East African legal aid networks meet in Tanzania
Wednesday, 27th January, 2021: Dar es Salaam
From 27th – 29th January 2021, Legal Services Facility (LSF) as the Chair of the East and Horn of Africa Paralegal Network (EAHPN), in collaboration with the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) hosted a three-day conference in Dar es Salaam.
The forum, whose theme was, “Improving Access to Justice and the Promotion of Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG 16) in East Africa through Paralegal Support”, was the part of the annual forum that brings together EAHPN member countries to deliberate on ways of improving justice systems through legal aid and paralegals in the East and Horn of Africa. SDG 16 insists on “peace, justice and strong institutions” in implementing development initiatives around the world by 2030.
This year the forum was held in Tanzania and featured representatives from a wide array of relevant institutions around East Africa including beneficiaries of legal aid and paralegal services which function as an alternative justice mechanism.
Forty-five participants from various areas of expertise attended the forum including experts in justice systems, legal aid providers and court user committee members from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia and South Sudan.
The forum was opened by the Deputy Minister for Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Geoffrey Pinda, who lauded LSF for coordinating the event, in collaboration with IDLO, saying it was functional in providing insight into how other countries in the region conduct legal services and paralegal services while looking to SDG 16.
Pinda added that the government of Tanzania has historically worked with diverse stakeholders in the legal sector including civil society organizations, saying it was imperative that out of the forum ways and means of enhancing access to justice would emerge.
He also underlined the fact that paralegals have a significant role in communities in light of the numerous conflicts they help solve without further predicaments.
LSF CEO, Lulu Ng’wanakilala, described the three-day event as a unique opportunity for stakeholders in legal and paralegal services around the country and in East Africa in general because it intended to deliberate on diverse issues around access to justice including the contribution of these services towards sustainable development particularly SDG 16 by 2030.
She articulated her delight in the fact that LSF hosted the forum for the first time as co-chair of EAHPN saying that the event provided a functional platform for understanding better how paralegals from other countries in the region ensure access to justice to different groups and how they work towards accomplishing SDG 16 on sustainable development.