In the late 1990s a need was felt by The Legal Assistance Centre in Windhoek, Namibia to combat human rights abuses by reaching out to marginalised people in Namibia and giving them a way to access justice.
Even though Namibia’s laws are generally regarded to be very forward-thinking there are an estimated nine out of ten Namibians who cannot afford legal services, and, with Namibia being one of the most unequal countries in the world according to the Gini co-efficient, human rights abuses continue to be rife. This project was born in response to that.
The Legal Assistance Centre trained community volunteers throughout the country through their Community Paralegal Volunteer Training project from 1998 – 2001. After the training they later went on to form their own association - the Namibia Paralegal Association.
Today this work continues to be the main thrust of the NPA’s activities and is known our Justice Outreach work.
The overall objective of the Justice Outreach project is to provide access to justice for the poor and marginalised sector of the Namibian society, which will enable them to play an active role in our constitutional democracy.
This access to justice is achieved through our dedicated paralegals.
The NPA’s paralegals are trained Namibian volunteers. They go out into the community, working on the grassroots level, offering legal services and advice and ensuring that if (and when) people in these communities need legal help, they have someone to turn to. Justice Outreach services are offered for free for people who cannot afford them and have become an essential link to justice for many people.
Cases we have been involved in range from labour disputes, such as unfair dismissal from work, to cases of abuse of people infected and affected by HIV and AIDS; testing without knowledge or formal consent, and widow dispossession.
Thousands of people have been assisted by the NPA since 2002, but it is an indication of the mountain that still needs to be climbed that despite progressive laws, human rights abuses remain high. To cite an example, according to the second Millennium Development Report on Namibia, the percentage of people who agreed with at least one specified reason for wife-beating ranges from 13.4% in the Khomas region to 81.3% in the Caprivi. It is thus essential that more people become aware of laws relating to domestic violence and what these mean in practice through the Justice Outreach project.
Many people in Namibia continue to suffer. Through Justice Outreach we are endeavouring to bring some justice to these people.
Justice Outreach is striving to bring justice to people who cannot afford legal services. Because of this, we need to look for other ways to sustain our work and continue functioning. This is where we need support.
There is a lot of work that needs to be done, but with your help we are confident that we can continue to make a difference to people’s lives.
Should you wish to support the NPA, please contact us by clicking here.