Govt Committed To Ensuring Access To Justice, says A-G
Government is committed to ensuring every Fijian has access to justice in the real sense, says Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. Speaking at the signing ceremony and launch of the European Union – Fiji Access to Justice Programme, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said real access did not mean a person needing to travel from Rakiraki to Suva for legal aid assistance. One of the first things Government focused on from early on was opening up of more legal aid offices around the country. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said merely having a Parliament, a judiciary and legal aid did not mean people had real access to judiciary. He said their commitment was to ensure that the service delivery system was in a tangible and practical manner reaching out to every Fijian it was supposed to reach.
“It was ridiculous to expect a person living in Rakiraki to travel all the way to Suva or to Lautoka to get the access to some legal aid information. It was ridiculous for somebody living in Taveuni to go all the way to Labasa or come to Suva to get access to legal aid information. It is ridiculous for somebody who is living in Lau to wait for 18 months for his or her case to be heard. “That situation has changed”. While thanking the European Union for their assistance, Mr SayedKhaiyum said the EU has demonstrated that it is very much part and parcel of the way of thinking that Government has. Government also put in place policies whereby now anyone wanting to have their will made, can do so through a legal aid office. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum stressed that the access to justice programme be implemented in an apoliticial manner.
From left: Head of delegation of the European Union, Ambassador Andrew Jacobs, Solicitor-General Sharvada Sharma, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and Chief Justice Anthony Gates at the Grand Pacific Hotel, in Suva yesterday.