THE 10TH PARLIAMENT FLASHES GREEN LIGHT ON THE NATIONAL LEGAL AID BILL 2020 AS IT WINDS UP ITS BUSINESS

24 May 2021 -
Written by Laspnet
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It was jubilation and excitement on the side of Legal Aid Service Providers (LASPs), its Development and Strategic partners as the 10th Parliament concluded business on 11th May 2021 At its last 10th Parliamentary sitting, chaired by the Rt. Hon. Speaker, Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga, at exactly 7:00pm, the Private Mover of the Legal Aid Bill, Hon. Lyandro Komakech who is also former Gulu Municipality MP received a rare opportunity to present the National Legal Aid Bill 2020  before Parliament

for its first reading. This historical moment was preceded by a strategy meeting held on 7th May 2021 at Sheraton in which the mover and seconder Hon Veronica Bichetero briefed the Members of Parliament from GNPF and Champions on the status and challenges that were hindering progress concerning tabling the law before Parliament. Among others this meeting was graced by the Hon Betty Aol Ochan, former Leader of Opposition

It should be noted that this Bill had stalled for the last 12 years without making headways for enactment. However, this time in what can be described as momentous gesture, all Honorable Members of Parliament unanimously agreed and passed a motion for its first reading and thereafter referred it to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee for further management. This Bill therefore becomes one of the pending Bills to be offered priority by the 11th Parliament which is set to commence actual business in August this year.

Reacting to this milestone, Hon. Komakech expressed excitement and jubilantly stated “I can now move out of Parliament with my head raised high, I know now my people back home will one day be able to access justice if this Bill is passed into law.”

The Legal Aid Service Providers Network (LASPNET), the official sponsors of the Private Members’ Bill supported by its Development and Strategic partners have been at the centre stage of the advocacy efforts for the National Legal Aid Bill. On hearing the news, the Network’s CEO Dr. Sylvia Namubiru Mukasa was plagued with abundant joy and excitement for the journey thus far reached. “God has finally answered our prayers for we have long waited for this moment, we have worked back and forth for a long period to reach here” she happily said. “We are therefore very happy and grateful to the Movers, the drafters, and the Development and Strategic partners who include the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Greater North Parliamentary Forum (GNPF) and now Lutheran World Federation (LWF) coming on board for financially and technically supporting the advocacy initiatives for the National Legal Aid Bill. Our member organizations have remained resilient in the advocacy journey of this Bill.” She added.

It’s estimated by the HiiL Justice Needs Report (2016) that over 88% of Ugandans are faced with justice problems however lack access to legal aid services. Against the population of over 44 million Uganda, 20% cannot afford to pay for services of the Legal practitioners and yet faced with many legal problems ranging from Land disputes, Family disputes, Gender Based Violence, Criminal matters of all types among others. The remedy to this problem therefore remains the fact tracking of the enactment and effective implementation of the National Legal Aid Bill 2020 which seeks to establish a government supported framework aimed at extending legal aid services to the poor and vulnerable specially comprised of men and women, children, refugees, and persons with disabilities amongst others