NEWS

PM: Access To Justice A Constitutional Right

“Today, we’re bringing those services directly to your doorstep, putting you on equal footing with Fijians in our major towns and urban areas.”
13 Mar 2019 10:00
PM: Access To Justice A Constitutional Right
Legal Aid Commission Acting Director, Shahin Ali (front left), Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama (front, third from left), chairperson of the Legal Aid Commission Sharvada Sharma (front right) during the opening of the Legal Aid office in Keiyasi, Navosa, on March 12, 2019. Photo: DEPTFO News

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says accessing justice should not mean hours of travel by bus or car.

Mr Bainimarama said this while opening the new Legal Aid Commission office at Keiyasi, Navosa, more than 52 kilometres from Sigatoka, yesterday.

He said the provision of these services was not charity, but a realisation of the constitutional right of every Fijian, the right of equal access to justice.

“That is why today is so important as we officially open the Keiyasi branch of the Legal Aid Commission and the new Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry,” he said.

“Today, we’re bringing those services directly to your doorstep, putting you on equal footing with Fijians in our major towns and urban areas.”

Mr Bainimarama said he was well aware of the reality once faced by the community in Keiyasi, who often had to make the arduous and costly journey to Sigatoka to speak with a Legal Aid officer.

“You must be able to access justice here, in your community, where you live, work and raise your families. And as of today, you finally can,” he said.

A lawyer will be available at the office for two to three days of the week and will provide free legal services to the residents.

There will be a full-time client information officer and registry officer to provide first-line legal assistance to the public.

Mr Bainimarama also said that families of eight people who died in a horrific road accident in Nabou, between Sigatoka and Nadi, in August last year were able to turn to the Legal Aid Commission to seek the assistance they deserved in their time of suffering.

“It was Legal Aid officers who helped those families with the paperwork and legal documentation to enable them to assume administration over their deceased family members estate, allowing them to receive compensation money from the Accident Compensation Commission Fiji,” he said.

“They didn’t need to front the costs of those legal fees themselves. They didn’t need to spend months or years in the courts.

“Instead they quickly received legal expertise that enabled them to access our recently-established Accident Compensation Commission Fiji, which paid out invaluable assistance to those families in their time of need.

“Whether you are a family suffering from the loss of a loved one, a family facing eviction, a mother seeking custody of a child, a couple looking to adopt a new member of their family, someone who is facing criminal charges or someone in their later stages of life who needs to draft a Will, the Legal Aid Commission is there to support the Fijian people,” said Mr Bainimarama.

Edited by Epineri Vula

Feedbackavinesh.gopal@fijisun.com.fj

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