Over 130 criminal legal aid lawyers from 26 Indian States underwent an intensive 3-day training programme, co-hosted by International Bridges to Justice (Geneva, Switzerland) and New Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA) from 10-13 July, 2008, at the Habitat Centre in New Delhi. The Training Conference entitled, URGENCY, COURAGE, PASSION – International Criminal Defence Training Conference: A Session for Legal Aid Advocates, was facilitated by trainers from International Bridges to Justice, San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, and DLSA.

The Conference – attended by 138 advocates representing indigent clients from 26 Indian states – was introduced by the Chief Justice of India, Honorable Mr. Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, at the inauguration dinner on 10 July, 2008.

The proceedings were also attended by three other Supreme Court Justices and at least 16 High Court judges.

Training sessions on topics such as cross-examination, framing a theory of a case, and developing advocates’ abilities to paint a defence picture through storytelling, were among many topics included during the training.

Trainees also underwent exercises examining the past and present state of criminal justice system in India and devised plans to improve the Indian criminal justice system and the rule of law in the country.

“This was a phenomenal event,” said IBJ founder and CEO Karen Tse. “Criminal defence lawyers from many regions of India gathered and indicated their commitment to improving criminal defence, securing early access to counsel, and working towards the prevention of torture.”

Experts discussed important legal issues with participants such as examining forensic evidence, expediting cases, getting clients released on bail, and plea bargaining, a process which only became a part of Indian law in 2006.

“IBJ is committed to the improvement of criminal justice system in India and I am touched by the dedication and diligence of the criminal legal aid lawyers that attended the training,” Tse added.

As the event drew to a close, attendees expressed their desire to bring the training to other locales in India. The judges, in particular, pointed to the need for similar trainings to take place at a regional level, especially within the country’s rural areas.

About International Bridges to Justice
International Bridges to Justice was founded in 2000 by Karen Tse, an American lawyer and ordained minister, to provide legal training to defence advocates worldwide in order to prevent torture and ensure accused persons adequate legal representation. IBJ has programs in six other countries including China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Burundi, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and has just recently registered in India.