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JBA denounces legal aid centres as ‘harming the profession’

Legal aid centres say they address rising need for legal representation among fragile groups

By Dana Al Emam - Jun 08,2017 - Last updated at Jun 08,2017

AMMAN — While the Jordan Bar Association (JBA) claims legal aid centres are harming the profession, representatives of these centres say they address a rising need for legal representation among fragile groups.

JBA President Mazen Irsheidat said legal aid centres do not work to provide legal representation to those in need as declared, noting that they have worked on cases of property disputes, drugs, income tax and custom fees evasion.

“These centres work to become a parallel body to the JBA, which is the sole authorised body to issue legal practice permits for natural persons, not moral persons, such as organisations and centres,” he told The Jordan Times on Wednesday.

“We will ban these centres and fight them via all possible legal channels for violating the JBA Law,” he said.

Furthermore, Irsheidat charged that legal aid centres implement foreign agendas, conditioned to the foreign financing they receive.

Hadeel Abdul Aziz from the Justice Centre for Legal Aid told The Jordan Times on Wednesday that there is an “unprecedented” need for legal representation and consultancy among a growing segment of the society, particularly the financially challenged.

She cited a 2011 study by the Department of Statistics that said that some 17,000-45,000 people in Jordan need legal aid every year, adding that neither the JBA nor a small number of legal aid centres are able to address this need. 

She stressed that those 2011 figures have certainly increased due to the difficult economic conditions and the refugees issue.

Abdul Aziz noted that the centre she works for takes on at least 2,000 cases of legal representation, as well as 4,000 to 5,000 cases of consultancy every year.

She said the centre is registered at the Justice Ministry and receives foreign aid with official approvals, noting that aid centres can only be closed by a court order.

Abdul Aziz denied that aid centres harm lawyers’ interests, noting that these centres, in fact, hire licensed lawyers to do the representation and counselling jobs the organisations accept to handle. 

Adaleh Centre for Human Rights Studies Director Asem Rababa said the JBA provides legal aid services only for the financially challenged, while the services offered by the legal aid centres cover other vulnerable groups like women, children, refugees and victims of human rights violations internationally.

 

While Rababa reiterated the need to provide a legal coverage for all those in need, he said legal aid centres are willing to cooperate with the JBA to “develop and systemise” legal aid services.

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Since the laws are too lenient and since peoples morals have declined in recent years. The courts are overwhelmed with litigation. The lawyers are overworked, in part because of disorganized court system. Therefore, legal aid centers provide a service to those who feel that they have been wronged. The Lawyers just want to get a bigger share of the pie at the expense of those in need.

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