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Sonkita Conteh

Sonkita Conteh is the Co-Founder and Director of Namati, which works on land protection and environmental justice in Sierra Leone. Sonkita is a legal practitioner of the High Court and holds a master's degree in human rights and democratisation from the University of Pretoria. As a consultant for two years with the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions Africa Office in Ghana, he researched and reviewed law and policy on the right to water and sanitation in South Africa and Ghana. Sonkita drafted briefs, publications, training manuals and provided training to civil society organizations. With over 12 years' litigation experience, he is a member of Sierra Leone’s General Legal Council, the body that regulates the legal profession in the country since March 2016. He was recently appointed to the Sierra Leone Bar Association's Law Reports Committee to help produce new volumes of law reports and in 2017; he was selected for the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellowship.

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Namati
Model
Non-profit Social Enterprise
Sectors
Justice and Law; Public Finance and Social Protection; Human Rights; Civic Participation
Headquarters
USA
Areas of Impact
South Asia, Africa, ASEAN, Sierra Leone, Uganda, USA, Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Myanmar

Namati

Billions of people live outside the protection of the law. They can be driven from their land, extorted by officials, and intimidated by violence. Namati is dedicated to placing the power of the law in the hands of people.

Namati trains and deploys community legal workers who work with communities – also known as barefoot lawyers or community paralegals – to advance justice. Together with grassroots partners in 10 countries, Namati has supported clients (direct beneficiaries) to protect community lands, enforce environmental law, and secure basic rights to healthcare and citizenship. Paralegals are trained in basic law and in skills like mediation, organizing, education and advocacy. They treat their clients as empowered citizens rather than victims requiring an expert service. Paralegals rigorously track data on every case, from the steps the clients take and which laws they invoke to the way institutions respond and whether bribes are requested in the process. Together with their clients, Namati uses this information to generate evidence-based proposals for policy change and to advocate for systemic changes that affect millions of people – such as stronger protections for the land rights of women in Sierra Leone or better procedures for the enforcement of environmental law in India.

Namati deploys several strategies to achieve systemic change: high-level advocacy, public awareness campaigns, and capacity building of paralegals at the grassroots level. They share their insights and learning in the form of articles, manuals, short videos, and illustrated guides for practitioners and communities. Namati convenes the Global Legal Empowerment Network, the world's largest community of grassroots justice practitioners and advocates. This network of more than 1,400 groups and over 5,000 individual members from every region in the world learn from one another and collaborate to bring justice everywhere. Namati fosters learning and collaboration across this community through an online discussion platform and selective in-person exchanges. The network's virtual hub hosts the largest collection of resources for legal empowerment practitioners.