Social & Economic rights

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Civil Society Organizations Demand Legal Framework Providing Minimum Standards for Free Legal Aid

Civil society organizations demand the passing of the Free Legal Aid Act and the respect for minimum standards found in contemporary legal regulation in this field.

The Republic of Serbia is the only country in Europe which has not adopted a law on free legal aid. Even though such a law has been directly designated as one of the first steps in further advancement towards integration into the European Union,  the Republic of Serbia's Government and National Assembly have for ten years now lacked the political capacity to execute the explicit constitutional obligation and pass the law.

A contemporary free legal aid act has to be able to prevent the possibility of establishing a monopoly in this field and therefore to secure an equal legal position for all service providers, which is not the case with the existing draft law. In view of the fact that the beneficiaries of free legal assistance (poor citizens and victims of violence, trafficking, discrimination and so forth) must be guaranteed respect for their specific needs and positions, and must not become hostages to other persons’ desire to get rich, civil society organizations are calling for the responsible ministries, Government and members of the National Assembly to complete the procedure of adopting the law on free legal aid without delay.

Civil society organizations demand that this law be founded on standards which will meet the needs of a widest circle of beneficiaries of free legal assistance, and particularly the following standards:

  1. Advocacy and local self-governments are obliged, according to the Constitution, to provide legal assistance (Article 67 of the Constitution), which does not limit the freedom of other service providers to provide free legal aid to citizens.

  2. The Free Legal Aid Act has to enable the provision of free legal aid by the widest circle of service providers, particularly associations of citizens, legal clinics, unions and professional associations. The position of all providers of free legal aid has to be regulated by a single law.
     
  3. All providers of free legal aid have to be placed in an equal legal position regarding registration procedures, obligations with regard to respect for professional standards, quality and accessibility of services and financing.

  4. The Act has to allow cooperation between providers of free legal assistance, their associations for the purpose of a common provision of free legal aid, and the creation of a joint legal aid service.

  5. The Act has to respect the specific needs and positions of the beneficiaries of free legal aid. The Act has to provide guarantees to the beneficiaries that they would have the right to choose the provider of free legal aid, who would perform all the necessary legal actions in a particular case.

 

ASTRA
Autonomous Women's Center Center for Advanced Legal Studies
Civil Rights Defenders
Network of Committees for Human Rights - CHRIS
Humanitarian Law Center
Youth Initiative for Human Rights
Praxis

Download the Demands with the list of CSOs and networks which supported Demands here

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Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action