LAZ should second its members to Legal Aid Board – Petitioner
Katete, November 20, 2014, ZANIS–A petitioner has submitted to the Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission that the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) should second its members to the Legal Aid Board to enhance access to justice.
Mr. Fanwell Chisala, 58, of C148 Chibolya compound in Katete, told the Commission sitting at Katete Council Chamber today that the Legal Aid Board was understaffed hence his submission that LAZ should come to its assistance by seconding its members.
He said most poor people in remote areas cannot afford to hire private lawyers and fail to get legal representation from the Legal Aid Board because it is only available in Chipata with a limited number of lawyers attending to all cases in the province.
And Mr Chisala also submitted that Supreme and High court judges should declare their assets upon appointment for accountability adding that the process must be done every five years of holding office.
Meanwhile, the issue of early girl child marriages attracted a lot of interest among the petitioners following an increase in the number of girls dropping out of school in order to get married in the area.
56 year old Mangani Phiri of house number 199 Chibolya compound for instance submitted that the incidences of early girl child marriages where high in Katete and lacked a comprehensive approach to resolving the issue by the relevant stakeholders.
Mr Phiri submitted further that the Victim Support Unit in the Zambia Police Service should be abolished and placed under the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) or the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) to improve its logistical performance so that it can respond to cases rapidly.
However, Commissioner Emily Sikazwe from Women for Change said dissolving the VSU was not the solution to enhanced access to justice in GBV cases because the officers under the unit were specifically trained to attend to such cases adding that what was required was to empower them with logistical support to strengthen their operations.
Another petitioner Humphrey Katye, 29 of Katete Boma submitted that the increased number of early girl child marriages in the district was of great concern.
Mr. Banda for this reason appealed for the extension of the justice system in rural communities because the incidences were tantamount to defilement as they largely involved children under the age of 16 years.
But a traditional marriage counselor Mrs Peletiya Banda said initiation ceremonies were necessary but that young girls should not be taught everything in detail because they tend to put what they are taught into practice.
The Commission has meanwhile received submissions from 12 petitioners in Katete.
And Commission chairperson Justice Fredrick Chomba encouraged women to make submissions on how best the Legal and Justice can be reformed for the good of their communities.
Justice Chomba was prompted to make the appeal following the low participation of women in the Commission’s public sittings in the Eastern province which started on Monday in Lundazi before going to Katete.
Only three women have so far submitted to the commission since Monday with one each in Lundazi, Chipata and Katete.
The Commission will tomorrow hold its final sitting for the province in Petauke before returning to Lusaka on Saturday.