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From the Zambia National Legal Aid Policy 2018, which has progressive policies around accessing justice, including the formal recognition of community paralegals:
The Government of the Republic of Zambia has committed itself to enhancing equal access to justice particularly for the poor and vulnerable people, as part of its efforts to observe the rule of law and adhere to human rights, in line with the Seventh National Development Plan 2017-2021 and the National Vision 2030 of the Republic of Zambia.
Access to justice is generally understood as the ability of people to seek and obtain a remedy through formal or informal institutions of justice, and in conformity with human rights standards. It goes beyond mere access to institutions and covers the whole process leading from grievance to remedy.
Access to justice is a fundamental human right in itself and essential for the protection and promotion of all other civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. Without effective and affordable access to justice, people are denied the opportunity to claim their rights or challenge crimes, abuses or human rights violations committed against them.
Enhancement of access to justice necessitates effective provision of legal aid. Legal aid is understood as encompassing the provision to a person, group or community, by or at the instigation of state or non-state actors, of legal education, information, advice, assistance, representation and mechanisms for alternative dispute resolution. This understanding of legal aid has been recognised internationally through the United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2012.
The provision of legal aid in Zambia has been affected by the absence of a comprehensive national Legal Aid Policy and a corresponding implementation framework to guide the provision of legal aid services by all legal aid service providers, including non-state actors.
The Government of Zambia has endeavoured to remedy the current gaps in the provision of legal aid by adopting a national Legal Aid Policy (hereafter referred to as the “Legal Aid Policy”) supported by appropriate legislation and regulations, installing a comprehensive legal aid system that is accessible, effective, credible and sustainable. On this basis, the Legal Aid Policy establishes a renewed regulatory and implementation framework for the provision, administration, coordination, regulation and monitoring of legal aid in Zambia.
The efficient and effective delivery of legal aid services will in turn enhance equal access to justice for the poor and vulnerable people in Zambia, in line with Zambia’s national and international commitments.
The development of the Legal Aid Policy followed an inclusive approach based on extensive consultations involving institutions and stakeholders at provincial and national levels. The process was led by the Ministry of Justice and the Legal Aid Board (LAB). The participants in the consultations included Cabinet Office, ministries and other state institutions, offices of provincial ministers, the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ), universities and other higher educational institutions, and more than 25 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). The process involved 15 workshops for the Technical Working Group and other consultations carried out between November 2016 and April 2018.
This policy document is divided into five chapters. Chapter One covers the introduction and outlines the concept of access to justice and the provision of legal aid as a means of enhancing access to justice. Chapter Two gives the situation analysis wherein the issues and obstacles that impede the effective and efficient delivery of legal aid services are identified. Chapter Three sets out the vision pursued by the Legal Aid Policy and gives the rationale and guiding principles on which the Legal Aid Policy is founded. Chapter Four specifies the objectives of the Legal Aid Policy and states the policy measures required to attain the set objectives. Chapter Five sets out the implementation framework outlining the mechanisms necessary for effective and efficient policy implementation.