A new Local Co-ordination Body to support the implementation of the Law on Free Legal Aid (LCB) was established in Stip to co-ordinate the work of all the local actors involved in the free legal aid services. With the support of the joint EU and Council of Europe action on “Supporting enhanced access to higher quality Free Legal Aid services in North Macedonia” the first meeting of the Body gathered with the participation of the representatives of the Regional Office of the Ministry of Justice in Stip, civil society organisations and legal clinics registered to provide Free Legal Aid services as well as representatives from the Center for Social Work, the Basic Court in Stip, local NGO-s etc.
The Local Co-ordination Body in Stip was established following the successful example of the National Co-ordination body (NCB) based in Skopje and the Local Co-ordination body in Bitola, as an informal forum of professionals for sharing information and communication. It aims to provide co-ordination among the key stakeholders on topics concerning the implementation of the Law on Free Legal Aid in the local community. These topics cover awareness raising on the new Law, access to information necessary for processing legal aid applications, referring of persons in need of legal aid, specific legal needs affecting the local community etc. The CoE consultants who facilitated the meeting explained the idea, the need and the benefits for the existence of this co-ordination body at local level.
The newly established body will function through regular meetings as well as direct communication and will be composed of key stakeholders directly involved in the process of Free Legal Aid in North Macedonia. The establishment of the local co-ordination bodies in other municipalities in North Macedonia will also be supported to ensure a more efficient implementation of free legal aid services in different communities, especially for the vulnerable ones.
The Action on “Supporting enhanced access to higher quality Free Legal Aid services in North Macedonia” is part of the joint EU and Council of Europe programme “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey II” .