Legal Aid Grant Facility To Bring Justice Closer to Vulnerable Groups

20 Aug 2013

imageUNDP Afghanistan / Antonia Paradela: UNDP’s Senior Deputy Country Director, Yuxue Xue and Minister of Justice, Mr. Habibullah Ghalib signing the Memorandum of Understanding.

Kabul: Greater and more equitable access to justice will become a reality for Afghan citizens with the soon-to-be-established Legal Aid Grant Facility LAGF).

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Afghanistan’s Ministry of Justice, the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association (AIBA) and the United Nations’ Development Programme to establish and implement the LAGF, here today.

In the interest of enabling better access to justice, UNDP’s Justice and Human Rights in Afghanistan (JHRA) project is supporting the Ministry of Justice to provide technical and financial resources for AIBA to redress criminal and civil cases, particularly cases involving women and children and other for vulnerable sections of the population. “It is the obligation and the duty of the Afghan state to provide legal aid to the most vulnerable people”, said the Minister of Justice, Mr. Habibullah Ghalib.

The LAGF will encourage and facilitate AIBA to take up cases through informal and the formal referral mechanisms, including the Huquq department of the Ministry, which would further increase people’s awareness and trust in the formal justice sector. Afghanistan’s complex, post-conflict environment has deterred people’s access to quality justice. Induced by financial and geographical restraints, “many women, Afghan returnees and other vulnerable groups are unable to receive legal services in order to attain their rights in civil and criminal cases”, said UNDP’s Senior Deputy Country Director, Yuxue Xue. In many cases, restricted access and limited awareness about formal legal referral mechanisms has exacerbated people’s lack of trust in the formal justice system. To address this issue, the Government of Afghanistan has committed itself to provide legal aid for its vulnerable citizens and will do so even more extensively through the LAGF and partnership with national and international partners.

Italy and UNDP are the main donors to date to the Legal Aid Grant Facility. Other donors to the UNDP’s Justice and Human Rights in Afghanistan are the Netherlands, Denmark and the Swiss Development Corporation.