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UAE's first Filipino paralegal team to publish user-friendly law guide

Online handbook to deal with criminal, labour and civil codes.

DUBAI // The first team of Filipino paralegal volunteers in the UAE is publishing a guide to the laws and the rights of expatriate workers.

"Filipinos are facing problems mostly due to an ignorance of the law," said Areiz Macaraig, the legal adviser for the Filipino expatriate rights group Migrante-UAE.

"The paralegal volunteers will work on a handbook that will not be too technical but easy to understand."

The 50-page handbook will have sections on labour, immigration, civil and criminal laws and procedures.

It will include laws and procedures, answers to frequently asked questions, and a list of phone numbers for the Philippine embassy, consulate and overseas labour offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

There are no plans yet to print copies of the book, which will be available to download from September at migranteuae.org.

Migrante-UAE and the women's rights group Gabriela-UAE have been running a series of paralegal training workshops, which will conclude tomorrow, to help Filipinos understand the law.

"We need the commitment of the paralegal volunteers," Mr Macaraig said.

"Not all of the participants at the workshops plan to be paralegals. Some were there to know more about the laws and their rights as workers."

The first two sessions on July 1 and 8 were focused on labour laws, including the Filipino Migrant Workers Act and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.

Mr Macaraig and five other Filipino legal consultants discussed overstaying visas, defaulting on loans and credit debts, undocumented and illegitimate children, illegal recruitment and other concerns.

Topics for tomorrow's session include the role of paralegals, ways to handle cases, preparing affidavit and incident reports and counselling techniques.

Yuri Cipriano, the chairman of Migrante-UAE, said he hoped at least 20 paralegal volunteers would be on hand to help their compatriots.

"They will work on the handbook for a month under the guidance of the Filipino legal consultants, and also manage the hotline numbers dedicated for labour, immigration, civil and criminal cases and concerns," Mr Cipriano said.

rruiz@thenational.ae

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