The Legal AID Commission, Ghana in collaboration with USAID and the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) has held consultative workshop on the draft legislative Instrument (LI) and Paralegal guide in Koforidua.
The workshop is to Forster understanding of the paralegal regime for legal aid delivery in Ghana through a detailed exposition of the LI to kick off the paralegal system implementation.
It falls within the scope of the “USAID Justice Sector Support Activity” meant to expand access to legal assistance for the marginalized.
Ms Daphne Lariba Nabila, the Executive Director, LRC, said in over 20 years after establishment of the only state-funded legal Aid to provide legal services to the socially and economically disadvantaged in society, it did not exist in all districts in the country.
As of June, 2022 it’s estimated that Ghana has a total of 4,199 lawyers in good standing, sadly the legal Aid commission has only 35 lawyers working nationwide.
She said, “the effect of this is that accused person’s, the poor, marginalized or those who cannot afford legal services are likely to be victimized by the law more often without anybody defending them despite the constitutional provisions of legal assistance”.
The paralegal system, she explained, would expand and open the legal system in the justice delivery, especially in the districts, to give access to the marginalized.
Throwing more light on paralegals, Ms Nabila said they provided significant support to lawyers in variety of ways, including investigating facts and performing legal research.
Mr Yaw Boafo, the President of Ghana Bar Association (GBA), entreated lawyers to support the paralegals to complement their work and not see them as rivals.
However, he called for a strict regulation regime to clearly spell out the paralegals remits of operation.
While he entreated lawyers to accept the paralegals to expand legal access to many, it is also very critical to establish a regulation so they do not overstep boundaries.