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[Blog] Pro Bono Law Clinic & Victim Support Unit

Bhavish Budhoo

Who are we?

Pro Bono Law Clinic & Victim Support Unit is part of the Non-profit Governmental Organisation Dis-Moi, specialised in promoting Human Rights across the Indian Ocean. It was established in May 2019 and since then, the centre has registered more than 1000 beneficiaries. 

Pro Bono Law Clinic & Victim Support Unit is an independent organisation. We are dedicated to supporting people who are in desperate need of legal assistance and any other type of assistance available subject to our resources available. We are also a Victim Support group which provide our help to people affected by crime and traumatic incidents in Mauritius and Rodrigues, and we put them at the heart of our organisation. Victims of crimes including their families and/or any person directly or indirectly affected contact us and we provide a free and confidential support.

Our services are delivered by volunteer qualified lawyers, attorneys as well as pupil barristers with guidance from qualified lawyers.

What we do?

We offer a range of free legal advice and support services all around Mauritius and Rodrigues. Our aim is to help the society, while putting into practice what we have learned in law.

Most of our services are delivered locally through skilled staffs and volunteers who are deeply rooted in their respective professional fields. We have for instance the support of qualified lawyers and attorneys who help us to provide free legal advice to vulnerable people in society.

We receive around ten requests per day and as I said earlier, Pro Bono Legal Clinic has recorded more than 1000 beneficiaries since its launching. 
It is also worth noting that in February 2020, Mauritius went into lockdown and Pro Bono Law Clinic has even responded present during that period. Despite the difficulties caused by Covid-19, the majority of our services continued to function and it is through our services to online platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Skype or on the phone 5432 0374, that people contacted us. There was a sharp increase in the number of complaints received during confinement.

What are our objectives?

We at Pro Bono Law Clinic set ourselves aims and objectives every day so as to exceed our capacity to provide efficient and reliable service as well as to provide the best advice possible.

Some of our main aims and objectives set for this year are as follows:
• Providing an essential service in terms of legal advice to people who are facing difficult situations;
• Recognising the inequality and injustice in our society’s unmet legal needs;
• Improving access to justice by offering pro bono legal services across Mauritius and Rodrigues;
• Providing legal assistance to local, national and international communities;
• Promoting and upholding the profile of Probono Law Clinic & Victim Support Unit.

Types of issues

Our qualified experts provide assistance to all human beings and especially to the most vulnerable in our society, across many areas of law. We have up to date received issues regarding criminal law, domestic violence, employment law, family law, immigration law, land and property law amongst others. 

We do our best to provide accurate and precise information to each client. To make this possible, we have a dynamic team responsible for research work. 

It is also worth noting that since 2020, we have registered an increase in requests for help from people who are victims of police torture, domestic violence, those who lose their jobs or who face exaggerated requests from their owners.

Team Members

Our team consists of dynamic, dedicated and very motivating staffs including myself, Me Erickson Mooneapillay (Director), Catherine Hurree, Soobash Hurree, Mitch, Nabeela Aullymun (Attorney), Roshan Rajroop (Attorney).

Personal view

I am a member of Dis-Moi since 2016 and I have been an active member of Pro Bono Law Clinic & Victim Support Unit since the very day it was launched, that is in May 2019. I have been called to the Bar of Mauritius in January 2020 and ever since I have dedicated most of my free time to Pro Bono projects. Our team works relentlessly every day to make each and every Pro Bono project become successful. We try, using all our available resources to provide a competent service to every person in distress who knock at our door, regardless of their age, race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or any other personal opinion formed against that person. It is indeed an opportunity for us to learn more and gain valuable experience and we tackle each and every challenge using the best of our abilities. We interact with each client with a high level of professionalism and we also show a lot of empathy to people who have been victims of crimes.

Every advice we give to our clients is confidential. We also record the name and details of every person who contact us or register for our services. An application form is also provided to every person who comes to our centre for advice and he/she is asked to fill in same before benefiting from our precious and reliable piece of advice.

One amongst so many things which I have learnt and captivated my attention throughout my time at Pro Bono Clinic is the reality of the injustices in our society. Such injustices are more palpable in destitute families and they are often linked with poverty. This fresh dose of reality endowed me with a real drive to contribute as much as I can to Pro Bono Law Clinic & Victim Support Unit and to continue to engage in Pro Bono work throughout my future career.

Also, in addition to the work experience, working with the Pro Bono Legal team is a pleasure. It is highly motivating to be surrounded by a truly kind team sharing the same vision and who is always motivated to fight against injustices and promote access to justice and value those who may otherwise struggle to afford it.

My advice to all who aspire to become involved in Pro Bono work, especially newly called barristers and interns: please give it a go! It is totally worth the try! To be involved in Pro Bono work at the beginning of your career is one of the most useful ways to develop all the important skills and knowledge that you have acquired during your studies and to put them into practice. This will undoubtedly boost up your confidence as well as all other interpersonal skills that are essential for a prospective barrister. Additionally, at a young age it is often difficult to find any role or position where you have the power to make a difference in the life of people and to act in the betterment of the society. Thus, pro bono work does not only provide this opportunity but it is also an initiative to bring proactiveness and the desire to effect meaningful change for the benefit of the society as a whole.

Bhavish Budhoo
Barrister-at-law

 

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