The Second Steering Committee meeting of the action “Supporting enhanced access to higher quality Free Legal Aid services in North Macedonia” took place on 10 July 2020 in a form of an online meeting.
The meeting brought together representatives of the Ministry of Justice, Bar Association, Macedonian Young Lawyers Association, Secretariat for European Affairs, Delegation of the European Union to North Macedonia and the action team. Steering Committee outlined the key activities that have been implemented with the aim to enhance the accessibility and awareness of free legal aid in North Macedonia and the planned activities for the next six months.
Along with the presentation of the results achieved during the first half of 2020, the action team explained the immediate measures undertaken to address the challenges caused by COVID-19 outbreak. The participants were informed that all the activities under the mitigation plan have been implemented, thanks to the dedication and commitment of the staff of the beneficiaries.
It was also highlighted that the action achieved significant progress in strengthening the co-ordination and communication among the key stakeholders at national and local level by supporting the establishment and facilitating of the meetings of the National Co-ordination Body for implementation of the Law on Free Legal Aid (NCB) and by establishing such co-ordination body on local level (Bitola). This achievement will increase the quality and the efficiency of FLA provision to the citizens in North Macedonia.
The Steering Committee members agreed on the proposed activities for the upcoming six months. The Action will continue to focus on enhancing the capacities and the quality of services of the regional offices of the Ministry of Justice, the Bar Association and the civil society organisations and Legal Clinics authorised for FLA. It will also focus on providing expert support to the Ministry of Justice in harmonisation of provisions, policies and practices related to free legal aid, and will continue to support the Ministry in enhancing the accessibility to the right to FLA through implementation of awareness raising campaign among the country’s population to support increased access to free legal aid.
The action on “Supporting enhanced access to higher quality Free Legal Aid services in North Macedonia” is part of the “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey II”, a joint European Union/Council of Europe programme implemented by the Council of Europe that enables the Beneficiaries to meet their reform agendas in the fields of human rights, rule of law and democracy and to comply with the European standards, including where relevant within the framework of the EU enlargement process.