The Legal Aid Commission has called for more support from government in its quest to provide legal support to the poor and needy.
According to the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Martin Amoyaw, the Commission is struggling with inadequate office spaces and logistics like vehicles to provide legal help to the poor who cannot afford it.
Speaking at a short ceremony to receive monetary and equipment support from the General Legal Council through the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), Mr. Amoyaw indicated that the Commission only has two functioning vehicles across the country.
He said the last time vehicles were allocated to the Commission was as far back as 2005, and the two which are functioning are also overaged.
“There are only two functioning vehicles for the Legal Aid Commission nationwide and all these vehicles are overaged. None of the regions has a vehicle in the operation of legal aid services and the main function of Legal Aid is to bring justice to the doorstep of the poor in the region so how do we go to the communities to help them access justice while we don’t have vehicles. That is our main challenge. The last vehicle given to the Commission was in 2005 and since then no vehicle again.”
Ghana’s Legal Aid Scheme (LAS) was created in 1997 to ensure that all citizens have equal access to justice and equal treatment before the law. Supported by the Government of Ghana, its goal is to achieve a just and equitable society by providing nationwide quality legal aid. LAS acts as a Public Defender in cases where Ghana’s socially and financially disadvantaged citizens may require legal services.
The purpose of Ghana’s Legal Aid Commission is to ensure equality of access to justice and treatment before the law by serving as a Public Defender for the poor in need of cost effective justice throughout the country.
But the lack of equipment and other logistics, as well as office spaces, continues to hinder the purpose for which the Commission was created.
He said the Commission does not have the financial muscle to rent so they rely on the District Assemblies for office spaces.
“By the legal Commission law, we are supposed to be in every region and every district. Without office spaces, how do you operate? We are now operating in 35 districts. We also need office equipment to help in the provision of legal aid to those in need of it,” Mr. Amoyaw added.
As part of efforts to support the Commission, the General Legal Council pledged five (5) per cent of the gross collection of solicitor’s licence fees to the Commission.
To this effect, the President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), Anthony Forson Jnr., yesterday presented a cheque of over GH¢106,000 to the Legal Aid Commission.
The cheque included support for the 2018/19 and 2019/20 years.
Mr. Forson also personally presented two laptop computers to the Commission for onward transmission to its Bolgatanga office as part of a promise he made to them.