22nd Feb 2018

Legal Aid

Legal aid is a tool for accessing justice for those who cannot afford legal service on their own. The Nepalese judicial system has agreed the notion of providing legal aid to poor, marginalized and deprived people since 1970’s. Nepal where about one third of the total population live below the poverty line, the role and importance of legal aid is extremely noticeable.

The constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal, 1990 had provided right to consult and to be defended by a lawyer as a fundamental right.  It had also introduced legal aid for poor and needy person as state policy. Similarly, Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007 stipulates – No one can be arrested without being informed, every person who is arrested shall be produced before a judicial authority within a period of twenty four hours of such arrest, excluding the time necessary for travel to such authority and without order from such authority they shall not be kept in custody, arrested person has the right to consult his/her lawyer.

Institutionalization of legal aid service came across with Nepal Bar Association’s initiation in 1980s and is continued through administration under the Supreme Court by appointing a Member of the Bar as a stipendiary advocate in most courts. Legal Aid Act was promulgated in 1997. Legal Aid Rules, 1998 had been promulgated to regulate the procedures in providing legal aid. Currently legal aid is covered in all 75 districts since 2009.

On the other hand, many of the non-governmental organizations working in the area of justice as well as rights of the prisoners are providing services to the deprived groups of the prisoners and other in need of legal services. Still many accused persons are denied of access to defence and a fair trial and they are unaware of legal aid provided by Court, Nepal Bar Association (NBA), Central and District Legal Aid Committees, Civil societies, NGO and INGO’s. They are not informed about their rights and legal remedies. As a result they face long imprisonment, heavy fine, depression and lack of self-confidence. There is need of an overall assessment of the legal aid schemes and the framework that is undertaking the operations and envisioning more effective system that serves broader interests of the deprived communities who are considered to be the recipients of the service.

PPR Nepal is providing legal aid to different types of victims. They may be the victims of torture or victims of human trafficking or vulnerable people or victims of witch allegation.

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