Advancing access to justice for the poor and vulnerable through legal clinics in Ethiopia: constraints and opportunities
The right of access to justice, inter alia, enjoins states to provide legal aid services and employ legal literacy programs. It also ensures access to legal and justice institutions or legal remedies to the indigent and the vulnerable. Although the right of access to justice is guaranteed in Ethiopian laws, it continues to be unavailable to most citizens particularly to the indigent and the vulnerable because the different mechanisms (designed to ensure access to justice to these groups) have not been accorded sufficient legal recognition and are poorly implemented. We argue that law school legal clinics could be among the viable pursuits in addressing the gap. However, this study reveals that legal clinics per se are non-existent. In many law schools, the establishment of legal clinics has been hindered by lack of expertise, commitment of law schools to run clinical programs and financial problems. Law schools can meaningfully contribute to fill the gaps of access to justice in Ethiopia, if their legal aid centers are consolidated and used as legal clinics, and if clinical legal education is provided in accordance with the curricula designed in 2006 and 2013.
Keywords: Legal clinics, legal aid, access to justice, law schools, Ethiopia
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