Minister of Justice, Mulambo Haimbe has commended the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) for launching the pro bono policy framework which achieves the notion of providing access to criminal and civil justice for the disadvantaged in society without cost.
Mr. Haimbe stressed the need for legal representation as a fundamental right for every Zambian as enshrined in the constitution.
The Minister said the framework, therefore, responds to a duty of the legal sector to ensure that the rights of the accused persons are upheld in the criminal justice for the public good.
Speaking during the launch in Lusaka, Mr Haimbe was happy that LAZ has made sure the pro bono services become a reality.
He was pleased that the pro bono policy framework contains quality control measures which require the lawyers to treat matters with the same importance and care as the private matters.
“This is a great milestone for the people of Zambia especially the indigenous who grapple for legal representation in the courts of law,” Mr Haimbe noted.
Mr Haimba assured of his ministry’s support towards the implementation of the pro bono policy framework for the benefit of vulnerable Zambians, as it is a vision of the government to uphold human rights and the rule of law.
The Minister noted that government places great importance on the rule of law, civil liberties and human rights and inter alia, ensuring that speeding up of the dispensing of Justice and widening access to justice for all.
LAZ president, Abyudi Shonga disclosed the association resolved to actualise the pro bono framework following the need to improve access to justice and ensure that its members fulfil their oath of doing justice.
Mr Shonga explained that even when there are efforts by legal bodies such as the National Legal Aid Clinic For Women and the Legal Aid Board providing pro bono services, a large section of Zambian society still cannot access justice due to lack of representation.
“While the number of advocated has to creased over the last decade, there has not been a corresponding increase in access to justice by the vulnerable and marginalized members of society,” Mr. Shonga indicated.
He said LAZ understands the role that its members must play in society and will continue to endeavour that it remains relevant and contributes to the development of society at various levels.
Meanwhile, Legal Aid Board acting Executive Director, Humphrey Mweemba says the framework resonates well with its mandate of providing legal services to persons of inadequate means in society.
Mr. Mweemba said taking matters on pro Bono basis is beneficial to both the Legal Aid Board and legal practitioners as it will help clear the backlog of cases.
He explained that an action that will promote access to justice for all as litigations will feel that justice has been accorded to them in good time.
Mr. Mweemba added that matters on pro Bono basis will further help develop professional skills among practitioners as well as enhance the firms’ reputation which in turn may open new doors for business.
“Offering your services for free has innumerable benefits for your clients and professional development alike,” Mr. Mweemba stated.