Minneapolis (September 2008) - Munir Meghjee, a partner with Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P., participated in an advocacy training program for attorneys on violence against women in Nairobi, Kenya, held August 9-16, 2008. The firm helped sponsor the program, developed by Lawyers Without Borders and the National Institute of Trial Advocacy.
The only participant from Minnesota, Meghjee was one of 14 U.S. judges, attorneys and law professors sent to Kenya to provide "learn by doing" trial advocacy training. This was the second year this training program was conducted in Nairobi.
This year, the program trained approximately 60 attorneys affiliated with FIDA-Kenya (the Federation of Women Lawyers), and the Center for Rights, Education, and Awareness (CREAW), as well as private practice attorneys who volunteer and Kenyan prosecutors. In addition, Kenyan law students had opportunities to participate by viewing the lectures and playing the role of witnesses during advocacy exercises.
"Kenya has a new Sexual Offenses Act, the country's first real attempt to comprehensively codify sexual offenses," said Meghjee, a trial attorney with Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. "With post-election violence in Kenya, violence against women and sexual violence has often gone unresolved in the judicial system. Globally, Lawyers without Borders is working to combat sexual violence in the context of war crimes. The new Act will allow Kenya's government to prosecute domestic violence and sexual violence offenses. Many prosecutors and public-interest attorneys there don't have experience representing these kinds of cases in Kenya's courts. We helped them, as well as a group of magistrates (trial court judges), be prepared for the kinds of cases they should expect to face."
Meghjee has a personal tie to Kenya, as his mother's family is from the east African country. "When firm chairman Marty Lueck and I learned about this program from U.S. Circuit Judge Ann C. Williams - who led the program - it was a natural fit for the firm to help in light of our values and commitment to access to justice. Strengthening the rule of law and helping women in Kenya is my personal connection. It was an extraordinary and remarkable trip that laid the foundation for the future safety and due process of women there. I'm proud to have had a role in that," said Meghjee.
Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. supports Lawyers Without Borders and helped to underwrite this training program, and future international pro bono activities.
Lawyers Without Borders (http://www.lawyerswithoutborders.org/) is the world's largest group of volunteer lawyers from large law firms, the private bar, in-house counsel and non-profit organizations from around the globe who offer pro bono service to international projects and initiatives.