India has one of the world’s largest populations of pre-trial detainees: approximately a quarter of a million people. Whether they are accused or merely suspected of having committed a crime, these people languish in overcrowded, unsanitary, and dangerous prisons–often for years at a time. IBJ’s India program began in 2008 with an International Criminal Defense Training in New Delhi and the subsequent opening of the doors of the Defender Resource Center Delhi. Since then IBJ India has been tirelessly working alongside government institutions, and justice stakeholders to provide early access to a lawyer.

Impact in Numbers

India has a long legal tradition and is the birthplace of judicial activism in Asia. Legal infrastructure is in place and legal aid services are set up at national, state, and district levels. Police routinely turn to torture to coerce confessions as a substitute for investigation. According to reports, four people die every day as a consequence of torture or mistreatment while in custody. Through our work we have provided over 8000 people with access to a lawyer who otherwise would have been unable to afford it.

  • 1 Defender Rights Centre (DRC) in New Delhi.
  • 5,030 lawyers trained
  • 8,221 cases represented by IBJ lawyers
  • 890 justice sector officials trained through roundtables
  • 31,919 people reached through rights awareness
  • 19 training sessions which provided training to 891 legal stakeholders

Systems Change

IBJ India has created strategic partnerships across Delhi, to assist and support the work that is conducted at the Delhi Defender Resource Center. Partnerships have been created with the National Capital Territory of Delhi, the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) and Delhi Prisons (Tihar). These partnerships allow IBJ India to have a more sustainable impact, and to institutionalize their approach of early access to legal counsel.

High impact successes include:

  • Reaching 26 out of 29 States in India. 
  • Training of prisoners as paralegals with the Paralegal Centre of Ajmer Central Prison
  • Holding a criminal defender training with Four Supreme Court justices, including the Chief Justice, 16 High Court judges, and over 130 Indian legal aid lawyers, representing 26 of the 28 states in India, participated in the event, with the San Francisco Public Defender’s office providing pro-bono training.
  • Training of  lawyers to take on cases of indigent individuals as early as possible after arrest to prevent violations of their basic human rights such as torture or arbitrary detention and towards a greater pro bono culture and a more equitable and effective legal aid system.

Defender Resources

We provide training, tools, manuals, extensive eLearning modules and an India Defense Wiki page, developed with our partners, funded through grants, and resourced through pro-bono assistance. Our Defense Wiki alone has been accessed 270 thousand times and provides a valuable resource to justice stakeholders across India.

What we need

There are many ways to get involved, to help make a long term difference. Please get in touch.

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