Deputy Ministers Maria Pavlova and Ivan Demerdzhiev opened the centers for free legal advice to people living below the poverty line

24-06-2021 13:18

For the successful implementation of the judicial reform it is of extreme importance to improve the access to justice, especially for the people from the vulnerable social groups, for which the Ministry of Justice has been actively working in recent months.

This was stated by the Deputy Minister of Justice Ivan Demerdzhiev during his visit to the center for providing free legal advice to people from vulnerable social groups in the Varna district.

"Improving the quality of legal aid is also our priority. This can be done through fair pay and raising the qualification and control over the work of lawyers providing legal aid," Demerdzhiev added.

He clarified that it is necessary to make legislative changes to ensure better protection of victims of domestic violence and gender-based violence.

In the districts of Varna, Stara Zagora and Veliko Tarnovo, mobile groups of lawyers and Roma mediators have been actively working for two months now, providing legal advice to people living below the poverty line in remote settlements and people from the Roma community.

The teams were formed under the project "Improving access to justice for people living below the poverty line with a special focus on women, children and the Roma community", funded by the Norwegian Financial Mechanism, which is implemented by the National Legal Aid Bureau (NLAB).

Specific legal information on how citizens can protect their rights is provided free of charge, including through litigation, with a focus on domestic violence, violence against children and gender-based violence.

"So far, mobile groups have conducted a total of 433 consultations, 304 of which were made on the ground, in a remote area, neighborhood or in a place where the person in need of consultation," said the chairman of the NLAB Natalia Ilieva and added that work is being done to establish a coordination mechanism through which institutions involved in violence-related issues can interact so that victims receive legal, medical and psychological assistance and support.

Earlier yesterday, Deputy Minister of Justice Maria Pavlova visited the center for free legal advice in the Roma neighborhood "Lozenets" in Stara Zagora, getting a personal impression of the process of work of the mobile teams.

"The close cooperation between mobile teams, municipal authorities, local social services and structures of the Ministry of Interior and the Prosecutor's Office is of great importance for the good outcomes of the project," Pavlova said, adding that she expects cases of domestic violence and violence against children to be directed to the competent institutions - police, prosecutor's office, protection authorities.

According to her there are problems related to violence against women and children behind the most common issues related to parental rights and divorce. "The role of the lawyers is to also create trust in people so that they share the original issue - the main problem."

The project manager, lawyer Dilyana Giteva, announced that more than 300 lawyers in the country will be trained on topics related to gender-based violence, domestic violence and discrimination. She thanked the Norwegian Judicial Administration, which is a partner on the project and has provided invaluable assistance with its experience on such a sensitive topic.

The Deputy Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria Elena Cherneva attended a consultation at the Legal Aid Center in Veliko Tarnovo. She emphasized that the problem of domestic violence remained mainly within families. "The institution of the ombudsman, the NLAB and the Bar Councils, in which the Regional Counseling Centers were established at the end of last year, signed a memorandum under which they will cooperate to solve the problems of socially disadvantaged citizens and citizens from vulnerable social groups." Cherneva explained.