By: Rancy S. Teewia
The Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) in collaboration with the Legal Professional Development and Anti-Corruption Program (LPAC) has luached a Legal Aid Clinic and Acess to Justice Stakeholders Engagement Dialogue on Friday June 28, 2019 at the Corina Hotel in Monrovia.
The Executive Director of the LNBA, Cllr. Edward W. Bonwinkor, Jr. said, the Bar in collaboration with the Legal Professional Development and Anti-Corruption Program (LPAC) – a USAID support project, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2017 to established and operate Legal Aid Programs enable the indigent people access justice through pro bono legal representations in five counties, namely Monsterrado, Bong, Margibi, Grand Bassa, and Bomi counties.
Cllr. Bonwinkor said during the pilot phase of the program in 2017, the LNBA opened two clinics in Montserrado and Margibi Counties and employed two case workers to register complaints of indigent defendants and forward them to the pro bono lawyers of the bar serving under the legal aide.
Ge said in 2018, the LNBA opened additional three Clinics in Bong, Grand Bassa and Bomi Counties to serve indigent citizens of the three Counties and employed six case workers to serve each of the Counties in which they are assigned.
The LNBA’s Legal Aid Clinics are also intended to provide also provide legal representation for pretrial detainees.
The Services provided by the Bar will cover family law, domestic violence law, land related matters, landlord and tenants’ disputes mediation and litigation.
Besides representing indigents, the LNBA will provide legal advice for citizens who do not understand the laws of Liberia by telling them what their rights and responsibilities are, and what to do when they come in conflict with the law or when their rights are violated.
Cllr. Bonwinkor called on all Liberian to see this as an opportunity for pro bono services so that Liberians obtain justice in this post war country to avoid taking law into their hands.
He maintained however, that there are other people in the communities that take advantage of the pro bono services because they feel that they don’t have money to pay lawyers to fight their cases.
“But the Liberia National Bar Association is here to help you when you feel offended and you don’t have money to hire legal persons,” he said, advising Liberians against taking the laws into their hands..
During the occasion, the Vice President of LNBA, Cllr. Sylvester D. Rennie, appealed to Liberians not to make any statement in the absence of your lawyer when they are arrsted by the Liberia National Police (LNP).
This, he indicated, will ensure that that they do not entrap themselves by making statements that could jeopardize their defense and thereby cause embarassment for lawyers during trial.