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Ministry of Justice summed up work of free legal aid system in Ukraine
Minister of Justice Pavlo Petrenko and director of the Coordinating center for legal aid providing Andrii Vyshnevskyi. Photo by the Coordinating center for legal aid providing.Photo by the Coordinating center for legal aid providing.
Minister of Justice Pavlo Petrenko and director of the Coordinating center for legal aid providing Andrii Vyshnevskyi. Photo by the Coordinating center for legal aid providing.

On April 24 at a briefing at the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center, Minister of Justice Pavlo Petrenko and Director of the Coordinating center for legal aid providing Andrii Vyshnevskyi summarized the work of the free legal aid system in 2016 and spoke about the priorities of its further development.

"Over the past three years Ukraine has created virtually from scratch the most extensive system of law community centres, staffed by Ukrainian lawyers and attorneys, providing aid to those people who have not had the opportunity received qualified legal aid through their financial condition”, said during the briefing the Minister of Justice. Among them, as recalled by Pavlo Petrenko, ATO participants, IDPs, the poor and other most vulnerable categories of citizens.

The Minister of Justice of Ukraine Pavlo Petrenko. Photo by the Coordinating center for legal aid providing.

The Minister noted that the potential clients of the free legal aid system in Ukraine are nearly 8 million citizens. Therefore, according to him, "the Ukrainian Government defines this area as one of the priorities in the work of the Cabinet and the Ministry of Justice".

Andrii Vyshnevskyi reported about results of work of free legal aid system for 2016 and its importance in the system of justice in Ukraine.

"The FSLA system has more than 500 access points to the services, more than 2,600 independent lawyers that are involved in the provision of free secondary legal aid, more than 1,600 in-house lawyers who provide legal aid normally on a daily basis (both primary and secondary)”, he said.

Director of the Coordinating center highlighted the most important changes in 2016 that will significantly improve access to free legal aid to the Ukrainians. Thus, according to him, the threshold of poverty increased because the Law of Ukraine "On free legal aid" of 2011 did not define this border quite truly. Justice from the point of view of access to legal aid for IDPs and ATO veterans is restored.

As for ATO combatants, today they are more than 30% of our customers what is three times more than in the previous year.

Only last year, the centers were attended by more than 275 thousand persons. All of them received the necessary legal advice, and more than 34 thousand – representation of their interests in the courts. More than 81 thousand citizens were supported in criminal trials.

With regard to protection in criminal proceedings, in 2016 lawyers who cooperate with the system managed to achieve 549 acquittals or closure of criminal proceedings for the clients of the system.

Regarding the last Director of the Coordinating center said: "This opens the field for the next steps of the state from the point of view of preventing and overcoming crime. In 2015, the Law of Ukraine "On probation" was adopted. These 7 thousand people a year are actually clients of the probation system, which is being rebuilt by the Ministry of Justice and will continue to develop".

"Our mission is to protect human rights by ensuring equal access to legal information and justice, strengthening legal capacities and legal viability of the representatives of socially vulnerable groups, municipalities and communities. This mission, our vision and values are included in key strategic documents of the agenda of reforms in Ukraine”, added Andrii Vyshnevskyi.

This is the strategy for the reform of the judicial system, legal proceedings and related legal institutions for 2015 – 2020, national strategy in the field of human rights for the period up to 2020, a national strategy to promote civil society development in Ukraine for 2016 – 2020, Medium-term plan of priority actions of the Government for the period up to 2020.

Minister of Justice Pavlo Petrenko and director of the Coordinating center for legal aid providing Andrii Vyshnevskyi. Photo by the Coordinating center for legal aid providing.

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