Frontline experience: How to provide legal aid to vulnerable groups, experts discussed in Oslo

07-11-2022 11:15

Lawyers and a Roma mediator working on legal aid for vulnerable groups were introduced to the work of the Oslo Free Legal Aid Office and the Norwegian Bureau for Investigation of Police Violence and Corruption.

The working visit was implemented under the project “Improving the access to justice for people living under the poverty line with a special emphasis on women, children and Roma”, funded by the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2014-2021 and implemented by the National Legal Aid Bureau (NLAB).

The delegation, led by the President of the NLAB Natalia Ilieva, was also attended by judges and participants in the coordination mechanism with local institutions for rapid response to domestic violence.

The Bulgarian experts exchanged experiences with their colleagues from the Norwegian Bar Association, the Centre for Continuing Legal Education, the National Mediation Service, the Oslo Centre for Protection from Sexual Abuse and the Norwegian Children’s Ombudsman.

Good practices in relation to access to justice, provision, volunteering, effective remedies and support for victims of crime were discussed in the context of national legal systems and international human rights standards.

Meetings were also held with the deputy chairperson of the Norwegian Bar Association, Howard Holm, the Head of the Law Centre, Catherine Moknes, and the Head of the Free Legal Aid Office, Georg Hansen, to discuss the Norwegian legal aid system, access to free legal aid, the role of volunteers, improving the qualifications of lawyers and measures to improve the quality of legal services.

Our experts highlighted the great contribution of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism in the justice sector in Bulgaria and in particular the effective access to justice for people living below the poverty line and in remote locations, as well as the protection of victims of domestic and gender-based violence. As an example, over 7,000 legal consultations have been carried out in the last 2 years for people in remote areas and Roma neighbourhoods in the districts of Stara Zagora, Varna and Veliko Tarnovo. Emphasis was also placed on the successful implementation of the coordination mechanism between local courts, prosecutors, police and social services for rapid response to domestic violence.