Monday June 18, 2012
Insufficient funds depriving people of pro bono
GOING to court without a lawyer can be like stepping into the ring against a trained boxer, says the Law Society’s pro bono services director Lim Tanguy.
But last year, about 78,000 people accused of crimes at the Subordinate Courts had no lawyer. These represented one-third of all cases, said the courts. It is not known how many could not afford a lawyer, as some might have preferred to represent themselves.
The Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (Clas) and Association of Criminal Lawyers (ACLS) have been helping those who cannot afford lawyers.
Last year, they defended about 350 poor people for free. But with limited funds and manpower, they can only help selectively. The scheme turned away 794 people last year.
Clas hopes to help more people, but it needs more funding and volunteers, Tanguy added. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network