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News and awards

Clifford Chance Crowns the African Prisons Project the 2011 Winner of the Firm's Access to Justice Award

5 October 2011

Clifford Chance Crowns the African Prisons Project the 2011 Winner of the Firm's Access to Justice Award

Leading international law firm Clifford Chance announces that the African Prisons Project (APP), a charity which strives to secure the rights of men, women and children in African prisons, is the winner of the Firm's second annual Access to Justice Award. APP works in prisons in Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria and Sierra Leone and supports prisoners in four principal areas: healthcare, education, community integration and justice. By winning the award, APP will receive a combined donation of money and time by the Firm's funding, charity and volunteering arm, the Clifford Chance Foundation.

The Award, which aims to recognise the work of a charitable organisation that promotes access to justice, received over 80 nominations, ranging from local charities helping street children in India, Ghana, Columbia and Serbia through to an international NGO rebuilding the justice system in Afghanistan. A judging panel which included senior representatives from Aviva, the Bank of New York Mellon and Save the Children International selected the winner this summer[1]. The judges looked for not-for-profit organisations that help individuals, groups or communities preserve or secure their right to the basic necessities of life. APP has won a donation of £50,000 and 500 hours of pro bono volunteering hours to be utilised over an 18 month period.

Malcolm Sweeting, Clifford Chance's Senior Partner said: "The Access to Justice Award seeks to highlight and support the best organisations around the world that help secure the basic necessities of life and the African Prisons Project does exactly that – and more. The organisation's innovative and thematic approach to meeting this goal is very much aligned with our own and we are excited to be helping such a worthy cause, with an inspirational leader."

In 2012, APP plans to launch the Catalyst Crate, a starter pack containing a range of worksheets for inmates, information and equipment which will enable APP staff to improve prison life. It is a standardised kit, which will be sent to different prisons around Africa, allowing APP to lay down the foundations of its work so it can be built upon and delivered in a structured but flexible way, locally.

 The £50,000 will be used to train new and existing staff on how to implement the Crate in different prisons and to establish libraries in prisons. The pro bono hours will be used to:

  1. Help to develop the Catalyst Crate
  2. Identify inmates whose cases would be eligible for an appeal and support them through that process
  3. Mentor inmates via a 'pen pal' scheme to help build their communication and relationship-building skills

Alexander McLean, founder and director of APP said: "We are overjoyed to have won Clifford Chance's Access to Justice Award. When I first visited a prison in Uganda, I was struck by the lack of dignity faced by the prisoners there. I have spent the last 4 years setting up the African Prisons Project, aiming to protect the basic human rights of prisoners in Africa, building a hospital and a library amongst other projects. With Clifford Chance's help, we will be able to roll out the good work to benefit many other prisons in Africa. We are thrilled to have been selected."

Kirsty Cooper, General Counsel, Aviva said, "The quality of the submissions for Clifford Chance's Access to Justice Award was excellent – I was very impressed by the variety of work and the quantity of regions represented. However, it was the work of Alexander McLean and the APP which really shone – the organisation's values were shared by the panel and the excellent work deserves recognition and support in the future. African Prisons Project is certainly a worthy winner."

The Clifford Chance Foundation provides a way for the Firm to engage with local communities around three principal themes: Access to Education, Access to Finance and Access to Justice. Since its launch the Foundation has made donations to more than 200 different charities in 60 different countries.

[1] The judging panel was made up of the following people:

  • Kirsty Cooper, Group General Counsel at Aviva
  • David Mee, General Counsel for the Qatar Foundation Endowment
  • Paul Owers, Partner and General Counsel of Actis
  • Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive of Save the Children International
  • Joshua Rozenberg, Journalist
  • Jane Sherburne, General Counsel of Bank of NY Mellon
  • Malcolm Sweeting, Senior Partner, Clifford Chance
  • Roger Leese, Pro Bono Partner, Clifford Chance