The Mekelle School of Law-LAC (formerly known as the Mekelle University Law Faculty Legal Aid Center: MULF-LAC) is a non-for profit and non-partisan institution established under the auspice of Mekelle University to provide free legal service to the indigent and vulnerable members of the community. The Center was established in 2004 through the financial assistance of the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI-Hungary). The center started to operate in the same year with the financial support of the Action Aid Ethiopia-Northern Region Office (AAE-NRO). The Center expanded its function by establishing a separate center called Prisoners Right Clinic (PRC), in 2007. The establishment and operational costs of the PRC was again covered by AAE-NRO. The AAE-NRO continued to cover the operational costs of the legal aid center and the PRC until December 2009. Currently, there are four branch centers and one Head office
VISION, MISSION AND OBJECTIVES OF THE LEGAL AID CENTER
The Mekelle School of Law-LAC envisions at creating environment where:
- Marginalized segments of the society are being provided with effective legal assistance so that their rights to equal access to justice will be a reality;
- Practice oriented quality legal education is promoted and ensured;
- To provide quality, professional legal services and practice-oriented legal education, and ensuring effective access to justice for the poor and vulnerable groups in an independent and efficient manner
Mekelle School of Law-LAC was established to achieve the following primary objectives:
1. Providing free legal aid service to the indigent members of the community, particularly women, children, persons with disabilities, and persons living with HIV virus;
2. Enhancing the capacity of law students by involving them in legal practice through clinical programs;
3. Serving as a resource center for researchers and volunteers who wish to provide training to students, paralegals and other legal practitioners; and
4. Undertake community legal literacy programs using different ways.
2.4. Values of the Legal Aid Center
- Passion for Justice
- Respect for human dignity
- Service Excellence & Professionalism
- The free legal Aid service of the Legal Aid Center was limited to Mekelle and its surroundings until 2009. The main reason for such limited service was budget constraints together with lack of human resource. In 2010, the LAC in collaboration with the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission opened four new branch centers in the Zonal towns of Axum, Adigrat, Miachew and Mekelle High court area. In order to provide and effective service to the community, the Center hired diploma graduate legal Clerks in each Zonal Branch Center. Currently, the LAC has six Centers; two in Mekelle, one in Mekelle Prison Center and other three in Axum, Adigrat and Maichew towns respectively.
- The LAC is administered by a director who is an academic staff assigned from the department of Law. The director is supported by two vice Directors who are similarly an academic staff of the same department.The director is responsible for the day-to-day activity of the center. In particular, the director has the duty: to follow up the progress of the centers; to initiate and design specific projects; submit periodic report to the Department head and to project partners; to keep and maintain external communications, and to enforce such other duties as necessary. On the other hand, the Assistant administrator handles all administrative matters such staff recruitment, staff development; and he/she also has the duty to follow up, maintain, activate and promote the legal Aid data base; he/she has also the duty to follow up the enforcement of the legal aid service providing code of conduct. On the other hand as its title suggests the Centers coordinator is in charge of supervision, management, and coordination of the centers’ activities. In particular, the centers coordinator has the responsibility to keep records of the activities of the centers and to communicate and update the project director.The technical/professional team is primarily responsible for delivering the professional service that the Center was established for, i.e., free legal service and clinical legal education. The technical team include: Two research and community service officers, and one case manager for each centers. The technical/ professional team members have the duty to maintain regular attendance in the center that they are placed. In particular, they have the duty: to perform their task diligently; to demonstrate relevant competence; to respect and comply with the legal aid code of conduct. In addition to the center administrative and technical staffs volunteers and clinical students are in charge to achieve the objectives of the center.