In order to inform the people of North Macedonia on free legal aid opportunities and how to ensure better use and access to these services, an awareness-raising initiative took place between 16 July and 30 September 2023, with informative events in all regions of North Macedonia.
The series of awareness-raising activities, supported by the EU and Council of Europe, informed on and promoted the use of free legal aid, with a special focus on vulnerable groups. These public meetings reached out to various local communities to provide them with detailed and relevant information on where and how they can find free legal aid, and which entities provide it.
During these events, the participants had the opportunity to pose questions to experts in the field and receive answers, as well as user-friendly information materials on the specific topics for which free legal aid can be requested and provided, including domestic violence, property issues, discrimination and social protection, etc..
The informational activities organised in fifteen municipalities in North Macedonia from 16 July to 30 September enhanced the knowledge of residents of local communities and legal professionals on free legal aid, and thus supported broader accessibility and use of these legal services, with a special focus on vulnerable groups such as women, children and LGBTI communities.
The FLA awareness-raising initiative is being implemented in North Macedonia since 2020, and aims at promoting these services as an available and functional mechanism offering citizens efficient legal protection and, most importantly, ensuring equal access to legal aid for those who would not be able to afford it otherwise. During 2022, almost 6 000 people in North Macedonia received primary legal aid and, in about 231 cases secondary free legal aid. According to the official data, most cases of FLA aid were related to property issues, divorce, domestic violence, and children protection.
The events were organised in the framework of the European Union and Council of Europe joint action “Towards a Consolidated and More Efficient Free Legal Aid (FLA) System in North Macedonia”, in close co-operation with the Ministry of Justice of North Macedonia and other the members of the National Co-ordination Body for Free Legal Aid: the Ministry’s regional offices, civil society organizations and legal clinics authorized to provide free legal aid (FLA). It is part of the EU and Council of Europe joint programme “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Türkiye III,” a co-operation initiative to assist Beneficiaries in the Western Balkans and to comply with the European standards.