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Pinda: Law on free legal services for poor coming

11th December 2012
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Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda

The government is working on modalities for the enactment of a law to enable poor people to access free legal services, Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda has revealed.

He said the government has already formed a legal aid secretariat to coordinate all legal aid services in the country.

The current law favours only those persons accused of criminal cases but the new law will also cover civil cases.

Speaking at the commemoration of the Human Rights Day in Dar es Salaam yesterday Pinda said the legal aid secretariat has been formed to coordinate legal aid activities before the law becomes effective.

“In ensuring that justice is done to all people, our party manifesto has directed that the system be established to enable poor individuals to access legal aid by using paralegals in primary courts,” Pinda said.

The government has decided to dispatch graduate magistrates to primary courts in order to increase efficiency in the courts, he said.

In line with the element of magistrates the number of judges has increased from 55 in 2009/2010 to 81 in 2011/2012, he said.

Further, in order to empower the office of the Attorney General on areas of contracts, the Premier said the government is putting more focus on getting legal experts by improving the Contracts and Treaties Division.

Meanwhile, Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) has called upon government officials to consider the welfare of the society before they make any major decisions on the country’s natural resources.

The centre’s chairman Bishop Elinaza Sendoro made the call in a separate occasion in the city yesterday during celebrations to mark the World Human Rights Day.

In his speech which was read by the president of Tanganyika Law Society, Francis Stolla, Bishop Sendoro said it is high time the society united to protect the country’s natural resources, which are being grabbed by a few selfish leaders.

“We should not let these natural resources only to benefit foreign investors and some few greedy and inconsiderate leaders,” Sendoro said.

He said the resources belong to all members of the society and that they have the right to benefit from them.

Besides, it is the same society which has the responsibility of defending the resources from all kinds of embezzlements.

It was therefore important for the public to know their rights so as to be able to defend them, he added.

Bishop Sendoro also urged the police to observe human rights saying of recent there have been a number of cases involving human rights violation including the killing of defenceless citizens on the pretext of maintaining peace and order.

He also urged people to take part in the collection of opinions for the new constitution saying they should do so because it is in their right.

For her part, LHRC Hellen Kijo-Bisimba executive director said the state of human rights in the country has been encouraging in some areas.

For instance, she said, the tendency of people taking the law into their own hands and attacking others -- be they either thieves or witches —has decreased.

She said this shows that members of the public have somehow become aware of human rights.

Kijo-Bisimba added that LHRC has been trying hard to defend and educate people on human rights, adding that law enforcers like the police and other organs of the government should help them to bring about changes and create a better society in this area.

“Statistics show that in 2010, 52 people were killed by security forces in the country, she said, adding that this practice should stop.

In the same occasion, coordinator of Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF) Dr Judith Odunga said cultural misconceptions like female genital mutilation still remain challenges in the fight against violence to women and children.

“I call upon members of the society to observe human rights so as to make the world a better place to live,” Odunga said.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN