The National Office for Legal Assistance forms Legal Assistance Teams for people living below the poverty threshold and victims of domestic violence

24-11-2020 11:36

Over 250 representatives of vulnerable social groups in the small and remote areas of Stara Zagora, Veliko Tarnovo and Varna will receive primary legal assistance, including victims of domestic violence, women, children, and representatives of minority communities.

This became clear during the opening conference under the project of the National Office for Legal Assistance “Improving access to Justice for People Living below the Poverty Threshold with Special Focus on Women, Children and the Roma Community” funded by the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2014 -2021. This project will be implemented within the next 36 months in partnership with the Norwegian Courts Administration.

For this purpose, mobile teams of lawyers and Roma mediators will be established in the above three regions in order provide primary legal assistance and raise public awareness regarding the protection of their rights.

The event was attended, personally or by video conference, by the Deputy Minister of Justice and Head of the Program Operator of the Justice Program Prof. Nikolay Prodanov, the Chairperson of the National Office for Legal Assistance (NOLA) Natalia Ilieva, the Deputy Ombudsman Elena Cherneva, representatives of the Norwegian Courts Administration, representatives of institutions, non-governmental organisations and lawyers from around the country.

“It is expected that cases of violence will be reported to the competent authorities, and psychological assistance will be provided to the victims”, said the Project Manager, Lawyer Dilyana Giteva.

Within the framework of the project, an online platform will be developed, through which primary legal assistance will be provided and there will be an option to provide consultations to anonymous users at their request.

The main objective is to improve the access of citizens living below the poverty threshold to primary legal assistance, as well as for the NOLA to expand its scope of activities to reach new target groups.

“We will work to create a good coordination mechanism for protection of victims of domestic violence and gender-based violence with municipalities, social services, courts, prosecutors and local structures of the Ministry of Interior” for now in the pilot centres, as the objective is for this mechanism to cover the entire country, said Natalia Ilieva, Chairperson of NOLA.

The Deputy Ombudsman Elena Cherneva stressed that the topic of domestic violence was on the Ombudsman's agenda and assured that paths and solutions would be jointly sought after for the achievement, in the long run, of the sustainable change desired for protection of the rights of citizens from vulnerable social groups.

Ivar Armstad of the Norwegian Courts Administration explained that providing legal assistance to vulnerable groups was a challenge his colleagues in Norway were facing as well. He was adamant that work on the project would strengthen bilateral relations between NOLA and the Norwegian Courts Administration.

Prof. Nikolay Prodanov wished success to the project and stressed that its implementation was of particular importance for the realisation of the common goals set by the Ministry of Justice and the Norwegian partners.