Access to Justice: Supporting the Rule of Law and Transitional Justice

Function of the project

 The opening ceremony of the Free Legal Aid Agency of the Canton Sarajevo.

Access to justice for the poor and marginalised is not guaranteed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, due to a fragmented and poorly developed Free Legal Aid (FLA) system in the country, and the lack of harmonised legislation at the state level. Free legal aid is only available in a limited number of jurisdictions and, even when legislation is in place, the outlets are underequipped, understaffed, and lack quality monitoring tools and professional training. In addition, the general public are not aware of their rights to free legal aid services.

The lack of legal aid most heavily impacts refugees, single mothers, the Roma population, people with disabilities, victims of domestic and gender-based violence, victims of human trafficking and other vulnerable groups.

In addition to the lack of political will and support for the establishment of a comprehensive, integrated free legal aid system, insufficient funding also hinders the systematic approach to developing legal standards and the capacities of free legal aid providers.

What we did

 

We were working with our national partners (listed below) to establish a country-wide free legal aid system ensuring minimum equal standards for all citizens in accessing free legal aid services. This included:

  • Development of legislation and harmonisation of existing laws at all government levels;
  • Establishment of governmental Free Legal Aid Agencies, where missing;
  • Provision of basic infrastructure for FLA Agencies (reconstruction of premises, furniture, IT equipment);
  • Professional development of FLA providers, including the creation of a two-year training curriculum and provision of training courses;
  • Development of adequate communication, monitoring and awareness tools (case management database, website and public-oriented brochures);
  • Establishment of a co-ordination and co-operation network among free legal aid providers;
  • FLA outreach extending access to justice to vulnerable categories in rural and remote areas.

Results



  • Between 2013 and June 2017 the FLA Network provided legal aid to 82,957 poor and vulnerable persons;
  • The Law on FLA before BIH institutions has been developed and adopted;
  • 5 new cantonal laws (Sarajevo, Mostar, Bihac, Gorazde, Livno) have been developed and adopted and respective governmental agencies established and fully integrated in the government systems (in Sarajevo, Bihac, Gorazde, Mosar, Livno) as well as  an FLA Office  wiithin the BIH Ministry of Justice for the state level institutions;
  • In four regions where FLA governmental agencies do not exist yet, UNDP supported CSOs to extend services through mobile teams, reaching more than 500 users in 15 more rural municipalities.
  • 6 existing FLA offices (Tuzla, Trebinje, Doboj, Mostar, Zvornik and Zenica) fully reconstructed, furnished and equipped;
  • Established functioning FLA Network among existing 12 governmental providers and 6 CSOs;
  • Case management database developed for the FLA providers;
  • Training needs assessment completed; two-year training curriculum developed; and two training courses in specific areas for network members provided;
  • Website for the FLA Network developed and launched;
  • Free legal aid public-oriented brochure and leaflets distributed through the country.

Challenges and future needs

  1. Provide further assistance for the development of free legal aid legislation at the remaining two   governmental levels (FBiH level and Central Bosnia Canton);
  2. Support the establishment of three new Free Legal Aid Agencies and strengthen existing FLA providers in terms of facilities and equipment;
  3. Strengthen the efficiency of the FLA Network and ensure continued training;
  4. Continue development and implementation of legal aid service information websites and databases to raise public awareness on FLA services and improve communication with clients.

Financial contributors

Phase I Duration: July 2009 – March 2013
Donor name Amount contributed per year
  2012
UNDP $ 35,633
  2011
Government of Denmark $ 66,934.41
  2010
UNDP $ 200,000
Government of Switzerland $ 104,100
  2009
UNDP/BCPR $  2,691,818.00
   
Phase II
Duration: June 2013 – June 2017
  2013 - 2016
UNDP/BCPR $ 1,143,324.47
   

Delivery in Previous Fiscal Years

2016 $ 125,282.35
2015 $ 235,285.54
2014 $ 532,317.05
2013 $ 250,439.53
2012 $ 812,985.84
2011 $ 924,518.09
2010 $ 770,401.18

Geographic coverage