Legal Researcher: Extension for Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique and Namibia

1. Overview of Services

The Human Dignity Trust is looking to appoint lawyers in Southern African countries to deliver research on hate crimes-focused legislative reform across the Southern Africa region, with the potential for future projects as required.

  • Locations: Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique (4 open positions, one per country)
  • Languages Required: English
  • Starting Date: As soon as possible
  • End Date/Duration of Assignment: Research to be completed by 13 January 2023
  • Fees: £1,000 per country, inclusive of any applicable tax or other charges
  • Application Deadline: 16 November 2022, by 11:59 PM GMT DEADLINE EXTENDED

2. The Human Dignity Trust

The Human Dignity Trust (the Trust) is a legal charity based in London, UK that supports local lawyers and human rights defenders to uphold human rights and constitutional law in countries where private, consensual same-sex sexual conduct is criminalised.

At present, around 70 jurisdictions worldwide maintain these criminal laws. Legal provisions that criminalise lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people put them beyond the protection of the law, fostering a climate of fear, stigma and violence. These provisions also violate constitutional and international human rights law, including a person’s right to dignity, equality, non-discrimination, privacy and freedom of expression.

The Trust provides pro bono technical legal and communications assistance at the request of, and in collaboration with, human rights defenders, local lawyers and other partners who wish to use the courts to challenge the laws that criminalise same-sex intimacy or related repressive governmental actions that are justified on the basis of the criminal law.  We also provide technical legal and communications assistance to governments and civil society groups working to reform discriminatory sexual offence laws and enact legislation that protects LGBT people, women, persons living with disabilities and other marginalised groups. Since our inception in 2011, we have worked with partners in over 20 countries in all regions of the world.

Laws criminalising LGBT people are often part of a wider set of out-dated sexual offence laws that discriminate against and do not adequately protect women, children, LGBT people and other vulnerable groups, such as laws relating to rape, sexual assault and ages of consent. Many of these are rooted in colonial-era laws that have long since been reformed in the UK. Building on pan-Commonwealth legal analyses that the Trust has been spearheading since 2014, the Trust is delivering a programme of technical assistance to Commonwealth governments seeking to deliver human rights compliant legislative reform.

Our legal technical assistance is carried out by our expert staff team in collaboration with a panel of leading international law firms and barristers who assist us pro bono, and in the case of our legislative reform work also with our Commonwealth Group of Experts comprised of legislative drafters, lawyers, academics and other subject-matter experts.

3. Background and Purpose

The Trust is currently engaged in both legislative reform and litigation work in the Southern African region. Our focus is on exploring and advancing opportunities for legal change to decriminalise same-sex activity and to effect wider change to sexual offences laws and certain forms of protective legislation such as hate crime and equal opportunity laws. In the coming year the Trust will deliver an in-person civil society convening in the region with a focus on hate crimes legislation. LGBT-rights defenders from across Southern Africa will be invited to discuss whether the introduction of hate crimes legislation would be desirable and feasible in their domestic jurisdictions. It is important that these conversations are informed by high-quality and locally informed research into the existing legal context in each jurisdiction. The purpose of these consultancy agreements is therefore to engage with lawyers in countries of relevance in order for their expertise to inform the content of the convening. There is a significant possibility of further consultancy, partnership or litigation opportunities in the future, arising both from this convening and other related activities.

4. Services

The Consultant shall produce a short research paper (5-10 pages) on “Establishing Hate Crimes Legislation in [Insert name of country]”. In doing so the Consultant shall;

  • Review (1) the Trust’s short existing research paper on the possible introduction of hate crimes legislation in the Consultant’s country and (2) the Trust’s draft research paper on general factors preceding the establishment of hate crimes legislation and provide feedback informed by the Consultant’s in-country legal expertise;
  • Informed by the above research, identify key outstanding questions relevant to the Consultant’s jurisdiction which require further research and provide recommendations on how to answer those questions;
  • Liaise, as required, with convening participants from the Consultant’s country.

5. Deliverables

The Consultant shall deliver:

  • A detailed outline to be presented in an inception meeting with members of the Trust’s staff within a week of signing the contract.
  • A first draft of the research within three weeks of signing the contract.
  • A final draft of the research paper incorporating the Trust’s feedback by 13 January 2023.

Please note, the selected Consultant(s) shall agree to assign to the Trust all right, title and interest in and to any Deliverables produced in the course of providing the Services itemised above, which shall be the sole and exclusive property of the Trust. The Consultant(s) shall not make any use of any Deliverables in any manner whatsoever without the Trust’s prior written consent.

For the avoidance of doubt, any intellectual property (i) owned by the selected Consultant(s) prior to the signing of any contract between the selected Consultant(s) and the Trust, and (ii) any intellectual property independently developed by the selected Consultant(s) otherwise than pursuant to any contract with the Trust, would not be caught by the above assignment.

6. Experience Required

  • Degree or equivalent professional experience in law and/or human rights from one of the identified jurisdictions (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique)
  • Strong written and oral communication skills in English, with a keen attention to detail
  • Knowledge of and commitment to the human rights of LGBT people
  • Experience of practising in criminal law in the relevant country
  • Expertise in strategic human rights litigation and/or legislative reform with a focus on human rights

7. How to Apply

To apply please send a CV of no more than three pages along with a covering letter of no more than two pages, explaining why you are an ideal candidate for this role to: [email protected] by 16 November 2022, 11:59 PM GMT.

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