THE Legal Services Facility (LSF) has so far facilitated the availability of more than 4,000 paralegals country wide, a move which has turned out to be a relief to many people who can’t afford to hire advocates to address legal challenges they face.
That was revealed recently by Mr Morice Venance from a Moshi-based nongovernmental organisation (NGO) which deals with human rights and legal advice, Kilimanjaro Women Information Exchange Consultancy Organisation (Kwieco) during the handover of certificates to new paralegals.
“Paralegals started serving people in need of legal aid and advice in 2013 and this has led to an increase in legal aid services in the country, many of who cannot afford to finance legal services provided by lawyers,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Kilimanjaro paralegals coordinator, Justine Lasway thanked Kwieco and other stakeholders who facilitated the introduction of paralegals in the country.
He also commended the government and the National Assembly for processes which led to the introduction of a law which recognised and established paralegals and their organisations.
“In 2013 we started with only 150 paralegals who were registered in 2016 after paralegal groups were registered as NGOs,” he said, adding that in Kilimanjaro Region the number of paralegals working under Kwieco continue raising every day whereby they were working in 54 wards in all seven local government authorities in the region.
In her comments, director of Rombo District Paralegal Organisation in Kilimanjaro Region, Mwanaidi Mkumbwa cited poverty as one of the biggest challenges which paralegals met when discharging their duties, especially when addressing gender-based violence (GBV) issues.
“Many GBV victims and their relatives who have low incomes sometimes decide to end GBV issues out of court. This will make GBV incidents to continue because GBV culprits know very well that when they engage in GBV incidents their cases will be settled out of court,” she said.
She cited geographical challenges as another challenge, saying there were other areas in the region, for example, in Same District, where she said a paralegal could travel from one area of the district to the next to address GBV using a fare equal to that of travelling from Moshi to Dar es Salaam.
For her part, in a speech read on her behalf by Ms Grace Makiluli, Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner (RC), Anna Mghwira commended Kwieco for facilitating training which led to the certification of the paralegals.
“May I take this opportunity to thank Kwieco for being part of those who facilitated the establishment of paralegal NGOs. These NGOs have led many citizens to know their basic rights, including what to do after being abused,” she said.
She added that the presence of paralegals was the good work that Kwieco had done and the regional administration recognised its significance and she assured them of cooperation so that they continued their activities meant to serve those in need.