The Ministry of Justice and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed today a new project that adresses the need of vulnerable groups for more and equal access to justice. The project will be implemented over a period of 16 months.
Part of project interventions include provision of technical expertise to improve the existing mechanisms of free legal aid in four selected municipalities. This will be achieved through an assessment of the situation of access to justice from the perspective of vulnerable groups ; piloting of free legal aid services and coordination of service providers to reach vulnerable groups. The project will include a public information component aiming to inform vulnerable groups how to benefit from free legal aid services.
The Minister of Justice of the Republic of Albania underlined:"I am very pleased to note that direct beneficiaries of this project will be people in need. Thanks to this partnership with UNDP, we can offer them support to access their rights at the right time, while their social and economic conditions have not allowed this access before. Another good news is that the agreement signed today includes the provision of free legal assistance from UNDP for the citizens in the district courts of Tirana, Durres, Fier and Lezha.I wish that the standard of cooperation that we are setting with this intervention and the high quality of UNDP expertise made available, including through partnership with civil society organizations, will serve as a good working model for the future.
These positive standards will inevitably bring product quality and the beneficiaries will be the citizens of our country
Brian J. Williams, the Resident Representative of UNDP Albania stated: "While justice sector reform is underway, there remains an urgent need to address identified weaknesses and lack of equality when it comes to access to justice for citizens, particularly for those belonging to the poor and disadvantaged groups, to search and find solutions through formal and informal systems of justice, in accordance with human rights principles and standards".
In Albania, one of the priorities for Albania's EU accession is the Justice Sector Reform. Ensuring equality before the law for citizens and effective access to justice are essential standards to guarantee human rights and the country's progress. Women living in rural areas, women heads of households, victims of violence against women and domestic violence, Roma and Egyptians, persons with disabilities, LGBTI people, ethnic minorities, victims of human trafficking, elderly men and women, recipients of social assistance etc., have unequal access to the justice system, and can not fully exercise their rights guaranteed by the Constitution and other laws. Most of the population is not informed on the existing ways of accessing justice system.
During project implementation, Ministry of Justice and UNDP will work closely with Parliament, law enforcement agencies, civil society organizations, Independent Human Rights Institutions, the National Chamber of Advocates, Justice Institutions, Local Government Units, academic institutions, international partners and the media.