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Lawyers failing poor, African justice minister claims

By Candy Ikokwu

24 September 2012 at 12:59 BST

A Tanzanian government minister has criticised the legal profession for not providing services in poorer areas of the country.

Getting the short end of the lega advice stick

Getting the short end of the legal advice stick Hector Conesa/Shutterstock.com

Mathias Chikawe – the country’s Minister for Justice Constitutional Affairs  -- highlighted the huge disparity that exists between urban and rural areas in relation to the provision of legal services. The gap has led to a problem of innocent villagers being sent to prison, he said.

Lack of knowledge

Mr Chikawe contrasted the lack of countryside advice with an ongoing legal profession employment crisis in Tanzania’s big cities, where qualified lawyers have to ‘wander the streets with their CVs looking for employment’.
According to the web site of local newspaper, Guardian on Sunday, ippmedia, the minister’s suggested solution was for lawyers to take their services to the villages where there is a ‘lack of knowledge and legal representation’.

Law school boost

The minister made the comments during a visit to a branch of the Law School of Tanzania, a project which is reported to have cost Sh16.1billion ($10 million). The school -- which, according to the web site had in the past only been able to admit 600 students – can now offer 2,000 places.
Mr Chikawe also highlighted what the government is doing to help the situation by allocating Sh2.6bn ($1.6 million) in loans for students attending the law school.


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