What are the Centers of Legal Information and Consultations?
The first Centers were established in Khmelnitsky and Bila Tserkva in 2007 as pilot projects for implementation of the models, suggested by the Concept of Creating the Free Legal Aid System (Decree of the President of Ukraine from June 9, 2006) with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation and with the assistance of local government bodies.
The Centers of Legal Information and Consultations continue to be established under the auspices of the Legal Empowerment of the Poor Initiative, implemented in Ukraine by the International Renaissance Foundation. Projects aimed at ensuring the interrelation between law and development are operating within the framework of the Initiative.
The objective of the Centers’ work is to provide the people who address those, with the basic information on legal issues, to identify the legal needs of the local population, to cooperate actively with the local government bodies in order to solve individual problems and to protect the public interest.
The activities of the Centers are also aimed at raising public awareness of human rights: development and dissemination of information materials, holding human rights education meetings with local residents, which contributes to overcoming the legal and social isolation of the low-income citizens.
Organization and activities of the Center in the community.
Establishment of the Center meets the requirements of the territorial community.
The main advantages of establishing the Centers of Legal Information and Consultations in the communities:
- the Centers raise the level of the legal safety of local residents, since they have the opportunity to ask for advice, even when they have no money to pay for legal services;
- The activities of the Center help to prevent legal problems;
- Alternative methods of resolving legal disputes, including mediation, conciliation, etc. are practiced in the Centers;
- The organizational form of the Centers’ activity is a non-governmental organization (NGO), therefore they are independent from any power entities and political parties.
Why are the Centers’ activities important for the local government bodies?
The functions of the local government bodies include, among other things: social and economic and cultural development of the territorial community, social protection of population, provision of legal information.
The work of the Center makes it possible to organize citizens’ appeals to offices and departments of governmental authorities at the local level and to local government bodies. The Center provides citizens with the information on how best to solve their legal problems. Thereafter, the person addresses in a proper way an appeal to a specific body that has the authority to solve it.
The smooth effective legal aid in a local territorial community promotes the enforcement of its members' rights and ensures law and order.
The support of such socially important initiatives by mayors is positively perceived by the local community and enhances their authority.
The analysis of the Centers’ work makes it possible to identify the especially problematic areas in relations between the authorities and population and suggest the effective mechanisms to address them accordingly.