Support of UNDP BiH in Development of Free Legal Aid System

undpAs part of the project “Access to Justice: Dealing with the past and building confidence for the future”, UNDP BiH provides support to the BiH Ministry of Justice and other institutions at the entity and cantonal level in a series of activities aimed at the implementation of strategic goals of the justice sector in BiH, and especially in the area of transitional justice and free legal aid.

These activities are aimed at the support of the development of a harmonized system of free legal aid that ensures the minimum standards and conditions for equal, quality and efficient access to legal aid to all citizens of BIH.

This includes the support for the institutions of government in drafting the law on free legal aid throughout the country, harmonization of standards, development of infrastructure capacity to free legal aid providers (including government and nongovernmental institutions), development and strengthening of professional and staffing providers of free legal aid, establishing coordination system between government agencies and nonprofit organizations, and other activities from this area.

Currently, the free legal aid system in BIH is fragmented and uneven, and until now centers/institutes in the RS and Brčko have been established, while in the FBIH they are operating in four cantons.

Laws on free legal aid have been adopted in the Una-Sana Canton, Sarajevo Canton and Bosnian-Podrinja Canton, and a parliamentary procedure is currently underway for a law in the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton.

As part of the project, a number of activities that include an analysis of the existing system of legal aid has been launched and implemented. There is a draft law on free legal aid at the level of BiH, as well as laws at the cantonal level (Sarajevo, Bihać i Goražde), detailed analysis of infrastructure in existing centers and institutes that lend free legal aid and key non-governmental institutions, an analysis of educational needs of free legal aid providers, and in 2012 a network for the coordination of providers of free legal aid was established.

The reconstruction and equipment for the establishment of new institutes for free legal aid in Bihać, Sarajevo and Goražde has been done, and works have been completed on on the reconstruction of the space in Doboj and Trebinje, Institute for Legal Aid in Tuzla, Center for Human Rights in Mostar, Center for Informative and Legal Assistance in Zvornik and Center to Help Women in Zenica.

UNDP BiH plans to support the establishment of a free legal aid system, including legal and institutional framework, in the remaining three cantons-Herzegovina-Neretva, Livno and Central Bosnia Canton, announced the organization.

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