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Visit to PILP office in Amsterdam

Chamindri Hiniduma Liyanage

27 Jan 2023

Strategic litigation and movement lawyering

On the 19th of January 2023, Clinicians visited the PILP office in Amsterdam. The PILP officers welcomed us warmly and gave us a presentation on their work. It was an interactive session. The PILP first explained what is strategic litigation, and the pros and cons of it with examples from their work. They talked about three important cases, the ‘Roma, Sinti and travellers’ case, risk profiling through the SyRI case and protecting the right to protest case. PILP officers especially discussed their ongoing case, “Ethnic profiling by Dutch Border Police’. It was interesting to learn about the challenges PILP faces with their cases. For example, PILP explained how much time and effort is taken to file cases.


At the end of the session, PILP officers discussed a new concept called ‘movement lawyering’. It was the first time most of us heard about it. We discussed the pros and cons of movement lawyering with PILP.

PILP explained how certain judgements are celebrated by academics and lawyers, but the affected communities might not always directly benefit from such judgments. PILP explained that the Roma community was dissatisfied with the outcome of the judgment of D.H. and Others v the Czech Republic case. The case concerned the ethnic segregation of Romani children in secondary education and was celebrated as a real victory on the prohibition of indirect discrimination. The judgment is taught in international human rights courses and is considered a landmark case on article 14 ECHR. However, the victory has not resulted in any change of the situation of the applicants involved in the case (who by the time of the judgment were beyond school age). Nor has the segregation problem of Romani children in school been fully resolved in the Czech Republic. This discussion made me reflect that not all landmark judgments bring immediate positive outcomes for the involved communities and to achieve real progress there should be social changes to that effect.

Overall, the session was very inspiring and interesting! Since I have experience working at a Public Interest Litigation back in Sri Lanka, the discussion was very reflective for me. I shared some of my experience with the PILP and other Clinicians. This was a memorable experience for the Clinicians and one of the best sessions of the RU Law Clinic and thus was a great learning opportunity!

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