LAOS - Khammouane Legal Aid Office Praised
H.E. Bounsavath Boupha, Vice Minister of Justice (fourth from the right), in the presence of various justice officials, members of the Lao Bar Association, district heads of Khammouane Province of the Ministry of Justice and the CTA of LuxDev LAO/031, formally opens the Legal Aid Office.
On the 25th March 2019, under the auspices of Project LAO/031, a high-ranking justice ministry official lauded the launching of a legal aid office in Khammouane, stating that it will improve and ensure effective access to justice for vulnerable and marginalized groups in the province. Vice Minister of Justice H.E. Bounsavath Boupha also expressed his gratitude that the legal aid office was established in Khammouane where the first trainings on good practices and legal aid implementation guidelines will be provided to Justice Officers from 10 districts.
In 2018, the government of Laos issued a decree that adopts and spells out procedures for the implementation of legal aid programmes. Consequently, LAO/031 aims to establish at least one (1) legal aid office every year in the provinces identified in the Indicative Cooperation Programme (ICP) between the Government of Laos and the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg.
Reginald M. Pastrana, LuxDev Chief Technical Advisor of LAO/031, emphasized that the establishment of a legal aid office is only the start and that the project would provide further trainings to support these structures moving forward. Furthermore, trainings will also be delivered by volunteers the Lao Bar Association (LBA) who have committed to providing pro bono legal aid services to eligible beneficiaries. These include poor and vulnerable groups, people with disabilities and vulnerable children, among others. Legal Aid generally involves the provision of information, consultations, and court or trial representatives
Vice Minister of Justice Boupha also took note of the ambitious goal of the Ministry of Justice to have one legal aid office unit in every district administration office. He expressed his sincere gratitude to the Project LAO/031 in expressing its support in setting up at least four (4) legal aid offices and providing capacity building trainings to the legal staffs who will be maintaining these offices.
After the launch of the legal aid office, Mr. Pastrana, together with various government resource persons, conducted lectures and capacity development workshops for staff of the new legal aid office. It is expected that this provincial legal aid office will help people overcome legal issues, involving land disputes, family issues, sexual violence, victims of injustices and other legal problems afflicting the local population. Combined with the planned activities on raising legal awareness and providing training to Village Mediation Committees, LAO/031 aims to ensure that access to justice is inclusive and supported at the grassroots level.
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