Description of the situation and reasoning for the proposal. Analyze the needs/problems the project would address
The OSFA Network of Legal Centres/Clinics, including the two Clinics in Durres and Shkodra, established with the financial support of LA, in Phase I, is focused on delivering primary and secondary free legal education and aid services, identifying and pursuing cases affecting a large number of citizens and that may bring changes in strategic level in the fields of consumer protection, health care, housing and environmental degradation, and seeks to bring about change at the policy level that will guarantee the protection of social-economic rights. In the meantime, OSFA has created a broad network of lawyers and partner organizations through which it has resolved important cases in these areas. The Legal Center in Durres is established at Aleksander Moisiu Durres University, while the Legal Center in Shkoder is located on Kole Idromeno Street. The Legal Centers have provided primary and secondary free legal aid in regard to the services provided by local and regional public bodies and pursued strategic litigation cases for protection of social economic rights.
In December 2017, the Parliament approved the law “On legal aid guaranteed by the state” and the law hasn’t started being applied yet. The Legal Centres have been the main instrument in providing free legal aid services for marginalized and poor citizens and communities in the regions where they operate. The Centers have been also the main instrument where local and national CSOs (AKIP, Albanian Rafting Federation, EcoAlbania, EDEN, Miliukontakt, etc.) have addressed the issues identified by them and then proceeded to pursue issues together at the bodies of administrative and judicial jurisdiction.
In September 2018, OSFA initiated the transformation into community based legal Centres by including and capacitating paralegals in their core activities (from third party funding), delivering effective legal education activities at the community level, adapting internal procedures and methodology and sustaining community active participation in legal processes, including strategic litigation cases.
Through the provision of primary and secondary legal aid and through the pursuit of strategic litigation issues, the Centres’ services have influenced not only on the support of citizens and communities for their problems, but also in advocating near institutions for similar practices to be followed in compliance with the applicable legal framework.
This project comes as a Value-added Support Service for creating opportunities for citizens, communities and CSOs by aiming at further strengthening and promoting democracy at the local and regional level, in particular, aiming a spill over effect at the national level through certain precedents.
Given that the fields in which the activity of the OSFA Legal Centres focuses are in compliance with and are supported by LevizAlbania initiatives, this project is also further continuation of efforts to guarantee good and effective governance. Furthermore, the project has been conceived to also work on addressing problems that have to do with services provided by the local government, given that local government based on law no. 139/2015 “On Local Self-Governance” ensures a much broader spectrum of services for citizens and local decision making to the detriment of public interest.
GOAL AND SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES OF THE PROJECT
The goal of this project is to strengthen democracy at the local and regional level and to advocate for the public interest through litigation of strategic cases in the fields of primary health care, the environment, consumer protection, as well as the improvement of services provided by the local and regional government institutions.
The specific objectives of the project are:
Provision of primary and secondary legal assistance for citizens in regard to the services provided by local and regional public bodies;
Provision of primary and secondary legal assistance for citizens for cases in the fields of health care, consumer protection, housing and environmental degradation;
Provision of legal assistance for CSOs and communities in identifying and following cases affecting a large number of citizens and that may bring changes in strategic level (strategic litigation cases);
Increase of public pressure through the encouragement of accountability with regard on citizen’s rights and promoting local democracy to service provided by the local government and decision making.
METHODOLOGY – RESPOND CLEARLY AND DIRECTLY TO THE FOLLOWING POINTS:
- Description of the methodology to be implemented for achieving the results. What will you do and what tools/resources are necessary to carry out the activities
Provision of primary legal aid:
- providing of information regarding the legal system of the Republic of Albania, the normative acts in force, the rights and obligations of subjects of law and the methods of enforcing and exercising these rights both in judicial and extrajudicial proceedings;
- the delivery of counselling;
- the delivery of advice on the procedures of mediation and the alternative means of dispute resolutions;
- the delivery of assistance in drafting and establishing of documentation to put in motion the state administration or for requesting secondary legal aid;
- representation before administration bodies;
Provision of secondary legal aid:
- the compilation of the necessary legal acts for putting in motion the court;
- the delivery of counselling, representation and defence before the court in administrative and civil cases;
IDENTIFICATION AND PURSUING OF STRATEGIC CASES:
Legal Centres, in the course of their activity, will work to identify and pursue strategic cases (problems of the legal framework, or by-legal framework, other major problems in the units where they operate);
Cooperation with actors of change: The Legal Centres will cooperate with NPO’s supported by LevizAlbania, other NPOs or individuals (local reporters, activist, etc), the local BAR Associations, the other legal centres/clinics supported by OSFA in order to identify problems of the legal framework, or other major problems in the units where they operate.
The project will be sensitive in terms of incorporating the gender equality perspective.
OUTREACH AND VISIBILITY:
In 2018, Facebook page of the Legal Clinics was created that has about 7.000 followers and more than 10 TV interviews have been conducted with the Legal Centers staff. The Legal Centres and mainly OSFA will continue to dedicate a considerable resources and time to outreach and promote the targeted groups. Communications tools and means will continue to be produced and used in order to build the trust of the people and collect relevant cases in order to present the centres as a confident actor for cooperation. Additionally, LevizAlbania will promote this Value-added Support Service through its communication channels.
METHODS OF IDENTIFYING CASES:
- Display of the activity and contact address of Centres (object of activity, address, contact tel. email, web) at the local/regional institutions and via social networks;
- Establishment of cooperation with actors of change; NPO’s and experts supported by OSFA, LA and other local NPOs;
- Establishment of cooperation with the other legal centres/clinics supported by OSFA;
- Establishment of cooperation with the local BAR Association;
- Through the continuous activation of two paralegals in the poor and marginalized communities (third party funding).
METHODS OF SELECTING CASES:
- The framework of cases that shall be pursued by Legal Centres is determined in their internal regulation;
- In order to provide primary legal assistance, the selection of cases to be pursued shall be made by the junior lawyer of the Local Centre. In each case that will be deemed necessary by him, he may ask for the opinion of the Law Centre in Tirana. In addition, the Law Centre in Tirana after every reporting shall be entitled to issue directives to the Local Centre regarding the type of issues to be pursued;
- In order to provide secondary legal assistance, the selection of cases to be pursued shall be made by the senior lawyer of the Legal Centre. In each case that will be deemed necessary by him, he may ask for the opinion of the Law Centre in Tirana. In addition, the Law Centre in Tirana shall be entitled to issue directives after every reporting to the Legal Centre regarding the type of issues to be pursued;
- In order to pursue a strategic litigation case, the selection shall be made with the approval of Law Centre in Tirana.
Expected results and progress monitoring (results should be realistic and linked with the objectives);
Litigation in many cases is very important to hold local government or national government authorities accountable by using all the means and to follow the cases to the end, especially advocacy campaigns that potentially could lead to structural changes for actors of change at the local or national levels in different fields. Considering that the Legal Clinics are the main providers of legal assistance for NPOs, journalists and activists in identifying and pursuing cases affecting a large number of citizens/communities these can contribute to bringing about changes at strategic level.
- Provision of primary legal assistance for over 600 citizens per year and of secondary legal assistance for about 100 cases per year;
- Establishment of at least 3 strategic cooperation with CSOs and activists at the local and/or regional level with regard to decision making and/or public services;
- Involvement of marginalized groups such as the Roma, youth, women, etc.
AREA AND TIME OF IMPLEMENTATION :
The established centres in Durres and Shkodra will be accessible by all people despite the regions where they live. Nevertheless, they are set up taking into account the country’s geography to better offer access and coverage to the citizens’ needs;
WORKING GROUP , PARTNERS :
The working group in this project and its organizational structure:
Dorina Ndreka (Asllani) – Senior Lawyer of Legal Clinic in Durres;
Marsida Feshti (Muca) – Junior Lawyer of Legal Clinic in Durres;
Altin Fushaxhia – Senior Lawyer of Legal Clinic in Shkoder;
Griselda Dama - Junior Lawyer of Legal Clinic in Shkoder.
Each Legal Centre will include one junior lawyer (full time), one senior lawyer (70% of the time), two paralegals (from third party funding) and both Centres will be managed by the project director and the financial officer.
This project is an extension of the previous initiative “Establishment of two Local Law Centers”, where OSFA with the support of LevizAlbania established the 2 local Centers in Durres and Shkoder.
Over 1,200 citizens of the two counties (Durres and Shkoder) are expected to benefit primary legal assistance from this project, 200 citizens will benefit secondary legal assistance and actors of change (journalists/NPOs/active individuals) will benefit legal assistance in pursuing cases affecting a large number of citizens and that may bring changes in strategic level.
CONTINUITY AND SUSTAINABILITY
The implementation of this project poses risks in terms of: (i) the litigation process and its duration in courts depending on the cases; (ii) implementation of the justice reform.
The project is conceived to be implemented during the period of 24 months, from July 2019 to June 2021. Following the support to be provided by LevizAlbania during the next two years, an independent organization, which is going to be responsible for running the local clinics, will be established. The organization will look at the possibility of applications to different donors in the country, including the grant giving process of LevizAlbania.
Regarding diversification of funding, OSFA will explore the possibility of social enterprise which would provide meaningful benefits in few main directions:
First, it improves the financial sustainability of independent legal aid structures by both diversifying resources and extending the financial basis toward independent funding (not government or donors);
Secondly, it is an opportunity to improve/strengthen the accountability of service providers towards citizens since on one hand the funding source could be beneficiaries or larger community while on the other hand if beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries contribute financially their inclination to be involved in the CSO action/efforts could be stronger. That could even be a boost/incentive for improved performance of the legal aid service.
The project is to continue beyond the 22 months lifespan of the application, applying for support from OSF and other donors in the country.