Some stakeholders in the Northern Region have backed Legal Aid Bureau’s proposal to amend Section 14 of Legal Aid Act to allow paralegal officers to represent clients in the lower courts.
The stakeholders, including Church and Society of Synod of Livingstonia of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian, Youth and Society, the Judiciary and the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, expressed the sentiments on Thursday during consultation meetings organised by the Parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee.
In his remarks, Church and Society of Synod of Livingstonia executive director Moses Mkandawire commended government for initiating the amendment.
“We want poor people to have access to justice. The majority of Malawians live in rural areas where their earnings are seasonal and cannot afford to hire lawyers to represent them in court,” he said.
On his part, Youth and Society executive director Charles Kajoloweka supported the proposal and asked government to broaden it beyond legal aid bureau.
“Access to justice is for everyone not only poor people. So, increasing resources to the bureau is welcome. We also need to broaden this beyond the bureau to civil societies who serve the same Malawians,” he said.
In his presentation, Parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee chairperson Peter Dimba said stakeholders are delighted with the proposal.
“The purpose of the meeting is to solicit views from stakeholders from the Northern Region regarding the amendment,” he said.
Director of Legal Aid Bureau Masauko Chamkakala said the amendment of the act will ease their work.
“It is important to amend the act because it will give us a chance to have additional hands to handle the matters we are handling at the bureau,” he said.