Commonwealth urges stronger action for access to justice

March 6, 2024 4:32 pm

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland [3rd from left] at the Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting in Zanzibar, Tanzania.[Source: Azalina Othman Said/Facebook]

Due to the weakening of the rule of law in a majority of countries, especially over the past two years, the Commonwealth is calling for stronger action to ensure that access to justice becomes a reality for all its members.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland renewed this call yesterday while opening the Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

More than 400 ministers, senior government officials, and other dignitaries from across the world’s six regions, including Fiji, are part of the two-day meeting.

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The leaders have come together to look at ways to deliver on the Commonwealth Access to Justice Declaration that was agreed to in their last meeting in Mauritius.

“Many of our citizens don’t have access to justice because they find it’s too expensive, it’s too complicated, they don’t know how to do it and so what we are coming together to do is say okay how do we simplify it, how do we make sure that someone in a village who has a justiciable claim can pursue it and say I want my rights, how do we do that.”

In a global first, Commonwealth is using its free legal muscle to develop concepts to come up with people-centric justice.

Scotland says they are working with the most skilled lawyers for the common good of all the people.

She highlight the use of technology to enhance legal services, including through the rollout of time-saving e-courts.

“So what we are looking at is creating an app on your phone for small claims so that you can make your claim and you can have it dealt with, but dealt with virtually. So we’re creating these models to think very practically about the problems that our people have in all of the areas and trying to come up with things which work”.

Attorney General, Siromi Turaga also states that access to justice is key in the modern era.

“If we have no access then basically you are denied the right to seek justice. Justice is not only law related it is about human, humanity and people need justice.”

The theme of this year’s meeting is ‘How digitalisation paves the way for the development of people-centred access to justice’.

Over the next four days, ministers will deliberate on the policy and strategic actions required to address access to justice challenges, especially for women, people with disabilities and those living in poverty.