HURILAWS started in 1997 as a specialist provider of human rights legal services. Today, HURILAWS is also a public policy think-tank and pressure group working in partnership with multi-sector development and change actors to promote accountable and transparent governance in Nigeria. In particular, HURILAWS is the driver of the Multi-Sector Law Group (MSLG), which is a multi-disciplinary network of civil society actors and organizations for democratic change in Nigeria, chaired by Olisa Agbakoba, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and founder of HURILAWS. HURILAWS is able to draw on the skills of a wide range of specialists in law, public and economic policy, among its staff and associates from the law firm of Olisa Agbakoba Legal
HURILAWS advances human rights in Nigeria using the following tools, among others:
• Strategic Impact (test case) Litigation
• Legislative Advocacy
• Legal Aid/Assistance
• Capacity Building
• Research and Publications
HURILAWS is an independent, non-profit service, dedicated to providing public interest and human rights law services to advance the legal protection of human rights. HURILAWS assists victims, lawyers, judges and NGOs in the preparation of cases before the courts; conducts workshops and seminars on reforming the administration of justice; publishes ‘The HURILAWS NEWSLETTER’ to ensure that developments in human rights law and practice are widely disseminated; utilizes regional and international human rights treaty mechanisms to establish judicial norms. HURILAWS has working relations with the Episcopal Commission for Justice, Development & Peace Commission of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria and the Inter-African Network for Human Rights & Development (AFRONET). HURILAWS holds Observer Status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
An independent, non-profit service, HURILAWS is dependent on support from grant makers and donations from individual supporters.
A 1995 country study of the legal protection of human rights in Nigeria by Olisa Agbakoba for the International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights [INTERIGHTS] and the Inter-African Network for Human Rights and Development [AFRONET] identified a critical need for specialist human rights law service providers.
This need derived from the history and structure of the human rights movement in Nigeria. Human rights activism in Nigeria has focused primarily on campaigning, documentation, research, and advocacy on violations and abuses of human rights. Nigerian NGOs acquired considerable expertise in investigating, monitoring and reporting of human rights abuses and campaigning to eradicate these abuses. By the early 1990s, a degree of specialization had developed among Nigerian NGOs along ‘strategy’ and ‘issue’ lines. Some NGOs employed litigation as a tool for advancing their respective causes from the death penalty to gender equity, but this was largely on an ad hoc basis. Experience has shown that while conventional human rights organizations are well suited to investigating and reporting on human rights violations, they do not necessarily have the time, resources or capacity to effectively engage in public interest litigation.
HURILAWS was established to advance human rights through organized and consistent public interest litigation. We decided to specialize in this field as a result of the absence of specialist human rights litigators. We considered that the provision of a specialist public and human rights law services, provided by legal professionals with extensive expertise in the field, would benefit civil society and advance the development of a rights-based jurisprudence.
The legal professionals at HURILAWS have extensive experience in litigating human rights cases under the aegis of the law firm of Olisa Agbakoba and Associates. Much of the human rights litigation done by the legal staff of Olisa Agbakoba & Associates in the months prior to January 1997 dovetailed into activities under HURILAWS. They are committed to using their experience to assist not only individual victims of human rights abuses but also civil society institutions, disadvantaged communities, and groups, youth organizations, community-based organizations and trade unions.
The core activities of HURILAWS are public interest and human rights litigation, legislative advocacy, and legal assistance.
• Establishing human rights legal standards and advancing the application of human rights norms through high test cases
• Promoting legal and judicial reform through legislative advocacy
• Providing legal assistance to disadvantaged persons, communities and groups
• Advancing the application of international legal instruments on human rights in Nigerian law
• Advancing the application of social and economic rights in Nigerian law through legislative advocacy and constitutional litigation.
• Facilitating collaboration with national and international NGOs to promote good governance through law in Africa.
• Undertaking any other programmes, activities, and initiatives that can secure and enhance the above objectives.
HURILAWS is a registered charity (Non-Governmental organization) under the Companies and Allied Matters Decree 1 of 1990 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is registered with a Board of Trustees and organized around an Advisory Board and a Management Board. The Advisory Board sets policy for the organisation while the Management Board deals with the daily management and administration of the organization
HURILAWS publishes the HURILAWS Newsletter, a quarterly review of human rights law and practice. The publication is primarily directed at the legal community.