Enact law for free legal aid - LASPNET

LegalThe Legal Aid Service Providers Network (LASPNET) has asked Parliament to demand that government presents the National Legal Aid Policy Bill so as to help the underprivileged access legal services.

This was during a meeting between the Rt. Hon. Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, and representatives from LASPNET led by their board chairman, Sam Nsubuga and represented by Hon. Lyandro Komakech (DP, Gulu Munic.) on Thursday 9th November 2017 at Parliament.

The Executive Director LASPNET, Sylvia Namubiru Mukasa, said that there are issues of inadequate or lack of access to legal aid for the underprivileged in many parts of Uganda.

“We formulated a Bill and presented it to Cabinet to cater for legal aid issues because 80% of Ugandans cannot afford legal services and legal services are mainly urban based,” she said.

Mukasa said that the country needs resources for human development and justice, peace and order.

“There are legal issues like land wrangles, juveniles without legal assistance, deprivation of property and other issues related to lack of legal services that the marginalised face in this country,” she added.

Mukasa further asked Parliament to prevail over Cabinet and push for the Bill that has been stuck with government pending delivery to Parliament.

“All the necessary requirements for the Bill to be tabled to Parliament have been availed to the Cabinet but it has not gone beyond that; this matter needs to be prioritized because a big number of people cannot access legal assistance,” Mukasa said.

Mukasa noted that with a legal aid programme in place, people would be able to access a lawyer for free or seek legal redress instead of being taken advantage of by the Police.

In his response, the Rt. Hon. Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah, said that Ugandans are always faced with legal issues but never have the support to get legal aid.

“If the government had all the requirements, why don’t we evoke them to present it by raising the issue during the Prime Minister’s Time or during questions for oral answer,” Oulanyah said, adding that, “Let’s create a critical mass and mobilise as many MPs as possible to make them aware about this issue so that when the matter is on the Floor we can have a big following.”

The Deputy Speaker said that if this matter has been with the government since 2012, then it is okay for LASPNET to force the government’s hand through a Private Member’s Bill.