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Govt Given one Month to table Legal Aid services Bill

This came after the government asked parliament to reject the move by Gulu municipality MP Lyandro Komakech to secure permission for a private members bill on the Legal Aid Services. The proposed legal aid bill 2018 is intended for ease access to free legal aid by marginalized and vulnerable groups and also regulate the legal aid services providers in the country.

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Parliament has given the Attorney General William Byaruhanga an ultimatum of one month to present a bill on the legal aid services.

This came after the government asked parliament to reject the move by Gulu municipality MP Lyandro Komakech to secure permission for a private members bill on the Legal Aid Services. The proposed legal aid bill 2018 is intended for ease access to free legal aid by marginalized and vulnerable groups and also regulate the legal aid services providers in the country.

The service gives an opportunity to people who cannot afford representation and access to the court system to get services at no cost and it is considered a major factor in access to justice through ensuring equality and a right to a fair hearing before the law.

As it stands now, legal aid service provision in Uganda is restricted to major legal representation in specific criminal matters by the State and non-state actors. This means that several Ugandans who do not have money to pay for legal services suffer injustice at the extent of those who have money.

Government through the Justice Law and Order Sector is currently developing a comprehensive national policy on legal aid to provide the framework for the provision and regulation of legal aid services in Uganda.

Komakech while justifying his motion says that the bill seeks to address land conflicts and support vulnerable groups which will prevent members of the public from suffering social exclusion. He says currently there is no straight forward provision of legal aid service for Ugandans, except rich people, are the only ones able to get justice.

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Although Lyandro Komakech received overwhelming support, his motion was defeated by the fact that it involves public expenditure on litigation.

Attorney General William Byaruhanga said the bill should not be read as it has a financial implication and that the government is not ready to fund it. He added that cabinet was already working a policy to address public access to legal aid.

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The deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah asked the Attorney General to comply with the one month promise or the private member will be given leave of parliament to move forward with his proposal.