April 9, 2014 —
The University of Wyoming College Law is home to the only international human rights clinic in the Mountain West region. Since the inception of the clinic in 2011, students have traveled to 14 countries working on human rights advocacy projects. The most recent case has been a legal campaign for maternal health in Uganda.
In 2011, a collection of NGOs headed by the Center for Health, Human Rights & Development (CEHURD) filed a lawsuit that aims to ensure that Ugandan women have access to caesarean sections and essential medicines during childbirth. Approximately 435 Ugandan women die in childbirth for every 100,000 live births, most for want of basic medical care. CEHURD’s case seeks a judgment that Uganda’s government has violated its Constitutional obligation to safeguard the life and health of expectant mothers. Wyoming students are working closely with local lawyers on all aspects of the case.
Through the clinic and with the support of the Cheney International Center, second-year law student Jonathan McCoy traveled to Kampala, Uganda to observe an appeal before the Supreme Court of Uganda. In additional to his observations, McCoy was able to provide assistance to the non-governmental organizations that initiated the petition. On his return, Jonathan said, “I realized that the effects of the success in this case are far more reaching than I suspected when I was first assigned the case. That realization opened my eyes to the dynamics of the individuals, parties, and institutions involved in the case, which further illumined its potential impact for Ugandans, specifically, and East Africans, generally.”
In the last two weeks, Jonathan has collaborated with other students in the clinic to file submissions in the case.
Jonathan believes that the trip was a valuable experience that made a difference to the case. Invigorated by the trip, he was reminded why he came to law school in the first place. Jonathan says, “Working with people, influencing people, and learning to wield a pen that is mightier than the sword all came together for me from my work on this case.”
For more information on the Center for Human Rights and Advocacy and the International Human Rights Clinic, please visit our webpage or contact the UW College of Law.