New project to help vulnerable Kigali residents get free legal aid

Posted on: December, 7th,2022 / News

The Pro Bono Legal Aid Project is expected to contribute to the well-being of the poorest and most marginalized communities in Kigali through the provision of free legal services. Launched on September 8 by Advocates for International Development (A4ID) in partnership with Legal Aid Forum (LAF), the 4-year project also aims to improve access to justice and ensure that more individuals can claim and assert their rights. The project is supported by Clifford Chance, as part of their Cornerstone Initiative, and will focus on the three districts of the City of Kigali, namely Gasabo, Nyarugenge, and Kicukiro. All three districts comprise large rural parts with a population that is relatively young. The youth make up about 60 percent and women make up slightly more than 50 percent, according to LAF. Jean-Paul Ibambe, Senior Capacity Development Officer at LAF said that throughout the Pro Bono Legal Aid Project, several activities including legal advice and representation as well as capacity building initiatives will be implemented to further enable legal aid providers to give high-quality legal services. According to Ibambe, the new project is set to help organizations that offer legal services increase the number of people they help for free. It will be implemented in collaboration with Civil Society Organisations providing free legal services in Kigali namely: HAGURUKA NGO, Human Rights First Rwanda Association, and Association Rwandaise pour La Défense des Droits de l’Homme (ARDHO) and is set to collaborate with the Rwanda Bar Association (RBA), some leading law firms and university legal aid clinics in Rwanda. Talking about why they started in Kigali, Ibambe said it’s because there are many cases and many people who need legal assistance, adding that they also have the plan to expand its activities in other areas of the country as the rise of the mean. “People can call toll-free 845 or 1022 and get legal assistance to an extent one can even get a free lawyer,” he said. Théophile Mbonera, Permanent Secretary and Solicitor General in the Ministry of Justice declared that the project is a way of ensuring justice for the most vulnerable people in the society, especially women and girls living in the City of Kigali. He thanked the initiator and funder of the project and pledged continued support from the Ministry. Yasmin Batliwala MBE, CEO of A4ID said, “This is an excellent opportunity to use the power of legal pro bono to increase access to the law and legal representation so that the lives of the poorest people living in Kigali can be improved in different ways.” She added: “The launch of this work enables us to bring together, local and international law firms, local CSOs, the Rwanda Bar Association, Rwanda Development Board, law students, and most importantly the local government in working together with us to play a unique role in promoting a sustainable culture of legal pro bono in Rwanda. We very much look forward to working closely with all our partners.” Tom Dunn, Global Pro Bono and Community Director at Clifford Chance said, “As a law firm, we see access to justice as an essential tool for people seeking to bring about improvements in their own lives, as well as being a hallmark of fair and successful societies.” He added that they are so fortunate to be able to work with partners to make vital legal services more widely available. Source:

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