Announcing Cornell’s Makwanyane Institute for Capital Defense Lawyers

A fair trial is essential to safeguard individuals’ human rights, including the right to life and liberty of the person. In states that continue to impose the death penalty, those accused of capital crimes often lack access to effective legal representation—a violation of their human rights that heightens the risk of wrongful convictions and death sentences. The duty of states to provide adequate legal representation is not fulfilled by the mere presence of an attorney: the right to legal representation entails the right to both effective and meaningful representation, as set forth in the best practices manual for capital defense attorneys published by the Cornell Center for the Death Penalty Worldwide.

Even though the quality of legal representation is “[p]erhaps the most important factor in determining whether a defendant will receive the death penalty,” inadequate legal representation remains, as catalogued by the Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide, a critical issue in all countries that impose capital punishment.

The Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide is pleased to announce the launch of the Makwanyane Institute, an intensive workshop that will provide capital defenders specialized training, litigation support, and community-building opportunities.

Named in honor of the South African Constitutional Court’s seminal decision abolishing the death penalty, the Makwanyane Institute will focus on a different geographical region and legal system each year. The first Makwanyane Institute, which will be held from 12 to 20 June 2017 in Cornell University Law School, will welcome 15 attorneys from common-law countries in Africa.

Application materials will be available in mid-October here on the Cornell Center for the Death Penalty Worldwide website. Register your interest and receive updates about the Institute.