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Paralegals play critical role in justice delivery

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Mr Alhassan Yahaya Seini, Executive Director of Legal Aid says the use of non –lawyers in prosecution and adjudication of cases in the lower courts demonstrate the feasibility of using paralegals in justice delivery.

He said some African countries like Malawi, Serra Leone and Uganda have demonstrated the importance of paralegals in justice delivery, as they provide “first” legal aid to arrests and pre-trial detainees at police stations, courts and prisons before lawyers get involved.

In a statement issued in Accra on Friday and copied to the Ghana News Agency to announce the annual Legal Aid Week Celebration, Mr Seini said access to justice is a fundamental human right guaranteed under the 1992 Constitution.

He said however, in a country plagued by high level of poverty and illiteracy, legal processes are expensive, slow and complex.  

The Legal Aid Scheme, a statutory body to ensure access to justice for the indigent and vulnerable and protect their human rights set aside every October 13 each year for the week-long celebration.

It is on the theme: “Access to Criminal Justice, the Role of Paralegals,” and it would be used to educate and sensitise the public on the use of non-lawyers in the administration of justice to the deprived and vulnerable in society.

“Consequently, access to justice is often illusory for many people, especially in the cases of persons arrested and detained by the criminal justice machinery,” he said.

He said the poor who find themselves in trouble with the law are vulnerable to all manner of human rights and procedural abuses and are also likely to be neglected and forgotten.

Mr Seini said Article 14(2) of the Constitution mandates that a person who is arrested, restricted or detained must be informed of the reason of arrest and a right to a lawyer of his choice.

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