Local legal aid helps improve legal literacy, ensuring people's rights and interests

June 28, 2024 - 10:30
Since the beginning of the year, the Ninh Bình Legal Aid Centre has organised nine information sessions in communes.
Staff from Ninh Bình Legal Aid Centre provide consultation to people with disabilities in the province. — VNA/VNS Photo

NINH BÌNH — By providing free legal aid services for underprivileged people and ethnic minority members, Ninh Bình Province law assistants have been improving legal awareness and compliance, while ensuring people’s rights to justice, as well as social order and safety.

Since the beginning of the year, Ninh Bình Legal Aid Centre (under the provincial Justice Department) has organised nine information sessions in communes where a majority of the local population are of ethnic minorities, or reside in remote areas of Nho Quan District.

With the goal of providing support at the grassroots level, facilitating people’s access to legal aid while also reducing their travelling time and cost, these sessions drew over 900 participants in total.

Nguyễn Thị Mừng, a resident of Mường ethnicity in Nho Quan District and her husband, were planning to divide their family’s land among their children but were unaware of the related legal procedures, she told the Dân Tộc và Miền Núi (Ethnic Affairs and Mountainous Region) newspaper.

Thanks to staff from the provincial legal aid centre, who travel to each commune and village to deliver assistance, the couple successfully completed the necessary procedures.

According to deputy head of the operations department at Ninh Bình Legal Aid Centre Vũ Ngọc Hùng, people in poverty and from ethnic minorities have limited access to grassroots legal assistance, in addition to having being challenged in terms of transportation.

The support system for their access to legal services is also modest, with varying quality across different locations.

In several localities, the limited level of literacy and the official language have led to difficulties in acquiring legal knowledge and been one of factors that cause law violations in multiple aspects such as land management, forestry, criminal and civil matters, as well as family affairs.

Due to their lack of understanding, many people are also not aware of their rights to legal aid and are reluctant to reach out for support.

The provincial legal aid centre has sent out its staff members to understand the community's need for legal knowledge, answer their questions and organise local sessions to provide assistance to people in remote areas.

In 2023, the centre held nearly 20 sessions on legal education and legal aid in the remote areas of Nho Quan District, gathering almost 2,000 locals. Approximately 8,000 pamphlets and 4,500 handbooks on legal aid were also distributed.

These activities have resulted in positive impacts on people’s understanding and compliance with the law, helping them protect their legitimate rights and interests while incentivising them to actively study and follow policies and guidelines of the Party as well as the State laws.

Meanwhile, the centre also provides knowledge and skill training for 160 legal aid staff and 810 mediators and community leaders.

Director of Ninh Bình Legal Aid Centre Bùi Thị Thanh Tâm said that their future plans are to effectively implement the Law on Legal Aid and its related guidelines for people of ethnic minorities.

The focus will be on the defence and protection of the legitimate rights and interests of detainees, suspects, defendants, victims and litigants.

The centre also aims to enhance the capacity of legal aid providers through skill training on criminal, civil and administrative proceedings, especially in litigation, questioning court debates and communication.

The contacts and hotlines of legal aid providers are also being posted at the local authorities’ reception desk, police offices and community centres so that people can easily take advantage of the service when necessary.

Ninh Bình Legal Aid Centre is also carrying out an evaluation of the 2021-2025 National Target Program on Socio-economic Development in the ethnic minority-inhabited and mountainous areas to review shortcomings and offer recommendations in policy and project implementation. — VNS.