Free legal aid offered to vulnerable communities

MoU signed to ensure access to justice becomes a right, not a privilege

KARACHI: The Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC) and the Legal Aid Society (LAS) have taken a step forward in promoting legal awareness and providing free legal aid to vulnerable communities in Sindh. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed, forging a strong partnership to ensure access to justice becomes a right, not a privilege for all members of society.

The MoU signing ceremony was witnessed by Sindh Human Rights Commission Chairperson Iqbal Ahmed Detho, and Legal Aid Society Chief Legal Adviser Justice Arif Khilji, who played pivotal role in bringing this collaboration to fruition.

One of the key advantages of free legal aid is that it enables individuals who cannot afford legal representation, advice, or aid to access justice. The MoU aims to protect the rights of those who face legal issues and challenges but lack the means to hire a lawyer, leading to improved human rights protection and accountability for violations.

“Many people in Sindh may face legal issues and challenges but lack the financial means to hire a lawyer. The MOU enables these individuals to access free legal services, ensuring that their rights are protected and they have a fair chance in the legal system,” the MoU said adding that it can lead to improved human rights protection and accountability for those responsible for violations and abuses.

Regarding the empowerment of marginalised communities, it said that the marginalized communities are disproportionately affected by legal issues, discrimination, and injustice, therefore the provision of free legal aid assistance and representation through this MOU can empower such communities by giving them the necessary support to fight for their rights and overcome legal obstacles.

“By offering free legal aid services, the MOU can help reduce the burden on the legal system,” it said and added that with more people receiving proper legal representation, cases can be resolved more efficiently, leading to a reduction in the overall legal backlog in cases facing trial in minor and petty offenses.

In addition to offering legal assistance, the collaboration between SHRC and the Legal Aid Society can also lead to increased public awareness of legal rights and responsibilities of members of society in general.

As per MoU, together, the SHRC and LAS are committed to creating a more just and equitable access to justice by reaching out to the most vulnerable members of society with vital legal guidance and support. “This partnership represents a critical milestone in their shared mission,” it concluded and called upon the public, media, and civil society to join hands in spreading the message about this crucial initiative.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2023.

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