In this publication, the UN Development Programme, International Renaissance Foundation, and Open Society Justice Initiative, Budapest, made an attempt to unite practical experience and efforts of the civic sector representatives, who implement their activities related to providing free legal aid in Ukraine.
Proper exercise of the right to legal aid is inseparably related to the social development. In societies where this right is not properly secured, people and particularly vulnerable groups of population are not aware of existing statutory guarantees and potentials, and are not interested in application of legal instruments for proper social interaction. In Ukraine, 42.6 % of the population prefers outside-of-law means to resolve their problems. Such state of things results in total distrust in the state generally and in the judicial system in particular as a single impartial regulator of social balance and justice: 42.8% of Ukrainians do not believe in a fair trial and overwhelming majority of the population, 83.3%, consider that courts are efficient for those who have respective level of income only.
With the adoption of the Law «On Free Legal Aid» in 2011 and regulations approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in 2012, individuals are given an opportunity to establish and finance operations of specialized Institutions engaged in providing primary legal aid or involve private law entities to provide such services. A self-governing community is a primary level to build up an efficient system for providing such aid and make it not only a nominal service, but also an actually effective means for the community development.
This manual accumulates available practices of creating and administrating Community Law Centres in communities. So that all of the parties concerned, such as government authorities, local self-government authorities, and public sector would be able to search the information they may need in relation to legal regulation of the Centres’ operations, including arranging activities in remote communities, procedure and standards, and ways of supporting sustainable availability of such services.
The authors of this manual are practicing managers and lawyers of the existing Centres that have been working in communities supported by the International Renaissance Foundation since 2009. We hope that this book will be ranked high among leading practical guidelines for providing legal aid in Ukraine and help local self-government authorities, non-governmental organizations, and other parties concerned to improve their work in this area.