Supporting Free Legal Aid in Ethiopia

Located in the north of Ethiopia lies the Amhara region, home to Debre Berhan University.
In the last year, this University has played a critical role in providing free legal aid for women,
persons with disabilities, and the poor through its two legal aid centers in the cities of Debre
Berhan and Chacha. This access to justice program has been made possible through a one-
year grant funded by USAID’s Feteh (Justice) program.

“Among those receiving [help], the first are women; we prioritize women,” said Tsion Haileleui, a legal advisor who works at one of the local centers. “Secondly, we prioritize children, the elderly, and anyone who cannot pay for legal services…we also represent those who cannot defend themselves before the court of law.”

To date, the two legal aid centers managed by Debre Berhan University have provided services for 1,500 people.

Selamawit Gebru, whose appeal was on hold, only to discover later that she would lose custody of her child, expressed her gratitude to the legal aid center and its staff.

“Because of the problem I faced, I would have lost my child since I did not have the money to pay for any legal services. My husband had the money to do anything, but I had nothing, and the only thing I did was cry. If it were not for Chacha’s free legal aid center, I could say that victims like me would never find justice.”

USAID’s Feteh Activity is also supporting the University of Gondar which provides legal aid for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in conflict-affected areas of the Amhara region. To learn more about USAID’s Feteh Activity, please visit their Facebook page. You can also follow them @FetehActivityEt.