Mobile Legal Clinics bring justice at the door step
December 2010; Lack of efficient justice system makes it difficult for the people especially in the rural areas of Nepal to avail justice on time and in the prolonged process makes it very expensive also.
A large number of rural population are ignorant about easy access to justice or accessing free legal aid provisions made by the Government.
To make the legal aid simpler, understandable and easier to access, the UNDP Enhancing Access to Justice for Consolidation of Peace in Nepal (A2J) project is engaged in providing free legal aid to the marginalized communities in different parts of country.
The A2J project, during the period of August-December 2010, in partnership with the Nepalese Law Students’ Association (NeLSA), organised 18 free Mobile Legal Clinics for communities in Sarlahi, Mahottari and Rautahat districts to impart legal counselling and assistance to the poor, vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalized groups especially the women.
One of the noteworthy achievements of the Mobile Legal Clinic was—besides the free legal counselling, 1524 rural people of the three districts received free legal literacy training in local languages. About 4000 legal literacy booklets were produced in local languages such as Maithali and Bhojpuri for the communities to understand their legal rights.
The communities in these three districts learnt about basic laws related to social issues (marriage, caste discrimination, untouchability, domestic violence, Gender Based Violence etc.).
Also, information was shared to the communities on legal provisions related to monetary transactions, registration of birth, marriage, death, abortion, citizenship, alternative dispute resolution, partition of property and mechanisms for accessing free legal aid.
Among the 1524 people (80% women and 20% men), 56% was from Dalit (earlier categorised as the untouchables) population followed by 20% Janjatis (Indigenous Peoples).
Earlier in September, a two-day Training of Trainers (ToT) was provided to 12 lawyers through the A2J project for ensuring qualitative service delivery through the Community Mobile Legal Clinics.
A training manual was also developed during the training for conducting legal awareness and free legal counselling.
This whole programme has increased the capacity of the local lawyers and has made them more responsive towards the marginalized and disadvantaged communities while the local communities have become empowered to claim their legal rights.
Restoring the rule of law and ensuring access to justice for all is essential for lasting peace. This project is enabling women and poor and marginalised people to claim their rights, and is helping them improve their livelihoods by more easily solving disputes, thus contributing to the Millennium Development Goal # 1- reducing poverty and hunger and Goal #3 Promoting Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women.