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Justice in Crisis: COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten vulnerable populations, including millions of people held in jails and prisons around the world. We're fighting to protect their rights and get them home safely. 

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Our COVID-19 Response

  • Defending the health and safety of our clients and fighting for release case by case 

  • Advocating at all levels of government for decarceration and sweeping measures to protect vulnerable people in detention as well as justice sector staff

  • Pushing back on abuses of power

  • Being a resource for the justice community in this moment of crisis 

  • Protecting our staff who are essential workers by enacting necessary safety measures and remote work when possible

Key COVID-19 Concerns

Protecting Vulnerable People: The World Health Organization has cited detention facilities as high risk for the spread of COVID-19 due to overcrowding, poor sanitation, and limited personal protective equipment. The ILF is fighting case by case for our clients' swift release. In Afghanistan, Myanmar, Nepal, Palestine, and Tunisia, we are advocating at all levels of government, for widespread decarceration and increased safety measures in detention facilities and courthouses. 

Keeping Officials Accountable: Winning positive reforms that protect health and human rights is just the first step. Those words on paper must be turned into action. The ILF is working to ensure that once passed, legislation and guidance are adhered to and fully implemented by security officials and arbitrators of justice.

Defending Due Process: Given a global transition to remote alternatives to in-person court procedures, increased lockdowns, and the implementation of policies in adherence with social distancing guidelines, the ILF is working to ensure that new policies and procedures do not violate people’s rights.

"In recognition of the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on criminal justice systems around the world and its disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities, over 800 people from over 75 countries joined this special virtual convening."

Read the full outcome document and list of recommendations here.


With two decades of experience protecting detainees impacted by infectious diseases, natural disasters, and conflict, the ILF is committed to being a resource for the legal aid community and justice actors in this moment of crisis. Find key resources below and visit our resources page for other COVID-19-related guidance. 

Technical Guidance

Quick guide for empowering legal aid providers with a framework for actions they can take to address the COVID-19 pandemic and limit the severity of the impact on people in detention.

(Available in English, Arabic, Dari, Nepali, and Burmese)

ILAC 2020: International Conference on Access to Legal Aid


This year's conference held September 14th-18th, 2020, virtually convened more than 800 legal aid providers and justice stakeholders from around the world. Leaders exchange strategies and expertise on how to address urgent concerns related to access to justice during the pandemic including: 

  • Advocating for the release and protection of people deprived of liberty

  • Holistic representation and access to justice for vulnerable and marginalized groups

  • Combatting systemic racism and discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, gender, religion, and other statuses.

Visit the ILAC website​ to learn more and watch panel discussions from this year's conference.

Latest COVID-19 News

Read the latest updates on evolving COVID-19 challenges and how we are responding:

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