The 12th meeting of the National Co-ordination Body for the implementation of the Law on Free Legal Aid in North Macedonia, gathered today in Skopje to discuss important challenges and solution in the process of the implementation of the Law on Free Legal Aid.
Organised in the framework of the continuous support that EU and Council of Europe are providing to improve the Free Legal Aid services for the citizens of North Macedonia, the event gathered around 40 participants from the key institutions (members of this body) in the field of free legal aid including the Ministry of Justice and its Regional Offices (ROs), Bar Association, lawyers, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Legal Clinics authorized for providing free legal aid. The event was also attended by judges and representatives of UNHCR.
The event was welcomed by Irena Cuculoska Jakimovska-Senior Project Officer at the Council of Europe Programme Office in Skopje, Muhamed Toci - State Secretary at the Ministry of Justice, John Eames - judge at the UK and CoE consultant and Goce Kocevski – legal aid expert at MYLA and CoE consultant. During the discussions was stressed the importance of the National Coordination Body as a unique co-operation and inter-institutional co-ordination mechanism to ensure improved access to justice for the citizens. The State Secretary informed the participants about the opening of a new regional office for FLA in Shuto Orizari and stressed the importance of the novelties in the Law on civil registry.
During the meeting, the participants had the opportunity to discuss key challenges related to the costs in legal aid cases and identified the need for legislative changes, especially concerning the Law on Free Legal Aid, in order to clarify some of the problems that emerge in practice.
Significant exchange during the meeting was dedicated to the implementation of Article 49 from the Law on Free Legal Aid which concerns victims of crimes and victims of trafficking. The NCB participants decided that a separate training is needed on this topic in order to ensure uniformity in the application of this legal provision in practice by the legal aid providers.
The action “Towards a consolidated and more efficient Free Legal Aid (FLA) system in North Macedonia” is part from the “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Türkiye III”, a joint European Union and Council of Europe programme implemented by the Council of Europe. The National Co-ordination Body on FLA will continue to be supported by this action in order to achieve better co-ordination and communication among the main actors in the Free Legal Aid system in future.