An innovative crowdfunding platform for public interest litigation was launched today in response to the legal aid cuts. The first case for CrowdJustice – which will work like Kickstarter with ‘an all-or-nothing funding model’ – involves serious human rights allegations against BP.
‘Justice is a fundamental right and lack of access to funds simply can’t be a good enough reason for not being able to access the courts,’ comments CrowdJustice founder Julia Salasky. ‘Legal aid cuts and lack of access to justice is a problem that affects the most vulnerable very acutely – it’s hard not to feel gloomy about it. But all sorts of people can be affected by a legal issue – not just the person bringing the case – and it’s in those situations where crowdfunding might provide a ray of hope.’
Salasky began her career as a litigator at Linklaters before going on to work as a lawyer at the UN as a prosecutor in relation to war crimes followed by a post at the UN’s international trade law division. Following a stint at an environmental NGO, she launched CrowdJustice. You can find out more here.
CrowdJustice’s first case involves Colombian trade unionist Gilberto Torres who is – Salasky says – ‘a vulnerable person who is making a claim against UK fuel companies for atrocious human rights violations’. ‘It’s an unusual and complex case, but I think it affects any of us who believe in the right – or perhaps even the obligation – of human beings to hold truth to power,’ she says.
‘There is a desperate need for access to justice in cases of extreme human right violations like Gilberto’s,’ comments his lawyer Sue Willman of Deighton Pierce Glynn. ‘Crowd-funding is a chance to fill the gap. It is shocking that his claim could be silenced due to lack of funds. I am confident that enough people believe the corporations and governments should be held to account.’
Willman called CrowdJustice ‘a chance for justice to be done – not just in Gilberto’s case but in other cases where money not justice is the determining factor’.
You watch a film about Gilberto Torres who claims oil firms BP and Ocensa funded paramilitaries who abducted and planned to murder him on the Guardian website here
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