Is It Possible To Get Legal Aid VS Ones’s Government?

Forms of legal aid have been available and accessible for years on end in the world as a result of injustice. The latter is usually faced by marginalised individuals and groups in societies world over, and for some reason cannot afford legal advice or representation.

The Rwandan president; Paul Kagame was recently quoted saying that he will not send peace keeping troupes to the neighouring Burundi where rumours of a genocide breakout are looming. The reason this heavy decision maker gave was that Burundi doesn’t need peace keeping forces after all as arrogantly stated by the Burundi president Pierre Nkurunziza.

I say heavy decision maker about the Rwandan president because he is known for making rush and heavy decisions especially when rubbed off the wrong way. An example here is when he changed his country’s status from Francophone to an English speaking country after an annoyance by French officials concerning the infamous 1994 Rwanda genocide.

Well, it all started when the Burundi incumbent president showed interest in standing for a third term as president to this country which didn’t go well with many nationals. This was followed by peaceful and later not so peaceful demonstrations in the capital; Bujumbura which further spread to the rural areas of Burundi.

This chaos is reported to still go on even in the year 2016 especially after Nkurunziza forcefully stood for a third term and retained the presidential seat.

Where does legal aid come in?

Since legal aid is basically helping individuals or groups that for one reason or another cannot afford legal representation or services to reach justice, one wonders when it is applicable and when it is not.

For example, in the Burundi situation one could think that the poor masses forced out of their homes and communities to seek refuge from neighbouring countries deserve a right to be legally represented against their oppressor/s.

It should be noted that ever since the president insisted on the third term, there have allegedly been clashes, riots, massacres and unexplained death of the common man as sects of the Hutu and Tutsi slowly take formation as it was in Rwanda in 1994.The Hutu and Tutsi are the two division like tribes were people in Burundi and Rwanda belong to either, apart from those who are as a result of both Tutsi and Hutu parents.

It should also be remembered that it is after these two groups started fighting each other when the Rwandan genocide broke out. This created a gruesome massacre that carried on for a good 100 days as the rest of the world watched only managing to get out its own out of harm’s way.

Improvements on how and when legal aid is provided

Maybe improvements should be made by the international community and countries as well where legal aid is offered to nationals against their own governments and countries for justice to be reached. This should as well include the so called untouchables like state leaders who always go unpunished for wrongs against humanity during their rule.

Credit should be given where its due for example, we have seen some former world leaders getting punished for their wrong doings but this usually comes in way too late after too many innocent lives have been damaged or lost.

World leaders brought to justice may include;

  • Muammar Gaddafi former Libyan president
  • Hosni Mubarak, former Egyptian president
  • Saddam Hussein, former Iraq president
  • Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia

If a list of presidents that were punished for their crimes against humanity was to be made, it would probably have a few ex African leaders’ names. What we see in the more developed countries is that presidents usually step down in the middle of a controversy or get to be questioned about it, which is never the case with African leaders.

The other issue is that why is it that the people cannot take their president in court and receive proper legal presentation during the latter’s presidential term? This is unfair because these individuals only get to court after being forcefully removed off their power seats yet by then too many people have suffered or lost their lives.

For example, Charles Taylor who was president of Liberia from 1997 to 2003 had to be smoked out of hiding before he was taken to the ICC (International Criminal Court). Does this mean that world leaders are above the law and therefore cannot be taken to court by their subjects?

By Angela Kyolaba

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