Providing free legal assistance for southern Iraq’s most vulnerable

26 Aug 2013

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Vulnerable groups in southern Iraq will soon be able to access free legal services directly from the Basrah Justice Palace.

“By establishing a legal help desk directly inside the Basrah Justice Palace, we are minimising the time and money spent by vulnerable groups to seek legal assistance,” said Rini Reza, chief of the UN Development Programme’s democratic governance unit in Iraq. “People who are poor, survivors of gender-based violence, persons living with disabilities, the elderly, detainees, and the internally displaced are often burdened when they seek legal assistance. By placing the desk in the heart of the courthouse, we are making such assistance an integral part of the court system.”

Despite progress in recent years, many Iraqis continue to face challenges in accessing their country’s justice system. Vulnerable groups are often disproportionately affected as they struggle to access legal assistance.

The legal help desk is operated as a part of a broader project for the provision of legal assistance services in Basrah. Judge Jasim Mohamed Al-Musawi, spokesperson at the Federal Appeals Court in Basrah said, “the legal help desk provides consultations to people in need, and supports legal awareness raising campaigns for lasting solutions,” adding that “some cases will even be provided with free legal representation.” 

The project will enhance access to justice and promote accessibility of the courts among vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, while putting the needs of the most vulnerable at the heart of the court system.

UNDP has partnered with the Iraqi High Judicial Council, the Federal Appeals Court in Basrah, and Bustan Association to inaugurate the legal help desk office within the Basrah Justice Palace.