SAVE THE DATE: IS STATE REGULATION OF COMMUNITY BASED PARALEGALS POSING A THREAT TO LEGAL EMPOWERMENT IN AFRICA? 19th April 2022 , 2: 45 pm- 4 pm EAT, 12:45 pm - 2 pm WAT, 1:45 pm- 3pm South African Time.
State regulation, in the name of recognition and financing, is posing a threat to legal empowerment in Africa. Also, the benefits of the legislative frameworks, more specifically the anticipated financial and material support to paralegals, is yet to be experienced. The actual efficacy of these legislative frameworks to actually enhance the legal empowerment work of paralegals is in question.
Aspiration No. 3 of the AU 2063 Agenda focuses on: An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law. It aspires for Africa to have a universal culture of good governance, democratic values, gender equality, and respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law.
As justice actors within the civic space, it is important to review, evaluate and take stock of the achievements and the steps that African governments are yet to take towards full realization of aspiration 3.
The reflection, led by leading legal empowerment organization in Africa, will be centered on the important role that community-based paralegals play in enhancing access to justice in Africa. Whilst community-based paralegals have done considerable work in partnership with non-governmental organizations, they experience challenges in financing of their work. Furthermore, the contentious issue of recognition, especially state recognition through legislative or policy frameworks, brings with it new barriers that are mainly anchored on state ideology and philosophy on the role of community-based paralegals.
The philosophy of most African Governments on community-based paralegals is disempowering and retrogressive to the progression of the movement. Most state institutions, in interpreting the legislative or policy frameworks, constrain the space for paralegals to conduct legal empowerment programmes to the detriment of grassroots communities.
Join us as we unpack the issue of state recognition and financing of community-based paralegals and propose ways in which legal empowerment organizations can collaborate with African states to meaningfully and effectively promote accessible justice for Africans.