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Human Rights Friendly Community: results of 2020

Author: Nina Gaevska, Communications Manager

We will not talk about the challenges associated with the pandemic, we would better talk about the achievements implemented by the program team against the odds. It should be reminded that the Human Rights Friendly Community Program aims to investigate the needs of residents of Ukrainian communities in the field of justice. Therefore, based on the results of these studies it is possible to offer local self-government solutions to the problems identified.

For 2020, the program team:

  • attracted 85 representatives of 11 territorial communities from 9 regions of Ukraine who worked to help their communities become more legally capable;
  • held 9 online educational events and 1 – offline;
  • developed analytical, educational and information materials and much more.

The teams that joined the Program in 2019 focused on advocacy of previous developments developed based on research results.

In the photo: Vitalii Okhrimenko – an expert of the Program

Vitalii Okhrimenko, an expert of the Human Rights Friendly Community Program, shares his impressions:

“The results of 2020 proved that the idea of conducting local research on legal problems by the forces of the communities themselves is viable.  Two key factors became arguments for me. The first concerns the results of the work of the 2020 teams, who, thanks to the practically oriented curriculum, have received a real ability to conduct real sociological research within modest financial resources that are completely “affordable” to local budgets. Secondly, the momentum from the 2019 research results has been transformed into a powerful movement in the relevant communities, which contributes to the dissemination of a culture of application of the approach to strategic management decisions in the field of ensuring effective access to justice, which is based on taking into account the results of research on the real legal needs of people.”

In the photo: the team of Shyrokivska community (Zaporizhzhya oblast) will present a project on legal assistance for rural population

Shyroke community (Zaporizhzhya oblast) organized the work of a mobile group, which managed to attract lawyers and lawyers on a volunteer basis. Prior to the introduction of quarantine restrictions, a mobile point for on-site consultations in rural areas was actively worked, where people do not have access to the Internet and cannot get advice remotely. The team conducted three trainings “Fundamentals of legislation on legal opportunities of citizens associations to protect the legal interests of residents of the Shyroke community”. It was this community that managed to achieve 100% one of the key tasks of their participation in the program — due to their hard work, the local council approved the draft local legal assistance program developed by the team. Now justice for the people of Shyroke will become truly more accessible.

In the photo: the team of the Oleshyne community (Khmelnytskyi oblast) during the press conference talks about the results of the social research “Priority legal needs of the residents of the Oleshyne UTC”

The Oleshyne community (Khmelnytskyi oblast) has also established on-site consultations and created the opportunity to receive consultations by video conference. A big challenge for this community was the problem of forced amalgamation of communities because it created unnecessary conflicts, deprived the community of access to many services (administrative, legal, medical, etc.). These challenges were insurmountable, and the initiative group was forced to move its work to the neighbouring community – Zhvanetsk.

In the photo: team representative Jana Yakunina (left) from Kreminna during the survey (Luhansk oblast).

The community of Kreminna (Luhansk oblast), despite quarantine, local elections and other obstacles, continues the process of approving its draft local legal assistance program, constantly negotiating with stakeholders, in particular the local council deputy corps and its executive committee staff, improving the content and looking for ways to implement such an important initiative in life.

In the photo: a team from Khmilnyk (Vinnytsia oblast) conducts a focus group study of legal problems with representatives of the city council.

Khmilnyk community (Vinnytsia oblast) constantly conducts legal consultations; actively develops remote counselling; conducts training for both local residents and representatives of local self-government bodies; creates information booklets that will help to understand the current legal problems for community residents who do not have access to the Internet. Khmilnyk team together with the “Union of ATO Participants” launched the “School of Local Deputy” for persons intending to become deputies of the local council and conduct systematic training. In addition, Khmilnyk team actively worked in other areas: they prepared an agreed draft decision on the approval of a new version of the Statute of the Khmilnyk city territorial community. The Mayor issued an order to start holding public consultations to discuss this project. It should be especially noted that due to the team initiative, the Mayor signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the East Europe Foundation, which created the opportunity to introduce separate tools of e-democracy — the community has already been connected to the Electronic Petitions service.

In the photo: participants of the Human Rights Friendly Community Program 2020, Kyiv.

The teams which joined the Program during 2020, with the mentoring support of experts, studied, conducted research and formed a further action plan. Over the past year, the following training events have taken place:

  • Series of webinars (4 webinars) united by the general theme “Researching the legal needs of the community: making access to justice necessary and effective” (28 participants)
  • Classroom workshop “Researching the legal needs of the community: making access to justice necessary and effective” (34 participants)
  • Series of webinars (5 webinars) united by the general theme “We meet the legal needs of the community: analysis, advocacy, roadmap” (23 participants)

As a result of joint work teams and experts of the Program, legal needs and problems of local residents in 4 communities were investigated:

  • Berezanka, Mykolaiv region
  • Voznesensk, Mykolaiv region
  • Uzyn, Kyiv region
  • Chervona Sloboda, Cherkasy region

Based on the results of these studies, initiative groups have developed recommendations and strategies for their implementation in their communities over the next 3-5 years. To this end, the teams gathered online and together developed action plans to help to achieve the goal as quickly and efficiently as possible. The participants discussed each step in detail, ways of advocacy and implementation for the development of projects of local programs for access to justice and advocacy for their adoption.

In the photo: Kateryna Yeroshenko – expert of the Program, Ukrainian Legal Aid Foundation

“2020 was the year for internal work, structuring the material developed, searching for new meanings. In the mentorship of initiative groups, every time there are insights that, in my opinion, should be shared with other communities. It often happens that activists in communities create unique tools to solve routine issues. The team I have the honour to accompany in the program performs research in the Uzyn community in Kyiv region. This team can take as an example their unique format of facilitation of communication in the community — between students of legal clinics, the academic community, legal aid providers from the public and public sectors and local self-government bodies. In the preparation of training materials for teams in 2020, it was a great challenge to invest that huge amount of information in an interesting and time-limited course. In the year that passed, the program included an author’s roadmap for the implementation of recommendations developed on the basis of the results of studies of the legal needs of the population, a matrix for the formation of indicators with an emphasis on indicators of access to justice was proposed. In general, the iterations of the Human Rights Friendly Community Program in 2019 and 2020 showed that despite the fact that each community is unique, the use of unsealed universal tools for research and analysis allows us to move in one direction,” – said Kateryna Yeroshenko

In the photo: Maryna Shpiker – expert of the Program, Kyiv International Institute of Sociology.

Maryna Shpiker, expert of the Program, Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, about her impressions:

“The teams to have taken part in the Program in 2020 have done a really great job. For example, an initiative group working in the Chervonoslobidske community (Cherkasy region) conducted 700 interviews with local residents and, thanks to a large, both local survey, sample and thoughtful research methodology, received detailed information on how community residents solve their legal problems and what barriers to justice they face. The team from Voznesensk (Mykolaiv region) managed to establish contact with all schools in their city and conduct a survey among teenagers about violations of their rights in everyday situations. The big challenge, in my opinion, was the coordination of projects and intentions of initiative groups, for the sake of which they decided to join the Program, with the results of research. It happened that the survey data divered from expectations and indicated the need to develop a different approach to solving community problems. Therefore, I consider the skills acquired by the initiative groups to apply a fact-based approach to decision-making to the achievements of the Program”.

We wish our teams success and inspiration and look forward to their new success. We are sure they will achieve their goals and help community residents feel more protected legally. 

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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