Right to justice and legal aid barriers to the vulnerable non-citizens in Malaysia

Andika Ab. Wahab, and Aizat Khairi, (2020) Right to justice and legal aid barriers to the vulnerable non-citizens in Malaysia. Geografia : Malaysian Journal of Society and Space, 16 (1). pp. 13-23. ISSN 2180-2491


Official URL: http://ejournals.ukm.my/gmjss/issue/view/1245


Legal aid is the provision of assistance to people who are unable to access legal counsel in the justice system. It is regarded as an important aspect of the right to justice. In Malaysia, migrant workers and refugees are among the most vulnerable population, facing unequal and discriminatory treatments compounded by ineffective mechanisms to guarantee their right to justice. Malaysian legal aid schemes strive to serve various segments of vulnerable population to access legal assistance but tend to confine it to Malaysian citizens. Consequently, migrant worker and refugee population are remained vulnerable, and at risk of their rights being ignored and violated. This study argues that despite the evolution of legal aid schemes into a hybrid system that paves the way for a more robust public-private partnership – it does not result in the expansion of services to the vulnerable non-citizens. Deriving from several key informant and in-depth interview sessions with vulnerable noncitizens in Malaysia, this study highlights four key barriers hindering the provision of legal aid to the vulnerable non-citizens. They are: (i) limited scope of legal aid’s coverage; (ii) financial constraint; (iii) limitation in private lawyers’ participation in legal aid schemes; and (iv) the lack of awareness. Drawing from Rawls’s theory of justice, this study conclude that the failure of social institutions in particular the legal aid providers to provide adequate access to legal aid to the vulnerable non-citizens suggests unfair distribution of justice in Malaysia’s modern social justice system.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Legal aid; Migrant workers; Non-citizens; Refugees; Right to justice
Journal:Geografia ; Malaysian Journal of Society and Space
ID Code:15513
Deposited By: ms aida -
Deposited On:30 Oct 2020 01:02
Last Modified:02 Nov 2020 12:54

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