Access to Justice

The legal reform process towards an international human rights standard under the Tajik government is ongoing, but many citizens, especially women and young people in remote areas, are still not aware of their rights and have no access to legal aid. In consortium with UNDP Tajikistan, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation implements the "Access to Justice" Project that started in 2012, financed by the Swiss Agency of Development and Cooperation (SDC). The project contributes to improved access to justice by supporting the Tajik government’s efforts to reform its judicial and legal system as well as provide legal assistance and raise legal awareness among the population.

Rationale

The first project rationale is to work in prevention: to increase legal awareness of the population so they can seek to prevent issues from becoming legal problems in family-law related legal issues (e.g.to register marriages in the registry office). The project addresses the lack of access to justice for the poor and vulnerable on the one side and the institutional weakness of the judiciary as a guarantor of the Rule of Law on the other side, where it builds the capacities of local and national bodies in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice.

The second project rationale is to apply a rights-based approach working on the supply-side by supporting the implementation of Rule of Law reforms through legal awareness, information and aid provision. This implementation is also supported by duty-bearers thus improving access to justice for right holders, in particular marginalized groups and individuals that will lead to better rights protection for all.

PROJECT OUTCOMES

1. Legal awareness raising fosters legal protection of marginalized groups and individuals (> 70 % women)
2. Legal aid services provide better access to legal protection for marginalized groups and individuals (> 70 % women)
3. Effective and responsive government services provide legal information and support to marginalized groups and individuals
4. Key challenges in Access to Justice / Rule of Law (RoL) are identified and raised in a policy dialogue with government authorities and other stakeholders

Achievements 2014

• 4,218 free legal consultations (74% women) were provided in 13 Legal Aid Centers in the regions of Dushanbe, Khatlon, Sughd, Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) and the Region of Republican Subordination (RRS).

• 18,586 participants (65% women) took part in 772 legal awareness and information sessions provided by the partner organization 'INIS'.

• 1,364 students in 12 schools participated in legal training provided by 'INIS'. 

• In 12 schools of RRS, Sughd and Khatlon regions legal corners were established for students. 

• 36 mobile theater performances were conducted in the project areas in the framework of the legal awareness campaign 'Defend your rights!'


• 20 interactive radio shows were aired by radio stations Sadoi Dushanbe.

• Eight legal articles were printed in Muhabbat va Oila, a newspaper with national coverage.


• 20,100 thematic brochures on family (13,300) and inheritance law (6,800), 2,000 calendars and 2,000 legal aid directories were distributed.

• 57 paralegals provided 647 consultations from December 2013 until November 2014. 

• A free hotline was launched and over 800 citizens received legal advice from December 2014 until January 2015. 

• 118 mediation sessions were conducted in 2013 and 2014. 

• A new Judicial Legal Reform Program for 2015 to 2017 was signed by the President of Tajikistan. 

Project Approaches

The project works through the Ministry of Justice, the Ombudsman Office, local non-government organizations, and independent lawyers. It finances twelve Legal Aid Centers countrywide. The Legal Aid Centers provide consultations and representation in court. 

The Project promotes legal literacy and raises awareness through legal infotainment campaigns on TV, radio, through print and social media and organizes legal information meetings in communities in collaboration with local authorities. A networl of community paralegals provide legal information to their community members. 

Key challenges and gaps in legal practice are used for evidence-based policy dialogue. Capacity building and training of civil registry and local authorities are provided by the Project. 

OUTLOOK

Until the end of 2016, the project will promote and develop local capacities in the Rule of Law sector and facilitate a dialogue between legal aid providers and the Government in the drafting of a Law on Legal aid., It will continue to provide institutional and financial assistance to local legal aid providers focusing on their institutional, operational and financial sustainability. At community level the concept of paralegals will be expanded to complement the professional legal assistance. At national level, the consortium will participate in the Rule of Law working group under the Donor Coordination Group and feed in project practice into policy dialogue and legal reform program.

description

The project is guided by the goal to contribute to increased respect and protection of rights of poor and marginalized people in Tajikistan by strengthening the rule of law, access to justice and measures for improved administration of justice. The “Access to Justice” Project runs 13 Legal Aid Centers country-wide that provide legal consultation and representation in court. Key challenges in the Rule of Law reform are raised in a policy dialogue with government authorities and other stakeholders.

Civil Society Advocacy

VIDEOS

See how young pupils learn about their rights on family-related laws in a school session implemented by the partner organisation "INIS" in Tursunzoda: "Know your rights"

Links

Al Jazeera published a movie about the abandoned women in Tajikistan because of labor migration from the men towards Russia. See the full movie here: Tajikistan's Missing Men

In the frame of the A2J Project, the legal awareness campaign "Love is..." was launched which promotes nine key messages on family related legal issues on social media, TV and through billboards, as well as through an interactive website: www.muhabbatin.tj 

Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)