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The lack of office space is hampering the work and activities of the Legal Aid Commission, particularly in the Western Region.

This has constrained the Commission in its recruitment drive for more lawyers and other supporting staff for its work.

To this end, the Commission has appealed to the District Assemblies to provide office space for use by the Commission so that the residents could have access to legal aid services.

Philip Asamoah who is in charge of Human Resource and Operations at the national office of the Commission disclosed this when the Commission interacted with some opinion leaders in the Shama District on legal aid services to mark this year’s Legal Aid week in the region.

The meeting with opinion leaders at Shama and community durbar at Abuesi in the Shama district were organized by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) in collaboration with the Legal Aid Commission as part of the USAID Justice Sector Support (JSS) Activity.

According to Mr Asamoah, the Commission needed more lawyers to help serve the needs of the public, particularly those who cannot afford legal representation in court. He said in the Western Region for instance, the Commission has only five lawyers serving the entire region.

Mr Asamoah explained that the Legal Aid Commission is a state agency with the mandate to provide legal aid services to all and more especially the poor and the marginalized in the country.

He stressed the importance of the legal aid scheme in the country’s justice delivery system adding “At legal aid we believe that justice is for everyone”.

Madam Mina Mensah, Director, CHRI, Africa Office who spoke on the topic ‘Legal as a Human Right”, called on the Government to show commitment to the Constitutional provision which requires an entitlement of legal aid services to all persons.

Esther Ahulu, Public Education and Advocacy Specialist on the USAID JSS Activity explained that the celebration of the week was to create awareness about the availability of Legal Commission and how and where to access their services as well as other justice sector services.

She said accessing justice has been challenging, particularly for the poor and marginalised due to the cost involved in seeking legal services adding “That is why the Legal Aid Commission exists to provide these services for free”.

“People becoming aware of the availability of legal aid services and how to access them is critical in the delivery of legal aid services, particularly for marginalized and vulnerable population”, she said..

She also added that public education and outreach are integral part of legal aid delivery, hence the collaboration with the Commission under the USAID JSS Activity to mark Legal Aid Week, she added.

Mr Ebo Donkor, a lawyer with the Western Region office of the Legal Aid Commission noted that the legal aid has a team of lawyers who could prepare their cases, file and represent them in court with the aim of seeking justice for them.

He added that Legal aid services may include: legal advice, legal counselling, legal representation, access to information about legal rights and responsibilities, mechanisms for alternative dispute resolution and other legal advocacy services.

The District Chief Executive for Shama, Ebenezer Dadzie promised to provide an office for the Legal Aid Commission to operate from the district before the year ends.

He encouraged residents not to take the law into their own hands but go to Legal Aid Commission when the need arises for free services.

At a community durbar at Abuesi in the District a drama was enacted in the local dialect to educate the residents on some services rendered by the Commission.

A similar programme was Organized at Daboase in the Wassa East District of the western region where the residents and opinion leaders were also taken through how and where they could access legal aid services.

From Emmanuel Opoku, Shama on Daily Guide Network 

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