Access to legal services: a key to leaving no one behind

November 25, 2022

Dr. Edward Ampratwum, Head of Inclusive Growth and Accountable Governance at UNDP Ghana speaking at the meeting.

Photos @Ernestina Ocansey/ UNDP Ghana

Access to justice is an integral part of efforts to achieve inclusive growth and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that leave no one behind. The government of Ghana has over the years made great strides in its efforts to reach out to the poor and vulnerable people who are unable to secure legal services due to financial constraints.

Research shows that an estimated four billion people around the world live outside the protection of the law, mostly because they are poor. They can be easily cheated by employers, driven from their land, preyed upon by the powerful, and intimidated by violence. Paralegals remain better placed to reach out to the poor because they are more accessible than lawyers on account of their relatively less formal practice.

As part of efforts to bridge the inequality gap in access to legal services in Ghana, the Legal Aid Commission with funding from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), organized a workshop to validate a paralegal guide and legislative instrument to expand access to legal services for the poor and vulnerable in our society. The guide seeks to provide hands-on tools for use in the field of legal aid and promote legal empowerment for the poor through paralegal assistance. It also provides comprehensive information and guidance on the operations and framework for the provision of paralegal services in legal aid delivery in Ghana.

In his remarks, the Head of Inclusive Growth and Accountable Governance, Dr. Edward Ampratwum emphasized the importance of paralegals as an effective tool to reach out to the vulnerable in societies to ensure no one is left behind.

Ensuring equal access to justice is a call to action for all. Therefore, we must find an alternative means to ensure no one is left behind in the quest to find justice. Availability of paralegals to the vulnerable or marginalized in our communities will lead to inclusive growth in our societies”, he noted.

Speaking at the workshop, the Executive Director of the Legal Aid Commission, Mr. Martin Amoyaw highlighted the need for partnerships to strengthen legal service delivery for the vulnerable at all levels.

We must leverage stronger partnerships to address injustice in our societies. These paralegals are the most effective way to break the barrier. Therefore, I commend UNDP for coming onboard to support this initiative to ensure that legal services are not only accessible and available to those who can get access to lawyers but also paralegals”, he explained.

The participants at the workshop which included staff of the Legal Aid Commission and CSOs delivery legal aid services, explained how the guide is going to help them carry out their duties successfully and promised to ensure fair justice in their day-to-day activities.

The guide remains an important element for paralegals like myself to carry out our duties successfully, and promote the delivery of fair justice for all at all times”, explained Frederick Ohene Adjei Gyampoh, a newly trained paralegal.

3rd from left (front row) is the Executive Director of the Legal Aid Commission, Mr Martin Amoyaw.