By: L.N. Reklai

(Koror, Palau) House of Delegates (HOD) passed in second reading a bill to expand the role of the Office of Public Defender to include assisting indigent citizens in civil matters.

[restrict]

The bill states that many Palauans do not have the means to hire an attorney to assist them in deliberation of land lease agreements, especially with foreign persons.

HOD states that the Office of Public Defender (OPD) has been successful in its role of defending indigent residents in criminal cases and thus it expands its role to cover indigent citizens in civil matters, “including counseling citizens regarding land leases.”

For other civil cases, the bill states that the OPD will decide base on its available resources.

In a related matter, Senator Regis Akitaya in a June 8 letter questioned the Office of Public Defender’s criteria and procedure for determining an indigent individual qualifying for the service of the Public Defender. [/restrict]