Accentuation of Minister of Justice on the Provision of Legal Attorney for Destitute Citizens in Remote Areas of the Country
At the fifth round meeting of the High Commission for Legal Aid, both Minister of Justice and the Director of the High Commission for Legal Aid emphasized on the presence of defense attorney in the remote provinces of the country.
The fifth round meeting of the High Commission for Legal Aid was held on Saturday, 21st of March headed by the Minister of Justice and with the participation of the departments and institutions member of this commission and they discussed the reports from those authorities offering legal aid services, and the procedure relating to the manner and modality of receiving and reviewing the indigency form and how to report the number of cases.
At this meeting, Mr. Manawi stated that in some distant and remote provinces of the country, defense attorneys are not available, while, in the areas where most people are indigent and poor, access to the defense lawyer is a dire necessity and requirement; owning to this, Ministry of Justice is obliged to provide such legal services for the destitute citizens with collaboration of Afghanistan Independent Bar Association and other legal aid providing institutes.
He clarified that, the new organizational structure of the Ministry of Justice which has considered legal aid services for a number of districts is waiting for its approval by the president, and by the confirmation of this new organization parts of this problem will be solved.
Minister of Justice underscored the comprehensive examination of cases pertinent to the indigent people while at same time pointing out that the identification of people’s indigence needs more attention, however, it should not cause any impediments against the speed of jobs in this regard. He ordered that the mechanism for the identification of poverty of the individuals being entitled to receiving free legal aid and services ought to be prepared until next week and the works be conducted in accordance with that.
Regarding the challenges existing in the process of legal aid provision, professor Manawi articulated that the non- establishment of a legal aid fund by the Ministry of Finance is one of the major challenges in these arena. Mr. Manawi stated that he has conveyed this issue to cabinet of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and it expected that the ministry of finance establish this fund pursuant to the order of the president as soon as possible. He also ordered the secretariat of the High Commission for Legal Aid to send a letter to the Ministry of Finance and report about the consideration or non-consideration of this issue.
In this meeting, the Deputy Attorney General also spoke about the problems of distinguishing the indigence for hiring a defense lawyer or legal aid provider.
Likewise, Ruhollah Qarizadeh, the director of the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association, spoke about the presence of the defense lawyers and the legal aid provider from investigative stage up to trial stage. He said that currently, the defense lawyers and legal aid provider are not allowed to attend in the investigative stage in many cases, while their presence is an urgent requirement.
In this meeting, the General Director of Legal Aid of the Ministry of Justice provided information about the number of cases that have been finalized by this ministry in the last quarter of fiscal year 1399(2020) and the institutions that provide legal aid in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice. In this quarter, the Ministry of Justice has defended and finalized 3507 cases in different stages and also provided 514 legal advices to individuals. In addition, 1321 cases have been finalized by 8 active institutions in the domain of providing legal aid that have submitted their reports to the commission.
It was also emphasized at this meeting that the reporting of active non-governmental organizations in the field of legal aid should be accurate and credible. The Minister of Justice and the Director of the High Commission for Legal Aid stated at this meeting that explicit mechanism should be established in this regard and discussed with the relevant institutions. However, it was decided at this meeting that by the end of this week, the members of this meeting should share their points of view on the reporting mechanism of the activities of the legal aid providers’ institution as soon as possible with the Secretariat of the High Commission for Legal Aid.