Kyiv, 2 June 2021 – Today, on the 10th Anniversary of the Free Legal Aid system in Ukraine, the Coordination Center of Legal Aid Provision and UNDP launched an online tool that consolidates information about all services provided by the free legal aid system and provides easy access to them for all users.
During the presentation, UNDP Democratic Governance Team Leader Olena Ursu stressed that to build forward better after the pandemic, it is crucial to consolidate efforts and work even more closely together to help the most vulnerable people and ensure that no one is left behind or unfairly treated by the justice system. “I’m extremely proud that this important joint initiative is being launched today thanks to the fruitful cooperation between UNDP and the Coordination Center, which was developed with the support of the UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme (UN RPP),” she said.
Head of the Coordination Center for Legal Aid Provision a.i. Oleksandr Baranov said that the “Client’s Cabinet is a tool that unifies information about the services provided by the free legal aid system. “This is yet another step to make easy access to free legal aid. Now people can get in touch with free legal aid personnel online without having to visit our offices,” he said.
At the event, Olena Ursu also said UNDP and the Coordination Center have ambitious plans to boost the capacity of the free legal aid system and to use alternative dispute resolution methods, specifically mediation. “Together we are advancing the access to justice for all men and women in Ukraine leaving no one behind to achieve the goals set up by the Global Agenda 2030,” she said.
The Free Legal Aid – Mediation Enhanced (FLAME) Catalytic Project is an 18-month initiative that starts in June 2021 and is aimed at supporting the efforts of the Coordination Center in building a better referral system for mediation services as a means of alternative dispute resolution for the most vulnerable.At the event devoted to the 10th Anniversary of the free legal aid system in Ukraine, UNDP also presented the results of the Human Rights Progress Study “What Ukrainians know and think about human rights: assessment of changes (2016 - 2020)” which highlight people’s attitude to the free legal aid in Ukraine.
According to the survey the free legal aid system is among the top 5 mechanisms Ukrainians are using to protect their rights. Around 11 percent of respondents who tried to defend their rights applied for it. The free legal aid system is also perceived by Ukrainians as one of 10 most effective mechanisms to stand up for the rights, 13 percent of Ukrainians consider it effective.
The survey also revealed that twice as many people know about the availability of free legal aid in 2020 compared to 2016. In 2020, more than 25 percent of Ukrainians know about free legal aid and how to address it, while in 2016 only 11 percent of respondents knew about it.
Commenting on the results of the survey, Svitlana Kolyshko, Human Rights Team Lead and UNDP Ukraine Project Manager said these figures demonstrate the high effectiveness of the Coordination Center. “The survey shows the Coordination Center is doing well what it was set up for in 2011, namely to promote access to justice for all men and women, including the most vulnerable and marginalized ones”, said Kolyshko. “Especially now, with the onset of the global pandemic of COVID-19, the access to free legal aid is of crucial importance for rule of law and human rights in Ukraine.”
Check here for more results of the survey.
UNDP in Ukraine has established a long-lasting partnership with the Coordination Center for Legal Aid Provision, an entity set up by the Ministry of Justice to provide free primary and secondary legal aid. UNDP has worked with the Center since it was first set up in 2012 as part of the Legal Empowerment for the Poor (LEP) Project. The initiative was then expanded through another UNDP project- Strengthening Capacities of the Office of the Ombudsperson, which is aiming at raising human rights awareness. In 2020, UNDP’s Democratic Governance portfolio established close cooperation with the Center via the Human Rights for Ukraine project and the “Digital Solutions for Improved Access to Justice in Ukraine” initiative.
In March 2021, UNDP and the Coordination Center of Legal Aid Provision signed the Memorandum of Understanding to further strengthen their partnership and bolster their efforts towards providing access to justice for all men and women in Ukraine.
Read also: Ensuring fairness for all in the justice system through free legal aid
Yuliia Samus, UNDP in Ukraine Communications Team Leader, firstname.lastname@example.org