Emphasis is placed on keeping costs to a minimum as it is the cost of providing legal aid services that inhibits so many governments from being able to afford and deliver meaningful legal aid services.By 2003, the PAS had 26 paralegals and reached 84% of the prison population. Responding to demand, the PAS next sought to develop services to assist persons in the courts and, initially, young persons at police stations. The ambition of the PAS had grown to provide not just advice and assistance to those in prison but to develop a national legal aid service available to all persons in conflict with the criminal law.
In 2007, the PAS as supported by PRI, evolved into the autonomous PAS Institute (PASI). Funding is gradually moving from the development partners into a Legal Aid Fund with which the PASI will enter a ‘co-operation agreement.’ One of the successes of the PAS (and reason for its low turn-over of paralegals) is that it has never stopped developing its range of services and quest for new partners. While the paralegals focus their work exclusively on the formal criminal justice, they have established links with the informal, ‘traditional’ justice fora in rural communities (where the majority of people live).
The work in police stations with young people has led to the development of diversion schemes at police and court. The high number of minor criminal cases (ie simple theft, criminal damage, assault) has led to the development of mediation services operated by faith-based organizations in the villages. In both cases, this link has enabled paralegals to refer appropriate cases/matters to these partners who live and work in the community – again at little cost.
Clifford Msiska, who received his legal training in Europe, is national director of the Paralegal Advisory Service in Malawi. The Paralegal Advisory Service (PASI) started in Malawi in May 2000 as an initiative of Penal Reform International (PRI), which sought to link local NGOs with the Ministry of Justice and Malawi’s Prison Service. In a country where lawyers are few, PASI’s national presence helps ensure that detainees have some interaction with a legal professional.
I'm John Wilson Mangwalala.I am a Paralegal Advisory Service Institute (PASI) trained Paralegal Officer. I basically trained in Criminal Law and Procedure, constitutional law, forum theater and interactive learning techniques, computer literacy and information management in order to provide basic legal advice, education and assistance to those in conflict with the law. I conduct daily paralegal aid clinics at police and court to prepare suspects/accused persons so that they understand the criminal law and procedure and apply it to their respective cases; and informing people in rural areas on the law and introducing measures to enable communities settle appropriate matters between themselves without having recourse to the formal justice system.I would like to join the network in order to share experiences and best practices so that I may widen my understanding of legal empowerment to those who mostly need basic legal aid so that justice for all is attained.