PASI – Malawi

Paralegal Advisory Service Institute (PASI) formerly Paralegal Advisory Service (PAS) is a non-governmental organisation that begun as a programme of Penal Reform International (PRI) in 2000 and became independent in 2007. The programme was in cooperation with PRI in the provision of paralegal services in police stations, courts, and prisons.

In August 2007, the Paralegal Advisory Service Institute (PASI) was registered as an independent Malawian legal entity. It was set up as a Trust, “to make justice accessible to all people in Malawi through improving efficiency and effectiveness in the justice system and making it responsive to the needs of all users, particularly the poor and vulnerable”. PASI has deployed trained paralegals to provide legal education, advice and assistance throughout the criminal justice processes, from arrest to appeal, which complement and facilitate the work of the lawyers.

PASI works closely with police, prisons, courts, the Ministry of Justice, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, and Traditional Authorities (TAs). These relationships, including formal cooperation agreements, paved the way to the Village Mediation Programme (VMP). PASI’s significance lies not in its model that has been adapted across Africa, but rather in its representation of a low-cost method of providing effective legal advice and assistance for ordinary people in conflict with criminal law.

In 2007, PASI signed a Memorandum of Understandings with the main actors involved in the criminal justice sector, namely the Judiciary, Prison Service, Police Service, Inspectorate of Prison, Directorate of Public Prosecutions, Legal Aid Bureau, Ministry of Women and Child Development and Ministry of Health. It is the only non-governmental organisation in Malawi to have signed such a comprehensive MoU with the Government of Malawi. The MoUs were reviewed in 2019 to include other stakeholders such as Malawi Human Rights Commission and Malawi Law Society.