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Latham & Watkins seals pro bono victory in torture case

By Megan Malloy

22 November 2012 at 12:35 BST

A former Somali security chief was found guilty this week of torturing a leading human rights advocate and constitutional law professor in a landmark case that saw a global US law firm acting for the victim.

Somalia: landmark human rights case

Somalia: landmark human rights case

The conviction of Colonel Abdi Aden Magan for abusing Abukar Hassan Ahmed marks the first time a member of the Somali National Security Service has been held accountable for human rights violations committed during the 20 years of the Siad Barré military dictatorship.
Colonel Magan fled Somalia when the regime collapsed in 1991 and found a safe haven in Ohio. The case was settled after almost two decades of investigation. Prof Ahmed is now a legal adviser to the New Somali Government and helped draft the Somali Human Rights Bill.
‘We are honoured to represent Professor Ahmed, a bold individual, who had the courage to stand up to the man responsible for his arbitrary detention and brutal torture,’ said Christina Hioureas, a lawyer at the New York office of global law firm Latham & Watkins, which represented Prof Ahmed on a pro bono basis in tandem with the Centre for Justice and Accountability.

Australian efforts

Meanwhile, Australian lawyers have boosted pro bono efforts by forming a specialist committee of the Australian Lawyers Alliance. The group has been launched in part to address the 500,000 Australians who are not eligible for legal aid each year, reports the New Lawyer magazine.
‘By offering up members of our organisation, in conjunction with the National Pro Bono Resource Centre, a strong collaborative can be forged to increase, in some small way, resources to help stem the tide of people that continue to fall through the cracks,’ said ALA national president Tony Kerin.


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