What is a Human Rights Brigade?
The mission of Human Rights Brigades is to empower rural
communities in Panama to overcome the obstacles that often
impede the fundamental human right of access to justice
through legal counsel and educational workshops. Human
Rights Brigades volunteers have the opportunity to gain
first-hand experience shadowing Panamanian lawyers to provide pro-bono legal consulting to rural communities. Volunteers will shadow and assist lawyers as they take on cases with individual families and provide legal consulting to community members.
Human Rights Brigades primarily works with rural
communities that are under resourced and largely unaware
of their own legal rights. Additionally, volunteers provide legal capacity building workshops on various legal concepts to
empower communities through education and action. Between brigades, Global Brigades’ in-country staff works to secure legal outcomes and provide follow-up to the families and community groups.
Student volunteers do not need prior knowledge in Panamanian legal frameworks, as they will be shadowing Panamanian lawyers who will be helping to educate students on Panamanian laws and guiding them through the process of case intakes, referrals, and relevant legal workshops with community members.
Human Rights Project Components
Pro-Bono Legal Clinics: Legal clinics offered by Global Brigades provide free legal services, where Panamanian lawyers, shadowed by Human Rights Brigade volunteers, offer legal advice to communities, families, and individuals with unresolved disputes or questions. These clinics are meant to provide no cost access to legal services that were previously denied or unavailable.
Family Law Cases: Global Brigades’ lawyers find and select family law cases to present to volunteers, such as child custody, alimony, divorce, domestic violence, and criminal cases. Volunteers then perform interviews and intake procedures to collect information that will be used by the Human Rights staff to resolve the cases that would have been unattended completely or otherwise unresolved for many more years.
Civic Engagement and Empowerment: One of the main resources that drives empowerment is education. In order to properly assist community members to overcome the obstacles found within their legal system to combat misinformation and a lack of legal knowledge, volunteers develop educational materials and deliver workshops on a variety of topics to present in local schools and groups within the community.
Brigade Length & Logistics
The Human Rights Brigade is for 7-10 days in Panama. Interested Human Rights Chapters will work with a Global Brigades Advisor to select their brigade dates and book their airfare through Global Brigades' travel partners. Each Chapter then fundraises for the program contribution and airfare needed for the brigade. Upon arrival in Panama, Global Brigades staff pickup students from the airport and transport students to a safe and secure lodging facility where they will be lodged throughout the duration of the brigade. Each day volunteers and staff commute to and from the community to provide workshops and consulting. All meals, in-country transportation, coordinators, translators, and supplies are provided during the brigade.