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The Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs held a consultative meeting in Juba to discuss the proposed Legal Aid Policy for South Sudan on Wednesday.

The gathering brought together officials from the Justice Ministry and the Bar Association to gather input on the content of the National Legal Aid Policy.

Dr. Gabriel Isaac Awow, the undersecretary at the Justice Ministry, while addressing the stakeholders at Radisson Blu Hotel in Juba emphasized that the purpose of the consultative meeting is to obtain insights on how to address issues related to legal aid.

He highlighted that the Legal Aid Policy aims to tackle the challenges associated with legal support, particularly for individuals who cannot afford legal representation.

“This process of formulating the legal aid policy has been overdue for many years. However, having experienced the presence of legal aid institutions in Sudan, we realize the importance of establishing a similar institution to support and assist vulnerable people in presenting their cases before legal institutions,” Dr. Awow explained.

He emphasized the importance of establishing a robust legal aid policy to address the challenges faced by individuals defending their cases before legal institutions. To ensure the policy’s effectiveness, the justice ministry in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), enlisted the services of two consultancy firms-one local and the other from South Africa.

“Through our consultation with UNDP, we reached an agreement that they would support us in hiring two consultancies, one internationally and one locally,” he said. “It is crucial to understand the landscape in South Sudan before engaging internationally.”

The primary goals of the proposed Legal Aid Policy include promoting equality before the law, fostering a culture of legal literacy, and providing legal services and representation for all in court. Undersecretary Awow highlighted the challenges people face in hiring lawyers, citing a recent incident in Wau town in Western Bahr el Ghazal State where Sudanese traders encountered difficulties in securing legal representation following a rape incident last year.

Revealing that the policy has already been drafted, he underscored the consultative meeting’s purpose to determine the next steps after the draft.

“We have initiated the drafting of the Legal Aid Policy for South Sudan, including the concept note,” he concluded. “Today, we are seeking input from all stakeholders to determine the way forward.”

 

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