The Paralegal Services Advisory Institute (Pasi) has called for the enhancement of the lower levels of justice systems so as expedite clearing of court cases and at the same time reduce the overwhelming number of inmates in the prisons.
Speaking in Dowa during a media training and a panel discussion on roles of paralegal officers, Pasi National Director, Clifford Msiska, said through enhancement of the institute, over 56 thousand minor cases were pealed off from the courts across the country and were later settled by villager mediators.
Msiska further said low and delayed funding is also choking the operations of the institution. “We have carefully trained community paralegals whom I call village mediators.
When I’m saying they are carefully trained what I mean is they have been exposed to human rights; they are aware of eight services of mediation,” emphasised Msiska.
However, Msiska, stressed that engagement of paralegal officers in provision of legal support and strengthening of lower level of justice systems can assist in addressing the challenges.
Commenting onsiska’s sentiments, Hight Court judge, Mzondi Mvula said some cases which are taken to the higher courts can be settled by the village based paralegals.
Mvula said: “The law says you can divert, there are divisions. So, not every case which comes through a police officer can be settled at a higher court. Sometimes, you can divert as a court so that other cases be settled at a lower level.”
Recently, paralegal officers in the country wrote Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament to review the laws so they can represent clients in courts like legal practitioners.