Half a million Ukrainians can get free legal aid today. Potentially, eight million citizens can become clients of legal aid centers, said Pavlo Petrenko, the Minister of Justice of Ukraine, at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “Ukraine managed to create extensive system of free legal aid. It can be used by those who cannot afford qualified legal aid due to their financial situation. These are 500,000 Ukrainian citizens: pensioners, IDPs, ATO veterans and people with low income [those whose income is below two living wages – UCMC]. Nevertheless, we don’t stop at that, as we believe that about 8 million Ukrainians are potential consumers of free legal aid system’s services,” he said.
There are 500 free legal aid access points functioning in Ukraine today, with 2600 independent counsels and 1600 in-house lawyers working there. There are 104 local programs. “National budget will never manage to cover all the needs. These are local self-government authorities that should take care that the community trusting them with power could access free legal aid,” believes Andrii Vyshnevskyi, director of the Coordination Center for Legal Aid.
Eighty percent of those who seek legal aid first of all need information and consultation. For this reason, the project “I Have a Right” starts in late May. “The aim of the project is to inform citizens about their rights and representative authorities’ duties, so that they not only knew the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, but could implement them. The project will take place under the auspices of free legal aid enters,” informed the Minister of Justice.
Andrii Vyshnevskyi will hold the office of deputy minister, so the Ministry of Justice opens advisory competition for the position of director of the Coordination Center for Legal Aid. “We will base our choice on the requirements to the heads of new anti-corruption agencies. These are three to five years of expert leadership service both in public and private sector. We want to have improved chances for candidates both from advocatory and legal field,” said Petrenko.