The main legal aid providers signed an agreement for cooperation
On June 15, 2018, a Memorandum on the Interaction of Legal Aid Providers in Ukraine was signed.
On behalf of their organizations, the document was signed by Oleksiy Bonyuk, Director of the Coordination Center for Legal Aid Provision, Yevgen Poltenko, Executive Director of the Legal Development Network, and Mykola Sioma, Director of the Ukrainian Legal Aid Foundation.
During the meeting, Yevgen Poltenko noted that the signing of the Memorandum was preceded by almost 9 months of tedious work aimed at the harmonization of its provisions. The signed document provides a formal foundation for joining resources, capacity and expertise of all parties interested in expanding access to justice: in particular, setting up a system of redirection between all providers of legal (and not only legal) assistance, unification of working standards, development of new legal products and services for communities.
According to Mr.Poltenko, it is necessary to work out a plan of joint actions of providers. He believes that the signing of the document may be a step towards the unification of efforts, which will allow to establish common rules for the providers’ work and to monitor their compliance.
Mykola Sioma noted that Ukrainian civil society reached the level of maturity when it could clearly articulate its needs and messages. This, in particular, concerns the need to combine the efforts of free legal aid providers in order to work more effectively.
Oleksiy Bonyuk pointed out that the signing of such a Memorandum could become an intermediate stage, which will help to determine the image of the legal aid providers’ community at the local and national level in the future. It will also help to create an independent legal aid provider.
In his opinion, it is very important that there is an opportunity to successfully operate and develop non-government legal aid providers in Ukraine, and a joint initiative can lead to the development of an effective model for providing legal aid.
According to Mr.Bonyuk, the signing of the Memorandum is only the beginning, which nevertheless opens the way to the development of the common standards for the provision of legal aid and its regulation.
The meeting was also attended by Director of the “Human Rights and Justice” Program of the International Renaissance Foundation Roman Romanov, Coordinator of the “Human Rights and Justice” Program Olga Halchenko and USAID “New Justice” Program Advisor on Civil Society Affairs Valentyna Mudrik.
Roman Romanov noted the importance of signing the Memorandum, which, in particular, will allow to improve the redirection system when providing free legal aid. He also emphasized the social aspect of free legal aid system functioning.
The participants of the meeting discussed some more issues of actual cooperation between free legal aid providers. In particular, the exchange of information and the shared use of databases.
The day before, on June 14, the Memorandum was signed by Victor Yanyshen, chairman of the Board of the Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine”.
Thus, at the moment, the document has been signed by five free legal aid providers: the Association of Legal Clinics of Ukraine, the Coordination Center for Legal Aid Provision, the Legal Development Network, the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union and the Ukrainian Legal Aid Foundation .
The NGO “All-Ukrainian human rights organization “Legal Hundred” have also expressed their interest in signing the document.
The document is open for signing by other organizations.
Author: Sergiy Rybak, Communications Manager of the Legal Development Network
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