At least 124 people including children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are set to get legal aid during this year’s Legal Aid Week, the Ministry of Justice announced yesterday.
The 2014 Legal Aid Week will run from December 8-12.
A total of 56 cases will be handled by 12 bailiffs and legal officers from Access to Justice Office (MAJ).
Announcing the activities yesterday, Johnston Busingye, the Justice minister said the ruling on the above cases was passed but the convicts are not willing to pay due compensation.
Other activities scheduled to be done during the week include visiting all 14 prisons, receiving queries and giving legal advise to inmates.
“The government does this to ensure justice for all Rwandans especially the vulnerable by giving lawyers to all who cannot afford their own,” Busingye said, stressing the need to give attention to pregnant and breastfeeding women in the legal framework.
“If a woman is imprisoned because she is suspected of committing a crime, but she is carrying a child on her back, the child is innocent. The same applies to pregnant women. When we speed up their cases, we are recognising child rights,” he added.
The minister, however, cautioned people against committing crimes with hope of getting free legal aid.
Since 2009 when the Legal Aid Week started, there were about 350 cases involving children. Today there are about 80 cases.
The Executive Director of Legal Aid Forum, Andrews Kananga, said the reduction in children cases was due to the fact that they were expedited.
Other activities to take place during the week are legal awareness and counselling.
This will be done in two selected sectors from each district of the country.
Each district has three legal officers helping local residents in terms of legal aid.