NATION

3000 Plus Family Cases Pending Through Legal Aid

Commission work much more than just criminal cases says, Attorney General
22 Aug 2019 13:00
3000 Plus Family Cases Pending Through Legal Aid
From left: The Legal Aid Commission Acting Director, Shahin Ali, the Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, the Head of Cooperation for the European Union Delegation for the Pacific, Christoph Wagner and the Resident Representative for the United Nations Development Programme Office Levan Bouadze after launching the Legal Aid Commission Strategic Plan 2019-2021 at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa in Natadola on August 21, 2019. Photo: Nicolette Chambers

There are more than 3000 family law cases pending before the Fiji courts through the Legal Aid Commission.

This was highlighted during the opening address of the three-day Legal Aid Commission regional conference at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa in Natadola yesterday.

The Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum  said  there were 3319 family law cases before the courts through the commission and 9967 cases before the courts in the criminal division

“These are 2019 figures. Interestingly enough as far as advice work is concerned, the civil advice is actually the dominant one,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“That goes to show the redress that members of the public are seeking now and indeed the services that the commission provides must be up to the times.”

He said the Legal Aid Commission in Fiji was also responsible for assisting people to draft their wills and carrying out probate matters if a family member passed away.

“A lot of people traditionally they only think about legal aid, they always think about the criminal justice system and of course there is a family element to it, the civil element to it,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“I think for a legal aid organisation to be more effective in the 21st century, it needs to be able to address those particular facets within the justice system itself and not just the criminal justice system.

“It is critically important because many people don’t realise actually that on the ground when you have family disputes when there is no will when people die it does create problems too.

“In fact sometimes, it leads to violence. Also, people then get caught up in the criminal justice system so we need to address what are the symptoms that lead to some of the criminal events taking place.”

The Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum (front row, 7th from left) with participants at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa in Natadola on August 21, 2019. Photo: Nicolette Chambers

The Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum (front row, 7th from left) with participants at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa in Natadola on August 21, 2019. Photo: Nicolette Chambers

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum launched the Legal Aid Commission Strategic Plan 2019-2021 alongside the commission’s Acting Director, Shahin Ali, the head of cooperation for the European Union delegation for the Pacific, Christoph Wagner and the Resident Representative for the United Nations Development Programme Office Levan Bouadze.

The Conference is hosted by the Fiji Legal Aid Commission and supported by the Fiji Access to Justice Project. This is funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Legal Aid Commission Acting Director Ali said: “The Commission’s strategic approach includes the provision and extension of a number of legal aid services in criminal, family and civil matters to Fijians who were deprived in the past because of affordability and location.”

A United Nations Development Programme statement said discussions during the three-day conference will be enriched by the experience and expertise shared by over 70 legal aid experts and practitioners. Not only from the Pacific region, including Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, but also from Brazil, Canada, Maldives, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, South Africa and Tanzania

Edited by Percy Kean

Feedbacknicolette.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

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