Bring Justice & Protect Legally!

Legal Risk Reduction

Along Thai Myanmar border where many community-based organizations (CBOs) and civil society organizations (CSOs) work for community development, legalization holds huge risks for long term run. As of many difficulties of dealing with local authority or government for Thai rules and laws among many CBOs’ operation and program running, we (Suwannimit Foundation) stand for umbrella partners to strengthen operational capacity and programming impact with many ways through legal risk reduction. We support for property acquisition and management with ensuring and enabling long-term ownerships of partners and CBOs land and equipment by researching options and managing the acquisition process. Besides, we sponsor CBOs staff members for documentation such work visa, passports, stay permits including investigating risks and implications, and accompanying staff throughout process. Suwannimit also provides legal advice. With supports of legal experts and lawyers, we coordinate to support CBOs analyze decisions for legal requirements and risks for the organization or for individuals (e.g. tax impacts, rights of staff). Meanwhile, Suwannimit keeps up to date on government regulation and policy changes and analyze the impacts for CBOs, and summarizes and translates policies, forms, and materials as necessary. Legal interpretation and updated policy changes are at same time followed to support for CBOs further organization running.

Light House Project

Background

Light House (LH) project have been serving for legal protection, standing for vulnerable people to bring justice, managing and accepting cases, giving legal advice and counselling, and outreaching for communities’ awareness for Thai laws since 2012. The Light House was started and run by Thailand International Rescue Committee (IRC). The IRC closely worked with Mae Sot lawyer association for Light House project. In 2016, IRC referred the Light House project to Suwannimit Foundation, and we continue to run the Light House until present. The services and supports in the vulnerable communities for legal projection maintain the same as original purpose to bring more justice in communities. We are still outreaching for communities’ awareness, providing legal aids, and collaborating with Mae Sot lawyer association and partners.

Objectives

  • To increase more justice and peace in communities by standing for vulnerable people.
  • To increase legal supports at access to justice through counselling and advising.
  • To increase communities’ awareness about Thai laws along Tak border.

Strategies

We plan to raise communities’ awareness about Thai laws through communities’ outreach and radio broadcasting. We provide legal advice and counselling for the vulnerable people from communities, and further support in case management for legal concerns at access to justice or at court. We also collaborate with Mae Sot lawyer association and legal protection partners.

Activities

In order to increase communities’ awareness, we normally go for communities’ outreach as an activity of mobile legal clinic. We cover 6 topics from Thai laws in communities’ outreach and they are introduction on organization and services – victim rights in criminal cases, drug law, traffic law, sexual abuse law, physical abuse law, and migrant worker law. The targeted communities are 13 different communities from 5 districts of Tak; Tansongyang, Maeramat, Mae Sot, Phophrat and Umphang. Once per topic in each community is presented.

We also aim to reach out the awareness through radio broadcasting to those who are not from target communities or farther areas and other areas. The radio station belongs to MAP and we cooperate together to broadcast radio about Thai laws at 102.5 FM. The topics of Thai laws in broadcasting are the same we present at communities’ outreach.

In addition, with the support of lawyer, we have legal advice and counselling at Suwannimt office. The lawyer accepts the case and provides counselling whether the case is necessary to bring to court or access to justice.

Current Activities

We go outreach to communities 6 times a month. We have assigned a volunteer from each community to coordinate and organize to gather people as much as he/she can from community. Depends on their time available, the outreach about 2 hours is given whether in day time, afternoon, evening or night time.

For radio broadcasting, every Tuesday in the morning is the time to broadcast about Thai laws from Light House project. Every volunteer lawyer takes in turn to broadcast and answers received inquiries with interpreter.

Legal advice and counselling are opened for everyone from communities, and the service is available on Suwannimit office days and hours.

Impact

From the targeted communities, we have successfully completed to present 6 topics from Thai laws to 3 communities. In every outreach, people participate with different numbers with different genders. However, in average around 15 people who are mostly women has completed listened and comprehended the 6 topics from Thai laws.

We have done data analysis for case management received at Light House project. From 2012 to 2019 through legal advice and counselling, 229 cases have taken counselling (request for information) sections and 439 cases have been provided support to access to justice.

The figure 1 in the following is the data analysis of Access to Justice.

Figure 1

Future Plan

We plan to continue for communities’ outreach up to targeted 10 more communities along Tak border. Based on evaluation of previous outreach, we have realized that the majority of participants from communities are women, and men ought to participate in outreach presentation. Thus, we add a sport activity to build relation and fellowship with men, and persuade them to participate in presentation.

We also plan to give counselling training to communities’ volunteers how to diagnose and identify cases reported from communities before meeting with lawyer to access legal advice.

Light House project serves for legal protection from Thai laws, but in the future, we plan to collaborate with Myanmar legal Clinic that covers and serves for legal concerns of Myanmar laws. This aims to be convenient and smooth in referring cases between Thailand and Myanmar.