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Paralegals role emphasised
Many people in rural areas especially the marginalised groups are unable to access lawyers and the formal justice system due to financial, geographical and cultural barriers. According to Mr Bernard Kindoli, this state of affairs underscores the role played by paralegals within grassroots communities.
“Paralegals provide disadvantaged communities and individuals with legal services and legal aid,” Mr Kindoli said.
He was speaking to a group of paralegals from around the country who were gathered by the Foundation for a two-day seminar aimed at enhancing their capacities in providing this crucial service.
During the seminar facilitated by the Legal and Human Rights Centre, paralegals were encouraged to pursue a community-wide approach in solving justice problems. They were advised to provide community education and empower people to develop self- reliance with respect to their legal problems by conducting seminars; distributing materials and utilising mass media such as community radio.
“Paralegals often facilitate informal and early resolution of problems which makes it unnecessary to go to court,” said Imelda Urio the facilitator, underscoring the importance of the role of paralegals in communities. She then added, “Apply grants from the Foundation in order to make your projects successfully.”
The paralegals in attendance shared experiences, particularly the challenges they face, especially financial constraints which prevent them from reaching out to more people.
Mr Kindoli further underscoring the importance that the Foundation attaches to the role of paralegals, added, “You need to spend much of your time listening to your clients and escorting them to court and to other administrative authorities. A well-trained paralegal serves the community better compared to a lawyer who may not know the community well.”