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The establishment of the Developmental Legal Aid Desks was the brainchild of the present Chairman.

A Legal Officer of the Head Office is in charge of each desk. But such Legal Officer’s work is NOT limited to the work of the particular desk, but also includes litigation work and all other responsibilities of a legal officer.


The Developmental Legal Aid Desk (Bureaus) covers the following areas :

1. Training of Lawyers, Legal Apprentices & interns

2. Elders Rights

3. Migrant Workers Rights

4. Prisoner’s Rights

5. Women & Children’s Rights

6. Disabled Persons Rights

7. Preparation of Civil Documents Desk

8. Publications Desk

The work areas of each developmental Legal Aid Desk: The ‘desks’ deal with rights of the various categories of vulnerable and deserving persons is generally classified as follows: 

Legal Counseling: This service is available to ALL and not limited to persons below the monthly income level of Rs. 15,000 limit.

Legal Representation in court cases: where the legal officer hold consultations, prepare documentations to be filed in courts etc and court representations.

Awareness Programmes the target groups for whom awareness programmes carried out are listed above. Referrals to other institutions: Referrals are made to other institutions such as Ministries, Government Department etc for appropriate action.

 

 

Elders Rights Desk

This Desk was established about five years ago. The Desk concentrates on carrying out awareness programs for elders to educate them on their rights, legal counseling and represents them in Elders Council and in courts for their maintenance matters. All these activities are given equal importance. In the year 2009 people’s Bank funded a awareness progrmmes for elders. These programmes continued for a few months in the year 2010 as well.

Migrant Workers Rights Desk

In The past the court cases and legal advice to migrant workers island-wide were handled by this desk in the Head Office.

To overcome this shortcoming in 2009 a Training program and workshop was organized for twenty legal officers of the LAC regional centers. This training program and was funded by the America Solidarity Center. As a result the legal officers of he centers are also able to handle the court cases, counseling and the awareness programs pertaining to migrant labour. 

It is to the credit of the legal officer in charge of the migrant workers Desk that she participated on a personal invitation received at ILO Conference on ‘ILO Convention’ in Bangkok in the year 2009 and in the year 2010 respectively. The Legal Aid Commission of Sri Lanka conducted Sixteen Seminars on Legal Issues Related to Migration of Employment island- wide with the financial support of the Civil Society Initiatives to Promote the Rule of Law (CSI.ROL) Project from 26th July to 29th November 2014. 16 seminars were conducted through the LAC centres. A Voluntary Village Forum was  established at the end of each seminar.

Prisoner’s Rights Desk

This Desk was established in the year 2000. But unfortunately the LAC was unable to continue with this work due to financial constraints except in entertaining cases where the kith and kin of remandees called over at the LAC centers seeking assistance for court representation on behalf of such remandees.

But in the year 2008 the UNDP equal access to justice project-phase I commenced a Prison project encompassing a number of areas that needed assistance to up-grade the concerns of remandees and prisoners. This project included legal literacy, clinics and court representations. That the LAC was able to recommence its Prison desk work in to the remand prisons at Welikada and Magazine respectively.

In the year 2009, November-December the Prisoners Rights Desk expended from Welikada and Magazine to include Kalutara, Kegalle, Wariyapola and Batticaloa prisons. In the year 2010 the programme covered nine (9) prisons including three new prisons at Moneragala, Trincomalee and Jaffna. Additionally any remandee in any of the other prisons other than the above nine (9) prisons had the liberty to seek legal aid from any of the LAC centers.

The statistical – report in this Annual report reflects that remandees in other prisons have also obtained legal aid from LAC. The statistics of the work of the Prison project is discussed I detail in this report under UNDP funded projects.

Women’s Rights Desk

The LAC Head Office commenced this Desk in the year 2006. This desk now concentrates more on the “White Ribbon Day” on the 26th of November each year whereby awareness is raised in all sectors of society on domestic violence and measures to eradicate such violence. This year (2010) the UNDP funded the white ribbon programme.

All our 61 centers island-wide handle a large number of cases dealing with the problems of women. Of these the maintenance cases ranks highest in all centers as reflected in the court statistics. Women are given legal aid irrespective of their income level for maintenance cases.

They are also exempted from paying the normal registration fee of Rs. 250.0 per case irrespective of their income level.

A large number of cases are settled and domestic violence applications are made to Magistrate’s Court only as a last resort in extreme instances where a settlement cannot be reached in anyway whatsoever. About 90% of persons seeking legal assistance in our centers island-wide are women.

Child Rights Desk

This is a desk that has had a great impact amongst children. This desk is also closely linked to the Women’s Rights Desks that deal with domestic violence, child abuse in the home and the environment etc.

In the year 2010 the People’s Bank funded three programs for school children in Kandy, Dambulla Puttalam, Nugegoda and Trincomalee. Children from grades 9-13 of the schools in the respective districts were afforded the opportunity to participate. For each program about 250 students and teachers participated.

Disabled Persons Rights Desk

This desk was created in year 2006 as the necessity arose with persons who had disabilities frequently calling over at the LAC office seeking assistance. Several referrals were made to relevant ministries, government departments etc with introductory letters. Referrals were also made to medical assistance.

Special mention has to be made of a young lady client who is both deaf and dumb. It was practically not possible for her even to sign the proxy. But the LAC legal officer undeterred tool over the case and it is now proceeding. The Social services department has on a request by court provided an interpreter to assist Court in this case. The LAC conducted a seminar on Legal issues related to people living with disabilities in 2015.

Desk for the Preparation of Civil Documents

This Desk has shown a remarkable progress over the last three years due to the efforts of the Legal Officer in charge of this desk. The desk came to be established due to the need of the hour.

Some members of public who called over at the LAC officer invariably requested assistance to get their civil documentations: e.g. National Identity Cards, copies of birth-death-marriage certificates, passports. Eventually in 2008 this lead to the establishment of this unit in a more formalized manner.

The work progressed smoothly in the years 2009 and 2010 respectively.Assistance was given to 200 clients to obtain their civil documents by closely coordination with the relevant government departments-registrar of persons department, Registrar General’s department, Divisional Secrataries, Grama Seveka Niladharis etc.

The lawyers of centers were given a training last year on preparation of civil Documents. This training made it possible this year for center lawyers to attend to the preparation civil documentation independently of the Head Office.

Desk For Publications

The LAC has since the year 2006 published booklets on varied legal topics. These are in simple Sinhala and reader Friendly. These books are periodically reviewed and updated prior to re-publication.

In the year 2010 a series of books were re-published with UNDP EA2JP financial assistance. This series has been translated into Tamil and the Tamil series will be published in the year 2011.

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Need LEGAL COUNSELLING ?

Legal advise is given to any person without taking into consideration the income level of such person.

Call us : 011 243 3618

Head Office

LEGAL AID COMMISSION OF SRI LANKA
No 129, Hulftsdorp Street,
Colombo - 12, Sri Lanka.
Tel: +94-11-2433618