On the 15th of March 2016, the Habeas Corpus Project had the honor of hosting Professor Werner Menski, retired professor from the SOAS University School of Law specializing in South Asian studies. Professor Menski provided training to staff, volunteers and trustees on his Kite Model of Law.
Professor Menski’s Kite Model of Law is particularly relevant and applicable to the Habeas Corpus Project’s work of providing pro bono legal representation in challenging unlawful detention of migrants and asylum seekers in the UK. The Kite Model of Law proceeds on the basis of taking a legally pluralistic stance which reflects global socio-legal realities (Menski 2011). A socially responsible approach, Menski argues, that acknowledges society, culture and competing value systems is necessary in teaching of the law (Menski 2011). A disregard of the latter is one akin to the challenges of kite flying; where one wrong move could compromise and risk a crash of the legal structure (Menski 2011). Importantly, the four corners of the kite incorporate what Menski finds are four competing laws which are crucial to consider in the decision making processes; namely, nature, society, state law and international law. The first corner, nature, takes into account factors such as religion, ethics and nationality. The next corner, society, pays mind to socio-legal approaches in decision making. The third corner of has the theory of positivism at its core and the final corner, international law, takes human rights into account.
This training has helped the Habeas Corpus Project to provide a comprehensive legal learning experience to those committed to challenging unlawful detention. A legally pluralistic approach to this challenge informs our work on a daily basis in advocating for individuals right to liberty. This feat is a particularly complex one, where individual’s human rights are central and furthermore, considerations of the social and legal remain relevant. It remains dually important for us to flag these implications to the State, where we seek to elucidate that detention produces profound impacts on individuals lives. Considerations of the physical and mental toll, lack of access to justice and medical services, previous experiences of torture or sexual abuse are central to our work; an approach which finds its roots in the acknowledgement of legal pluralism.
The Habeas Corpus Project would like to thank Professor Menski for a thought provoking presentation and we greatly look forward to expanding the community’s knowledge on issues of unlawful detention.