Clinical Legal Education Programme in Human Rights
The Clinical Legal Education Programme in Human Rights aims to enhance the human rights curriculum and learning experience by providing opportunities for students to actively contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights domestically and internationally. The individual course offerings and projects within this programme provide students with opportunities to develop a professional network and mentoring relationships with practitioners at international and local law firms, barristers’ chambers, government bodies, United Nations agencies, and international and domestic civil society organizations. The experiences, networks and mentoring relationships enhance and deepen student learning as well as promote the values of pro bono legal service.
The Clinical Legal Education Programme – Refugee Stream is an experiential learning course offered to undergraduate and post-graduate students in the Faculty of Law at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) in partnership with Justice Centre Hong Kong (formerly Hong Kong Refugee Advice Centre). Justice Centre Hong Kong provides legal information and individual assistance to claimants seeking non-refoulement protection in Hong Kong (known as “protection claimants”) and advocates for their rights in policy spheres and campaigns to raise public awareness and change perceptions.
The Clinic allows law students to learn both the theory and practice of non-refoulement law in Hong Kong and human rights advocacy in the Hong Kong protection claim context. In the Clinic, students develop their legal and practical skills and advocacy skills, as well as their professional judgment in a real practice setting. Specific skills include: interviewing protection claimants, working with an interpreter, fact investigation, legal research and analysis, legal writing and drafting, critically analyzing public policy and lobbying the government, preparing submissions to domestic and/or international bodies such as the Legislative Council or United Nations (UN) treaty monitoring bodies and understanding effective strategies to campaign for refugee rights and working with the media.
As lawyers or policy advocates, students will be exposed to ethical dilemmas and choices. The Clinic provides a rich opportunity for students to learn about the nature and extent of a social justice practitioner’s professional and ethical responsibilities. Students have the opportunity to understand a human rights-based approach to programming, recognize challenges, creatively identify options, execute their own judgment and understand the impacts of their decisions.
Students may also have the opportunity to understand how protection claimants’ basic human rights are protected in Hong Kong and critically evaluate the sufficiency of such protection, by attending Legislative Council meetings and/or court cases affecting protection claimants’ rights and participating in community outreach visits, conducting primary and secondary research and engaging in Justice Centre Hong Kong’s human rights campaigns.
For more information about the programme’s community partner, visit Justice Centre Hong Kong’s website: www.justicecentre.org.hk
Coordinated and instructed by Joy L. Chia and Lindsay Ernst
The Human Rights in Practice course was launched in September 2014 with the support of the Law Faculty, the Gallant Ho Experiential Learning Centre and a Teaching Development Grant. Human Rights in Practice is an experiential learning course offered to undergraduate and post-graduate students in the Faculty of Law.
The course aims to meet the increasing demand for practical and theoretical knowledge about human rights throughout the Asian region by providing students an opportunity to actively engage with human rights issues both domestically and internationally. Students collaborate with leading human rights lawyers, advocates and NGOs on human rights projects. The course seeks to empower and equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in the changing global legal environment by providing them with the opportunity to work on cutting-edge international legal issues while serving the community.
The course aims to:
Expose students to the challenges and skills of acting in the role of a lawyer within the unstructured situations that international human rights lawyers confront in practice;
Expand opportunities for collaborative experiential learning;
Instruct students in the theory and practice of domestic and international human rights law;
Give students an opportunity to practice their professional skills and ethics;
Encourage students to identify and provide service for unmet legal needs;
Encourage critical analysis of the law, the relationship between international and domestic legal systems, and the clients’ place and the lawyer’s role within the international legal system; and
Provide students an opportunity to evaluate the real-life application and effects of international human rights instruments, as well as contribute to the promotion, progressive enforcement and internalization of international human rights.
Specific skills taught include interviewing both individual and organizational clients, conducting focus groups, working with interpreters, oral advocacy, negotiation, fact investigation, legal research and analysis, and legal writing and drafting.
This mini-experiential learning programme aims to introduce first and second year law students to the practice of human rights. The first session of this programme ran in June 2013 as a 3-day intensive programme focused on introducing law students to what it means to represent individuals seeking international protection in Hong Kong. Students toured the offices and met with officials from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, discussed the application of the Convention Against Torture with an adjudicator from the Torture Claims Appeal Board, participated in simulated refugee intake interviews at the Hong Kong Refugee Advice Centre, and observed the work and met with advocates from social services organizations focused on refugee rights. This programme operates three times per year: during autumn and spring Reading Week, and during the summer session.
This project identifies and develops human rights-related experiential learning opportunities in the Faculty of Law within existing human rights courses. The project launched in January 2014.
Equality and Non-discrimination Elective - Experiential Learning Component, Spring term 2014: The experiential learning component was offered in collaboration with the Equal Opportunities Commission, Mother’s Choice and Christian Action’s Domestic Helpers and Migrant Worker’s Programme. Through field placements with the chosen partner organizations, a competitively selected group of 8 students developed their knowledge of human rights, legal skills and professional judgment in a real practice setting. The component provided participating students the unique opportunity to experience how the right to equality and non-discrimination is implemented in practice in Hong Kong.
International Protection of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons Elective – Experiential Learning Component, Spring term 2014: Select law students enrolled in the International Protection of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons elective taught practical law lessons using interactive teaching methodologies to asylum-seekers and refugees at Christian Action’s Chungking Mansions Service Centre. The students designed and implemented a 6-week course curriculum that 1) engaged refugees in a critical examination of their legal rights and responsibilities, 2) advanced refugees’ knowledge of practical laws affecting their daily lives, and 3) fostered conflict resolution, problem solving and rights-based advocacy skills.
“Law for All” launched in February 2014 with support from the Gallant Ho Experiential Learning Centre and the law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. HKU’s Human Rights Programme collaborated with the D.C. Street Law Programme at Georgetown Law Center to train thirty law students and pro bono lawyers from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, in interactive teaching methods to teach practical law and legal concepts to high school students, domestic helpers and other community members. The students who participated in the inaugural training are engaged in a variety of activities to develop “Law for All” in Hong Kong and throughout Asia. HKU law students are leading “Law for All” courses in Thailand and Myanmar through the student-run programme “Connecting Myanmar”, at Hong Kong-based NGOs assisting domestic helpers, and in local Hong Kong secondary schools.
Benefits for the Hong Kong law students:
Instills a sense of community and public service
Provides an opportunity for students to hone skills relevant and necessary for any area of legal practice: understanding of the law, ability to think on one’s feet to respond to unexpected questions, communicating complex legal concepts to non-lawyers, public speaking and presentation skills, establishing trust and confidence building in client relations, and planning, preparation and legal research abilities
Engages students in meaningful collaborations and knowledge exchange activities with the greater community
Benefits for law firm partners:
Provides a rewarding way for lawyers and paralegals to use their legal skills to benefit the community (includes non-Hong Kong qualified lawyers)
Provides an opportunity for lawyers to engage with law students at the University of Hong Kong
Media and Press:
Gallant Ho Experiential Learning Centre, E-newsletter Issue 13, “A mutually beneficial experiential learning opportunity for students in high school and university” (Apr 23, 2014)
“From Hong Kong with Love”, D.C. Street Law Programme, Georgetown Law Centre, Spring 2014 Newsletter