Report on Roya Institute Panel participation at the 2nd Asian CLE Conference

⏰  3/5 Min

The 2nd Asia CLE Conference took place from May 27th to 28th in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with the main objective of exploring and highlighting the successful evolution of Clinical Legal Education (CLE) experiences in Asia and globally. This hybrid event, featuring both in-person and online participation, provided a platform for discussing opportunities and challenges in establishing CLE programs and initiatives.

The panel discussion led by Prof. Dr. Sharin Shajahan Naomi from the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh focused on two subjects:

A. Refugees’ challenges in accessing legal education and double discrimination against women. B. The importance of linguistic diversity in legal clinic education.

Each panelist made a presentation on their respective topics:

1- Sohrab Mabadi Pakzad, an Iranian-Costa Rican university lecturer, immigration lawyer, and Roya Institute representative in Costa Rica, presented the growing need for specialized refugee and immigration legal clinics. He emphasized that practical access to justice and the protection of human rights for migrants and refugees require more than just legal documentation or border crossing. Integration processes should encompass job opportunities, cultural skills, and societal inclusion. He highlighted the importance of specialized legal committees advocating for the rights of vulnerable groups and the corresponding obligations of governments.

2- Natalia Vega Rojas, a Costa Rican human rights lawyer and Roya Institute representative in Costa Rica addressed the issue of double discrimination and the significance of justice, education, and legal clinics for migrant women in Costa Rica. She focused on the challenges faced by migrant and refugee populations in Costa Rica, particularly migrant women. She highlighted the gendered aspects of migration and the heightened vulnerability to violence and exploitation experienced by women. Despite existing legislation and initiatives, she stressed the need for specialized legal clinics to provide free assistance, empower migrants, and facilitate their integration into Costa Rican society.

3- Touska Golami, an Iranian human rights lawyer, centered her presentation on forced migration among Iranian women. She discussed various waves of migration, ranging from the aftermath of the 1979 revolution to ongoing migration related to the current situation in Iran. Golami highlighted push factors such as a dysfunctional educational system, lack of freedom, obligatory hijab law, economic hardships, and domestic violence. She viewed the migration of Iranian women as a form of resistance against power relations. Her presentation emphasized the need to address the risks women and children face in forced migration and highlighted the effectiveness of legal clinics in providing assistance.

4- Mahak Rathee, the Roya Institute representative in India, delivered a presentation on linguistic diversity in India. She emphasized the importance of linguistic diversity and the protection of indigenous languages. Rathee highlighted that language unifies us and enables us to understand different perspectives and cultures. She underscored that the 

loss of languages leads to the disappearance of rich heritage and knowledge. Her presentation explored how law enforcement, lawyers, and legal clinics can actively contribute to language preservation and promote linguistic diversity. The importance of conducting surveys, translating legal materials, and leveraging technological advancements was highlighted.

5- Aroup Raton Shaha, a professor and chairperson of the Department of Law at Cox’s Bazar International University in Bangladesh, presented on the “Language Rights of Indigenous Minorities and CLE.” He shared personal experiences from a region with a significant indigenous population, emphasizing their struggles in accessing the justice system due to language barriers. Shaha stressed the importance of recognizing language rights as human rights and the need for linguistic justice. He identified Clinical Legal Education (CLE) programs as a key solution to promote and protect language rights by providing legal aid, raising awareness, and engaging with ethnic minority communities.

In conclusion, the 2nd Asia CLE Conference provided a platform to discuss and explore the successful evolution of CLE experiences in Asia and globally. The panel discussion highlighted refugees’ challenges in accessing legal education, double discrimination against women, and the importance of linguistic diversity in legal clinic education. The presentations shed light on the need for specialized refugee and immigration legal clinics to ensure practical access to justice for migrants and refugees. They also emphasized the significance of addressing gendered aspects of migration and providing free assistance and empowerment to migrant women in Costa Rica. Additionally, the discussions highlighted the importance of protecting indigenous languages and promoting language rights through clinical legal education. Collaborative efforts involving legal clinics, community organizations, advocates, and policymakers are crucial in creating a more inclusive and equitable legal system.

By: Natalia Vega Rojas, Roya Institute representative in Costa Rica