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Government to recognise paralegals
The government has started the process of developing paralegals systems in order to enable them to provide legal services in a formal way for people in rural areas. The Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Angellah Kairuki made the announcement recently while meeting with paralegals at her office recently.
Ms Kairuki said the process has been kicked off with a draft document that is to be presented to the cabinet which will draft the appropriate legislation that recognises paralegals.
“I recognise the importance of having a law which will recognise work of paralegals, that is why we have started the process by amending it and explaining the whole concept of paralegals,” she said.
The process will also entail gathering viewpoints from various stakeholders. Upon completion, it will ensure that paralegals are recognised by the law and can thus expand their scope beyond rural areas into urban centres where their services may also be needed.
She encouraged paralegals to continue the work of providing legal assistance and to do so in a transparent way ensuring that many citizens benefit from it. The minister promised that government would aim to ensure that they perform their work in a suitable environment.
The paralegals who were in attendance complained about the current system where they are not recognised by the law and yet the law does not also provide for government and individual advocates working in primary courts or councils. Paralegals therefore remain the only ones able to reach those communities.
Speaking at the meeting, Alphonse Katemi an advocate said that many citizens in those areas have been denied justice because the law does not allow advocates to provide legal assistance in primary courts.
The chairperson of the Paralegals Networks, Flora Masoy said that if paralegals were recognised by the law, their services will be valued and they will be able to provide legal aid to people in remote areas where ignorance of the law is high.
“Many citizens, especially in rural areas are unable to obtain legal help due to lack of paralegals,” said Ms Makoy.
The Director of Legal Services in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Joseph Ndunguru commended the work done by paralegals despite the situation with the law which he said is going to be straightened out with the document that has been prepared for cabinet.