In a quest to bring its services to the citizenry, Legal Aid Bureau is set to establish district offices with Karonga being one of the districts to benefit from the initiative.
The Bureau’s Public Relations Officer (PRO) Jacqueline Ngongonda disclosed the plans on the sidelines of an awareness campaign that the bureau conducted at Ngana, an area in Traditional Authority Mwakaboko in Karonga.
According to Ngongonda, the first phase will see five districts including Karonga having a Legal Aid Bureau office.
She said the establishment of a Legal Aid office at district level will ease costs incurred by citizens from Karonga and the neighbouring Chitipa district in a hunt for access to justice.
“Our plan is to have legal aid offices in all the 28 districts but due to funds and staff we will first establish offices in five districts because as much as we need to provide legal aid services to Malawians we also need to give them quality legal services hence beginning with five districts which Karonga is one of them,” she said.
Ngongonda added that the awareness campaign the bureau is carrying out across the country will help citizens to access justice as they will be aware of how they can seek justice through legal aid.
“The legal aid bureau has been functional since 2015 despite being formed in 2010 but since our establishment we have never conducted awareness campaigns in remote areas hence we decided to do so to raise awareness of the bureau’s existence and how it is there to provide legal aid services when it’s needed,” she explained.
Kenneth Masungwa who represented Group Village headman Mwayisondola expressed gratitude to legal aid bureau for conducting awareness campaigns in his area.
He said the area is a hard to reach area hence residents are being denied the right to access justice.
“We are grateful to legal aid for giving us an insight on how we can seek justice through the bureau because when issues occur here they go unpunished as people escape across the border as the nearest police station is 11 kilometers away so by the time we report the cases the police come late hence victims suffer,” he articulated.
Legal Aid Bureau was established under the Legal Aid Act no 28 of 2010 as an independent national institution taking over from the then legal aid department of the Ministry of Justice.
Currently the bureau has offices in Mzuzu, Lilongwe, Blantyre and Zomba.