South Sudan Law Reform Commission Holds Consultative Workshop on Draft Legal Aid BillJan 30, 2018
South Sudan Law Reform Commission (SSLRC) held a consultative meeting to discuss the draft Legal Aid Bill 2018 developed to establish an independent legal aid board and provide for systems and procedures that provide legal aid for indigent citizens with the support from UNDP’s Access to Justice and Rule of Law project.
The bill was drafted by the Commission at the request of the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Hon. Paolino Wanawilla. The purpose of the consultative meeting was to discuss the bill and receive inputs from legal experts and relevant stakeholders.
“The main purpose of today’s workshop is to discuss and receive inputs from you, the partners and stake holders, to enrich the draft and enable us to finalise a good legislation for vulnerable persons who cannot afford to pay for their lawyers,” said Acting Executive Director of SSLRC Hon. Changkouth Diaw in his opening remarks.
The workshop drew participants from relevant stakeholders including the Judiciary of South Sudan, the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, South Sudan Law Society, the South Sudan Bar Association, as well as legal experts and development partners.
Justice Kulang Jorbom, speaking on behalf of the Chief Justice, underscored the fact that legal aid is one of the fundamental rights provided by the Transitional Constitution. “By passing this bill our people can now enjoy their rights and have legal awareness about their constitutional rights,” said Justice Jorbom.
UNDP Country Director Kamil Kamaluddeen noted that the consultative meeting is fundamental to extending access to justice to people in South Sudan, adding that poverty, gender, and social status should not be a barrier to accessing justice. “This [workshop] is extremely important because it marks another important milestone in collaborative efforts to ensure that legal aid is accessible to everybody, as without justice, it is very difficult to establish a nation,” he said.
“Our efforts are three fold, first to see within the existing legal and constitutional structures how UNDP can position legal aid as an integral part of access to justice. Second, to support those actors that are in the position to expand legal services to everybody particularly at community level. Thirdly, to work with all legal actors to ensure that we strengthen the existing legal and policy frameworks to ensure that the Government is able to establish an independent legal aid structure that will service the public,” Dr. Kamaluddeen continued.
UNDP’s Access to Justice and Rule of Law project provides support to the Government of South Sudan on the development of strategies and systems to provide legal aid for citizens.
In 2011, the project partnered with the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to develop a legal aid strategy to develop and implement legislation that focuses on providing legal aid with specific emphasis on women and other vulnerable groups. This support included the provision of technical expertise on key legislation, the development of policy papers and strategic documents, as well as knowledge development and dissemination.