Protimos is an organisation that challenges the unjust exploitation of communities in Southern Africa by training young local lawyers to support communities in asserting their legal rights.
We believe that the rule of law is one of the most effective tools available to alleviate poverty and fight injustice. The power of legal precedent means that a ruling can have effects far beyond the community that it directly impacts. Successful implementation of ‘The Rule of Law’ depends on effective and well trained lawyers, competent and wise judges and strong legal frameworks.
Our Community Legal Empowerment Programme sets out to achieve these ends. In 2014, Protimos set up the Seinoli Legal Centre, the first stand-alone public interest legal centre in Lesotho, to support local people who have been adversely affected by the building of dams as part of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. Protimos does not provide relief to individuals. Its legal battles are fought on behalf of communities where the creation of a legal precedent will benefit thousands of others who are similarly affected.
In 2016 Protimos initiated the Judicial Action Group (JAG), a peer-led group of elite African Judges. These judges, joining from across the continent, work on a range of aspects of judicial capacity, emerging law, and an understanding of the judicial challenges which affect many African countries. The JAG leadership seeks to overcome these challenges, and strengthen their legal frameworks, thus increasing corporate certainty and community resource rights, to the benefit of all. In 2019 the Group met for the third time, in Cairo.
Many of the problems that Protimos encounters would not arise in the first place if a clear protocol had existed, articulating corporate responsibilities towards communities who are adversely affected by corporate or state sponsored development. The Green Light Programme comprises a set of such protocols incorporating such emerging legal norms as Free Prior and Informed Consent, that will ensure a level playing field, and provide valuable legal certainty both to companies wanting to avoid future litigation, and to communities who face resource risk.
There are many more communities that would benefit from thebuilding blocks of the Rule of Law that Protimos is already providing to some. Protimos is sustained by the generous contributions of our institutional backers and private donors; the support it receives makes a significant difference.