Call For Application

Hope behind Bars Africa Initiative in partnership with Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide invites suitably qualified candidates to apply for its 1st Short Course on Capital Representation for Law Students and Young lawyers scheduled to take place in July 2020.


As at May 2020, 72.2% of people in correctional facilities in Nigeria are awaiting trial. Research indicates that indigent pre-trial detainees struggle to access legal representation as few attorneys specialize in criminal defense. Due to systemic failures and lack of resources innocent women and men risk been sentenced to death for offences they never committed. It is our belief that because the death penalty is an irreparable sanction, its imposition should only occur when the defendant is well-represented.

Course Overview

The course encourages its participants to approach death penalty representation strategically beginning from the first meeting with the client in prison. It includes topics that examine the steps involved in interviewing and counseling clients facing capital charges and how to elicit facts for mitigation investigation. Participants will be introduced to how issues of mental health and intellectual disability come to play in their client’s case.  Other presentations include International human rights law and how to approach UN treaty bodies, maximizing the law clinic experience to compete globally and a session that opens participants up to the possibilities in capital representation using the Malawi Capital Resentencing Project as a case study. Beyond the theoretical aspect, interested and selected participants will have the opportunity to learn empirically with the organization’s capital trial project.”


The faculty consists of practitioners from  Cornell University Center on Death Penalty Worldwide, the alumni of its Makwanyane Institute and its human rights partners combining both an academic analysis and a practical assessment of different human rights/death penalty situation faced by law clinic students and lawyers around the world.

Eligibility Criteria

Participants need to be :

  • Law students from 300 level to 500 level who have shown interest in pro bono work or are members of a law clinic. OR young lawyers  less than 3 years post call with demonstrable interest in human rights or criminal justice.
  • Be resident in Abuja, Nigeria.                

 *Female students and lawyers are strongly encouraged to apply.