Union have sustainable skills, and that victims of human rights abuse have effective representation.

“Even though I have ten years of experience as a lawyer, have studied in the UK and lived and worked in Strasbourg, I can clearly see the value of the partnership. Philip [Leach] and Kate [Levine] reviewed parts of UHHRU’s application in the so-called jurisdiction cases, which have been the most difficult cases of my career to date. I simply wouldn’t have been able to deal with it without their help.”

Nadia Volkova, Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

How does the mentoring process work?

Cases are usually proposed by our partner lawyers, based on whether they have strategic value and good prospects of success. We evaluate the strategic potential of a case together, in line with certain litigation priorities.

  • We can offer to advise our partners at all stages of the proceedings – such as exhausting domestic remedies, drafting the substantive elements of submissions to the European Court and other international mechanisms, structural questions around the argumentation of a case, gathering evidence and drafting witness statements, and potential next steps following a judgment or decision.
  • Where the Court decides to hold a hearing in one of our cases, we work together with our partner to prepare and present the legal arguments to the Court.
  • We also work together with our partners, through domestic and international channels, to implement Court’s judgments.

Cooperation with EHRAC has helped me improve and handle these cases [relating to violations of political activists’ and NGO representatives’ rights] in the right way. Particularly I have learnt how to prepare pre-trial detention cases, which concern very common violations in Azerbaijan. Moreover, I feel more skillful in determining admissibility criteria when lodging applications with the ECtHR.”

Samed Rahimli, Azerbaijani lawyer