Justice Remy Kasule Appeals to Government to Enact Legal Aid Law

Written by: 
John Okeya

Justice Remy Kasule has appealed to the Government of Uganda to pass the Legal Aid bill into law saying the policy will enable indigent and poor Ugandans receive state funded legal services.

The former justice of the court of appeal who pioneered the legal aid project in Uganda challenged government to come to the rescue of ordinary people who cannot afford necessary but costly legal services today.

“For more than 15 years, the bill to establish a legal aid policy supported by the state has appeared every year before the legislature, without the possibility of enactment into law,”
Justice Kasule said, “we pray that this time the law is enacted so that we are not the only country within the East African region where we don’t have a state sponsored and state supported legal aid policy”

He was speaking at the celebration of the 9th annual Legal Aid and Pro Bono day held at Railway grounds, along Jinja Road in Kampala, with other celebrations made across the country.

Hon. Jacob Oulanyah, the Deputy Speaker of Uganda’s parliament who represented the president as Chief Guest at the event admitted that the legal aid policy is crucial and has lingered between parliament and cabinet for a long time.

However, the Deputy Speaker says the motion is still pending because of financial implication of 17 billion to government. He argued that Government is already funding many projects and does not have enough resources to meet the policy requirement.

Hon. Oulanyah called for financial assistance from the delegations from European Union, United Nations and other development partners who were present at the event, to support government initialize the legal aid program, such that the government can take it over fully after three years once the legal framework and institution is established.

“The key problem is financing. I’m suggesting therefore, that in order that the burden of parliament is assisted in its role to pass this legislation, can our development partners help us to solve this problem. This is one crucial aspect and if financing could be tailored to it, it would help our people,” said Hon. Oulanyah

The Deputy Speaker added further that the legal regime in Uganda today only serves the rich. He said poor people cannot access justice, a prerogative of the rich: affirming the need for Uganda Law Society, even in the absence of Legal Aid Law to continue providing free legal services to those who need but cannot afford; through their Pro Bono programs, a professional free legal services from lawyers.

Uganda Law Society who organized the event to celebrate free legal aid and Pro Bono day launched an application software called “PULIDAWO” to mean “your advocate.” According to Counsel Gabriel Acaye, a project manager at Uganda Law Society, ‘the vulnerable poor person will be able to access a lawyer by a click of a button’.

The android application that can be downloaded from Google playstore was developed by four advocates from the law society including Gabriel Acaye, Brian Kisomose, Lydia Kyakwa and Elias Bwambale who traveled to The Hague last and emerged first runners up in global completions for their innovation.

“PULIDAWO seeks to enhance access to justice for the indigent and vulnerable people who often time have had a challenge accessing lawyers. With the mobile application, people from the whole country will be able to access lawyers within their locality. And all these services will be given free of charge once you meet the means and merit test,” said Gabriel Acaye.

 He argues that the application will also save the public from fraud from unprofessional and unqualified lawyers.

At the same event, Justice Remy Kasule called upon the legal profession to renew their commitment and responsibility towards society, such that even when the state may one day come in to support legal aid, the project by the Uganda law society must continue, “whereby we come to the rescue of ordinary people by giving them free legal services.”

He also pleaded with the public, saying “please avail yourself to take advantage of what the lawyers have come to give back to the society.”

Mary Nalweyiso, a resident of  Kajjansi attested gratefully to the free legal services from Uganda Law Society through which she was able to save her property from land grabbers after more than one year in court litigation.