The government is studying recommendations for enactment of a law which will recognise and regulate paralegals in the country, in a drive to assist poor Tanzanians and vulnerable groups to access justice.
The move was revealed by the Deputy Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Angellah Jasmine Kairuki, during the official launching of a special funding mechanism, dubbed “Legal Services Facility (LSF)”.
She said the Law Reform Commission of Tanzania conducted a thorough research on the use of paralegals to provide the services including representing people in courts of law and presented its recommendations to the government.
The deputy minister also said the government has formed a special task force to lay foundation for the enactment of comprehensive legal aid legislation.
The task force according to the deputy minister is currently conducting an in-depth study of the national, regional and international legal and regulatory frameworks practiced in different African countries — including Uganda, Malawi, Kenya, Zambia and South Africa.
“I hope that very soon we will have in place a legal framework that will, among other things, oversee provision of legal aid services in Tanzania,” said minister Kairuki, adding: “At this juncture, let me express my gratitude to the Legal Services Facility for extending financial support to the Task force in discharging its duties.”
She expressed the hope that LSF will enable Tanzanians, especially the poor and vulnerable to access justice, noting: “Justice is a basic human right. Without access to justice, the enjoyment of many other fundamental rights may be assumed.”
An initiative of the governments of Tanzania and Denmark, the facility has been designed to enhance access to reliable funds, grants for legal aid service providers in the country.
Kees Groenendijk, LSF Fund Manager, said the facility was created to channel funding on an equal opportunity basis, to organisations involved in the provision of legal aid and paralegal services on Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar.
“It is to enable these organisations to assist the poor and vulnerable creatures to claim their rights, redress grievances and protect their fundamental rights,” noted the fund manager.
The main objective of LSF, according to Groenendijk, was to promote and protect human rights for all, particularly for poor women, children and men and the vulnerable, including people living with HIV/AIDs.
For his part, the Danish Ambassador to Tanzania, Johnny Flento, said there were many poor Tanzanians needing legal services, but cannot afford services offered by an advocate.
Most of these people go to legal aid providers and paralegals, key instrumentals in assisting poor individuals, but they are unable to afford legal services, he said.
LSF Board Chairperson, Joaquine De-Mello, said LSF was not a completely new idea in achieving “access to justice” in Tanzania, but “a specific intervention by the government of Denmark to compliment what has been done by various stakeholders, the government inclusive.”