Legal Aid - A Tenet of Access to Justice

TitleLegal Aid - A Tenet of Access to Justice
Publication TypePaper
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsMafabi, DCaroline
Secondary Title The Case of Women with Disabilities in Post-Conflict Northern Uganda
Date Published01/2014
Place PublishedPublic Interest Law Clinic
KeywordsAccess to Justice, Disabilities, Nothern Uganda, Post Conflict, Women

Access to justice is the right of individuals and groups to obtain a quick, effective and fair response to protect their rights, prevent or solve disputes and control the abuse of power, through a transparent and effective process in which mechanisms are available, affordable and accountable.

Effective realisation of access to justice can be achieved through provision of legal aid services to the most poor, vulnerable and marginalised individuals. Legal aid is the provision of free or subsidized legal services to eligible individuals or groups; and is one of the most important tenets of access to justice.

In post conflict Northern Uganda women with disabilities are one of the most vulnerable and marginalised groups –facing continued discrimination, social exclusion and marginalisation. They are unaware of their rights and often do not seek redress for rights violations.

While copious literature exists on the access to justice, legal aid and the rights of women with disabilities; this is the first paper that interrogates whether a proposed national legal aid policy will be able to deliver better access to justice for women with disabilities.

Uganda is currently is in the process of finalising a national legal aid policy. The policy is drafted on the backdrop of the vital need to streamline and strengthen legal aid service provision in Uganda. The study was majorly qualitative involving desk review and field interviews.

The research found that many women with disabilities in post conflict Northern Uganda were not aware of their rights; they faced continued discrimination due to a general lack of human rights awareness in the community. The proposed national legal aid policy is very strong on regulating legal aid service providers and institutional establishment. Unfortunately the draft national legal aid policy falls short and does not guarantee access to justice for women with disabilities.  

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