With access to justice becoming increasingly expensive in Sri Lanka, economically impoverished segments of society are forced to turn a blind eye towards various injustices that they face. As a consequence of this, these persons are no longer able to enjoy their fundamental freedoms, and enjoy their rights to equality and even property. This is a pertinent problem that needs to be addressed in order for the country to meet its development goals in a sustainable manner.
It recognized in Sri Lanka that any person charged with an offence is entitled to be heard, in person or by an attorney-at-law, at a fair trial in a competent court, under Article 13(3) of the constitution. However, in reality the lack resources bar many from enjoying this right, though it is in itself a right that facilitates other rights.
Various actors in the legal system owe a duty in the process of bridging this gap, and while the Legal Aid Commission does commendable work in this regard, lawyers need to play an increasing role in providing legal aid to those in need. Law students too are an untapped resource in the process of assisting with the provision of legal aid facilities in the country, and the service plays a dual role, benefiting society on one hand, and a learning experience for students on the other. Further, it is a way in which the beneficiaries of a free education system in Sri Lanka can give back to society during their course of education.
The initiative proposed in this project proposal attempts to bring together the State institutions, the legal professionals and law students in order to assist the low income persons in the society on limited scope pro bono cases.