Legal Aid Service

May 31, 2016 6:17 pm Published by Comments
Legal Service

  • Free legal representation.
  • A lawyer is employed in every district
  • Paralegal Advice Desk

Legal Aid is one of the services MIFUMI provides as part of both response and prevention of violence against women. MIFUMI uses the “charitable model” with regard to legal aid: with this model, legal services-assistance and representation is provided free of charge by various service providers. MIFUMI provides comprehensive legal aid services through a wide range of legal aid service providers, as well as a team of in-house lawyers who are qualified to offer legal opinion and support survivors through the legal process. The legal aid service may include, but may not be limited to; legal advice; drafting legal and court documents; Alternative dispute resolution (ADR); General court representation/litigation, including individual representation before court, tribunal and Dispute Resolution; Systematic advocacy – challenging discriminatory or “bad” practices and laws by advocating for change/reform in both policy and practice for lasting impact in favour of the marginalized, underprivileged and vulnerable as well as; public education and outreach

Help.

Mifumi supports those women of their right to seek redress through the justice system

MIFUMI’s model of legal aid service provision has evolved over the 20 years of MIFUMI’s work. Currently, MIFUMI uses a mixture of models as presented below:

  • Legal advice
  • Drafting legal and court documents
  • Alternative dispute resolution (ADR)
  • General court representation/litigation–Individual representation before court, tribunal and Dispute Resolution. These services are mainly for civil matters but support to respective client in criminal matters.
  • Systematic advocacy – challenging discriminatory or “bad” practices and laws by advocating for change/reform in both policy and practice for lasting impact in favor of the marginalized, underprivileged and vulnerable
  • Public education and outreach

Diverse range of legal aid service providers:

MIFUMI’s model of legal aid service provision has evolved over the 20 years of MIFUMI’s work. Currently, MIFUMI uses a mixture of models as presented below:

  1. The “staff attorney model”: this model is employed by MIFUMI. A lawyer is employed in every district (where MIFUMI provides direct services) on a full-time basis with the main purpose of providing legal assistance and representation (as required) to those individuals who meet the eligibility criteria.
  2. Paralegal Advice Desk: in Tororo where MIFUMI’s model is best developed, a paralegal advice desk exists with the sole purpose of provision of legal advice services in certain areas of law including inheritance.
  3. The Community Advice Centers: in all 21 sub counties of Tororo as well as in 3 sub counties of Masaka, Mbarara, Moroto and Bukedea- where MIFUMI works, there exists Community Advice Centers manned by 2 Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs). IDVAs are women who have undergone rigorous training on MIFUMI’s way of work (minimum period of _____) and share a vision with the Organization. They are volunteers that play the role of ‘community advocates’ responding to cases in the 1st instance. These Advice Centers are community structures at Sub County level which enables physical access to justice. The IDVAs work closely with the paralegal desk and M/S MIFUMI in accordance with procedures available to guide this working relationship.
  4. The Community Activists- Champions and Gender Sensitive Men:
  5. Law student internships: once every year, MIFUMI utilizes law students at the University to provide certain aspects of the legal services.

Necessary components for an effective Legal Aid scheme: MIFUMI’s VIEW

  1. Comprehensive Legal Framework – Legal aid should be adopted in local laws, preferably as a constitutional guarantee or at least, be provided for in national statutes/ legislations (in line with international principles). The laws and accompanying regulation and rules should clearly outline the right to legal aid for all, especially the poor “rights-holders” as well as clear guidelines for “duty-bearers” of eligibility for and the operation and sustainability of the legal aid system
  2. Funding – Legal aid requires budgetary stability, sustainability and cost-effectiveness. We need a main source, Government cannot escape this and leave it to Civil Society and Donors. Government must provide the main source. However, to curb control and interference, the sources of funding should be diversified to include private funding as well as international aid (should be the least)
  3. Accessible – There should be ease of access. In addressing access, 3 components must be taken into consideration
    1. Proximity – it should be available across all parts of the country, both rural and urban areas and reachable to the poor and marginalized;
    2. Non-discriminatory service
    3. Gender/vulnerable/marginalized/disability friendly.
  4. Affordable – The legal aid services should be free and/ or at most, affordable to the poor. It should be free for the poor that cannot afford and almost free for those with a little more means to pay. A robust system should be put in place with a uniform set of eligibility criteria for determining means and payment plan.
  5. Diversity – Diversity of services as well as a range of service providers – legal aid should not be limiting if it is to be effective. 2 issues need to be addressed and these are:
    1. Diverse services- like MIFUMI services above
    2. Diverse providers/ types of legal professionals- there should be a mix of service providers suited to local needs of poor. Legal aid service provision should not only be left to legal personnel as this limits on spot availability of services. Other professionals like social workers, medical personnel as well as some community leaders and some members can be trained to provide certain aspects of legal aid. The cadre of providers should be gender-neutral as far as practicable and representative of the socio-cultural background of Uganda.
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