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Fruits of the Human Rights Friendly Community. Community of Shyroke Approved the Legal Aid Program

Members of the Human Rights Friendly Community Program who joined to its implementation in 2019 capture the first substantial victories. The Shyroke community (Zaporizhzhia region) became the first among members of the Human Rights Friendly Community which secured the adoption of the local legal aid program. It is especially valuable because this has been the first-ever project of such scope for the local organisation STEP which is the principal program administrator.

It should be reminded that the main task of the Human Rights Friendly Community training practical Program is researching and working up the findings-based solution which will most meet the community demands. According to the survey (2019), almost 73% of Shyroke village amalgamated territorial community (ATC) have encountered legal problems during the last two years. And over half of the respondents (54%) believe solving such issues alone to be impossible. The citizens’ need for legal advice is also confirmed with regular calls to the hotline telephone of Shyroke village ATC, units and officials of the village council, and village chief. There is no Free Primary Legal Aid Bureau office (further in the text, FPLA) in the territory of the community, and the residents of distant villages cannot afford regular trips to the neighbouring town.

In response to these challenges, STEP PO in cooperation with Shyroke village council and the public institution The Agency for Development of Shyroke ATC have worked out the pilot project for introduction of the FPLA system in the territory of the community. It is aimed to improve access of rural residents to free legal aid and increase legal awareness of population. The project includes actions in three directions:

  • legal advice for rural residents,
  • trainings on legal awareness for school children and PO representatives, and
  • informative and educational activities for the community residents.

A task force consisting of representatives of Shyroke village council and public organisations was assigned to coordinate local activities; having considered the project outcomes, they should elaborate a local program to provide population with primary legal aid.

Statistics and subject matter of appeals:

Inheritance issues:
• re-registration of title transfer;
• registration of title transfer;
• division of property.
• violation of good-neighbourliness and good arrangement rules.
Employment relationship:
• pension benefits;
• dismissal;
• regulating dismissal under lockdown;
• protection of employee rights;
• staff reduction.
 Land issues:
• privatization of land
• demarcation of land parcels;
• land for participants of the Anti-Terrorist Operation/Joint Forces Operation;
• shared interest parcel.
Election process:
• voting rules for internally displaced persons (IDPs);
• right to vote at actual place of residence.
Other issues:
• document execution;
• low-quality service;
• good arrangement rules;
• administrative services;
• banking services and loans;
• privatization;
• guardianship;
• alimony;
• military enlistment;
• social safety for participants of the Anti-Terrorist Operation/Joint Forces Operation;
• powers and authorities of village chief.
Privatization of land:
• apartments;
• owner occupied residential dwellings.
Subsidy processing:
• accounting of subsidy;
• calculation of subsidy.
Condominium associations:
• establishment and registration;
• privatization of property.
Utilities rates:
• calculation of gas rates;
• renewal of electricity supply;
• debts.
  • 32 tours taken by the mobile Free Primary Legal Aid Bureau office
  • 56 receptions in the community villages and townships
  • 124 appeals to the mobile office
  • 213 citizens got free legal advice upon calls to the hotline
  • 45 appeals by citizens to the stationary Legal Aid Bureau office

Project achievements for the time being:

  • 9 trainings on legal awareness for youth and adults
  • 124 participants in the training activities
  • 9 publications on legal topics in the local newspaper (circulation of 6,500 copies)
  • Consultations for the Youth Council, Venerable Council, condominium associations, public organizations of participants of the Anti-Terrorist Operation/Joint Forces Operation, initiatory group for foundation of the Women’s Council 
  • The legal column in the local newspaper and the hotline on legal issues have been launched.
  • The task force has been assigned involving employees of the village council, lawyers, representatives of public organizations
  • A program draft to provide population of Shyroke community with primary legal aid has been drawn up.

Project outcomes

Residents of the villages of Zaporizhzhia district have got opportunity to get free primary legal aid directly in their community due to the project. Over 500 residents of Shyroke community were advised by lawyers, got answers to legal issues of their concern, took part in the training and other law literacy activities. Positive experience of getting legal aid is expected to enhance their ability to solve legal problems, increase levels of legal culture and trust in the free legal aid system.

Activists of local public associations (public organization of participants of the Anti-Terrorist Operation/Joint Forces Operation of Shyroke community, Venerable Council, Youth Council, initiatory group for foundation of the Women’s Council, condominium associations) were advised on the issues of protection of citizen rights and participation in making local decisions. Now they can more actively participate in asserting interests of the community residents.

The program for provision of free primary legal aid to residents of Shyroke community has been drafted with expert support from the project lawyers. According to the program, free primary legal aid shall be given to the residents on regular basis and financed from the local budget. In particular, operation of the hotline telephones and the legal column in the local newspaper will proceed. Besides, tours of lawyers are scheduled once a month to the distant community population settlements. STEP PO with available experts, information and other resources will keep giving assistance to Shyroke community to continue activities even after the project is completed. Already, the organization team works together with female representatives of the initiatory group of Shyroke ATC in founding the Women’s Council to enable female residents of the community to exercise civil, economic and other rights.

Educational and practical Human Rights Friendly Community Program has been being implemented by the Ukrainian Access to Justice School of Practice since 2019 on the basis of the network of legal clubs #PRAVOKATOR with the support of Coordination Centre for Legal Aid ProvisionInternational Renaissance FoundationUkrainian Legal Aid Foundation, partner organizations and institutions, and administered by Legal Development Network.

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