In June 2011, DBU College of Law was first established and commenced its operation on a department level under the College of Social Science and Humanities. The law program was launched with fifty regular and forty-one extension students enrolled in the LL.B program. During the time of its establishment, there were only four academics and one administrative staff. In 2012, the DBU law department was upgraded to a College level following a major restructuring of academic units in the university and had come a long way since then.
In 2018 academic year, the College launched its first LL.M program in Business and Investment Law. Currently, twenty-six students are enrolled in the LL.M program.
The number of academic staff has significantly reached above thirty and the number of students has quadrupled reaching two hundred and eighty-seven. In 2016, the first thirty-three batch of the regular LL.B program students have graduated after successfully passing the National Exit Examination.
Currently, eight of the academic staffs are on a PhD study leave working in the areas of Human Rights, Federalism, Tax and Investment, and International Trade Law; whereas two academic staffs of the College are pursuing their LL.M studies.
Despite being one of the youngest academic units in the history of the university, the college is making major advancements. The College is striving to create a platform where academic and policy debates and discussions would take place. The college is working to build an epistemic community that would generate fresh insights and informs discourses and decision-making. It is for this strong desire that the college launched an initiative called ‘Eve of Friday Seminar’ with the intention to stimulate debates among our staff on contemporary topics.
Cognizant of the need to inspire our students and increase their exposure, the College also prepares public lectures where top-notch scholars are engaged in a conversation with the academic community. The College in collaboration with other stakeholders such as Amicus Media Promotion and Communication organized forums where students of the College debate on current issues. With a view to strengthening our student’s practical skills, the College organized and participated in various internal and external moot court competitions in which the College’s delegates were managed to show their outstanding performance.
In addition, the College also believes that improving the capacity of the staff is crucial for the quality of legal education. To this end, the College supported the staff’s effort of capacity building as a result of which various academic staff took short and medium-term local as well as international training which enhanced their capacity.
Beyond the teaching-learning process, the College is also deeply engaged with researching a wide range of topics that are relevant to the community of the North Shewa and beyond. Among others, our staff conducted empirical studies on various issues such as on the implementation of environmental impact assessment, inclusive education, accessibility of infrastructures for persons with disabilities, human trafficking, community policing, and on prisoner’s and consumer’s rights (for the list of research studies conducted by our staff, click here).
Over the past few years, with all its limitations, the College worked extensively to expand access to justice to vulnerable groups such as women and children through its free legal aid service center. The College renders service ranging from legal advice to court representation free of charge and these services play a significant role in ensuring access to justice in North Shewa Zone.
So far the College provides the free legal aid service in four centers two of which are located at Debre Berhan while the remaining two are located in the neighboring towns of ShewaRobit and Chacha. In July 2013, since its establishment, the College’s free legal aid service served more than 10,000 clients and the service has an estimated value of more than 2.3 million Birr. In addition to the College’s academic staff, fourth and fifth-year law students also participate in the provision of the service with close supervision of the academic staff.
The College’s community service engagement also includes the provision of various training deemed to fill the gaps in the legal knowledge and skill. In this regard, the College provided numerous trainings to employees of various institutions of North Shewa Zone and Woreda under the Zone such as the Police; Women, Children and Youth Affairs; Labor and Social Affairs (click here for the list of some selected training programs conducted by the College’s staff).
We are also extending the tentacles of our community engagement in the area of environmental protection by establishing an Environmental Law Center within the College. This is in consideration of the rapid flow of investments in DebreBerhan town where the university is located. The town has been making a headline for ‘drooling investors’, both local and foreign, since recent times. Owing to its proximity to the center; sustainable peace; and quick investment service delivery, the town is attracting a large number of investors and emerging as an industrial hub in the country. While it is evident that these investments are opportunities that contribute to the economic development of the town and beyond, they are also environmental risks to the surrounding community.
In 2018, around one thousand seven hundred local residents approached DebreBerhan University College of Law Free Legal Aid Center seeking legal assistance against the pollution allegedly caused by a tannery. That triggered the College to establish a task force not only to respond to the complaints but also to extend its investigation on other factories which are claimed to be a pollutant. The task force composed of three senior members of the College academic staff selected four factories and conducted a thorough investigation in cahoots with environmental offices and enforcing agents. The findings were finally compiled as a report and submitted to the regional environmental office, which led a further investigation by a team of experts from the office and Abay Basin Authority.
Inspired by the College’s contribution in bringing the matter to the attention of the relevant authorities and taking apposite legal measures, the College has decided to establish an ‘Environmental Law Center’ with the aim to:
- Conduct research and survey on environmental and sociological impacts of investment projects;
- Prepare well-arranged archive of research findings, laws and other related literature;
- Initiate and organize capacity building activities such as training, workshop, and experience sharing programs for stakeholders;
- Prepare and disseminate environmental law compliance guidebook;
- Serve as a resource hub for any interested party;
- Sensitize and create public awareness of environmental standards;
- Systematically follow-up the performance of investment projects and release reports on their compliance or non-compliance with environmental laws and standards as well as the requirements regarding the use of natural resources;
- Represent victims of environmental offenses before the court of law;
- Initiate and handle public interest litigation, before all levels of courts and administrative bodies/tribunals, against any one whose investment project is found to be violating environmental and natural resource laws, standards or requirements; and
- Engage the youth in environmental activism by creating and supporting environmental clubs, and organizing national debates on environmental issues.
In this respect, we are collaborating with both the federal and the regional environmental offices to mitigate the environmental risks looming with the large inflows of investment.
The college is also collaborating with institutions both local and international to strengthen our engagement in academia, research, and community service.
Currently, we are collaborating with institutions on the following projects:
The Belt and Road Initiative Leadership Education Network
The Belt and Road Initiative Leadership Education Network is a three-year project funded by the British Council UK-China-BRI Countries Partnership Fund and led by the African Leadership Centre (ALC), King’s College London, as a joint collaboration between: -
College of Law, Debre Berhan University; Centre for African Studies, Peking University; Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi; Department of Political Science, University of Pretoria; Department of Political Science and Public Administration, University of Buea; Department of History and International Studies, University of Jos; Department of International Relations, Obafemi Awolowo University; College of Law, Institute of African Studies, and the University of Legon.
The project aims to utilise and adapt the ALC’s unique Leadership training programmes, to develop transferrable and scale-able Masters-level Global Leadership Modules through online and blended learning. In September 2019, as part of the project, DBU College was able to participate in the meeting of the “Universities Network on Global Leadership, Peace and Development: Creating Educational and Societal Transformation”, held in London
Addis Ababa University Centre for Human Right
In 2018, DBU College of Law and Addis Ababa University Centre for Human Rights started collaboration after the Centre donated 250,000 Birr to the College of Law legal aid service. The College utilized the donation by undertaking its legal aid service which in return benefited thousands of clients. Since 2019, Addis Ababa University Centre for Human Rights opened the Centre intended to promote human rights of vulnerable groups; and provision of legal aid service. In this respect, the staff of the DBU College participated in the delivery of the service and the promotion of human rights through local radio programs.
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