Legal Aid Information
Dambi Dollo University, as one of newly emerging Universities in our country has many national missions including teaching, conducting research and enhancing different community services. It is evident that principal Objective of Dambi Dollo University is to contribute its own share in transforming the economic, political and social life of the surrounding community through conducting research and community engagement.
Having these missions, our university is performing different tasks in quality and competency to hit its goals. It is to support these highly valued and important missions that our University’s School of law established free legal aid center and providing lively services as a part of our University flagship community services.
This paper reviews and reports on activities and performance by DambiDollo University, School od Law free legal aid Service centers for the year of 2019/20 (2012 EC). Our centers are providing free legal aid services for the community in the thematic area of the University as one part of our University flagship community services program since December, 2019. This community service offers free advice, legal information, and court representation on a wide variety of social, economic and civil rights to the indigent and disparate section of our society in Dambi Dollo and throughout KellemWollega Zone where our service centers has been opened.
As it is known, we have opened free legal aid centers in 6 (six) centers and these centers have been providing invigorating services at these centers. The School and the Free Legal Aid Center aim to strengthen the community service program and expansion of the service and the centers to reach the needy masses in Kellem Wollega zone. Further, the School would like to link these Legal Aid Centers with the academic program of the School and thereby to give students the chance to practice legal issues once they take the major substantive and procedural courses. Above all, as part of the mission of the University in general (i.e. community service) and the school in particular, the service is to assist the justice system of region in general and of Kellem Wollega zone in particular.
- Objectives of the Legal Service Centers
- Ensuring the right to access to justice
The right of access to justice is a right that guarantees that every person has an access to an independent and impartial process and opportunity to receive a fair and just trial when individual’s right is at stake. However access to justice does not always involve judicial recourse but also the availability of accessible, affordable, timely and effective means of redress or remedies.
An access to justice is recognized under international human right instruments Ethiopia has ratified including: the charter of United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights and other several Human right instruments and documents. For instance, art.7 & 8 of the UDHR and art.14 of the ICCPR states that everyone is equal before the law and has the right to effective remedy against violations of fundamental rights. Access to justice is also recognized in FDRE constitution.
The rights and standards recognized in the above international instruments has become part of Ethiopian law up on ratification. Thus, the rights recognized there in with in these instruments including the right to access to justice have become part of domestic law. Moreover, art.37(1) of the constitution expressly guarantees access to justice to all citizens.
Nevertheless, the recognition of the substance of rights in international human right instruments and in the constitution to which access to justice is not an odd does not ultimately guarantee the realization of rights at all. Progress towards the ultimate end requires measures designed to address factors acting as barriers to meaningful realization of the right.
Thus, the main objective of free legal aid service is to strengthen the respect, promotion and protection of these rights in the country as a general and Kellem Wollega zone in particular.
Generally, the objectives of free legal aid service are:
- To provide Free and accessible legal Aid service to the indigent sections of society living in those districts and its surrounding community thereby contribute our fair share in a nationwide effort at ensuring access to justice of the persons with limited means and other vulnerable groups in the society.
- To seek legal and social change in order to create a more just society
- To promote legal education by enabling both students and instructors of the law school to appreciate the real problems of the community; laws in books; laws on the ground; and integrate these factual issues to the teaching learning process and making legal education practice oriented
- To address inequalities within the society in terms of access to justice in accordance with the grand norm incorporated in international and national bills of rights
- To contribute to poverty reduction through raising awareness of rights and providing the means by which people can secure entitlements to rights and social justice
- To develop and support self-help strategies and alternate methods of dispute resolution
- To conduct research into issues relate to access to justice for the benefit of disadvantaged and marginalized people in the thematic area of the University.
It is to assure the destitute and powerless sections of the society access to justice is met through the provision of free legal services and to have a community where people can obtain legal and social justice.
Our free legal service seeks to help poor and powerless groups of the community to solve their legal problems by providing:
- Independent legal information
- Legal advice
- Legal casework, including representation through legal professional based provision of legal service.
The center shall value the following:
- Tireless devotion for justice
- Claim for the Protection, respect and fulfillment of all human rights
- probity of human beings
- Service excellence and professionalism
- A dependence on Volunteers to achieve a goal
- serve all the needy impartially
V. Out come
The outcomes of this Free Legal service:
- The community will become the one in which all members are able to access to legal advice and support
- People are develop awareness of their legal rights as the centers provide community legal education about legal rights and responsibilities across the community, with a particular focus on human rights and social justice
- Marginalized groups of the society will be able to access to justice by effective and efficient free legal service.
- An effective and efficient clinical legal education will be delivered to the students of law school.
- The service centers will sustainable, efficient and independent to fulfill their mandates.
VI. Rationales for & beneficiaries of free legal aid service
Of fundamental barriers to access to justice are unavailability of legal services and ignorance of legal rights. May be the most serious barriers to access to justice for the poor is the unavailability or expense of obtaining legal representation or other forms of legal assistance.
Moreover, as an access to justice involves litigating by & before impartial process and institution it may go through complicated procedures which is unfamiliar to most of litigants. The process demands some expertise and intimacy of know-how and may not be easily understandable even by educated individuals let alone to the vast majority of our section of society. Further, most sections of our community are economically weak and cannot have an access to justice.
It is recognized that the poor have unequal access to justice and that this undermines the possibility of equality in a society. Not only the poor, certain groups of society are historically or due to some social factors are not on an equal footing with others and hence suffer from various problems including their inability to have an easy access to legal services and the overall justice system. Women, children, old aged individuals, disabled individuals, & people those who live with HIV/AIDS are among the most vulnerable parts of community who need others who can stretch their hands for them on different occasions in times of need including Free Legal aid Service. That is why our legal aid service is targeted principally in helping these sections of our society.
VII. Legal Aid Service Centers
Having in above mentioned objectives, mission and visions; Dambi Dollo University School of law in collaboration with other bodies has established Six Legal Aid Service Centers and started to provide the services in KWZ High Court and Districts/woreda’s where these centers are opened.
The centers had been opened in Kellem Wollega Zone after several stake holders held their discussion over the delivery of the service & other related concerns. The lists of our legal aid centers which are delivering legal aid service for the targeted communities will be listed hereunder in this report with some other detailed information.