INP is currently implementing UNDP's Access to Justice component positioned under Rule of Law & Legal Empowerment of Poor in Pakistan (LEP) Programme in 18 tehsils of 16 districts from all four provinces and Gilgit Baltistan (Location Map). Access to Justice aims at strengthening of support mechanisms/ initiatives for the poor, vulnerable and minority groups of selected project districts to have better access to justice services. The project is expected to produce a combination of results including a) Awareness of targeted community groups on necessary laws and enforcement mechanisms increased within the project scope, b) Demand for justice enhanced/ articulated within the project scope and c) Access of the poor, vulnerable and minority groups to legal aid increased. Interventions related to legal awareness and free legal aid is undertaken in close collaboration with relevant stake holders at district / tehsil level. The Project involves Bar Associations, NGOs / CSOs, Universities, Ombudsman, Police and Communities in implementation.
Results from 1st July 2012 till 31st December 2012:
Provision of Legal aid:
INP through its implementing partner organizations has vastly improved the provision of legal aid in 16 districts across the country, at multiple levels. At the policy level, MoUs have been signed with 16 Bar District / Tehsil Bar Assocationas to activate/form Legal Aid Committees which are legally mandated to provide these services. At the implementation level, 18 Legal Aid Centers have been established, with a team of 124 lawyers in target districts. These Centers have provided legal advice to 4,020 poor and vulnerable citizens, and have filed 402 court cases on their behalf, out of which more than 70 stands resolved either through the formal court procedure or through court annexed/sanctioned mediation. To expand outreach Legal Aid Clinics are conducted at the village level which have provided legal counseling to 4020 beneficiaries and awareness raising for 8,500 citizens and also served to pull many others to the Legal Aid Center.
Creating Community Legal Knowledge Resource:
INP has decentralized the legal knowledge resource to the community level through Community Paralegals. A total of 665 Paralegals underwent specialized training courses. A rigorous examination was held at the end of each course to uphold stringent standards of learning and quality. Overall, these activities will enhance awareness and understanding of legal rights and procedures within communities, plug legal services gaps for those unable to afford hired services, and ultimately contribute to awareness of legal empowerment issues among media stakeholders, local CSOs, as well as community organizations.
Legal Awareness Raising among the Uninformed:
More than 1.9 million people have been made aware of basic legal rights through a variety of IEC tools and channels. These rights include:
- Habeas Corpus (illegal detention)
- Right to Bail (bailable and non-bailable offence)
- Right to Compensation in case of accidents and negligence (mainly medical)
- Right to Inheritance (focusing especially on women)
- Family Court matters - (Child Custody, Divorce, and Maintenance)
- Child Marriage (more prevalent in less developed districts)
- FIR Procedure (Cognizable and Non Cognizable Offences and other police procedures)
- Criminal, Civil & Family case procedures - (Awareness on court procedures)
IEC campaigns include SMS campaigns, TV and Radio programs, posters and hoardings, etc. district level seminars, street theaters, and campus radio programs at universities. However, it is safe to say that within its target districts LEP has made a noticeable dent in the ignorance among poor and vulnerable regarding their legal rights and procedures.
From Awareness to Raising Demand:
LEP, through INP has conducted 14 District Learning Forums which gathers key supply-side stakeholders at the district level including the police, judiciary, elected representatives, government functionaries as well as representatives of the community and civil society. These Forums serve as signing ceremonies for a Charter of Legal Empowerment and Justice which essentially crystallizes a vision for legal empowerment for the particular district. Charters set out the priorities, needs and demands of these stakeholders regarding access to justice, their due roles for fulfilling them, and then pledges of commitment to perform their roles. More than 1,000 stakeholders have signed 14 Charters in target districts. While it is not practicable or possible to capture the impact of this demand articulation exercise, the feedback of signatories has been captured to provide a glimpse of how these Charters have been received by key stakeholders on the supply and demand sides.
- “This charter will strengthen women rights in society in matters of inheritance, divorce/separation and maintenance issues.” Nelofar Khan, Principal, Girls Degree College, Skardu
- “This charter is an accurate representation of Pakistan’s constitution” Osman Wali Khan, Senior Civil Judge District, D.I Khan
- “This charter will help train and equip the police to meet challenges and bring peace and justice in the society” Muhammad Iqbal – DSP Paharpur, DI Khan
- “Thank you UNDP, you have done a great job for the poor and vulnerable” Shah Alam Khan – Community Leader, Lakki Marwat
- “Such an act has brought clarity to the objective of the program and provided an opportunity to broad segments of the community to work with a common purpose and to take ownership of the cause” Ghulam Muhammad – Deputy Director Prosecution, Thatta
- “I never knew about the things mentioned in this piece of paper that have just been narrated. After Now I know that there are still many good people in the world who think about the deprived” Shareem Bano, Villager, Thatta
- “We all should accept and implement the charter in every matter of our life” Amanullah Batezai – Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan, Pishin
- “The Charter is a good document and its implementation should begin with us” Rana Intazar Hussain – President District Bar Association, Bhakkar