By College of Law

Haramaya University’s College of Law (CoL) has announced that it has provided free legal services to 105, 820 poor, marginalized, and vulnerable individuals in the east and west Hararghe zones of the Oromia Regional State and Harari Regional State.

The College offered the free legal services under its Access to Justice and Legal Awareness (AJLA) Project from July 2013 to June 2014.
The estimated cash value (based on current market prices) of the services provided by the free legal service centers for the past twelve months is an astounding 22,839,230 Birr.

The type of services provided by the AJLA Project include, but are not limited to, legal advice/counseling, writing of pleadings, representations of clients in court, assisting clients in resolution of disputes through alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, following up and resolving prisoners and arrested persons’ cases. The project also gives psychological support for those clients in need apart from legal advice.
In the aforementioned time frame, 18, 279 individuals have received oral legal advice, pleadings/petitions were written for 10,749 individuals, and 1,753 were represented in court for free. In addition, 805 following up cases of prisoners/arrested persons along with awareness creation sessions for 74, 234 individuals were put in place.

There are currently 30 operational free legal service centers run by CoL in Oromia and Harari regional states. Additional six new offices are expected to be opened in the coming weeks in East Hararghe Zone (Kurfachele, Malka Balo, and Gola Oda woredas) and in West Hararghe Zone (Anchar, Burka Dimtu, and Hawi Gudina woredas). These 36 offices will provide free legal services in every woreda in east and west Hararghe zones of Oromia Regional State and they will cover all jurisdictions of the Harari Regional State.
Plans are also underway to expand the free legal services to Dire Dawa City Administration and to Somali Regional State by working together with both Dire Dawa and Jigjiga universities.
Court representation by the project usually begins at the woreda level and extends to the zonal high courts and to the regional supreme courts and cassation benches. Clients are routinely represented by the free legal service centers in the Harari Supreme Court in Harar and the Oromia Supreme Court in both Adama and Addis Ababa.The centers also provide legal awareness programs in courts and in prisons, as well as to community members, together with woreda and zonal justice bureaus and prison administrations.

In line with the AJLA Project, CoL runs a bi-weekly radio program at HU FM 91.5, the University’s community radio station, in Amharic and Afan Oromo. The tile of the program is “Law and Community”. It addresses current legal and social topics in an educational format.
The AJLA Project is financially supported by USAID.