#FreeRusesabagina Campaign Launches Legal Defense Fund on Non-Profit Legaler Aid
It has been nearly three months since Paul Rusesabagina was kidnapped while traveling in Dubai and extrajudicially detained in Rwanda. Rusesabagina is the humanitarian hero whose incredible story of saving 1,268 people during the Rwandan genocide was told in the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda. The #FreeRusesabagina campaign, along with Paul’s family, continues to fight to secure his freedom and a fair trial. A team of international human rights lawyers have been engaged, as well as security for Paul’s family. To help finance this, the #FreeRusesabagina legal defense fund has now published its case on Legaler Aid, the charitable legal tech platform launched this year.
Legaler Aid is a non-profit crowdfunding site that empowers litigants fighting for social justice to raise funds for the legal support they need. Donors give directly to the cases they want to fund and remain engaged through live, transparent updates. Built by a team of technologists and legal experts, Legaler Aid’s mission is to leverage technology to address the global ‘justice gap’ that sees 5 billion people worldwide living without access to legal help. Donations to LegalerAid’s campaigns are tax-deductible in the United States and Australia.
“In 2020, access to justice is all that I and the Legaler team think about. We’re facing the greatest justice crisis of our times, compounded by the pandemic and the backdrop of economic and political uncertainty, and daily atrocities of racial injustice and police brutality,” says Legaler Aid Co-Founder and CEO Stevie Ghiassi. “Our heart goes out to the Rusesabagina family as they cope with the trauma not only of Paul Rusesabagina’s kidnapping and his current ordeal of facing a corrupt trial in Rwanda, but the fear of that proceeding putting his life in danger after being denied medical bail amidst a raging pandemic. We’re glad to have the chance to help them fight for justice.”
Since being kidnapped, put on a private charter to Rwanda, and restrained and blindfolded for three days, Rusesabagina’s situation continues to deteriorate while being held captive. He was denied access to counsel of his own choosing and forced to use government-appointed lawyers for two months, has been continually denied unsupervised communication, and has been hospitalized three times. As a cancer patient in remission with a cardiovascular condition, Rusesabagina’s family is alarmed at his rapidly declining health. That, combined with a corrupt justice system that has seen Rwandan President Paul Kagame assert Rusesabagina’s guilt before trial, has made efforts to ramp up his legal defense even more urgent.
The #FreeRusesabagina team appeals to everyone to make a donation to the legal defense fund’s Legaler Aid campaign, which went live last week. The Legaler Aid and #FreeRusesabagina teams continue to work together to promote the campaign ahead of #GivingTuesday on December 1st.
Originally published on PRLog, Chicago, Nov. 19, 2020.