Suella Fernandes is a Barrister and was Conservative candidate in Leicester East in 2005. She has just co-founded and chairs the Africa Justice Foundation, a new charity working to strengthen legal systems and improve access to justice though education and training in Africa.
I first visited Rwanda in 2008 with Andrew Mitchell, now Secretary of State for International Development, as a team member of the Umubano Justice Project.
Our volunteer lawyers taught advocacy, legal drafting, negotiation and substantive law to judges, government lawyers, community justice lawyers and law students over two weeks. We made new friends with the lawyers working hard to resolve land disputes in remote rural villages; with lawyers still seeking redress in genocide-related crimes; with lawyers from the Ministry of Justice working to draft new legislation on trade and commerce. We were warmly welcomed by law professors at the National University who are striving to improve the quality of education for their students.
Then, in 2010, I volunteered in Sierra Leone with the Umubano Project and met similarly-motivated lawyers in the capital, Freetown and in villages such as Makeni and Bo.
Returning to the UK, I was inspired by the role that these courageous and resourceful lawyers were playing in reconstructing their country in the aftermath of a devastating genocide. And I was more aware than ever of the wealth of information, institutional support and quality of training we receive here in the UK.