The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the European Union (EU) officially launched the Legal Aid Clinic project on the 25th of February 2020. The clinic, which houses several funded legal aid projects was stablished in 2012 and the ICJ/EU project is an additional feather to the cap. The Faculty of Law also received a donation of law text books that will go a long way in augmenting its library resources.
In his opening remarks, the Pro-Vice Chancellor Business Development and Administration, Professor Kadmiel Wekwete thanked the EU and the ICJ for their quest to increase access to justice through the establishment of the Legal Aid Clinic and the resources they contributed.
“I want to welcome our partners ICJ and EU at the launch of the Legal Aid Clinic and thank them for the wonderful contribution they have put in through the donation of stationery and equipment which will go a long way in giving students the much needed practical experience in their legal practice and in the provision of affordable legal services.
Addressing the gathering, his Excellency, Ambassador Timo Olkkonen Head of European Union Delegation to Zimbabwe congratulated Midlands State University’s Faculty of Law for making legal representation accessible to the indigent through the Legal Aid clinic.
“I want to congratulate the MSU Faculty of Law for their sterling effort in making legal services affordable and accessible through the Legal Aid Clinic in line with the strategic objective of the EU’s development cooperation with Zimbabwe outlined in the 11th EDF National Indicative Programme signed between EU and the government of Zimbabwe.
“Crucially, the Legal Aid Clinic will not only provide a service to the community but equip students with practical skills and facilitate the conducting of research into the challenges hindering access to justice for all and proposing practical ways of having a sustainable, efficient and accessible legal aid system that can meet the great demand for legal services in the country thereby contributing to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 16.
“The EU calls on the Government to ensure that court fees are affordable and easy access to simplified legal information,” he said.
Dr Justice Mavedzenge, who is the ICJ Senior Legal Advisor, also noted that the International Commission of Jurists was pleased to partner the European Union in launching the Legal Aid Clinic which was a big step in ensuring that the community has access to cheap legal services.
“ICJ believes that law faculties have an important role to play in improving access to justice for the vulnerable members of the community and it is our belief that Legal Clinics provide a unique platform for vulnerable persons to access otherwise expensive legal services and to improve practical skills of law students.
“We are also glad to announce the launch of the first Rule of Law Human Rights Moot Court competition which will help students to deal with pressing human rights issues in Zimbabwe,” he said.
The Executive Dean of the Faculty Law, Dr G Manyatera acknowledged the massive support received by the Faculty from ICJ when they went for the Geneva Moot Court competition which saw MSU scooping first prize in the heads of arguments category amongst many other competitions. He also expressed gratitude over their continued support during the preparations and at the launch of the Legal Aid Clinic.
“We want to thank the ICJ for being an all-weather friend and for supporting our Legal Aid Clinic with stationery and other critical resources which have helped us scoop a number of prestigious awards in the world. ICJ is also currently supporting one of our staff members by paying for their practising certificate,” he said.
In her closing remarks, The Pro-Vice Chancellor Research and Academic Affairs, Professor Doreen Moyo assured ICJ and EU partners that the resources they had contributed would be put to good use and benefit the intended people.
The launch was attended by members of the legal fraternity, media personnel, MSU staff and some students from the Faculty of Law.