Training Key Agents

The HRCS is pleased to promote HELP, which is the Council of Europe’s European Programme for Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals. It is aimed at training judges, lawyers and prosecutors from across Europe, creating topical courses using distance and blended learning on a variety of human rights issues (e.g. business and human rights, asylum and the ECHR, the fight against discrimination and xenophobia, data and privacy rights) from the member states. The HELP Secretariat liaises with ‘info’ and ‘focal’ points in the member states, appointed experts who liaise with HELP and the national training institutions such as bar associations and law societies. HELP also trains national trainers to tailor the courses to the national legal orders and to adapt new courses.

Everything you need to know about HELP is explained in the video link below and on the HELP website: http://helpcoe.org/ and to a new, short video explaining the programme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FI0XnD9Xlic&feature=youtu.be

The HELP annual network conference this year (an event where best training practices are shared and ideas for future training and methodologies are discussed), had the theme ‘Inter-professional interactions in human rights training’.  There, legal professionals’ interactions with other professionals, e.g. psychologists, journalists, prison guards etc., were discussed. The outcome was that training will be developed by HELP to have an inter-professional aspect. This is explained further in the Conference report: http://helpcoe.org/sites/default/files/uploads-by-country/2015%20HELP%20Conference%20Report_FINAL.pdf

It is so important that judges, lawyers and prosecutors are well versed in human rights law in order for them to protect it effectively but also at how it is good for them to be sensitive to the work of other professions and to learn from their expertise e.g. for a psychologist/journalist to know the basics in asylum law but also for the lawyer to know best how to interview the claimant sensitively to their psychological needs and the journalist to cover the issue in an informed manner.

Scotland could benefit from this programme, as part of a Council of Europe member state, the UK.   The UK has very recently appointed a liaison, Simon O’Toole (sgot@sgotoole.com) from the English and Welsh Bar Association is a member of the HELP Consultative Board. He aims to liaise with the Faculty of Advocates in Scotland and the Law Society of Scotland and is working on ways to bring together the six Bar Associations within the UK to work on human rights training with HELP.  The Scottish Government can assist the programme and encourage the Scottish bar associations and The Law Society to work with HELP and get some HELP courses running in Scotland. They could even suggest appointing a focal or info point in Scotland, given our different national legal order.