In 1965, the United Kingdom unceremoniously deported the Chagossians, an indigenous population, from the Chagos Archipelago, to set up a military base on Diego Garcia. The forcible removal of the Chagossians from their homeland is in contravention of the principles and norms of international law.
The lawyers at SPEAK, in collaboration with Clifford Chance LLP and UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic, a student litigation and advocacy project at American University’s Washington College of Law, assist the Chagossians in enforcing their right to return to the Chagos Archipelago.
Since 2010, the firm’s pro bono work is done through the establishment of an NGO, SPEAK Human Rights & Environmental Initiative. SPEAK provides legal services to marginalized communities where international fundamental human rights and/or environmental violations have occurred. (www.speakhumanrights.org)
During, the civil war period in Sri Lanka, which lasted for 26 years, egregious crimes were perpetrated against civilians at the behest of military officials of the Sri Lankan Government at the material time.
By January 2009, in the course of defeating the Tamil Tigers, about 100,000 casualties were estimated as a result of attacks carried out in “no-fire” zones. Military officials did not deem it necessary to differentiate between combatants and civilians.
The above led to allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity from the international community and was universally condemned. The United Nations has systematically reiterated the need to probe into these allegations and to fight impunity.
The lawyers at SPEAK assist targeted civilians in a bid to ensure that perpetrators of these international crimes are held accountable.
Following an announcement made by the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, to review the boundaries and size of Loliondo Game Controlled Area, in the Ngorongoro District in Northern Tanzania, from 4,000 square kilometres to 1,500 square kilometres, approximately 42,000 Maasai pastoralists who have lived there for about two centuries, are living under the threat of being deported from their home.
Consequently, the Maasai Tribe might be forcibly removed from their ancestral land in breach of established norms and principles of international law. The United Republic of Tanzania in sheer disregard of fundamental human rights and coupled with restrictive domestic legislation, has shown no sympathy for the Maasai tribe.
SPEAK assists the Maasai community to ensure that their fundamental human rights are protected including initiating such proceedings as it deems fit at the regional and international levels.