IBA demand access to justice drive in Pakistan

The International Bar Association (IBA) is calling on lawyers in Pakistan to take action in the battle to improve access to justice and demanding judges to “stop meddling in politics”.

In a report released on Friday, the IBA targets many areas that it believes require urgent action, including terrorism, children and wo-men's issues, legal aid and the judiciary.

Chief executive officer Paul Hodinott says that while legislative provisions for legal aid are better in Pakistan than in most other developing countries – in practice, many people have no recourse to justice at all.

The Pakistani government has earmarked substantial sums of money for the provision of legal aid, but the system is hindered by wide-scale corruption.

The report concludes that the bar associations and individual lawyers need to take action to offer more pro bono work.

The IBA reminds judges of the need to remain independent, while cautioning government ministers not to impose “improper pressure” on them and to make judicial appointments that are based on merit.

Hodinott told The Lawyer that the IBA will be sending a senior representative to Pakistan in February.

He is hopeful, having developed a good working relationship with the government and bar councils there, that real progress can be made.

The IBA says that a joint legal education project has already been discussed with the bar councils.