Access to Justice and Judicial Reform (2008 - 2012)

The Access to Justice and Judicial Reform (AJJR) Project is designed to address the lack of access to justice for the poor and vulnerable layers of the population on the one side, and the institutional weakness of the judiciary as a guarantor of the Rule of Law on the other side.
The project aims to contribute to increased respect and protection of the rights of poor and marginalised people in Tajikistan by strengthening the rule of law, access to justice and measures for improved administration of justice.

Approaches

The project is implemented by five local NGOs, which provide free legal aid in 11 Legal Aid Centres in Dushanbe, Vahdat, Khujand, Isfara, Kurgan-tyube, Kulyab and Khorog, and representation in court as needed, and organise legal awareness and information meetings in local communities.

Additionally, the project supports the Government of Tajikistan in preparing its reports to the UN Human Rights Treaty bodies in a timely and effective manner. Monitoring by NGO and preparation of alternative reports is supported.

Achievements

1. Legal Aid Centres work together as a joint system including (i) analysing hindrances to access to justice, (ii) awareness raising and (iii) provision of free legal aid to the population, as well as closer and better coordination to move toward achieving better results in these activities;
2. Capacity of NGO partners has been built through internal trainings, exchange experiences among the partner NGOs, discussions, meetings, and a study tour to India;
3. Partner NGOs introduced a client feedback system;
4. Partner NGO developed an annual analytical report on access to justice issues in Tajikistan which was distributed among interested stakeholders and should form a basis for discussing improvements in the sector;
5. Three working groups by the project NGO partners have been formed on: “Access to justice of victims of domestic violence,” “Protection of rights and interests during court enforcement proceedings” and “Access of attorneys at law to detainees” which have produced recommendations for government authorities on improvements to legislation;
6. Partner NGOs began collecting and internalysing strategic litigation cases;
7. Judicial Training Centre under the Council of Justice is training judges on the Criminal Procedure Code and preparing candidates to become judges with support of the project;
8. Support for the National Center of Legislation to operate its website, which contains all the laws of Tajikistan in Tajik and Russian languages;
9. Successful “Know Your Rights” communication programme with components for the TV, radio, and newspaper;
10. First TV court-show was launched in Tajikistan in close cooperation with the Supreme Court;
11. A number of articles, brochures and books on legal issues were publicised and distributed among interested stakeholders;
12. Chaired the sub-group of Rule of Law on behalf of the Development Coordination Council where regularly updated mapping of Rule of Law activities in Tajikistan is maintained. The Rule of Law group developed and provided suggestions to the Government of Tajikistan on the draft Judicial-Legal Reform Programme for 2011-2013;
13. Established synergies with the other SDC funded Rule of Law project, in particular with the NetLAC project (also implemented by Helvetas), Prevention of Domestic Violence Project (implemented by GOPA) and Juvenile Justice Alternative Project (implemented by UNICEF).

Project Objectives

During the phase 2008-2012, the project had the following objectives:
1. To improve the capacities of partner NGOs to provide good quality free legal aid and other legal services to vulnerable groups and the public at large, raising awareness, and ensuring linkages between this experience and advocacy processes.
2. To contribute to the effective functioning of the Human Rights Treaty reporting system, thereby facilitating improved legislation in the country and better rights protection.
3. To contribute in a systematic and integrated way to the national processes designed to strengthen human rights protection and judicial reform.