Public Solicitor office needs funding and capacity

The Public Solicitor, Jim Wala Tamate, is once again appealing to the government to seriously look at the funding and capacity need of the office in order for it to carry out its constitutional functions.

Funding and capacity has been an ongoing issue for years. In September the office was closed due to the non-payment of its rental, an issue that has since been rectified.

There has also been a lot of demand on the office with legal aid services ranging from criminal to civil to family law issues.

This has resulted in the creation of a specialized division that deals directly with family legal issues such as maintenance, custody, divorce, and family protection orders, people living with disabilities, survivors and victims of all forms of discrimination, including HIV/AIDS and family and sexual violence.

Tamate says whether the clients are able or people living with disability, the office must continue to provide them legal services.

“We need new lawyers for the (new) division. I hope the government of the day looks at the needs of our people because we talk about helping them with their cases, it is important that more lawyers should be recruited for this division and others.

“The division has been created as a result of the demand that has come in for legal services but the challenge as I’ve said is manpower issues, we are willing to help out but we don’t have enough manpower and funding,” he says.

The office has been allocated K10.2 million for its operation next year, a reduction of K1.2 million this year.

The reduction he says will have a lot of impact on their operations next year.

“K10.2 million is not enough, to sustain the management, court circuit travels throughout the country throughout the year.

“To me it’s not enough. A budget of K20 million would be appropriate. So we can fully resource our lawyers, to the districts where the courts are expanding to, we can provide lawyers in the district, we can’t do that now.

For now, with the freeze on government department on recruitment, Tamate says the office will be making a submission to the department of personal management, but that will be a matter for the new Public Solicitor to do.

 “Unfortunately that’s the reality, we want to provide legal service to the people but we have funding issues, its ongoing for many years now, we hope it improves so that we can properly serve our people.

Tamate has been appointed to the bench as a judge of the National and Supreme Court. He will be officially sworn in this month.

Sally Pokiton
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