The Opening of the Seinoli Legal Centre
The Seinoli Legal Centre opened in Maseru, Lesotho in June 2014. The Seinoli Legal Centre (SLC) builds on the work of the Seinoli Project, which commenced in 2009. Its purpose is to provide an independent, long-term community legal empowerment centre. The SLC has a full time staff and oversight, and guidance is provided by the Seinoli Trust Board. New partnerships with trusted organisations are being formed in the first year of SLC’s existence. In the first phase of the Seinoli Project (2009-14), the principle of selective precedent setting litigation on behalf of particular communities was established. Now, in the next phase of its development, the SLC seeks to take this work to a wider scale within Lesotho.
As Lesotho’s first dedicated Public Interest Legal Centre, SLC offers free legal services to communities affected by development in Lesotho. The work of the Centre currently focuses on local Basotho communities that have been adversely affected by the construction of the Katse and Mohale Dams, phase one of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) in the rural highlands of Lesotho. There are six phases of the LHWP, so alongside dealing with the issues arising from phase one, the SLC is preparing communities for the upcoming phase two.
The SLC is established by the Seinoli Trust, whose mission is to empower marginalised communities to use the law as a means of protecting their social, economic and environmental interests. Communities, who are facing social and economic challenges to their environments, arising from their lack of information, legal capacity and resources, can approach the SLC for support and representation.
Please click here to contact the Seinoli Legal Centre Director.
Progress for the Ha Lejone Co-operatives
The Ha Lejone Cooperative is one of 66 local community groups formed to receive compensation for its members for their loss of brushwood, fodder and traditional medicines.
They waited for many years to receive that compensation and in July 2012, with Protimos help, they decided to go to court. In October that year, just before the hearing, the LHDA issued an ‘interpleader’, arguing that the overdue compensation should go to the government and not to any of the cooperatives. The Cooperative fought on and the case was heard in March 2014. The Ha Lejone Cooperative won the case – with costs.
Protimos empowers marginalised communities in developing countries to use the law to protect their social, economic and environmental interests.
The fortunes of communities in developing countries are increasingly shaped by their relationships with governments, businesses and other powerful institutions. However, unfamiliarity with legal processes coupled with limited access to qualified lawyers puts them at a significant disadvantage and marginalises them from the development process.
Protimos aims to level the playing field by supporting the professional development of local lawyers and by improving legal systems. In so doing, Protimos develops sustainable legal resources that enable communities to become active and effective participants in their own futures.