Meeting with the Center for Peace Osijek

On 14 January 2013 the Civil Rights Project Sisakvisited the Centre for peace, nonviolence and human rights Osijek, as one of the planned activities of the British embassy project „Strengthening of the role of NGOs in providing of primary legal aid”.

The primary legal aid, position of the OCDs in providing primary legal aid and problems that have been met in practice were discussed.  The meeting took place in the premises of the Centre for peace, nonviolence and human rights.

DunjaČurčija, CRP legal adviser, introduced to the present how CRP Sisak provided free legal aid within the state system, pointing out that CRP has been handing over requests to the State Administration Office, taking over Decisions with authorisation of clients, writingsubmissions to different administrativeoffices, paying administrative fees, and basically all in order to provide quality legal aid to beneficiaries. However, NGOs are not paid for all those services.

LjiljanaBožićKrstanović, project manager of „ Experience in implementation of the Free legal aid law – part of free legal aid infighting against discrimination“ pointed outthat it was very  difficult  to provide free legal aid within the state system and that the Law needed to be changed. Problems that they meet are related to the fact that they provide free legal aid directly in the field, and clients often do not bring back decisions or they bring it to attorneys, although they did not provide free legal aid. Further, she pointed out that system of providing free legal aid was inadequate both to beneficiariesand providers. The procedure of approval of free legal aid is completelyinappropriate for providing free legal aid, and especially for legal counselling. The Centre thinks that one of the main problems is lack of communication betweenthe Ministry of Justiceand NGOs, which are main providers of free legal aid.

NatalijaHavelka, legal adviser of the Centre for peace, nonviolence and human rights Osijek, pointed out that one of the biggest problems that they met in practice was that clients did not bring decisions on approval of free legal aid back to providers, and the State AdministrationOffice refused to accept powers of attorney. Therefore, the practice of the State administration offices is not the same in different counties.

Regarding the above, Saša Zeljug, legal assistant of CRP Sisak pointed out relativelygood cooperationwith the State AdministrationOffice in the Sisak-Moslavina County, and that other offices should consider welfare of  beneficiaries as their primary objective,and they shouldallowusing of powers of attorney, because it made easier for beneficiaries from rural areas to receive free legal aid.

In conclusion, all the present agreed that the system was over bureaucratizedand it was not good either for beneficiaries orto providers, and therefore it needed to be changed.

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