Our work providing legal aid in Nepal is now more critical than ever. In August 2018, a new provision of Nepal's Criminal Procedure Code was signed into law. It specifies that the government will appoint counsel only for accused persons facing more than 10 years imprisonment. This leaves the vast majority of poor accused of petty crimes ineligible for government legal aid services and counting on the ILF for quality representation.
70 percent of our clients belong to at-risk groups, including lower castes, indigenous people, juveniles, and women.
After the Nepalese Civil War ended in 2006, the country developed an interim constitution which included a right to counsel. Yet government infighting and lack of resources severely limited the public defense system’s ability to function. Seeing a clear need for quality legal aid to uphold the constitutional right to counsel, in 2008, the ILF established the first independent public defender office in Nepal.
After 10 years of intense mentorship and capacity building, our Nepal program is now locally-led and independently registered as the Public Defender Society of Nepal (PDS- Nepal). Today, the ILF and PDS- Nepal work in close partnership to expand access to legal aid in Nepal.
Our Work in Nepal
Expanding access to legal aid for vulnerable populations.
Reducing pretrial detention, torture and coercion.
Decreasing time between arrest and first contact with a lawyer.
Empowering women leaders in the criminal justice system.
Forced to Confess
In Nepal and around the world, police coercion is not uncommon. Rishikant was jailed for more than seven years for a crime he didn't commit until the ILF's partner, PDS-Nepal, secured his release.