Mama Samia Legal Aid Campaign benefits 490,000

DAR ES SALAAM – The ambitious national legal aid campaign has benefited over 490,000 people since it was first launched by the government in Dar es Salaam last year.

The campaign which spread from the port city to Dodoma has now reached seven regions, Acting Director of Legal Aid Service in the Ministry of Constitution and Legal Affairs, Ms. Ester Msambazi told reporters in Dar es Salaam.

The Ministry launched the Mama Samia Legal Aid campaign targeting to provide legal aid to the public throughout the country for three years.

It said part of the campaign involved offering public education on the rights to protect human rights, respect and dignity.

Ms Msambazi said since it was launched, the campaign has been met with the needs to provide services to the public on marriage disputes,inheritance issues, land disputes and other legal matters.

“We thought of the need to launch our service at the ongoing Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair (DITF). This platform has allowed us to link the public to legal aid providers and the pool of lawyers,” she said.

“Some individuals visiting our pavilion are seeking assistance in understanding some legal issues or get advice on whether they have proper cause to lodge a case at the court of law,” she said emphasizing that the campaign team is well organised to assist with drafting all the legal papers free of charge.

At the launch of the campaign, the government believed it would strengthen access to justice among the general public.  Also, it maintained that the provision of legal aid would ultimately increase awareness on legal issues, human rights and rights of women and children.

More Men are seeking legal aid 

As of April this year, Mama Samia Legal Aid Campaign (MSLAC) had reached 6 regions, 42 councils, 452 wards, and 1,348 villages or streets. 

Details from the campaign organizers indicate that at least 214,888 men and 200,392 women had benefited. This also includes 6,824 men and 342 women detained or serving in different penitentiaries.

Legal aid encompasses rights and legal protection for all individuals regardless of gender or circumstance. MSLAC says its goal is to assist individuals, helping them understand related laws and procedures. “It’s not a gender issue.”

MSLAC provides legal aid to men and women facing abuse by their partners, children deprived of basic rights by parents, guardians, or their community, and disabled individuals experiencing mistreatment, along with counseling and training on protective laws. 

Ms. Msambazi said MSLAC offers legal aid and basic rights guidelines for prisoners, individuals in despair, the lonely, and those feeling disadvantaged by the legal system.

Like I said, “MSLAC also offers legal aid in marriage disputes, inheritance matters, governance, gender-based violence, child support, and community-wide legal education.”

To ensure accessibility, 256 organizations are registered to provide free legal aid services to citizens. 

The Mama Samia Legal Aid Campaign has been a significant support to the marginalized, who have been deprived of their rights.

Immediate former Minister for Constitution and Legal Affairs Dr. Damasi Ndumbaro had said during the inaugural ceremony that the campaign is a constitutional and legal entity and has been named after the efforts of President Samia Suluhu Hassan to focus on human rights, the rule of law, obedience to the law and constitutional as well as legal education for the public.

“The president has been stressing that the presence of good laws alone is not enough, but the citizens also need to be educated about the laws of the country, so that they should know their rights and responsibilities. She has been expressing her concerns about the acts of cruelty done to children and women in our communities,” Dr Ndumbaro quoted

The Tanzania Women’s Lawyers Association (TAWLA) Executive Director, Tike Mwambipile say many people especially women and children are facing legal problems.

The campaign had targeted to reach Dodoma, Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Shinyanga, Manyara, Ruvuma, Kigoma, Morogoro, Njombe, Rukwa and Kagera. 

What the president wants

During the Law Day festivities at Chinangali Park in Dodoma, President Samia Suluhu Hassan applauded the judiciary for their efforts in diminishing the backlog of cases, but highlighted the significance of rapid legal processing, particularly for commercial disputes, to foster peace and draw in investments.

In her speech, President Samia emphasized the urgency of handling commercial cases swiftly. “It’s vital for our judiciary to give precedence to these cases as we aim to become a more attractive destination for investors, who inevitably face legal challenges and disputes,” she remarked.

President Samia praised the judiciary’s adoption of mediation strategies to expedite the resolution of cases, acknowledging the advancements made in speeding up the judicial process.

READ: What Samia legal aid campaign seeks to attain

The President underscored the triumph of the Mama Samia Legal Aid initiative, inaugurated a year ago, which has impacted individuals and settled hundreds of conflicts. This campaign tackled vital societal concerns, encompassing conflicts over land, marital issues, childcare, inheritance questions, sexual violence, and civil justice.

She championed the use of arbitration to strengthen the rights to litigation, pressing legal aid organizations and the Law School to accelerate the training of arbitration professionals. President Samia urged a cooperative effort with those involved in arbitration to pinpoint areas for improvement and the possible establishment of an arbitration policy.


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