Hi all - the webinar was really informative and the questions above are a productive continuation of the discussion. I did want to provide some feedback to a few of the questions above:
can we hear more about the accreditation in Sierra Leone? Is it stipulated in the Law? Also I didn’t understand very well which institution is responsible for accreditation?
I was wondering if they have available English version of their Law - It sounds interesting. If he has the English version, I would appreciate if he could share it with us.
While @sonkitaconteh or @danielsesay would have more information on Sierra Leone (especially around other questions asked above), the 2012 Legal Aid Act formed the Legal Aid Board as a supervisory structure which has wide ranging functions including the administration, coordination and monitoring the provision of legal aid in civil and criminal matters. However, the Board has yet to effectively start operations. This Board can accredit legal practitioners, civil society organizations, university law clinics, paralegals, and non-governmental organizations to provide – in both civil and criminal cases – legal information, advice, and assistance, mediation services, and representation in court. These services can be provided through a public/private partnership of government, private sector and/or civil society, and the board has a civil society representation as well. You can find a copy of the Legal Aid Act in English in our resource library here:
@Khunan mentioned: In Mongolia advocates insist on that the only professional lawyers provide primary legal aid, advice did you have a such problem if yes how you dealt with it in SA. India, Sierra leone
I wanted to ask @Khunan whether you think “legal aid assistants” working in rural legal aid centres in Mongolia would qualify as a type of community paralegal? As they are helping local communities to know and use the law and providing preliminary legal advice in criminal, civil and administrative cases in rural areas, they seem to fit the description of a paralegal in our eyes despite the name and we would be interested in your thoughts.
@HelenL asks: Any examples of implementing paralegal programs in country contexts where paralegals are not recognized under the law?
Absolutely - great question! There are many more countries with community paralegals operating who are not formally recognized by law than countries with formal recognition, and there are pros and cons depending on the specific country context. Just a few that come to mind where there are unrecognized paralegals operating are Botswana, Argentina, Jordan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Namibia. Certain regions have different reasons for opposition, particularly by national bar associations (e.g. the Middle East and Latin America).
Many countries are pushing for more formal recognition now, such as Nigeria (as noted above by @tohwo ), Uganda, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Ukraine, and we are keen to follow these developments closely. And, as @zubbeiry hinted at, Tanzania just gained formal recognition in March 2017 (more information on that here) and Kenya also did so just last year.
@FatmataKanu, @raymond, @Chinga, and @SyedaRabailPJN ask very important questions about refining, strengthening, and protecting the paralegal profession that I am looking forward to hearing from other network members about here too.