Assessment of IPAJ's Capacity to Provide Legal Aid to Victims, vulnerable groups to GBV, and PLWHIV

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Assessment of IPAJ's Capacity to Provide Legal Aid to Victims, vulnerable groups to GBV, and PLWHIV

October 11, 2021

This study was conducted by the IPAJ in 2020 in the framework of the UNDP Project “Strengthening Access to Justice, the Protection and the Promotion of Human Rights 2018-2021”, implemented in Partnership with the Ministry of Justice, Constitution and Religious Affairs, and in synergy with the Spotlight Initiative, implemented by the United Nations and the Government of Mozambique with the financial support of the European Union.

The situation of access to legal aid in Mozambique, with a focus on the most vulnerable people, is object of the present study, which analyses the capacity of the IPAJ to fulfil its constitutional mandate to provide legal aid to the most disadvantaged people.

The diagnosis offers a view of the current legal environment in which the IPAJ operates in Mozambique, its limitations, in terms of infrastructural, financial and human resources’ needs and the training capacities of the public defenders to attend the specific needs of people living with HIV/AIDS, victims and those vulnerable to forms of GBV.

The guarantee of citizens’ rights, cornerstone of the Rule of Law, relies substantively on the efficiency of the systems and mechanisms these can appeal to in order to claim and solve their grievances. Because it is a right in itself and a vehicle towards the materialization of all other rights, access to justice is a driver of peace and a catalytic force toward the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes “the need to build peaceful, just, and inclusive societies which provide equal access to justice and are based on respect for human rights.” Goal 16, and its target 3 in particular, highlight the importance of ensuring “access to justice for all” in achieving sustainable development. That target has a direct impact on progress across other goals, such as Goal 1 on Poverty, Goal 5 on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, Goal 8 on Productive Employment and Decent Work, and Goal 10 on Reducing Inequalities.

Unequal access to justice generates socio-economic inequalities, exacerbates poverty and grievances, enhances discrimination and stigmatization, all development obstacles, and serious human rights concerns.

The credibility of a justice system, particularly in developing countries, builds on the existence of an accessible, efficient and inclusive legal aid scheme. The IPAJ, under the Ministry of Justice, Constitution and Religious Affairs, was created to provide legal aid to those mostly poor, and to “defend the individual and collective interests of children, youth, elderly, people with particular needs, women victims of domestic and family violence and other vulnerable groups who deserve special protection.”

These include people living with HIV/AIDS, victims and those who are vulnerable to forms of GBV, of which poverty is both a driver and a consequence, and which constitute development challenges in Mozambique. With nearly 50% of the population living below the poverty line, in Mozambique, access to legal aid translates into access to justice for the poor, the marginalized, and the disadvantaged.