History of Street Law

Street Law derives its name from the English saying of “the man on the Street”. The idea was conceived at George Town University in Washington DC, USA in 1972. It was born out of the need by academic staff in the University’s Law School to give students practical legal skills in the course of their legal studies. The Law students accompanied by their Lecturers moved to Police Stations in Washington DC to provide legal aid to indigent juveniles arrested and detained.

They advised juvenile offenders on how to secure release, prepare their defense once charged in court, their right to bail and how to conduct themselves in court. The scheme was later enhanced by legal education to the public and to the students and teachers in schools. It became very popular, was adopted by other universities and later spread to various continents of the world.

The idea of Street Law was introduced to Uganda in 1993 by a three member visiting team of three people from the Street Law Inc. Their mission was initiating Street Law programme in Uganda. It was initially founded on a tripartite arrangement as a programme of The Association of Women Lawyers in Uganda (FIDA), Legal Aid Project of Uganda Law Society (LAP) and the Human Rights and Peace Center of the School of Law Makerere University.

It has since mutated into an autonomous organisation, registering as a company limited by guarantee in Uganda with afliation to the parent Street Law in the USA. Street Law Uganda has been carrying out activities on human rights education in various districts, publication of human rights education and training as well as reading materials for the public and children; legal aid with the latest focus being legal representation for indigent prodemocracy activists beneftting more than 2,000 activists in the last four years. Others are strategic litigation and advocacy for policy and legal reforms, one of the kind
was advocacy on the Public Order Management Law.