College of Law Vows to Strengthen Free Legal Service


By Fistum Fisseha and Sileshi Yilma

Haramaya University College of Law (CoL) expressed its commitment to further strengthen the free legal service it is offering to the poor and vulnerable group of people in east and west Hararghe zones of Oromia Regional State and in Harari Regional State.
The College made the announcement during the capacity building training prepared for the legal service lawyers. The event, which took place from November 6-9, 2014 at the University’s Resource Center, also included the bi-annual review meeting of the Access to Justice and Legal Awareness (AJLA) project.
In his welcoming speech, Dr. Richard Wentzell, dean of CoL, said the College is striving to help the overall endeavor aimed at enhancing access to justice and legal awareness activity under the AJLA project.

The community is getting a wide range of benefits from AJLA project and this was made possible with the relentless effort exerted by the legal officers in each centers, Dr. Richard added. The dean emphasized in particular the task performed by the legal officers who are working in remote and inhospitable rural areas under difficult circumstances.
The training, which was delivered by experienced lawyer and a lecturer from CoL, focused Oromia Regional State Land Law, advanced legal skill and ethics training, pre-trial and trial skills in handling criminal cases, and Federal sentencing guideline.

Participants of the training found the training vital as it was related to the challenges they face on daily basis. In particular, the topic that focused on Oromia Regional State Land Law was helpful as most cases in various centers are one way or the other linked to land-related issues, the trainees pointed adding that it would also have a meaningful change in enhancing customer satisfaction.


During the occasion, the annual report of AJLA was presented and discussion on the report was also held focusing on the challenges faced by the project and ways of solving them. Supervisors of AJLA project also presented best practices of the centers. The experience sharing, among others, including working harmoniously with stakeholders, file handling system, promoting the center and skills of handling clients properly.
AJLA currently has 30 free legal service centers in east and west Hararghe zones as well as in Harari Regional State. Each center has legal officers who provide free legal services for the poor and vulnerable part of the community. The project’s activity has registered several success stories. In the 2013/14 fiscal year alone, it has reached more than 100, 000 people who benefited from the variety of services offered by AJLA.
The College, under its breakthrough initiative project AJLA, is expanding its branches in order to help the access to justice for remote areas. Currently, the University is in the final stages of launching nine additional free legal service centers in east and west Hararghe zone of Oromia Regional State.


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