Access to Justice is a three year initiative being implemented by The Asia Foundation, in partnership with Pakistan Institute for Labour Education and Research (PILER) and Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid (LHRLA), to improve access to justice and human rights through the provision of efficient, cost effective legal assistance and protection for vulnerable populations. The project has been designed to target 10 districts, across all four provinces; Jacobabad is also one of them which also represent urban, rural, and ethnically and religiously diverse populations.
The focus of the project is both on the demand and supply sides of the justice system and therefore is working towards the achievement of the following two objectives:
To develop and implement a multi-pronged public awareness campaign that increases citizens’ knowledge of the laws, which protect their fundamental freedoms
To strengthen the capacity of existing legal aid centers that provide legal services to those whose rights have been violated
The expected results of the project include:
Improved (more frequent and better targeted) demand for efficient, cost-effective legal aid services among vulnerable groups in the target districts; target legal aid centers are able to provide a broad range of legal services that are appropriate and relevant to the needs of vulnerable populations; and
Improved knowledge of and positive behaviors among members of the local community, police, legal aid workers, and local government bodies towards the fundamental rights of vulnerable populations in the target districts.
Under this contract, Marvi Rural Development Organization (MRDO) would be providing legal aid and victim assistance to vulnerable populations particularly religious and ethnic minorities, survivors of Gender based Violence (GBV) and the disabled in district Jacobabad. Services offered by MRDO’s legal aid center would include, among others, face-to-face and telephonic counseling, referral services, legal aid assistance to clients, facilitating clients to access law enforcement agencies and to make court appearances in relation to the cases filed. It is anticipated that out of those that access the legal aid center for support, MRDO will provide free-of-cost legal aid to at least60 clients from low-income, vulnerable communities identified above over the life of the project.
Established a 24/7 Toll-Free Helpline
With support from TAF, MRDO established a 24/7 toll-free helpline in legal aid center for vulnerable populations to ensure effective utilization of the resources provided by TAF in this regard. Two operators/counsellorsare appointed for managing the helpline.
Provide Legal Assistance and Victim Support to Vulnerable Populations
To provide legal aid assistance to religious and ethnic minorities, survivors of GBV and the disabled, MRDO jointly with LHRLA signed a Memorandum and Understanding (MoU) with lawyers in their district. The lawyers are identified by LHRLA in consultation with MRDO and subsequently their capacity to undertake and manage cases related to religious and ethnic minority rights, GBV and disability developed by LHRLA. Five lawyers trained on legal issues and case management, who are associated with MRDO’s legal aid center in that district. The legal aid center in consultation with designated project personnel at LHRLA, identify low-income, vulnerable clients in need of legal assistance and facilitate meetings between the clients and respective lawyer(s) at the center.