Providing International HELP (Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals)

29 Jun 2015

At CSEL we emphasise the importance of taking an interdisciplinary approach to decision making, in order to bring together the best knowledge from the relevant fields. Through our work with authorities internationally, we’ve been glad to see that the value of the interdisciplinary approach is increasingly widely understood by decision makers, too. Early in June I travelled to Strasbourg to contribute to a Council of Europe (CoE) event bringing legal and non-legal professionals together to extend practical skills for lawyers working on human rights cases.

Our human rights

Photograph by Zack Lee, Creative Commons license

HELP, the European Programme for Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals (HELP) is a project of the CoE that aims to support EU member states’ implementation of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) by ensuring adequate training in Convention standards for legal professionals. HELP also promotes the dissemination across member states of relevant case law from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). HELP aims to ensure that is embedded in the training for all legal professionals, to ensure that national human rights legislation is appropriately implemented, and the programme targets the key legal actors in European asylum processes: judges, prosecutors and lawyers.

I was invited to bring CSEL’s expert knowledge of the psychological issues relevant to credibility assessment into the HELP knowledge exchange process. Working with human rights lawyer Flip Schuller, I gave a presentation on the breadth of scientific psychological evidence available to lawyers and decision makers considering claims for protection from human rights abuses to 200 legal trainers from across the 47 EU member states. The audience included judicial trainers, all attending in order to consider how to incorporate other disciplines in their legal training.

With so many high-level legal trainers in one room, the conference provided an excellent dissemination opportunity - and a chance to address lawyers and decision makers who are considering not just the refugee convention, but the wider world of protecting people from abuses of their human rights. I’m looking forward to further work with the HELP network, and more opportunities to take CSEL’s research findings to human rights defenders across European jurisdictions.