Discrimination

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Request of the Coalition for Access to Justice and Civil Society Organizations with reference to Beginning of Work on the Draft Law on Free Legal Aid

On the occasion of beginning of work on the Draft Law on Free Legal Aid, the Coalition for Access to Justice and civil society organizations express their hope that, after more than six years since the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, the citizens will finally be able to efficiently enjoy the constitutional right to legal aid.

We demand from the State to adhere to established European and other international standards in defining the circle of legal aid providers, the standards that do not allow monopolization of provision of legal aid services. According to those standards, new legal solutions in this field would have to enable provision of legal aid by the widest circle of providers traditionally including non-governmental organizations, trade unions, professional associations and legal clinics.

Article 67, Paragraph 2 of the Constitution is often interpreted in a way that suggests that the right to provision of legal aid services pertains solely to Bar-admitted lawyers and legal aid services organized within the local self-government units. Contrary to such interpretation, we emphasize that the stated provision of the Constitution only defines a circle of those who are obliged to provide legal aid, while it does not forbid others to provide this service as well.

We emphasise that non-governmental organizations, trade unions, professional associations and legal clinics have been successfully providing legal aid to the widest circle of beneficiaries for decades, especially to the victims of violations of basic human rights, work related rights, rights from marriage and family relations.  Bearing in mind their extensive experience, achieved results, level of recognition and the developed trust of citizens, it would be completely unjustified and unreasonable to exclude them from the circle of legal aid providers, and it would also lower the achieved level of respect and protection of human rights which is contrary to the Constitution.

We demand from the State to fully respect the achieved level of respect and protection of human rights in drafting the Law on Free Legal Aid, especially in defining the circle of legal aid providers, and to establish the system of legal aid that is in accordance with European and other international standards.


Coalition for Access to Justice:
Centre for Advanced Legal Studies
Civil Rights Defenders
CHRIS – the Network of Committees for Human Rights in Serbia (Human Rights Committee Nis, Human Rights Committee Valjevo, Human Rights Committee Negotin, Vojvodina Centre for Human Rights Novi Sad, Citizens' Forum Novi Pazar)
Humanitarian Law Centre
Youth Initiative for Human Rights
Independent Journalists' Association of Vojvodina
Sandzak Committee for Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms
Praxis

You can see the announcement of the Coalition for Access to Justice and the list of signatories HERE.

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