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Monday, June 1, 2020

Government saddened with citizens’ inability to access legal services

General News Government saddened with citizens’ inability to access legal services

Copperbelt Minister Mwenya Musenge
Copperbelt Minister Mwenya Musenge

Government says it is saddened by the inability of Zambians to access legal representation in their pursuit of justice.

Copperbelt Province Minister Mwenya Musenge said it is depressing that accessing legal services has become a challenge for the majority poor Zambians and a preserve for the rich.

The Minister was speaking when the Fredrick Choma led Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission paid a courtesy call on him at his office in Ndola today.

Mr Mwenya bemoaned that the country’s legally aid system is failing to provide the necessary legal representation to ordinary Zambians as they seek recourse from the courts of law.

“Our legal aid seems not to be meeting the core responsibility for which it was created. Legal representation has become extremely expensive and only well to do people can manage,” he said.

Mr Mwenya added that failure by stakeholders to create a platform for people to get fair representation will continue disadvantaging poor Zambians.

The Minister also challenged the legal and justice sector reforms commission to address delays in the provision of fair justice to ordinary Zambians by the courts of law in the country.

Mr Musenge said there is need for the commission to seek ways of resolving delays in dispensation of justice and improve delivery of legal services.

The minister wondered why the Zambia Police Service has become debt collectors when it’s contrary to the provisions of the law.

Mr Musenge said there is need for massive sensitization on the provisions of the law so that institutions such as the police do not overstep their boundaries.

The minister called for concerted efforts to clean up the legal system of corruption and ensure that recommendations of the public on legal and justice reforms are implemented.

And speaking earlier, Commission Chairperson Justice Frederick Chomba said the commission has been conducting public hearings with the view to collect submissions on how best to change and improve the legal sector.

Justice Chomba said the commission has resumed public sittings on the Copperbelt province and will collect submissions from people to help modernize the legal and justice sector in order to respond to the economic and social needs of Zambians.

The team is expected to collect submissions in Ndola, Kitwe, Mufurila, and Masaiti districts.

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  1. I dont evebn what this damn government is saddened. The thing is that even if legal services were available, the Zambian Legal System and the judicial justice system is rotten to the core.

    • First of, the government being “saddened” is *****ic in that they’re the ones who are supposed to fix things. The country don’t need a “SAD” government, rather we need a WORKING government that makes sure they get the job done. The police are overstepping their boundaries because the government has nothing in place to control their behavior. Start with rooting out corruption, by implementing stiffer penalties for people engaging in corrupt practices. I always recommend a minimum of years in prison for corruption convictions. And make sure there are no sacred cows. And get serious about enforcing the laws.As for people not having access to the legal system, use competent public defenders to provide free legal counsel. Many countries around the world do that.

  2. “It would be a sad day for Zambia if legal representation were denied to any member of the community. Anyone in the state who tried to stop free or effective representation would be striking a blow against social progress and orderly society, for the law is the instrument which ensures the attainment of both.” James Skinner CJ in 1969

    “The constitution of the Republic provides that every person charged with a criminal offence shall be permitted to defend himself before the court in person, or at his own expense, by a legal representative of his own choice. The right which is guaranteed in our fundamental law has for a long time been recognized to be of great importance to the maintenance of the freedom of the individual in many countries having a similar jurisprudence to our own.”…

  3. In 1965, a Cabinet sub-committee was appointed under the Chairmanship of the then Minister of Justice, Mr. James Skinner. Its terms of reference were to consider the introduction of a comprehensive scheme for legal aid in both civil and criminal matter. The scheme was approved in principle by Cabinet and the first Director of Legal Aid, Mr. Daley, was appointed in October 1966. Zambia was one of the first countries in Africa to introduce a Legal Aid Scheme.

  4. The legal aid is toothless because of Zambian Legal System and the Judiciary which are highly corrupt. Whoever sees the Judge or Defense lawyer first before the trial starts is the winner of the case. Legal Aid can’t bribe anyone. Instead of promoting institutions like the ombudsman, useless victim relief institutions like Trade Unions, Victim Support unit, Anti-GBV, Political Parties, NGOs which just waste victim’s time until the cases are time barred. Many Zambians are still not empowered with education to know their rights and most people even fail to complete Grade 7 today. The govt doesn’t encourage citizens to buy available legal costs funding mechanisms like legal Aid Insurance. What they promote is political intervention.

  5. Well said, Minister. The country can do well by having a few more politicians with such foresight and understanding of issues! This man has the ability to understand and comprehend, without being blinded by the trappings of power. His speech is like a breath of fresh air, in the midst of foul smell.

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